Morgan Freeman kicked off Saturday night's Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope telethon with tales of survival from the 26 December disaster in South-east Asia.
Freeman told the story of a 60-year-old man who had survived under a pile of rubble for two weeks, living only on rainwater, and of a woman who went into labor as the tsunami hit--and then named the child she gave birth to on a hilltop in India Tsunami.
The movie star ended his opening plea for American Red Cross funds by stating, "Miracles do happen."
The two-hour, commercial-free special also featured passionate pleas for help from Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, Bruce Willis--who was joined in New York by daughters Rumer, Tallulah and Scout--Robert De Niro, Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia, Kevin Spacey, Tim Robbins, pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman, Natalie Portman, celebrity couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Renee Zellweger, and Hugh Grant, who confessed to writing a check even though he's "famously stingy."
Meanwhile, Madonna performed John Lennon's peace anthem "Imagine" via satellite from London and rocker Brian Wilson performed "Love & Mercy" as a tribute to pal Markus Sandlund, who was among the victims of the killer wave and is still missing. Photographs of the Swedish cellist, who performed on Wilson's Smile album and tour, were dotted around the studio as the former Beach Boys star sang.
The musical highlight of the telethon came as reclusive Pink Floyd star Roger Waters performed "Wish You Were Here" with Eric Clapton. Other musical performers included Maroon 5, Norah Jones, Mary J Blige, Gloria Estefan, Sarah Mclachlan, country star Kenny Chesney, Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Nelly, Diana Ross, Annie Lennox, Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder, who duetted with India.Arie.
And stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Quincy Jones, Tom Selleck, Johnny Depp, James Caan, Quentin Tarantino, Hilary Swank, Nicolas Cage, Don Cheadle, Kate Hudson, Rob Lowe and George Clooney, who helped organize the telethon's celebrity effort while recovering from back surgery, were among those who answered telephones in the NBC/Universal studio in Los Angeles as viewers dialed in their donations. They also signed Red Cross mugs, scripts and telephones, which were given away to the most generous callers.
Almost 95 per cent of money raised by the telethon, which also featured footage of the tsunami disaster and the relief effort, will go directly to aiding the survivors of the tragedy. The remainder will help support groups acts swiftly and efficiently.
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Twentieth Century Fox Television has signed a deal with xXx director Rob Cohen valued in the mid-six-figure range. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal calls for Cohen to develop, executive produce, direct and possibly co-write a drama series targeted for fall 2003. Cohen is no stranger to TV, having directed Miami Vice, the 1980s action series about two undercover Miami police detectives. Twentieth TV president Dana Walden said of Cohen, "If you look at the work he's done on the feature side over the past five years, he is...an FBC (FOX Broadcasting Company) 'wish list' kind of director."
Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest, who recently adopted a three-year-old girl named Serena, plan to adopt three more children, Ananova.com reports. The couple will reveal their plans on tonight's edition of Liquid News on BBC Choice--from the dining room of their New York home. Minnelli and Gest will co-star in their own reality series titled Liza and David, set to air later this year on the VH1 music channel.
Hugh Grant will play adventurer Phileas Fogg with Jackie Chan as his eccentric butler in Twentieth Century Fox's remake of the 1956 adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. According to the UK's The Sun, filming on the project is set to begin in January. The original starred David Niven.
The giant-screen release of Apollo 13 took in $183,090 in ticket sales from 18 IMAX venues across the United States and Canada from Friday through Sunday, Variety reports. With just a nine percent drop since its Sept. 20 opening weekend grosses, the film has already exceeded Universal Pictures' expectations for the IMAX format, which costs the studio about $2-3 million per film.
Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami, who was to have introduced his film Ten at the New York Film Festival Sunday, was forced to cancel his participation when he failed to obtain a visa. According to The Associated Press, the State Department said Iranians are subject to an extensive security review due to heightened security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Kiarostami, whose film Taste of Cherry won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, has been to the New York Film Festival twice and was the subject of a retrospective in 1996.
It's Big Brother, with celebs. The WB network is working on a new reality series titled The Surreal Life, in which TV cameras will follow the lives of has-been and never-quite-were celebrities living together under one roof. According to Variety, cast members include rapper turned preacher M.C. "U Can't Touch This" Hammer, Webster star Emmanuel Lewis, The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn and Motley Crue's Vince Neil. The series, originally set to air this month, was pushed back to midseason so producers could cast it.
Freddie Prinze Jr., a nanny? That's right. Prinze will make an appearance on the NBC comedy Friends this season as a male nanny hired by Ross and Rachel for their new baby. The episode will most likely air during one of the "sweeps" months, which include November, February, May and July.
This film is based on Elegy for Iris literary critic John Bayley's biography of his late wife the brilliant writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Iris is unconventional in the sense that it does not adhere to a structured plot or story line but instead focuses on their relationship by flashing back and forth between the present and 40 years ago when the two first met. In the sequences taking place in the past Kate Winslet plays a young confident Murdoch in her formative years a woman revered by men and openly bisexual. Hugh Bonneville plays the young and apprehensive Bayley hopelessly pursuing her. The present however reveals a drastic role reversal for the couple: We see Murdoch in her 70s as played by Judi Dench and witness her descent into Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on her husband played by Jim Broadbent. The once-subservient husband has been thrust into a caretaker position and painfully tries to cope with his beloved wife's illness and loss of sanity.
Dench deservedly received a best actress Oscar nomination for the fabulous job she does as the older Murdoch. She is convincing as a brilliant thinker and even more believable as her condition worsens--check out the heartbreaking scene when Bayley locks himself in the study to get away from her irrational behavior and she scratches the windowpane on the glass door like a cat while looking at her husband with utter helplessness. Dench conveys her character's vulnerability in a single glance. As an older Bayley Broadbent is as impressive as Dench especially as he struggles to be assertive yet avoid being too harsh. Bonneville as a young Bayley could almost be Broadbent's clone. At first glance he looks like the same actor made to look older through some sort of makeup or special effects wizardry. Bonneville skillfully hatches the young Bayley's traits and tics later perfected by Broadbent. Winslet also Oscar-nominated for Iris (in the supporting actress category) well plays Murdoch's early audacity and boldness.
Director Richard Eyre does a beautiful and seamless job flowing from the past to the present throughout the film. Although the film barely delves into Murdoch's work the importance of her writing is established with scenes from a BBC interview or a luncheon given in her honor. Eyre also does an exceptional job conveying Bayley's hopeless predicament: he fusses over Murdoch like an overprotective parent intermittently lashing out at her only to apologize sobbing afterward for having done so. It's sweet and pitiful especially since Bayley believes that the Iris he fell in love with is still in there somewhere. But while the film is visually exquisite and convincing the subject matter is not necessarily entertaining. We know Murdoch will eventually succumb to her illness but it's even more dreadful to have to watch every agonizing step. By the time Murdoch was reduced to playing in the dirt and watching Teletubbies I found myself wondering When is she going to die already?