Flowers For Algernon author Daniel Keyes has died, aged 86. Keyes passed away at his home in Florida on Sunday (15Jun14) after suffering complications from pneumonia, his daughter Leslie Keyes told The New York Times.
The author is best known for Flowers for Algernon, a story about a man with a low IQ who becomes a genius after an operation. It was first released as a short story in 1959 before being expanded into a novel in 1966.
The story was adapted into the 1968 movie Charly, which earned Cliff Robertson a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the title character.
Keyes wrote four more novels and three non-fiction books, including The Minds of Billy Milligan, as well as releasing a memoir in 1999 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his most famous work.
Imagine a typical Jared Leto film: serious and independent, helmed by a critically-acclaimed director and requiring Leto to undergo some kind of drastic transformation. Now, imagine a standard Will Smith movie: action-packed and exciting, stocked with an equal amount of laughs and explosions, and featuring Smith as the wisecracking hero. Until this point, their filmographies had very little, if any, common ground, but that might be about to change. Deadline reports that Leto is in talks to replace Smith as the lead in the upcoming sci-fi thriller Brilliance, based on the book by Marcus Sakey.
With the exception of their shared ability to stave off aging, and each actor's claim to a lead role in a great ‘90s series, Smith and Leto are polar opposites, which is why it’s a surprise to see him possibly step into the shoes that Smith has so recently vacated. However, it’s even stranger that Leto’s rumored involvement in Brilliance actually has us excited for the film, whereas a Smith-led version only left us lukewarm at best. Our perception of Brilliance has completely shifted based on this small piece of casting news.
Most of that has to do with the kind of films that Leto and Smith tend to choose. The former is notoriously picky about his projects, often waiting years between each film, and his selectivity has paid off in terms of the overall quality of his movies. Smith, however, is in the middle of a downturn, with many of his recent films coming off as unoriginal, formulaic blockbusters. Until now, there was no reason to believe that Brilliance, which centers on a group of people born with extraordinary gifts and the FBI agent who must use his to track down an equally brilliant terrorist, would be anything other than another schlocky Smith vehicle, all flash and no substance. But Leto wouldn’t pick just any old thriller; if he’s looking at Brilliance, that must mean there’s some hidden originality or depth to the film that isn’t evident based on the summary.
Our change in perspective is helped along by the fact that the premise of Brilliance is general enough that it could go either way. With Smith on board, it seemed like another action film attempting to make a deeper point along the way, but with Leto, it has the possibility to go darker, deeper, and smarter. Leto’s coming off of an Oscar win, after all, and he wouldn’t pick just any generic action film as hid follow-up. He’d want something with some substance and grit, something that would live up to his award-winning performance. And while Smith’s films are generally fun and entertaining, they’re not quite on the same level as Dallas Buyers Club.
That doesn’t mean that the depth and substance we’re now seeing in Brilliance wouldn’t have been there with Smith in the lead, but adding Leto’s name to the cast holds a different kind of weight than Smith’s does. It’s usually easy to predict whether one of Leto’s films will be good based on only the description, but Smith’s career has been so hit-or-miss lately that it’s generally better to hold off on making a judgment until the first trailer is released. Audiences have a different set of connotations and expectations for each actor, and those affect the way that we see the same project.
Of course, there’s still a chance that the movie will turn out terrible, even with Leto on board, and Smith’s new project about NFL-related concussions will be the better of the two, but either way, it seems like Legendary has finally found a way to get people talking about Brilliance.
Oscar winner Jared Leto is in talks to replace Will Smith in the movie adaptation of Marcus Sakey's novel Brilliance. Leto, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his gender-bending role as an AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club, is tipped to join Noomi Rapace in director Julius Onah's film about people with extraordinary abilities.
If Leto signs up, he will portray a talented federal agent on the hunt for a terrorist, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Smith withdrew from the project in May (14) due to scheduling issues following a delay in production.
Oscar winner Susan Sarandon is suing her former business manager, accusing him of luring her to invest in a property deal just to line his own pockets. The actress handed over a reported $10 million (GBP6.25 million) to Richard Francis after he convinced her to invest in a real estate deal she claims he and his son had a huge stake in.
In legal papers obtained by TMZ.com, Sarandon reveals she realised what was going on after she fired her money man last year (13).
She alleges Francis breached his fiduciary duty to her and claims he "failed to diversify Sarandon's portfolio", even though he was "obligated to act solely in Sarandon's best interest and place Sarandon's interests above his own".
She is now seeking to recover "substantial" damages, including "considerable monetary losses including and not limited to reduced value of her interests in Real Estate Partnerships."
Actress Ruby Dee has died at the age of 91. The star passed away of natural causes on Wednesday (11Jun14) in New Rochelle, New York.
Dee began her career in the musical drama That Man of Mine and played American baseball player Jackie Robinson's wife in The Jackie Robinson Story.
Other notable film appearances for Dee included A Raisin in the Sun, Jungle Fever, Do the Right Thing and American Gangster, for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
For her many appearances on the small screen, the actress was lauded with several Emmy Awards nominations, including nods for 1979's Roots: The Next Generation, Little Bill and Decoration Day, for which she won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie trophy.
Dee was also known for her stints in theatre plays including A Raisin in the Sun, Hamlet and King Lear.
Her other awards include Screen Actors Guild awards for Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for American Gangster, and a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together.
Paying tribute to Dee, Screen Actors Guild president Ken Howard says, "Ruby Dee was truly one of a kind. She was a woman who believed deeply in fairness, a conviction that motivated her lifelong efforts to advance civil rights.
"The acting community - and the world - is a poorer place for her loss."
Dee was also known for her activism, and, in 2005, she received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award alongside her late husband, Ossie Davis.
Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig is set to step behind the camera to direct a new comedy she has co-created with her business partner Annie Mumolo. The duo will also produce and star as best friends in the film. Wiig and Mumolo became in-demand Hollywood writers after collaborating on the script for the riotous Bridesmaids, which won them a 2012 Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Oscar-nominated actress Martha Hyer has died, aged 89. The Hollywood star passed away on 31 May (14) at her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to Santafenewmexican.com.
She started her acting career with small roles, including an appearance in TV show The Lone Ranger, before progressing to more substantial parts in films such as 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Hyer went on to work with some of Hollywood's top leading men, including Rock Hudson in 1957's Battle Hymn and Cary Grant in 1958's Houseboat, before starring opposite Frank Sinatra in 1958's Some Came Running in a role which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
She lost out on the award and went on to miss another huge Hollywood opportunity when the role of Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho bypassed her and went to Janet Leigh instead. Her big screen career ended with a role in 1971 movie Day of the Wolves. She released an autobiography about her life in Hollywood, Finding My Way: A Hollywood Memoir, in 1990.
Hyer was married to Casablanca producer Hal B. Wallis until his death in 1986.
Nigerian musician Davido and South Africa's Mafikizolo were double winners at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards on Saturday (07Jun14). Davido was named Best Male and Best Artist, while fellow Nigerians Tiwa Savage and Flavour were also big winners as the MAMAs returned to Durban, South Africa after a three-year hiatus.
The host country was also well represented at the event with Mafikizolo claiming Best Group and Song of the Year for Khona, while Gangs of Ballet took Best Alternative and Goldfish were named Best Pop Act.
Meanwhile, superproducer Pharrell Williams was feted with the Best International title and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o added another accolade to her growing list of honours by accepting the Personality of the Year prize via a pre-recorded video clip.
The MTV Africa Music Awards was hosted by comedian Marlon Wayans and featured sets from Trey Songz, French Montana and Miguel.
The event also included an acoustic performance from soul singer Simphiwe Dana, which served as a moving musical tribute to late South African President Nelson Mandela, who died in December (13).
The full list of 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards winners is:
Best Male: Davido (Nigeria)
Best Female: Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)
Best Group: Mafikizolo (South Africa)
Best New Act: Stanley Enow (Cameroon)
Best Live Act: Flavour (Nigeria)
Best Collaboration: Y-tjukutja by Uhuru featuring Oskido, DJ Bucks, Professor and Yuri Da Cunha
Best Hip Hop: Sarkodie (Ghana)
Best Alternative: Gangs of Ballet (South Africa)
Best Francophone: Toofan (Togo)
Best Lusophone: Anselmo Ralph (Angola)
Artist of the Year: Davido (Nigeria)
Song of the Year: Khona - Mafikizolo featuring Uhuru (South Africa)
Best Video: Clarence Peters (Nigeria)
Best Pop: Goldfish (South Africa)
Best International: Pharrell Williams
Personality of the Year: Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya)
MTV Base Leadership Award: Ashish J. Thakkar (Tanzania)
Transform Today Award: Clarence Peters (Nigeria)
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Nobody in Hollywood embodies the "hit or miss" phenomenon to a greater degree than Tom Cruise does. Some love his energy, some think he's a wacko. With some of the most iconic movies of the past few decades and some of the most infamous clunkers to boot, Cruise is a master of keeping us guessing. After a string of lesser performances, his latest film Edge of Tomorrow reminds us of the sort of talent Cruise can embody when he's got the right role. It's the latest "great" in a long line, interwoven with an equally long line of "terribles." Here's a quick rundown of the lion's share of Cruise's roles, assessing which side of the coin he ends up on with each:
The Outsiders Great: Steve Randle isn't the biggest or most iconic character in the film, but it's hard to imagine the ensemble working so well together without him. Stay gold, Cruise.
Risky Business Great: Sometimes you can pinpoint the exact moment that someone becomes a star. For Cruise, it was that first tighty-whitey clad sock-slide through his living room.
Top Gun Terrible: Yeah, it might be his most iconic role of all time, but what do you really remember from this movie: Cruise’s empty smile or their planes doing barrel rolls? That’s what we thought.
Rain Man Great: Dustin Hoffman might have the more memorable role, but it would be nothing without Cruise’s quietly excellent performance.
Born on the Fourth of July Great: Cruise deservedly earned his first Oscar nomination for his intense, transformative performance as a paralyzed Vietnam War veteran. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how well the guy can act.
Days of ThunderGreat: Sure, it's basically Top Gun with cars, but at least Cruise has some personality in this one.
A Few Good Men Great: It takes a lot of talent to hold your own opposite Jack Nicholson, but Cruise managed to do that, and then some.
Interview with the VampireTerrible: The most memorable thing about Cruise's take on the legendary vampire Lestat was the frizzy, straw-like wig that the production team plopped on his head.
Mission: Impossible I - IVGreat: No action hero brings out the best in Tom Cruise quite like Ethan Hunt.
Jerry MaguireGreat: It might be hard to believe in these post-couch jump days, but once upon a time Cruise was the most charming heartthrob in Hollywood, and this is the performance that scored him that title.
Eyes Wide ShutGreat: Before Keith and Nicole and before TomKat, Cruise and Kidman were Hollywood's hottest power couple, and Eyes Wide Shut is a showcase of both stars' big screen prowess.
MagnoliaGreat: Whenever Cruise steps away from the heroic leading men he normally plays, something magical happens, and his performance in Magnolia is the best example of that law in action.
Vanilla SkyTerrible: What Vanilla Sky needed was a strong, complex, layered performance to anchor the film. What it got was an overly smarmy, obnoxious, befuddled Cruise.
Minority Report Great: Carrying a blockbuster film is tough. Carrying a blockbuster film that's also an iconic sci-fi epic with time travel, crime, plot twists, murder, and intrigue? That requires Tom Cruise.
The Last Samurai Terrible: We can only imagine that Cruise's "Keanu Reeves in a Samurai film" impression is what eventually inspired Universal to make 47 Ronin.
CollateralGreat: Cruise was a long way into his career before he finally played the villain in a film, but he seemed to be a natural at it. Maybe it's that manic grin that makes him so convincing.
War of the Worlds Terrible: It’s not really his fault. Everything about this movie was terrible, but Cruise’s flat, blank-stared hero definitely didn’t help matters.
Tropic Thunder Great: Nobody expected Cruise to be the breakout star of this movie, but it proved that it’s not heroic action movies where he truly shines – it’s in a fat suit and a comb-over.
Valkyrie Terrible: You know what? The less we say about this one, the better.
Rock of AgesTerrible: Because when you think "sexy, legendary, bad-boy rock star," you think of the guy who played Jerry Maguire, right?
Jack ReacherTerrible: It only took one shot of Cruise failing to look intimidating while surrounded by thugs in the trailer for audiences to realize that the lead was gravely miscast. It was like watching a kindergartener take on the fifth graders.
Oblivion Terrible: This movie is solidly mediocre, but a charmless Cruise sinks it to subterranean levels.
Edge of TomorrowGreat: As it turns out, all Cruise needs to get back whatever career mojo he's lost is an interesting concept, a giant robot suit and the freedom to be a complete and total jackass.
Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
Actor Mark Ruffalo almost blew his chances in Hollywood in his very first audition because the producers were appalled by his smell. The Avengers star began his movie career in the mid 1990s and he went on to enjoy several acclaimed roles and was even nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar in 2011 for his part in The Kids Are All Right.
However, his time in Tinseltown almost ended before it had even begun when his bad body odour left film bosses at his first interview gagging. Ruffalo tells U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "I had the audition and when I spoke to my agent after he said, 'Did you go to the gym beforehand?' When I said, 'No, why?' he said, 'They said you smelt bad!' I've cleaned up my act since!"
The interview is due to be broadcast in Britain on Friday (06Jun14), and fellow guest Michael Sheen recalls his worst ever job interview, when he was sick in a Paramount producer's office. The Queen star says, "I was meeting with the head of casting at Paramount. It was a big deal. My daughter and her mother had a stomach bug but I thought I was okay and this was my big break. Halfway through I thought I was going to throw up and then I did - projectile vomit all over her office... my big break was cleaning up my own vomit on my knees!"