Last night, Liam Neeson appeared on The Tonight Show and discussed his poor parenting in the upcoming Taken 2 and his career as a young boxer. Plus, he declared himself the biggest awards show drunk in Hollywood.
On The Late Show, David Letterman revealed the newest installment of one of his favorite segments: "Tom Hanks Tells Buddy Hackett Jokes." Tom Hanks flailing about the stage with an anyone-from-the-1940s accent makes up for the actual joke.
Woody Harrelson showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and discussed how his name slowed down his acting career, and tried to conjur some hazy memories from his recent trip to Amsterdam after shooting Rampart.
Finally, Rosie O'Donnell appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and told a story about getting personally invited to—and then harshly rejected from—P. Diddy's Christmas party.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Gillian Anderson, who played Agent Scully in the cult sci-fi series The X-Files, is getting a beating from critics for her debut performance on the London stage in Michael Weller's play What the Night Is For. In fact, it is being tagged the biggest roasting since Madonna's first curtain call in May in Up for Grabs, according to Reuters. "Sorry Scully, but you have lost your X-appeal," The Daily Mail said of Anderson's performance. "She is woefully uninvolving," said the Financial Times. "Does Anderson's voice have no capacity for heart-catching uplift, no sudden changes of volume?" it asked. Anderson is one of many Hollywood celebs accepting stage roles in Britain to boost their acting credentials, including Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Woody Harrelson.
Former Beatle George Harrison left more than $153 million in his will after his death from cancer in November 2001, Reuters reports. Details of the will were made public Friday before an all-star benefit concert in London, but court officials would not confirm local media reports that the money would be divided between Harrison's wife, Olivia, family members and charities.
Courteney Cox's decision to take her maiden name again spurred rumors that her marriage to David Arquette might be in trouble, but not so, according to the Friends star. In the December issue of InStyle magazine, Cox says she started going by her maiden name out of her respect for her father, Richard Cox, who died of cancer last year.
Rosie O'Donnell's longtime companion Kelli Carpenter gave birth Friday to her first child, Vivienne Rose, at an undisclosed New York hospital, The Associated Press reports. A spokeswoman for O'Donnell would not say whether the former talk show host was formally adopting the baby. O'Donnell has three adopted children, Parker, 7, Chelsea, 5, and Blake, 3.
MGM and Rush Hour producer Arthur Sarkissian are set to remake the 1958 thriller The Defiant Ones, which starred Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as escaped convicts bound at the wrist. According to Variety, Sarkissian signed a first-look deal with the Lion and Defiant is likely to be their first joint project.
The Osbournes season premiere on MTV Tuesday attracted 6.64 million viewers, placing first in its 10:30 p.m. slot among adults 18-34, Variety reports. Although the show reached almost 8 million viewers at its peak during the first season, the numbers remain impressive considering the episode was up against original programming on ABC, CBS and NBC.
In a one-hour special, Mariah Carey: Shining Through the Rain, airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. on MTV, the 32-year-old songstress wonders why such a big deal was made over her striptease on MTV's Total Request Live in July 2001--less than a week before she checked into a hospital for an emotional breakdown. "The drama, the saga of TRL," Carey says. "It's TRL, I thought you were supposed to feel at home and do stupid stuff."
Oasis singer Liam Gallagher lost several teeth in a barroom brawl with five Italians at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Germany, Reuters reports. According to German police, Gallagher also kicked an officer in the ribs when he was detained. With Gallagher spending much of the day in a dentist's chair, the group canceled Monday night's concert in Hamburg. The band's Web site said Gallagher and two other band members were innocent victims of an unprovoked attack by a group of youths. Brother Noel Gallagher was not involved in the melee.
Folk duo Simon & Garfunkel and salsa king Tito Puente are among the five artists to be honored with lifetime achievement awards for 2003 from the Recording Academy on Wednesday, Variety reports. Others include blues singer Etta James, balladeer Johnny Mathis and bandleader Glen Miller. The honors will be formally acknowledged at the 45th annual Grammy Awards in New York on Feb. 23.
It's officially over for Jane Fonda and Ted Turner. Fonda filed for divorce from the CNN tycoon earlier this week in Atlanta's Fulton County Superior Court, ending 15 months of separation, The Associated Press reported. According to Fonda, 63, and Turner, 62, their marriage crumbled when Fonda became a Christian. "We went in different directions. I grew up," she told AP.
"Titus" stuntman injured
A stuntman practicing a dangerous car maneuver for the Fox series Titus wound up in a Los Angeles hospital on Tuesday. Brian Carson, 44, was rehearsing the stunt at the Los Angeles County raceway-hitting a speed of 60 mph-when his car slammed into a ramp rigged with explosives. According to Entertainment Tonight, Carson suffered serious head injuries and multiple bone fractures. Carson has performed more than 2,000 stunts for the small screen.
Kathleen Turner: proud pop?
Actress Kathleen Turner will take on a role she's never tackled before in a May 17 episode of Friends: a transvestite man. People reports that Turner, 45, will play Matthew Perry's father in the hour-long episode, in which the characters played by Perry and Courteney Cox Arquette discover daddy's little secret after years of no contact. Morgan Fairchild will star as Perry's mother.
Goldie Hawn in the director's chair
First-time screenwriter Goldie Hawn, who has completed her script Ashes to Ashes, also will earn the title first-time director. According to Entertainment Weekly, Hawn's film will follow the travels of a bitter woman who reluctantly takes her ex-husband's ashes to Nepal. Jeremy Pisker (Bulworth) co-wrote the screenplay with Hawn.
Eminem: moving away
Following the path of such fellow musicians as Madonna, rapper Eminem has told British papers that he's intent on moving out of the United States to roost across the pond in England. According to Britain's Sun tabloid on Thursday, Eminem is looking for a suitable apartment in London for the time being, then will branch out and go house hunting in the more exclusive neighborhoods nearby. Says the Grammy winner: "I love Britain."
All Saints/Prodigy wedding
A spokeswoman for singer Natalie Appleton of the girl group All Saints has confirmed that she and Prodigy band member Liam Howlett are engaged. Says Appleton of her hard-rocking beau: "I'm very excited. I love him to bits and I've never been happier." The nuptials are to take place sometime next year.
Rosie's return to Nickelodeon
In a bizarre move, Rosie O'Donnell, who had backed out of hosting the 14th annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards last week due to a hand injury, has recanted her refusal and will indeed emcee the event. According to Entertainment Tonight, O'Donnell, 39, was given the green light by her doctors to travel to Los Angeles to host the show. A doctor will accompany her throughout her trip.
Michael Jackson gets dumped
King of Pop Michael Jackson has to search for a new entertainment management company to handle his affairs, according to People. His representation, The Firm, which also handles as the Backstreet Boys, dumped Jacko after just a year of managing his career. The Firm refused to comment, but Jackson was nice enough to thank them anyway for the effort it put forth on his behalf. He has recently been working on a new album that should be released sometime this fall.
Michael Eisner's stocking felt a little lighter last year.
That's because the Disney chief missed out on his Christmas bonus (which was $5 million in 1998), in the wake of unmagical financial days at the Magic Kingdom. Despite the entertainment giant's boffo year at the box office (Disney was No. 1 among the Hollywood studios), its flagging consumer products and licensing divisions cut into revenue.
But don't cry for Eisner. The longtime Disney CEO (he's been there since 1984) owned $68.4 million worth of unexercisable "in-the-money" stock options as of the end of September.
O'BOY FOR O'DONNELL: Rosie O'Donnell is a mother - again. The comic turned actress turned talk-show host has added to her brood with the adoption of a third child, son Blake Christopher, born one-month premature at 5 pounds, 5 ounces. O'Donnell tells today's New York Daily News that the baby is "very healthy. He is half-Italian, half hodgepodge, and everyone is delighted."
Blake joins older siblings Parker, 4, and Chelsea Belle, 2.
BUSTED: Blaxploitation-era film star Jim Brown ("Three the Hard Way") was sentenced today in Los Angeles to six months in jail for blowing off the terms of probation stemming from a domestic-violence case. Brown, 64, was ordered to undergo counseling and perform community service after being convicted last month of vandalizing his wife's car.
Brown objected, noting he was busted only for vandalism, not abuse. The ex-football star's sentencing judge wasn't buying, ordering Brown to jail. The actor/athlete will remain free while the case is on appeal. Brown most recently appeared in Oliver Stone's sports flick, "Any Given Sunday."
ASHES TO ASHES: Patsy Kensit ( "Angels and Insects") hugs her Mum when she's feeling low, and keeps her by the bedside - two things that ordinarily might threaten the actress' marriage to Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher.
Except Gallagher's mother-in-law isn't really in the couple's bedroom - unless you count ash form.
Kensit ordered a "nice big posh" urn from a catalog after recalling that her (late) mother suffered from claustrophobia, she tells GQ magazine. And when she argues with her husband, Kensit climbs into bed and cuddles the urn.
"[Liam] says I'm like something out of 'The Munsters,'" Kensit says. A
DUET WITH PUFFY CONSIDERED UNLIKELY: Actress and frequent headline-grabber Jennifer Lopez will be shaking her much-discussed bon-bon onstage this month at the American Music Awards.
Lopez, whose music career took off in '99 with the multiplatinum album, "On the 6," has been added to slate of live performers for the big show, to be broadcast Jan. 17 on ABC. At the awards, Lopez is up for Favorite New Pop/Rock Artist and Favorite Latin Artist.
OBITUARY: Bernhard Wicki, who co-directed the 1962 war epic "The Longest Day," died today of a long illness. He was 80.
Wicki, born in 1919 in Austria, studied theater and began his career as an actor, but will be best remembered as one of the most acclaimed German-language filmmakers. His English-language films included: 1964's "The Visit" with Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn, and 1965's "Morituri" with Marlon Brando.