There is a new trend of films, both maintream hits and cult favorites, being turned into successful Tony Award winning musicals. Some might say there are no new ideas and creativity is dead. Others may delight in seeing the movies they love set to song and dance. It seems like nothing is exempt from the treatment, from Disney cartoons like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, to heartwarming dramas like Newsies and Billy Elliot, and off-the-wall comedies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which begat Spamalot). There’s even an off-Broadway musical of the cult flick Heathers. It's getting some decent traction with its stylish production design and hilarious lyrics. Does this mean it could be the next toast of Broadway?
Some of the strangest films have gone on to become majorly successful musical. Here are some of the strangest and most fun:
Despite a memorable soundtrack and the magic of Olivia Newton John (ONJ) and The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), this film wasn’t commercially successful and was panned by critics. Heck, it even inspired John J.B. Wilson to create The Razzie Awards. However, it did make a wildly fun Broadway musical. The adaptation poked fun at some of the more bizarre parts of the film like ONJ’s love for roller-skates and leg warmers and some major plot holes. Greek muse Clio (Kerry Butler) goes undercover as a mortal named Kira with a thick Australian accent to inspire dim-witted artist Sonny Malone (Cheyenne Jackson).
The quirky British comedy drama finds a son inheriting his father’s shoe factory. When he befriends a drag queen Lola, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes, that Chiwetel Ejiofor) he gets an idea to save his factory. The film also features Shaun of the Dead star Nick Frost. The award-winning musical version has songs penned by Cyndi Lauper (who won her first Tony for the show — she's just an Oscar away from EGOTing now!) and story by Harvey Fierstein.
Reese Witherspoon throws the whole notion of "dumb blondes" out the window when sorority girl Elle Woods goes to Harvard Law School. This highly addictive musical features Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, along with major dance numbers, insanely catchy sing-a-long moments, and fresh additions to the original story. Smash star Christian Borle appears as Elle’s dorky love interest Emmett. The series did not win a Tony but it did find a lot success and even aired in its entirety on MTV.
John Waters' edgy comedy about the 1960s race relations and dance series already had musical numbers, so all it needed was that extra touch. The 1988 film starred Ricki Lake, Divine, and Debbie Harry. It spawned a musical that won eight Tony Awards. It starred Harvey Fierstein and Glee star Matthew Morrison. Xanadu star Butler and Legally Blonde’s Bundy also had roles in this obscenely popular musical. Not only did the musical clean up some of Waters more edgy themes but it somehow managed to inspire a movie musical based on a musical based on a movie. It can best be described as:
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
In the spirit of the Fourth of July, Hollywood.com has put together a list of fifty movies with the word "America" in the title. Movies that have truly exemplified what our country is about. Movies that have made us appreciate our history and freedom. Movies about love, passion, overcoming obstacles... and a talking can of vegetable soup
AIR AMERICA Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. debate the morality of flying drugs to Laos during the Vietnam War
AMERICA, AMERICA A Greek kid loses a lot of money and wants to come to the U.S.
AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS Julia Roberts and John Cusack like each other
THE AMERICAN George Clooney is involved with assassinry
AN AMERICAN AFFAIR A young kid works in the Kennedy era for a woman who has great semblance to Marilyn Monroe
AMERICAN ANTHEM Some girl convinces a retired gymnast to do gymnastics again
AMERICAN BEAUTY Kevin Spacey wants to sleep with a teenager; his neighbor films litter
THE AMERICAN CAN Will Smith’s upcoming film on Hurricane Katrina
AN AMERICAN CAROL Michael Moore and Charles Dickens are treated with contempt
AMERICAN COWSLIP They actually misspelled “loser” in the trailer for this movie
AN AMERICAN CRIME Catherine Keener holds Juno hostage for some reason
AN AMERICAN DREAM Police and gangsters pursue a murderous talk show host
AMERICAN DREAMER A writer goes to Paris and becomes delusional
AMERICAN DREAMZ A misguided melding of terrorism and televised singing competitions
AMERICAN FLYERS Kevin Costner and his crazy brother ride bikes in the mountains
AMERICAN FUSION A Chinese immigrant with a crazy family falls for a Mexican doctor
AMERICAN GANGSTER Denzel Washington gets rich doing bad things
AMERICAN GIGOLO Richard Gere paves the way for Rob Schneider’s career
AMERICAN GRAFFITI The 60s were better than other times
AMERICAN HISTORY X Edward Norton is a pretty big racist for a while
AMERICAN IDIOT They’re making the Green Day album into a movie now
AMERICAN OUTLAWS Colin Farrell is a very modernized Jesse James
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Gene Kelly is involved in a love triangle, for a change
AMERICAN PIE A bunch of kids try to lose their virginities
AMERICAN PIE 2 Those same kids get a house on Lake Michigan
AMERICAN PIE 3 / AMERICAN WEDDING The main kid gets married to the girl who started as a one-off joke
AMERICAN PIE 4 / AMERICAN REUNION One of the kids is probably going to get caught in a compromising position
THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT President Michael Douglas loves Lobbyist Annette Bening
AMERICAN PSYCHO Christian Bale wears suits, likes Huey Lewis, and kills people
AMERICAN SPLENDOR Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar in the cartoonist’s biopic… which also stars Harvey Pekar
AMERICAN STRAYS Ten nut jobs drive through the Midwest; there’s a lot of killing
AN AMERICAN SUMMER Modern reimagining of Tom Sawyer, sort of
AMERICAN TABOO A photographer prefers to take pictures than to talk to people
AN AMERICAN TAIL Fievel makes us all believe in hope
AMERICAN VIOLET A black single mom is racially-profiled for dealing drugs in Texas
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON There’s an American werewolf in London
BIRDS OF AMERICA Matthew Perry’s siblings are out of their minds
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Skinny Brooklynite will become the ultimate soldier and save the world
COMING TO AMERICA Eddie Murphy in whiteface tells a joke about spoons
IN AMERICA Family of Irish immigrants adjust to American life
KIDS IN AMERICA Claire Dumphy is an unreasonable high school principal who incurs the wrath of her students
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL Abigail Breslin proves that all kids are smarter than all adults
KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN Ronald Reagan makes the most parodied movie speech ever
THE LAST AMERICAN HERO Jeff Bridges drives past and makes his own liquor
THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN A group of friends fight, do drugs, have sex, and maybe learn a little something
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA Robert DeNiro plays against type as a conflicted gangster
TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE Puppets fight al Qaeda, Kim Jong Il, and Matt Damon
THE QUIET AMERICAN Michael Caine is a reporter in the adaptation of a book I was supposed to read in college
THE UGLY AMERICAN Marlon Brando goes to Southeast Asia and takes offense to Communism
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Christopher Meloni fondles is sweaters
Top Story: Disney Blocks Moore Documentary
The Walt Disney Co. has moved to stop its Miramax Films subsidiary from distributing Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore's upcoming documentary Fahrenheit 911. The documentary touches on the personal relationship between President George H. W. Bush and Osama bin Laden's family as well as the events that led Bush and bin Laden to become enemies. According to a report Wednesday in the New York Times, Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Disney CEO Michael Eisner expressed concern the release of the film would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park and hotels in Florida, where President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, is governor. But one Disney executive denied that allegation, telling the Times the company did not want to be seen taking sides in the election and risk alienating customers of different political views. In a statement, Moore said: "I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter. The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on. All I can say is, thank God for [Miramax Chairman] Harvey Weinstein and Miramax, who have stood by me during the entire production of this movie." Fahrenheit 911, which was slated for release in July, will still premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this month.
Idol Finalists Hit the Road
In what has become a sort of tradition, the top 10 finalists from Fox's third American Idol season have made plans for a summer North American tour. The finalists include Fantasia Barrino, Diana DeGarmo, George Huff, Jasmine Trias and La Toya London as well as the already voted out Amy Adams, Camile Velasco, Jennifer Hudson, John Stevens and Jon Peter Lewis. Reuters reports the 48-city tour will kick off July 14 in Salt Lake City and end Sept. 26 in San Jose, Calif. The two-hour American Idol season finale is scheduled for May 26.
Anna Nicole Launches Clothing Line
Former Guess? model and Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith is planning to create a clothing line with the trendy outfitter Von Dutch, Extra reports. Smith, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Hogan, is currently on a world tour promoting the weight loss company Trim Spa, to which she credits having lost 69 pounds. The 36-year-old entertainer's reality TV series The Anna Nicole Show, which followed her daily misadventures, was canceled after ratings slipped from their all-time high in August 2002 when the series debuted.
Madonna Kicks Up Privacy Efforts
Madonna, meanwhile, is kicking the fight to keep hikers off her $16 million English country estate up a notch. Reuters reports a public inquiry opened Wednesday to look into whether English walkers, known across the pond as "ramblers," can saunter through Madonna and Guy Ritchie's 1,200 acre Ashcombe House estate in Dorset, southwest England--of which 100 acres has been defined as open country and therefore open to the public. The couple argues the land should be reclassified as "semi-improved" grassland because it is used for shooting game, which would define it as agricultural land and exclude it from public access. The inquiry is expected to last five days, with a verdict due this summer.
Usher Misses Chilli
R&B singer Usher recently told Rolling Stone magazine that every once in a while he thinks about calling his ex, TLC's Chilli. The two ended their highly publicized relationship earlier this year. "Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I did call [Chilli]," he said. "Would it become a good thing or would it become a bad thing? I think it's best that I don't call." The couple and Chilli's son lived in Usher's Atlanta home before the split. Chilli is now reportedly dating Baltimore Ravens football star Ray Lewis.
Emmys Test Online Voting
The Emmys will become the first major award show to offering online voting, Variety reports. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has sanctioned online voting for its interactive television Emmy and is pegging it as a test run for a system that may be expanded to the rest of its awards. "The technology is here, and it is only fitting that the Interactive Media Peer Group sets the precedent for online voting with this particular Emmy Award," ATAS chairman Dick Askin told Variety. "We hope it is a process that will be extended in the future to other Emmy Award categories."
Frasier May Live On
Could another incarnation of Frasier be in the works? As the long-running series comes to an end this year, Variety reports that according to industry insiders, Paramount topper Garry Hart met with NBC execs to discuss possibly extending the Frasier franchise, chronicling the next phase in Dr. Frasier Crane's life. All parties involved are declining comment, but industry insiders told Variety NBC opted against continuing the franchise, giving Paramount free reign to shop a new Frasier show to another network. It's unclear if star Kelsey Grammer would continue his Frasier character in a third series, but Grammer, who has played Frasier Crane for 20 years, has made it clear that he wouldn't have minded if Frasier continued on.
Another HIV Case Hits CA Porn Industry
A fourth adult film performer, a transsexual actress who goes by the stage name Jennifer, has tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS but the case is unrelated to an outbreak that virtually shut down pornography production last month, an industry health care official told Reuters on Tuesday. The performer had last performed a sex scene on Feb. 27 with two male actors who have since tested negative, according to Sharon Mitchell of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation. "This is an open-and-shut case of genealogy," she told Reuters. "We think it's contained."
Role Call: Amityville Horror Revisited
British commercial director Andrew Douglas will make his feature film debut with an update of the 1979 thriller The Amityville Horror. The original, starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger, centered on a newlywed couple who move into a mysterious house where all sorts of strange things happen.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
The Seinfeld segment titled "The Invitation," has been pulled from syndication over sensitivity about the recent anthrax scare, a spokeswoman for show syndicators told Reuters on Monday. In the episode, George Constanza (Jason Alexander)'s fiancée dies after licking the envelopes from their wedding invitations.
Television talk shows are having a difficult time filling in their guest couches as some stars continue to avoid flying across the country for interviews, The Associated Press reports. Drew Barrymore and Heather Graham both backed out of appearances on The Late Night with David Letterman, Ben Stiller canceled his Oct. 6 hosting gig on NBC's Saturday Night Live, and Emeril Lagasse and Steve Harvey canceled their appearances on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien show. Rosie O'Donnell also has had to cancel a full week of shows due to an anthrax scare.
John Leguizamo has pushed back the Broadway opening for his one-man show, Sexaholix...a Love Story, from Dec. 2 to Dec. 9 due to a leg injury. The comedian hurt his leg during a pre-show rehearsal last Thursday and was taken to New York's Roosevelt Hospital to be treated for a torn muscle, Reuters reports.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has approved a $650,000 payment to settle claims that its chief executive, Michael Greene, assaulted and physically abused a female employee, The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday. The employee, Jill Geimer, reportedly threatened to sue over his alleged misconduct but had not done so while negotiations continued over a possible settlement. More than a dozen of the 41 board members have called for his dismissal.
Britney Spears has made changes to the start of her U.S. tour for the second time, Jive Records says. Instead of a Halloween opening on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Spears will now launch her tour on Nov. 1 at the Nationwide Arena in Colombus, Ohio. Spears was originally set to launch her tour on Oct. 26 in Miami, Fla., but that date was scrubbed after the singer got the flu.
Jennifer Lopez has signed a $12 million deal to play a free-spirited gunslinger opposite Ben Affleck in Gigli, which director Martin Brest (Scent of a Woman) is scheduled to shoot next month, Reuters reports. In the film, Lopez's character is sent to supervise a hit man that has kidnapped the mentally slow brother of a district attorney. Lopez will replace Halle Berry, who left the project last month due to a scheduling conflict with X-Men 2.
MTV Networks has laid off 450 employees--roughly 9% of its workforce--in the deepest cuts of the Viacom-owned company's 20-year history. Tom Freston, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, said in a statement that the new economic times forced the first restructuring of the company since 1989, Reuters reports. Nick at Nite and TV Land will be consolidated, as well as the Latin American organizations of MTV and Nickelodeon. The Web sites for MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1 will no longer operate as separate companies and will move to one of MTV Networks' two locations in Manhattan. Finally, MTV will shut down its animation studio, saving money to hire outside companies to produce its cartoon series and specials.
Courtney Love was forced to finish her set early at her Oct. 26 opening gig for Jane's Addiction because of a strict Hollywood Bowl house curfew established under local noise ordinances, Tas Steiner, Love's publicist, told Reuters on Monday. The gig was arranged to give the unnamed label executive a chance to hear Love, who was backed by a new band, to play songs the audience never got to see her perform. "Courtney was disappointed," Steiner said. "She only got to do two of the four new songs that she was planning on singing. She ended up taking an acoustic guitar with her band into a restroom offstage and singing a few songs for a major label president." Love has added those four songs into a demo tape that she's been shopping to record labels while she presses on with her lawsuit against Universal Music Group to end her current recording contract.
George Lucas will screen trailers of his upcoming Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones before Pixar Animation's Monsters Inc. opens on Friday. But many studios are upset Lucas has chosen that specific movie to debut his trailer. "The question is, who owns that space before the movie?" one studio distribution chief said to Reuters. Lucasfilm holds a financial stake in Pixar, which started as the computer animation unit of Lucasfilm before it was sold to Apple in 1986. Jim Ward, Lucasfilm's VP of marketing, told Reuters that the "longstanding relationship" between Pixar and Lucasfilm benefits both companies in this case.
CBS has ditched Wolf Lake, a series that followed the creepy happenings in a small town where residents morphed into wolves after four Monday airings because of low ratings. The drama averaged only 6.6 million viewers, down 40 percent from what CBS' Wednesday night movie pulled in the 10 p.m. hour last year. According to Reuters, CBS execs are now mulling over how to fill the show's time slot, but haven't yet decided. This week, CBS will air