Celebrities showing up at congressional hearings have practically become commonplace these days, making Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, pretty angry. Julia Roberts, Christie Brinkley and Michael J. Fox have all appeared before Congress recently. Now the Backstreet Boys' Kevin Richardson is scheduled to appear before a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee to testify against mountaintop removal mining. "We're either serious about the issues, or we're running a sideshow," The Associated Press quoted Voinovich as saying. "Certainly, members of the entertainment community have expertise on many issues that are important for Congress to consider," he said. "This isn't a case like that."
Writer/director David Twohy, who helmed the sci-fi horror Pitch Black, has signed on to direct at least two more installments of the saga for Universal Pictures, Variety reports. Vin Diesel has already signed on to the project in the recurring role of the antihero Riddick. Twohy said the number of sequels, which could go as high as three, will depend on the bankability of the second offshoot, The Chronicles of Riddick.
MGM is in talks to pick up the horror picture House of 1000 Corpses, written and directed by Rob Zombie. According to Variety, the picture was originally slated for release last summer, but Zombie was forced to buy it back from Universal Pictures after studio executives refused to release it. After viewing a rough cut of the film last year, studio president Stacey Snider said the film had a "visceral tone and intensity that we did not imagine from the printed page."
Artisan Pictures has acquired the urban comedy script Don't Get It Twisted by Friday scribe D.J. Pooh and Marcus Morton. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film centers around twin brothers who were separated at birth and raised at opposite ends of the socioeconomic ladder. They meet up later in life and trade places. Pooh is also attached to direct.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Gaylord Films plan to make a live-action family feature of the Hanna-Barbera characters the Wonder Twins, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Wonder Twins--Zan and Jayna--first appeared on the 1977 Saturday morning cartoon The All-New Superfriends Hour as two young trainee aliens from the planet Exxor.
Grammy-winning rapper Eminem's long-awaited third album, The Eminem Show, sold an astonishing 1.3 million albums in its first week, the AP reports. The album's release date was pushed up from June 4 to May 26 because it was being heavily bootlegged before release. "Without Me," the album's first single, climbed to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart this past week.
Limp Bizkit's tour manager Chris Gratton told an inquest yesterday that concert organizers were to blame in the death of a 15-year-old girl who died when a crowd rushed the stage during a concert at the Big Day Out festival in Sydney, Australia, last year. According to the AP, Gratton said concert promoters had failed to control the "absolute crowd mayhem" and could have prevented the girl's death if they had stopped the show.
The seven final shows of the heavy-metal tour OzzFest in Europe have been canceled, Launch.com reports. While the North American OzzFest tour is still scheduled to start on July 6 in Bristow, Va., shows in Russia, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have all been scrapped. No explanation has been offered for the tour's continental cancellation.
Jim Creeggan, bassist for the band Barenaked Ladies, to the March 29 edition of Entertainment Today magazine:
"I've learned that I can't really control how people take the music, how they incorporate it, listen to it or feel about it....If there wasn't a crowd, we'd just be doing this in a room by ourselves."
Hollywood has no plans in the works to make any film about the current international crisis that might inspire audiences "to rally for our troops" as it did following the outbreak of World War II, USA Today observed today.
It quoted Chris McGurk, MGM vice chairman and COO as saying, "Back then, the studios could throw something together in six months or less. Now, you're talking about 18 months or two years from the script stage to releasing it. The investment levels are higher, the stakes are higher and there's more quality control."
Director Oliver Stone blamed "the Wall Street crowd," telling the newspaper that they "bought into the movie business big-time, and they pumped it up and forced these companies to get bigger and bigger. ... People don't matter. It's just a corporation. That's what's scary. There's nobody at the controls. There's nobody to talk to. There's nothing personal about it."
It was a mob, but not that kinda Mob. An estimated 14,000 people turned out Saturday in Harrison, N.J., for an open casting call by the producers of the award-winning HBO series "The Sopranos."
The turnout was so large -- reporters figured that it doubled the population of the town – that many applications were turned away by police.
The Newark Star-Ledger reported that police reinforcements were called in from nearby Newark, East Orange, Lyndhurst and Kearny to help control the crowd.
It's not easy being the most famous man in the world. Nasty rumors about you are circulated on the Internet. The press watches your every move. Make one stinkin' movie in a third-world country and all of a sudden you're an environmental terrorist.
It's enough to drive a guy to punch a photographer, Frank Sinatra-style. Or, in the case of Leonardo DiCaprio, it's enough to drive a guy to hire his own media. (Heck, at $20 mil per movie, he can afford it).
And when "The Beach" premiered at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood last week, that's pretty much what happened.
Leonardo DiCaprio, you see, isn't just the most-tracked star on the movie universe -- he's the most "innovative." (Hey, even his own camp says so.)
To be sure, the guy does know a thing or two about the power of, well, power. Word around the campfire was that unless Leo personally OK'd a TV crew, newspaper, magazine or Web site for the red-carpet festivities at the Chinese, the outlet's requisite reporter types weren't invited. (Neither were the environmentalist protesters, of course, but they came anyway.)
Although some media types were shut out of the premiere, the crew from the Official Leonardo DiCaprio Homepage (www.leonardodicaprio.com) was there in full force. Deemed "DiCaprio's personal media" by Variety, the site beamed out live streaming video coverage of the event.
Forget all that silly environmental nonsense, or those stories of barroom fights and late-night carousing with his homeboys, bodyguards roughing up photographers and his friend (rapper Q-Tip) smashing a paparazzo's camera. The Official Leo Homepage people gave the teen-age girls what they want: the baby-faced superstar.
A sample of the hard-hitting coverage: "A football field length of red carpet turned sidewalk into catwalk in front of the entrance to the theater as the press, standing three deep along the rope line, screamed, yelled, cajoled, flashed, filmed, taped and recorded the arrivals of celebrity, cast and crew. ... Appearing relaxed and happy, Leonardo emerged from his limousine dressed in a navy blue Armani suit, dark silk shirt and matching tie. [He] was all smiles and spent a little moment with just about every journalist who shrieked for a little bit of his time."
Manipulative? Perish the thought. Chuck Smith, a rep of DiCaprio's Birken Studios, says the players of Team Leo are "innovators" in movie-star spin control. "We're trying to gain some control over Leonardo's image because of the complete saturation during the 'Titanic' run," he told Variety, failing to mention all the other stuff that's happened since the big-boat movie. DiCaprio's people have been handling the star's hype ever since Leo fired his big-name PR firm, Baker Winokur Ryder, last year.
On the opposite side of the ideological spectrum, the owner of "The Anti Leonardo DiCaprio Revolution" Web site (http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~mberglan/antileo.html), one of more than a dozen DiCaprio-bashing sites on the Net, thinks the star's media games are a joke.
"Journalism coverage should be unbiased, and his power over the coverage obviously compromises that," says Michael Bergland. "To have the actual subject of coverage pick and choose who writes the story is a step too far. They might as well ban the media all together and have Leo issue a press release."
Actually, the most interesting press release issued after "The Beach" premiere at the Chinese wasn't from DiCaprio, or from 20th Century Fox, which released the film, but from the premiere-crashing environmentalists and their group Justice for Maya Bay International Alliance (JUMBIA). Their dispatch not only railed about the environmental crimes allegedly perpetrated by what they call "the bulldozer movie," but took potshots at DiCaprio fans and the Fox spin doctors, as well.
"The premiere attracted only a small crowd of about 150 DiCaprio fans," the bean counters at JUMBIA declared. "Fox agents led them in practice squeals before the heartthrob himself arrived. When the protesters began chanting, distributing flyers, and holding out their signs, every television camera not controlled by Fox agents scurried to film them, and print media reporters asked for interviews."
For the uninformed, the protestors allege that Fox, DiCaprio and makers of "The Beach" illegally filmed on a beach in Phi Phi Leh Island, Thailand, that's designated as a national park, desecrating the local ecosystem. During production of the movie, environmentalists on the Thai island wore DiCaprio masks with bloody fangs in protest.
To be sure, environmental havoc is nothing to pooh-pooh, but Leo's latest publicity snafu seems tame compared to some of his other tabloid-fodder escapades and publicity missteps. He hasn't made a movie in two years, yet he's made so many (oft-unflattering) headlines that it's perhaps understandable if he hates reporters (he does).
It makes a guy want to take a page from Sinatra's book and give those parasites a knuckle sandwich. Oh, wait, Leo's the world's biggest celebrity. He has bodyguards and sidekicks for that.