As one of England's finest entertainment figures of the 20th Century, Ronnie Barker was most recognized for his contributions to the medium of television. The English actor was best known for his role...
British comedy legend Ronnie Corbett's daughter Sophie has paid tribute to her funnyman father by naming her boutique store The Four Candles after the iconic sketch by Corbett and his late co-star Ronnie Barker. The store, based in Brighton, England, sells clothes, jewellery, bags and furniture.
I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Beloved British comic Ronnie Corbett has retired from TV work after a health scare left him in hospital. The 83 year old fell ill at his London home last Sunday (09Mar14) after complaining of chest and stomach pains. He was taken to a nearby hospital but doctors were unable to diagnose the problem.
Now Corbett, famous for his longrunning TV comedy act with late star Ronnie Barker, has decided to step away from the spotlight to help preserve his health.
His wife Anne tells Britain's Sunday Mirror, "He won't be doing any more TV - he's 83. He won't be like (veteran British TV star) Bruce Forsyth.
"We didn't know what was wrong. He was feeling sick in his stomach and he wasn't well. The hospital ran lots of tests, he was in there for several days."
It's the latest health worry for Corbett - he collapsed during a celebratory dinner on New Year's Day in 2012 and spent several days in hospital in April of the same year (12).
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
British actor Sir David Jason is set to reprise his role on classic BBC sitcom Open All Hours for a one-off Christmas special, almost 30 years after the show went off air. The series originally starred the late Ronnie Barker as Jason's onscreen uncle and shop owner, and ran for four seasons between 1973 and 1985.
Now Jason, 73, is preparing to return to his TV roots as Granville, alongside former co-stars Lynda Baron as Nurse Gladys Emmanuel and Maggie Ollerenshaw as Mavis.
The Only Fools and Horses star says, "I am sure there is an audience out there who would like to see what Granville has been up to in the corner shop.
"I'm really excited to be bringing back Open All Hours. It will be a great family show for Christmas and a fitting tribute to the legacy of Arkwright."
The new 30-minute episode, which will feature Granville as the new store owner, will air in the U.K. this Christmas (Dec13).
Comedian Barker died in 2005, aged 76.
Funnyman David Walliams has ruled out pursuing a Hollywood career, insisting he has taken inspiration from fellow Brits Rowan Atkinson and Ronnie Barker by staying away from Tinseltown. The Little Britain star has enjoyed brief roles in several movies, including 2004 zombie film Shaun of the Dead, but he is determined to remain in his native U.K. instead of relocating to California.
Walliams is adamant his refusal to head to Hollywood will not endanger his career, and he cites Atkinson, Barker, and comedian Peter Kay as examples of how to achieve long-term success while living in Britain.
He tells Event magazine, "I don't want to be thousands of miles away. I like my life here. Ronnie Barker never made a Hollywood movie and he's a legend. (Sometimes) I ask myself, 'What would Peter Kay do?' or 'What would Rowan Atkinson do?' I think they are people with incredible careers who have managed to do it their own way."
Adam Barker, 44, was quizzed by cops over the allegations in 2004 and subsequently went into hiding before eventually handing himself in to authorities in July (12).
He pleaded guilty to 20 charges, relating to indecent images of children found on his computer, last month (Sep12), and on Friday (19Oct12) he appeared at Isleworth Crown Court in London to hear his sentence.
Judge Rosa Dean told Barker his offending "contributed to the degradation and continuing abuse of children" and handed him a one-year jail term.
Barker was also added to the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and has been banned from working with youngsters in the future.
Adam Barker, 44, was first quizzed by cops over the allegations in 2004 and subsequently went into hiding before eventually handing himself in to authorities in July (12).
He appeared at Isleworth Crown Court in London on Friday (28Sep12) and pleaded guilty to 20 charges, stemming from indecent images of children found on his computer.
He faces up to five years in prison when he sentenced on 19 October (12).
The honour, which is traditionally placed at significant historical sites all over Britain, will be unveiled at the property in Oxford, England on Saturday (29Sep12).
It will be revealed by the Lord Mayor of Cowley, Councillor Alan Armitage, and chairman of the local City Of Oxford School, which donated the plaque.
The British TV legend enjoyed his first time in the spotlight in Oxford as part of an amateur dramatic group and lived in the area all his life until his death in 2005.
Adam Barker spent eight years on the run after being quizzed by police over the allegations in 2004 before handing himself in last month (Jul12).
He appeared before magistrates in Uxbridge, London on Tuesday (21Aug12) and the court heard he will face 20 charges after police allegedly found more than 2,000 indecent images of children on his computer.
Barker, 44, was remanded in custody until his next hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on 20 September (12).
Played Friar Tuck in "Robin and Marian," directed by Richard Lester
Starred in the television series "Porridge"
As one of England's finest entertainment figures of the 20th Century, Ronnie Barker was most recognized for his contributions to the medium of television. The English actor was best known for his roles in several memorable British television series such as "Porridge" (BBC1, 1974-77), "The Two Ronnies" (BBC1, 1971-77), and "Open All Hours" (BBC2, 1973-1985). The middle child sandwiched between two sisters, he was born Ronald William George Barker on September 25, 1929, the son of Leonard and Edith Barker. As a young boy, he developed a fascination with theater and humor. He took up amateer dramatics, despite his father's objections. Barker attempted to join the Young Vic theater in London, but he instead found his acting footing at the Manchester Repertory Company. Barker's entry to the entertainment industry was slow at first, but he eventually made his debut as a professional actor in 1948 in a performance of J.M. Barrie's "Quality Street." His first lead role was in "The Guinea Pig" as a working class boy at a public school. Barker soon realized that he preferred comedy over drama. In 1951, he joined the Oxford Playhouse where he appeared in such plays as "He Who Gets Slapped." By 1955, Barker had quite a prolific theater career with over 350 plays and he was soon ready to take on other media.
Barker's success at the theater enabled him to easily transition to radio work. In 1956, he lent his voice to play Lord Russett in "Floggit's" in his first radio performance. After several years in radio, Barker appeared on television for the first time in the show "I'm Not Bothered," headed by Glenn Melvyn, an actor whom Barker met back in his theater days. In an uncredited role, Barker made his feature film debut in "Wonderful Things!" (1958), a British comedy that starred Frankie Vaughan and Jocelyn Lane. Barker continued to make headway in television and eventually landed a break by joining the satirical sketch series, "The Frost Report" (BBC, 1966-67), led by British television personality David Frost and featuring iconic British comedian John Cleese before he founded Monty Python. It was also on "The Frost Report" that Barker met Ronnie Corbett, who would become one of Barker's frequent collaborators in the future. Through David Frost, Barker was given his own show in 1968 called "The Ronnie Barker Playhouse" (Rediffusion, 1968), a six-episode series that showcased Barker's comedic talents.
Although he was now a recognized figure in British television, Barker's popularity had yet to rise to its pinnacle. BBC was impressed by the comedic material Barker and Corbett had performed in the 1971 BAFTA Awards and granted them their own show. "The Two Ronnies" began its long run in 1971 to immediate success. The comedic sketch show was lauded for its variety and sharp wit, and won several BAFTA TV awards for Barker and Corbett in the Best Light Entertainment Performance category. "The Two Ronnies" opened up more opportunities for Barker on television. The BBC let him produce two sitcom pilots, which eventually became the series "Porridge" and "Open All Hours." From 1974 to 1977, "Porridge" centered around two inmates, played by Barker and Richard Beckinsale, who are interned at the fictional HMP Slade prison. "Open All Hours" was a bona fide television hit that ran as four series in 1976, 1981, 1982, and 1985, . Barker played the series' central character Albert Arkwright, a miserly old man with a hilarious stammer. Both programs have been deemed to be two of the greatest British sitcoms of all time.
By the late 1980s, Barker's career had spanned over three decades. Some of his subsequent series such as "The Magnificent Evans" (BBC1, 1984) and "Clarence" (BBC1, 1988) were nowhere near as successful as "Porridge" and Open All Hours," and Barker wanted to go out on a high note. At the height of his fame, Barker retired from show business so as not to damage his legacy, as well as concerns about his health. However, Barker occasionally made guest appearances on TV after his retirement. His first return to television was when he and Corbett appeared as guests on the popular British cooking show "Two Fat Ladies" in 1997, just a little over a decade after his retirement. Despite not being in the television spotlight, he was not forgotten by the industry. In 2004, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the following year, he and Corbett were one of the first 100 people who were given a star on London's Avenue of the Stars. To commemorate the 18th anniversary of the last episode of "The Two Ronnies," BBC put together a special clip show in 2005 called "The Two Ronnies Sketchbook" that featured newly recorded introductions from Barker and Corbett. Unfortunately, it was the last time Barker would appear on television. Due to his failing health, Barker died on October 3, 2005 at the age of 76.