Mad Men loves to take characters from past seasons and bring them back around in surprising ways, just like they did with Freddy Rumsen helping Peggy get a new job and Paul Kinsey returning as a Star Trek-writing Hare Krishna this season. But still, every year, I wait by the TV hoping that they'll have to fire an art director so that Don will have to reach deep in his Rolodex and hire back Sal Romano, who he fired because of a Lucky Strike exec with a case of the hots for Sal.
Since that hasn't happened yet, we have to imagine what life is like now for Sal and a few other colorful characters who have gone MIA since their storylines dried up. When will we get them all back?
Sal Romano: After getting fired, Sal calls his wife Kitty from a pay phone in Central Park and tells her he is going to be home late. In the background, a big, strong man in a leather hat and jacket is stalking the phone booth. He has his eye on swarthy Sal and as soon as he hangs up the phone, Larry, the leather daddy, walks up to Sal and says, "What's wrong, stud?" rubbing his big, rough hand along Sal's arm. Sal tries to be aroused, to get what he came there for, but he just can't, breaking down in tears. Larry takes him to a diner nearby and Sal tells him everything, about his life, his job, his firing, Lee Garner Jr., everything. It's the first time he's ever gotten these things of his chest and he has Larry to thank for them. He shows his appreciation with a night of vigorous lovemaking.
In the morning he goes home and tells Kitty that he's been fired and that he's moving out of the house. After some confusion and tears and an expensive divorce, Sal moves into his own apartment in the West Village, right down the street from Julius, his favorite new hangout, and three blocks from Larry, who he has been seeing a lot of. He used his reel directing commercials to find a new gig quickly, not as art director, but in the television department of another ad agency. He's still not out at work, but his life is gayer and gayer. He never divorces Kitty and he never tells her about Larry, and he still sees her for lunch every Sunday, often with her crying and him apologizing. He'll never make it right, but finally he's living the life he wanted.
Rachel Menken: We know that she got married to Tilden Katz, but we never saw her give birth to her first son, which Tilden wanted to name after himself, but Rachel told him it was an awful name. How about something like Donald? And it worked. She has a baby named Don, who is growing up big and strong and handsome. She looks at him, not with lust, because that's creepy, but with longing. What if he were Don's? What if it all turned out differently? Oh, but it never could. It never could. She still runs Menken's Department Store, though it always bothered good old Tildey. When G. Fox & Co. make a bid to buy the store from the family for a huge amount of money, Tilden forces Rachel to take it so that she can devote all her time to raising Donald. They move to Westchester and she spends all of her days trying not to drive the station wagon to Ossining.
Suzanne Farrell: This teacher took a long time to get over Don leaving her and not taking her on vacation. She didn't want to love him, but she did. She continued living over her little sad garage, spurning the advances of all the eligible men (and ineligible men) in town. Eventually she was promoted to working at the high school teaching English to juniors and helping them find their way through The Grapes of Wrath. That's where she met her soulmate. Henry was strong and handsome and passionate and had a bright future ahead of him. He loved Suzanne so much and would visit her nearly every afternoon in her classroom pretending to need help when really he just wanted to sit with her and figure out her sadness. He wanted to find a way to cure it. She played coy at first and didn't appreciate his advances, but as the day wore on, she fell madly in love with him and eventually carried his baby. And then she served a few years in prison for sleeping with a student, but now she's out and raising the baby and everything is just fine.
Jimmy Barrett: After a rocky relationship with his wife following her affair with Don, Jimmy decided that it was time they get a divorce. He relentlessly pursued Ann-Margret, who wanted nothing to do with him. After a few bum appearances and some horrible shows in Vegas, Jimmy's career went into free-fall. He tried to get Bobbie to take him back and to be his manager once again, but she had moved on to another star, a ventriloquist act they both knew was going nowhere, but at least he wouldn't cheat on her. Jimmy started appearing on The Match Game and other game shows as his career got worse and so did his drinking. Then even those gigs dried up, but Jimmy never did. He died drunk and alone in a Motel somewhere in L.A. No one is sure where he's buried.
Dr. Faye Miller: Once her marriage failed and Don chose Megan over her, Faye had had enough of men (mad or otherwise) and enough of New York. She needed a new start, somewhere she could put her psychology degree to work. She hopped on a plane to Los Angeles and got herself a bungalow in Laurel Canyon and an office in Beverly Hills. Faye was always a sympathetic listener for her all-star clients and was known for her candor, discretion, and the hard line she took even with the most famous of psychologically disturbed celebrities. While she was professionally successful, she doesn't want another relationship. At night she sits on the patio over looking a small pool that she could skim a little bit more often. It's lined with hanging plants that she forgets to water until the leaves start to brown. Sometimes she's capable of bringing them back to life, but so often she just had to throw them out, their hooks swinging fallow until she bothers to get a replacement. She would sit out there, by the pool, on her metal furniture and just look out into the yard, dipping off toward the neighbors before falling into oblivion and she would think about how the sun is so different here, the slant of the light somehow reconfigured from how it was back east. She would take her hair out of it's bun and let it fall swinging to her shoulders as the breeze tickled its way through and onto her neck and the dry leaves dragged their rusty claws against the concrete. Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan More: 'Mad Men' Recap: Harry's Krishna 'Mad Men''s Jessica Paré: Why Megan is Better Than Betty 'Mad Men' Preview Predictor: "You Can't Tell Anymore"
Jason Statham headlining a gritty action thriller is as routine as the sun coming up. But the man has the role down to a science — whether he's a down-on-his-luck cop former CIA agent ruthless assassin or any of the other stock characters that open up the Pandora's Box of butt-kicking Statham can deliver. Safe embraces these expectations throwing together an amalgamated central character (Luke Wright a currently homeless former NYPD cop who was secretly black ops maybe assassin hired by the blah blah blah) who goes to battle with every bad guy New York City can offer. Russian mafia Chinese mafia corrupt cops — name the group Statham breaks their tracheae. If that sounds delightful and fresh Safe is a must-see.
Wright's metropolitan misadventure begins after he crosses path with a young Chinese girl Mei (newcomer Catherine Chan) whose endless memory holds the combination to a locked up unknown prize. Every immoral guy in town wants the information — Han Jiao (James Hong) and his gang who kidnapped the girl from her home country want their lost property back; Vassily Docheski (Joseph Sikora) wants to make his mob operation richer; Mayor Tremello (Chris Sarandon) and Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke) want to keep the whole thing under wraps so they continue extorting the crime families. Then there's Wright just a nice guy looking to do a nice thing for a girl in trouble. Commence gun fire and painful deaths.
Writer/Director Boaz Yakin does his best to innovate within the Statham formula utilizing some tricky camera work and snappy comedy dialogue. Simple things keep us on our toes; when Wright first rescues Mei from the clutches of pursuing goons the two jump into a car. We're in the back seat witnessing Statham slamming people back and forth the rear view mirror catching all of the action behind us. In a movie where violence is prioritized over plot the little things really count. Yakin knows it.
Tonally Safe never clicks and it's a major barrier for enjoyment. On one hand it's all about realism — the emotional trauma undergone by a child the real world implications of criminal activity and the bigger picture issues at hand (Sarandon's mayor character just had to go and make it a 9/11 thing didn't he). On the other countless people are gunned down in array of cartoonish violence. Safe isn't Crank; this fact makes rooting for Statham as he punches and shoots his way through crowds of mafiosos a little uncomfortable. The movie's too heavy for its own good even for a strongman like Statham.
Douglas McGrath’s new movie I Don’t Know How She Does It is based off of Allison Pearson’s wildly successful novel of the same name that was on The New York Times’ hardcover bestseller list for 23 weeks. Both mediums focus on the complicated life of Kate Reddy (played by an I'll admit it enjoyably perky Sarah Jessica Parker in the movie) who is the woman all working mothers want to be: smart determined and fiercely passionate about doing everything she can to balance her family with her high profile job at an investment banking firm. She’s the mom who’s thoughtful enough to try and distort a store-bought cherry pie with a rolling pin so it looks more homemade for her daughter’s bake sale and the one who finds joy in searching for a clean blouse that doesn’t have the marshmallows from her son’s Rice Krispies Treats soaked into it. Of course Kate dreads leaving her children each day but she loves her job very much and allows herself to part ways with them by concentrating on the belief that one day they’ll understand how much she genuinely wanted to go to work. And while it’s clear the movie’s goal is to humorously depict the lives of women who work and have families it shockingly shies away from ending the still-popular belief that women are best "pregnant barefoot and in the kitchen."
Within the first minute of the movie the fourth wall is broken -- and continues to break throughout the movie -- and several of Kate’s colleagues and friends verify that Kate is an outstanding mother and a supremely productive member of the work force (which was pretty unnecessary considering how we were just going to see all of Kate's talents anyway). Her friend Allison (played by Christina Hendricks) opens up a bit more than the others and unveils that even though Kate's totally great she really wasn't doing very well with her responsibilities last winter. Then we flash back three months and watch as Kate goes from being an unnoticed employee at her Boston firm to writing a proposal and catching the interest of Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan) at the branch’s New York office. Jack is enthusiastic about Kate’s ideas and decides he wants to take the proposal and present it to a major client which excites Kate because it would be great for her career. However the problem is the proposal needs a lot of work before it can be shown to anybody and Jack is careful to ask if Kate is comfortable traveling between Boston and New York and working day and night for two months until the whole thing is finished. In the back of her mind she knows she should be spending heaps more time with her family instead of agreeing to take on more responsibilities at work but she decides to do it anyway because as the saying goes “if it ain’t hard it ain’t worth it.”
So Kate and her assistant Momo (played by a finally enjoyable Olivia Munn) begin working overtime. She spends three days a week in New York and the other four days glued to her computer in Boston. When she does make plans with her kids to do something like build a snowman she ends up flaking out because something happens at the last minute regarding the proposal and she needs to drop everything to go work on it with Jack in New York. As angry as the kids are with their mom Kate’s husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is even angrier because since his wife is away and working all the time he becomes the caregiver by default.
Now here’s where things get a little dicey: Richard is an unemployed architect and so I was surprised to watch him give his wife so much grief for working to keep their cute children fed. However the audience is supposed to understand where he’s coming from: we’re supposed to applaud Richard’s courage to make Kate feel guilty for being with Abelhammer instead of with her kids and we’re supposed to take his side as he repeatedly tries to convince her that she should be ashamed of putting her work ahead of her family. We're supposed to figure out that Richard feels bad for not working and understand that when he's screaming at Kate for having a job he's really just venting about how frustrated he is that he's unemployed. And here’s where the movie has the opportunity to open up and blossom and be symbolic of how a woman should never have to apologize for having a career. Exactly here is where the movie should have stretched out its wings and showed Kate yelling from the top of her lungs about how unfair it is that women are frowned upon for having a job and a family whereas it’s completely fine for men to have both. But instead of defending herself like that Kate responded to her husband’s grievances by bowing her head down and acknowledging that she’s wrong for working so hard for being away from her children for making bad choices and for making her husband’s life harder. But the thing is that she hasn’t made bad choices! She’s made all the right ones because her husband doesn’t work! The point is McGrath had the opportunity to really emphasize how men with families and women with families are treated differently in the workplace -- but he ended up depicting how dangerous it is to be a woman with a job because it means that one day her husband might resent her and make her apologize for it. And so instead of significantly expanding upon Pearson's efforts to level the ground for women with children in the workplace McGrath (rather confusingly) stopped just short of following her lead.
Based on the sensational 1968 trial of the Chicago 7 (a group of anti-war protestors charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot) Chicago 10 is part documentary part motion-capture animation. The Chicago 7 was actually eight people and Chicago 10 is named after the group's two attorneys who also went courageously to jail. The men on trial included Abbie Hoffman the outspoken icon of Chicago-based activism and Jerry Rubin a 20th century celebrity in his own right. Chicago 10's cartoon portion tries to recreate the drama of the real-life trial. The jury listens skeptically and a crotchety old judge (voiced by the late Roy Scheider) gives the defendants’ opposition. It’s a commentary of the farcical nature of the trial--and the surreal standards behind it. Connecting the dots is a music video-like series of documentary images spotlighted by horrific scenes such as the Chicago police and National Guardsmen striking back scores of protestors. Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys songs underlie violent tableaus. For Americans born 1980 and after this era of left-leaning cultural dissent can be a foreign world. The 1960s’ silencing of voices questioning the government in the era of civil rights and the Vietnam War has been echoed with the Iraqi War. But protests like Chicago 10 are a rarity today. On display are the voices of a handful of top Hollywood stars--including Mark Ruffalo Jeffrey Wright Nick Nolte Liev Schrieber and Hank Azaria--as the voices of the courtroom players. As with many star-studded animation productions the result is not greater than the sum of its parts. Although Scheider in his last performance provides the most distinctive voice as Judge Julius Hoffman Ruffalo Wright et.al are lost in the mix. Partially because of a limp-ish script the actors have to inject excitement into a static courtroom environment--but compared to 12 Angry Men or Primal Fear it just doesn’t engage. Director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) comes with a fresh visionary perspective. He brings a vibrant attitude to this anti-war flick but it's one poorly executed or at least unevenly so. At the heart of the film's animation there are technical problems. The character's eyes are dead and their movements clunky despite the lively body motions. Compared to a higher budget movie like Beowulf the animation is many years behind. It's a big reason to discount the slowness by which Chicago 10 chief concept operates. The animation doesn't provide enough dramatic potency to involve the audience and becomes more like a gimmick. Messy psychedelic assemblage of documentary footage--though culled reportedly from thousands of images and minutes of tape--doesn't add insight beyond common knowledge. Unfortunately it just isn’t much different from what we've already seen.
More than 10 000 people are smuggled into the United States for sexual exploitation per the nonprofit organization Free the Slaves. Inspired by a New York Times Magazine article Trade focuses on the attempts of traffickers to smuggle a group of women and children across the U.S.-Mexican border. Director Marco Kreuzpaintner wastes no time introducing us to the two victims he intends to follow from their kidnapping in Mexico to their auctioning off in the United States. Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) is snatched from the street as she rides the bicycle she just received from her brother Jorge (Cesar Ramos) for her 13th birthday. Single mother Veronica (Alicja Bachleda) arrives in Mexico City from Poland believing she’s there to meet with the people she’s paid to arrange her with safe and legal passage to the United States. Only she’s been duped by the traffickers. Adriana Veronica and a handful of other abductees then begin their terrifying journey to the United States under the watchful eye of trafficker Manuelo (Marco Perez). On their trail is Jorge who feels responsible for Adriana’s kidnapping. He risks life and limb to follow the abductees across the border. Once on U.S. soil Jorge crosses paths with Ray (Kevin Kline) a Texas cop who’s trying to break up the trafficking ring for personal reasons. Ray reluctantly pairs up with Jorge to track down Adriana before she and Veronica are sold off to the highest bidder via the Internet. More gentleman than action hero Kevin Kline’s not the obvious choice to portray a police officer hailing from the Lone Star State. Ray’s the kind of law-enforcement bloodhound Tommy Lee Jones can play in his sleep. Heck Kline only halfheartedly attempts a Texas drawl and even then he drops it minutes after his late entrance. This could be overlooked if Kline lent Ray some intensity. For someone on a crusade Kline strolls through Trade without a care in the world. As Trade reaches its inevitable showdown between the traffickers and their pursuers Ray’s faced with a life-or-death choice that would compromise all he stands for. Kline though looks about as conflicted as someone trying to decide what he wants for lunch. Luckily Kline’s presence doesn’t negate the fine work done by Ramos Gaitan and Bachleda. Ramos perfectly captures the guilt of a troubled young man—one embarking on a life of crime—whose ill-gotten gains has cost him dearly. If Ramos offers a study in redemption Bachleda goes to great pains to show the ease with which someone with so much grit and determination can bend and break under the most extreme of circumstances. Gaitan doesn’t endure as much abuse but she’s still one tough cookie. Perez refuses to allow Manuelo to be a mere profit-minded monster—he provides Manuelo with a conscience or what passes for one in his business. Trade is a tale of two countries. While in Mexico director Marco Kreuzpaintner examines the sex-slave trade in an incisive and uncompromising manner. He sheds light on how these trafficking rings acquire their slaves and smuggle them across the border. He puts us on edge the moment Adriana and Veronica fall in their captors’ hands. We’re never sure as to what will happen to them. We know they need to be kept alive. But in what condition? Many of the abductees are drugged beaten and raped. The violence isn’t exploitative—Kreuzpaintner just needs to show the cruelty inflicted upon these victims of the modern-day slave trade. And it only makes us fear more for Adrian and Veronica’s safety. Once Trade reaches the United States Kreuzpaintner and screenwriter Jose Rivera start pulling their punches. Yes there are some moments that make you sick to your stomach. But the moment Kline arrives on the scene Trade gets weak at the knees. There are too many coincidences for Trade’s own good. The sudden death of one character is forced and absurd. And Kreuzpaintner doesn’t know how to extricate Kline from the untenable situation he’s placed in during Trade’s climax. This all leads up to a pat ending one that even the Lifetime TV crowd would find unbelievably spineless.
The film follows the same tired action genre step by step. Ex-con and single dad O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is trying to go straight for the sake of his young son Junior. But when the kid is kidnapped in what seems to be a typical carjacking O2 has to pull out all the stops to get him back. Turns out O2 had some nefarious dealings with a gang overlord named Big Meat (The Game) who likes to hack off people’s body parts with a machete. And now Meat wants some payback taking for ransom the only thing O2 cares about in the entire world [sniffle]. So what’s a guy to do? Pit rival gang leaders against each other hook up with a beautiful street hustler (Meagan Good) rob safety deposit boxes and get caught in an extended car chase that’s what. "It's either all or nothing " realizes O2. Very prophetic. Waist Deep has got some great character names--Meat O2 Coco Lucky Junior. Too bad most of the performances can’t live up to them. Tyrese (Four Brothers) does try his best though as the hunky O2 making a convincing albeit a tad stiff attempt at playing a father who’s whole life is his son. Good (Roll Bounce) gets to wear tight sexy clothes and strut around as Coco O2’s accomplice and eventual love interest as they rob banks Bonnie and Clyde style. Larenz Tate (Crash) plays Lucky O2’s unreliable cousin who actually isn’t lucky at all caught between a rock and hard place. And then there’s Meat played by big-time rapper The Game in his feature debut. With a battered face and covered in tattoos The Game certainly looks like one mean badass wielding a mad machete. Thankfully he doesn’t have to do much more than that. Here’s a few words of advice to would-be actors who want to play effective bad guys: Less is more. It’s movies like these that really give South Central L.A. a bad rep—shoot-outs in the middle of the street in broad daylight the carjacks the depravity the sad stories of little kids getting shot. It’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy place. Of course actor-turned-director/co-writer Vondie Curtis-Hall (best known for his numerous TV guest spots) doesn’t want it to be showing the grit in all its glory and collecting a cast from the area who could lend some credibility to the surroundings. But Hall needs a few more lessons in how to craft a well-thought action movie. The script is hackneyed beyond the usual taking bits not only from Bonnie and Clyde but also Thelma and Louise Boyz N the Hood--and even a little Shawshank Redemption. Hall’s camerawork is also too frenetic at times almost dizzyingly so with unnecessary close ups and choppy sequences. That isn’t to say some of the gun play and car chases aren’t exciting enough. There just seems to be a lack of experience overall.
After being awakened by the echoing of scary sounds and discovering big footprints the gang--including Rabbit Tigger Piglet Eeyore and of course Pooh--decide to find and capture a Heffalump one of the most feared creatures in the Hundred Acre Wood. Little Roo is the only one not allowed to help in their endeavor because he is too small and too young to partake in such a dangerous expedition. But Roo is determined to convince everyone he is big enough to catch a Heffalump and sets out on his own. Luckily he is much more successful than the rest snaring a Heffalump named Lumpy. Roo soon finds out however that the scariest creature in the woods is not really scary at all but kind and gentle and just as scared as he or his friends ever were. Lumpy and Roo become fast friends. It is now up to Roo to get his friends and everyone else in the Hundred Acre Wood to throw away their fears and accept the Heffalumps as one of them.
All the actors portraying the Hundred Acre wood gang do a great job. They include Jim Cummings as friendly Winnie the Pooh and bounce-happy Tigger; Ken Sansom as the know-it-all Rabbit; Kath Soucie as Roo's loving mother Kanga; John Fiedler as little Piglet; Peter Cullen as the endearingly dreary Eeyore; Nikita Hopkins as the effervescent Roo. But it's the voice of Lumpy the Heffalump who steals the show. Eight-year-old Brit Kyle Stanger voices the soft-spoken but happy-go-lucky Lumpy melting your heart at every turn while two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn as his Mama Heffalump adds just the right touch.
Under the helm of veteran animation director Don MacKinnon and director Frank Nisson Pooh's Heffalump Movie uses the basic pen and ink animation but that suits the gang of the Hundred Acre Wood just fine. In classic Disney form music is also as much a part of the movie as anything else. Award-winning recording artist Carly Simon who also scored the delightful Piglet's Big Movie worked closely with DisneyToon Studios music department's Matt Walker and composer Joel McNeely to introduce several new songs that give the movie added spirit and bounce bringing the old and new characters together harmoniously.
Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.
August 14, 2003 11:38am EST
Top Story: L.A. Photographer Charged Over Diaz Pics
A Los Angeles photographer was charged Wednesday with attempting to extort $3.3 million from actress Cameron Diaz over photos taken at a private modeling session in 1992--before the Charlie's Angels star became famous, Reuters reports. John Rutter, who was arrested Tuesday at his Venice apartment, was also charged with attempted grand theft and perjury and two counts of forgery. Diaz's publicist, Brad Cafarelli, had alleged the photographer was trying to extort money from Diaz, now 30, by giving her first shot at purchasing the pictures before contacting media outlets. Rutter claimed to have a signed release for the pictures, which he says include topless shots of a then-21-year-old Diaz, but the actress says she never signed a photo release and that the signature he produced is a forgery. Last month, Diaz sued Rutter to stop the release of the photos and Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Alan B. Haber agreed to seal the photos. Rutter, 41, and is being held on $250,000 bail pending an arraignment and faces a maximum of six years in prison if convicted.
Deliberations Resume in Sizemore-Fleiss Case
Jurors in the Tom Sizemore-Heidi Fleiss domestic violence trial will begin their second day of deliberations this morning, The Associated Press reports. The jury asked Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. for the transcripts of the tape-recorded phone calls Sizemore made to his ex-girlfriend Fleiss and asked the judge for the specific definition of "intent to annoy." Sizemore, who starred in Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, is facing charges of vandalism, threatening to inflict injury to a person or property, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, and making harassing phone calls. If convicted, he faces up to 13 years in prison.
Producer Pleads Guilty in Seagal Shake Down Case
Steven Seagal's former business partner, Julius Nasso, admitted in federal court Wednesday that he plotted to have the mob shake down the action star. Under a plea deal, Nasso, who produced early Seagal films such as On Deadly Ground and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, will serve one year in prison and pay a $75,000 fine. According to the AP, Nasso said he had an "understanding" that a reputed capo in the Gambino crime family, Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone, would confront Seagal about a debt in a way "that would be perceived to be a threat." Ciccone was convicted along with Peter Gotti, brother of late mob boss John Gotti, in a racketeering case and is awaiting sentencing. Nasso, however, maintains Seagal owes him $2.5 million and would sue him to get it back.
AMPAS Need Film Credits Sooner Than Later
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which each year asks studios and production companies to be punctual in submitting official screen credit forms for Oscar consideration, is requesting they be submitted earlier than the Dec. 1 deadline. According to Variety, the forms must officially be submitted to the Academy no later than 60 days after the opening of the qualifying Los Angeles release, or Dec. 1, whichever comes first. But because of next year's earlier Feb. 29 Oscarcast date, the official reminder list of eligible releases must be proofed, printed and ready to mail along with the nominations ballots on Jan. 2. Credits coordinator Torene Svitil told Variety there will therefore be very little time to make last-minute changes to the list.
Jay Leno Invites Recall Candidates on Show
Jay Leno has invited everyone making a bid in the California gubernatorial recall race to appear on NBC's The Tonight Show two weeks before the election, Reuters reports. "We're going to invite every single person running for governor to be in our audience Sept. 22," Leno said on Tuesday night's telecast during his opening monologue. "Here's your chance to get on national television with your issue." Leno jokingly added that he would even provide a booster seat for Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman, who is running. A spokesman for Coleman told Reuters the former child star would take Leno up on his offer. According to state election officials, 135 candidates, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, have officially qualified for the ballot.
Madonna Lends Song for Estee Lauder Ad
The Fifth Element director Luc Besson has filmed a commercial for Estee Lauder's
new fragrance, Beyond Paradise, starring supermodel Carolyn Murphy and featuring Madonna's "Love Profusion" single from her American Life album. According to Reuters, top special effects experts in France spent several months composing each frame of the 30-second spot, which will observe Murphy is in a magical world of water, flowers and fairies. The ad will debut in more than 10,000 movie theaters nationwide in September with a TV version set to air on MTV, VH1, E! and Style cable channels. What could be next for Madonna, an Old Navy commercial?
Insane Clown Posse Named Worst Band Ever
The Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse, known for their creepy face makeup and X-rated lyrics, have been named the worst band ever by Blender magazine. According to Reuters, Blender's September issue said Insane Clown Posse "sound even stupider than they look," and ridiculed them for rapping about "40-ouncers and venereal disease." Officials at the band's Psychopathic Records label were not happy about the rating and noted that the Insane Clown Posse's album The Wraith: Shangri-La, which was dubbed the worst by Blender, actually received a three-star review in the publication's January/February issue. No. 2 on the list
February 21, 2003 11:09am EST
In March 1991 TV stations repeatedly broadcast an amateur videotape of LAPD officers kicking and clubbing Rodney King an unarmed black man. A year later an all-white jury acquitted three officers involved in the beating inciting a riot that killed 54 people and destroyed much of South Central Los Angeles. Dark Blue is a gritty police drama that unfolds in the four days leading up to the verdict. The story revolves around veteran cop Eldon Perry Jr. (Kurt Russell) who does what he needs to do to bring someone to justice even if it means planting a gun--or drugs--on a suspect. But police intimidation and corruption doesn't sit right with his rookie partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman). Their ideologies clash when the two are assigned to a high-profile quadruple homicide and receive orders from a high-ranking member of the LAPD to pin the crime on innocent suspects in order to appease the public. Keough contemplates going to Deputy Chief Arthur Holland (Ving Rhames) the only black man in the department about unfair police practices but is worried about going up against such a tight brotherhood. This cop flick is disturbingly realistic--which unfortunately is also its weakness. It tells us what we already know: that the history of the LAPD is meshed tightly with racism and corruption.
Dark Blue's Perry is a vulgar hard-drinking and unscrupulous cop--and Russell (3 000 Miles to Graceland) does a great job embodying the character. He swears knocks back drinks and smokes cigarettes like he's been doing this since birth. In fact Russell creates such a despicable character that I hoped he would get his ass kicked by rioters. As his naïve partner Keough Speedman (Duets) is a little bland. Keough redeems himself by rising above the police department's practices but Speedman's character is almost too nice and fresh-faced to be a cop in a city like L.A. As Deputy Chief Holland Rhames (Undisputed) is well cast but unfortunately the character is so one-dimensional that he doesn't make for a very passionate hero. The problem here is not the acting but the film's characters which are too simply drawn. Keough for example is not only unprejudiced he's politically correct--he has a black girlfriend and gets offended when his big bad partner uses the "n" word. And Holland is not only honorable he's a churchgoing community leader. It's not that these characteristics are bad but they are certainly tautological and stereotypical by movie standards.
If this movie sounds a lot like Training Day it's because scribe David Ayer wrote both of them. Unfortunately Dark Blue's characters are drawn with such a heavy hand they reek of clichés and are a far cry from Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke's complicated and well-developed characters in Training Day. Director Ron Shelton found success with the 1988 hit Bull Durham and--with the 1994 sports drama Cobb--proved that he could deliver character-driven movies that were well worth watching. Despite the rigid characters he manages to deliver a straight-up dirty-cop movie that effectively mirrors the LAPD. (Is Holland for example the film's take on former LAPD Chief of Police Bernard Parks?) Shelton achieves the film's true-to-life feel by leaving out slick car chases explosions and shootouts and paying closer attention to sets such as Perry's unadorned house and the clunker he drives. There are some great scenes towards the end of the film when Perry is driving through South Central as the riots--which caused an estimated $900 million in damages--break out. What's even more chilling however is the lack of LAPD presence at the riot epicenter.
Julius Jr. is a funky monkey with a talent for inventing things. He and his best friends may build a playhouse out of a simple cardboard box, but when they walk inside, they discover that ordinary objects magically come to life and amazing adventures are just a door away.