It's the middle of the week, and your brain has all but lost its functional juices. You need an intellectual jump — a compelling lesson in history, science, or art, but without entailing that troublesome task of reading. What you need is a documentary. This week, our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Docu-Wednesdays is The Queen of Versailles.
So this is how the other half lives. The Queen of Versailles is a riches-to-rags story centered around the family of timeshare king and queen David and Jackie Siegel. The documentary, which originally planned to focus on the family's construction of Versailles, an ornate and gaudy recreation of the Palace of Versailles that would take the title of the largest single-family home in the U.S., shifted gears when the 2008 recession hit the Siegels like a sucker punch and saw the family scrambling to scrimp and save when they've forgotten the definition of living modestly.
On one hand, it's a comedic glance through the looking glass, as we see the flighty rich struggle to comprehend how to give up the comforts of the highest income bracket. On the other, it's a look at how hubris, greed, and the dogged grasp of the American dream can destroy a family. The Queen of Versailles is both hilarious and insightful in equal measure.
You can watch the movie on Netflix, and check back tomorrow for our Throwback Thursday recommendation.
Rocker Jimmy Page is set to receive an honorary degree from the Berklee College of Music. The Led Zeppelin star will be feted at a ceremony on 10 May (14) at Boston University's Agganis Arena in Massachusetts.
In an email to RollingStone.com, Page writes, "It's truly an honour to be the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate at Berklee as the music of America has been a primary driving force in my early years and pivotal to my musical development."
Jazz pianist Geri Allen, singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson and jazz trumpeter Thara Memory will be celebrated alongside Page.
Past Berklee honourees include David Bowie, Carole King, Loretta Lynn and George Clinton.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
A man who is believed to be Michael Jackson's illegitimate son has tested 99.9 per cent positive as a DNA match to the King of Pop. Brandon Howard, who bares a striking resemblance to a young Michael, is the 31-year-old son of singer Miki Howard, who was managed by the Thriller hitmaker's father Joe Jackson back in the 1980s.
He underwent a paternity test some time ago to prove the Thriller hitmaker was his dad, but reportedly kept the results between himself and a few friends and family members.
FilmOn.com boss Alki David uncovered the scandal and set out to make the information public after obtaining the superstar's DNA from an old dental impression he bought at auction from a Beverly Hills doctor.
He had lab technicians compare the genetics from the orthodontic device to that of Howard's, which he had also discovered, and had the results read out during a livestream on FilmOn.com on Thursday (06Mar14).
Jackson's longtime pal, actor Corey Feldman, was present for the big reveal, as a doctor confirmed, "The probability of parenthood is 99.9 per cent."
Howard was not in attendance at the event and has since posted a video online distancing himself from the whole controversy.
In the footage, the singer, who goes by the name B. Howard, says, "Number one, I did not call TMZ or anything like that, didn't put out a story, nothing. Number two, I have never self-proclaimed to be Michael Jackson's son. Number three, I am definitely not suing the (Jackson) estate, I've been taken care of very well, and also I make my own cash.
"Number four, it is true I did a DNA test but it had nothing to do with any of this, I swear on my life..."
Meanwhile, Feldman has defended Howard in a series of posts on his Twitter.com blog, in which he suggests he was aware of Howard's existence all along.
In messages posted before the DNA results were announced, he wrote, "PLEASE UNDERSTAND: (Howard) didn't talk 2 (sic) the press! He never asked 4 (sic) $ (money)! And he has STILL NOT CLAIMED he is MJs kid (sic)!
"SOME SLEEZBALL FOUND OUT ABOUT THE TEST AND MADE UP A STORY AND SOLD IT 2 (sic) TMZ! That's the WHOLE STORY!!! It was meant 2 B (sic)PRIVATE INFO!"
Jackson died in 2009.
Actress Leah Remini has credited Jennifer Lopez with helping her to reclaim her spirituality after almost 30 years as a Church of Scientology member. The former King of Queens star left the controversial organisation last July (13) after becoming embroiled in an argument with religious leader David Miscavige over some of the group's strict policies.
She found it hard to reevaluate her beliefs following the departure and reveals it was best pal Lopez who encouraged her to start listening to affirmation tapes to boost her self-confidence.
She tells Buzzfeed.com, "One of the things I do is look in a mirror and say, 'I love you, Leah. You're doing the best you can do.'
"Jennifer made special rings for all the women in her life that say, 'I Love Me,' and I've really come to realise you have to love yourself before you can expect someone else to. You have to learn to believe you deserve love. And I'm getting there. I'm starting to believe it."
A planned film adaptation of Stephen King's classic horror The Stand is one step closer to the big screen after director Josh Boone entered talks to take on the long-delayed project. Harry Potter moviemaker David Yates had initially been tasked with taking the 1978 novel to the big screen, but he stepped down in 2011 and Ben Affleck was subsequently attached to the film.
However, he walked away from The Stand last year (13), as did his replacement, Scott Cooper.
The Bourne Supremacy's Paul Greengrass was the last big name linked to the job, but now studio executives at Warner Bros. have tapped Boone to bring the project to fruition.
The Stuck In Love filmmaker, who also made Shailene Woodley's upcoming drama The Fault in Our Stars, is currently in negotiations to rewrite the script and take charge as director.
The Stand was previously turned into a 1994 TV mini-series starring Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald.
NBC Universal Media
When Jimmy Fallon joined the late-night talk show race, his relentless positivity and genuine interest in every single guest, from teen queens to multiple Oscar winners, stood in stark contrast to the cranky competitiveness that pervaded that landscape. On Feb. 24, fellow nice guy Seth Meyers trades his Weekend Update desk for one at Late Night and the scales tip further. TV just got a lot friendlier, post-Primetime.
Jay Leno signed off of The Tonight Show on Feb. 6... for the second time. The Leno/Conan O'Brien hand-off debacle raised a lot of hackles. Even the usually congenial O'Brien let his anger and disappointment be known in the documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. Over on CBS, David Letterman seems to be increasingly uninterested in learning anything about his guests, sometimes drawing the line at their names. Now Fallon and Meyers join Craig Ferguson in the small club of hosts unimpeded (at least outwardly) by long-term grudges, blood feuds, etc.
Academy Award producers reacted to the backlash to Seth MacFarlane's hosting performance by replacing him with the kind and almost wholly uncontroversial Ellen DeGeneres. And now, the late-night pendulum is swinging back the other way too. As much fun as it's been to spend night after night after night with uber-rich comics oozing equal amounts of hubris and self-loathing, audiences have responded to Fallon's role as a good-natured fan who can show off while letting his guests show off too. Can we count on Seth Meyers to exude the same perpetual glee as Jimmy, with just a tad more snark? And, more importantly, who will be the Timberlake to his Fallon? We're hoping it's Amy Poehler. We will also accept Bill Hader, in character as Stefon.
Who do you think will reign late-night as the "King of Nice"? Seth or Jimmy? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
It was announced recently that Christine McVie was reuniting with her bandmates in Fleetwood Mac after leaving the group in 1998. Fans can now be treated again to the group's Rumours-era lineup, with McVie taking back over vocals on her hits like "You Make Loving Fun" and "Hold Me."
With so many musicians cashing in on the money that can be made by going out on the road with a classic edition of their band, it's become hard to find acts that people clamor to have back together. Hard, but not impossible. Here are some artists that we'd like to see back in the band.
Slash, Guns N' Roses
Granted, Axl Rose is a nut-job and a major pain in the tuchus. Still, the demand for a tour featuring Rose, Slash, and the rest of the original lineup of GNR would be unbelievable and the group's core audience is now old enough to afford the ticket prices. If Don Henley, Glenn Frey and the other Eagles can spend years on the road taking separate busses and not speaking to each other, than there has to be a way for Axl and Slash to play nice long enough to cash in.
Beyoncé, Destiny's Child
Beyoncé certainly doesn't need to do anything that she doesn't want to do. Let's face it; Mrs. Carter has the entire world at her disposal. But, here's the thing, she's still friends with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, as evidenced by the recent photos of the three band members together at little Blue's birthday party. Beyoncé just released a 14-track "visual album" that nobody knew about in advance. If she's got that kind of time, then surely there's some extra to lay down some new DC material.
Roger Waters, Pink Floyd
Every subsequent generation has its own Floyd experience, whether it's watching late-night showings of The Wall or synching up Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. Waters is a creative genius, and notoriously difficult to work with. He's also 70 years old. Waters and the other surviving Floyd members (David Gilmour and Nick Mason) have done some one-off shows over the years, but it's not too late to give those younger fans one more chance to see one of Floyd's legendary live shows.
Steve Perry, Journey
There have been rumors for a long time that Perry's voice isn't what it used to be, which is why the singer hasn't released any new solo material in nearly 20 years. Perry's camp has denied that there is anything wrong with his voice, but even if there is a vocal issue, a reunion is still eminently doable. Arnel Pineda, the current lead singer of the band, has been a nice story, so keep him around to help supplement Perry. It's a little late to cash in on the hype that Glee created, but the band still might actually be more popular now than they were in their '80s heyday.
Dennis DeYoung, Styx
At the very least, this one would make Adam Sandler, an unabashed fan of the "Mr. Roboto" group, happy. DeYoung, who handled vocals on most of the band's biggest hits like "The Best of Times" and "Come Sail Away," has continued to perform Styx material in his shows and the other members of the group have long been on the fair and festival circuit. Sure, DeYoung sued the others at one time over the use of the band's name, but lawsuits are as much a part of the music industry as guitars. A reunion would at least upgrade them to the top county fairs in the country.
Funnyman David Spade feels a little cheated after spending $125,000 (£78,000) on special access to a Sir Paul McCartney concert at a charity auction - because he has yet to see the former Beatle perform live. The Joe Dirt star had saved up $30,000 (£18,750) for the Haiti benefit in 2012 and was determined to snag backstage and soundcheck tickets to a Paul McCartney show - but when bidding started at $50,000 (£31,000), the actor knew he was in over his head.
However, the auction bosses knew he was interested and when the bidding stalled at $80,000 (£50,000), they called out Spade.
Peer pressure and the need to impress a beautiful date got the better of Spade and he started bidding.
He says, "They go, '90!', back to me, '100?' I'm like, 'Why don't you relax for a second...' I'm like, 'If I sell that...'
"The grossest part was like, he went, '110 anyone...?' and I said to my date, 'Don't f**king move...' and then they go, '125 Spade?' and I go, 'No, no, wait! What just happened?'
"You see (Leonardo) DiCaprio craning, going, 'Who's the cheapskate?' and I go, '125!' They go, 'Sold!'"
But Spade has yet to cash in his big win: "It's so hilarious because Paul McCartney didn't even go on tour this year, so I didn't get anything. It all went to Haiti."
Oprah Winfrey is teaming up with Brad Pitt to produce an upcoming biopic of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The TV mogul/actress is taking a behind-the-scenes role for a movie titled Selma, which focuses on protest marches led by King in Alabama in the 1960s.
Winfrey's new venture puts her alongside Pitt and his production company Plan B, which is currently enjoying a successful run with Oscar-nominated film 12 Years A Slave.
British actor David Oyelowo is set to portray King in Selma, and he already has ties with Winfrey after playing her onscreen son in Lee Daniels' The Butler.