Legendary entertainment reporter Bob Thomas has died aged 92. The Associated Press journalist interviewed stars from James Dean to Tom Cruise, covered 66 Oscars ceremonies, and was one of the first writers to break the news of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
The opening of a new Los Angeles production based on the life of actor/singer Paul Robeson has been postponed after its star Keith David was injured. Phillip Hayes Dean's stage show, titled Paul Robeson, was due to be unveiled at the city's Ebony Repertory Theatre on Friday night (14Mar14) but the opening has now been delayed until further notice.
The move comes after There's Something About Mary star David, who plays the title role, sustained a knee injury.
Wren T. Brown, the theatre's founder, says, "Keith was crestfallen that he couldn't do the show."
The company is hoping to resume performances on 21 March (14).
Paul Robeson was a pioneering black actor and singer who rose to prominence on Broadway during World War II. The play about his life debuted on the Great White Way in 1978 with Star Wars actor James Earl Jones playing Robeson.
Sylvester Stallone scored a knockout with his Rocky musical by winning over critics on opening night with a big budget Broadway boxing bout. The Hollywood action man spent nearly 15 years working on transferring his beloved boxing movie to the stage, and his hard work paid off as the the show opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City on Thursday night (13Mar14).
Critics were full of praise for the show's star, Andy Karl, who takes on Stallone's iconic role, with The Huffington Post's Rex Reed, describing the actor as "the biggest thing since Hugh Jackman" adding, "He looks like a movie star... He is merely sensational."
However, it was show's big finale fight, which places the audience ringside for a boxing bout, which captured the best reviews, with Linda Winer of Newsday hailing the scene as "the most impressive 20-minute boxing match ever seen in a Broadway musical" while Mark Kennedy of Associated Press adds, "The final fight - a spectacular piece of theatre, to be sure - is so lifelike that it becomes surreal. We're watching a simulated fight lifted from a fictional movie but played inside an ornate Broadway theatre."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney concludes, "The finale fight is so visceral and exhilarating that it sends the audience out on a high" and Terry Teachout of Wall Street Journal predicts the show will be a big hit, adding, "Rocky is a straight-down-the-centre commodity musical - but a damned fine one, maybe the best I've ever seen. A knockdown hit, in fact."
Stallone attended opening night with his family and a number of his Hollywood pals, including his Demolition Man co-star Wesley Snipes, Burt Young, who played Rocky's brother-in-law Paulie in the boxing film franchise, Whoopi Goldberg, and director James Cameron.
After a very deliberately paced casting process, the new adventure in a galaxy far, far away in finally starting to take shape. According to Variety, John Boyega, Jesse Plemons, and Ed Speleers, as well as theater actors Ray Fisher and Matthew James Thomas are all in the running for the lead role in Star Wars: Episode VII. The role is rumored to be a Jedi apprentice, and will likely see the character learning the ways of the Jedi from Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker.
It seems that director J.J. Abrams is targeting relatively unkown actors for the lead roles, a move that worked wonders in A New Hope. In the past, Abrams and other members of the production have been vocal about returning the franchise to its roots, and evoking the qualities that made the original trilogy such a dearly beloved series among fans. After sifting through the short list of actors, we wondered which of the more notable names would go on to make the best Jedi apprentice.
Notable Roles: Moses in Attack the Block.Jedi Potential: Jedis are the stoic protectors of the galaxy. As we saw in Attack the Block, Boyega can do stoic very well. But beyond that, Boyega’s turn in ATB also conveyed a hidden rage burning under the surface of his character, and the ability to give a nuanced performance is important considering how flat the Jedi have come across in the past. Seriously, Star Wars found a way to make Samuel L. Jackson boring.Lightsaber Prowess: In Attack the Block, Moses’ chosen weapon to fight off alien invaders is a katana, which is a weapon only a couple million technological innovations away from a lightsaber. By that logic, Boyega should be a natural, though some bandages might come in handy.
Notable Roles: Todd in Breaking Bad, Landry in Friday Night Lights.Jedi Potential: There’s something inherently goofy about Jesse Plemons. Even when portraying a mush-mouthed sociopath in Breaking Bad, it was hard to stay mad at him. While those characteristics might have worked in the pitch black humor of Breaking Bad, we wonder how this might play in the Star Wars universe, especially considering how seriously the Jedi generally take themselves.Lightsaber Prowess: A true Renaissance man, Friday Night Lights’ Landry Clarke was not only one of the best kickers Dillon High School had ever seen, but he was also the lead singer in the Christian speed metal band Crucifictorious. When you’ve already touched greatness in faith based rock music and high school football, handling a lightsaber should be cake.
Notable Roles: Eragon in Eragon, Jimmy in Downton Abbey.Jedi Potential: Speleers' first taste of fantasy filmmaking came in Eragon, a popular book series that didn't have the legs to last as a succesful film property. Speleers’ character on Downton Abbey, Jimmy, is the confident and charismatic footman at Downton, and his bravado and flirtatious tendancies have often gotten him in trouble at the estate. Words like "bravado" and "charisma" don't usually go hand in hand with Jedi, but afterthe prequel films, we don't think most fans would mind a little diversity in Jedi personalities.Lightsaber Prowess: There isn't much in the way of swordplay on the estate of Downton, but Speleers did get some bladework in while filming Eragon, so a lightsaber shouldn't be too big of an adjustment.
MATTHEW JAMES THOMAS
Notable Roles: Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark.Jedi Potential: Thomas' time as the geeky arbiter of justice, Spider-Man, should give him an edge in the Jedi department. The infamous Broadway production was full of high flying wire work, so Thomas should be well equipped to handle any stunts in the upcoming film. In any case, Jedi are sort of the geeks of the galaxy anyway.Lightsaber Prowess: Peter Parker isn't one for swordplay, so Thomas might be a little lost during the lightsaber battles, but all of that Spidey training will still come in handy.
Notable Roles: Muhammad Ali in Fetch Clay, Make Man.Jedi Potential: A virtual unknown in the film world, Fisher doesn't have many big screen credits as of yet, but the young thespian does have a good amount of experience in theater. The actor recently played Muhammad Ali in the off-Broadway production of Fetch Clay, Make Man. Ali was a fierce boxer as well as a thinker, and the Jedi order has the same dichotomy of violence and philosophy. We think Fisher may be more qualified for the Jedi Robes than his IMDB page lets on. He'll certainly be the coolest Jedi ever.Lightsaber Prowess: Honestly, who needs lightsabers when you're the heavyweight champion of the world? The force is strong with this one, even without any laser sword experience.
Breaking Bad star Jesse Plemons and Downton Abbey's Ed Speleers are among the actors who have been shortlisted to play the lead role in Star Wars: Episode Vii. Ray Fisher and British actors John Boyega and Matthew James Thomas are also being considered to take on the role of a young Jedi apprentice in the much-anticipated movie, according to Variety.com.
The film was originally supposed to focus on the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, but the characters have reportedly been moved to supporting roles.
Director J.J. Abrams is scheduled to begin production on the project in London later this year (14), with the film hitting theatres in 2015.
Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and Michael B. Jordan previously confirmed they have auditioned for roles in the blockbuster and reports suggest Carrie Fisher will return as Princess Leia.
Pregnant country music star Jessie James is set to relocate to New York this summer (14) after her American footballer husband Eric Decker signed a five-year deal with the New York Jets. The singer, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child in the next few days, is making plans to move from rural Colorado, where Decker played for the Denver Broncos, to the Big Apple.
The wide receiver became a free agent this week (begs10Mar14) and was one of the first big names to secure a new contract for the upcoming 2014-2015 football season.
The news of his deal, worth $36.25 million (£22.66 million), was made official late on Wednesday (12Mar14) and his expectant wife took to Twitter.com to express her excitement.
After receiving congratulatory messages from her New York-based fans, she tweeted, "Thank you all so much for the warm welcome. So excited for the next chapter and to call NY home! So proud of my hubby and his decision!"
She added, "Now hurry up and get on a plane @EricDecker87 so u (sic) can see your baby girl born!! What a day!!!"
The couple, which also has its own reality TV show Eric & Jessie, wed in Colorado last summer (Jun13).
Stars including Sir Michael Caine, Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth and Damian Lewis helped raise more than $2.2 million (£1.4 million) for U.K. charity Save The Children at a glitzy London benefit on Wednesday (12Mar13). The star-studded crowd donned colourful outfits for the reggae-themed bash at the Roundhouse venue in Camden, where 500 guests gathered for a charity auction.
Madness and Jimmy Cliff were among the night's performers, while Jamaican reggae singer Dawn Penn teamed up with UB40's Ali Campbell for a rendition of Sonny and Cher track I Got You Babe.
Other guests included Bonham Carter's Burton and Taylor co-star Dominic West and Lewis' wife, Harry Potter star Helen McCrory.
The donations were pulled in through ticket sales and the auctioning of prizes such as a huge portrait of Bob Marley and a vacation at the Golden Eye Resort in Jamaica, the one-time home of James Bond writer Ian Fleming.
Actor Nicolas Cage is convinced life as a Hollywood star has become more difficult over the last few years, insisting "it really sucks to be famous right now". The Face/Off star fears the movie business has become too closely entwined with celebrities' personal lives, and he can't understand the public's interest in his activities away from the big screen.
Addressing reporters at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, Cage says, "I started acting because I wanted to be James Dean... This was before everyone had a thing called a smart phone and before the advent of the 'celebutard' - just being famous for famous' sake. I'm not complaining, but it really sucks to be famous right now... Now even the art of film criticism... (a) critic who reviewed (movie) Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (sic), incorporated how many homes I bought or sold into the review."
Cage goes on to cite troubled actress Lindsay Lohan as an example of fame gone bad, adding, "What the hell does Lindsay Lohan's personal life have to do with her performance in (movie) The Canyons? It should always be about the work itself. What difference does it make if Bill Clinton had an affair - how does that affect his performance as president? In my opinion, I don't want to see personal aspects of someone's life eclipse (their) work."
Rock legend Neil Young has teamed up with Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and Tom Petty to launch a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds for his new digital music service and player Pono. Springsteen, Vedder, Petty, David Crosby, James Taylor and Sting are among the stars who have provided testimonials to support Young's new invention, which recreates the purest sound of the music - as heard in the studio during the recording process.
Launching the new campaign with a video message to music fans, Young says, "It’s about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we’re in the studio making it. It’s about you hearing what we hear. And that hasn’t happened in a long time. I want to bring back real music. That’s why we’re on Kickstarter. So that everyone who loves music can share in the release of Pono and the launch of the real music experience in the 21st century."
The video also features testimonials by Beck, Jack White, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Sir Elton John, Patti Smith, Kid Rock and members of Mumford & Sons.
Director Judd Apatow is still upset about the abrupt cancellation of his cult TV series Freaks And Geeks, and his subsequent Hollywood success is just "revenge" for the TV bosses who pulled the plug on the show. On Monday (10Mar14), the filmmaker was honoured with the 2014 Icon Award by bosses of the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, a prize which recognises individual creative achievements in television.
During his acceptance speech, Apatow was eager to talk about Freaks and Geeks, the U.S. series he executive produced that was cancelled by bosses at America's NBC network after just 12 episodes in 2000.
The show launched the careers of then-unknown actors James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, and Apatow confesses he still habours resentment towards the executives behind the cancellation.
He says, "Even to this day, I think I didn't want to admit that Freaks and Geeks was cancelled. Everything I've done, in a way, is revenge for the people who cancelled Freaks and Geeks. It's really demented, but it's just like, 'You were wrong about that person, and that person and that person. And that writer and that director.' And I really should get over that."
Apatow, who frequently works with the same cast and crew from Freaks and Geeks, has gone on to find success primarily in film, working on hits such as Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and Bridesmaids. He also serves as an executive producer on the Golden Globe-winning series Girls.