Tag: entertainment

Denzel Washington’s “2 Guns” Tops Weekend Box Office with $27.4 Million

2guns2 Guns, a buddy cop comedy-thriller featuring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, was the top weekend film in U.S. and Canadian theaters, collecting $27.4 million for Universal Pictures. (CMCSA).  A tale of undercover lawmen trying to catch a drug kingpin, 2 Guns taps the bickering buddy movie formula successfully mined by Hollywood in films such as Lethal Weapon and marks the seventh No. 1 weekend opening this year for Universal, part of Comcast Corp.  “The chemistry is obvious in the film,” Nikki Rocco, president of distribution for Universal Pictures, said in an interview. “Hopefully, it finds its own life in a marketplace that’s very crowded.”

Washington plays Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bobby Trench, while Wahlberg is cast as U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman. The two reluctantly work undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel goes haywire, they are disavowed by their superiors and can only count on each other.  “This is a business where being No. 1 is always wonderful,” Rocco said. “It’s nice to be on a roll.”

Returning film The Wolverine was second with $21.7 million and The Smurfs 2, a family feature combining animation with live action, opened with $18.2 million in receipts for Sony Corp. (6758) to place third.

article via bloomberg.com

Oprah Winfrey Regains No. 1 Slot On Forbes 2013 List Of The Most Powerful Celebrities

Oprah Winfrey

Everyone should know this by now: Never count Oprah out. Oprah Winfrey returns to the top of Forbes’ annual Celebrity 100 ranking of the most powerful celebrities after two years in second place. She leads a female-dominated top 10 that includes Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Ellen DeGeneres.

Even without her eponymous daytime talk show, Winfrey made an estimated $77 million between June 2012 and June 2013, down from last year’s $165 million. While she wasn’t the highest earner on Forbes’ list, her money, mixed with strong fame scores in metrics like press mentions and social networking power, pushed her to the top.

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Paris Barclay Elected President of the Directors Guild

New DGA President Paris Barclay
New Directors Guild President Paris Barclay

TV director Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, Glee, House) has been elected president of the Directors Guild of America for a two-year term, succeeding Taylor Hackford (Ray, Officer and a Gentleman) . Barclay was selected at the DGA’s convention on Saturday at DGA headquarters in Los Angeles. He’s the first African-American to serve as DGA president.

“I got surprisingly emotional about it when I was giving my acceptance speech,” Barclay told Variety. Hackford announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term in accordance with the DGA tradition of presidents only serving two terms. The well-liked Barclay has served eight years as  First VP and six years as Third VP.

Barclay also told Variety that other DGA members such as Steven Soderbergh and former president Michael Apted have been urging him in recent years to consider becoming president. “As time went on, I began hearing that from more and more people,” he added.

Apted made the nomination Saturday and Soderberg seconded it.

Barclay asserted that he will maintain the tradition of the DGA president being a working director — in his case as the executive producer of the sixth season of “Sons of Anarchy.” Once that season’s shooting is completed, he plans to continue directing episodes of other series that interest him along with a feature film.

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Tupac Shakur to Receive Posthumous Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Tupac ShakurAccording to variety.com, The Hollywood Walk of Fame committee chairman David Green announced next year’s list of honorees today at a ceremony where Jennifer Lopez received her honor, with Tupac Shakur set to be lauded posthumously along with comedian/actor Phil Hartman.

In the film category, those scheduled to receive a star in 2014 are: Orlando Bloom, Ray Dolby, Sally Field, Jack Harris, Jessica Lange, Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neeson, Paul Mazursky and Tom Sherak.

In TV, Giancarlo Esposito will receive a star, along with Dabney Coleman, Kaley Cuoco, Claire Danes, Deidre Hall, Cheryl Hines, Don Mischer, Rickey Smiley and Hartman. Music stars in addition to Shakur include Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland, Katy Perry, and Rick Springfield.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

 

TV Review: Dwayne Johnson Rocks New Reality Series “The Hero”

The Hero Season 1 - Ep 101 Ph: Frank Masi Panama City, Panama

The Hero (8pm Thursdays, TNT)

Host:  Dwayne Johnson

I’ve got to give it to the folks at TNT – it was a smart choice to air a competition reality show hosted by wrestler-turned-movie-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s completely entertaining, mainly because The Rock reminds the viewer very early on, well…that he’s got charisma in spades.

The Hero takes nine contestants and makes them endure physical challenges as well as ethical mind games while attempting to gain enough viewer appeal to be voted into the final where the winner’s pot could reach up to one million dollars. I usually get frustrated with the whole audience voter scenario, but The Hero has thrown in measuring a person’s moral compass, and that makes what the home audience thinks a little more appealing.

On top of jumping, rappelling, crawling, and conquering real fears, the participants have their principles tested with offers of cash on the sly.  In other words, the show asks each of them the question: “If no one’s looking, how greedy will you be?”  If every contestant selflessly resists the chance to pocket easy money when it’s offered in private, then it all goes into the team pot.  The way the money is earned and the challenge scenario is tiered and a bit confusing.  Nonetheless it’s easy to grasp that there is a one in nine chance to win up to a million dollars.

James Bond himself doesn’t have to do half the stuff these contestants do.  And the casting is genius.  They’ve got contestants with serious phobias. One can’t handle heights, another freaks out in the dark…um, hello…you signed up for a show called The Hero hosted by the Rock…and you’ve got phobias?  It’s such a fun twist I was sucked into watching human behavior at its rawest.

In a pretty hilarious segment, a female contestant who is terrified of heights is asked to join The Rock atop the roof of a skyscraper. He eagerly awaits her as she chants, “I’m not going to fail … I’m not going to fail.” As she walks up two flights of stairs (yes, only two) to get to him he utters, “You’re not going to fail.” It’s just some stairs and there is railing but she is terrified. She makes it and leaps into the Rock’s bulging , welcoming arms. It’s a terrific human moment. He smiles, hugs and encourages her, but then offers her some money to pocket for herself or put in the pot. A moral dilemma ensues.

It’s a provocative scenario each time it occurs: “You’re broke…here’s some money and you need it… take it or put it in the pot.” As one contestant puts it (I’m paraphrasing here): “These people are not saying no to the money because they are good people. They are saying no because they want to appear to be good for the audience that votes so they will be voted to go to the end and have a chance at a more money.”

All on all, The Hero is a thoroughly watchable show, although I can’t say the title works. Are these people actually heroic? Not really. But Dwayne in all his Rockness and the challenges make for a fun summer series. Set in Panama, I’m not sure they’ll find a “Hero”… but they may just find the ratings.

Lesa LakinReviewed by Lesa Lakin

Local Hero: Thelma Pollard, ‘Phantom’ Production Makeup Supervisor Since 1988

Local Hero: Thelma Pollard, ‘Phantom’ Production Makeup Supervisor

At every performance of musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” on Broadway and around the country, the tortured title character rips off his mask to reveal his disfigured face. That deformed mug is the handiwork of production makeup supervisor Thelma Pollard, who’s been with the New York incarnation since it began in 1988. It’s her job to teach every new “Phantom” cast member how to apply character makeup correctly and then ensure they keep doing it right. But it’s the Phantom himself that’s her baby: Before each performance, she carefully paints the prosthetics pieces (made of one-use latex) and applies the actor’s makeup herself, a process that takes about an hour.

Besides fidgety thespians — “some actors are better at sitting still than others,” she says diplomatically — hurdles include dropped wigs and a clock-ticking makeup application for an understudy who was rushed into a performance when the lead was sidelined by laryngitis mid-show. And then there was the time she had to figure out the Phantom’s skin color palette for Robert Guillaume, one of the few black actors to take on the title role.

Pollard was born in what she describes as a small village in Barbados — “I didn’t know about Broadway!” — and eventually followed her parents to New York, going on to earn two licenses in cosmetology, specializing in hair and makeup. A chance meeting with makeup designer Stanley James in the salon where she was an apprentice led to gigs on the original Broadway production of “The Wiz” and a string of legit credits that include “Dreamgirls,” “Cats,” “Song and Dance,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

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Movie Review: Smiths Survive “After Earth”

hero_after-earth-jaden-smith-volcano

After Earth

Cast: Will Smith (Cypher),  Jaden Smith (Kitai), Sophie Okonedo (Faia), Zoe Kravitz (Senshi) Director:  M. Night Shyamalan; Rated: PG-13

After Earth did something I wasn’t expecting… it made me think. Better than I was anticipating, this film isn’t exactly what it seems and I’m glad I saw it with my teenage son, given what this film is really about. After Earth is wearing a carefully marketed disguise. If you are expecting a Smith/Smith epic sci-fi action-packed adventure popcorn flick… well, you get some of that. But actually, at its core the film is a coming-of-age tale about the evolution of a relationship between a career-driven father and his teenage son.  It’s about the struggle of a parent and child being forced to find a connection and faith in one another after tragedy and circumstance befall them.  All the sci-fi galaxy hoo-ha is just a backdrop. 

The movie takes place on a futuristic planet Earth where fearless uber soldier, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith), and his cowardly son, Kitai (played by Smith’s real-life son, Jaden) unexpectedly crash land. Every entity on this planet poses a threat and has evolved to kill humans instinctively.  The spaceship’s broken in two and the sole survivors need to recover the tail in order to be rescued.  When Cypher discovers he has broken both legs after the crash landing, there is no choice but to rely on Kitai to make this journey alone, which is troubling because he does not possess his father’s lack of fear.

It’s an interesting choice to bench action star Will Smith. He’s flat on his back most of the film. Unlike in most of his sci-fi themed movies, the power of Will is not saving the day.  This one’s on Jaden and he needs every bit of his Karate Kid training to trudge through evolved Earth. Cypher can only guide Kitai with his voice throughout the journey to the half of their ship that contains a beacon signal that must be deployed if they are to be rescued. It is the responsibility of a parent to provide his child with the proper tools to do well on his own.  But what do you do when you’re a fearless hero and your child is well… not? 

After Earth begins with Kitai not making ranger staus. He’s prone to stress, panic attacks and straight-up fear.  Okay, so he’s not exactly the super soldier his father is. Cypher possesses the rare skill of being able to shut out fear which makes his enemies unable to see, smell, or locate him.  Kitai does not possess this gift.  This proves disappointing to Cypher. His mother, Faia, played by Sophie Okonedo, establishes that Kitai has a better relationship with his mother; perhaps some bonding with Dad is in order.  This is how Kitai ends up on a business trip with his father Cypher. 

But something else is going on between these two which reveals itself in several flashbacks.  Kitai had a sister,  Senshi (Zoe Kravitz), who was killed by a predator called an Ursa. Senshi, played effortlessly by the delightfully easy-to-watch Zoe Kravitz, gives us a glimpse into what happened to Kitai and why he is so tormented. He blames himself for surviving an Ursa attack that took his sister’s life and he believes his father blames him as well. Thus the theme of family and familial stuff that needs to be worked out progresses. 

If I had not seen this film with my own teenaged son, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. I related to the parent-and-teen tug of war. The film has some cool moments once you let go of the fact that Will Smith is not going to get up and go save his real-life son. It’s all on Jaden, and despite a rocky start (Jaden speaks in an accent I can only describe as, well… not great. It’s supposed to be Australian… I think?  It’s so distracting, I thought… uh,oh I can’t sit here. But my son was into the movie and Big Willy always makes me laugh, so I committed to relaxing and enjoying my mother/son time), the Karate Kid training pays off in spades. Jaden shows us his cool footing during climbs, jumps and a really entertaining glide through the air. 

After Earth was adventurous for sure. The special effects were fine – nothing “Earth” shattering. Having a teen carry a mega-film is a big ask. Jaden does okay. He gets better as his character evolves; perhaps this is because the character grows closer to the real-life, confident Jaden. It’s very hard even for a second to get past the fact that you are watching Will Smith and his son Jaden. My take is this: because Will Smith is such an action star and Jaden was so definable in the Karate Kid, and they are such a well-known, real-life family, believing these two as space son and Dad was always going to be an automatic hurdle for the audience. If Jaden was any other actor playing against any other actor, maybe I wouldn’t be judging him with a magnifying glass.

All in all, After Earth is not the surefire summer blockbuster we had hoped for, but movie making is tough and the Smiths are entertaining in any form.  

Lesa LakinReviewed by Lesa Lakin

2013: A Breakout Year for Black Films

“FRUITVALE STATION” Ariana Neal and Michael B. Jordan star in a film based on the 2009 killing of a young man in Oakland, Calif. (Cait Adkins/Weinstein Company)

LOS ANGELES — Musical. Romance. Epic history. Social drama. Christmas comedy. After years of complaint and self-criticism about the shortage of prominent movies by and about black Americans, film companies are poised to release an extraordinary cluster of them across an array of genres in the last five months of 2013.

At least 10 new films will be released, including several awards contenders, from both independent and major distributors, like the Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight and Universal Pictures. Even some of those who made this year’s movies have been caught by surprise.

“You tell me!” said the director and screenwriter Lee Daniels, when asked how so many black-driven films had materialized at once. His historical drama “The Butler” — based on a real-life White House butler who served eight presidents — is to be released by Weinstein on Aug. 16. “I’m working in my own bubble, I come up for air, and there they are,” Mr. Daniels said.

Black filmmakers say the wave of 2013 releases was built in large part on the creativity that has flourished on the independent-film circuit, which has become a laboratory of sorts for more prominent African-American-themed productions. Writers and directors have been sharpening their skills on indie films the last several years while waiting for big distributors to regain interest.

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Tamar Braxton, Tamera Mowry-Housley and Loni Love To Host ‘The Real’ Talk Show on Fox

Tamar Braxton (PHOTO CREDIT: PICTURE PERFECT/REX USA)

Move over, The View — daytime television just got “real.” Tamar Braxton, Tamera Mowry-Housley and comedian Loni Love will be the hosts of Fox TV’s new talk show, The Real, airing July 8 for a summer test run. The ladies will be joined by former Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon and the Style Channel’s Jeannie Mai for a younger, more opinionated take on the popular lifestyle and hot-topic “roundtable” format.

These ladies are no strangers to television, Tamar Braxton having starred on Tamar & VinceBraxton Family Values and on her best friend’s talk show Tiny Tonight; Tamera Mowry-Housley on Tia & Tamera Take 2; and Loni Love on Chelsea LatelyEach will bring her personality to The Real

article by Celia L. Smith via essence.com

Candice Glover Wins 12th Season of “American Idol”

The third time’s the charm for Candice Glover on “American Idol.”  The 23-year-old vocalist from St. Helena Island, S.C., won the Fox TV singing competition after auditioning a trio of times and making it to the finals this year.  Glover looked stunned when “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced she bested soulful 22-year-old country singer Kree Harrison from Woodville, Texas.

Candice GloverGlover said backstage after winning she learned to “Have fun, live in the moment and be confident.”  “Because in previous years I wasn’t, so that’s definitely the key if you want to audition for the show or have a career,” she said.  After her crowning, an emotional Glover sobbed her way through her new single “I Am Beautiful.”

Grammy- and Oscar-winning former “Idol” finalist Jennifer Hudson returned for Thursday’s finale for a show-stopping duet with Glover on Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable” (see above).

Glover’s win marks the first time a female and a nonwhite singer has won the competition since Jordin Sparks dominated the sixth season in 2007. The previous five winners — Phillip Phillips, Scotty McCreery, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and David Cook — were all Caucasian guitar players, known to “Idol” fans as WGWGs, or white guys with guitars.

The lack of a female champion for the past five years was mocked in a finale bit featuring the female finalists, in cahoots with Sparks, jokingly sabotaging this season’s five male contestants.  “The good news is ‘Idol’ leftovers have been doing really well on ‘The Voice,'” Sparks teased.

Besides the coronation of Glover, Thursday’s finale also served as a farewell for Randy Jackson, the show’s last remaining original judge who announced last week that he’s leaving “Idol” to focus on his record label and other business opportunities. Jackson served as a judge on all 12 seasons of “Idol.” He first appeared on the panel alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the competition debuted in 2002, becoming famous for his easygoing “yo, dawg” rapport with contestants.

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