"I did not (know who he was). When I read the script, I was like, 'Is this a fictitious character?' (But) I did the research and I fell in love with this man... He was such a wonderful individual." Actor Nelsan Ellis had to study soul singer/producer Bobby Byrd's background before signing up to star as James Brown's best friend and confidante in new biopic Get On Up.
Duncan Sheik and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's American Psycho musical is set to hit New York after a sold-out run in London's West End. The adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial 1991 novel will open off-Broadway for previews in February (15) and will officially open a month later.
American Psycho premiered at London's Almeida Theatre in December, 2013, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith making his stage debut as serial killer Patrick Bateman.
The British singer/actress who understudied for and then replaced Idina Menzel in Wicked is returning to the West End stage as Elphaba for a limited run beginning next month (Aug14). Kerry Ellis, who first took on the role in 2006 when she became the first British Elphaba, will replace Willemijn Verkaik in London from 4 August to 25 October (14).
Verkaik, who will play her final performance as Elphaba on Saturday (19Jul14), has been forced to step out of the spotlight after a seven-year international run to have surgery on her back.
Ellis says, "It is an absolute thrill for me to be returning to this amazing show and the incredible role of Elphaba that is so very special to me. I can't wait to be green again and join this fantastic cast."
The London production of Wicked is the 10th longest running show in the West End.
American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis has been selected to serve as the international jury president at Belgium's Film Fest Gent. The writer, who also penned the script for Lindsay Lohan film flop The Canyons, follows in the footsteps of director Michael Haneke and French actress Jeanne Moreau, who previously held the role. The 2014 festival, which will pay tribute to French film, kicks off on 14 October (14).
British actress Gemma Arterton battled nerves ahead of her performance at a tribute concert for musical theatre legend Sir Tim Rice. The former Bond girl was joined a host of musicians including The Who star Roger Daltrey, Rufus Wainwright, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Rice's long-term collaborator Andrew Lloyd-Webber to celebrate the works of the Oscar-winning songwriter on Tuesday (08Jul14).
Arterton sang with an orchestra during the show at London's Southbank Centre, and she posted a picture of the stage on Twitter.com ahead of her big moment, adding, "My first proper public singing performance tonight. Here's me doing the soundcheck. No pressure..."
The tribute show, titled Tim Rice: A Life In Song, will be televised in the U.K. later this year (14).
Arterton will soon be showcasing her vocal skills on a regular basis in the Made in Dagenham musical, which opens in London in October (14).
Veteran singers Loretta Lynn and Jackson Browne are set to be saluted with lifetime achievement prizes at the 2014 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Country icon Lynn will be recognised for her songwriting success, while social activist Browne will receive the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award.
Blues musician Taj Mahal and Latin accordionist Flaco Jimenez will also be feted with the respective lifetime achievement awards for performance and instrumentalist.
The accolades will be presented to the quartet during the Americana Awards ceremony on 17 September (14).
Roseanne Cash, Robert Ellis and Jason Isbell lead the nominees for the event with three nods apiece.
British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor wept with pride while watching her young brother perform at the 2014 Glastonbury Festival. The Murder On The Dance Floor hitmaker performed on the Avalon Stage on Friday (27Jun14) and managed to see her brother Jack play drums for British singer John Newman on the same day.
Ellis-Bextor admits she was in tears during his performance, telling Britain's Sunday Mirror, "My brother is eight years younger and plays drums for John Newman. My mum used to cry when I played which I thought was silly, but tears were streaming down my face. It was embarrassing."
Linkin Park star Mike Shinoda has denied reports suggesting he and his bandmates tipped police off to Sublime With Rome's drug use backstage at a festival in Arizona. SWR frontman Rome Ramirez accused the rockers of calling police when the two bands shared the stage at a recent radio festival in Tucson.
The authorities raided the group's backstage area and confiscated Sublime's pot stash while they were performing.
But Shinoda insists he and his bandmates didn't snitch.
Appearing on The Jason Ellis Show on SiriusXM satellite radio, the Linkin Park star says, "Apparently, from his (Ramirez) perspective, we called the cops because they were smoking weed.
"First of all, if you were at this venue, there were a shocking number of police officers in the venue. Whatever happened, nobody called POT-911, 'cause they (police officers) were there; they were standing outside the room. I don't know what happened, I have no idea what happened with who. But I know that I didn't know anybody, I know Chester (Bennington) didn't call anybody."
Shinoda adds, "We took Snoop Dogg out on tour, we took Cypress Hill out on tour. Our second tour ever was with Kottonmouth Kings... Did I put Snoop Dogg in jail? Why would I do that? I don't care. The main thing, from my end, is just that... if somebody did say something to somebody about, like, 'Hey, this is not so cool,' just keep in mind that we all have families and in our dressing room that day, there was, like, two of Chester's kids who are, I think, eight and 10 or 12."
It might not be as glamorous as Cannes or as cool as Sundance, but the Los Angeles Film Festival has just as much to offer as its larger counterparts. Between high-profile premieres of blockbuster films, international competition entries and some of the most exciting indies around all premiering at LAFF every year, there's plenty to pay attention to. But if you were unfortunate enough to let the this year's fest — which ran from June 11 to 19 — we've got you covered with a rundown of the most talked-about films to premiere at LAFF, and what the critics are saying about them. Now you can make all of your friends think you're cooler than you actually are.
They Came Together The Amy Poehler/Paul Rudd romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for is less about the relationship between the central couple, Joel (Rudd) and Molly (Poehler), and more about skewering every last trope of the genre. Written and directed by Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain, the film lovingly parodies the traits, characters, conversations, and comically large apartments that appear in every rom com ever made, while allowing two funny, good looking people to fall in love in an entertaining way.
“The script’s on-the-nose descriptions of each character (as described by the characters themselves) actually works to frame them as self-aware people forced to play out roles we have seen before and allows the hilarious cast to play within those lines. Poehler and Rudd have a natural chemistry that makes them believable as the two leads in love, but their comedy also blends well making it clear they are having fun with each other and the characters they are playing.” – Allison Loring, Film School Rejects
"Wain leads his well-known cast through spoofs of such classics as When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall, The Graduate and the sharp-elbowed comedies of Tracy and Hepburn. Each gag makes you wish you were watching the original, although a clench between Joel and his grandmother (Lynn Cohen) that almost leads to incestuous coupling deserves credit for sheer audacity. Most of the time, however, the actors on the screen seem to be having much more fun than the audience will." - David D'Arcy, Screen Daily
Cut Bank A small town crime drama set in Cut Bank, Montana that centers on a former high school football star (Liam Hemsworth) desperate to find a way out of his town. After he accidentally films the murder of the town mailman, he is offered a reward that would give him enough money to leave for good, but things aren't a simple as they seem, and he finds himself caught in a tangled web of deception and danger.
"...Shakman lets the scenes unfurl with a clunky pace and little verve, simply exaggerating the irony and naivety in the town as his main go-to points. It only makes sense that [John] Malkovich’s sheriff has never fired his gun and carries an aversion to violence; likewise with Palmer, who itches non-stop after a Miss Cut Bank pageant title even while she wants nothing more than to skip town. Thankfully humor seeps in through the edges of the film and its characters, sometimes on purpose and other times not." - Charlie Schmidlin, The Playlist
Dear White People A satire of college movies that tackles race relations and privilege in society, Dear White People follows four students as an Ivy League university — golden boy Troy (Brandon P. Bell), activist radio host Samantha (Tessa Thompson), Colendra "Coco" Conners (Teyona Parris), who has dreams of being a reality TV star, and shy misfit Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) — after a planned "African American"-themed party thrown by a group of white students starts a riot on campus.
"If it ultimately feels modestly edgy rather than shocking or dangerous, 'Dear White People' nonetheless provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers. It also works as a fine showcase for its actors: Fleshing out characters that could have been little more than one-note mouthpieces, Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure." - Justin Chang, Variety
The Last Time You Had Fun With a cast full of comedians and sitcom alums, The Last Time You Had Fun puts a grown-up twist on the standard "wild night out" comedy. After Ida (Eliza Coupe) forces her sister Alison (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) to blow off some steam with her, they find themselves bickering and partying with Clark (Kyle Bornheimer) and the sweatpants-clad Will (Demetri Martin), as the four of them attempt to have the most fun that four older, dysfunctional adults could possibly have.
"Granted, the excesses of Bridesmaids or The Hangover are not essential to sparkling relationship comedy, but Fun lacks an edge, or even much of an attitude. Blandly risqué situations, featherweight banter and a hint of implied sexual impropriety have all the heft of an extended cable sitcom episode. Or maybe it’s the casting, which draws extensively on the TV comedy background of the four leads, who all acquit themselves adequately but can’t achieve sufficient character differentiation within the ensemble. Undistinguished locations, flat lighting and primarily static setups perpetuate the small-screen aesthetic, which at least bodes well for the film’s transition to home entertainment formats." - Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
Echo Park The debut film from photographer Amanda Marsalis, Echo Park is a story about two people who come together "across cultural, economic and racial boundaries." Sophie (Mamie Gummer) is an unhappy housewife who moves from her Beverly Hills home to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Echo Park in order to shake up her predictable boring life, who finds herself drawn to Alex (Tony Okungbowa) after she buys his couch. But their burgeoning relationship might have to be put on hold, since he's about to leave for London...
"It’s Marsalis’ direction, and the fine performances from Gummer and Okungbowa that elevate the film above what it might have been, given the issues with the script and story that hover around the edges of cliché and stereotype (the worst offender: Sophie’s mother). While the dialogue, especially the scenes between Sophie and Alex, works well, the story beats are oddly laid out, rushing through some important character and relationship establishing moments, and dwelling too long in moments where the characters are making frustrating, selfish choices. Still, the end of the film avoids falling into the traditional romantic film trap, leading to a message that’s a bit more complicated and nuanced than expected." - Katie Walsh, IndieWire
Writer/actor Michael Showalter and his wife, Anne Kalin Ellis, have become parents to twins. Showalter was noticeably absent from Monday's (23Jun14) New York City premiere of his upcoming film They Came Together, which reunited him with Wet Hot American Summer co-stars Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, and his co-writer David Wain confirmed to Us Weekly that his pal had good reason to miss the red carpet event.
Wain revealed, "Michael would have loved to have been here but he's on the west coast with newborn twins."
The new dad also appeared as a correspondent on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and was the host of his own programme, The Michael Showalter Showalter, from 2007 to 2008.