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Long emancipated from its reputation as the place where has-beens go for one last snag at the limelight, television is attracting big screen folks at the top of their games. A new league of blockbuster movie stars, admired thespians, and Oscar-nominated filmmakers alike are flocking to the comforts of premium cable, all with intriguing projects in tow. Here are a few big name figures taking to the TV game with promising prospects.
Who's that again? The guy who directed Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and NoahWhat's he working on? MaddAddam, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's speculative sci-fi novel trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year Of The Flood, and MaddAddam).For whom? HBO.What's the deal? The story depicts a dystopian future in which genetic engineering has swept the human race. Aronofsky might direct, and is executive producing with his fiancée Brandi-Ann Milbradt and regular collaborator Ari Handel.[Deadline]
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Who's that again? Iron Man.What's he working on? An untitled drama about a drug rehab community set in 1980s Venice Beach.For whom? Showtime.What's the deal? Downey obviously has personal ties to the project considering his history with drug abuse; he and his wife Susan are producing, and Orange Is the New Black writer Gary Lennon is handling the script (so we can expect some wit).[Deadline]
WENN/Adriana M. Barraza
Who's that again? Walter White from Breaking Bad, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, or Tim Whatley from Seinfeld, and President Lyndon Johnson on ol' Broadway.What's he working on? A narrative adaptation of the Conn and Hal Iggulden book Dangerous Book for Boys.For whom? No word just yet.What's the deal? Although the Igguldens' book takes form as a "how to" manual of sorts, Cranston's television series will draw a narrative out of the variety of rituals established as recommended rites of passage for American youngsters.[Variety]
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Music feuds have been going on since the beginning of music itself. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to assume that Beethoven and Weber side-eyed each other constantly and Bach and Handel might've wanted to throw down, while Chopin thought all those fools were amateurs. One thing that’s for sure is that in an industry made up of huge talent and even huger egos, personalities are bound to clash, and the result is a global high school where the popular kids love to publicly ream each other out. While some egos don’t ever play well with others and are constantly fighting 10 people at a time (i.e. Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj), other celebs manage to put the blast behind them and actually grow up. Here are some super memorable and/or surprising music feuds that had us reaching for the popcorn.
Madonna vs Lady Gaga It’s no secret that the Lady Gaga machine is derived from just about every eccentric and original artist in the pop and art world, but Madonna was her foremost adversary. It’s not that Madonna is completely original herself, but what makes her stand out from other pop stars that copy her is that she always had a reason behind everything that she did and articulated those reasons well. Madonna is at her best when she’s throwing shade, and shade did she throw at her 2012 MDNA tour. While performing “Express Yourself,” Madonna made clear what everyone was thinking and melded Gaga’s “Born This Way” into her song, making the obvious similarities even more blatant. Dumping another 5 pounds of salt into Gaga’s wound, Madonna commented on “Born This Way” by stating, “What a wonderful way to redo my song.” Oh, Madonna – condescension is thy name.
Oasis vs Blur Oasis’ Gallagher brothers are 2 of the most outspoken (and, let’s face it, hilarious) celebrities in music. In the mid-90s, Oasis and Blur were at the top of their game, so it’s no surprise that some beef got cooked between the 2 bands. The upper-class, mod-ish Blur released “Country House” in 1995, only to have it go head-to-head with “Roll With It” by the ever-drunk, rowdy Oasis. Perpetuating the feud, Noel Gallagher famously stated that he wished Blur singer Damon Albarn and bassist Alex James would “get AIDS and die.” Though the feud cooled off as the years went by, the crowning, happy-ending moment of rock-stars-all-growed-up came earlier this year, when Gallgher got Albarn and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon to join him onstage at a charity show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which is basically the equivalent of peace in the Middle East in the Britpop world.
Tupac vs Biggie While this music feud didn’t exactly have us reaching for the confections, it’s probably the most notorious (no pun intended) feud in music’s history, namely because both dudes got murdered. In the mid-90s, gangsta rap was at its peak, and after the 1994 robbery and shooting of Tupac (which Tupac blamed Biggie for), the rap game changed for good. Tupac’s once optimistic and socially-conscious style turned into a darker, more bitter image, rife with themes of violence and revenge. Tupac was eventually slain in September 1996 in Las Vegas, and Biggie was murdered less than a year later in a drive-by shooting. And yes, both murders are still unsolved.
Kid Rock vs Tommy Lee Ahhhh… middle-aged trashy drama. Kid Rock and Tommy Lee have so much in common that it would seem as though they’d be best friends. Instead, they ended up going at each other’s throats, all for the delicate flower that is Pamela Anderson. Kid Rock started dating Lee’s ex-wife in 2001 and though Anderson became Rock’s ex-wife as well shortly after, the tension between Rock and Lee didn’t die down. Conflicts boiled over at the 2007 MTV VMAS, with Rock apparently hearing Lee talk smack about him to P. Diddy. Rock walked over to Lee and slapped him, initiating a rocker brawl for the ages. Lee responded to the incident on his website, calling Rock “Kid Pebbles” and a “no career havin' country bumpkin.” Apparently, the 2 rockers are friends now. But will somebody think about Pamela?!
Eminem vs Mariah Carey This feud was surprising mostly because it was so unbelievably random. Apparently, the 2 megastars had hooked up to discuss songwriting for Carey’s 2001 album Charmbracelet, and although nothing came out of it musically, reports began to surface that the 2 were dating. For the next 8 years, the 2 kept exchanging barbs at each other, some subtle, some not-so-subtle. Eminem mentions Carey in at least 5 songs, while Carey kept quiet for the most part until 2009’s “Obsessed.” The weird thing is that Eminem seems to be pissed that Carey won’t acknowledge that they had a relationship, since she’s constantly acting as though they barely even hung out. Seriously, dude? You’re the best-selling rapper in the world and it's been over 10 years – get over it.
Dave Grohl vs Courtney Love Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and everyone’s favorite hot mess Courtney Love have never exactly been best friends, but sh*t got real in the last few years, with Love making a slew of allegations against Grohl. Since Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, the two rockers have been fighting over Nirvana royalties and the use of Cobain’s image, but by 2012, Love had alleged that Grohl stole her money, was hated by Cobain, had a “gay” band, and had hit on Cobain and Love’s daughter. For the most part, Grohl took the high road (at least in public) and decided he’d rather tear her a new one through his songs. Just for the entertainment factor of Love’s psycho ramblings and the kickass music Grohl comes up with when he’s dissing her, this is one music feud that's genuinely entertaining.
Axl Rose vs The World Axl Rose basically hates everyone and we could make a list of his own top 10 feuds. He’s beefed with everyone from the Offspring, Motley Crue, Metallica, Nirvana, Slash, his own band, and even Tommy Hilfiger. And all of that doesn’t even take into account how many riots have been started because Rose couldn’t be bothered to finish (or start) his live sets and walked off stage instead. Rose solidified his douchiness in 2012 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Releasing an open letter for Guns N’ Roses fans, the hall and “To Whom It May Concern,” Rose stated that there was no way in hell that he was going to come down for a band reunion and he doesn’t care what anyone has to say about that. According to him, “there isn’t room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.” Ouch. But way to flip off the world!
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The Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games are always a reflection of the country hosting them. Two years ago in Vancouver, we got technological marvels and a peek into the First Nations people of Canada. Four years ago in Beijing, we got a billion dollar spectacle fueled by thousands of people beating on drums and operating those amazing boxes. You thought the ceremony was run by machines, but it was really run by China's largest resource: people. So, what can we expect from London? Something based not on the colonialism that overtook the globe last century, but something based on their most popular exports: music and culture. Yes, it appears as though both James Bond and Voldemort will be in attendance. God save the Queen.
Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, who was tapped to direct the $42 million spectacle, and other organizers pleaded for participants to keep mum about just what is going to happen on Friday, July 27, at 9 PM (which airs in the U.S. on NBC starting at 7:30 PM). However, with countless actors, dancers, technicians, and nearly as many feverish journalists looking for a scoop, it seems like we know most of what is going to happen during the ceremony, if preliminary media accounts (especially a rather detailed one by the Associated Press) are to be believed.
If the journalists are right, the show will start off with chimes from the world's largest bell followed by a short film in which James Bond (played by Daniel Craig, but sadly not in his little blue bathing suit) will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. A stuntman playing Bond will either parachute or be lowered into the stadium carrying the Olympic torch. (It would be awesome if he passes it off to Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and Sean Connery, but I'm not holding my shaken martini.) Then there will be a recitation of speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest (possibly by Kenneth Branagh) that talks about the show's theme, "Isle of Wonders."
There will also reportedly be a performance of the William Blake poem "Jerusalem," a well-known national song in the U.K. The performance will depict the idealistic idyll of the British countryside both past and present, including a mosh pit at one of their notorious music festivals. That will give way to depiction of the other side of England: the dark factories and mines. Reports of chimney sweeps and miners going into the stadium make it sound like an number out of Mary Poppins (just wait for her) or Billy Elliot: The Musical. There will supposedly be a huge set of the River Thames and scenes from British history, including the founding of the British national healthcare system (and with Michelle Obama in attendance, will this be a nod to Obamacare?) and the import of Caribbean workers to the isle.
It's been widely speculated that there will be a scene featuring many popular characters from British literature, which will culminate in a battle between Harry Potter villain Voldemort and the infamous supernanny Mary Poppins, who seems to have sprouted even more magical powers since we last saw her on film. Oh, the British do know how to make something campy and fun. In fact, I honestly believe they invented campy and fun. Not only should it be on full display, but the Brits should get a gold medal for camp as well.
The whole performance will reportedly conclude with Paul McCartney leading the crowd in a sing-along version of "Hey Jude," which will be easy for every human on earth with a radio and a pair of ears, even if they have no idea what the words exactly mean. In fact the entire musical set list (which will be remixed by the duo Underworld into a continuous track) was leaked to the press. This 80-plus song list, which is what will play mostly as the athletes from around the world are entering the stadium, includes British acts from Led Zeppelin to Handel, from Amy Winehouse to the theme for the BBC News, and includes many popular acts like David Bowie, Muse, Blur, Eric Clapton, The Who, Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, The Clash, and (a bit controversially) the Sex Pistols. Sadly, the Spice Girls aren't on the list, but I'm going to keep pretending that doesn't mean they're not going to "Zig a Zig Ah" their way onto the field.
As for the final part of the ceremony, when the Olympic cauldron is lit and the Queen declares the games open — well, that is just about the only thing that is being kept a secret. Celebrity soccer — oh, I'm sorry, football — star David Beckham has been hinting about his role in the ceremony, and will allegedly be the last person to bring the Olympic torch into the stadium, though not the one to light it. That honor usually goes to a past or present Olympian (Beckham was not tapped to play footie with the British team in competition this year). Some say Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron in 1996 at the Atlanta games, will be involved somehow, since he's been in London with Beckham, but that seems unlikely since the boxing legend is an American. Maybe they're going to let "the colonies" get in on the action.
We'll have to wait until Friday to find out who it really is (wouldn't it be great if for no good reason it was Graham Norton or Russel Brand or Danger Mouse?) but maybe it's better that at least one thing should be a surprise.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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Darren Aronofsky is ready to get biblical. Deadline.com reports that Paramount and New Regency have reached a deal to produce Noah, the Brooklyn-bred writer-director's long-planned take on the epic Noah's Ark religious fable, and are hoping to start production as soon as Spring 2012. John Logan (Gladiator) has been hired to rewrite the script from Aronofsky and Ari Handel, which itself is based on Genesis chapters six through nine. Genesis is currently repped by CAA.
Aronofsky's previous film, the campy ballet thriller Black Swan, won Natalie Portman the Academy Award for Best Actress. Click on the image below to view our Natalie Portman photo gallery:
Six Feet Under actress Lauren Ambrose and husband Sam Handel welcomed their first child into the world on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old star, who played Claire Fisher on the show, gave birth to Orson Handel in New York City.
A friend of the couple tells People magazine, "The family is very happy, the baby is happy and Lauren is doing great."
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On Friday, a judge sided with filmmaker Woody Allen in his lawsuit against former business partner Jean Doumanian and her boyfriend and business partner, Jacqui Safra. Allen is suing both Doumanian and Safra, claiming they cheated him out of profits on eight movies since 1993, including Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry and Small Time Crooks. According to The Associated Press, Justice Ira Gammerman disagreed with the defendants' position that the films were an extension of a three-picture agreement they had with Allen in computing profits. The case is scheduled to resume today.
Newspapers reported Sunday that Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger could be headed for knighthood. The News of the World and the Sunday Times both reported that Jagger will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth in her honors list next weekend, but a spokeswoman for the British government told Reuters they never comment on honors until they are published.
Eminem reportedly brought in his old car, a purple Ford Mustang, for trade-in last week at a Detroit-area dealership. According to the AP, Eminem's uncle brought the car in to Russ Milne Ford while the rapper waited outside, where one of the workers recognized him. Russ Milne said it is considering selling the car and donating the proceeds to charity. Unfortunately, the car's $7,000 stereo system and Cobra tires were removed prior to the trade.
Former teen idol Johnny Depp is in talks to star in two action pics for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The two-picture deal with the Walt Disney Co. would have Depp working with Bruckheimer on Takedown and Pirates of the Caribbean, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Depp last starred in the historical thriller From Hell by director Albert Hughes.
Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist film Metropolis will premiere at the Film Forum in New York on July 12, Variety reports. The new version, a digitally restored 35mm print, premiered at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival as a work-in-progress, with the final reel of footage still unrestored.
It looks as though Brad Pitt's big-budget sci-fi epic The Fountain is set to begin production soon after a change of co-financiers. The film, budgeted at upwards of $70 million, will be directed by Darren Aronofsky from a script he co-wrote with Ari Handel. The film is being produced by New Regency and Warner Bros.
New Line Cinema is in talks with Antz scribe Todd Alcott to write the live-action adaptation of the adventure series Samurai Jack. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be directed by Rush Hour 2's Brett Ratner.
Two songwriters have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia against Britney Spears, her publishing company, Zomba, and her record company, Jive Records, claiming they own the copyright to a song on her Oops!...I Did It Again album. According to Sky News, Michael Cottrill and Larry Wnukowski say they wrote the song "What You See Is What You Get" in 1999 and want recognition for the tune.
Herman Cohen, the originator of the teen fright flick, died of throat cancer at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on June 2, Reuters reports. Cohen produced the 1957 cult classic I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which launched the late Michael Landon's career. Cohen went on to produce six more teen horror pictures, including I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and How to Make a Monster. Cohen is survived by a brother and sister.