Based on the classic tale Chicken Little follows the fable with a few creative freedoms. Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) must clear his name as a chicken who cried “wolf” (or rather “The sky is falling…”). The town turns to chaos over Little’s claim. When he can’t prove the incident everyone thinks the chick’s lost it. A year later the stigma still follows him--leading Little to desperately seek acceptance particularly from his father Buck Cluck (voiced by Garry Marshall). In an effort to seek positive attention he joins the baseball team and wins the big game. It seems everything’s going Little’s way until another piece of the sky falls and mysteriously finds it’s way into Little’s home. This time friends Runt of the Litter (voiced by Steve Zahn) and Abby Mallard (voiced by Joan Cusack) bare witness to the incident which turns into a full-blown alien invasion. What follows is a battle between animals and the unknown. As a writer producer director and sometime actor Marshall can now add “animated character” to his list of accomplishments. Voicing Buck Cluck has to be one of Marshall’s easiest roles. With an always distinctive voice Marshall used his signature sound to carry the role. Braff’s familiar voice sounded slightly tweaked for the part but added to the character’s sincerity. As always Cusack and Zahn’s characters add the perfect blend of comic relief. Along with directing The Emperors New Groove director Mark Dindal also contributed to such classics as The Little Mermaid and Oliver & Company. Given his background it’s no surprise that this film delivers a lot of Disney’s essentials--comedy adventure and music. In terms of animation Dindal and his team’s attention to detail won’t go unnoticed particularly in the space invasion sequences. Still while visually gorgeous Chicken Little won’t likely go down in Disney history as a classic. It doesn’t have the great soundtrack Disney is usually known for. It features a few originals (Barenaked Ladies’ “One Little Slip”) but is jam packed with cover songs (Wannabe ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough) sung by the actual cast. Pure comedy but no real gems. But overall Dindal succeeds in delivering a fun film worth taking the family to.
Ron Howard (the Oscar-nominated director of A Beautiful Mind) is currently scouting locations in Texas for his upcoming feature film based on the legendary, fateful battle at the Alamo. Howard says he plans to deal with some complex issues of the combatants at the Texas landmark heretofore untold on screen, including Jim Bowie's slave trading, Davy Crockett's bigotry and the alleged infighting between the NBA's David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
Madonna's been open about her sex life before, but now it's turning audiences off. Featured in hubby Guy Ritchie's new film based on 1974's Swept Away, Madonna gets beaten up as a prelude to lovemaking, which, according to thestar.com, is making viewers upset. Incredibly, this is an improvement for Madonna, whose acting in her previous movies made viewers VERY upset.
Not that you asked, but we have more from the world of Madonna. Seems the actress/pop diva, who demanded a cameo in return for singing the theme song of the latest James Bond flick, has withdrawn completely from any involvement in the movie. Given the last news item, perhaps the James Bond series just isn't misogynistic enough.
Kenneth Branagh, the man voted by his high-school class as most likely to channel Shakespeare, has returned to the bard's work on stage for the first time in 10 years. Branagh can be seen in the lead role of Shakespeare's Richard III at the Crucible Theater in the northern English town of Sheffield. No word if Branagh has yet been able to turn Sheffield's winter of discontent into a glorious summer, but word has it that he'd give up his kingdom for a horse.
Mary Tyler Moore's character from her eponymous hit TV show is to be honored May 8 with a bronze statue in Minneapolis, where the show's story was based. An eight-foot-high statue of newswoman Mary Richards tossing her hat into the air will grace the downtown corner of 7th Street and the Nicollet Mall, pleasing not only fans of the '70s sitcom, but also pigeons from both of the Twin Cities.
Bill Maher hosts a show called Politically Incorrect, and his latest statements to the Seattle Times prove that label true about himself, as well. "Look, I'm not gonna lie," Maher opined, "I knew back in September our days were numbered. But what is a little galling is that for six years on ABC, we had to live with Nightline as the ultimate sacred cow. You could never ask Ted Koppel to do anything. He never asked viewers to watch Politically Incorrect after his show; instead, he'd tell them to go to nightline.com. Suddenly, he's not a sacred cow--he's a slaughtered cow." If Koppel's a slaughtered cow, wouldn't that make Maher little more than gristle?
It's still signing season for TV pilots. Helen Mirren, nominated by the Academy for her work in Gosford Park, is set to star in CBS' Georgetown; The WB has gotten Jennie Garth, formerly of Beverly Hills, 90210, to relocate to New York for an untitled comedy with Amanda Bynes (Big Fat Liar), and Murphy Brown's Grant Shaud is heading to Fox for Oliver Beene. ABC's big move for the week was...nothing!
Fox is gonzo for eras past (That '70s Show, That '80s Show) and, according to EW.com, is planning a retrospective of seminal '70s sitcom Three's Company; just don't expect John Ritter to host. "I can't see sitting in rocking chairs and going, 'Remember the time we sat on that f---ing dog, and Mr. Furley came in and kicked you in the nuts?'" Ritter told EW.com. Ah, how we miss Don Knotts.
Billy Baldwin, star of Backdraft and brother to Alec, Stephen, Daniel, Jermaine and Tito, is jumping to the small screen in CBS' grammatically challenged R.U.S./H.. Yet another cop drama, R.U.S./H. is the story of a special L.A. unit that's based in the tough neighborhood of South Central.
Keys auction house in London has told Reuters that it expects letters hand-written by the late Princess Diana to her former housekeeper could go for as much as $28,430 (approximately), when they are auctioned off later this week. Princess Diana passed away in a Paris car crash in 1997. In related news, correspondence written by editor Noah Davis to his imaginary friend Fred was receently purchased for 42 cents. (Thanks, Mom!)
Music giant EMI Group is cutting almost 1,800 people from its worldwide workforce, the Associated Press reports. Contraction began in April 2001, when EMI had 9,338 employees. By September 2002, that number will be reduced to 7,600. No word if Mariah Carey's release is counted in this number, but we're willing to bet that not many other employees will receive the same $28 million golden parachute the sultry songbird did.
Food infected with sewage pollution has been blamed for the mystery illness that graced some attendees of the March 2 event in Beverly Hills honoring scientific and technical achievement in cinema. Investigators aren't sure how the virus spread, nor do they know what arugula really is.
August is the time of year when TV pretty much just phones it in. NBC is running "The 10th Kingdom" again, for crying out loud! It's almost as if they don't want us to watch anymore. Or, maybe TV is just playing hard to get, like if it acts disinterested in us, we'll want it even more.
Even some cable channels are getting into the act. On Tuesday, ESPN2 is running a recap of the Kansas City Chief's 9-7 1999 season.
But at least the brainy channels that are good for us but no one watches are trying hard to fill the void. So this week, just to show the networks (and ESPN2) that they can't take us for granted, we've got a very special "Bravo-riffic" edition of Channel Surfer.
Ted Danson "The Museum of Television and Radio: Influences" premieres at 7:30 p.m. PDT today on Bravo. Alan Alda hosts this new weekly series featuring TV stars of today talking about the TV stars of yesterday. This week, Ted Danson credits Andy Griffith's ability to play the straight man to Barney Fife and Floyd the barber, while still getting laughs of his own, for providing the model that made "Cheers" so good. This show is not only a lot of fun, but it also does a remarkable job of making TV seem really important while still showing clips of Don Knotts.
"Keith Olbermann Evening News" also premieres today, at 10 p.m. PDT on the Fox Sports Network. If there is one thing for certain in this world, it's that there are too many sports channels and highlight shows. Maybe Olbermann (also producer on this one) has the right idea in condensing the whole spectrum of sports into a single hour of highlights and commentary. Olbermann (along with CBS talk-show host Craig Kilborn) was a precursor to the cynical, witty, nerd sports anchors who are everywhere you look today. But Olbermann is funnier and generally more thoughtful than those assembly line imitations. Among the regular segments for "Evening News": a continuing look at the big-business side of sports called "Another Day Closer to "Rollerball.""
OK, one quick nod to the networks. Hot off receiving something like a million Emmy nominations (OK, 18), NBC will show four of the best episodes of "The West Wing" this week (Monday and Tuesday at 10 p.m. PDT and a double feature Wednesday starting at 9 p.m. PDT). Simply put, this is absolutely the best-written and most interesting show on network television. If you are not on the bandwagon yet, now is your chance to catch up before the new season starts.
This one started while Channel Surfer was on hiatus, but it's worth bringing up now. The Sci-Fi Channel has gone back in time to repackage a really old concept into a brand new talk show that seems almost certain to be a hit. "Crossing Over, with John Edward" (weeknights at 8 p.m. PDT) is the first talk show hosted by a self-professed "psychic," and his guest list is made up of, you guessed it, dead people. Wow. With all of the inherent entertainment value in those "psychic friends" infomercials, not to mention the ringing endorsements from very credible celebrities such as Gary Coleman and LaToya Jackson, it's hard to believe that no one ever thought of this before. Edward invites living people to talk with their dead relatives five nights a week. Cool.
"Belle du Jour" Tuesday is "dumbing down of America " night on most of TV (except for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on the WB), so we're going back to Bravo one more time. It's a brainy/sexy double feature starting with "Belle du Jour" (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on Bravo), Luis Brunel's satire about a sexually unsatisfied wife (Catherine Deneuve) who takes up prostitution as an afternoon hobby. This is followed by the 1990 sexorama "Henry & June" starring Uma Thurman as the wife of author Henry Miller, who must explore her burgeoning desire for his mistress. Yes!
And finally this week, for those of you who like your intelligent programming to be mostly sex-free, The History Channel reruns one of its most interesting documentary series, "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" (Monday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. PDT and back to back Thursday starting at 9 p.m. PDT). This investigative documentary is definitely an eye-opener.
Don Knotts, best known as the quirky deputy in "The Andy Griffith Show," now has his own little star.
The 75-year-old actor was honored Wednesday with the 2,152nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Knotts, who has won five Emmys for his portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife on the show, also starred in films such as "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," "The Reluctant Astronaut" and shows such as "Three's Company" and "The Don Knotts Show." John Ritter, Knotts' "Three's Company" co-star, was in attendance.
"I can't believe I have my own star. I'm gonna come down here every morning and shine that sucker up," Knotts said.
NO JEALOUSY FOR JOLIE: Angelina Jolie, who's currently creating Oscar talk for her role in "Girl, Interrupted," is quite excited about her next role. She'll be co-starring in "Dancing in the Dark" with Antonio Banderas. "I've never been with a swarthy Latin man on camera or off, so I'm looking forward to our pairing," Jolie tells the Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Sun. But don't read too deeply into the implications of her quote; Jolie isn't looking to break up the actor's marriage to Melanie Griffith. Regardless, Melanie needn't worry; the 24-year-old actress, who recently divorced Jonny Lee Miller and has many times declared she finds women attractive, provides her own solution for jealousy.
"Maybe if I sleep with Melanie first, I'll be fine," Jolie joked.. We won't touch that one.
HE'S ALL HEART: David Letterman departed New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday, five days after undergoing quintuple-bypass surgery. He will continue recuperating at an undisclosed location, according to hospital spokesman Howard Rubenstein. Letterman, 52, joked, "I think there must be some kind of mix-up. I went to the hospital to get a face-lift." The talk-show host had emergency surgery Jan. 14 after tests showed that one of his arteries was blocked. There's no word on when he'll return to his late-night show, but we'll predict one thing: some sort of quintuple-bypass Top 10 list.
QUICK TAKES: You'd never expect to see Hollywood powerhouse Mike Ovitz on the turntables. But the former CAA head is going into rap music, forming an urban-entertainment division under his management-production company and looking to crossover into films, sports and the like. ...
... The first Latin Grammys will take place in Los Angeles rather than Miami, because the Florida city's ordinance refuses to permit Cuban performers, according to officials. The awards will have 40 categories covering Spanish and Portuguese music and will air Sept. 15 on CBS. ...
... Sandra Bullock can breathe a sigh of relief -- for now. A low-budget exploitation film she made in her pre-"Speed" days looks like it won't be released into theaters as its producer, Roger Corman, had hoped. "Fire on the Amazon" was tagged with an NC-17 rating for the extra five seconds of a sex scene Corman added, and the producer is now re-submitting it with changes, hoping the MPAA will give it an R rating. For those who are wondering, the scene involved Bullock and Craig Sheffer "drinking from a hallucinogenic liquid drug from an Indian ceremonial bowl. This spawns the couple's passionate canine-style lovemaking in the jungle." Again, we won't touch that one. ...