Mel Gibson picked up a lifetime achievement award at the opening of the 2014 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic on Friday (04Jul14), amid protests from the country's Jewish leaders. Officials at the Federation of Jewish Communities objected to the honour, claiming Gibson's 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ portrays Jews as "evil and blood-thirsty".
In a letter to festival bosses posted on the group's website ahead of the prizegiving, the Jewish organisation's leaders wrote, "By granting this award, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival becomes another of the very arguable platforms that are gradually changing the atmosphere of our country from a traditional, relatively tolerant society into one where space is given to hostility, xenophobia, and anti-Semitic ideas."
Festival bosses responded by stating the award would be presented to Gibson in recognition of his "filmmaking skills and his career".
Oscar winner Gibson, a devout Catholic, has had run-ins with Jewish groups in the past - he was forced to apologise for anti-Semitic comments he made to a Jewish police officer who arrested him for drink driving in Malibu, California, in 2006.
The movie star and director accepted his remarks were "vitriolic and harmful".
Pharrell Williams added another major honour to his trophy cabinet on Friday (04Jul14) after picking up the Raymond Weil International Award at the O2 Silver Clef Awards in London. The Happy hitmaker was honoured for his most recent hits, which also include Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines and Get Lucky, his collaboration with Daft Punk.
Other winners at the prestigious lunchtime gala included former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who picked up the O2 Silver Clef Award, Sir Tom Jones, who was presented with the Sony Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award and Black Sabbath.
In addition to the prizegiving event, the awards ceremony also serves as a charity for Nordoff Robbins, which provides therapy to adults and children suffering from various diseases and conditions.
Prizewinner Page says, ''I played on the original Silver Clef show that was way back at Knebworth, which had Cliff Richard and Pink Floyd and I played with Robert Plant there. I went to the Nordoff Robbins centre the other day and they told me that the centre was established from that charity concert, so that was really nice to find out.
"When I was at the centre I met someone who was a recipient of the work the charity is doing and it was quite a moving experience I have to say. When you see the results that they get you can see it's what you always believed music could do. Music is a great communicator... Music has a power.''
The 02 Silver Clef Award Winners are:
Pharrell Williams - Raymond Weil International Award
Paloma Faith - Royal Albert Hall Best British Act Award
Giorgio Moroder - American Express Innovation Award
Gareth Malone - PPL Classical Award
Laura Mvula - Jack Daniel's Best Newcomer Award
Sir Tom Jones - Sony Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award
Chas & Dave - Investec Icon Award
Black Sabbath - AEG Live Ambassadors of Rock Award
Now that the halfway mark has hit between the dawn of a hopeful 2014 and the inevitable exasperated gasp of relief that another year of harrowing grief is finally over, we're inclined to look back on the past six months of cinematic glory. First, we set our sights to the best performances of the year, both leading and supporting. The thespian achievements that made us laugh, cry, wince (in the good way, not the Adam Levine in Begin Again way), and cheer. Here's a quick list of some of the most impressive performances we've seen so far in 2014.
Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection
Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest HotelIt would be no surprise to anyone that Ralph Fiennes can act his way around a cerebral drama, and probably no real shock that he can handle himself in a sharp, fast-paced comedy either. But Grand Budapest is even doses of both, and Fiennes never slips up in his delivery of the rigid, obsessive Gustave H. as both a humane hero and a comic wonder.
Gina Piersanti in It Felt Like LoveThe best part of this terrific movie about struggling with your identity in adolescence is its star, Gina Piersanti, who makes the subtleties of her sad story vividly accessible.
Nicolas Cage in JoeSome of the picks on this list aren't precisely because the performances blew us away, but because of how happy we were to see the actors in question turn in something worthwhile. Cage is great in Joe, his first halfway decent movie in quite some time, serving to prove that he's still an actor who deserves critical attention.
Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive Sharing screentime and immaculate chemistry with Tom Hiddleston, who too is wonderful in the picture, Swinton manages an unfathomable energy without detracting from the film's focal point of the duo's romantic partnership. Shining so bright through the dark and dusky sheaths of Only Lovers, Swinton is the best part of what is plausibly the very best movie of 2014.
A24 via Everett Collection
Tom Hardy in LockeIf you liked Locke whatsoever, you'd have to credit that to Hardy's performance. As the only actor onscreen toggling his attentions between a steering wheel, a cell phone, and his own inner demons, the man gets truly theatrical in a way you don't often get to see on the big screen.
Mira Grosin in We Are the Best!One of the youngest individuals on the list is one third of the headlining trio in We Are the Best!, a sweet, fun, earnest film about Swedish schoolgirls reaching for (and just about finding) a new identity in punk rock music. Although each member of the band is a treat, the plucky and acerbic Grosin stands out as a particularly special performer.
Tom Cruise in Edge of TomorrowIn the vein of the Nic Cage/Joe qualification, we chose Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow performance stricly because of how long it's been since we've seen the once beloved and presently bemoaned movie star provide genuine thrills... it's been even longer since he's provided genuine laughter, which he does in no small doses in Edge of Tomorrow. The reason Cruise works so well in the sci-fi picture? He's playing a jackass — the sort of character at which he proved himself a master back in the '80s but has shied away from in recent years. Stick to the jerks, Cruise. Maverick, Charlie Babbitt, Tom "Morrow" Edgerson... you're good at 'em.
Jenny Slate in Obvious ChildThe most impressive part of Slate's turn as the early-life-crisis-stricken Donna in Obvious Child: her stand-up comedy routines are a genuine pleasure to watch (no mean feat for any movie). Slate's fresh turn on the wacky gal we often see in stand-up comedies is bolstered by her agency and palpable identity; this isn't just someone we're forced to see through a hard time, this is a human being who we're truly rooting for. We can give thanks to the script, certainly, but also to the naturally funny and engaging Slate.
Jesse Eisenberg in The DoubleEisenberg gets a rare gift in The Double: a chance to bank on the sort of work that made him famous in the first place, and to try out a brand new bag on the viewing public. The always neurotic performer ups the ante on his nervous shtick as Simon James, but breaks loose with a dickish confidence that tops even Mark Zuckerberg's hubris as James Simon.
Agata Kulesza in IdaThanks to Kulesza, Ida winds up a shockingly charming, funny, and (less surprisingly) very sad film. A look at the post-Holocaust years through the eyes of a long-internally-suffering Jewish woman (Kulesza) and her neice doesn't seem like a ground particularly fertile for anything "upbeat," but the sharp and spry performance of Kulesza makes for a uniquely inviting portrait of a somber, bizarre world.
Ken Watanabe in GodzillaWatanabe delivers what is hands down the weirdest performance in any blockbuster we've seen this year, or plausibly in recent years. The actor channels Jeff Goldblum-level "out there"-ness as a scientist who comes face to face with the titular monster after a lifetime devoted to research on the subject. Most of Watanabe's screentime is spent staring off into nowhere, a choice emblematic of unmistakable lunacy residing in the mind of this obsessed professor. We can feel his pain... but it's pure joy to watch.
Nat Wolff in Palo Alto Likely more recognizable for his supporting turn in The Fault in Our Stars, Wolff is a powerhouse in another ennui-soaked high school drama: Palo Alto, which is far more cynical (and terrific) than the aforementioned feature. Wolff plays a teen succumbing to loneliness, self-loathing, and substance abuse in the nihilistic tornado that is his upper class existence. At once the clown and the beacon of tragedy, Wolff really knocks it out of the park in Gia Coppola's debut.
Tilda Swinton in SnowpiercerThe only actor on this list twice (unless you count Jesse Eisenberg for his dual roles in The Double) is Tilda Swinton, who proves herself as powerful a character actor as she is a leading stoic. In stark contrast to her Only Lovers heroine, Swinton's Snowpiercer character is a wicked, delusional tyrant who would be petrifying were she not so damn hilarious.
Agata Trzebuchowska in IdaYep, there is a second actor from Ida on this list, and she's also named Agata. In fact, the younger of the two stars gives what is indeed the more remarkable performance, playing almost exclusively silent as she drinks in her aunt's life of tragic hedonism from a two-foot distance. The Ida/Anna role might have been little more than a lens for the audience to view the horrors of the Holocaust, but Trzebuchowska's restrained anguish gives the story an intriguing slant. All the pangs of the post World War II world that filter through her come out the other end with a peculiar, insightful flavor.
Daniel Radcliffe in What ifSometimes all it takes for a role to stick with you is laughter. Daniel Radcliffe, who we all love, is destined for a long career in comedy. As the romantic lead of What if, Radcliffe is super-Hugh-Grant levels of dashing, debonair, self-deprecating, and f**king funny. His rapid fire delivery, affable countenance, and complete mastery of the most eclectic wordplay makes his What if turn (as a guy named Wallace, no less) more than worthy of the world's post-Potter love.
Nathan Varnson in Hide Your Smiling FacesFinally, representing one of our favorite movies of the year is Nathan Varnson, a child actor who plays a young boy dealing with the sudden death of a close friend. There are no big, showy moments in Smiling Faces. Everything Varnson showcases is largely internalized; his role is predominantly wordless, in fact. All the more reason why it stands out in our minds as one of the best of the year.
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Jennifer Love Hewitt has landed another break on TV with a role on Criminal Minds, months after her latest show The Client List was axed.
The actress' turn as housewife-turned-erotic masseuse Riley Parks came to an end after two seasons following a fall-out with Lifetime TV executives in November (13), but the brunette beauty has bounced back after bosses at America's CBS network signed her up for a recurring role on its top crime drama.
Hewitt will play Kate Callahan, an undercover FBI agent who joins the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU). The series' executive producer Erica Messer says, "We're thrilled to introduce a new special agent by adding the very talented Jennifer Love Hewitt to our amazing cast. Many of us on the show have enjoyed working with her over the years and look forward to again."
"We have exciting storylines planned for her character and the entire BAU team as we head into our 10th season."
The 35 year old is a small screen stalwart - she has previously enjoyed roles on Party of Five, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Hot in Cleveland and Ghost Whisperer.
Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown has lashed out at Angela Bassett after the actress revealed she never once considered the 21 year old as her potential leading lady in a planned TV biopic. Bassett, who worked with Houston on 1995 movie Waiting to Exhale, is set to make her filmmaking debut with the movie based on the superstar's turbulent life for America's Lifetime network, and she has cast All My Children actress Yaya DaCosta in the lead role.
She recently gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly about the project, tentatively titled I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story, and appeared to take a swipe at aspiring actress Brown by claiming she wanted real talent for the job.
Bassett told the publication, "I did not think about casting her. And probably for a number of reasons, you know. One being that she's not an actress. I know she's acted here and there. I know she's been on their family's reality show, but she's not an actress and acting is a craft."
Her remarks did not sit well with Houston's daughter and Brown subsequently took to her Twitter.com blog to blast Bassett for her cutting comments and question whether the star is really a woman.
In a series of posts on Saturday (28Jun14), she wrote, "Ha MsAng 'bassketcase' (sic) has such a damn nerve my lord, at least the world doesn't mistake me for the wrong sex...
"When I win my first Grammy or Oscar, *Shrugs* hmm whichever comes 1st, I'll be sure 2shout URname (your name) out b**ch! Hah (sic)..."
Brown, whose father is R&B singer Bobby Brown, has only one acting credit to her name, in a 2012 episode of U.S. TV series For Better or Worse.
Bassett has also been criticised by Houston's manager and sister-in-law Pat Houston, who blasted the plans to turn the icon's life story into a TV project, insisting she is "certainly worthy of more than a television movie".
I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story is expected to air next year (15).
AGIP/Rue des Archives via Everett Collection
Singer Aretha Franklin is in negotiations to bring her life story to the small screen.
Producers at America's Lifetime network are currently working on several biopics including films about Whitney Houston and Aaliyah, which is now on hold following the departure of star Zendaya Coleman, and they are hoping to team up with the Queen of Soul for a TV movie about her life and career.
Franklin tells Billboard.com, "We're very, very close to signatures on one agreement. It's just a matter of our coming to terms and agreeing about what we're doing to do."
While the film is still in the planning stages, Franklin has already begun thinking about who she would want to portray her if the project comes to fruition with Broadway star Audra McDonald and Jennifer Hudson leading her list.
She continues, "Right now it could be one of several people. There's always the producers' book, who the producer wants you to consider, and sometimes unknown names. "Audra's got a great voice to work with, but she's very Broadway oriented, but that doesn't mean she cannot perform in the arena of soul, so that's why I'm interested in hearing how she would sing my things. The singing is certainly going to be a very, very integral and important part of it."
"It was an honour to be a part of the Lionel Richie tribute tonight! I've been singing 'Hello' since my high school talent shows! #BETAwards." John Legend honoured Lionel Richie in a performance on Sunday (29Jun14) at the 2014 BET Awards, where the veteran singer received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Producers behind the 2014 BET Awards broadcast made a blunder by misspelling Lionel Richie's name. When the singer came onstage to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony on Sunday (29Jun14), the on-screen graphics named him 'Lionel Ritchie'.
Beyonce was the toast of the 2014 BET Awards after scooping three top prizes and closing the show with a taped performance of Partition from her On The Run tour with husband Jay Z. The Crazy in Love hitmaker picked up Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, the FANdemonium Award, and Best Collaboration for Drunk in Love with her rapper partner.
Pharrell Williams kicked off the proceedings with his Miley Cyrus collaboration Come Get It Bae, but instead of performing with the Wrecking Ball hitmaker, he had a little help from reclusive rap superstar Missy Elliott. The pair then burst into a rendition of her 2003 hit Pass That Dutch.
The pair received a rapturous welcome from the crowd, and Williams went on to be named the winner in the Best Male R&B/ Pop Artist category and Video of the Year for Happy.
Drake saw off competition from Jay Z to win the Best Male Hip Hop Artist prize, while Nicki Minaj went home with the female equivalent. Best Group went to Young Money, Lil Wayne's collection of artists.
Oscar-winning drama 12 Years A Slave swept the board in the movie categories, being named Best Film, while its stars Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor won the top acting prizes.
Chris Brown surprised the crowd with a performance of his new track Loyal. He was joined by Lil Wayne and Tyga for his first high-profile post-prison show. Other performers to wow the crowd included T.I. and Iggy Azalea, Robin Thicke, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, John Legend and Lionel Richie, who performed a medley of hits after being presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Although they couldn't be there in person, Beyonce and Jay Z closed the show with a pre-recorded performance from their collaborative tour.
Chris Rock acted as host. The full list of winners is as follows:
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Best Male R&B/ Pop Artist
Beyonce featuring Jay Z - Drunk in Love
Best Male Hip Hop Artist
Best Female Hip Hop Artist
Video of the Year
Pharrell Williams - Happy
Video Director of the Year
Best New Artist
Best Gospel Artist
12 Years a Slave
Subway Sportswoman of the Year
Subway Sportsman of the Year
Jhene Aiko - The Worst
Best International Act: Africa
Best International Act: UK
Krept & Konan.
Zendaya Coleman quit the new Aaliyah TV biopic over fears it was too "rushed". The Disney star had been lined up to play the tragic singer in Aaliyah: Princess of R&B for America's Lifetime network, but a representative for the 17 year old confirmed on Sunday (29Jun14) that the actress had decided to leave the TV movie.
Coleman has now detailed the reasons behind her departure, explaining that she didn't want to race to complete the production when the subject matter was so important to her.
She tells MTV.com, "I just felt the project wasn't 100 per cent there. I feel (that) production wise everything just felt a little rushed. "And I think because she's someone I admire and I love so much, it can't be done halfway, or not to the standards I think it should be done at, so I just decided not to do it."
"By all means, when the right project comes along and it's done the right way I'll be the first person ready to play Aaliyah, but this wasn't the right one for me. I've been into Aaliyah since I was little, so there wasn't too much getting into character. I always pretend I'm her anyway."
Officials at Lifetime have now confirmed work on the production has been halted. A post on the broadcaster's official Twitter.com page reads, "We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold."
Coleman's departure comes amid reports Aaliyah's family had not green lit the project. Fans also questioned Coleman's casting in the role of the singer, who died in a plane crash in 2001, aged 22.