Actor Wendell Pierce led the cast of his new civil rights movie Selma in a public protest on Sunday (14Dec14) by wearing T-shirts referencing the police killing of unarmed black man Eric Garner ahead of the film's New York premiere. The Wire star joined forces with co-stars including David Oyelowo, E. Roger Mitchell, Andre Holland and Lorraine Toussaint, and director Ava DuVernay to wear black T-shirts with the words, "I can't breathe" printed across the chest.
Staten Island resident Garner was heard uttering the phrase over and over again as he gasped for breath after a cop placed him in an apparent chokehold during an arrest in July (14), when he had been caught illegally selling cigarettes.
His death was ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner, but a grand jury chose not to indict the officer responsible for his passing earlier this month (Dec14) - sparking widespread protests across the U.S., where demonstrators were already angry over another grand jury's decision not to prosecute the cop who fatally shot Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown in August (14).
The stars of Selma made their support for the calls for justice known on Sunday by posing for a group photo in their shirts on the steps of the New York Public Library, while holding up their hands.
The snap was taken shortly before the group headed to the Ziegfeld Theater for the Selma premiere, where Pierce decided to continue modelling his T-shirt for photographers.
The pre-premiere protest took place a day after thousands of activists took to the streets of the Big Apple to take part in the Millions March NYC, another demonstration over the Garner and Brown killings.
Oyelowo, who plays human rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film, recently expressed his hope that his movie would inspire campaigners to keep the protests peaceful.
He told The Hollywood Reporter, "Thankfully, we're seeing a lot of the same good sides of protests happening with these protests - i.e. that they are non-violent, and that we are now seeing black and white and everything in between coming together against injustice. I think that the next step for us to be able to really articulate our demands. What is it we want out of this? In Selma, it was voting rights, and now it's police reform. We needed federal intervention for the verdict situation (in Selma); I would say we need the same thing for the police. Who's going to police the police? We really need to press to the government that this cannot go on."
Rapper/actor Ice Cube has opened up about his controversial decision not to cast the late Eazy-E's son as the hip-hop icon in his forthcoming N.W.A. biopic, insisting the role required an experienced actor with "a lot of range". Eazy-E's son, Eric Wright, Jr., auditioned for the Straight Outta Compton film job and recently admitted he was disappointed after movie bosses decided to cast newcomer Jason Mitchell as the younger version of his tragic father.
Now Ice Cube, who is serving as one of the project's producers, has explained the reasons behind the decision, insisting aspiring actor Wright, Jr. simply wasn't a good fit.
Speaking to Colorado radio station KS 107.5, Ice Cube says, "He (Wright, Jr.) is an up-and-coming actor trying to do it, but we needed somebody who was a little more polished to play Eazy, because he goes through a lot in his life. He goes from selling dope in Compton to fighting for his life in a hospital bed. So we needed to find an actor with a lot of range. And we just couldn't use just anybody. We gave him (Wright, Jr.) a shot, and it just didn't work out."
Wright, Jr. wasn't the only N.W.A. offspring snubbed for a role in the film - Dr. Dre's aspiring actor/rapper son Curtis Young was also passed over in favour of Corey Hawkins, although Ice Cube's kid, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., will play his dad onscreen.
Meanwhile, the remaining N.W.A. bandmates MC Ren and DJ Yella will be played by Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown, Jr., respectively.
F. Gary Gray will direct the film about the rise of the iconic California rap group and their split in 1991.
The biopic is scheduled for release next summer (15).
Eazy-E's son has cleared up reports suggesting he was upset he was not cast as his father in the N.W.A. biopic, insisting actor Jason Mitchell has his full support. Eric Wright, Jr. insists comments attributed to him about his disappointment over not winning the role in Straight Outta Compton were taken out of context - and he's not mad that Ice Cube cast his own son to play a younger version of himself, while overlooking him.
He tells RollingStone.com, "I'm not upset about (the casting). What (Ice) Cube did was a great thing and (he's) a loving father... Besides my father, that's the person I was inspired by; that's like an idol to me."
Wright, Jr. goes on to explain he has made himself available to Mitchell, who will portray his late father, in a bid to help him perfect the role.
He continues, "Jason has come to my grandmother's house, where I was born and raised, where my father was born and raised and where N.W.A started. I reached out to him to give him the support and any advice he needs. He has a big burden on his shoulders, to bring forth the character and legacy of my father and the legacy of N.W.A, period."
Eazy-E's son is feeling disappointed after he was left out of the cast of upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. Lil' Eazy-E, real name Eric Wright, Jr., had hoped movie bosses would let him play his late father in the new movie about the legendary hip-hop group, but newcomer Jason Mitchell has been given the role instead.
The 30 year old tells TMZ.com he is disappointed with the decision, adding, "I am my father. I look like him. I sound like him."
Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson Jr. will portray his own father in the film, but Dr. Dre's son Curtis Young also faced disappointment when the role of his dad was given to actor Marcus Callender.
Wright, Jr., who was just 11 years old when his rapper father died from an AIDS-related illness in 1995, previously said of the movie role, "I'm the perfect man for the role. Who better to play him in the N.W.A. days? Like father, like son - no make-up needed."
ABC Television Network
TV shows Modern Family, Top Of The Lake and Lilyhammer were among the winners at the 54th Golden Nymph Awards at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival on Wednesday (11Jun14). Detective series Top Of The Lake was the night's big winner, scooping the trophy for Best Miniseries while its stars Elisabeth Moss and Peter Mullan took home the gongs for Best Actress in a Miniseries and Best Actor in a Miniseries respectively.
Mockumentary comedy Modern Family scooped the International TV Audience Award for comedy, while the show's star Julie Bowen won the prize for Best Actress in a comedy series. The award for Best International Comedy Series went to Norway's Lilyhammer, and actor Steven Van Zandt received the Best Actor in a comedy series prize for his role in the show.
American show The Bold & The Beautiful won the International TV Audience Award for a telenovela/soap. Also honoured were British series Episodes, which took the Best European comedy prize, Hostages, which scooped the Best International Drama Trophy, and crime drama NCIS which won the International TV Audience Award for drama.
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
Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
We all know that the nuclear family is, for the most part, totally outdated. Sure, some families still consist of a mom, a dad, two kids, a dog, and a white picket fence, blah, blah, blah. If you exclusively watch Nick at Nite, you might think those are the only types of families represented on TV, but you’d be wrong. Television series featuring atypical families have become much more popular — Parenthood and The Fosters for example — and we’re pumped because a white picket fence can only be so interesting. In fact, some of our favorite families on TV are a little less than normal, and they’re more hilarious because of it.
Two ex-wives, a handful of kids, and a new wife that’s closer in age to the kids than her husband — yeah, that’s a bit unusual. The Harrisons are a loving bunch who might have their differences sometimes, but that’s to be expected from a housewife, a surgeon, a lawyer, and a hippie (which sounds like the intro to a bad joke.)
Although not technically a family, Jess, Nick, Winston, Schmidt, and now Coach are close enough that they represent a different kind of family: the friend-family. They’re those people who know you better than your cousins or your grandparents; they’re just as important as blood relatives.
The Pritchetts, the Dunphys, and the Delgado-Pritchetts can be credited with making the atypical family a hilarious TV trend. What’s not to love about this bunch? They’re a little off the wall, but they represent a realistic extended family situation. Plus Modern Family is one of the best comedies on TV right now, so they must be doing something right.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Christmas may still be a month off, but when has that ever stopped the Hallmark Channel from rolling out its holiday themed movies a tad bit early? Quick answer: never! Which is why a snowy-white TV-flick starring none-other than Henry Winkler is just one of the great programs on our list this week. Here's what else you need to be watching.
Modern FamilyWhy Modern Family? Because it's still the most consistently funnyshow on network TV. And we all know how the Big Four's crop of brand spankin' new sitcoms have been faring lately. Just turns on The Crazy Ones for five minutes. A vomit bag may be required. A new episode of Modern Family airs Wednesday at 9PM ET on ABC.
JFK: Three Shots That Changed AmericaWant more JFK anniversary coverage? How could you not? Then you'll want to check out the History Channel's engrossing two-part documentary airing this Friday. Not only does it include rare and unseen footage of the Kennedy assassination, but it also repudiates claims that there was a conspiracy or government cover-up. Hope you're listening, Oliver Stone! JFK: Three Shots That Changed America will air this Friday on the History Channel. Check your local listings for times.
The Most Wonderful Time of the YearThanksgiving hasn't even arrived yet, but Christmas season is already in full swing on the Hallmark Channel. In this heartwarming gem from 2008, Henry Winkler goes to great lengths to teach his curmudgeonly sister (Brooke Burns) about the true meaning of the holiday. That's right, folks, he's leaving the Fonz jacket at home! The Most Wonderful Time of the Year airs this Wednesday at 8PM ET on the Hallmark Channel.
The SimpsonsYep, America's favorite animated family (sorry Griffins) are back at it for a record-braking 25th season. Who's still watching, you ask? Well, enough people for Matt Groening and company to score a cool $750 million after signing an immensely lucrative syndication deal with FXX last week. And with over episodes and counting, those chinless Springfieldians show no signs of slowing down. Another new episode of The Simpsons airs this Sunday at 8PM ET on Fox.
ChoppedFor 17 seasons and counting, Chopped has been pitting chefs against one another and seeing what they come up with. This week the cooks are asked to combine exotic dishes like kimchi and gefilte fish, as well as a dessert round featuring marshmallow cake and citrus water. Mmm...anyone else feeling hungry right about now? A new episode of Chopped airs this Tuesday at 7 PM ET on the Food Network.