Former American soap star Dane Witherspoon has died at the age of 56. The ex-husband of actress Robin Wright passed away on Saturday (29Mar14).
Actor A Martinez, who co-starred with Witherspoon and Wright on 1980s soap Santa Barbara, broke the news to fans via his Facebook.com page on Saturday, writing, "Dane passed this morning. People who watched Santa Barbara in its earliest days will remember him as Joe Perkins, a character to which he brought a quiet grace and deep, bittersweet sense of soul.
"He was a singular, standup guy, loved and admired by many. My first thought, upon meeting him in 1984: 'This is the most beautiful man I've ever seen'. That beauty went all the way to his core."
Witherspoon was one of the original Santa Barbara castmembers, but he was fired shortly after the show's launch in 1984. He went on to appear in another soap opera, Capitol, and appeared on The Waltons, Eight is Enough, and in TV movies like Chameleons and Asteroid.
He wed Wright in 1986 after they fell in love during auditions for Santa Barbara, but marriage only lasted two years before they split.
Witherspoon went on to wed Tracy K. Shaffer, the mother of his two sons.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Best Drama Series:
Mad Men WINNER!
Best Comedy Series:
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother
30 Rock WINNER!
Best Lead Actor in a Drama:
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad WINNER!
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama:
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost WINNER!
John Slattery, Mad Men
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy:
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock WINNER!
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy:
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men WINNER!
Best Lead Actress in a Drama:
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages WINNER!
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama:
Cherry Jones, 24 WINNER!
Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Best Lead Actress in a Comedy:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, The United States of Tara WINNER!
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy:
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies WINNER!
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
The Amazing Race WINNER!
Dancing with the Stars
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program:
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor WINNER!
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Padma Lakshmi/Tom Colicchio, Top Chef
Grey Gardens WINNER!
Into the Storm
Prayers for Bobby
Little Dorrit WINNER!
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series:
Late Show With David Letterman
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart WINNER!
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
In the wake of Tuesday's horrific tragedies, it has been confirmed that there were at least two entertainment professionals killed among the 266 people on board the four hijacked commercial planes--Barbara Olson, a prominent attorney and news commentator, and David Angell, one of the co-creators of NBC's Frasier.
Attorney and news commentator Barbara Olson was on board the American Airlines Flight 77, which was flying from Washington Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles but crashed into the Pentagon.
Olson was able to make two phone calls from the plane to her husband, Ted Olson, the U.S. solicitor general. She only told him that the hijackers were armed with knives and cardboard cutters and were making the passengers and crew, including the pilot, go towards the back of the plane.
"What should I tell the pilots to do?" CNN reported Olson asking her husband, as reported by Variety.
Ted Olson immediately contacted the command center at the Justice Department with the information and told CNN that his wife had originally planned to fly Monday but delayed her travel to be with him Tuesday morning for his birthday. He told CNN, "I wish it wasn't so but it is."
Barbara Olson, 45, was a former federal prosecutor and served as chief investigative counsel to the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. She was one of the investigators on the "Travelgate" scandal during the Clinton Administration.
She has also been a consultant and commentator for such news organizations as CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC and MSNBC.
Writer-producer David Angell, one of the co-creators of the television series Frasier and Wings, was on board American Airlines Flight 11 with his wife, Lynn, headed from Boston to Los Angeles. This plane was the first to crash, striking the north tower of the World Trade Center.
The Angells had been attending a family wedding in the Cape Cod, Massachusetts area and were returning home.
Angell's career began in 1983 when he joined Cheers as a staff writer, and he has been with Paramount Network Television ever since. He became partners with Peter Casey and David Lee in 1985, and the producing trio formed Grub Street Productions and created the hits Wings and then Frasier
In a statement on the Angells' deaths, Paramount said: "Words cannot express our sorrow at this incredible loss. David has been at Paramount since 1983, and his talent, wit and humor will be deeply missed. We cherished our relationship with David and Lynn and our hearts go out to their family and friends, especially David's partners Peter Casey and David Lee."
Casey and Lee said in a separate statement: "David Angell was not only our partner, but also our friend for the past 16 years. He was a kind and gentle man with a quiet exterior that masked one of the sharpest comedic minds ever to write for television. His fingerprints are all over some of the funniest moments in Cheers, Wings and Frasier."
"What few know is that he was also a man of great faith, a quality that allowed him to navigate the shoals of the entertainment industry with unusual grace and level-headedness. It was our privilege to have known and worked with him. David's wife, Lynn, was the love of his life. She epitomized Southern graciousness and charm. As we write these words, it is still impossible for us to imagine that they are gone. We join their family and other friends in mourning their passing."
Among the other victims were: Daniel Lewin, 31, the chief technology officer and founder of the Web content provider Akamai Technologies and actress Berry Berenson, 53, the widow of actor Anthony Perkins and sister of actress Marisa Berenson. Berry Berenson co-starred in the 1982 film Cat People and the TV miniseries Scruples. Both were on American Airlines Flight 11. Also Garnet "Ace" Bailey, 53, director of pro-scouting for the Los Angeles Kings NHL hockey team, who was on board United Airlines Flight 767, the plane that hit the WTC's south tower.