Saturday Aug 30, 2014

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of...
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TV

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of Finke's achievements -- founding Deadline in 2006, selling it in a deal worth up to $15m in 2009 -- as well as this week's earlier emergence of an anti-Finke website, NikkiStink.com, that published candid photos, video, quotes and abrasive character statements in a brief but vitriolic campaign against the Hollywood news mogul. Finke left Deadline in 2013 after its owner, Penske Media Corporation, purchased competing outlet Variety, and she began posting to NikkiFinke.com in June 2014. That stopped on August 11, leading to speculation about what lay behind the silence -- ongoing negotiations with her previous employer, it was said. Evidently, there had been other things going on behind the scenes, and Anne Thompson of IndieWire called it on August 25 when she predicted a possible return. "The millionaire blogger could come back, if she so desires," she said, "and write online about topics other than Hollywood, if she or anyone else were interested. Or write for magazines (she has met with Graydon Carter [of Vanity Fair]). Or finish her book." That was before Finke dropped hints about a relocation via her recently revitalized Twitter account, @nikkifinke. "Esteemed @jackshafer thinks I should 'pack up my act and bring it to DC'. Others saying the same thing. Should I?" she tweeted on August 28; it's a city she knows well, having covered hard news there earlier in her career. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — An attorney for Tracy Morgan says the former "Saturday Night Live" actor is having a tough time recovering from a June accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left a fellow comedian dead. Attorney Benedict Morelli tells The Star-Ledger newspaper (http://bit.ly/1sR1Kbk ) that Morgan relies on a wheelchair and it may be months before he can fully walk again. Morelli says Morgan appears to be making progress, but it will be a month before he is assessed "cognitively." Morgan broke his leg, nose and several ribs in a six-car accident involving his limo bus, and comedian James McNair was killed. The bus was struck by a Wal-Mart truck. The truck driver has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Morgan accused Wal-Mart of negligence in a federal lawsuit. ___ Information from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Red Oaks' and 'The Cosmopolitans' debut on Amazon
Friday Aug 29, 2014
'Red Oaks' and 'The Cosmopolitans' debut on Amazon

The VOD platform has launched its third pilot season with five new episodes, which are now available online. As in the past, Amazon's subscribers will vote to determine which series will be greenlighted for a full season.Netflix is a formidable opponent, between its international reach and its Emmy-nominated original series, but Amazon is up to the challenge. The online retail giant plans to steal some of Netflix's thunder by launching its own quality productions. And its third wave of pilots is the most ambitious yet, between the dramas "Hand of God" and "Hysteria" and the comedies "The Cosmopolitans," "Really" and "Red Oaks." "Red Oaks" Produced by Steven Soderbergh, "Red Oaks" was created by Gregory Jacobs, who regularly collaborates with the filmmaker in the role of assistant director. David Gordon Green ("Eastbound & Down") helmed the pilot. Set in suburban New Jersey in 1985, the story follows David Myers, a college student who spends his summer working as an assistant tennis pro at Red Oaks Country Club. Craig Roberts, the young actor seen in "Skins," "22 Jump Street" and "Submarine," plays the protagonist. "Mad About You" stars Paul Reiser and Richard Kind are also featured, along with Jennifer Grey ("Dirty Dancing"), Oliver Cooper ("Californication"), Gage Golightly and Ennis Esmer. "The Cosmopolitans" Developed by Whit Stillman ("Damsels in Distress"), this comedy starring Chloë Sevigny and Adam Brody follows a group of Americans and other foreigners living in Paris. The narrative revolves around the expatriates' search for love and the meaning of life in the French capital. "Hand of God" Harris Pernell, played by Ron Perlman, is a morally corrupt yet influential judge who juggles relationships with a high-end call girl and a wife named Crystal, who is played by Dana Delany ("Desperate Housewives," "Body of Proof"). But his life changes dramatically following a religious awakening, as he becomes convinced God is talking to him through his ventilator-bound son.  Written by Ben Watkins, the pilot is directed by Marc Forster ("World War Z"). "Hysteria" In this medical thriller, Mena Suvari plays Dr. Logan Harlow, a brilliant and charming yet socially awkward neurologist/psychiatrist. Already plagued by her own problems, including a brother who is on death row, the character is forced to return to her hometown of Austin, Texas to investigate a mysterious illness that has stricken a girls' competitive dance team and is possibly transmitted through technology.  The cast also includes James McDaniel, Josh Stewart, Adan Canto, Laura San Giacomo and T.R. Knight. "Really" Created by Jay Chandrasekhar, who also plays one of the main characters, and by Jamie Tarses, this dramatic comedy centers on a Chicago couple and their group of friends as they live out their adult lives while attempting to hold on to their fleeting youth. Sarah Chalke, Selma Blair, Travis Schuldt, Hayes MacArthur, Collette Wolfe, Luka Jones, Lindsay Sloane and Rob Delaney make up the cast. All of the pilots are available at www.amazon.com. Watch a preview of the new Amazon series: youtu.be/phyEY_mBea4 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Dustin Diamond returns again to his inner Screech
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Dustin Diamond returns again to his inner Screech

NEW YORK (AP) — The rank of mega-stars who are known simply by one name includes, of course, Madonna, Cher, Beyonce and Bono. Oh, and one more, surely — that man-boy known as Screech. Samuel "Screech" Powers of the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell" has become almost an icon — for gross ineptitude. He was adorkable before there was such a thing. He even had a catchphrase: "Zoinks!" Dustin Diamond, the man behind Screech, is 37 now. His hair is cut close to his skull and he wears a beard, both flecked with gray. He's married, works as a stand-up comedian, and lives near Milwaukee. For Diamond, Screech has been a curse and a career. He played the character for a decade and then tried to run away from Bayside High as fast as he could: Diamond was a jerk in a season of "Celebrity Fit Club" that he said was scripted. He released a sex tape, which he said was faked. And he revealed sordid details in a tell-all book, "Behind the Bell," which he said was embellished by a ghost writer. Diamond is back this Labor Day weekend mining familiar territory: Lifetime TV is airing "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story" on Monday, which Diamond executive produced. And he's stepped into the off-Broadway "Bayside! The Musical!" playing — you guessed it — Dustin Diamond, a man who never left high school. The Associated Press sat down with Diamond to discuss the show, his missteps and killing Screech. AP: Your relationship to the show is sort of love-hate, isn't it? Diamond: Everybody of any magnitude that I can possibly think of has gone through love-hate relationships with something that becomes so big. The bigger it is, the more you go through it. Think of 'Star Trek' or any band — 'Hey, play "Free Bird!'" Great song, I'm proud of the song but I'm sick of playing it. Give me some time away and, after there's some space created, then you can come back and give big hugs to the thing that brought you there. AP: You've tried to wriggle free with 'Celebrity Fit Club,' porn and the book. How did that go? Diamond: That was really the one-two-three punch of being the bad boy, not the squeaky-clean Screech you remember, which, on one hand, helped because it did break that image. But in retrospect, I kind of wish I hadn't gone exactly that route. But there's no instruction book for any this. You don't know what's going to work. You have to take a gamble. I wanted to rattle the cage, but I didn't think that it would rattle it so much. AP: Why did that show seize the culture so powerfully? Diamond: We never knew. I think looking back, the look and style of everything really sits well with nostalgic feelings of being young and being in school. The color palates that we chose, the outfits we were wearing, it kind of spoke to that generation. AP: Have you kept in touch with some of your 'Saved by the Bell' co-stars like Mark-Paul Gosselaar or Tiffani Thiessen? Diamond: They can't say they really know me. The last time I saw Mark-Paul and Tiffany, I was 16. That was 21 years ago. That's a hefty amount of time to traverse in growth. I've done a lot of stuff since I was 16. I made a lot of growth changes. AP: What can we expect from the TV movie? Diamond: The Lifetime movie is going to be based on my book in the way that it's a behind-the-scenes look, but my book was written by a ghost writer, and they tried to milk the negativity. It wasn't supposed to be a dirty tell-all. AP: So the movie will set some of that right? Diamond: Yes. The overall vibe, the overall feel, should be pretty surprising. I think people who are warm to the show are going to watch it and really enjoy it. And the people who are skeptical are going to watch it and say, 'Wow, OK. This wasn't what I thought it was going to be at all.' AP: The musical has been rewritten to accommodate you. Are you having fun? Diamond: Oh, yes. With parody, there's new ground to be found. It's not in the confines of 'Hey, keep it serious. This is the real deal here.' Now it's poking fun at the real deal, so there's a whole brand new well to dig around in. Now if I did this for the next 10 years, I might become sick of it, too. AP: In both these projects, you're exorcising demons by going to the very heart of Screech. Diamond: Think of it like a wrestling match: You'd never leave the ring because then you'd lose the match. This thing is on top of you, trying to pin you down. And you're wriggling and wriggling, flailing and tossing, to get this thing off of you. But when you do, you don't walk away from it. You mount it, right? I'm mounting it. ____ Online: http://www.BaysideTheMusical.com http://www.mylifetime.com ___ Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

FX picks up new comedy from Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis
Thursday Aug 28, 2014
FX picks up new comedy from Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis

The network has ordered the first season of "Baskets," a new series created by Louis C.K., Jonathan Krisel and Zach Galifianakis. The star of the "The Hangover" franchise will also headline the comedy.Basking in the continued success of the comedy "Louie," which just won its second Emmy for outstanding writing, FX and Louis C.K. are expanding their collaboration. The network has ordered 10 episodes of "Baskets," starring and co-created by Zach Galifianakis. The comedy will follow Chip Baskets, a man who dreams of becoming a respected clown. After an unsuccessful stint at a prestigious Parisian clown school, he ends up working at the local rodeo. Also co-developing the new comedy is "Portlandia" creator Jonathan Krisel, who penned the pilot. "Baskets" will enter production early next year and is slated to premiere in 2016. In the meantime, Zach Galifianakis will return to theaters in Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu's "Birdman," and the fifth season of "Louie" will air next spring on FX. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Toronto prepares for ten days of movie madness

Schwarzenegger movie "Maggie" might have ducked out of the star premieres, getting its distribution deal sorted before Toronto's 10-day marathon of movie madness begins, but there's still plenty to keep an eye on at the Canadian event with a huge number of films -- 392 from 79 countries -- and an incredible diversity on offer.Canada's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs September 4-14, opening with David Dobkin's "The Judge," which has Robert Downey Jr. as the city lawyer returning home to defend his father, town judge Robert Duvall, against a murder charge. At the other end of the fest is closing night film and period drama "A Little Chaos" from Alan Rickman, with the director himself as French king Louis XIV and Kate Winslet as a gardener commissioned to create a new fountain for the regent's Versailles palace. Throughout the festival's run, a track of gala presentations and special screenings welcomes high-profile directors and stars with both mainstream and highbrow appeal: Zhang Yimou drama "Coming Home," Ning Hao's comedy "Breakup Buddies," two Al Pacino films in "Manglehorn" and "The Humbling," Hayden Christensen crime thriller "American Heist," and the exploration of family ties in Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer movie "Black and White" number among them. This year's TIFF also sees a clutch of historical biopics visit its screens: "The Imitation Game" has Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaker extraordinaire Alan Turing, while Eddie Redmayne of "Les Miserables" becomes quantum physicist Stephen Hawking for "The Theory of Everything," and Tobey Maguire stars as chess enigma Bobby Fischer in "Pawn Sacrifice." September 5 has been nominated Bill Murray Day, with free public screenings of the actor's "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" in the lead-up to new film premiere "St. Vincent." Several critical darlings from Cannes 2014 also cross the pond, with North American showings for Special Jury Prize winner and Quebec-set "Mommy," painter's portrait "Mr. Turner" with Cannes Best Actor, Timothy Spall, and Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner "Force Majeure." Other tracks embrace more obtuse fare with contributions from a globe's worth of auteurs in the Masters program, from Jean-Luc Godard and Michael Winterbotton to Hong Sang-soo, Abderrahmane Sissako and this year's Palme d'Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan. By contrast, the Wavelengths program focuses in on art and experiment, with material from the reknowned Ken Jacobs, Marseille-set French-Taiwanese production "Journey to the West," a crossbreed of literary influences from the world's oldest living filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira in "The Old Man of Belem," and even Viggo Mortensen's turn as an adventurous 19th-century explorer in "Jauja." Two other schedules are set up to sate fans of international movie-making: the self-explanatory World Cinema program, and TIFF's track for up-and-coming directors. That second bill, Discovery, pulls in a diversity of exciting projects that include the unbelivable true story "Unlucky Plaza" from Ken Kwek of Singapore; the daring "Stories of Our Lives" from an anonymous Kenyan collective; Sao Paulo's "Obra," which juxtaposes architectural structure with hidden family histories; and irreverent high school comedy "Guidance," which swaps the musical pull of "School of Rock" for inappropriate life advice. And that's not even yet touching upon several new additions to this year's edition of the Festival; two streets are transformed into public displays of cinematic and artistic wonder, while the Canadian short film track is joined by an international sibling which boasts two of the event's three shortest works as well as Disney Pixar animation "Lava." Official website: tiff.netYouTube channel: youtube.com/tiff Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Urban Decay's 'Pulp Fiction' makeup collection out this week
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Urban Decay's 'Pulp Fiction' makeup collection out this week

Urban Decay's collection inspired by the gritty aesthetic of Quentin Tarantino's iconic movie is out September 1.Twenty years ago, "Pulp Fiction" arrived in theaters, leaving its mark on an entire generation of moviegoers. To pay homage to the cult film, Urban Decay decided to do what it does best: cosmetics. In time for fall, the brand is launching makeup products inspired by Mrs. Mia Wallace, the character played by Uma Thurman in the film.The collection, which initially consisted only of a nail polish and a lipstick named for the wig-clad character, was expanded to include a palette of five eyeshadows (including three brand new shades), a lip pencil and a glitter eyeliner. While the theme may be quirky, the quality of the products remains top notch. The 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil, for example, contains jojoba oil and vitamin E for soft, smooth lips. The glitter eyeliner contains peach, cucumber and carrot extracts -- a powerful nourishing cocktail for the skin -- and the Nail Color polish is made without DBP, toluene or formaldehyde. In a nod to one of the film's most iconic scenes, the Bible verse quoted by Jules from the Book of Ezekiel is printed on the back of the eyeshadow palette. The Urban Decay x Pulp Fiction collection goes on sale in September. Prices range from $15 for the Mrs. Mia Wallace Nail Color to $34 for the Pulp Fiction Palette.  Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Pittsburgh-based reality show 'The Chair' to debut
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Pittsburgh-based reality show 'The Chair' to debut

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Viewers of a new reality show will soon find out what happens when two fledgling directors are given $850,000 to direct their own movies from the same script. "The Chair" debuts Sept. 6 on the cable network Starz and documents the making of both movies. The show will be followed shortly after by the theatrical and digital releases of the two movies at the center of the docuseries. The 10-week series will air in one-hour installments each Saturday through mid-November. It's the brainchild of Chris Moore, who produced "American Pie" and "Good Will Hunting." Both movies in the docuseries are based on a script by Dan Schoffer called "How Soon is Now." They're coming-of-age stories about friends who return home to western Pennsylvania during their first Thanksgiving break in college. Shane Dawson's adaptation, "Not Cool," is a broader comedy similar in tone to "Superbad" and other teen films, he said. Dawson, a 26-year-old Los Angeles filmmaker known for his YouTube shorts, stars in his version. The other version, "Hollidaysburg," is a more "thoughtful, introspective and grounded" approach, said Anne Martemucci, a 32-year-old screenwriter and actress who makes films with her husband. Her movie is named for a small town near State College, where Martemucci spent the first 20 years of her life. "It was really important for me to make a teen movie that was based on my experiences," Martemucci said. "It was just too good that I got to make a coming-of-age movie in the place where I came of age." Setting the movies in and around Pittsburgh wasn't just a matter of artistic license. The project was based there because a key partner on the project is Pittsburgh-bred producer Zachary Quinto. Quinto and partner Corey Moosa's production company, "Before the Door," have networked with the western Pennsylvania's burgeoning film industry, including movie incubator Steeltown Entertainment and Point Park University. More than 100 Point Park students and alumni worked on the series or one of the two movies or served as paid interns. "You really can't recreate that any more than you can recreate a play in the classroom," said Ronald Lindblom, the vice president and artistic director of Point Park's Conservatory of Performing Arts. "They spent several weeks, hands-on, in a day-to-day operation." The final two episodes will include audience reaction to the two movies, as well as behind-the-scenes information about the movies' release and marketing. While Moore expects the show will serve as a promo for the movies, and vice versa, he also expects some moviegoers will see both films without realizing they're part of this grand experiment. "They'll be like, 'Is that allowed? Are you allowed to release two movies with the same plot?'" Moore said. Viewers can vote on which film they like better by completing an online survey. The winning director will get $250,000, but both say the experience and exposure were invaluable. "My whole goal was just to get my first movie made — whether it was terrible or whether it was amazing," Dawson said. "Luckily, the movie's great." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

NEW YORK (AP) — The movie of the summer might have been Marvel's irreverent hit "Guardians of the Galaxy," the top domestic film at the box office. Or it could have been Michael Bay's sequel-reboot hybrid "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the lone movie to even approach $1 billion globally. But really, the movie of the summer was "Star Wars: Episode VII." Even though it's not due in theaters for more than a year, no other film captured the popcorn-hunger of moviegoers quite like J.J. Abrams' resurrection of George Lucas' space opera. As the blockbuster-to-come went into production over the summer, every bit of casting news was eagerly consumed; every hint of its plot was carefully parsed. Nothing can stop it, not even the broken leg of an aged Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), at the mercy of a mechanical door on his trusty Millennium Falcon, no less. The rabid interest for "Star Wars" is good news for Hollywood's 2015. No so much for its 2014. When the season sputters to a close on Monday, the summer box office — regardless of whatever is added to the coffers by weekend front-runner "Guardians" — will be about 15 percent down from last year's summer, making it Hollywood's worst summer in at least seven years. Why did this summer fail to ignite at the box office? Here are five take-aways: — THE MOVIES SIMPLY WEREN'T GOOD ENOUGH: "Maybe we had a lot of titles that looked good on paper," says Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., whose Adam Sandler comedy "Blended" and largely acclaimed Tom Cruise action flick "Edge of Tomorrow" found lukewarm receptions. "The audience didn't go for it. We have to do better." Many in Hollywood will often remind that the movies, after all, are ultimately a content-driven business. The self-mocking "Guardians," starring Chris Pratt, and the operatic apocalyptic tale "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" won the most cheers from moviegoers and critics alike. But many of the summer's top releases, like the Melissa McCarthy road trip "Tammy" and the flopping neo-noir sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," simply weren't up to snuff. One likely best picture-nominee did emerge over the summer, though: Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," a unique coming-of-age film made over 12 years. — SEQUELS DIDN'T POP: Make no mistake about it: Sequels still rule the summer. Of the top 10 films at the box office, how many do you think were original? Zero. The most popular original movie — not a sequel, reboot or adaptation of a well-known property — was the Seth Rogen comedy "Neighbors," in 11th place. But many sequels also showed growing audience fatigue. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" performed worse than all four previous "Spider-Man" movies. DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon 2," also didn't rally the box office like it was expected to, and Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables 3" signaled the end of an already elderly franchise. Sequels are expected to stomp through the summer, but this year none surpassed $250 million domestically. — THE CENTER IS SHIFTING: Two of the top movies of the year ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "The LEGO Movie") were released in spring, usually the homely sidekick to summer's dashing hero. And the summer's biggest hit, "Guardians of the Galaxy," wasn't released until the dog days of August. "The studios are starting to realize: Let's take advantage of the soft spots in the calendar," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Not only that, they're also increasingly focusing overseas. "Transformers" was launched not in North America but in China, where it was also partially shot. And it was rewarded for it: The film made more money in China than in North America. Even the summer's cult hit, the futuristic allegory "Snowpiercer," was a distinctly international production made in South Korea and largely seen not in theaters but on video-on-demand. — FEWER MOVIES: The summer was missing a few of its expected tentpoles that by themselves could have moved the needle on the overall box office. Following Paul Walker's death, "Fast & Furious 7" was postponed until next year. Pixar didn't have its usual summer entry. But overall, the studios are largely pulling back on their output, concentrating resources on fewer but bigger films. This has meant slightly less competition in the summer and more carefully guarded profit margins. The summer may have been down at the movies, but the studios had fewer high-profile bombs than they did last year, a record-setting but volatile summer. (Remember "Lone Ranger"?) Instead, the studios downshifted for more dependable results. Budgets may look fine in Hollywood, but they don't look as good for theater owners. — GET 'EM NEXT YEAR: "It'll happen next year," says Universal distribution head Nikki Rocco. "The business is cyclical." The hope is that the constant ebb and flow of the movie business will next year tilt back toward buffo box office. The year boasts arguably the two most lucrative franchises in movies: "Star Wars" and "Avengers." When "Avengers: Age of Ultron" kicks off on May 1, nothing less than record-breaking will be expected. The first "Avengers" film in 2012 was the highest grossing summer movie ever. It won't be until December that "Episode VII" hits theaters, but nothing proves more than "Star Wars" — a series in which the last three films are almost universally derided — that franchise fervor springs eternal. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

Israel's 'The Farewell Party' finds humor in death
Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Israel's 'The Farewell Party' finds humor in death

VENICE, Italy (AP) — With dozens of films jostling for attention at the Venice Film Festival, it takes originality to make an impact. Two Israeli filmmakers have done it by refusing to accept that death is no laughing matter. "The Farewell Party" centers on a group of Jerusalem retirement-home residents who create a euthanasia machine to put a dying friend out of his misery — and then face a moral dilemma when others come seeking the same service. The movie treats assisted suicide — illegal in Israel and many other countries — with large doses of comedy, an idea some may find off-putting. But directors Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit insist that the movie's unusual tone, with shoots of laughter and absurdity illuminating the darkness, simply reflects real life. Maymon said the seed of the film was the death of his ex-boyfriend's elderly grandmother. "We felt like death released her from pain and suffering — but then the paramedics came into the house and tried to resuscitate her for half an hour," the director said during an interview in Venice. "They were fighting for her life like she was 16 years old. It was so absurd, and from this absurd moment the idea came. "There was a funny moment when her son told the paramedics: 'If you wake her up, you are taking her with you.'" The directors know not everyone will find that funny. Granit said some people had been scandalized by the idea for their film. "They told us, 'How can you laugh about such a thing?'" she said. "But we really believed in this movie, what it says. It's very important for us to raise these questions." And, she said, "We love to take risks." Maymon and Granit have a record of tackling tough social issues with humor in their three previous shorts and one feature, "Mortgage," about a couple battling to save their home at any cost. The script for "The Farewell Party" won the "best pitch" award at the Berlin Film Festival, but finding a producer proved tricky in Germany, where many oppose assisted suicide because of its association with Nazi euthanasia programs. Even when the money was in place, casting also had its glitches. The protagonists in "The Farewell Party" are played by well-known Israeli actors, including veteran comedian Ze'ev Revah as Yehezkel, the amateur inventor of the mercy-killing machine. Maymon said Revah consulted his rabbi before agreeing to take the part. Some other actors didn't show up for auditions. "It was very hard for them to deal with this subject because they are old and they felt that it's too close for them," he said. Israel's film industry is vibrant for a country its size, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sometimes shadows its productions on the international stage. Another Israeli-funded film at the festival, "Villa Touma," is at the center of a political spat after Israeli Arab director Suha Arraf submitted it as a Palestinian entry, sparking calls in Israel for the director to give the Israeli money back. Israeli scripts have been the basis of several Hollywood hits, however, including the television series "Homeland." Maymon's last feature, the sumo-wrestling comedy "A Matter of Size," is being remade in Hollywood, and it's easy to imagine "The Farewell Party" getting the same treatment. The international audience in Venice reacted warmly; the Hollywood Reporter called in a charming film that approached its subject "with wisdom, sensitivity and a welcome strain of humor." It also offers plum roles for older actors. The main cast members do everything from pratfalls to poignant exchanges and even have a nude scene. And, the directors say, the film's themes are universal. "It talks about friendship and about love and about separation from someone you love," Granit said. "Our story tells an international story that anyone can relate to." ___ Follow Jill Lawless at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage

NEW YORK (AP) — A brotherly reunion is coming to the City of Brotherly Love: Family band Kings of Leon will play its first show Sunday in Philadelphia since drummer Nathan Followill injured his ribs. The group will headline the second night of the "Budweiser Made In America" festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Kanye West and Steve Aoki will perform on the first night of the two-day festival over Labor Day weekend. Kings of Leon lead singer Caleb Followill said in an interview Friday that his younger brother is "doing good" since he broke his ribs after the band's tour bus driver was forced to stop short when a pedestrian crossed the street in front of the vehicle. "He has this protective gear that he's wearing that's there to help him," Caleb said. "(On Thursday), we went in (to rehearsal) and we kind of loosened up a little bit, played five or six songs. (On Friday), we went in and played more, but by the end of it he was definitely tired." The band includes youngest brother Jared Followill, who plays bass, and cousin Matthew Followill, who plays guitar. They cancelled two weeks of shows after the Aug. 9 incident and were set to mark a comeback on Thursday, but decided to postpone more shows. "Hopefully he continues to heal," Caleb said. "We're going to throw a long set at him this weekend so he better bring his A-game, otherwise you're going to have a three-piece up there with no drums." Following the Jay Z-curated festival, the Grammy-winning band will play 16 shows before their U.S. tour wraps Oct. 5 in Irvine, California. They've surprised each of the audiences on the current tour by playing an older song they hadn't performed live in years, or a cover. They sang Robyn's cult hit "Dancing On My Own" at Lollapalooza this summer. Caleb laughs when asked if the group would perform a Jay Z song Sunday: "That would be a first for us." "I was online looking up all the artists that have come from Philadelphia," he said of potential covers. "There's quite a well of talent that has come out of that city." Sunday's line-up in Philadelphia will also include Pharrell, Tiesto and Girl Talk. The festival, in its third year, will also play in Los Angeles over the weekend for the first time. Imagine Dragons will headline Saturday, and West will switch coasts to play Sunday. Kings of Leon had its musical breakthrough in 2009 when the rock song "Use Somebody" crossed over to the pop charts and won three Grammy Awards, including record of the year. They released their sixth album, "Mechanical Bull," last year, and Caleb said he's been itching to write new songs. "I am very excited for the future," he said. "I think we'll really go in there and write some songs we're proud of, but at the same time, I'm ready to get back on the radio, so I want to write some hits." ___ Online: http://tour.kingsofleon.com/ http://a.madeinamericafest.com/landing/ ___ Follow Mesfin Fekadu on twitter.com/MusicMesfin Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cee Lo Green enters no contest plea in drug case
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Cee Lo Green enters no contest plea in drug case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cee Lo Green pleaded no contest Friday to one felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a woman during a 2012 dinner in Los Angeles and was sentenced to serve probation and community service. The Grammy-winning singer also entered a special plea in which he maintained his innocence in the case and that prevents his no contest plea from being used against him in civil court. The drug case could be used against Green in criminal court if he faces another drug offense. Superior Court Judge Mark Young sentenced the 39-year-old singer to three years of formal probation and 45 days of community service. Green, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, will be allowed to travel for work and permitted to see a private physician for drug and alcohol counseling, the judge said. Green also can serve his community service through MusiCares Foundation, an affiliate of the organization that presents the Grammy Awards. Green entered the plea just before a scheduled preliminary hearing during which prosecutors would have had to show there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Prosecutors rejected a rape charge against Green when he was charged with the felony drug charge in October 2013. His attorney Blair Berk has said Green had consensual sex with the woman he gave ecstasy to during the July 2012 dinner. No civil case has been filed over the incident in Los Angeles, court records show. Green won a Grammy for the hit "Forget You" and performed as part of the duo Gnarls Barkley. He appeared as a judge on the NBC competition show "The Voice," but left the show after he was charged. ___ Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Harry Belafonte to receive honorary humanitarian Oscar
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Harry Belafonte to receive honorary humanitarian Oscar

Oscar organizers announced Thursday they will give a prestigious humanitarian award to US actor-producer-singer Harry Belafonte, whose work as an activist has helped shed light on racism and inequality.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also announced honorary lifetime awards for Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, French screenwriter/actor Jean-Claude Carriere and Irish actress Maureen O'Hara. The Academy's Board of Governors voted on the awards on Tuesday. They will be presented at the body's 6th annual Governors Awards on November 8 in Hollywood. Belafonte will get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award while Miyazaki, Carriere and O'Hara will receive Governors Awards. "We're absolutely thrilled to honor these outstanding members of our global filmmaking community and look forward to celebrating with them in November," said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. "The Governors Awards allow us to reflect upon not the year in film, but the achievements of a lifetime," she added. Miyazaki, an artist, writer, director and producer, was nominated three times in the Academy's animated feature category, which he won in 2002 for "Spirited Away." As a writer Carriere worked with iconic directors including Luis Bunuel, Volker Schloendorff, Jean-Luc Godard and Andrzej Wajda. He shared a screenwriting Oscar for the action short "Heureux Anniversaire (Happy Anniversary") in 1962. O'Hara starred in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939) at the start of a long and wide-ranging career with films including drama "This Land Is Mine," family classic "The Parent Trap" and spy comedy "Our Man in Havana." She was also in numerous westerns as a favorite of director John Ford. When away from the spotlight, Belafonte, 87, spent much of his life campaigning for various causes such as education, famine relief, children, AIDS awareness and civil rights. His films such as "Carmen Jones," "Odds against Tomorrow" and "The World, the Flesh and the Devil" helped portray the injustices of racism and inequality. He was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr in his heyday. He was also named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1987. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.