A shame that "What Are Your Former Occupations?" isn't a question on the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire, because James Lipton would certainly have a head-turning answer. In an interview in the new issue of Parade magazine, the Inside the Actors Studio host, 86, says that in the 1960s he worked as a pimp in Paris. And this would have been after he had already worked as an actor on TV soap Guiding Light in the 1950s. Regardless of the medium, it seems Lipton has always been conscious of craft.
Lipton said that at the time it was “perfectly respectable” to go into procuring flesh. “It was a different time,” he said, after indicating that he no longer believes paying for sex is a good thing. The news comes as a particular shock to Arrested Development fans who may no longer find Lipton's role as Warden Gentles of the Orange County Correctional Department to be casting against type. One thing is for sure, though. Our favorite word of the day is gross.
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With his critically praised ballet thriller (yes, you read that right: ballet thriller) Black Swan about to get a wide release, Darren Aronofsky is back in the spotlight, and speculation has been building as to what his next project will be. A number of studios have been courting the director for projects as diverse as Robocop, Preacher, the Superman reboot (which just went to Zack Snyder), Tales From The Gangster Squad, and the X-Men Origins: Wolverine sequel, but now it appears Aronofsky has decided to move ahead on a completely different kind of genre film.
In an interview with Quien, screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Babel, Amores Perros) revealed that Aronofsky actually plans to begin scouting locations next month for The Tiger, a project we reported the two were working on back in May, the true story of Russian game warden Yuri Trush, who in 1997 set out to track and kill the tiger that had been terrorizing a nearby town in Eastern Russia. Arriaga's adaptation, based on John Vaillant's non-fiction book of the same name, would likely star Brad Pitt opposite the highly intelligent and vicious animal. According to the interview, the film could begin shooting as early as next year.
While it would have been exciting to see Aranofsky helm any one of the previously mentioned titles (and he still could - nothing's for sure), I'm pretty excited for The Tiger, a project that should be well suited to Aranofsky's smart, stark, and surreal aesthetic style. Does such a groundbreaking filmmaker really need to waste his time on an X-Men spinoff movie? No. And Brad Pitt's on board, people!
From Amazon, a description of The Tiger that makes it sound like a Russian Jaws. Read on and get psyched:
When Yuri Trush was called in to investigate an attack by a Siberian tiger, what he found was unlike anything he’d ever encountered. Nothing remained of the victim but stumps of bone protruding from his boots. Even more chilling was the evidence that this attack had been carefully orchestrated, as if the tiger was seeking revenge. Before long, the beast struck again, and Trush, leader of a tiger conservation unit, found himself forced to hunt this animal through the brutal cold of a Siberian winter, becoming intimately acquainted with the tiger’s history, motives, and unique method of attack—until their harrowing final encounter.
Once upon a time, Brad Pitt and director Darren Aronofsky were aiming to team up on an sci-fi adventure that would span all of space and time to tell an epic love story. That project became known as The Fountain and went on to star Hugh Jackman as the interstellar traveler, ending the proposed collaboration between Pitt and the acclaimed filmmaker.
That team-up may action happen now, as Variety reports that the duo is eyeing an adaptation of John Vaillant's upcoming non-fiction book The Tiger. The action adventure story takes place on the Siberian plain, where human development is encroaching on the tigers' habitat -- and one tiger turns on the intruders. With townspeople being tracked and hunted with an almost supernatural power, a conservationist game warden must face down the tiger. It is a fight that only one of them can win.
The Tiger, which will be produced by Pitt's Plan B and Aronofsky's Protozoa Pictures, is being developed as a potential starring vehicle for the star at Focus Features. Writer Guillermo Arriaga will pen the screenplay. He previously worked with Pitt on 2006's Babel.
Man vs. nature always makes for an interesting story and the pairing of Pitt and Aronofsky is many years in the making, so I'm happy to see where this production takes the principles. Of course, both parties have numerous projects in development, so I'm not holding my breath for a release date.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Oh, the horror of it all.
No one wants to get all mushy at Halloween. We want to cover our eyes at the terrifying sight of zombies slurping on fresh brains and ax-wielding maniacs slicing and dicing promiscuous teens.
Unfortunately for those with a dislike for boy bands, no such homicidal lunatics threaten to dismember 'N Sync's Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, the stars of the romantic comedy On the Line. And Kevin Spacey may present himself as an alien in K-PAX, but he's just as cute and cuddly as E.T. So don't expect costar Jeff Bridges--as Spacey's psychiatrist-- to sire any gut-busting baby Martians.
Shred counter-programming? Or ill-fated endeavors?
Probably the latter.
Like Labor Day, Halloween is not known for generating huge box office results. Indeed, 1994's Stargate holds the Halloween opening weekend record with $16.6 million.
This year might be different, given that many parents are reluctant to take their kids trick or treating in light of recent anthrax-related events.
Still, Spacey and Bridges do not qualify as major draws. Spacey's 2000's Pay It Forward settled for a weak $9.6 million during its pre-Halloween opening. The sugary drama found itself preaching to the converted as it eventually made a modest $33.5 million. The Mirror Has Two Faces gave Bridges his best opening in years, but its $12.2 million tally ranked as a disappointment for a Barbra Streisand vanity project.
'N Sync's popularity--still strong, but waning--won't assist On the Line. The romance, starring Bass as an adman who spots the girl of his dreams on Chicago's L train, arrives at a modest 820 theaters. Distributor Miramax clearly sees no appeal for On the Line beyond the adolescent girls still hung up on the prefab five. Bass also has the misfortune to follow Mariah Carey's starring debut, Glitter, which earned a less-than-melodious $2.4 million at 1,202 theaters during its opening weekend.
This means that audiences will no doubt head to theaters looking for a good fright. No. 1 champ From Hell, though, faces frightful competition from 13 Ghosts, a remake of the old William Castle chiller from producers Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver. Castle obviously remains an inspiration to the producers, who remade his The House on Haunted Hill in 1999 and scared up $40.8 million for their trouble. If 13 Ghosts scores, can we soon expect Zemeckis and Silver to resurrect The Tingler?
Like The House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts unleashes ghoul after ghoul upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of a uniquely constructed home. In this case, Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth and Matthew Lillard fend off the ghosts that terrorize a house made out of glass. Zemeckis and Silver employed the same formula with The House on Haunted Hill--special effects over star power-and enjoyed a $15.9 million opening.
What worked for The House on Haunted Hill will likely work for 13 Ghosts. That leaves Johnny Depp's From Hell in a precarious position. The Hughes Brothers' stylish but strained Jack the Ripper thriller carved up just $11 million in its opening weekend, with its total standing at $13.8 million through Wednesday. That bests the openings for two other Depp horror misfires, The Astronaut's Wife and The Ninth Gate. But if interest remains slight, then From Hell may not earn much more than the $30 million that Depp's Sleepy Hollow generated in its opening weekend in 1999.
From Hell also receives a slight threat from Bones, a ghost story marking rapper Snoop Dogg's starring debut. Bones opened Wednesday with $431,000 million in only 800-plus theaters, but Snoop Dogg's presence should guarantee initial interest from those who like nothing better than kicking it back with some "Gin and Juice." Bones dig up about $3 million this weekend.
Snoop Dogg's pretty busy these days. He enjoys a brief but memorable cameo as a wheelchair-bound crack dealer in Training Day. The gritty good-cop-vs.-corrupt-cop saga continues to arrest audiences, having made $59.2 million through Wednesday.
MGM's assertion that Bandits was a victim of anthrax-related threats doesn't seem to hold much weight these days. The critically acclaimed heist yarn, starring Bruce Willis and directed by Barry Levinson, tumbled from $13 million during its opening weekend to $8.3 million last weekend. Its total is $26.5 million through Wednesday. Once one of fall's highly touted offerings, Bandits may end up as something of a disappointment for all concerned. Bandits certainly won't surpass the $57.2 million that Willis' other crime caper, The Whole Nine Yards, made last year.
Riding In Cars With Boys, a dramatic detour for Drew Barrymore, overcame negative reviews to make $10.4 million last weekend and a total $12.4 million through Wednesday. That's more than the $10.5 million that Home Fries--also featuring Barrymore as an unwedded mother-to-be--earned in November 1998. Yet it's no match for such Barrymore comedies as The Wedding Singer and Never Been Kissed. Riding In Cars With Boys should match or slightly exceed the $23.4 million that her Boys on the Side made in 1996. And it also could mark director Penny Marshall's third consecutive box office disappointment, following Renaissance Man and The Preacher's Wife.
Apathy greeted Robert Redford's return to prison, with The Last Castle earning $7 million last weekend and a total $8.6 million through Wednesday. In contrast, Brubaker, starring Redford as a reform-minded prison warden, made $37.1 million in 1980. The Rod Lurie-directed military drama looks set to make a little more than the $17.8 million that his The Contender made last year. Redford will no doubt experience a better response to this month's Spy Game. Of course, it helps that his costar is another golden boy, Brad Pitt, and not burly thugs with a penchant for homemade tattoos and the occasional conjugal visit.
First Freddy Krueger.
Then the Headless Horseman.
Now Jack the Ripper.
Johnny Depp enjoys staring evil straight in the face. A pre-21 Jump Street Depp made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Partnering with director Tim Burton for the third time, Depp took a nightmarish trip to Sleepy Hollow and came away with a $101 million hit for Ichabod Crane's halfhearted heroics.
For From Hell, Depp travels from 18th-century New York State to 19th-century London to track down the world's first and most infamous serial killer. Based on the seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, this opium-fueled, blood-soaked conspiracy shocker builds upon the theory that British royalty had a hand in the grisly murders of five prostitutes.
The Hughes brothers, responsible for Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, leave behind the mean streets of urban America for the dark and murky alleyways of Victorian London. Most of the violence might be implied, but there's enough gore in this overwrought chiller to turn off those who found Sleepy Hollow dark but fun. Also, Depp's attempt to out-Cockney Michael Caine might annoy audiences in general.
Consequently, Sleepy Hollow should remain in place as the sole Depp-headlined film to break $100 million. From Hell's opening weekend, though, should surpass the total grosses of his other recent but disastrous excursions into terror, The Astronaut's Wife ($10.6 million) and The Ninth Gate ($18.6 million). Also, From Hell should entice a pre-Halloween crowd eager for a bloody good time but unwilling to wait for next week's Bones and 13 Ghosts. All in all, From Hell should cap off a profitable year for Depp, which saw Chocolat earn a sweet $70 million and Blow breeze by $55 million.
While Depp faces an ancient evil, Robert Redford takes on the military.
The Last Castle marks the aging icon's first onscreen appearance since 1998's sugary and longwinded The Horse Whisperer. Court-martialed general Redford stares down military prison warden James Gandolfini in this political drama directed by Rod Lurie.
But can Redford still command our attention?
The Horse Whisperer, which Redford also directed, galloped to $75.3 million. Before that, 1996's Up Close and Personal made $51 million and 1993's Indecent Proposal earned $106 million. Yet these films romantically paired Redford with beautiful women half his age, thereby attracting his loyal female following. Women aren't likely to swoon at the prospect of Redford doing hard time with a bunch of tattooed murderers, thieves and drug smugglers. In its favor, The Last Castle does feature Redford's best performance since The Natural. Its pro-military stance also seems in sync with the mood of the day.
If anything, The Last Castle should serve as a teaser for next month's Spy Game, which reunites Redford with his A River Runs Through It star Brad Pitt.
Lurie, a former film critic turned director, has yet to thrill audiences with his treatises on war and politics. His debut, 1999's Deterrence, barely made only $144,000 in limited release. Last year's The Contender was anything but, earning only $17.8 million, which The Last Castle should easily outpace.
Somewhere amid this hearty display of machismo lies Drew Barrymore. She tests her appeal this weekend by departing from the frothy comedies and adventures--Charlie's Angels, Never Been Kissed, Ever After, The Wedding Singer--that have made her an almost guaranteed box office draw. The fact-based drama Riding in Cars with Boys sees Barrymore stretch as a teenage single mom trying to get her life back in order.
Barrymore's struggles may come as a welcome relief to those not in the mood for slain prostitutes and incarcerated ex-soldiers, but terrible reviews could instead drive audiences straight to the sweet Serendipity. Also, Barrymore's previous attempt to portray an unwed mother-to-be turned out to be a Thanksgiving turkey: Home Fries earned just $10.5 million in November 1998.
Director Penny Marshall needs a hit to reverse her box office slump. Renaissance Man made $24.1 million in 1994. The Preacher's Wife sang up a less-than-soulful $48.1 million during Christmas 1996.
David Lynch's latest conundrum, Mulholland Drive, expands this weekend after landing in the No. 14 spot with a lukewarm $587,000 at 66 theaters. Reworked after being rejected as an ABC pilot, this murder mystery may entice Twin Peaks aficionados eager for another Lynch-ian excursion into film noir. Unfortunately, Lynch makes plenty of twists and turns, but never takes his audiences far enough to make this a journey worth undertaking. A couple of lesbian love scenes might generate some interest, but Mulholland Drive will end up enduring the same fate as Lynch's equally perplexing and infuriating Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Lost Highway. The former made only $4.1 million in 1992, failing to capitalize on the TV series' cult following. The latter made do with $3.8 million in 1997.
The arrival of From Hell should see reigning champ Training Day take a tumble. Not that Denzel Washington needs to worry. With $46.9 million in takings through Wednesday, the gritty thriller already ranks as one of Washington's biggest hits. By the end of the weekend, Training Day will surpass The Hurricane ($50.6 million), Malcolm X ($48.1 million) and The Preacher's Wife ($48.1 million). Training Day also looks certain to make more than The Bone Collector ($66.5 million) and Courage Under Fire ($59 million).
Bruce Willis is obviously hoping that last weekend's anthrax scare in New York was what kept audiences away from Bandits. That was the reason offered by MGM as to why the well-reviewed heist yarn failed to topple Training Day. Bandits opened with $13 million--par for Willis' recent comedies--and has made off with $15.7 million through Wednesday. At this pace, Bandits could match the $57.2 million that The Whole Nine Yards earned in 1999.
Not even the worst reviews of the year deterred audiences from watching Saturday Night Live's Chris Kattan pose as a FBI agent. Having collared $10.3 million through Wednesday, Corky Romano should enjoy a profitable second weekend given that interest is fading in Ben Stiller's fashion satire Zoolander ($36.5 million through Wednesday).
Also winding down is the Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say a Word (an OK $43.1 million through Wednesday) and the Anthony Hopkins supernatural coming-of-age tale Hearts in Atlantis (a disappointing $21.2 million through Wednesday).
Serendipity should continue to lure couples, especially given Riding in Cars with Boys' negative reviews. The John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale New York love story has romanced its way to $28.2 million through Wednesday, having already surpassed the $27.2 million made last year by Cusack's somewhat more jaded take on life and love, High Fidelity.
Iron Monkey dropkicked its way to $7.1 million through Wednesday, after enjoying a $6 million opening. Though unlikely to repeat the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this 1993 classic bowed better than any reissued Jackie Chan adventure. The subtitled Iron Monkey, certain to lose audiences to From Hell, should manage to equal or exceed the $16.2 million that Chan's Supercop arrested in 1996. Let's hope that Iron Monkey's triumph will end the practice of reissuing Chan's classics in their annoyingly dubbed versions.