Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Clint Eastwood, famous for gritty westerns, intimidating squints and asking punks if they’re feeling lucky, wouldn’t be the first person you’d think of to direct a glitzy movie musical. He’s about as far removed from the world of production numbers and intricate choreography as you could possibly get, so it’s something of a surprise that he’s the director bringing the hit musical Jersey Boys to the big screen. Though the film is based on the lives and careers of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the film’s real star power is behind the camera, which should help it stand out in an unusually crowded field of movie musicals.
Though it's been a few years since we've seen a full-blown spectacular on screen, 2014 has three iconic musicals receiving the Hollywood treatment. After Jersey Boys has gotten moviegoers warmed up, December will bring a new, modern take on Annie as well as the star-studded film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's iconic Into the Woods. But which of these upcoming musicals are the real show-stoppers, and which are you better off skipping? We've run down the year in movie musicals, along with their potential for greatness, both critically and commercially.
Jersey Boys Opens: June 20 What It’s About: The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and their journey from being four guys harmonizing under a streetlight to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, including the gambling debts, mob threats and personal crises that almost stood in their way. Star Power: Director Clint Eastwood and Christopher Walken in a supporting role. The main cast is made up of primarily unknowns, although John Lloyd Young won a Tony Award for playing Frankie back in 2006. How Good It Looks: Thus far, it’s gotten mixed reviews, with many critics taking issue with its by-the-book approach to an interesting, conflict-filled story. That weird, grey filter that Eastwood uses can’t be helping matters, either. Box Office Potential: The film hasn’t gotten a lot of promotion ahead of its release, but the Four Seasons are a recognizable enough name that Jersey Boys should be able to pull in a decent amount of money. The show’s still going strong on Broadway 8 years later, after all. Awards Potential: It’s being released too far from awards season, and the early reviews aren’t strong enough to make Jersey Boys a real contender, but we’d be surprised if Eastwood or Young’s name didn’t come up in conversation once or twice - but only once or twice. Number Worth Waiting For: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” of course.
Annie Opens: December 19 What It’s About: Business tycoon Benjamin Stacks takes in Annie, a foster child who has been living in the evil Miss Hannigan’s orphanage since she was born, in order to help his Mayoral campaign. Star Power: A pretty star-studded cast, including Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Byrne, and of course, Quvenzhane Wallis. How Good It Looks: Every production of Annie lives and dies by its hero and its villain, and while Wallis seems to be a charming and entertaining Annie, Diaz’s Miss Hannigan seems downright terrible. This is definitely a film that can go either way. Box Office Potential: A beloved, classic, family-friendly musical with a Christmas release date and a big-name cast? It’s probably going to rake in the cash. Awards Potential: Very little. Unless it’s animated, the Academy doesn’t really pay attention to child-friendly films, and anyway, this Annie is more about spectacle than substance. Number Worth Waiting For: “Hard Knock Life.” We’d say “Easy Street,” which everyone knows if the best number in the show, but it’s probably best to wait and see some more of Diaz’s Miss Hannigan before we get too excited for it.
Into the Woods Opens: Christmas What It’s About: Set in a fairy-tale forest, a witch attempts to teach various characters important lessons about life and love. Star Power: Off the charts: Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and Christine Baranski, to name just a few. How Good It Looks: Not much has been released about the film yet, so it’s hard to tell, although Streep does look fantastic as the Witch. Box Office Potential: If the A-List cast or theater pedigree doesn’t bring in a big audience, the massive marketing push that Disney will inevitably roll out should do the trick. Expect this one to do very well with moviegoers. Awards Potential: Of the three films on this list, Into the Woods has the best shot at any awards recognition, even if it’s just because Streep gets nominated every time she leaves the house. We’d be surprised if Sondheim’s new music doesn’t become a major contender in the Best Original Song race, and depending on how well the film is received, Kendrick, Blunt and director Rob Marshall – all former nominees – could have a decent shot at a nomination as well. Number Worth Waiting For: “No One is Alone,” which is not only the most well-known song from the show, but will also be sung by Kendrick, everyone’s dream best friend.
Focus Features via Everett Collection
Thousands of Ryan Gosling fans were fooled into thinking the movie hunk had become a dad on Sunday (15Jun14) after a fake Facebook.com message suggested he had adopted a baby last year (13). Pranksters behind the hoax profile set up in The Notebook star's name sent devotees into a spin on Father's Day after sharing a photo of the actor holding a child.
Post by Ryan Gosling.
The accompanying caption read: "This father's day, I've decided to tell the story of how I became a father. "This little guy was only 9 months old when I became his dad. His mom and I were great friends before she passed away from cancer. I promised her, I'd always look after him. So, I had decided to step up and become his dad."
The fake message went on to detail how the infant had "brought me so much joy", until a custody fight with the baby's biological father ended in despair: "Of course, I put up a fight, but he won. That 1 year of being his father taught me how to love unconditionally."
The prank attracted almost one million 'likes' from followers and prompted many to gush about the actor's "decision", but the page, which has not been verified by Facebook bosses, has since been dismissed as bogus.
The Father's Day post also directed fans to another website, which encouraged them to purchase T-shirts to win the chance to spend a day with Gosling. The pranksters also claimed all proceeds would go towards the Orphanage Home Foundation, a charity which does not exist.
The Hollywood star, who does not have any children, has yet to comment on the bizarre Facebook stunt.
The family of the boy Sir Elton John desperately wanted to adopt from the Ukraine has urged the star to help them as violent unrest continues to rock the country. The Rocket Man hitmaker and his partner David Furnish tried to adopt little Lev Ageyev in 2009 after meeting him in an orphanage in Makeeva, but his bid was rejected, because same-sex couples are forbidden to adopt in the country.
Five years on, Lev is living in a squalid apartment with his grandmother, Yulia, after she saved him from the orphanage - and now she has called on Sir Elton to help them escape their hellish existence as trouble continues to spread across the country due to ongoing conflicts between the Ukraine and Russia.
She tells Britain's The Sun on Sunday, "I know he (Elton John) felt something for Lev. We're worried what will happen so any help he could give us would be appreciated... I can't take the boys (Lev and his brother) anywhere. We went to the zoo and they were so happy - a rare treat. Money is really tight."
Latin superstar Marc Anthony has won the support of the president of the Dominican Republic after meeting him to discuss government assistance for his revamped children's orphanage in the city of La Romana. The singer unveiled the new-look Children of the Christ building earlier this month (Apr14) after helping to fund the renovations via his Maestro Cares Foundation, which aims to help homeless Latin American children.
He returned to the Dominican Republic on Monday (21Apr14) to sit down with President Danilo Medina, who has since pledged to do what he can for the orphanage.
In a statement released by the Office of the President, Anthony is quoted as saying, "I met him, I admire him a lot. We had a good time.
"He left us an open path of communication. In his words, 'Whatever you need, I am at your service. We are ready to contribute, help out.'
"(Medina) gave us his word and asked us to come back soon to see how things are going."
The orphanage has been a passion project for Anthony, who began work to improve facilities at the home in 2012.
Pop superstar Justin Bieber made a surprise visit to an orphanage in Japan on Wednesday (23Apr14). The 20 year old is currently visiting the country with his mother Pattie Mallette, and decided to take time out of his travels to make the unscheduled stop.
Mallette took to Twitter.com to write, "In Japan and JB just randomly decided to show up at an orphanage and surprise some kids. So proud"
Bieber also shared a few short Instagram videos of himself running around with the children, giving out high-fives and even dancing with a young fan.
Later that night, he played an intimate acoustic set at Tokyo's V2 Club.
Bieber's orphanage visit came hours after he was criticised for having his picture taken at Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including former military leaders who committed mass atrocities across Asia and the Pacific during World War II.
The backlash prompted the star to delete the image and issue an apology.
He explained: "While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine (sic). I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer (sic). To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan."
Latin star Marc Anthony has completed a long-running project to overhaul an orphanage in the Dominican Republic with his charitable foundation. The singer arrived in the country on Wednesday (02Apr14) to unveil the finished building with his Maestro Cares Foundation, a charity for Latin American children.
The Children of the Christ residence in La Romana will house around 150 abused or abandoned youngsters.
Anthony wrote on Twitter.com, "This morning we are changing lives and building dreams with the opening of our 1st (first) orphanage in the DR (Dominican Republic). First of many with Maestro Cares."
The singer took on the project to improve the facilities at the orphanage back in 2012, adding extra classrooms and a baseball field.
Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie has thrown her support behind an Ethiopian movie by signing on as an executive producer. The Oscar winner has joined the team behind Difret, which is one of the movies taking part in the Sundance Film Festival's World Cinema Dramatic Competition this month (Jan14).
The movie tells the story of a female lawyer fighting against the Ethiopian tradition of young girls being abducted for marriage.
Jolie says, "This film is a strong moment for art in Ethiopia. It is inspiring to see such an important story so beautifully illustrated with such creative talent. It draws out the richness of Ethiopian culture and shows how important legal advances can be made while respecting local culture. It is a story that gives hope for Ethiopia's future, and for other countries where countless girls grow up without the protection of laws that shield them and their bodies, and shows how the courage of brave individuals can awaken the conscience of a society."
Jolie has strong connections to the African country as she adopted her daughter Zahara from an Ethiopian orphanage.
The Sundance Film Festival kicks off in Utah on Thursday (16Jan14).
Sleepy Hollow continues to be a fantastic mix of creepy monster-evil and traditional family drama. Last week Crane discovered that he was a father, as Katrina had given birth to his son after putting him under the spell that forever linked him to the Headless Horseman. This week he began a dangerous search to uncover the truth about his son’s life and the things he discovered were pretty frightful.
Christmastime = Family Drama, Forever
The episode began the way any proper Christmas episode should, with a few good quips about egg nog. Lieutenant Mills tried to school Crane on the modern-day Yuletide goings-on and he was (as usual) none too impressed by the way things had changed since back in his day. He also had more on his mind than the coming of Santa Claus, having invited an old friend -- the Sin Eater -- over for a supernatural session. The Sin Eater (AKA Henry Parrish) was able to send Crane over to Katrina’s realm where he confronted her about their child. Katrina revealed that she had been targeted by her coven after what she did to save Crane and -- in her attempt to evade them -- she fled to Europe where she discovered she was pregnant. She ran back to her safe haven (the home we were introduced to last week) to give birth to their son, Jeremy. Jeremy’s story once again linked Crane and Mills, as Katrina revealed that she had given the baby to Grace Dixon and her husband in hopes of keeping him safe from her coven. She had also made for him the creepiest looking doll ever, as a protectant.
The Truth About Jeremy
Crane, Mills, and their new partner in crossing-over-into-other-realms Henry the Sin Eater went to a historical library in search of answers about Crane’s progeny. They uncovered some devastating news – first, that Jeremy’s half-witchy blood started wreaking havoc on his community, as the sounds of his cries actually started whole fires (that scene was very Looper-ish). One of those fires resulted in the death of Grace Dixon and her family. And, second, Jeremy ended up in an orphanage, where he was the target of physical abuse at the hands of a priest. That abuse inspired such pain and anger in Crane’s son that the blood from his wounds brought his protectant doll (AKA the Golem) to life. And because Crane was now living, his existence called the golem back to Sleepy Hollow. His first kill was the librarian, who was actually a witch attempting to keep Crane from discovering the truth.
Like many characters in Sleepy Hollow, the Golem wasn’t entirely evil and wasn’t entirely good. On the one hand he was built to protect Jeremy, but he was also a dangerous killer. And pretty scary. Crane had to be the one to destroy him in the end, but first he discovered from the witches (known as the Four That Speak As One) that they had buried Jeremy alive. And after achieving victory over the golem and the coven (for their death was linked to Crane's arrival), Crane was faced with a familiar horror: the Moloch. The Moloch tells him that his death is also imminent, along with that of the other witness. This was interesting because earlier in the episode Captain Frank had learned that the two witnesses in the Bible suffer the same fate. It looks like we can expect Crane and Mills to spend much of the season running from death, and as Frank now functions as an apostle of sorts, he’ll be running from a similar fate.
A Few Questions To Ponder Until Next Week:
Where in the world was Abbie’s sister Jenny? This week there was some borderline romantic friction between Frank and his ex, but we’re still rooting for Jenny and Frank to bring all their drama together and make sweet Sleepy Hollow love down by the fire ... or at least go out on a date.
How much creepier are these monsters going to get? Last week it was a live scarecrow, this week a live doll? Whatever. We love it.
Author J.K. Rowling was so heartbroken during a trip to a European orphanage she wanted to take a child home with her. The best-selling author of the Harry Potter books co-founded the Children's High Level Group charity in 2005 to help disadvantaged kids in eastern Europe.
She has been visiting Moldova, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Romania for several years to see the charity's work and was so overcome with emotion during one visit she contemplated lifting a child out of her cot and taking her back to the U.K.
Rowling tells Britain's Mail On Sunday newspaper, "I'm an emotional person. I struggle with that a lot in this kind of situation. There was one little baby, a girl, and I was standing at this cot and I just thought, 'I will take her'. It was utterly irrational but that is your human response. There was no earthly way I could take this baby home but that is your most powerful reaction. You think as a mother,'I will save this baby, this one baby'."
Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish donated all their eldest son's presents to needy children at an orphanage after he was swamped with gifts during his first Christmas. The couple is parents to two sons, Zachary, two, and Elijah, nine months, and the Rocket Man limits the amount of gifts they receive in order to keep them grounded. He even asks friends to make donations to charity instead of buying toys for the boys.
The music legend has now revealed the idea came about during Zachary's first Christmas, when they were so overwhelmed with presents, they decided to give everything away to kids in a Ukrainian orphanage.
Sir Elton tells Britain's Event magazine, "The first Christmas we had Zachary, we walked into the sitting room and it was full, floor to ceiling, with presents... Two hours later we had barely scratched the surface and David just sat back and said, 'This is obscene. No child should have this.' We had bought him a swing for the garden. We kept that and everything else was sent to a Ukrainian orphanage. From then on, we tell friends not to give gifts, but donate money to a foundation we set up for Zachary to give other children, so he'll actually understand what it is to give.
"Of course, everywhere we go he is given presents, so he knows that word very well. But we limit them."