There's probably still someone somewhere that would fall for one of Sacha Baron Cohen's weird and wooly scenarios but let's face the facts: the days when Ali G. could snag an interview with Pat Buchanan or Gore Vidal are long gone. 2009's Bruno definitely let some steam out of Borat's tires not to mention the ensuing lawsuits. But it's refreshing to see Cohen and his Borat/Bruno cohort director Larry Charles flex their muscles in the fictional universe of The Dictator a vehicle that doesn't skimp on their signature cringe-worthy humor.
The world of The Dictator gives them the leeway to create crazy spectacles — at one point Cohen's General Aladeen rides down Fifth Avenue on a camel surrounded by a giant motorcade. Having a plot helps too; although part of the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen's schtick is how the viewer is made culpable by proxy by our amusement and horror at how he tricks and torments people who aren't in on the joke The Dictator continues the self-reflexive satirical bite. We're certainly not off the hook. Aladeen says and does truly outrageous things but they're also exaggerations of the world we live in. It might be a stretch to call Sacha Baron Cohen the British Lenny Bruce or George Carlin in a face merkin but rest assured that no topic is off limits. If you are offended by jokes about abortion rape feminists body hair race religion politics STDs war crimes ethnic cleansing necrophilia and/or bestiality don't even bother. However if you like the kind of comedy that makes you hide your face in your hands feeling like each laugh is being pried from you against your will you're in business.
Cohen eats up the screen as both General Aladeen and his incredibly dumb body double; the latter prefers the intimate company of one of his goats to a human while the former is a fairly stupid ruthless dictator whose own people are so disloyal to him that they actually ignore his commands to execute people. (He really likes to execute people.) When he arrives in New York City to attend a summit at the UN his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) has the two switched so he can easily manipulate the "General" into signing a treaty to make Wadiya a democracy and reap the financial benefits. Aladeen finds refuge with Zoe a hairy-pitted activist who thinks he's a political dissident and is excited to be able to give him a safe haven in her touchy-feely Brooklyn grocery co-op. Instead of being typecast as another blonde dummy Anna Faris is finally given room to play as the wide-eyed naïf who takes Aladeen's very serious statements as jokes or simple miscommunications. She's a great foil to Baron Cohen who is easily half a foot taller than she is and has a wolfish grin. Their banter is often the most politically incorrect of the bunch but also the funniest.
Alas the plot. It's a bare bones situation to get a very broad character from A to B. Aladeen is obviously an outlandish mishmash of modern dictators; he spouts racist misogynist rhetoric endlessly and after a while...yeah we get it. However like all of Sacha Baron Cohen's humor The Dictator also takes a direct shot at Western countries (specifically the United States) which would be all fine and dandy if he didn't wedge an expository speech in about it as well. The problem with making a traditional narrative movie is that with some exceptions you've got to play within the guidelines. The Dictator isn't trying to do anything fancy; all it needs a few big beats and a neat ending to wrap it all up. It doesn't quite manage to tie it all together in a way that makes The Dictator more than an hour and a half or so of laughing and cringing.
Besides Faris and Kingsley there are a number of cameos by a very wide variety of comics and actors. Megan Fox plays herself Kevin Corrigan appears as a creepy dude who works at the co-op John C. Reilly is a racist security guard and Fred Armisen runs an anti-Aladeen café in New York's Little Wadiya district. The very funny Jason Mantzoukas has a large role as Nadal the former head of rocket science who was supposedly executed for not making Aladeen's nuclear warhead pointy. It's a good ensemble and hopefully Sacha Baron Cohen's next feature-length film will build on The Dictator's weaknesses.
The TV sitcom's future has been in jeopardy over the last few months, with Cox and Phillips famously launching independent promotional campaigns in a bid to boost ratings amid fears the show, which premiered in 2009, was facing cancellation.
The Friends star also took a stand against ABC network bosses and accused them of failing to properly market the series, but on Thursday (10May12), it was announced that executives had landed a deal with rival channel TBS to give the show a new lease of life.
Cox and her co-stars are overjoyed at being given the chance to make a fourth season of the comedy and they wasted no time in taking to Twitter.com to share the news with fans and thank them for their continued support.
An excited Cox writes, "Cougar Town is moving to TBS!! So happy we get to continue making our show! We cannot thank you all enough for your support. Seriously, guys. THANK YOU".
Phillips tweeted, "It's Official: COUGAR TOWN Jumps From ABC to TBS in Two-Season Deal," and Hopkins added, "CougarTown trending world wide. Thanks all".
Cox's estranged husband David Arquette, who serves as the show's co-executive producer and makes a cameo in the upcoming season finale on 29 May (12), also raved about the news, posting, "Attn (attention) Cougar town fans... Thanks for your support - thank you TBS".
There's no question that superheroes are a lucrative bunch. From Spider-Man to The Dark Knight, crime-fighters on the big screen often translate to big bucks at the box office. But how much does it actually cost to be a superhero? To celebrate Superhero Week — and May 4's all-star blockbuster The Avengers — Hollywood.com delves into the sustainability of our favorite heroes' super extracurricular activities. Would they have the funds — and good health — to keep up with their secret lifestyles? To kick off the week, we break down Jon Favreau's 2008 smash hit Iron Man and discover that being a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist isn't as easy as it looks.
Name: Anthony Edward "Tony" Stark
Superhero Alias: Iron Man
Occupation: CEO/President of the defense technology company Stark Industries
Income: According to a recent analysis by Forbes magazine, Iron Man is the world's richest superhero with a $9.3 billion fortune.
Rent: Stark's incredible cliffside home in Malibu was inspired by the Arango resident in Acapulco, which was designed by famed architect John Lautner. While Stark's home hasn't been appraised recently, Courteney Cox and David Arquette sold their Lautner-created Mailbu beach home for $33.5 million in 2007.
Costume: Tony cobbled together his first costume from metal scraps while being held captive in an Afghanistan cave. After that, it got considerably more expensive. While the gold-titanium alloy exoskeleton is what provides Iron Man with strength and protection, surprisingly, it's the smaller items that form the priciest components of the suit. The nuclear reactor in Tony's chest is similar to the power source for NASA's Martian rover Curiosity, which costs $36 million, and the voice-activated, helmet-mounted display is modeled after those found in fighter jets, which cost about $54 million. Add in a few jet packs and wearable computers and the total cost shoots up to about $100 million per suit.
Weapons: The Iron Man suit is a walking arsenal. It features anti-tank missiles on the wrists, anti-personal guns on the shoulders, and flare launchers on the hips. Plus, the repulsors in the hands shoot beams of energy that can be used for steering or to knock back enemies. Since cruise missiles cost nearly $1.5 million a piece, Tony should really think twice before taking out baddies with the compact smart missiles in his suit.
Gadgets: Tony's house has been tricked out with JARVIS, an intelligent computer that talks with him, monitors his household, and helps him build gadgets. While JARVIS may be worth millions, it's essentially free since Tony came up with the techology himself and "borrowed" the necessary parts from Stark Industries. (Plus, some guy managed to build a knock off for just $692).
Damages: During Iron Man's battle with Obadiah Stane (a.k.a. Iron Monger), they managed to total six cars and a bus (and put dozens of pot holes into the street). To cover street repair and the cost of a new bus, Tony should have handed over about $2 million to the city of Los Angeles. Plus, he probably needs to reimburse Stark Industries for about $1 billion, or whatever's the current cost of the high-tech weapons lab that Tony blew sky high.
Transportation: When he's in civilian mode, Tony likes to travel in a super-sized private jet, complete with strobe light, stripper pole, and flight attendants that double as exotic dancers. The jet could easily run him $300 million, but he also has the option of flying for free in his Iron Man garb (if he isn't worried about his suit getting wrinkled).
Risks: Since he's encased in metal, Tony is fairly well protected from physical injuries (compared to his spandex-clad fellow super heroes at least). However, we'd say having nothing but a removable electromagnet keeping shrapnel from tearing through your chest is a pretty big danger.
Perks: Literally anything that money can buy — plus the satisfaction of being a bigger playboy than Hugh Hefner.
Sustainability: Questionable. Tony is a billionaire — with a "b" — which means he could create 1,000 Iron Man suits and still have $8.3 billion in the bank. For now, Tony gets all of his weapons at wholesale prices through Stark Industries, but that arrangement won't work if he keeps destroying billions of dollars worth of company property.
Final calculation: It's easy to see why Obadiah Stane was enraged by Tony's decision to have Stark Industries stop making weapons and focus on doing good in the world. It's a noble goal, but after racking up nearly $2 billion in expenses during his first few adventures as Iron Man, Tony needs to focus on making some cash. He won't be of use to anyone if he goes from being Iron Man to a guy in a rusty, old, bullet-riddled costume.
[Realestalker, Popular Mechanics, io9]
Batman Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
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Iron Man vs. Batman: Who's Richer?
NBC network bosses immediately thought of Aniston as the perfect person to portray Green when they were presented with the comedy and they cast her alongside co-stars Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.
But she had yet to sign a contract with NBC to officially join the show by the time it was ready to go into production in 1994, and TV executive Warren Littlefield admits they took a huge risk keeping Aniston on the project instead of simply recasting the role - because they weren't completely sure if she'd be able to quit her other job.
In an interview on U.S. breakfast show Today on Friday (27Apr12), he said, "We had a little difficulty. She had actually signed on to do a series at CBS and we had to take her in second position. We did the pilot that way, and she still wasn't available.
"We had to go into series production throwing millions of dollars at risk and we still did not have the rights to go forward with Jennifer."
Aniston was eventually able to commit to Friends and the programme went on to become one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, winning multiple awards, including Emmy and Golden Globe honours - and launching her career.
Multiple sources tell Life & Style magazine the pair has rekindled its romance - and the Scream star was spotted out and about with McLarty at the weekend (21-22Apr12).
One insider says, "David and Christina are fully back together. They are totally boyfriend and girlfriend again. David is happy and he says he loves her."
The couple met at a party last summer (11) and Arquette, who is estranged from his wife Courteney Cox, told pal Howard Stern his girlfriend was "adorable" during a radio interview in September (11).
Neither Arquette nor McLarty have confirmed the reunion news.
It may be hard to believe, but you almost spent 10 years watching a show called Six of One featuring Courteney Cox as Rachel. Warren Littlefield, the former president of NBC Entertainment, has written the book Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, and in an excerpt published in the May issue of Vanity Fair, he shares the history of how Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Lisa Kudrow wound up meeting for coffee at Central Perk on a weekly basis.
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman reveals that casting the iconic roles wasn't easy. "We saw a countless number of actors," she says. Among the first was Matthew Perry, who auditioned for the role of Chandler. Though it was obvious that he was a great fit for the part, he had already committed to doing the pilot LAX 2194. (Someone at FOX thought a time travel show would be more exciting if it focused on airport baggage handlers). Kauffman thought the role of Chandler would be the easiest to cast because, "It’s got the most joke jokes. It’s sarcastic and kind of quippy," however, "No one could do it. No one.” Shockingly, FOX didn't pick up the luggage-themed pilot, and Perry was free to take the role.
We also came dangerously close to living in a "Rachel cut," Braniston-free world. The role of Rachel was originally offered to Courteney Cox, but she asked to do Monica instead. That required a big character rewrite, because those casting the show had another actress in mind for Monica. “When we originally wrote the role, we had Janeane Garofalo’s voice in our head,” explains Kauffman’s writing partner, David Crane. “Darker and edgier and snarkier, and Courteney brought a whole bunch of other colors to it. We decided that, week after week, that would be a lovelier place to go to.” She nearly lost the role to Nancy McKeon, better known as Jo from The Facts of Life, but eventually NBC decided to go with Cox.
Shortly after casting the other roles, Kauffman realized they might be making TV history. “The first day we went to a run-through, and the six of them were together for the first time, onstage in the coffee shop, I remember the atmosphere being electric," she said. "A chill ran down my spine.”
Cox: 'Arquette Split Made Us Better Parents'
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The Scream star began dating TV reporter McLarty last summer (11) but they struggled to maintain a long-distance relationship and parted ways earlier this month (Mar12).
Arquette, who conquered his alcohol issues in rehab last year (11), jetted off to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a sunshine break last week (ends16Mar12) and posted a few photos and updates for fans on his Twitter.com blog, prompting speculation that the actor was taking advantage of his new single status.
The false rumours have compelled Arquette to set the record straight.
In a tweet to fans on Tuesday (20Mar12), he writes, "Just to clarify - I took a lot of pictures in Cabo but was a complete gentleman. I danced and had a sober good time. No girls for me - 2 (sic) soon".
When asked by one follower if he felt the need to speak out because of a "guilty conscience", he replied, "no but haters report lies and i speak honestly. nothing to be guilty (about)".
Arquette split from his wife Courteney Cox in 2010 but the two remain friends.
The Scream stars separated in 2010, but they regularly meet up to take little Coco on days out - and Cox admits it feels like "a big deal" if they go more than a week without seeing each other.
The actress is convinced the split has improved their parenting capabilities to their seven-year-old daughter, as they are able to talk through their issues more easily now they lead different lives.
Cox tells Britain's Stella magazine, "We weren't really dealing with what needed to be dealt with, which was how to stay married and be true intimate partners.
"Now we're separate we're able to talk about all our resentments and the things we should have listened to each other on. We kind of know where it went wrong, and how we felt ourselves drifting apart. So now we have this really great, open relationship. We speak to each other all the time; if we don't see each other in a week it's a big deal.
"And we're better parents to Coco. We're more patient with each other."
The actress also opens up about how the stars parent their daughter, adding: "I'm probably not as good a disciplinarian as David, but I relate to her emotions. Mind you, I'm frightened of the teen years. Coco's got a very strong will, and I'm a little afraid of that."
The musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved book received the maximum possible nods, including best actor in a musical for Bertie Carvel and best supporting actor in a musical for Paul Kaye.
Young actresses Kerry Ingram, Sophia Kiely, Cleo Demetriou and Eleanor Worthington Cox share the title role in the production and received a joint best actress in a musical nomination. They will be up against Kat Fleetwood, Sarah Lancashire and Scarlett Strallen.
Featuring songs by funnyman Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical, which focuses on a schoolgirl who has magic powers, has been a huge hit after opening in London's West End last year (12), and will head to Broadway in 2013.
The nominations for the Olivier theatre awards, which celebrate the best of the year's British stage shows, were announced on Thursday (15Mar12).
One Man, Two Guvnors and The LadyKillers received five nominations each including best play, while the musical adaption of hit 1990 movie Ghost scored four nods
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and Trainspotting actor Jonny Lee Miller received a joint best actor nomination for Frankenstein, and will compete against Jude Law, James Corden, David Haif and Douglas Hodge for the award.
Kristen Scott Thomas, Celia Imrie, Lesley Manville, Marcia Warren and Ruth Wilson are vying for the best actress honour.
The award ceremony takes place on 15 April at London's Royal Opera House, and will be hosted by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
The Scream star began dating TV reporter McLarty last summer (11) following his separation from wife Courteney Cox in October, 2010.
Arquette recently admitted he held off telling his young daughter Coco about his new romance for several months until he was certain their love was for real, but the relationship has now ended.
In a post on his Twitter.com page, Arquette writes, "Sadly I'm single again. A long distance relationship proved to be too difficult."