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Since Gwendoline Christie joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII back in June, rumors have leaked that Brienne of Tarth will be going over to the Dark Side. According to Badass Digest, Christie will play an imperial Commander – specifically, the commanding officer who hunts down John Boyega’s character after he deserts his post. But as exciting as the idea of Christie playing the antagonist is, there’s a bit more to this rumor, as the site also posits that her role was originally written for a man.
Send your minds back several months, when casting announcements for the film were just a distant hope and every actor in Hollywood was reportedly in talks for the role. Around that time, Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the names being thrown around for a part, and as Badass Digest says, he was in talks to play an Imperial Officer. According to one of their sources, a major role in the film was re-written from male to female, all of which leads them to believe that Christie’s role is indeed the one that has been gender swapped.
It might just be a rumor, but it’s an exciting one, and outlets and fans have already shown support for director J.J. Abrams’ decision to make such a progressive change to the Star Wars universe. Casting a woman as an authoritative villain isn’t unheard of, but it is rare, and giving the role to someone like Christie over an actor like Cumberbatch is an interesting, unexpected twist on the typical sci-fi archetypes. It’s always a big deal when major blockbusters have better roles for female character than just being the films’ eye candy or damsel in distress, but to have Abrams make such a significant change to this particular universe also helps modernize things a bit. The original films might have had a strong female character in Leia, but she was the only prominent female character; by contrast, Episode VII seems to be lining up several complex, surprising roles for their actresses, including Lupita Nyong’o’s rumored Sith and Daisy Ridley’s alleged Jedi knight.
Whether we like it or not, roles like an Imperial Commander are generally thought of as male ones, and so casting Christie in such a role subverts the typical expectations that the role would be played by the standard “British white guy” that has become the go-to type for blockbuster villains. It opens the door for more women to take on roles like that, ones that we might subconsciously consider to be a manly character, which in turn opens the door for more Hollywood blockbusters and sci-fi projects to diversify their cast lists a bit.
But even though we might automatically consider an Imperial Commander to be a man, it might not have be written that way in the first place. There’s nothing in the character description to suggest that it wasn’t a gender-neutral role all along. It’s entirely possible that the script has always called for a woman to play the part, especially since Cumberbatch was in talks for the film back when they were using a script from Michael Arndt. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have since taken over as writers, so it’s entirely possible that this Imperial Commander is a completely different one than the character that Cumberbatch was up for.
Still, even if the role was meant for Christie all along, it’s hard not to get excited about seeing such a talented actress get a prominent, compelling role. Her performance as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones has proven that she can be both compelling and compassionate, both of which will likely come into play in her Star Wars role. In fact, she might even be better suited to this role than Cumberbatch would have been, as she has a great deal of experience portraying a character that is often authoritative and intimidating. Whether or not the Imperial Commander role was written for her, it’s hard to imagine anyone, male or female, who could do a better job with it than Christie could.
Besides, if she’s half as good with a light saber as she is with a sword, she’ll have no trouble keeping the entire galaxy in line.
Rapper Remy Ma is preparing to document her music comeback in a new reality show following her release from prison next week (begs28Jul14). The Lean Back star, real name Reminisce Smith, has been granted an early release from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in New York after completing six years of an eight-year sentence for her part in a 2007 shooting incident.
She is planning to resurrect her career as soon as she walks free and she claims her management representatives have pushed her into signing up for a reality series about her comeback after previously expressing an interest in the idea.
During a phone interview from prison, Remy Ma tells New York radio DJ Angie Martinez, "They're making me do it... I keep telling them no, it's too real. They don't wanna listen to me. I can't control my spur of the moment (decisions); they're making me do it. It's happening.
"It's about my career, it's gonna be about me leaving here (prison), me getting back into (my career)."
Remy, who used her time behind bars to obtain her college degree, won't be the only rapper to have a reality show - T.I., DMX and Ice-T have all given fans an insight into their private lives, while Ja Rule, who was released from prison last year (13), is set to front a new family show called Follow the Rules.
Former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 and Van Halen's David Lee Roth have teamed up to record a new album. The heavy rocker, real name John William Lowery, landed his big break when Lee Roth hired him for his 1998 album DLR Band and now the two old friends have reunited in the studio to work on a new California Sessions project.
John 5 tells Canadian blogger Mitch Lafon, "It's 11 of the greatest songs you'll ever hear, and it's just me and Dave, and we had Gregg Bissonette play drums on it. And it's unbelievable.
"There's a song called Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar & Grill and just great, great songs. And hopefully sometime it'll see the light of day. But he's (Lee Roth) busy with Van Halen, all that stuff. But it's an incredible record.
"I would just go over to his house during the day and write this music and then he would book the studio at night. So we would go into A&M Studios... and we'd record. It sounds like just Dave from that Van Halen I or II or Women And Children First era."
And Lee Roth isn't the only rock god John 5 has been working with - he has collaborated with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford on the 2WO project. The guitarist is also currently working with Rob Zombie.
For whatever reason, I cannot effectively connect to a motorized vehicle as a sentient character. Planes, Cars, Transformers, Herbie, KITT, Jerry Van Dyke's mother. Maybe it's because I never learned to drive. More plausible theory: Every big or small screen attempt to allot sentience to a motorized vehicle has been grievously underwhelming. Okay, I'll give you Knight Rider. But the latest example of the endeavor, Planes: Fire & Rescue, is no Knight Rider. It's barely even a Cars. The feature from DisneyToon Studios is as hollow as you can imagine a 3D animated movie to be. And this degree of vacancy feels like more than just a waste of time for the targeted youth.
Dane Cook's celebrity racing plane Dusty Crophopper, a leading man completely without hue — and don't think children's movie heroes are exempt from the expectation of nuance; Woody, Wall-E, Remy, were all leagues more recognizable than the anonymous Dusty — busts one of his principal cogs and learns that he can't exceed a certain speed or else he'll crash. In other words he'll never race again. So with an existential crisis on the horizon, and a town in jeopardy, Dusty switches gears and decides to learn how to become a firefighter.
In large part, Planes: Fire & Rescue is a love letter to public servants, opening with a title card that dedicates the film to the brave men and women who work to keep our towns and cities safe. In this element alone is the film passable, propagating appreciation for a line of work that bears unquestionable merit. But the story surrounding this message is so tattered and lifeless that it'd be surprising if any of Planes' target youths access the throughline moral.
Dusty's personal journey jumps from one quasi-conflict to the next, each piece representing a fraction of a story that we've seen in other animated films, so that you're never given the opportunity to connect with him over any of his qualms. His shattered dreams of racing, his newly evident mortality, his struggle to find new purpose, his quest for self-betterment, his drive to help others. All are teased, none are explored.
And the characters surrounding Dusty are even worse, the lot composed of sexist and racial stereotypes that are far more uninteresting than they are genuinely offensive. Every secondary player is a one-off joke, and not a good one; the only laughs in the flick come from the occasional play on words, but even for a pun-junkie will that tread wear thin.
With characters this shallow and plotlines this scattered, your kids cannot possibly engage with a movie like Planes: Fire & Rescue. They'll relegated to staring at it, retrieving little more than bright colors, speedy scenes, goofy voices, and the obscenely frequent flatulence joke. This is clearly all Planes thinks that kids can handle, but that's an egregious affront to a demographic that fueled the works of classic Disney, golden age Pixar, and Hayao Miyazaki. I think they can manage a few well-crafted airplanes.
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Longtime Alice Cooper collaborator Dick Wagner is recovering after undergoing heart surgery. The 71 year old guitarist, who wrote the power ballads I Might as Well Be on Mars and Only Women Bleed, checked into a hospital last week (ends11Jul14) after experiencing breathing difficulties.
He developed a lung infection after doctors cleared his arteries, according to Classic Rock magazine.
Wagner's son Robert tells the publication, "Prayers are welcome right about now. My dad is still in the hospital with a deep lung infection. Tomorrow they will wash his lungs. Doesn't sound fun, but I'm hoping it works and he can breathe again."
The rocker has been dogged by health woes in recent years - he previously suffered a heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney failure, and fell into a coma. His medical issues kept him from touring for over five years.
Wagner returned to the road with his Maestro of Rock Band in 2011.
As well as Cooper, the guitarist/songwriter has worked with Lou Reed and KISS.
Model Karrueche Tran has poured out her heart over her tug of love with Rihanna over Chris Brown in a revealing new TV interview. In a taped chat with actress-turned-chat show host Keke Palmer, which will air in America on Wednesday (16Jul14), Tran, 26, admits dating a celebrity is not all fun - especially when you're following in the footsteps of one of the world's most popular women.
She explains, "In this case, my boyfriend is a celebrity, whose ex-girlfriend is an even bigger (one)... Not only am I fighting a battle with her, I'm fighting a battle with her 14 million fans. So imagine how that feels for me.
"They (fans) make up all kinds of crazy stuff and they know nothing about me... Because I stay so mute sometimes, that leaves open space for them to say whatever they want."
Brown dumped Tran in 2012 so he could embark on a reconciliation with Rihanna, but he returned to Tran in 2013 when the romance broke down.
And Tran admits the break-up was tough on her - she fought back tears during the Just Keke taping when Palmer asked her about the worst part of not being in Brown's life.
She said, "The heartbreak, because it was a real situation."
Reports suggest Brown and Tran split again recently after the R&B star posted a racy photo of the model on Instagram, showing off her backside in a thong.
She wrote, "The difference between you and I is that my love is unwavering. You have shattered my heart, but you have not shattered my love."
British singer/actress Michelle Heaton has decided to undergo a full hysterectomy to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer. The former Liberty X star, 34, was diagnosed with a mutated BRCA2 gene in 2012 and underwent a double mastectomy after doctors informed her she had an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer and a 30 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer.
Now Heaton, who has two young children with husband Hugh Hanley, has decided to take the next step in a bid to preserve her health after learning she would not be able to have any more kids.
She tells Britain's The Sun newspaper, "It's only natural for women to want that third child - and that can't happen to me. So for me to make that decision five years too early, it's heart-breaking. It's really difficult."
Heaton is not the only celebrity to go under the knife because of an elevated risk of developing cancer - in 2013, actress Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with a defective BRCA1 gene. She is also reportedly planning to undergo a preventive oophorectomy to have her ovaries removed.
Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe has revealed he is homosexual during a TV interview. Speaking with British TV journalist Sir Michael Parkinson for a chat to be aired on Australia's 10 Network on Sunday night (13Jul14), the five-time gold medallist explains he only felt comfortable opening up about his sexuality over the past fortnight after previously insisting he was straight.
He tells Parkinson, "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight. And this is only something that very recently, we're talking the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me, exactly that. I've wanted to (come out) for some time but I couldn't, I didn't feel as though I could. What happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity."
The revelation stands in stark contrast to Thorpe's insistence of heterosexuality in his 2012 autobiography This Is Me, in which he wrote, "For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight. I'm attracted to women, I love children and aspire to have a family one day... I know what it's like to grow up and be told what your sexuality is, then realising that it's not the full reality. I was accused of being gay before I knew who I was."
The conversation with Parkinson also covers Thorpe's battle with depression, which led to a stint in a rehabilitation facility earlier this year (14).
Ever since she used the term "conscious uncoupling," Gwyneth Paltrow has had her personal life under a microscope. But Paltrow is no stranger to oversharing, bringing the details of her lavish lifestyle to her weekly GOOP newsletter (much to the ire of working moms everywhere). Thankfully for celebrities like Paltrow, there is more than one bright side to splitting up.
That's why even in the midst of a very public divorce, GP is still sitting pretty -- compared to the rest of us, at least. Here's why your day-to-day just doesn't measure up:
You have to work all year round. Paltrow has said she only makes one movie a year, for which she cuts a multi-million dollar paycheck. How many vacation days have you saved up so far?
You don't have time to know what "macrobiotic" means.Following Paltrow's customized diet would drain both your bank account and your sanity.
You wear "real" clothes.Your monthly clothing budget looks more like your water bill than your mortgage. Paltrow is BFFs with A-list designers like Stella McCartney.
Your gifts suck.When the holidays roll around, you and your girlfriends play white elephant with a budget in the double digits. In her 2013 GOOP gift guide, Paltrow recommended a set of PJs for your BF that would set you back almost $450 -- before the custom monogram.
Your personal trainer is your DVD player.And by making house calls to check your form, you mean your toddler climbing on your back during plank. Paltrow is a Tracy Anderson protege and her business partner.
Your self renewal process is (fingers crossed) a morning shower.Paltrow famously endures multiple detoxes each year to heal and cleanse -- every day is a detox for you because you don't have time to eat until dinner.
You're still trying to get a reservation at Babbo.When Paltrow wanted to learn the finer nuances of Italian cooking, she went on a road trip with chef and owner Mario Batali.GIPHY
You and your girlfriends enjoy a cocktail or two.Paltrow told the The Guardian in 2006 she didn't "like" drunk women and had no "drunk friends." Guess you'll be stuck hanging out at those lame places for drunk people: bars, clubs, concerts, events, etc. (Okay, maybe this is a reason your life is better.)
You only have one closet.For someone like Paltrow, who is constantly acquiring new pieces for her wardrobe, space is at a premium. So she calls in the experts at Vault Couture to catalogue and store her garments off-site. By browsing her online "vault" she can select items for rapid global delivery whenever she wants. Yes, she basically has the Clueless closet.
Your vacations are anything but transformative.Even though she described the accommodations at Mii amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona as "nothing to write home about" in the December 11, 2013 issue of GOOP, she still suggests shelling out between $2,265 and $2,500 for a three-day therapeutic journey in a double-occupancy room. Per person.
You're stuck living within your means.Perhaps justifying her anything-but-normal life, Paltrow told Elle UK in 2009 "I am who I am. I can't pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year." We could give her some tips.
You've consumed your share of subpar dairy.At the iTunes Festival in 2011, Paltrow declared, "I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin." Who knew Cheese Whiz was a gateway drug?
If this sounds like you, don't fret. At least no one has to know.
Disco stars Kc & The Sunshine Band are due to set sail with soul legend Gladys Knight as part of a big Caribbean concert cruise next year (15). The artists will be joined by the likes of Frankie Beverly, James Ingram, The Spinners and Ashford & Simpson's Valerie Simpson for The Soul Train Cruise, which will feature more than 30 concerts during the seven-day trip.
Fans will board the luxury Holland America Eurodam liner in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 22 February (15) and travel through the Caribbean, with stops in Turks and Caicos, San Juan in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and the Bahamas, before heading back to the U.S. on 1 March (15).
Singer Harry Wayne 'KC' Casey says, "Many times during the '70s we appeared on (popular variety show) Soul Train with Don Cornelius. I only wish he could still be here to share this magic moment we are going to have on the Soul Train Cruise.
"I'm looking forward to bringing our music alive once again, as we did so many times on the TV show."
They are the latest artists to unveil plans to hit the high seas this year (14) - Megadeth and Anthrax are teaming up with Motorhead for a heavy rock cruise in September (14), while Joan Osbourne, Emmylou Harris and Heart have joined forces for the Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock event in November (14).