Archive for the ‘Internet '07’ Category

Lots of Heart

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Awake, the latest film to sneak into theaters courtesy of the Weinstein brothers, is actually a halfway decent thriller. It’s ridiculous, for sure, and at less than 80 minutes, it hardly qualifies as feature-length. But it’s also much better than the studio releasing it would have you believe.

Filmed a couple of years ago, it’s been sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Its distributors probably had more than a few arguments about releasing it straight to DVD, but it got its theatrical release in a December week when no other major releases were offered. Sending a distinct signal that the film was junk, the movie was not screened for critics.

Bad move. That automatically raises the ire of some critics, who basically slather their nasty pens with pine tar and swing away. There is no way that this film is as bad as the critical consensus is saying (last I checked, Awake had 12 percent at It’s no movie miracle, but it engages from start to finish, offers some great twists and boasts a handful of decent performances.

Hayden Christensen, aka Darth Vader, stars as Clay, a rich boy with a bad heart. He’s on a donor list for a transplant while living with his dominating mother, Lilith (Lena Olin) and dating Sam (Jessica Alba). He’s chosen Dr. Jack Harper (Terrence Howard) as his transplant surgeon, much to the dismay of mother, who wants Dr. Jonathan Neyer (Arliss Howard; no relation to Terrence) to perform the procedure. He’s “had his hands in presidents,” but he talks in slimy tones, which puts Clay off. In the end, Dr. Harper gets the scalpel.

Clay goes in for his operation and gets put under with anesthesia-yet he fails to fall completely asleep. He’s aware of the conversations in the room, and even feels excruciating pain as they slice open his chest and spread his ribs apart. In a nifty plot device, Clay essentially gets up in his own brain and runs around in his memories, wearing hospital garments and noticing things he didn’t see before.

I won’t reveal any of the big plot twists, though some of them are rather obvious. Obvious or not, writer-director Joby Harold delivers them competently.

Jack Mathews, a movie critic for the New York Daily News, says this is “possibly the worst movie of 2007,” and he is most certainly high. In a year when crap like Kickin’ in Old Skool and August Rush has been smeared across the screen, making a statement like this in regards to Awake seems a bit farfetched. I can understand not liking it, but the film is structurally sound, somewhat innovative and well-acted.

Alba is good as the new wife who carries her beau’s meds and desperately wants the approval of her mother-in-law. Olin gets a great role as the mysterious mom with dark secrets and perhaps an unhealthy relationship with her son. Howard is also good as the doctor with a few malpractice suits being filed against him. Awake really does have a decent ensemble cast that does good work with a ridiculous premise. It feels like a quality episode of The Twilight Zone.

I must warn you: The advertising campaigns reveal way too many plot twists. Had I not seen the preview for Awake, I probably would’ve enjoyed it even more. As it stands, it’s a fairly good medical thriller, containing some gnarly open-heart surgery gore to balance out the joy of looking at Alba. (Damn, she’s pretty!) It has some plot holes, and it takes some major creative license when it comes to spirituality, the dream state and mortality. I don’t have a problem with that.

Harold, making his writing and directing debut, deserves credit for a decent first effort. Instead, he’s getting the humiliation of having his movie dumped into theaters with the “no critic screening” stigma stamped on it. Welcome to the big leagues, Joby!

Source: Tucsonweekly

Rachel Bilson in Jumper

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Rachel Bilson will replace Teresa Palmer in the sci-fi adventure Jumper opposite Hayden Christensen.

Based on the novel by Steven Gould, the movie follows a young man from a broken home who discovers he has the ability to teleport. In his quest for the man he believes responsible for the death of his mother, he draws the attention of the National Security Agency and another young man with the same abilities. Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Bell also star. Palmer was dropped from the movie when the role was rewritten as a 25-year old woman rather than a 20-year old girl.

Doug Liman is directing the movie which is currently shooting in Toronto. David Goyer adapted the screenplay which was subsequently rewritten by Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg.

Bilson stars on TV’s The OC. She most recently starred opposite Zach Braff in The Last Kiss. Here’s a picture of me and Rachel Bilson from the party for The Last Kiss held during this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Source: Empire Movies

Sienna: No Sex with Diddy, Hayden

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

It’s no Diddy for Sienna Miller. Sources tell TMZ that, contrary to reports, Sienna Miller isn’t involved in any way with P. Diddy, and that her very convincing sex scene with Hayden Christensen in “Factory Girl” is just the result of good acting.

TMZ is told that there is “no sexual anything” between Sienna and Diddy, and, in fact, that Sienna has never actually been out alone with the rapper. Diddy, according to a source, showed up to the Manhattan premiere of “Factory Girl” and when Sienna went to the bathroom, he was waiting around, “lurking outside the men’s room,” but Sienna managed to sneak out from under his nose. Her publicist, Leslie Sloane Zelnik, says the pair are “just friends” and that when he showed up to Bungalow 8 later on that night, Sienna wasn’t there.

Meanwhile, rumors that Miller and co-star Christensen actually had sex while filming a scene in “Factory Girl” just aren’t true. As real as it may look, we’re told it’s just not so. “When you do a love scene,” says her rep, “there is a minimum of five people in the room. There’s no real sex and the scene proves she knows how to give a good performance.”

Canuck talent has long lacked Oscar glamour

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

As we close in on the 79th Annual Academy Awards next Sunday (February 25), you will undoubtedly read an article or two about how Oscar nominations are getting to be old hat for Canadians. This is not one of those stories. Sure, the National Film Board has won 69 nominations over the decades, including this year’s Canada/Norway coproduction The Danish Poet, and London, Ontario, alone has two native sons with nominations: one of them best-actor finalist Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) and the other Letters From Iwo Jima writer Paul Haggis, who won two Oscars and a third nomination for producing, directing, and writing 2005’s Crash. And we have a best-foreign-language nomination for Deepa Mehta’s Water, which has a Hindi-speaking cast.

Four nominations this year certainly seems like a lot, but do any of the nonacting nominations contribute to our country’s profile and prestige internationally? Haggis hasn’t done much here since he wrote Due South in the mid 1990s, and Water, while produced and directed by Canadians and thus qualifying as a Canadian film, was shot in Sri Lanka using mostly Indian actors.

The popularity of the Academy Awards as a television show has little to do with short films, foreign films, or writers. It’s about the glamour that a billion people attach to it, a glamour that comes from the actors who present awards and win nominations. So where do we stand on the list of acting nations at the Oscars? Very low. Gosling’s nomination, the first for a Canadian-trained actor in more than a decade, sees us tied with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Ireland, and Benin for fourth place in terms of 2006 acting nominations. (All are behind the U.S., the U.K., and Spain.) Clearly, Canadians can act; they just don’t get a lot of respect from the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The list of Canadian actors the Academy has rebuffed over the years includes several men whom many Canadians probably assume have won at least one nomination. Donald Sutherland, Christopher Plummer, and Jim Carrey—all of them won nominations in preliminary competitions like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild but failed to get a shot at the big prize.

In truth, Canadian actors have traditionally fared better at the box office than they have with Oscar voters. Carrey, Michael J. Fox, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Mike Myers have taken lead roles in some of the most successful films of recent years but have never managed to convert ticket-wicket gold into a statuette.

In fact, Gosling’s 2006 best-actor nomination for Half Nelson is the first time a Canadian male has been nominated for that award since Walter Pidgeon, for 1943’s Madame Curie. Since the Oscars weren’t telecast on the CBC until 1953, it’s unlikely that most Canadians were even aware that he had been honoured. Besides, in the early years of Hollywood, nominations for Canadian actors were not uncommon. Between 1929 and 1943, Pidgeon, Walter Huston, and Raymond Massey were nominated for a total of five best-actor Oscars, while Norma Shearer, Mary Pickford, and Marie Dressler won nine nominations for their performances in American films.

Canadian-born actors have won only that many nominations since the first Oscar show was broadcast to U.S. and Canadian homes. Bragging rights are limited to Anna Paquin’s win for best supporting actress for The Piano, one that should probably be asterisked since she had dual citizenship and was acting in a movie that was shot in her other native land, New Zealand. The others are British Columbia–raised sisters Meg and Jennifer Tilly (for Agnes of God and Bullets Over Broadway, respectively), aboriginal Canadians Chief Dan George (Little Big Man) and Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves), Ontario’s Dan Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy) and Kate Nelligan (The Prince of Tides), and Quebec’s Geneviève Bujold (Anne of the Thousand Days).

To put the futility into perspective, at least one Australian-trained actor has been nominated for an Oscar every year since 1998. In fact, Cate Blanchett’s 2006 nod for Notes on a Scandal is the 15th nomination received by actors groomed in Oz since 1994—the year of Jennifer Tilly’s nomination, which stood as the most recent Canadian honour until Ryan Gosling came along.

The good news is that Americans are still making movies in Canada, thus creating more work for Canadians. Those roles and larger parts in Canadian films and TV shows have given exposure to several young actors. Canadian film and television alumni Hayden Christensen, Adam Beach, and Rachel McAdams all came close to winning nominations in the last few years, and it would appear they’ll be around a while. Throw in Gosling and it’s possible that we are on the verge of creating a core group that will help promote our own industry and even bring a little Canuck glamour to the Oscars.


Sunday, March 1st, 2009

In his remarkable 2003 debut feature, Shattered Glass, the director Billy Ray never quite came out and explained why Stephen Glass, the ambitious young New Republic reporter who made up articles out of whole cloth, did what he did. Yet watching Hayden Christensen’s super-sharp performance, you saw how Glass built each ghost of a lie around a childlike need for approval, and the result was a generational X-ray into a new kind of office sociopath — a suck-up so pathological that he made his needs more important than reality. Now Ray has directed his second film, the abysmally titled Breach, and it’s a bona fide companion piece, another true-life tale of duplicity gone secretly insane.

Chris Cooper, with his still-water intelligence and his tender grimace, plays Robert Hanssen, the veteran FBI agent who was arrested on Feb. 18, 2001, after having spent his career selling secrets to the Russians — notably the identities of three KGB operatives-turned-moles, two of whom were killed. Ryan Phillippe is the agent-in-training who is assigned, as an internal spy, to be Hanssen’s assistant. Just as Shattered Glass swirled around the intrigue of office politics, Breach takes the form of one of those boss-from-hell scenarios (Swimming With Sharks, The Devil Wears Prada). Cooper plays Hanssen as a stiff-necked, morose puritan who can scan a personality like a data sheet. A walking enigma, he hectors his new aide even as he treats him like family; he attends Mass each morning, hating what he calls the godless culture of the former Soviet Union, but he’s also a closet voyeur who makes secret sex tapes of himself and his wife. Never does he seem more patriotic than when he’s slamming the careerist bureaucracy of the FBI.

So why did he do it? Ray, once again, never comes out and says, but in Breach the refusal to explain lacks the resonance it had in Shattered Glass. In truth, the movie leaves us scratching our heads. And yet, for most of it, I was held — by Chris Cooper’s dour portrayal of walled-off demons, by the director’s fascination with a deception that, on the surface of it, doesn’t add up. The next time, he should be a little less shy about doing the math.

Diane Lane, Hayden Mention

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Q. Can you tell me what new movies actress Diane Lane is doing? I think she’s really talented. - S.N.

A. She stars in a coming thriller titled Killshot, and a sci-fi thriller called Jumper, opposite Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson. She’s also set to re-team with her Unfaithful co-star Richard Gere in the romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe, and to star in the thriller Untraceable and the Western Appaloosa, opposite and directed by Ed Harris.

At Bauer Martinez Studios, trial and lots of Error

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

WHEN a movie studio hires ‘Training Day’ screenwriter David Ayer to pen a script, he doesn’t worry about getting paid. But it has been 18 months since producer Philippe Martinez bought Ayer’s movie ‘Harsh Times’ at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the filmmaker is still awaiting the $2.2 million Martinez acknowledges he owes him. That bills-past-due story line plays out with several other people doing business with Martinez’s fledgling movie company, Bauer Martinez Studios. When he arrived in Hollywood from Europe a year and a half ago, the French-born Martinez said he would revolutionize independent film. With a purported war chest of $200 million, he pledged not only to finance but also distribute a slate of filmmaker-driven movies. While studio-owned specialty film labels were succumbing to bottom-line calculations, Martinez said his company would be driven by a love of cinema.

In addition to buying ‘Harsh Times,’ Bauer Martinez developed and produced ‘The Flock,’ starring Richard Gere, and ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman,’ starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The company signed ‘Die Hard’s’ John McTiernan to direct the $50-million Hayden Christensen action movie ‘Crash Bandits’ and said it would spend $850,000 for the adult film comedy ‘The Amateurs,’ starring Jeff Bridges. Those, at least, were the stirring headlines. The reality has been far more contentious and interesting. With numerous scheduled and then abandoned release dates, most of these new Bauer Martinez movies haven’t seen the light of day. The few that were released into theaters promptly flopped. In addition to owing Ayer $2.2 million and ‘The Amateurs’ ‘ producers at least $850,000, Martinez acknowledges that the firm has left unpaid bills at film labs, public relations firms and movie marketing companies. Faced with a cash crisis, Martinez says, he cut the staff by two-thirds.

Martinez says his company nearly had to close its doors, and he doesn’t dispute that because of the cash shortage a number of people weren’t paid. But he says all but one of the company’s mothballed movies - ‘The Amateurs,’ whose future remains cloudy - will come out soon.

‘People have a tendency when they have a problem to close the tent and get out of town,’ Martinez says, adding that in recent weeks he has been able to overhaul his company’s balance sheet and has two new financing deals to get back in the game. ‘We’re still here. And we have learned all the possible mistakes not to make. Now we know what we can and can’t do.’ The 39-year-old Martinez appears alternately excited and exhausted by his Hollywood trials. A large man given to loose polo shirts who likes to sprawl across his office chairs, he becomes the most animated when complaining about people who focus only on his past. Years ago, he completed a 14-month sentence in a U.S. detention center (for overstaying a visa) and six months in a French jail after being convicted in a fraud case related to the collapse of a film sales company.

Whether or not Bauer Martinez, which was named after Martinez’s father and grandfather, will successfully rebound is unknown. Even after agreeing in a December binding settlement to pay Ayer the money it owed him, Bauer Martinez immediately missed the deadline for the first $500,000 ‘Harsh Times’ payment and still hasn’t paid it, Michael J. Plonsker, a lawyer for the writer-director, says.

‘I learned that if you don’t want fleas, you don’t lie down with dogs,’ says Aaron Ryder, producer of ‘The Amateurs,’ which has been on the Bauer Martinez shelf for nearly a year and a half. ‘But there are only so many distributors out there.’ That historical imbalance created the opening into which Martinez, like so many other interlopers, has stepped. The studios want to transform moviemaking into a slam-dunk business, steering their production capital toward sequels, remakes and comic-book adaptations. If anybody is going to make and release smaller, riskier movies, it’s outside investors such as Martinez.

For the gate crashers, the attractions are understandable: rubbing shoulders with glamorous stars, sipping Champagne at glitzy premieres, perhaps even making a buck or two. While a fraction of these newcomers succeed, a far greater number crash and burn. Even the most sophisticated investor can be taken to the cleaners: Billionaire Philip Anschutz says he lost more than $100 million when his 2005 movie ‘Sahara’ bombed. In some ways, the deck is stacked against these tenderfoots from the moment they arrive. Talent agencies peddle them scripts other producers and studios have rejected. Sales agents extract acquisition deals no experienced film buyers would contemplate. Banks lend money at steep rates. In the case of Bauer Martinez, it’s unclear who was taking advantage of whom: Was he simply a victim of a system rigged to fleece newcomers, or did he try - and so far fail - to beat Hollywood at its own game?

What is indisputably true is that movies and actors are caught in the turmoil. ‘You feel so helpless,’ says Michael Traeger, writer-director of ‘The Amateurs.’ ‘You want to jump out a window.’

Clouds on the horizon WHEN Ayer met Martinez at the 2005 Toronto festival, he loved what the producer had to say about his first feature. Ayer had mortgaged his home to help finance the gritty police drama ‘Harsh Times’ and he had come to Toronto in search of a theatrical distributor. In his mildly accented English, Martinez told Ayer his film would become the flagship release of his new company. ‘I felt like he understood the movie and its potential more than anybody else,’ says Ayer, whose ‘Training Day’ won Denzel Washington the best actor Oscar. ‘I got the sense he was going to put the film on a pedestal. And I was intrigued by the idea that he was going to create a different kind of paradigm.’ Traeger and producer Ryder also were taken with Martinez’s enthusiasm. Traeger and Ryder had joined forces to make ‘The Amateurs,’ a comedy about some small-town dreamers (played by Bridges, Tim Blake Nelson and Joe Pantoliano, among others) who make an X-rated movie. In late 2005, with the movie completed, they went looking for a distributor and organized a screening for Martinez. ‘Philippe saw the movie and absolutely fell in love with it. He couldn’t have been better,’ says Ryder, who was an executive producer on the 2001 art house hit ‘Memento.’

But just a few months after the two deals closed, problems surfaced. Any number of release dates were scheduled for the films, only to be ditched. ‘Harsh Times’ had at least three release dates, Ayer says. ‘The Amateurs’ had so many shifting debuts that Traeger and Ryder say they lost count: first November 2005, then January 2006, then February 2006, then March 2006. ‘Then March turns into June, June turns into July and then July turns into September,’ Ryder says. ‘Then I started thinking, ‘Something is up with these guys.’ ‘ There was more direct evidence something was wrong at Bauer Martinez. The company had paid less than half of its promised $4-million ‘Harsh Times’ acquisition, according to Martinez, and hadn’t paid any of the money due to the financiers of ‘The Amateurs.’

Other movies faced similar tribulations. Weeks before production was to start, ‘Crash Bandits’ fell apart, sparking two lawsuits (which were subsequently settled without the terms being disclosed). After filming was completed on ‘The Flock,’ Bauer Martinez fired its director, ‘Infernal Affairs’ filmmaker Andrew Lau. Martinez, who would drive around town in a chauffeured Bentley, even failed to reimburse ‘The Amateurs’ costar Pantoliano $300 he spent on gas and a hotel room when he was promoting the film, the actor says. Producers Mark Yellen and Dale Rosenbloom brought the company the ‘Crash Bandits’ screenplay, for which Bauer Martinez signed a $250,000 contract with the producers in October 2005. Two initial payments were made, but half a year later the producers said they were still owed $115,000, according to a lawsuit they filed. (Court records indicate the lawsuit over the delinquency was settled.) The cash crisis appeared to be taking a toll on the movies Bauer Martinez had acquired and produced but not distributed. To release a movie on just a handful of screens requires millions of dollars to create marketing materials, purchase advertising and strike film prints. Bauer Martinez decided in January 2006 to join forces with MGM; the studio wanted to fill out its slate, and Bauer Martinez could benefit from MGM’s infrastructure. The plan was for MGM to release five Bauer Martinez movies: ‘Harsh Times’; the teen comedy ‘Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj’; Pfeiffer’s romantic comedy, ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’; Gere’s sexual predator drama, ‘The Flock’; and ‘Fragile,’ a thriller starring Calista Flockhart. Bauer Martinez would rent MGM’s distribution system, putting up the marketing costs itself, with MGM collecting a share of the ticket sales. The first of the MGM movies was going to be Pfeiffer’s project. But when Bauer Martinez made the film, it had promised Pfeiffer at least 10% of the film’s first-dollar gross receipts, and writer-director Amy Heckerling an additional 5%. Since MGM was in line to collect its distribution fees first, the studio couldn’t honor Pfeiffer and Heckerling’s deals, so the movie was again put on the shelf, according to people involved in the production. Around the same time, it became clear, MGM says, that Bauer Martinez didn’t have the money to pay the marketing costs for the other four films. In exchange for a heftier distribution fee, the studio said it would assume those costs.

But the first two movies to come out - ‘Harsh Times’ and ‘Van Wilder 2′ - performed poorly, grossing $3.3 million and $4.3 million, respectively. MGM wasn’t hugely impressed with either ‘The Flock’ or ‘Fragile’ and decided to part ways with Bauer Martinez after releasing only two of its five films. (MGM declined to comment on the record.) Bauer Martinez was back on its own and needed money.

Lessons the hard way HOLLYWOOD talent agents like to say they want independent producers to succeed so that their clients might have more jobs, but in the case of Bauer Martinez, they may have smelled fresh meat and taken the company for all it was worth. When Bauer Martinez bought ‘Harsh Times’ for $4 million, the next-highest bid was just $1.1 million. For ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman,’ a film numerous companies had previously passed on, Pfeiffer and Heckerling got deals that other film producers say were out of line with their recent box-office track records. Gere was paid $10 million to star in ‘The Flock,’ which some film executives say was more than double his asking price. (The agents for Pfeiffer, Heckerling and Gere either declined to be interviewed or did not reply to interview requests.) ‘It takes some time to figure out how the town works,’ says Martinez, who believes that some agents took advantage of him. ‘I’ve learned now to be very cautious in what we’re going to do.’ Even if some vendors and filmmakers weren’t getting paid, Martinez was able to come up with the money to make several movies, spending $33 million on ‘The Flock’ and $24 million on ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman.’ But Martinez, who was behind the camera for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s direct-to-video movie ‘Wake of Death’ and Jerry Springer’s little-seen ‘Citizen Verdict,’ was unhappy with Lau’s version of ‘The Flock,’ and took the movie away from the director. According to a person who worked on the film, Martinez tried re-shooting and re-cutting the film himself, and then, at the urging of Gere, director Niels Mueller (‘The Assassination of Richard Nixon’) came on board to rework the film one more time. It is unclear what version of ‘The Flock’ will be released. Lau’s agent declined to comment on the dispute, and Martinez would not discuss the matter except to say, ‘We are very happy with the movie we have now.’ Martinez says he plans to release ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’ this summer and ‘The Flock’ in the fall.

Martinez says he has reduced the company’s debt from $67 million to $33 million, and is trying to settle all of his unpaid bills. ‘In three or four weeks, we will be debt-free,’ he says.

He has borrowed at least $12 million from Walter Josten’s Blue Rider Pictures to support ‘I Could Never Be Your Woman’s’ release. Martinez also has joined with an unspecified Florida company to finance the acquisition of as many as 12 movies annually (some released theatrically, some direct-to-video) for no more than $750,000 apiece, starting with the low-budget horror movie ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ He said last week that he was arranging financing to produce two new movies this year.

With 50 employees at its peak, Bauer Martinez now has 17. After holding office space in MGM’s Century City towers for a few months, the group recently relocated to a prime Beverly Hills location on Wilshire Boulevard. But even in the new digs, there are dissonant notes: On Martinez’s office wall is a framed letter from Bridges, the actor praising the executive’s understanding of his movie - a film Martinez has no current plans to distribute. For now, Martinez says, his company’s most important test is to prove it can successfully release Pfeiffer’s and Gere’s movies. ‘I want to show,’ he says, ‘that we can be a good distributor.’

Even though ‘The Amateurs’ is not on Martinez’s release schedule, costar Pantoliano hopes his movie somehow sees the light of day. ‘I am telling you, there is going to be a happy ending,’ he says. ‘ ‘The Amateurs’ is way too good a movie to get lost.’ Martinez says he, too, is not going to disappear.

‘We have financed 22 movies in the last five years,’ he says of his stints in Hollywood and London. ‘Twenty-two movies that cost $154 million. Of course you have problems. But look at what we have accomplished, and all the jobs we have created. I love watching films and I love the idea of building a little movie studio. ‘I will make it,’ he says. ‘I am a survivor.’

What’s Next For Stars Of “The O.C.” ?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Former cast-members Mischa Barton and Rachel Bilson can both be seen in separate upcoming movies with sexy “Star Wars” alum Hayden Christensen.

Barton will play Pampinea in the period piece “Virgin Territory” about a group of young Florentines who take refuge in the Italian countryside, amusing one another with stories of love and adventure, as the black plague devastates the city.

The actress will also play young Shirlie MacLaine in an upcoming biopic.

Rachel Bilson has recently completed shooting the sci-fi movie “Jumper” about a teenager from an abusive household who discovers he can teleport from one place to another.

The myth of a neat newsroom — exposed!

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Hollywood filmmakers are big fakers. This becomes especially clear when they create a movie or a television show about your chosen profession.

Whether you’re a doctor watching “Grey’s Anatomy” (doesn’t anybody at this hospital ever do rounds?), a lawyer watching “Law & Order” (how did they get from an arrest to a murder trial in three days?) or some guy on a deserted island watching “Lost” (what are these people doing for clean underwear? And why doesn’t anybody have scurvy?), the problems are in the details.

Which is why I could never totally get into “Zodiac,” an otherwise solid movie that happens to take place inside The Chronicle. Despite good acting, a fascinating story and a great director, the reporters’ work spaces are way too tidy. From television comedies such as “Ugly Betty” to big-budget movies such as “The Devil Wears Prada,” directors and production designers seem incapable of re-creating the gravity-defying clutter that fills most American newsrooms.

The first thing they always get wrong is the desks, which in “Zodiac” are neatly organized with metal book ends and carefully marked manila folders. In real life, newspaper reporters just lie down a few of their heavier books horizontally to keep the others from falling, or they cram everything into the shelf tightly so all solid matter surrounding it is unable to move, like a well-played game of Tetris. Sure, a few desks are organized, but many others dot the newsroom like little islands of compost — resembling the living room of one of those crazy guys who never throws anything away.

This isn’t saying that all newspaper desktops are festering piles of decomposing pulp. But if I’m an opossum who has been recently displaced by construction work, I’m going to the nearest newsroom and making a home within the work space of one of the cops or courtroom reporters. You could burrow a basketball-size hole, feed off half-eaten ham sandwiches and birthday cake and raise a nice opossum family.

The typical journalist’s work area will also include at least three of the following:

- One dead plant, partially covered by a pile of used reporter’s notebooks.

- A bunch of stuff the ergonomics consultant dropped off two years ago, in an unopened pile.

- Several posters of Giants and 49ers players who have long since been traded or released.

- A movie poster that was an inside joke between two other staff members — both of whom quit or retired at least seven years ago.

That last one may sound strange, but it holds true at almost every newspaper I’ve worked at. I just took a three-minute hike around The Chronicle, and found movie memorabilia for “Dirty Dancing,” “Elektra” and — I swear to God I’m not making this up — a full-size poster from the Harrison Ford-in-Amish country thriller “Witness.”

Messy desks and random decor aren’t the only things that television and the movies get wrong about newsrooms. “Absence of Malice” suggested that a reporter could get a story into the paper without any of her editors knowing about it. Several movies have reinforced the idea that a beat reporter can just drop everything for months at a time. And some journalists on TV shows do no work at all. In 10 combined seasons of “Suddenly Susan” and “Just Shoot Me,” did Brooke Shields or Laura San Giacomo write or edit a single story?

Next, there’s the alternate reality in Drew Barrymore’s “Never Been Kissed,” where copy editors have their own offices. Every group of copy editors I’ve worked with is lined up in two evenly distributed rows of tightly packed cubicles, like a team of basketball players flying in coach.

Over the years, a few journalism movies have gotten the little things right. “All the President’s Men” is hallowed ground. I’m told by multiple colleagues that “Deadline USA” with Humphrey Bogart was a good film, deftly handling the clutter issue. And occasionally, an otherwise forgettable movie will display a keen eye for journalism culture.

“Blood Work,” one of the worst Clint Eastwood-directed movies in recent years, fails as a thriller, but works OK as a tribute to crusty old guy journalists. While the plot — Eastwood as an Oakland newspaper reporter trying to prove a death row inmate’s innocence — has problems, his character’s held-together-with-duct-tape convertible and general neglect of loved ones in favor of work is spot on.

Even less serious movies such as “Spider-Man” can include knowing nods to reporting culture. Although this may be a case of the cart pushing the horse, every journalist on the planet has had at least one boss who talks exactly like J. Jonah Jameson. (“Hoffman! Run down to the patent office and copyright the name ‘Green Goblin.’ I want a quarter every time someone says it.”)

The newsroom in “Zodiac,” however, seems like a completely foreign place, even though the building it depicts is one I walk through every day. While I admittedly wasn’t alive when the events in “Zodiac” begin, the portrayal of a journalist’s work space seems off — something that was confirmed by a few veterans here.

In “Zodiac,” Chronicle reporter Paul Avery, played by Robert Downey Jr., is clearly supposed to be the “messy one.” This is conveyed to the audience by six or seven balled-up pieces of typing paper on his desk. Almost every other work space in the movie has a Nurse Ratched-like dedication to orderliness, with neatly stacked books and cups that are well-stocked with pens and pencils.

I steal all of my pens from Tim Goodman’s side of our shared office, one of the penalties suffered by the handful of reporters who keep neat work spaces. And our desks? You could gather every piece of paper on every one of the rows and rows of desks in “Zodiac,” pile them onto one surface — and it still would be shamed by one of our messier cubicles.

Here are a few suggestions for the next Hollywood director who wants to make a movie about a newsroom. Just get the last one right and I’ll be happy.

More birthday cakes: At any given moment at every newspaper I’ve worked at, there are three separate groups of people singing “Happy Birthday.” It’s like working at Chevy’s, except without a constant flow of fresh tortillas. Any journalism movie worth a damn needs to have at least one pile of frosting-encrusted paper plates.

Fewer hot people: Before “Zodiac” started, a trailer ran for the movie “Perfect Stranger,” where Halle Berry plays an investigative reporter. In addition to Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men,” other incredibly beautiful actors depicting newspaper reporters include Julia Roberts (“I Love Trouble”) and Hayden Christensen (“Shattered Glass”). In reality, the average journalist is charitably a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Start your casting with Larry David and Shelley Duvall, and avoid anybody who ever did a guest spot on “Friends.”

Kill the plants: Another niggling detail that “Zodiac” got wrong: The movie version of the Chronicle newsroom has a small greenhouse worth of thriving flora. In the typical newsroom, there will usually be a maximum of two healthy plants, and 47 others in varying states of death and decay. Kill the plants, and your movie will flourish.

LaBeouf: ‘I’m Not Indiana Jones Jr.’

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Actor Shia LaBeouf has laughed off reports he has been cast as Harrison Ford’s son in the much-anticipated Indiana Jones 4, and insists Natalie Portman is a better pick as the movie adventurer’s kid.

The I, Robot star admits he was stunned when Internet reports suggested he had landed the role of Jones’ son, partly because as a fan of the film franchise, he’d prefer it if his hero had a daughter.

Of the rumor linking him to the film, LaBeouf tells MTV News, “It’s a fun rumor… but I don’t have a deal on the table, I haven’t signed up for anything. As an actor, you hear those kinds of things all the time.

“Before me, they were saying Hayden Christensen was going to be that guy, and then they were going to have a daughter, who was Natalie Portman.

“Wouldn’t it be cooler if it was a daughter? I think that the interaction between, like, let’s say it was Natalie Portman and Harrison Ford, having to deal with a woman; it could be fun to see him taking pointers from a woman.”

But LaBeouf isn’t ruling out the possibility he could be Indiana Jones’ kid: “Anybody on this planet would love to be in Indiana Jones. It’s one of those things that’s historical. If it happens, I think it would be amazing.”

Top 10 Male Crying Scenes

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

3. Hayden Christensen (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)

During the final showdown battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in the final installment in the new Star Wars trilogy, Obi-Wan strikes Anakin down, leaving Anakin to die right on the bank of a volcano. The lava rises up and reaches Anakin’s legs and he catches fire, screaming and crying in pain as he is burned alive. This is arguably one of the most disturbing scenes in PG-13 movie history but is also one of the greatest male crying scenes of all time because it marks the beginning of Darth Vader, who is one of the greatest movie villains of all time. The acting may not have been top-notch, but it is hard to argue that this crying scene is not important in movie history.


Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Rumours are swirling that Star Wars cutie Hayden Christiansen will be in town next month to shoot a biopic based on the life of Wisconsin “Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth, the youngest ever winner of the World Series of Poker. Titled The Madison Kid, the flick was written by Hellmuth’s real-life pal Bob Soderstrom and is the source of some angst for tourism-types in Wisconsin, according to papers there. Producers had hoped the movie would be shot in Madison but with no tax incentives in place, the Winnipeg package “pretty much blows us out of the water,” according to VISIT Milwaukee spokesman David Fantle (as quoted in Greater Milwaukee Today). After defeating two-time champ Johnny Chan in 1989, Hellmuth went on to win nine more World Champion bracelets, with total winnings (as of 2006) estimated at $8.75 million.

In Wisconsin, a fight over lights, cameras, legislative action

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

When a Hollywood production team began scouting locations for a film about poker star Phil Hellmuth, one of the first stops they made was to the land of Cheeseheads.

Hellmuth, a 10-time world poker champion known equally for his success at the card tables as for his mouthy arrogance, is a Madison native. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for three years and then dropped out to play poker full time.

But where to film the story of Hellmuth’s youth and rise to success has sparked a fight among state legislators.

At the root of the debate is a measure passed last spring that, starting Jan. 1, 2008, gives filmmakers a tax credit and other incentives for setting up shop here.

The problem is that Los Angeles-based Beacon Pictures reportedly plans to start rolling film on the $10-million movie by this summer.

The thought of another city benefiting from this story of Wisconsin’s best-known gambler infuriates a bipartisan group of legislators. The group, led by Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, is pushing for the tax break to take effect immediately.

“Why wouldn’t we open the door now?” Lawton asked. “Why wait six months, especially if we’re going to lose this film that’s about one of our own?”

However, the state’s influential joint finance committee must approve the change before it can be voted on by the Senate and Assembly, and that may prove difficult. Critics, led by committee Co-Chairman Sen. Russell Decker, dismiss the push forward as a waste of time — particularly because the state is trying to balance a two-year budget that has a $1.6-billion deficit.

“Why the rush?” Decker asked. “We have a budget to repair, low-income child care to provide for, law enforcement efforts to fund. We don’t know whether film will bring in many new jobs or if we’re chasing after something that may not pan out.

“One film is not going to make or break this state.”

In the 1990s, Hollywood began aggressively seeking cheaper locales in an effort to stretch film budgets.

Some foreign governments jumped at the chance to take a bite of the multibillion-dollar film and video industry, and responded by offering a smorgasbord of tax incentives and other grants to lure production crews.

Studios in the United States discovered that by shifting production offshore, they could save 30% or more on the making of feature films, TV movies, television series and advertisements.

Now more than three dozen states have laws that offer tax breaks and other financial lures to filmmakers. Florida, South Carolina and New York have increased their incentives in recent years.

Connecticut has one of the most generous deals, letting filmmakers who spend at least $50,000 in the state trim their tax bills by 30%.

Louisiana, which gives a 25% tax break on a production’s local payroll and all expenditures in the state, has been heralded as one of the most successful efforts.

“In 2005, we had about $530 million in production, and the state payroll hovered around $40 million. In 2006, we were somewhere around half a billion in production, which means we’re staying at a nice, steady rate,” said Alex Schott, executive director of the state Department of Economic Development’s film and TV office. “At some point, you reach a critical mass, where you plateau and start having to build out the infrastructure and training to build for the future.

“But to enjoy any of this, you first have to get the projects to your state.”

Indeed, Wisconsin hasn’t put much emphasis on attracting Hollywood in recent years. In 2005, the state cut altogether the budget for its film office, which had been tapped to recruit projects. The office closed its doors last year.

Stepping into the gap, a group of local producers and financial investors formed Film Wisconsin. They, along with officials with the state arts board, began petitioning legislators last year to introduce a tax incentive.

In addition to the tax break, Wisconsin is trying to bolster its budding industry in other ways.

Across the state, trade schools are rolling out programs to train programmers and digital artists to work in the post-production industry. Young stagehands and actors talk expectantly about a future in which soundstages replace dairy farms and cattle-grazing fields.

And in St. Francis, a Milwaukee suburb, a team of investors is in the process of converting an old factory into a production facility with sound stages, editing studios and facilities for filming computer-generated scenes.

“We in Wisconsin are looking for new industries to help bolster the economy, because many of our mainstays are slumping,” said Scott Robbe, a founding member of Film Wisconsin. “We’ve been a leader in the paper industry, and that’s going away. The auto industry? That’s dying. Manufacturing? It’s going overseas.”

“Film isn’t going to be the fix-all answer to the economy,” he said. “But jobs are jobs, and we need them.”

And as the Wisconsin debate drags on, work continues on the Hellmuth project: Beacon Pictures is reportedly casting an eye on Canada for locations.

Source: LA Times

Diverse Crowd Attends California Speedway For Bullrun And Garage Sale

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Southern California race fans converged at California Speedway on Friday to witness the celebrity road rally Bullrun, to take advantage of extraordinary deals during the California Speedway Garage Sale and be the first to purchase 2007 season tickets. Bullrun, which started in New York one week ago and has wound its way across the country to Southern California, took its second to last tour stop at the motorsports facility before heading to Los Angeles for the finish on Saturday. Those in attendance for this free event observed the likes of actor Hayden Christensen and Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis among others who twisted their way through California Speedway’s Infield road course. Lewis, who had doubts about competing from coast to coast, was impressed with the turn-out for Bullrun. “I’m a big automobile buff,” said Lewis, “and what is really interesting about it is that this one little thing - cars - brought all kinds of people together. Different languages, different ethnicities, different backgrounds, young, old; and it just shows how there is always a way to bring people together, and that is exactly what it is all about. When we go to every city and see these kids smiling and they brought their parents out with them, that is what (auto racing) is all about: cars brought the families together to come out. (Cars) brought everybody (to California Speedway), together.” Earlier in the day NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and part-time NEXTEL Cup Series driver Bill Lester visited with media and signed autographs for fans. Lester, the first African-American to compete in the NEXTEL Cup Series since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986, is set to compete at California Speedway in the SONY HD 500 on Labor Day weekend. The California Speedway Garage Sale, which gives fans unbelievable deals on great merchandise from the superspeedway over the years, will continue on Saturday in the garage area of the infield. While here, fans can purchase their 2007 season tickets. Great seats are still available for the SONY HD 500 on September 3. For more information, call 800-944-RACE [7223] or visit

Source: California Speedway


Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Actress ROSARIO DAWSON has kept a promise to an old drama school friend - by starring in her first film about a date rape victim.
Dawson also signed on to produce TALIA LUGACY’s hard-hitting movie, DESCENT, which has become one of the year’s must-see independent films.
The SIN CITY star first started working on the project a decade ago when she and Lugacy were pals at acting school the Lee Strasberg Institute, where HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN and SCARLETT JOHANNSSON were also students.
She says, “Talia was always gonna write and direct this film and I was gonna act and produce. It’s taken us all that time but this is the first feature that we’ve done together.
“It explores sexual violence and revenge. A date rape starts it off and the woman collapses into herself and has her identity stripped from her.
“I think it’s a really interesting exploration of what happens when you get that tunnel vision of getting revenge when something wrong has happened to you.
Where does your perspective go?” Dawson and Lugacy will show the film at the upcoming TribecaFilm Festival in New York and the actress has big plans for her little film.
She adds, “I hope to show it to the WEINSTEINS (movie moguls HARVEY and BOB) and say, `Dude, help us out so we can get some really great theatres.’”

Source: Pr Inside.Com

Movie File: Halle Berry, Aly & AJ, Shia LaBeouf, ‘Transformers’ & More

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Some people claim that there’s a little bit of Bob Dylan in everyone, but actors Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale and Hayden Christiansen will soon be taking the influence of the legendary musician even further. “I came in and I shot the first two weeks, and then Cate Blanchett came and shot the next two or three weeks, and then Heath Ledger came in and shot for two weeks,” Gere said of the rotating cast playing very different interpretations of Dylan in the ambitious flick “I’m Not There.” “I think it was five or six of us who are expressionistically, vaguely playing Bob Dylan, some more directly than others.” So, which Dylan did Gere get? “It’s the end of the road, y’know. It’s [the soundtrack to] ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.’ It’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ That’s the feeling of it,” Gere said. “It’s more artful, I think, than a [normal] biopic. It’s not a traditional plot we’re dealing with here.” The buzz-heavy flick is set to hit theaters in September. …

Source: MTV.Com

It’s a Girl Thing

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

THE Gumball Rally has the kind of glamorous, dangerously sexy reputation that only James Bond really qualified for until Max Cooper launched it eight years ago - but now it’s his Bond girl that is bringing it forward in fashion terms. Likely to be clad in Matthew Williamson, Chanel and Gucci from the opening party this Saturday, April 28, at the Trocadero, to the rally launch on Pall Mall on Sunday (where 100,000 people are expected to turn up to wave off the 120 super cars and their super-gorgeous, super-rich drivers), and then all the way to Istanbul and back again, it’s Julie Brangstrup (aka Mrs Maximillion Cooper), who is making the Gumball a girl’s game. Counting the likes of Jodie Kidd, Jasmine Guinness, Johnny Knoxville and Jay Kay within her inner circle, she’s managed to persuade Hayden Christensen to put his foot down for this year’s rally, too. She’s the new number one to make friends with - if you can catch her. Now, with the Gumball brand clocking up it’s ninth rally as well a line of clothing designed by former-Saint Martins student Cooper himself, it’s one to know if you want a life in the fast lane. “When I married Max I knew I would have the ride of my life,” she jokes. For more information visit (April 26 2007, AM)


Sunday, March 1st, 2009

On The History Channel World Premiere Monday, May 28, at 9pm ET/PT

Thirty years ago, an unheralded film known as Star Wars opened in theaters and took audiences on a groundbreaking journey to a galaxy far, far away. It instantly seized the public imagination, and three decades later still claims that grasp.
Now, a new special from The History Channel seeks to understand why the emotional impact of the Star Wars Saga remains as relevant as ever. The two-hour special, STAR WARS: THE LEGACY REVEALED, is a World Premiere on The History Channel on Monday, May 28 at 9pm ET/PT.

Through interviews with politicians, academics, journalists and critics all of whom weigh in on the enduring appeal of George
Lucas creations the special demonstrates that Star Wars isn just a high-action adventure in space. It a remarkably complex and sophisticated story about power, politics, sin, spirituality and redemption lmost Shakespearean in its power, humor, presentation and influence.

The special makes the argument that Star Wars intensely compelling stories orrowed from diverse traditions, from Greek
mythology and American westerns to the Bible and even Vaudeville ompel us to explore some of the biggest questions of our
time.STAR WARS: THE LEGACY REVEALED explores that view through interviews with politicians, academics, journalists
and critics, who all weigh in on the creations of George Lucas. The special shows how seldom a movie can make us laugh and think about our role in the universe hich may be why it has stood the test of time.

The enduring appeal of Star Wars, says Tom Brokaw, s that it this vastly entertaining piece of cinema that also leaves you
with the idea that there are some real issues out there that we ought to be thinking about ood and evil, and right and wrong, and
heroism. Generations of people a long time from now will be enthralled by it, just as we are enthralled by the story of Robin
Hood or King Arthur Court or any of the Shakespearean tales. The special unites a diverse group of high-profile Star Wars
fans, from filmmakers to politicians to journalists. Their comments punctuate the still jaw-dropping footage from all six episodes
of the Star Wars Saga.

The idea of the underdog who on the right side defeating the overdog who on the wrong side is a deeply American mythology,
says former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who climbed a high political fence to agree with current Democrat
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the movies impact. Says Pelosi: he legacy of George Lucas fits very comfortably among the
classics of all time, whether ancient or modern. Adds Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson: ou don even have to ask, ill it
stand the test of time? It has and it will.

This action-adventure film with lighthearted moments and touching purity, demands that we focus on current fundamental
themes, including environmentalism, racism and the temptations of power and greed. As author Carl Silvio notes, at times the
movies seem prophetic: n Revenge of the Sith, when we hear Anakin say, ou e either with me or against me, it almost
impossible not to hear that quote and think of another very famous quote, a point the special underscores with a clip of President George W. Bush November 2001 news-conference quote: ou are either with us or you are against us in the fight against terror. The dichotomies of good vs. evil and mechanism vs. humanity is apparent throughout the movies, which carry themes of politics and power. In the Star Wars universe, dictators are ruthless yet charismatic, and while some politicians are well-meaning, as Princess Leia Organa demonstrates, leaders are born from courage and conviction, not from gender.
With regard to other kinds of power, C-3PO and R2-D2 demonstrate that machines can be beneficial, while the feared Death
Star shows us their danger. The Ewoks, instrumental in the eventual defeat of the Empire, remind us that natural, environmental
solutions have as much as (or more) power than man-made ones. That the movies are fun only gives their central questions and
observations more credence

How long will that endure? hundred years from now, says Joan Breton Connelly, an associate professor of fine arts at New
York University, omeone will be sitting here discussing the impact of Star Wars and they will be seeing different things in it
than we are seeing today, just as today we have classes in the university on Homer. Filmmaker Kevin Smith: t is bad guys
versus good guys and everyone wants to see that story. That story will never grow tired, never grow old.
STAR WARS: THE LEGACY REVEALED is produced by Prometheus Entertainment in association with Lucasfilm Ltd.
Executive Producer is Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Kevin Burns (Empire of Dreams, Look, Up in the Sky!). Executive
Producer for The History Channel is Beth Dietrich Segarra.

The History Channel is one of the leading cable television networks featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series
that bring history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network provides an inviting place
where people experience history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to the great lives and
events of the past that provide a blueprint for the future. The History Channel has earned four Peabody Awards, three
Primetime Emmy Awards, 10 News & Documentary Emmy Awards and received the prestigious Governor’s Award from the
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network’s Save Our History campaign dedicated to historic preservation
and history education. The History Channel reaches more than 91 million Nielsen subscribers. The website is located at www. Press Only: For more information and photography please visit us on the web at

Duvall spars with Film’s Director

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Robert Duvall and James Gray were having lunch yesterday and arguing about movies. Gray is the director of We Own The Night, which is in competition at the Cannes film festival, and Duvall is one of the stars, along with Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg.

The opening scene of the movie, which is about the police fighting the Russian Mafia during the 1980s, shows archival photographs of the New York City police department. Gray said he was inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, which opened with a collage of old Walker Evans photographs. But he couldn’t imitate it too much, because that would make it too much like Bonnie and Clyde.

“Hopefully not,” Duvall said.
Director James Gray arrives at gala screening of We Own The Night at Cannes on Friday.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Director James Gray arrives at gala screening of We Own The Night at Cannes on Friday.

“I like Bonnie and Clyde,” Gray said. “You don’t like Bonnie and Clyde? You’re wrong.”

“You’re wrong,” Duvall said.

“The acting was so overstated,” he added.”Come on. The acting sucked, Jimmy. You know that.”

Duvall then accused Gray of being a big fan of Gone With The Wind. “Gone With The Wind sucks,” Gray said.

We were going a long way from We Own The Night, but the debate - about how acting works, and what holds up in movies - was a perfect coda to the film festival, which is, at its best, all about such issues.

There are worse ways to end two weeks of Cannes than listen to Robert Duvall talk about acting: the minimalist kind, the expressive kind, even the method kind.

“There’s only truth and untruth, am I right?” Duvall said.

“I mean, you can be big if you have a big personality. I defended Klaus Maria Brandauer when the Italian press said he was over the top. I didn’t think so. Mephisto was a great picture.

“Did you see that performance?”

That got the men talking about the John Ford classic The Searchers. Duvall said he has never watched the whole movie, because “some of the acting was so phony I turned it off.”

Gray countered that “The Searchers has the vision thing. I can’t really describe it any other way.” Duvall pointed out that the movie is set in Texas but shot in Utah’s Monument Valley. “It has an ethnographic inaccuracy, there’s no question, but if you can get past that, I love John Wayne, I think he can be great.”

“He’s very under-rated,” Duvall agreed. “He learned how to do it by doing this. He didn’t have Lee Strasberg to tell him.”

Duvall said he wasn’t sure of the value of the famous acting coach and his Actors’ Studio method.

“Talent is talent,” he said. “Brando was in his studio, Pacino, but they didn’t have to be there. … I think he led people down strange paths. I knew a guy who went there, he was talented, he got so inhibited there he couldn’t function.”

“Craft gives you tools,” Gray said.

“Somebody said Lee Strasberg, you go on stage with a big bag of yesterdays,” Duvall said.

“He’s produced some great actors,” Gray said.

“Yeah, but did he produce them?” Duval said.

He was generous about the talent of young Canadians: “The guy you got from eastern Canada, a terrific actor that kid (Ryan Gosling.) On the west coast you got that guy, a wonderful kid who was in Star Wars (Hayden Christensen, who’s actually from Toronto). And Barry Pepper can be okay too.”

However, he wasn’t too enthusiastic about Pepper’s 2006 Cannes movies, The Three Burials of Melqiades Estrada. Duvall said that “all the Texas guys were bad guys and all the Mexicans were good guys.”

Gray admitted that he did things to throw Duvall off balance to get interesting reactions.

“Joaquin calls him The Jedi Master, because you can’t get him out of the scene,” Gray said.

“One take I remember, it was a scene where he was surrounded by all these actors in a police station, and I said to all these other actors, ‘I want you to laugh at him. Every single thing he says, I want you to treat as absolutely ridiculous.’

“So I’m watching it, and you’re doing the scene, and they’re all doing (he sticks out his tongue) - they’re not on camera - and Bobby’s going ‘What’s the matter, you all drunk?’ And they’re going nuts. And a lot of it wound up in the movie.

Duvall told Gray he didn’t have to go to such lengths: “Tell me to get angry,” he said. “I can do that too.”

Source: The Gazette

5 ways to celebrate Star Wars’ birthday

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Five Ways to Celebrate Star Wars’ Birthday

1. Put on your Ewok jammies, grab your Millennium Falcon blanket, take the original trilogy off your DVD shelf and settle in for a good ol-fashioned Star Wars marathon. Just be sure to take a break between movies, or start talk like Yoda you might, mmm?

2. Pick up the Jabba-sized book The Making of Star Wars and pour over the photos, sketches and behind-the-scenes tidbits.

3. For the entire weekend, whenever someone says thank you or have a good day, reply, “May the Force be with you.”

4. Go to and click on Top 10 lists. Now search for “Star Wars” and enjoy such lists as “rejected characters” and, my favourite, “fan euphemisms for not having a girlfriend.”

5. Forget about the bocce or badminton set — invite your friends over for a barbecue and round-robin lightsabre fight. You can even pick three people to judge — give out marks for technique, style and the way one says, “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.”