A semi-autobiographical sitcom created by British movie star Emily Mortimer has been picked up by TV bosses. The Shutter Island star has teamed up with her real-life best friend Dolly Wells to write Doll & Em, about a British actress who hires her childhood friend as her assistant while shooting a film in Hollywood.
The six-episode series has been picked up by HBO executives in the U.S., and it will be broadcast in the U.K. on the Sky Living channel in February (14).
Mortimer's husband Alessandro Nivola, one of the show's producers, says, "All of us are very proud to have found the perfect home for Doll & Em at HBO. They have been incredibly supportive and share our enthusiasm for the series."
The group, which also included British actor Guy Burnet, actress Rosie Fellner and comedian Seth Herzog, was leaving the afterparty for new movie Janie Jones at the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan on Thursday night (27Oct11).
They got into an elevator and headed down from the rooftop terrace, but when another couple got in on the 16th floor, the compartment dropped and plummeted eight floors before stopping.
Janie Jones director Rosenthal tells Nymag.com, "We've all had a couple of drinks... and we're just piling into the elevator... Everyone is yelling and hooting... (The couple) decide to jump in, and as soon as they jump in, the thing starts plummeting down. His girlfriend is lucky she didn't get killed because her foot was barely inside the door when the elevator dropped. I think we fell eight stories before the emergency brake went off. We initially thought we'd gone all the way to the basement and bounced on the springs."
Emergency services were called to the scene, but the frustrated group decided not to wait, and took action themselves, climbing out of a gap in the doors onto a floor.
Rosenthal adds, "(One guy) decided he just wanted out of there, so he dropped his glass, which broke on the floor, and climbed through the gap... He turned around and stuck out his hand and was like, 'Okay, who's next?'"
Gramercy manager Elizabeth Mao confirmed the incident in a statement, insisting the elevator will now undergo thorough testing: "There was an elevator malfunction... Our security team responded to the incident immediately... All guests were safely evacuated... We are ensuring the elevator car in question undergoes a thorough inspection..."
The Shutter Island star and her American husband Alessandro Nivola switched citizenship in 2010 - but she insists it had very little to do with patriotism.
And she's still upset about how difficult it was for her to become an American.
She says, "I kept saying, 'I don't want to do this that badly; why are you acting like it's such a big thing?' It was a year of just endless questioning. I had to learn 100 questions about the constitution and I had to have all sorts of medical probes and tests.
"I had to show photographs of my wedding, I had to talk about how much I loved my husband, which was very easy of course. It was endless and I b**ched and moaned the whole way through the whole thing.
"My husband, meanwhile, all he had to do was pay 400 quid (pounds) and say 'God save the Queen' - and he got a British passport."
Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin performed Fight For Me, the song she recorded for the Janie Jones soundtrack, at the film's Tribeca Film Festival premiere in New York on Friday night (29Apr11). The 15 year old teamed up with co-star Alessandro Nivola for her first performance.
We first met Abigail Breslin when she charmed us as the growling little girl in Little Miss Sunshine, but after that she continued to play the little girl to the grown-up leads. Occasionally, she takes the lead as a kid adventurer, but for the most part, we've yet to see her truly lead her own film as a young woman. In Janie Jones, we see Breslin take on a more demanding part and well, she rocks it.
Janie Jones, like the Clash-inspired title suggests, is a rock story, but it's a bit more than that. Failing rock star Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) fooled around with a few groupies in the height of his fame, but one (Elisabeth Shue) went away with a lasting parting gift: a daughter (Janie). Like many a grown up groupie, the lifestyle left her with some questionable habits and when she decides she needs to put herself into rehab, she leaves Janie with Ethan and he reluctantly brings her along on his tour. Of course this is no place for a 13 year-old, then again neither is living in a house with a drug addict.
Through a series of forced circumstances including the implosion of a band that's hanging by a thread when we enter the picture, Ethan is forced into fatherhood and Nivola delivers a solid performance as the reluctant father. However, like her character, Breslin is the real star here. In many respects, she's more of an adult than either of her parents and when she's thrown into the chaos of the road, she really shows it. Breslin also does sort of double duty for the role -- she plays guitar and sings original songs meant to be written by her young character. The lyrics ring of hard times that a young kid shouldn't know anything about, and while I doubt Breslin will be selling songs on iTunes any time soon, she pulls off the musically-inclined young lady.
Sure, the film employs an element of childhood fantasy -- I doubt many children of groupiedom find out that their father is only a haughty, delusional prick on the surface, but that he can really come around and be a father -- but Breslin brings it home. (Though, to be fair, the screenplay was inspired by writer and director David M. Rosenthal's own life, which was much less musically-inclined and much less dramatic.) She's infinitely likable and she's got a coy element about her. While Janie is very much a 13 year old girl, she's a wiley one. She knows how to use her age to her advantage and ends up using it a few times to save her dad's ass as he progresses on his downward spiral. The role really echoes Breslin's trajectory as an actress -- I know this is a weird claim, so stick with me for a minute. No, she wasn't raised by a druggie or taken on the road with a touring rock band at a young age, but she was thrown into a very adult world at a young age.
At just 10 years old, she nabbed a starring role in Little Miss Sunshine, which despite the title, was anything but a bunch of sunshine and roses. Sure, she's played the kid alongside the main plots in most flicks, but she almost always tends to be the little girl who's just a little more grown up that we'd expect. She's one of those kids who becomes very adult from a young age because though she's probably having fun acting, she ended up with a full time job before she was even old enough to drive. She's still a kid, but she's got a little savvy from being in that adult world. Janie also gains savvy from the adult nature of her world. She almost parents her mother as we see when the two stop at a gas station before meeting Ethan and Janie reprimands her mom for switching to a sluttier skirt and for still toting drugs around in her purse. We see it the first time she overhears Ethan lamenting that he's got to take her with him; instead of crying or whining, she grabs her guitar and expresses herself in a productive, mature way.
The film is by no means perfect, but it's sweet and despite a few outlandish twists and turns, feels very organic and genuine. It takes the feel of Almost Famous and adds some seriousness; there are no lofty dreams of being Rolling Stone's star journalist or marrying a rock star here. Instead, we've got the simple goal of wanting to just make it (in this case, making it means the pair getting to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas). It's a great vehicle for Breslin to make the switch from simple kid star to a bona fide actress and she uses it well.
The Harry Brown star moved Stateside a decade ago when she married American actor Alessandro Nivola, who is the father of her two children.
Mortimer was granted American status from immigration officials last year (10) after she was grilled about the American constitution and had to undergo a series of mandatory health tests.
And she was so sick of the constant stream of questions and paperwork, she wept with relief when she finally got her citizenship.
Mortimer tells Britain's Daily Express, "I was very cynical about it and very sulking about it and very annoyed that I had to go through the whole thing. I cried at my naturalisation ceremony."
The British actress and her husband Alessandro Nivola welcomed daughter May last month (Jan10) - but Mortimer feared she'd harmed the baby during her pregnancy after a particularly traumatic evening in a Japanese restaurant.
Mortimer was so desperate to impress her Leonie co-star Shido Nakamura and the film's director and producer, she gulped down what was put in front of her.
She recalls, "I was trying so hard to be charming and have them think I was cool, and they were all so impressed by me because I ate some sort of weird Japanese spinach."
The star then opted to try a piece of sushi: "I took a bite and it was raw chicken! I kid you not. It was raw chicken dipped in raw egg, which was apparently some delicacy. And the weirdest thing, instead of stopping there I kept eating it. Then I got home and cried on the phone to Alessandro, 'I've killed our baby!'"
Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) is a Los Angeles-based concert violinist who has been blind since she was 5 years old. She gets by the best she can and sees “using my other senses ” as she explains to a passer-by whom she saves from getting run over by a bus. But Sydney still desperately misses her vision and is one day away from a once-in-a-lifetime medical miracle that will bring her the gift of restored sight: a double corneal transplant. Almost immediately following the operation Sydney through extremely blurred vision begins seeing strange silhouettes but thinks nothing of them. As her sight improves with each passing day however the figures become clearer and much more troubling. Before long Sydney identifies them as “escorts” that take people away when they’re dead and she can’t escape the horrifying visions even while sleeping. But she’s forced to investigate and solve the situation mostly on her own as both her sister (Parker Posey) and ophthalmologist (Alessandro Nivola) swear it’s all in her mind’s eye. What Sydney discovers is both hair-raising and of course eye-opening. The opening shot features Alba looking glamorously hot in the way we’re used to seeing her as though just finishing a photo shoot for the cover of another glossy magazine. Then the camera pans down to her walking stick and you admit to yourself not three minutes in that Alba as a blind woman (and later a violinist!) will necessitate complete suspension of disbelief. Same can be said for The Eye’s few dramatic scenes namely one in which an extreme close-up draws attention to the actress' complete inability to fake-cry. Alba can pull off much of the rest of the movie since it’s relatively low on dialogue and emotion but The Eye is just another example of her trying in vain--much like Good Luck Chuck--to un-pigeonhole herself. In supporting roles veterans Nivola (Junebug) and Posey (Dazed and Confused) show that they’re much too esteemed for a B-grade horror movie and much better than the actress to whom they are playing second- and third-fiddle respectively. Although that’s usually the case in movies like this. Ah the much-too-frequent adaptation of the exotic-import horror movie--always reliable for a few cheap thrills and nothing more. The Eye based on the Pang brothers’ 2002 Chinese film is no exception to that rule and is undoubtedly a dumbed-down less-scary version of the original. The director duo of David Moreau and Xavier Palud who collaborated on 2006’s creepy French film Them manage to somewhat dilute all that is bad about The Eye by using music and style but there’s ultimately no way around the anemic adapted script by Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes on a Plane) and acting by Alba. While the concept of someone having her vision restored after 20-plus years without it is fascinating and tantalizing for all the directions in which a filmmaker could take it there’s nothing post-setup--or post-op in this case--that eclipses the mildest of scares and this meant to be a horror film. To the directors’ credit The Eye looks gorgeously foreboding and the movie’s elevation to mere watchability shows that they have some promise in this genre.
With his soldier wife Grace deployed in Iraq Midwestern home supply store manager Stanley Philipps (John Cusack) is doing his best to be both mom and dad to Heidi 12 and Dawn 8. He doesn't have much of a support network--the military spouses' group he attends exactly once is all women who spend most of the meeting talking about sex (or lack thereof)--so when he gets the news he's been dreading he has no idea what to do. Unable to tell Heidi (Shelan O'Keefe) and Dawn (Gracie Bednarczyk) that their mom won't be coming home he instead impulsively takes them on a road trip to a far-away amusement park. Bouncy eager Dawn is unreservedly thrilled but introspective responsible Heidi knows something's up. As Stanley fumbles his way toward the sad truth the wounded family's physical and emotional journey proves quietly touching if not wholly gut-wrenching. From the first moment that Cusack appears on screen you know that Stanley isn't one of his typical hyper-verbal hipsters. Dressed in beige and sporting dorky Clark Kent glasses Stanley is 100 percent Regular Guy and Cusack dials down his usual energy to make the character convincing. It sometimes seems like he's overcompensating a bit--only in a few scenes does Stanley really seem to wake up--but the character is a man stunned by grief. Cusack is ably matched by newcomer O'Keefe who's stellar as Heidi. Aged prematurely by her mother's absence Heidi is conscientious and thoughtful with an independent streak that makes her act out even when she doesn't fully understand what's going on. O'Keefe fully inhabits her character making Heidi believable as a daughter a sister (the girls' interactions are refreshingly realistic) and a child on the verge of adolescence. Pushed slightly one way or the other Grace Is Gone could easily have become a propaganda piece either for or against the current war in Iraq. But writer/director James C. Strouse manages for the most part to walk the tricky line between flag-waving patriotism and anti-war zeal. Grace--and her contribution to her country--are honored but the devastation that follows a soldier's fall is made clear. What Strouse doesn't do quite as well is let his audience form their own emotional responses to his film. From the spare bleak score to the wrenching scenes of grief Grace can feel a bit manipulative ("you will be sad now!"). Perhaps for that reason it ultimately doesn't have the impact it clearly intended. Even the climactic cathartic scenes feel a little removed--maybe if we knew Grace like Stanley Heidi and Dawn did we'd be able to mourn her more passionately.
After immigrating to Los Angeles from Mexico Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) and his family are struggling to make ends meet. While his father has big plans to own a lawn care service Santiago’s big dream is to play soccer. During a game in L.A. Santiago gets his break when he meets Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) a former footballer and scout for the Newcastle Team in England. Promising Santiago a tryout if he can get to England Glen sticks his neck out over and over again to prove that Santiago is just as good if not better than most members of the team. Finally he gets Santiago a one-month look-see. When it starts out shaky the newest (and most well paid) member of the Newcastle Team Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola) takes Santiago under his wing and helps him prove his undeniable talent. It’s not hard to see why Becker is one of the most recognized stars in the Hispanic television market--and judging from his skills in Goal! he could crossover into the U.S. very easily. As Santiago Becker is able to make you feel his pain and struggle particularly through his smoldering eyes. In one powerful scene Santiago pleads with his father to let him take his shot at pro soccer--leaving the audience in a puddle as he pours his emotions out. You might have expected a little more from British thesp Dillane (The Hours) however as the man who discovers Santiago. His lack of energy is evident in almost every scene he is in. On the other hand American Nivola (Laurel Canyon) has the English bad boy act down pat. Wished there was more of him on screen. Director Danny Cannon best known for I Still Know What You Did Last Summer misses the mark with Goal! the first in a trilogy about soccer. For a sports movie there just isn’t enough excitement. Instead the rags-to-riches story drags on and on. Many of the film’s elements seem tacked on and then later forgotten or watered down things that could have helped develop Santiago’s character more. Then by the time we get to the highlight of the movie--the BIG soccer match--you’re left twiddling your thumbs waiting for it to be over instead of standing up and cheering when Santiago makes the winning GOOOOOOOOAL! Pity. Let's just hope the next two movies are better.