TV and movie composer Jack Elliott died at 74 on Saturday of a brain tumor at the UCLA Medical Center, The Associated Press reports. Elliott was diagnosed with the tumor three weeks ago. He was one of the top composers in Hollywood, creating themes for hit TV shows like Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels and The Love Boat. In film, he often teamed up with director Carl Reiner and worked on projects including The Comic, Where's Papa?, The Jerk and Oh God.
Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart has been suspended because of allegations he violated the paper's policies when he tried to sell movie scripts while he was editor, Inside.com reports. The allegations were made in a story published in the September issue of Los Angeles magazine by former Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Wallace. Wallace also quotes Bart making a number of racially charged remarks. Bart is denying the allegations and is threatening to sue the magazine.
Actress Penélope Cruz says she is taking a holiday after doing several back-to-back films, AP reports. Cruz started acting at the age of 15 on Spanish TV and has appeared in close to 30 films, including Belle Epoque, All the Pretty Horses and Captain Corelli's Mandolin. She will also be starring in the upcoming romantic thriller Vanilla Sky alongside her new beau Tom Cruise. Cruz plans on studying photography during her brief film hiatus.
It seems pop star Britney Spears will be endorsing more than Pepsi Cola. According to ABC News, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has enlisted the help of the singer for the design of their new Web site, pleatheryourself.com. The site will promote the use of the leather substitute pleather, Spears' apparent favorite material.
Clint Eastwood said in the September Issue of Gear magazine that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were currently his favorite actresses. Eastwood, of course, was joking. In the interview, which was conducted by Craig Kilborn, Eastwood also said that his grandchildren call him an "a-hole." When Kilborn reminded the actor that his comments would end up in print, the 71-year-old actor replied, "What do I care? I've already had a good career."
Steven Spielberg has completed his foundation's mission to collect the accounts of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors on videotape, Reuters reports. The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation will use the taped accounts to educate and help overcome prejudice, intolerance and bigotry.
The first New York Korean Film Festival made its debut on Friday, opening with the gruesome thriller Tell Me Something, Reuters reports. A total of 11 films will be showcased during the festival, which runs through August 26. Other films shown include Joint Security Area, Attack at the Gas Station, The Foul King and The Isle.
A man was arrested and charged after he climbed on stage and ran towards singer Kylie Minogue during a concert, BBC News reports. Minogue was performing at the V2001 rock festival in Hylands Park near London. Security immediately grabbed the man and led him away. The two-day concert event also featured performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Texas, Coldplay and The Charlatans.
Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) vowed never to return to the now-quarantined Jurassic Park--until that is he's hired by a wealthy thrill-seeking couple Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) as a tour guide for their flyover above Isla Sorna. But the Kirbys aren't really wealthy aren't married anymore and don't intend to just visit--what they didn't tell Grant is that they plan to actually land on the island to search for their son Eric who disappeared there two months earlier on a parasailing trip with Amanda's reckless boyfriend. Grant his hunky protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola) the Kirbys and their pilots soon find themselves running for cover from the highly intelligent raptors sharp-toothed T. Rexes and the biggest and most vicious dino of them all the Spinosaurus (new with this sequel)--while managing to find Eric (Trevor Morgan) along the way.
Neill who (perhaps for best) wasn't part of The Lost World: Jurassic Park wears his familiar role from the first movie as well as he wears his broken-in hat. Wise and world-weary he's the quintessential scientist-cum-adventurer who finds dinos fascinating and humans exasperating. Macy's ever the hapless regular Joe caught up in events he can't control. Apparently the annoying Leoni's main assignment as halfwit Amanda was to scream and thrash about as much as possible at the most inopportune times (you may find yourself rooting for her to wind up between a dino's jaws). It's the kid however who turns in a particularly nice performance as the fearless accidental castaway who's the reason they're all stuck there in the first place. Watch for Jurassic Park vet Laura Dern making a crucial cameo.
Hold onto your hats you're in for a wild ride! Jurassic Park III boogies clocking in at a whirlwind 92 minutes and the action is nonstop. Reminiscent of Spielberg's first dino flick rather than its sequel (although it's nearly impossible to recapture the jaw-dropping effect of first seeing the dinosaurs back in '93) this latest sequel tosses off some pretty amazing moments of its own--witness the flying Pterodons who mount their attack from the air and the scene in which our human friends get caught up in a stampede of panicked herbivores. This film's lack of over-the-top gore is a pleasant surprise. More emphasis on the thrill of the chase than on the potentially gruesome end result makes for a scarier movie. Some irritating moments do occur (mostly between Paul and Amanda who seem to forget they're stuck possibly for good on an island where the wild things are).
Supermom Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her geneticist husband Norman (Harrison Ford) are adapting to their only daughter's departure to college when Claire begins sensing an unearthly presence in the couple's lakeside Vermont dream home. Is she losing her marbles or is that the spirit of a beautiful young woman she keeps glimpsing? To say any more (as the too-explicit ad campaign does) would spoil some delicious twists.
The toplining Ford is his usual solid self in a role that plays cleverly on his familiar persona but the picture is Pfeiffer's from beginning to end. She delivers one of her most pleasing performances nicely disarming audience doubts about the story's supernatural elements with some judicious eye-rolling and embarrassed frowning -- her character is so painfully aware that what she's saying sounds crazy how can we possibly doubt her? Among the low-key supporting cast Joe Morton ("Terminator 2") stands out as an amiably down-to-earth psychiatrist.
Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") takes Clark Gregg's highly derivative haunted house script and pours on the Hitchcockian visual flourishes unapologetically pilfering from the Master's "Rear Window" and "Psycho " among others. His extended homage results in scene after scene of almost unbearable tension as the audience waits for the next shock. There's some clunky storytelling in the first section but the all-suspense second half more than makes up for it with some classic work including what seems destined to go down in movie history as "the bathtub scene."
David Arquette is happy-go-lucky Gordon Smith a dog-fearing postman in the Jersey 'burbs who likes to hang with his buddy Benny (Anthony Anderson) watching sports and eating Cheetos and enjoying a life free of responsibility. Until that is the hot neighbor Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) he's been trying unsuccessfully to date is left without a babysitter and leaves her young son James (Angus T. Jones) in his care. Meanwhile mobster baddie Sonny Talia (Paul Sorvino) puts a hit out on the hardworking FBI canine Agent Eleven who helped bust up his drug deal. Eleven escapes protective custody and ends up hitching a ride in - you guessed it -- Gordon's mail delivery truck. Now Sonny's hit men (and the FBI) are after all three of them.
Arquette who's best known for his AT&T spots "Scream" movie roles and marriage to "Friend" Courteney Cox is good at pulling off the physical comedy required to portray a kid in a grown man's body with his wild hair wacky attitude fart jokes and breakdancing abilities. While most kiddie flicks feature annoyingly precocious tots you'd rather strangle than watch on-screen the pudgy terrifyingly cute Jones comes across just like any regular kid. You wouldn't guess that perfect-looking Leslie Bibb ("Popular") could be so appealing but she's willing to get dirty -- literally - and is able to pull off slapstick schtick with the best of 'em. Michael Clarke Duncan as Agent Eleven's way-too-devoted human partner Murdoch is over-the-top silly but gets plenty of laughs. The dog's cute too.
Director John Whitesell whose only other film credit is 1993's "Calendar Girl " does a good job of hanging this not-so-original tale around a likeable energetic cast that really looks like they're having fun. Thankfully the movie doesn't go overboard with sentimentality -- "Spot" hits the right emotional spot tempering the tear-jerking stuff with juvenile comedy and throwing in some jokes that'll make adults laugh too. Young and old will enjoy this movie although it might be overlong and too confusing for some very little ones to follow and some of the humor gets pretty gross - watching the hapless Arquette roll around in doggy doo for 10 minutes was a bit much.
Snagging new TV gigs this week:
Molly Ringwald hits the Big Time
Molly Ringwald, America's sweetheart during the late '80s, is back -- this time on the small screen. The actress will be starring in Big Time, a show that centers on a fledging TV network in the early days of the industry.
In the show, which will air on TNT, the setting will be 1948 Manhattan, and Ringwald will play the network head's new bride, who discovers a unique opportunity for herself in the burgeoning landscape of television.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, executive producers John Wells and Carol Flint have also hired actor Dylan Baker of Happiness fame, who will play a tirelessly devoted producer and VP of programming committed to making the young network a success.
The show will be directed and co-executive produced by Paris Barclay and marks Ringwald's return to her television series roots. The actress started her screen career on the NBC comedy The Facts of Life, and moved on to bigger roles on the big screen in '80s flicks such as Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.
Shaun Cassidy Signs TV deal
Former teen idol-turned-TV producer Shaun Cassidy has signed on as producer of The Agency, a CBS drama about the men and women of the CIA, Variety reports.
The former Hardy Boy has also signed on to produce a drama pilot at USA Network titled Wilder, a show which he originally created for the WB for the 2000-01 TV season.
Wilder is about a former teen idol who teams up with his younger cop brother to work as detectives. Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can't Lose) and Ashley Howard (Bring It On) have been cast as the leads in the pilot.
Jim Miller, USA Network's executive VP of original programming, believes the show contains the kind of subject matter that people often try to tackle, but seldom pull off successfully.
"Because [Cassidy] was there, because he understands that mind set -- the good and the bad -- the authenticity, the veracity of it all is just unmatchable,'' he tells Variety.
Culp, DuVall Make a Monster
Steven Culp (Thirteen Days) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted) will star in HBO/Cinemax's "How to Make a Monster" for writer-director George Huang (Swimming With Sharks). Production is slated to begin this week.
Monster is about a company man (Culp) who hires three ex-cons-turned-computer programmers to create a computer game, Evilution, which centers on an evil being. Whoever builds the scariest monster will win $1 million.
In their attempt to create the scariest monster, causing the computer to overload with everything that is evil, the monster comes to life.
The Hollywood Reporter adds that Tyler Mane, Jason Marsden and Karim Prince will also be featured in the project.
Tucci Tackles Groucho for CBS
Stanley Tucci, the actor-producer who won an Emmy for his portrayal of the 1950s columnist Walter Winchell, will star as Groucho Marx in Love, Groucho, a two-hour telepic for CBS produced by Alliance Atlantis.
The film is based on the book Love, Groucho: Letters From Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam by Miriam Marx Allen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie will trace highlights of the actor's life, including the breakup of his marriage and the eventual breakup of his career.
Screenwriter Jennifer Miller has penned the script for the project, which is executive produced by Tucci, Peter Sussman, Ed Gernon, Greg Gugliotta and Sandy Gartin.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2000 -- Seen any good Satanic-possession movies lately?
The granddaddy of all devil-in-me flicks, "The Exorcist," is set to return to a handful of U.S. theaters next month in an all-new expanded and restored version that contains "more than one full reel of long-rumored, legendary footage, excised before the film's original release," according to Warner Bros.
The new version isn't being billed as a "director's cut," but rather as an "author's cut." Director William Friedkin, who supervised the restoration, says this is the version that author William Peter Blatty (who wrote the screenplay, based on his novel) wanted to see back in 1973. Twenty-six years ago, Friedkin and the studio had other ideas. Now Friedkin's a convert.
"After viewing it a quarter of a century later I've come to agree with him," Friedkin says in a statement. "The restored footage -- plus one or two little surprises -- makes the film more suspenseful, as well as spiritually deeper."
"The Exorcist" starred Linda Blair as the possessed, vomit-spewing, head-rotating little girl and Jason Miller as the demon-evicting priest. All were nominated for Academy Awards. Blatty won an Oscar for best screenplay adaptation. The film grossed $150 million domestically, en route to becoming the second-highest-earning film in history at that time, trailing only "The Godfather." It also won a Golden Globe for best dramatic film.
The expanded version of "The Exorcist" initially will get a very limited release, beginning March 17 in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; and Athens, Georgia. For more info, check out Warners' all-new "Exorcist" Website at: www.theexorcist.net.
GOING 'PSYCHO'?: Nobody (outside of some Sundancers) has seen it yet, but everybody already hates it. That's how it seems for "American Psycho," the new film version of Bret Easton Ellis' infamous novel, starring Christian Bale. A Florida lawyer who represents the parents of three kids killed in a Kentucky school shooting is demanding that "Psycho" get an NC-17 rating. Lions Gate Entertainment already has vowed to trim the flick to qualify for an R, but that's not good enough for the legal eagle. If it's not branded NC-17, and an under-17 viewer is inspired to commit a copycat killing, the lawyer says he'll sue both Lions Gate and the movie ratings board. The families represented by the attorney say their kids' killers were inspired by an earlier Hollywood product -- 1995's "The Basketball Diaries."
FIGHT FOR YOUR WRITE: A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit brought against Spike Lee by a man claiming he should have been given a co-author credit on the writer/director's "Malcolm X" (1992). Jefri Aalmuhammed, the film's Islamic technical consultant, sued Lee and Warner in 1995, alleging that his contributions were so important to the film that he should get a co-author credit. A federal court initially dismissed Aalmuhammed's case in 1998.
KIDDIE KA-CHING! There's a celebration going on in toyland, specifically at Mattel, which was awarded the coveted merchandising contract for the upcoming Harry Potter movies. The best-selling children's books by J.K. Rowlings, about a magical orphan, are currently being developed into feature flicks by Warner Bros. The first film in the sure-thing franchise is "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," slated for a summer 2001 release and which Steven Spielberg is reportedly considering as his next project.
Chris Remi is a responsible mostly serious accountant with the nickname Goat of Fire. Tony is his younger brother a struggling actor who's popular with the ladies and goes by the nickname Smiling Fish. When their parents die the two must learn to adjust to life without Mom and Dad. Meanwhile Chris attempts to reconcile with his estranged wife before meeting an Italian beauty while Tony must decide what he wants when he meets his perfect match.
Chris and Tony played by real-life brothers Derick and Steven Martini respectively are relatively newcomers to the big screen and their acting doesn’t necessarily leave a lasting memory. They’re brothers playing brothers no real stretch there. The best performance by far is provided by Bill Henderson who plays Clive Winters -- a retired soundman from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Clive warms up to Chris taking him under his wing to teach him a thing or two about the wonders of love and weaving the films various subplots into a sweet package.
Director Kevin Jordan also wrote this film with the Martini brothers and produced it on a shoestring budget of $40 000. Clearly then it's all about the story. Shot in Los Angeles over 12 days Jordan draws you in with the appealing story line wins you over with some comic relief and keeps you hoping that each brother will get his girl.