<![CDATA[NBC New York - PopcornBiz]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/popcornbiz http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:14:00 -0400 Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:14:00 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Streisand and Rogen's Bond Fueled "The Guilt Trip"]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:24:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/197*120/Streisand+Rogan+Guilt+Trip.jpg

After making the comedy “The Guilt Trip” together, screen and song icon Barbra Streisand and comedy star Seth Rogen ended up with such an authentic-feeling mother/son dynamic, one practically expected Streisand to rub schmutz from his cheek and question his choice in clothing.

The two actors’ genuine, compelling chemistry fuels the road trip-style comedy which sees Rogen’s reticent young chemist trying to sell his environmentally friendly housecleaning fluid embarkson an ill-advised cross-country trek with his ceaselessly smothering mother (Streisand). And no one, it seems, was more pleased at the maternal connection than the stars.

On the beginnings of their on-screen rapport:

Barbra Streisand: Seth sussed me out. He called people from the Focker movies, right?

Seth Rogen: Yeah, I was actually working with John Schwartzman, who was the cinematographer on ‘Meet the Fockers,’ at the time this came up – I asked him what he thought of Barbra, and he said she was great. I know [‘Meet the Fockers’ director] Jay Roach a little, so I asked him. I think he said that she was awesome, too. Ben Stiller, I might have run into and asked. Yeah, everyone – this Barbra Streisand lady checked out, so I thought I'd give her a shot.

Streisand: I didn't know who to call. I don't know any of those people from his movies, so what I was going to do? I thought he was adorable, so I thought, this is interesting, unlikely which makes it interesting, and yet, we're both Jewish. I could be his mother.

Rogen: But when we met, we got along. We got along very well.

Streisand: Instantly.

Rogen: The way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie, in some ways. We were getting along.  It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times. And her trying to feed me s**t I don't want to eat.

Streisand: But he would show me things – like, yesterday he asked me if I had a Twitter account. I said ‘I don't know.’

Rogen: And I showed her that she did.

Streisand: Which I only use for political purposes. So I didn't know it was beyond that. I wouldn't know how to find it on my phone.

Rogen: I'll show you. I change her clocks during daylight savings. I do all that.

Streisand: He's very handy.

On their own parent/child relationships:

Streisand: My son doesn't see me as an icon. He sees me as his mother who touches his hair too much. He was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery, so he was in bed for a few days after. And I brought the script over and read it out loud, and it was interesting, actually. His father [Elliott Gould] was in the room, too – Isn't that funny? We were both coddling our son. So he became the audience, and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, ‘I think you should do it, mom.’ And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste in whatever he chooses to do – it's amazing. So he clinched the deal.

Rogen: I think my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship – I see my parents a lot, but, yeah, it's a lot like in the movie. For no reason I get annoyed. I'll just find myself kind of reverting back to like a mentality of like a 14-year-old kid who just doesn't want to be around his parents. It's one of the things I related to most in the script, honestly. It was just that dynamic where your mother's trying, and the more she tries, the more she bugs you. And the more it bugs you, the more she tries. And you like see her trying to say the thing that won't annoy you, and she can't. Yeah, all that is very, at times, real to my relationship with my mother.

Streisand: Mothers develop guilt trips. When I was working a lot and I felt guilty as a parent that I couldn't pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies, that kind of thing. So I know that feeling. I know that feeling a lot. And so you try to compensate and everything they do is great. They sense that guilt, children, and they're going through their own rebellious times or whatever. Having a famous parent is an odd thing, you know? So I thought it was interesting to investigate this trying to be my son's friend, versus being a mother. And when it comes to time to really say ‘You abused me. You disrespect me. You talk back to me. You don't honor what I say. You won't take my advice.’ That kind of thing, in terms of this movie, it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore.

On how Streisand was convinced to take on the role:

Streisand: It was time to challenge myself again, you know? Of course, I made it very difficult for them to hire me because I kept wanting an out some way. So I made it really hard. I really don't want to go – I never do this normally, right – I really don't want to schlep to Paramount. It's two hours each way. So would you rent a warehouse and build the sets in the Valley no more than 45 minutes from my house? And they said yes. And on these Focker movies, I had to get up early, and I'm not an early bird – and Seth says, ‘It's very hard to be funny at 7:30 in the morning.’ He's right. He has to have a few cups of tea. You have to feed him a little bit…

Rogen: Get my head right.

Streisand: So I said, you can't pick me up until 8:30 because that's like a normal time to get up for me, because I love the night. My husband and I stay up until 2, 3 in the morning, so we don't function that well at 6 in the morning. And they said ‘Okay.’ I said to Anne [Fletcher, the director] ‘Well, would you make the movie without me?’ And she said no. And I felt bad, guilty – another guilt trip, right? I said ‘Oh, no – she's not going to have this job, and I want her to work.’

Rogen: I was open to Shirley MacLaine.

Streisand: Is that what you said to them?

Rogen: [Laughs] No – that's not true. I only would have done it if Barbra was doing it. For me, it was funny: ‘They want you to do this movie with Barbra,and Barbra's not sure if she wants to do it.’ And I was like, ‘Well, just let me know if she says yes.’ And then I literally made like two movies during that time. And we were editing ‘50/50,’ and I got a call, like ‘Barbra said yes.’ ‘Oh, okay –
Great!’

Streisand: It's great to feel wanted.



Photo Credit: Sam Emerson]]>
<![CDATA[Going for Golden Globes Gold]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:56:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/golden_globe.jpg

Actors Ed Helms, Megan Fox and Jessica Alba will join the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Thursday morning to announce its Golden Globe nominations, and this year's likely list of movie winners is rich with historical dramas.

"Zero Dark Thirty," the new film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, has been dominating the early awards season, having racked up a few Best Picture nods, as well as honors for director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and star Jessica Chastain. "The Hurt Locker," Bigelow's and Boal's previous collaboration, earned them Globe nominations—this new film should improve on that success, with an additional nod for Chastain, and possibly co-star Jason Clarke.

Other dramas expected to be in the mix will be Ben Affleck's "Argo," about the rescue of six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis; Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," with a typically brilliant turn by Daniel Day-Lewis; "Skyfall," among the best 007 films ever made; writer-director Quentin Tarantino's slave-revenge epic "Django Unchained"; and director Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," the lushest, most visually ambitious film of the year.

"Les Mis," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook" lead 2013 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations

The Globes also recognize film comedies, too, and this year had lots of inventive ones likely to be included when the nominations happen at 8 a.m. ET Thursday on NBC.

Writer-director Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" is a sweet and sentimental look at young love, and featured a great cast. "21 Jump Street" and "Ted" caught everyone by surprise and are good candidates.

"Pitch Perfect," starring Anna Kendrick as a reluctant a capella singer, has already made one top 10 list; the silver-haired rom-com "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is right in the Globes' wheelhouse with its British pedigree and aging stars; and "Silver Linings Playbook," starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro is the thinking person's feel-good comedy of 2012.

Unfortunately, much of the Golden Globe success they enjoy will be mostly limited to the nominations, as there's an 800-pound gorilla looming: "Les Miserables." Comedy films are lumped together with Musicals, and the Hollywood Foreign Press is a sucker for a musical, naming one best picture five times in the last 11 years.

And "Les Mis" has it all, with a director (Tom Hooper) and five cast members (Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron-Cohen) who've previously been nominated for Globes, as well as a new song from Claude-Michel Schonberg, the film will likely be nominated in at least six categories, and possibly seven if they decide to put Anne Hathaway up as a lead actress.

The frontrunners among the TV dramas are mostly seasoned veterans—"Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones"—or reigning champions, like "Homeland," but there's one noticeable, and controversial, newcomer.

Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom," made a splash last season. Its rapid-fire dialog, strident lefty politics and dubious portrayal of women had people talking from the first episode to the last. The HFPA has nominated Sorkin's film work five times in the past, and "The West Wing," which he created, was nominated 20 times. For all the show's problems, star Jeff Daniels has been excellent, making even the weakest episodes somewhat compelling, and should find his name called.

There also is a new wrinkle in the TV categories:  "Downton Abbey." The PBS drama had previously run as a miniseries, but now confesses it is a full-fledged series. With "Downton" out of the miniseries field, it clears the way for the A&E western "The Hatfield & McCoys" and HBO's "Game Change," about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for his running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

On the comedy side of the aisle, two other shows from HBO's Sunday night lineup are the most likely to get some love Thursday morning. "Girls" and its creator, Lena Dunham, were among the most controversial figures on the television landscape, with legions of people watching the show just to hate it and others watching it to love it. "Girls" and its creator have ridden a roller coaster of backlash and backlash against the backlash, but it's a great show and is sure to be nominated.

And then there's "Veep," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the ceaselessly put-upon vice president. JLD has already won the Emmy for this role, and the HFPA has nominated her three times in the past, so she's apt to get another nod.

If you're looking for the HFPA to recognize a dark horse or sentimental favorite, Larry Hagman, who passed away Nov. 23, could get the nod for reprising his role as oil tycoon J.R. Ewing in TNT's reboot of "Dallas." The HFPA nominated Hagman for the role four times when the show originally aired in the '80s.

The Golden Globes nominations will air at 8 a.m. ET Thursday on NBC. The awards, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be broadcast on NBC Jan. 13.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Mission Impossible" Bombshell Barbara Bain Remains Explosive]]> Mon, 10 Dec 2012 19:36:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/196*120/mission+impossible+original+cast.jpg

When the spy craze of the 1960s infiltrated the pop culture, “Mission Impossible’s” Cinnamon Carter was the very model of the undercover agent: capable, chameleon-like and oh-so-cool, with more than a hint of spice. And given that the character was inspired by the woman who played her, actress Barbara Bain continues to prove just as able to slip past your defenses.

With the entire seven-season run of “Mission Impossible” now available in a collector’s set, Bain – who in her early 80s still maintains an very active acting and teaching career – recalls her stint on show’s initial three seasons, appearing alongside her husband at the time, actor Martin Landau.

It must be a real treat to see work that you did at that time in your life still be so valued.

It is very special. It is nice to know that something I did so long ago still has resonance. There's something very, very rewarding about it. And it was rewarding at the time. At that age, you don't think of longevity at all. We knew what we were doing we were doing very, very well. We were very proud of that show. It was a treat to do it, every aspect of it – the people involved, everything was just splendid.

When was it first presented to you, and what was the hook that made you and your husband at the time, Martin Landau, want to do it?

We were young actors and work was still very exciting. We had come from New York in a tour of a Broadway play and stayed here because all sorts of work offers kept showing up, so we never got back to New York though that was our intention.

There was an acting class that Martin was asked to teach. He was kind of the star pupil in the class where I met him, and here, he had already kind of had a reputation as he went along, as this New York actor who was so incredible. Martin wanted writers in the class to try to get them to act or at least just see what actors did, what the process was, and in that mix was Robert Towne – who went on to write “Chinatown” and many other wonderful things – and Bruce Geller. Bruce was, of course, the creator of “Mission Impossible.”

It started in that class. He wrote the role of Rollin Hand, the Man of a Thousand Faces, for Martin. The part was written for Martin and The Girl, as she was first called, Bruce didn't tell me at the time that I had kind of crept into his conscious as he was writing it, and he wanted a girl who had these qualities. He wanted her to be terribly sexy and terribly smart, and the combination was not sort of exactly running around in Hollywood at the time. You were either the dumb blonde, or the intellectual, nice person that lived next door. He wanted this combination, and, he said, there I was. He never told me that he actually wrote it for me until after I was cast, and I auditioned over and over and over with all kinds of other folks.

Behind the scenes, the IMF’s boss was Lucille Ball, who owned Desilu at the time.

The last person who had to approve me was Lucy, because she owned the show, she developed it. I was told to go to her office, and she had to approve me, ultimately, for that role. And the approval process consisted of walking into her little bungalow there on the Desilu lot, and she looked at me, up and down, twice, and then said, ‘Looks all right to me!” And that was it. And then we launched this extraordinary experience.

What an extraordinary time, too, because you guys were shooting on the Desilu lot right next door to the original “Star Trek” series.

I remember being in the makeup room when [“Star Trek” makeup artist] Freddy Phillips was checking the ears on Leonard Nimoy. There we were, having a good time. Oh, it was fun, and it was sort of the last moments of the old studio system, so everything was still done in that way: somebody broke one of my windows in my car and I drove in with it, and before I went home it was fixed – there were all these sort of amenities. It was kept like a little town – Desilu’s lot was like a small town, self-contained.

What do you think it was that clicked between you and the character of Cinnamon?

That was just a sheer joy to have the chance not only to play Cinnamon Carter but have the chance of playing an independent woman. It was very rare on television to not have somebody saying, ‘Yes, dear. No, dear, and stirring the pot.’ I wasn't somebody's wife. I wasn’t in a Western begging them not to fight and kill each other. Those were pretty much the roles – I did play any number of gun molls and dumb blondes prior to that. It was a chance to play a woman that was smart and up there with the boys, capable and on the level of all of these professionals – and that did have an impact because, again, a lot of women stopped me and they’d tell me, I was inspired by Cinnamon to do this and this. And they'd tell me their life story in the supermarket, and that's good. For me, I find that rewarding as well.

Have you kept up with the Tom Cruise film series at all?

No. In fact, I've not seen any one of them. It had nothing to do with what we did. We were a team. It was a team show. This was for Cruise, and I couldn't fault it. Paramount set out to make money on a property they owned, and they did. I had no quarrel with that, and as such, has nothing to do with me.

You continue to be very busy. What keeps you excited about going to work?

I love it. I just love the fun of it. The fun and the challenge, I'm always interested in,”Oh, what would I do about that? How about that?” I spend time at the Actor's Studio – I still am a member. I teach. I've been teaching at a private class for young actors. I feel like it's something to hand down. I've done two plays this year - one was written for me- and had nice runs in both of them, directed two plays and actually did two films, so it's been just swell! Who would have thought? I'm just pleased. And I don't have a complaint in the world about this career that I've had and how it started so well. That was a great launch that I had with “Mission,” and I value it and everything since in terms of work.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Movie Awards Season Guide]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:56:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/life-of-pi.jpg

Movie awards season is upon us. The prestige films are coming fast and furious, while awards groups across the country are handing out prizes. With the Golden Globes nominations announced Dec. 13, now's the time to catch up on this year's contenders.

The New York Film Critics Circle kicked off the season of giving on Monday Dec. 3, naming "Zero Dark Thirty," Jessica Chastain's new film about the hunt for Bin Laden, the best picture of 2012, an opinion the National Board of Review seconded two days later, so it's clearly got a leg up on the competition, but there's still plenty of serious contenders.

Les Miserables (In theaters Dec. 25) – This is the kind of movie that makes the awards voters swoon: a star-studded, epic, historical musical from an Oscar-winning director. Hugh Jackman lost and gained 30 pounds, Anne Hathaway belted out a heart-wrenching version of "I Dreamed a Dream" while having her hair hacked off (for real!) and Tom Hooper delivers intensely intimate moments as well as sweeping vistas. "Suddenly," the new song written just for the film by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, the men responsible for the original musical, is sure to hear its name called in the coming weeks, if only on principle.

Lincoln (In theaters) – Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day Lewis in a film about Abraham Lincoln's efforts to abolish slavery? Throw in great supporting turns from Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, and a score by John Williams… it almost doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie wasn't the searing indictment of Scientology that many expected, and didn't bring in big audiences, but PTA drew brilliant performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, and his script was a provocative look at the post-WWII American man. Any score by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead is always a threat to be disqualified by one academy or another.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Now on home video) – The Little Movie That Could, "Beasts" has already won the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award at Sundance. Quvenzhané Wallis has a very real chance of becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in Oscar history, for her turn as Hushpuppy, a young girl in Louisiana whose home is facing destruction at the same time her father's health is faltering. This one will get plenty of nominations despite SAG disqualifying it for using amateur actors.

Silver Linings Playbook (In theaters) – After starting his career with a dark comedy about mother-son incest, David O. Russell has become a master of the feel-good dramedy. His latest finds Bradley Cooper as a man determined to win back his wife after a stint in an institution, and enlists Jennifer Lawrence to help him, with Robert De Niro pitching in with a strong turn as Cooper's Eagles-obsessed father. All three will get nods, as will Russell for his work behind the camera and with the script.

Zero Dark Thirty (NY/LA on Dec. 21) – Jessica Chastain is amazing as a Bin Laden-obsessed CIA agent, leading an ensemble cast of mostly men in the first film from Kathryn Bigelow since she won Best Director for "The Hurt Locker." Bigelow returns to the deserts of the Middle East and beyond as she recounts the hunt for Osama bin Laden, working with a script from journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal, who is arguably the MVP of the film.

Argo – The true(-ish) story of a hero who smuggled a group of Americans out of Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis, Argo sees Ben Affleck's stock as a director of great genre films continue to rise. A great story that features two outstanding supporting performances from Alan Arkin and John Goodman, either of who could snag a nomination.
 
Django Unchained (In theaters Dec. 25) – Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" won dozens of awards and was nominated for dozens more, and "Django" promises to be just as popular with awards bodies, with strong bids for Directing, Screenwriting, three Acting categories, Cinematography and more.

Moonrise Kingdom (Now on home video) – Wes Anderson is always a threat to score a writing nomination, and his films always feature top-flight acting (Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray all shine in supporting roles), great music and distinctive art direction.

Life of Pi (In theaters) – Ang Lee has already been twice nominated for the Best Director Oscar, winning for "Brokeback Mountain", and this tale of a young man adrift on a boat for nine months with only a tiger for company could have him back in the mix. Lee's uses a candy-coated palette of colors, incredibly immersive 3D and some remarkable CGI to create a fairy tale universe.

The Hobbit (In theaters Dec. 14) – The three "Lord of the Rings" movies averaged 10 Oscar nominations apiece, if "The Hobbit" gets only half that it will be among the most honored films of the year. There's a wild card in play, however, as the film is the first to be shot at 48 frames-per-second, a new format that many moviegoers find disorienting--will awards bodies embrace the technology? Maybe this will be the year that the Academy finally recognizes the work of Andy Serkis—doubt it, though.

Magic Mike (Now on home video) – Steven Soderbergh's comedy based on the exploits of a young Channing Tatum stands as the greatest film ever made about the demimonde of male strippers. Who would've guessed this would end up cracking top 10 lists and finding itself in the awards mix for acting (Matthew McConaughey) and screenwriting (Reid Carolin), among others?

The Dark Knight Rises (Now on home video) – The climax to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is popcorn cinema at its most artistically and intellectually ambitious, and will garner bushels of technical awards. The only thing standing in the way of Anne Hathaway sweeping the Best Supporting Actress awards for her turn as Catwoman is her turn as Fantine in "Les Mis."

The Sessions – Another Oscar button-pusher: the story of a disabled man (John Hawkes) seeking spiritual guidance from a priest (William H. Macy) about the morality of hiring a woman (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity—and it's based on a true story. All three actors will get nods, as will writer Ben Lewin.

Amour – German writer-director Michael Haneke's film about the love between an aging couple already won top prize at Cannes, is a sure thing for Best Foreign film and has already been nominated for Best Actor, Actress, Cinematographer, Director, Writer and Film by the European Film Awards, and can expect further recognition from any awards for which it is eligible.

]]>
<![CDATA[Behind The Scenes With "Star Trek's" Jonathan Frakes]]> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 20:00:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/204*120/Jonothan+Frakes+Star+Trek.jpg

He may have spent years as the U.S.S. Enterprise’s second-in-command, but Jonathan Frakes is the one in charge on set these days.

With the second season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” making its Blu-Ray debut Dec. 4 to close out the sci-fi classic’s 25th anniversary celebration, Frakes looks back fondly on his role as Commander William Riker, known to his crewmates as “Number One” – most notably in a compelling extra on the new release in which he gathers on camera with the entire cast of “TNG” regulars for a spirited reminiscence of their seven-season stint on the series.

The second season set also features painstakingly reassembled hi-def versions of the episodes, including fan favorites like “Matter of Honor,” an early peek into Klingon culture; “Q Who,” which introduced the menacing Borg; and an extended cut of “The Measure of a Man.”

While Frakes, 60, revisits his memories of his time working in the elaborate universe first created by TV producer and futurist visionary Gene Roddenbery, he’s also enjoying a still-thriving behind-the-camera career as a film and television director. Today his credits include helming various episodes of popular series like “Leverage,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Burn Notice” and “Castle” – most recently the well-received “The Final Frontier,” a sly, stylish installment about a murder at a fan convention for a popular sci-fi TV series.

Congratulations on the ongoing celebration of the show's 25th anniversary. It must be a really singular phenomenon to have been a part of it over all these years.

It's surreal that 25 years ago, something is still giving us this gift. I’m off to a convention this weekend to Comic‑Con in New Orleans with all the cast. Just the idea that we still have an audience is astounding to me.

It must have been a real treat to be able to be able to get together with everybody and just really sit down without a giant audience to reminisce for this Blu‑Ray release?

It was wonderful. The add-on, I guess, is on this second season from our Calgary panel, where we were sitting around taking the piss out of each other. It's wonderful. It's candid and it's funny. It's emotional and it’s revealing. It was a great morning. We did it one Sunday morning when we were all in for a convention. It's a pretty special group of people.

I imagine that your cast have stayed somewhat close just because of the frequency of conventions and those sort of events.

Well, I think we would have stayed close regardless of the conventions. Something happened with this cast that's not true of other casts that I’ve been around. We've all stood in each other's weddings and been godparents to each other's kids. We still look forward to seeing each other. We go to dinner and lunch and drinks and check in. I just emailed Patrick [Stewart] this morning because the new ‘X-Men’ [film] has just been announced again. I made some dinner reservations with LeVar [Burton], Brent [Spiner], Gates [McFadden], and Marina [Sirtis], [John] de Lancie for this weekend. It's just a great group – and merciless.

How quickly did you realize that Gene Rodenberry and his team had captured lightning in a bottle for a second time? How quickly into the show did that happen for you?

I don't think we realized it early on – I personally didn't realize until third or fourth season, and I think that was based on sort of the reaction. We were received so skeptically when we initially aired because of the loyalty, the fans of the core audience had for Kirk and Spock and Bones, understandably. They really needed to be convinced that we were worthy.

A favorite Riker episode early on is in the second season, ‘A Matter of Honor,’ and I think we started to see that more playful side of him. Was that sort of a breakthrough episode for you and the character?

Serving on the Klingon ship? That was a great episode! That was Rob Bowman, one of our important directors I work with on ‘Castle’ now. That was one of my fondest memories. I'm a big Klingon fan. I kid about having a Klingon experience that others don't. So I can relate to Worf – and obviously Lursa and B’Etor.

Was it around that time that the directing bug kind of started to bite?

I shadowed the directors through that entire second season and then spent a lot of time in the editing room with the editors who were very generous with their time. So that was my Paramount university period with most of season two and the beginning of season three until Rick Berman finally relinquished that episode to me, and I was so over prepared, it was insane. It proved to be a real benefit that my wonderful wife, Genie Francis told me to keep persevering.

The episode of ‘Castle’ that you directed was so clever and fun.

Oh my God! Wow – Wonderful. What a great idea. That's Rob Bowman. He's the executive producer, and the guy who directed that Klingon episode. They called me early in the season and said, ‘We're going to juggle this schedule so that when your slot comes up, we're going to give you this murder in a “Star Trek” convention episode. And I want to be the first to tell you, because I’m sure you’ll hear about it.’ We got great publicity out of it. And because of Nathan's [Fillion] sort of – what is the word for it? He's an icon because of ‘Firefly.’ But we were able to drop a lot of Easter eggs of both ‘Firefly,’ ‘Star Trek.’ So we peppered the cast with people from other sci-fi shows. There were some inside jokes for good fans. It was a real treat to work on that.

Nathan's a real fanboy himself. Did he pester you with any ‘Star Trek’ questions?

He always does! I did that show a few times, and he's a full-on geek. He's like Wil Wheaton – my two favorite go‑to geeks.  

What has that loyal fan base that will follow you into any project meant for you over the course of time?

It's a gift that I am eternally grateful for. I learned from my wife, again who has the same type of situation from playing Laura for 37 years on and off on ‘General Hospital.’ The Luke and Laura phenomenon is not unlike the ‘Star Trek’ phenomenon, only the fans are different. And the reason that these conventions are successful is that there are people who are so loyal to your show, that one should be – and I am – grateful. When you stop being grateful and stop enjoying it, I think it’s a good time to stop doing the conventions.

Do you have some directing gigs lined up that we're going to see in the next few weeks or months?

Yes. I have two. I just finished an ‘NCIS: LA.’  I did a Christmas show of ‘NCIS: L.A.’ I have a Christmas episode of ‘Leverage’ that's going to air in a couple of weeks that I just finished shooting a new show for me called ‘Falling Skies’ which is the Spielberg show that Noah Wylie stars in on TNT. It's a very tough show. It's post-apocalyptic. I mean it's shot like a movie, but it's a very rough world. We shot in rainy Vancouver for three weeks. I'd done a couple TV movies with Noah, ‘The Librarian’ series. He’s one my favorites.

Perhaps the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” films have precluded the notion that the TNG crew might reunite on the screen, at least for a while. Have you guys thought about that, or talked about it?

I am very hopeful. I'm not sure where we would be – I happen to be a fan and a friend of J.J.'s and I think he's rebooted the franchise in the most successful and wonderful way imaginable. And I'm really excited about the second movie. I think maybe some version of what they did with Leonard Nimoy in the first movie would be the way to go: they would pepper in one of us. I would imagine they'd start with Picard if they could. It would involve our usual time travel/quantum anomaly/black hole/some sci‑fi version of how we all get there.

What was the most important or most interesting piece of advice that Gene Rodenberry passed along to you?

Gene Rodenberry: I auditioned seven times for Riker. And in the last two or three times, I would go to his office where we went to whichever executive needed to convince, and his belief and passion about the 24th century was so real. He said to me, ‘Jonathan, in the 24th century, there will be no hunger, there will be no greed and all of the children will know how to read.’ That stuck with me, and I'll never forget the look on his face, the sort of Machiavellian grin, and those big hands of his. He'd pat me on the back and say, ‘Now, let's go up there, and I want you to play this part.’ And then he was the one who actually called me on the phone when I finally got the job. It wasn't an agent. It wasn't a manager. It wasn’t the studio. He called me directly and said, ‘It’s done – you’re playing Riker.’ That was obviously a huge turning point for me.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Getting Under the Hood of the Batmobiles]]> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 12:34:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/203*120/batmobile+tour.jpg

The coolest car in the history of comic books, TV and movies is taking a victory lap.

Whether it’s Adam West shouting “To the Batmobile!” Val Kilmer noting that “Chicks dig the car,” or Christian Bale making certain that it comes in black, Batman’s sleek, stylized and supercharged ride remains one of the most well-known vehicles in pop culture history.

The Batmobile’s intriguing legacy, from its earliest incarnation in the comic book pages as envisioned by Batman creator Bob Kane, to its debut on television by Hollywood auto customizer George Barris to its most recent evolution as the tank-like Tumbler of director Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy, is explored in depth in a new documentary included on the Blu-ray and DVD editions of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

A complete collection of the seven movie vehicles – including the Batpod and a Bane-confiscated Tumbler – has been touring various cities throughout the country, currently on display at L.A. Live’s Event Deck through Dec. 14 in downtown Los Angeles. Access to the public is free.

At the opening of the exhibit, several of the creative mechanics who brought the cars to roaring life on screen and the famous fan who bought himself the ultimate dream car revealed the secrets under the Batmobiles’ hoods.

George Barris, designer and builder of the original Batmobile for the 1966 “Batman TV series.

Building the first Batmobile:
“My interpretation was looking at the comic books to see what the Batmobile was, that Lincoln Zephyr with a bat face cutout in the front by Bob Kane. The original chassis for the Ford Futura [concept car] – I bought it from Ford Motor Company for one dollar. The Futura had many of the aspects I wanted: double bubbles, a low body, a different creation. We only had a budget of $15,000 and 15 days. So if you'll notice my squirters in the front grille are from lawn sprinklers. We kept adding things to it: Bat-chutes, jet packs, the Batphone. That's what made the car become more interesting for the viewer. Bob Kane came out to the plant, and we photographed him with it, and I did have a bat face to put out on the front, and he got a kick out of that.”

Getting behind the wheel:
“I was doing a photo shoot for TV Guide, running my Batmobile down the 101 freeway, and to come to a stop I popped my Bat-chutes. I pull off the freeway to stop the car and here comes the highway patrol. And here's another ticket for me.”

Jeff Dunham, comedian, ventriloquist and proud owner of a Batmobile from 1992’s “Batman Returns”

The beginnings of the obsession:
“My first one was a little Corgi toy Batmobile in 1968 – I was six years old, and I still have that one, too! That's when I first started getting really enthusiastic about Batman. But then when the Keaton movie came out, I fell in love with this thing. This one was the stand-in in “Batman Returns,” and somehow came up for auction. A buddy of mine sent me an email saying ‘You know times are tough when Batman is having to sell his assets.’ I couldn't resist the thing. And it’s street legal now – when you start it up, the license plate comes down in the back – so to go down the freeway in that thing is just unadulterated enthusiasm. It's not like you're in some quarter of a million dollar fancy, sports car where people give you the finger. This is all thumbs up, and the greatest thing ever.”

Hoping to reunite Batman with his ride:
“I’ve never met Michael Keaton, but I'd like him to sign the Batmobile somewhere, or at least he could sit in it and take a picture. That would be awesome!”

Tim Flattery, designer of the Batmobile for 1994’s “Batman Forever”

Bring director Joel Schumacher’s idea for an animalistic interpretation to life:
“They knew they wanted to redesign it, so I ended up coming with five designs and we built models of them: one was like 40s-retro and an homage to Bob Kane; another one was kind of 60s-retro; another one was stealth-faceted. Joel came in and he said, ‘Look. I want to take this a different direction. Something organic that H.R. Giger might do.’ I went back to the drawing board and started redesigning.

Watching Batman bond with his car: “The first time Val Kilmer saw it was the first film test of it, and also the first Batsuit film test. So he walked on the stage as Batman, hadn't seen the car before and he was like, ‘Holy sh**! Where did you guys come up with this?’

Charley Zurian, builder of the Batmobiles from “Batman Forever” and 1997’s “Batman and Robin”

Realizing production designer Barbara Ling’s sleek vision, inspired by land speed record-breaking autos of the 30s: “The first memory is, ‘Hey, this is going to be fun!’ The second memory is, ‘Oh my God, what did it get myself into?’ During the development process, they give me a sketch. I look at it: ‘Okay – I can do that,’ and as I start working, we refine it and add details, tighter, more and more. It was kind of fun doing the nosecone because that whole effect was based on the shutter speed on the camera. Looking at it, it looks like it's spinning one way, but the camera sees it spinning two ways. We only had one car on ‘Batman and Robin,’ so if it was damaged at night, we'd have to fix it during the day and get it ready and back out for the next night's filming. It was a big operation. So it's a big crew – we dedicated about 15 people on the car.”

Andy Smith, builder of “The Tumbler” Batmobile from 2005’s “Batman Begins” and 2008’s “The Dark Knight”

Realizing director Christopher Nolan’s vision of Humvee-Lamboughini hybrid from the model Nolan made with production designer Nathan Crowley:
“It evolved from this little plastic kit about 1/10th scale. That was all we had: ‘Go make that.’ And I think we were pretty close. I loved it – the moment he got it out of the case and said, ‘What do you think of that one?’ I'm like ‘THAT's Batman’s car.’ It is a stunning-looking machine. It looked good as a model, and it looks even better in real life. When you start the thing up and you hear it and see what it does, it's a fantastic device, extremely loud. We worked hard on that: sure, we could make them quiet, but where's the fun in that? It has a visual presence, and when you're winding everybody up to roll the cameras and shoot something, you want it to start up. You want people to react: “Here it comes!”

]]>
<![CDATA[Colbert's "Hobbit" Habit]]> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 15:21:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-the-hobbit.jpg

The late October  announcement that Disney is taking over the "Star Wars" franchise ignited a Death Star-like explosion of news and speculation: "Toy Story 3" scribe Michael Arndt is working on a script for Episode VII. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reportedly are ready to pull their tunics out of mothballs, though Harrison Ford might return if Han Solo is dispatched to that (metaphorical) big Millennium Falcon in the sky. There could be new “Star Wars”-related movies for years to come!

But the force of the latest "Star Wars" hoopla threatens to overshadow the impending continuation of the only major fantasy film series that matters, at least this year: "The Hobbit"/"Lord of the Rings" franchise.

So it's heartening to learn that Stephen Colbert is launching "Hobbit Week" Monday night on "The Colbert Report," featuring interviews with stars Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis as well as director Peter Jackson. Unlike his conservative blowhard character, Colbert, a "LOTR" superfan – he visited the "Hobbit" set and has hinted he scored a cameo in the film – is looking out for the little guy.

It's worth noting that his Comedy Central colleague, Jon Stewart, is an all-out "Star Wars" fanatic. He's compared President Obama to Luke Skywalker, Democrats to Ewoks and former Vice President Dick Cheney to Darth Vader. The Storm Trooper action figure created in Stewart likeness a couple years ago no doubt ranks among his proudest moments.

But the battle of Middle Earth vs. A Galaxy Far, Far Away, Bilbo vs. Yoda, Saruman vs. Darth Vader, Colbert vs. Stewart, is more than just fodder for online geek (and late night TV) wars. At stake is the legacy of two beloved film series whose initial greatness has created even greater expectations among dedicated – and overlapping – fan bases.

We've already seen stumbles with "Star Wars," whose prequel trilogy underwhelmed many devotees and enraged more, even if they kept coming back by the millions. George Lucas has wisely allowed his baby to receive an infusion of new blood, which won’t be the case with the upcoming “Hobbit” movies. Guillermo del Toro initially was enlisted to direct a two-part “Hobbit,” but was replaced by “Lord of the Rings” director Jackson, who turned J.R.R. Tolkien’s relatively slender volume into three flicks.

The “Harry Potter” series benefitted from regular changes in directors as the story, in keeping with J.K. Rowlings’ seven books, turned darker with each installment. The “Potter” team also helped the cause by releasing eight movies in a decade, keeping the momentum going and not allowing too much time in-between chapters to inflate hopes out of proportion.

Meanwhile, it's been nearly nine years since "The Return of the King," the last and probably best of the “LOTR” trilogy – and 35 years since Luke Skywalker's intergalactic daddy issues first surfaced, forever changing movies.

Timing in films, as in life, can be key. It’s likely no coincidence the announcement of Disney’s $4.05 billion deal with Lucasfilm came with both the holiday movie season – and “The Hobbit” – approaching. Hype, though, can easily lead to disappointment, especially with series that attract obsessive followers. Both The Ring and The Force exercise a hold on fans, who pray the results of any new movies will somehow match their often out-sized fantasies.

As Colbert heralds the arrival of Bilbo Baggins and friends at theaters on Dec. 14, check out a preview of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”:

 


Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

]]>
<![CDATA[From "Star Wars" to "MIB3," Makeup Artist Rick Baker Has Got The Look]]> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 16:06:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/191*120/Rick+Baker.jpg

With a career spanning four decades and around 70 films, Rick Baker has long reigned as the preeminent special effects makeup artist in Hollywood.

His achievements include a mastery of shockingly lifelike simians (including 1976’s “King Kong," “Greystoke; The Legend of Tarzan,” “Gorillas In the Mist,” “Harry and the Hendersons” and 2001’s “Planet of the Apes”) and the creation of 30 years’ worth of definitive screen werewolves (in “American Werewolves In London,” “The Howling,” Michael Jackson’s iconic video “Thriller,” “Wolf” and 2010’s “The Wolfman”).

His exotic aliens have filled everything from the original “Star Wars” cantina scene to “Men In Black’s” bustling headquarters. He’s transformed Eddie Murphy into “The Nutty Professor’s’” Klumps, Robert Downey, Jr. into “Tropic Thunder’s” Kirk Lazarus, Ron Perlman into Hellboy, Jim Carrey into the Grinch, Martin Landau into “Ed Wood’s” Bella Lugosi and is currently altering Angelina Jolie into Sleeping Beauty’s nemesis Maleficent.

A stunning array of Baker’s endlessly creative alien creations are on display in “Men In Black 3” (now on Blu-ray) and on Nov. 30 Baker will be honored by the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. His sidewalk star will be placed in front of the Guinness World Records Museum – fittingly, as during the ceremony the makeup artist will be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records not once but twice: he holds the record in the makeup category for both the most Academy Awards nominations (with a dozen nods) and wins (with seven Oscars).

Baker peels back the mask on a singular career crafting movie magic:

How did “MiB3” compare to the other movies with your creative involvement, as far as pitching notions and concepts up front?

The big difference in the first movie is that Barry [Sonnenfeld, the trilogy’s director] didn't know me, hadn't worked with me before, and he learned through the course of the movie to trust me, actually, and I came up with a number of ideas of that were some of the more popular things in ‘Men in Black.’ And because I am a fan of those kinds of movies – Barry said, ‘I’ve never even seen a science fiction movie,’ and I said, ‘Well, I've seen them ALL.’

I kept saying in the first ‘Men in Black’ ‘There's not enough stuff! It's not cool enough – we need to do something cooler!’ I'm sure he thought I was a pain in the ass, but when it was decided they were going to do ‘Men in Black 3,’ he emailed me and he said, ‘I know that you're retired, but I can't imagine doing a “Men in Black” movie without you. Would you please, please come out of retirement and do this?’ First of all, I'm not retired – I'm trying to be selective about what I do, but you don't have to beg for me to do ‘Men in Black.’ They're fun. I get to do a lot of things, and he considers me a collaborator and he relies on that. So that makes it that much more fun for me, too – to just say ‘I think this would be better.’ And sometimes they listen.

What particularly caught your fancy on the third one? Was there one element where you thought, “This is the thing I'm having the most fun with, personally?’

The whole concept that I managed to sell them on was doing the retro aliens – that was what I had the most fun with, because that's what aliens look like to me!

What were some of the reference points for those retro aliens, the classic inspirations?

You could name any film that was made from 1950 to 1970 and I would say yes. There are ones that were bigger budget and more well-known, like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ which Robert Wise directed. We did one that was very much like Gort. And every one we did, we didn't totally copy – we updated and changed it and sometimes they were morphs between two things.

Was there one of those early films that you saw when you were young that was the real catalyst which made you want to understand the makeup and really pushed you into the direction that you ended up going in?

If I say there was one, I usually say, ‘Frankenstein.’ I don't think it was ever just one, but that was probably the one that's more responsible than the others. And also the fact that it was so much kind of what I do: the whole thing about creating life. I don't do it out of dead bodies, obviously, but I make things that look alive that didn't exist before out of different parts.

I think that's part of what I found appealing to me, too, but my introduction to movies was on TV. I was born in 1950. I grew up in the first generation of kids that grew up in front of a TV set, and I think every state in the United States had a Saturday or a Friday night horror show thing with a horror host and showed the same movies.

Now we’ve got a generation of film professionals that grew up on your work. It feels like maybe a pendulum has swung back: you're able to do what it is you do with practical makeup effects but also work in tandem with the digital realm, rather than digital eclipsing everything. There's a really interesting hybridization happening now.

It is better than when digital first came out. What happened when digital first came out was that we all of a sudden became dinosaurs, and they said, ‘Oh, you guys are old school, and we're the new guys’ and stuff. But you look at ‘American Werewolf’ which was 30 years ago, it still doesn't look too bad. You look at some ‘90s CG stuff, and it doesn't look very good.

Congratulations on receiving your Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What does that distinction mean to you?

It just didn't seem real, and it still doesn't. It seems more real now because a couple days ago, we actually went to the spot and had a little bit of a run‑through and stuff. The star's not there yet, but it's like ‘Oh my God – there's Marilyn Monroe, and two stars down, it's going to be Rick Baker.’ And I'm still amazed that I actually do what I do for a living. This was my hobby, and I had to mow a lot of lawns and save my allowance to buy materials. It took forever.

What’s been your proudest accomplishment professionally?

I'm usually pretty proud of the things that I do. Almost everything I do, I always try to make it the best it can possibly be, especially considering the circumstances. But if I had to pick one character, I think it would be Harry from ‘Harry and the Hendersons,’ a film I did in the 80s. You could put that movie in theaters today, and people would totally accept it and like it and buy the thing that I did. I just saw it recently – there was some kind of anniversary, whatever it was, and people were saying, ‘I can't believe you did this that long ago.’

Everybody's talking about ‘Star Wars’ right now since the Disney acquisition. The original film was one of your earlier gigs. What's one of your favorite memories of working on that movie, and are you actually excited to see what the next generation's vision going to be?

Yeah, I am excited! My ‘Star Wars’ experience – it's funny because I came in after they actually shot ‘Star Wars.’ They had shot in England. They were already editing the film. My friend Ken Ralston and Dennis Muren were working on the visual effects and they had shot the cantina scene, but George [Lucas] wanted more aliens, and he wanted different aliens. And George asked them, ‘Do you know anybody that can make me rubber masks?’ And they go, ‘Yeah – we know somebody.’

My favorite memory of that is actually being called in and George showing me on the flatbed editor the cantina scene as it was. And I just got so excited. It was like ‘Oh my God – this is such a great idea! There's this bar full of aliens. How fun is that going to be?’ There was no money for my part of it. Nobody knew that ‘Star Wars’ was going to be the huge success that it was. As far as Fox was concerned, they'd already paid for the film so it was very little money or very little time to do the aliens. We did about 30, I think, but it was such a cool film to be involved with.

From the past to the future: your next project is ‘Maleficent.’

I designed Angelina Jolie's makeup and made the pieces for that. I didn't actually apply the makeup – I had just come off of ‘Men in Black’ and wanted to rest, and actually wasn't planning on taking a film, but Angie was kind of hard to turn down! We made the pieces. I sent one of my people down to England to do it. She had a lot of ideas, and she is a smart woman besides a very pretty woman. It's hard any time, and the hardest thing is just to get a decision.

What was good about Angie is she made decisions. I didn't always agree with them, but still, I would rather have a decision than go for months just grasping to try and get one. That's kind of what film making unfortunately has become. There's so many people involved, and nobody can make a decision. I used to think a movie had a director, and that was the guy who made the decision. That doesn't happen anymore. It’s a committee, and they still don't make a decision. And that's why movies cost so much, but Angie knows what she likes and doesn't like.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Killing Them Softly's" Ben Mendelsohn: Playing Drug-Fueled, Criminal Was "Fun"]]> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 18:24:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ben-mendelsohn.jpg

Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn’s name might not be as familiar as those of his co-stars Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Ray Liotta, but in “Killing Them Softly” he shows audiences that he certainly deserves a seat at the same table.

A veteran film and television presence in his home country, Mendelsohn tripped the radar of filmgoers everywhere with his standout performance in 2010’s “Animal Kingdom,” and his stock in Hollywood has continued to rise ever since, most recently with a juicy turn in “The Dark Knight Rises,” playing John Daggett, Bruce Wayne’s financial rival and Bane’s presumed frontman.

In “Killing Me Softly” he has a bravura turn as Russell, a grimy petty criminal and aspiring heroin dealer who becomes entangled in a twisted knot of robbery and retribution.

What was it about this very unapologetic low life that intrigued you?

Well, it's nice to play people that stick in your mind in some way or another, and in that degree, I think as an actor it is fun to play people that are sort of further on the end of some spectrum or other. And a very rollicking, sort of drug-fueled, petty criminal was fun. But it was really the dialogue and stuff like that, too, and the company that one keeps while doing it. It's a pretty good bunch of people.

How easy or difficult was it to get that sort of sweat-soaked, grimy look?

It wasn't pretty! There's one outfit that the guy wears the whole time. And from memory, it was very, very hot and muggy, and we shot in New Orleans. And the top that they had me in, it seemed to be impervious to any oxygen moving through the fibers, so we would sort of start it off a bit, and it just happened. So there certainly wasn't any need for that. But the rest of it in terms of playing it and stuff like that, I think generally you let yourself go, and you don't worry yourself too much.

There's a great group of actors involved, but you don't get to spend screen time with a lot of them. Behind the scenes, did you get a chance to get to know some of your co‑stars?

A little. Brad [Pitt], I sort of met quite briefly – Brad's obviously one of the producers on the film as well. There are people that I would have loved to have met and spent time with, but the film stuff being the way it is, you don't really want to go and hang out at the office, as it were when you’re not required. But Scoot [McNairy] and I had a fantastic relationship. I feel like all the things that you always do to the best of your ability as an actor, we did do. We arrived early. We spent a lot of time together. We shifted in together. We lived with each other. So that gave us good shorthand basically, and that guy's a friend of mine now.

That's the good stuff about doing this. I would have loved to hang out with Richard Jenkins. But in a lot of ways too, the thing about great actors is they give their gift when you watch them. There's many actors that I absolutely adore, but I don't actually want to get to know them too much because it's a bit like going and talking to Bob Dylan about songwriting. I don't think Bob wants to talk to me about songwriting, but if I wanted, I'm going to listen to him and get everything he's giving. And that's sort of the way I feel with great actors too: It's weird sometimes when you meet them. It's sort of more pleasurable to watch them work in context.

We've seen you in an increasing amount of Hollywood films after such a distinguished career in your home country. What was the experience like working on “The Dark Knight Rises,” a movie that people are going to be watching for years to come?

It was really honorable. ‘Honorable’ is an incorrect usage of the word, but I was really honored. And I was expecting it to be quite hectic, and it was very much the opposite. It was a real lesson in, as it were, what the atmosphere feels like in the dizzying heights, if you like. It was splendidly peaceful.

The center of that set was one of the most easy-going, quiet, smooth operations that I've ever seen. In a quarter of a century that was easily one of the most smoothest operations that I've ever seen. And I saw people that are just legendary to me, Morgan Freeman, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman – forget about it! I mean, from where I come from, you really don't get any better – it's true top-shelf stuff. So it was beautiful, very quiet, very chilled out. That was a surprise.

]]>
<![CDATA[Hagman to be Honored at Southfork Sunday]]> Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:48:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AH-Larry-Hagman.jpg

Southfork Ranch in Parker will honor the life of Larry Hagman, aka J.R. Ewing, this Sunday.

The ranch will offer free public tours between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. followed by a public memorial reception where guests may leave cards, flowers and sign a memorial book.

Southfork Ranch released the following statement Monday:

Southfork Ranch mourns the loss of Larry Hagman along with his fans around the world. Southfork was considered the home of his long time larger than life character JR Ewing and Larry  also considered Southfork his home away from home. He was always excited to come back to the ranch and even had a family outing planned
the day of his passing.

Larry Hagman brought so much life and excitement to the show Dallas and his dynamic personality and great sense of humor will never be forgotten. The filming at the ranch has been like family coming home and we will all miss him.

Hagman, who was born in Fort Worth, died Friday at Medical City Dallas from complications in his battle with cancer. Small groups of people began memorializing Hagman at the ranch on Saturday.

Formal funeral and memorial plans for Hagman have not yet been revealed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[On the "Hitchcock" Red Carpet, Stars Reflect on the Man Behind the Movies]]> Wed, 21 Nov 2012 15:15:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/202*120/Hitchcock+Anthony+Hopkins.jpg

Alfred Hitchcock has made a triumphant return to Hollywood. And as would suit his macabre sense of humor, his comeback comes some 30 years after his death.

“I don't think Hitchcock ever left Hollywood,” says Helen Mirren, who in the new film “Hitchcock” plays the famed directors’s wife and greatest filmmaking collaborator Alma. “[This film] brought Alma into Hollywood, and that's great.

In the new film, which chronicles Hitchcock's efforts to bring "Psycho" to the screen in 1960, Mirren appears opposite Anthony Hopkins as one of Hollywood’s least glamorous but most intriguing couples. The already iconic director was coming off a series of cinematic triumphs but was worried that audiences would begin to find him passé and turn toward a new wave of filmmakers hoping to out-Hitchcock Hitch himself.

In response, he bucked his studio’s wishes and put up his own money to finance “Psycho,” a risky venture that would provide him fresh opportunities to break boundaries and push moviegoers’ buttons.

At the premiere of the film in Beverly Hills, Mirren says until the project came her way she had no idea how integral Alma was to Alfred Hitchcock’s creative process. “It was a surprise to me along with so many others,” she reveals. “This was one of the great filmmakers of the history of film, and to find that this woman had such a profound and deeply important role in the making of those movies was a great discovery for me.”

Mirren says she quickly became very fond of Alma, who like her husband had a quirky and winning charm that impressed those around her. “I liked her sense of humor and her energy and her modesty, in the sense that she was like me. Not like me, but she was the kind of person who just loved the work and didn't particularly want the glory.”

Other attendees at the premiere also revealed that there was still much to discover about the well-known, but mysterious filmmaker and the effect he had on generations to follow.

Jessica Biel, who plays “Psycho” star Vera Miles, says she “definitely dug into” the prickly relationship between the director and the actress. A situation which arose after Hitchcock offered Miles the lead in his eventual masterpiece “Vertigo” (which she eventually turned down) and reportedly rebuffed his subtle but awkward romantic advances.

But, says Biel, “I think that it was so balanced with kind of a mutual respect that these two people had for each other. I think Mr. Hitchcock really did feel personally affronted by her choice to not do 'Vertigo' and to have a family and say no to the life of a movie star, which is what he really saw for her but not what she saw for herself. I don't think he was pleased with that, and he definitely gave her a couple of jabs along the way. But she and Hitch had this relationship where she would just give it right back.”


Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh who dies in “Psycho’s” famed shower scene, says she was impressed that Scarlett Johansson reached out to Curtis and her sister Kelly after she was cast as Leigh for “Hitchcock.”

“She tried to reach us because before she began she just wanted us to know, as Janet's daughters, that she was treating this with a lot of respect and a lot of dignity and a lot of gravitas,” says Curtis. “She recognized that there are living adult children, and my children, Annie and Tom, who survive her, and that to kind of portray somebody who is dead but has children is a serious venture. And she wanted us to know the similarities between her and our mother.”

Curtis says that while some of Hitchcock’s leading ladies, like Miles and Tippi Hedren, suffered due to his personal fixations on them, Leigh did not complain about any mistreatment at the hands of the Master. “She loved him,” says Curtis. “She respected him. And I think obviously it was a very big thing for her and for him to do this thing, to do this part where she's killed off so early on. It was very unusual in the movies. And, look, it was, no matter what, when you boil down somebody's career, she is best known for 'Psycho'. So, for us, I have a lot of respect for the fact that that was her really most famous role.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Tucker: Quietly Comic For "Silver Linings Playbook"]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 15:48:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/101411+chris+tucker.jpg

Chris Tucker’s poised to be Hollywood’s comeback kid of 2012, without shooting any guns and with very little shooting off at the mouth.

At one point the highest-paid actor in films off the success of his “Rush Hour” comedies, the fast-talking, high-energy comedian chose to take a step back from his career fast lane – an off-screen sabbatical that lasted five years. And now Tucker returns in a seemingly unlikely new project: acclaimed writer-director David O. Russell’s poignant and romantic comedy-drama “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Although he plays a mental patient pal of lead Bradley Cooper’s character who is determined to free himself from hospitalization, Tucker leaves his signature shrill, manic antics behind and instead steals his scenes with an upbeat, Zen-like commitment to positivity with just a dash of his usual wry wit. The comic reveals the method behind his restrained, endearing madness.

You’ve been able to enjoy some considerable time off since your last film, and when you go back to work you’re directed by David O. Russell and share scenes with Robert De Niro. Did you feel nervous on your first day back to work?

You know what? Yeah! You always do. Because you want to be ready – and as soon as you get on the set it all goes away, and you're just ready to follow what the director wants you to do and also put your things into it, too. So it was great.

What was your first attraction to the role of Danny, who gets to steal a lot of scenes?

The first attraction was that he was surprising. He would come out of nowhere, and it was one of those great characters that make an imprint, but would not be all the way throughout the movie. And then also David O. Russell: we knew that he would probably do something, make it even a little bit more special because that's how he works, because he's creative – he's so creative. David is such a great writer, and the rhythm and the way that he writes, it's just really helpful. Then he's like that with creating and changing stuff, and so I like that it frees you up to not worry about knowing your lines exactly. He just make sure you feel like you can just be good, get into character.

Your chemistry with Bradley Cooper is special. Did you guys hang out together off sett?

No, only in the car [scenes]! When they stopped filming we talked a little bit, and I think that went right over into the film so naturally. But that's how David directs, he just makes it so naturally and you capture it on film, no pressure.

What about working opposite De Niro?

To be on the set with him – he's just a professional. Even though he is who he is, he waits around like everybody else and he's not complaining at all and not doing any kind of star-tripping. He's just a great person and a great actor. So I learned a lot from him.

Is this film the kind of territory that you want to stay in – not so much straight-up comedy, but material with other shades and nuances?

I want to be open to it all – if it's drama, comedy, whatever, just be open. I don't want to be in any box. When I find fun movies like this, if it's a small or large roles, I'm going to be open to it if it's a fun part or a good enough part that I can make an imprint in the movie.

In real life who has better dance moves, you or Bradley Cooper?

Me! I'm going to be honest. I'm going to be honest, it's just me. I shouldn't lie.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cotillard on Blockbusters vs. Independents]]> Mon, 14 Jan 2013 01:37:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/marioncotillard.jpg

No matter what language she’s speaking, Marion Cotillard is utterly fluent in fine acting.

The 37-year-old French stunner took home an Academy Award as Best Actress for her immersive performance as singer Edith Piaf in 2007’s “La Vie en Rose” and has crafted an impressive list of Hollywood credentials in the aftermath, most notably working with director Christopher Nolan in “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Cotillard returns to performing in her native language with the unpredictable drama “Rust and Bone,” playing a whale trainer whose life is upended after a shocking accident, placing her on a journey of redefinition alongside an unlikely potential soul mate (Matthias Schoenarts).

Already topping many critics’ lists as a leading contender to take home another Oscar trophy, Cotillard provides a look into how she crafted her performance.

On delving into her complicated character:

What was different from the other thing I did before was that when I read the script, even at the end of it, Stephanie was still a mystery. And that was a mystery that [director] Jacques Audiard and I needed to solve. But I also found out that, usually when I work, I need to explore every bit of a character. I need to know who this person is entirely, and I realize that that mystery that she was not to be solved entirely because it was part of who she is. When we started working, before we started shooting, and even when we started shooting, Stephanie was a big mystery and we tried many things. And that one day, Jacques told me, ‘Yeah, I know now: she's a cowboy.’ I thought it was kind of genius, and from there everything found its place. At the end of it, I didn't expect to be so moved by her. She turned anger into power. That's a cowboy thing, right?

On playing scenes in which her character’s lost limbs are exposed:

The physicality was never an issue. First of all, the CGI guys were really talented. They went really fast. They were very discrete on set when they were with us every day. But the fact that I actually have legs never got in our way. It was never an issue. Basically, it's very technical: I wore green socks and they [digitally] erased my legs, so we had funny moments because I had to put my legs in this certain position so I would not cast some shadows on Matthias’ back, for example, in some scenes. So we actually had fun doing it.

On the most challenging physical demand of the role:

I had to swim in the sea – it was freezing, it was late October and I got bit by a jellyfish. The camera was not working and I knew that if I would go back on the boat, it would take longer, so I stayed in the water with the jellyfish biting me. And man, it burns! And I didn't allow anyone to pee on myself.

On the most challenging mental demand:

What was the most difficult for me was to go to Marineland, because I don't feel comfortable in a place like this. And I needed to consider the animals as an actual animal and not as something that was turned from an animal into a clown or something, an animal who does a flip-flop when you ask the Orca to do it.

And the first day, I thought it was kind of horrifying, when I would ask them to do something and they would actually do it. And I thought the connection was easy to have because I would give them some fish, and they would do whatever I wanted them to do, if I did the correct gesture. But then on the second day, I had this rehearsal for the scene behind the glass, and that was not choreographed like the show is. And that was basically improvisation with the gesture that I knew, and that day, I had a real communication with the whale, and that changed everything for me.

On facing her own strong personal feelings about aquatic theme parks:

On my first day, I arrived five minutes before the show and I watched it. And I thought it was horrifying. And my trainer turned to me after the show and said, ‘Did you like it?’ And I thought, ‘Okay – What am I going to answer? Am I going to lie? Am I going to tell the truth?’ I couldn't lie, and I said, ‘Well, no – I hated it. But I don't want you to think I'm disrespectful.’ Those people, they have a passion. They're passionate about what they do. They love the animals, so they made my job easy because passion is contagious.

I will never go back to Marineland. This is an open question because some people's children won't ever have the possibility, because of money, to go and see the whales in their environment, and sometimes it can raise an awareness and the desire to save those animals. But then again, I have this example and maybe it's silly, but I remember when ‘Finding Nemo’ came out. This is a story about not taking those fish out of their environment, and there was an explosion of sales of clownfish after this movie. And that was something that I really couldn't understand because the story of that movie is telling the opposite: DON’T take them out to put them in an aquarium. And that's exactly what happened. So sometimes, I don't know – I'm really wondering if those Sea World, Marineland, however you call them, really make a difference.

On tackling the role after just becoming a new mother:

I usually never talk about my personal life, but my personal life was totally stuck to this project because, yes, I had my baby with me. And he was very, very young, and all the crew was really amazing with me because it was not easy – neither for me nor for everybody!

On moving between smaller-scale films and big-budget blockbusters:

I feel very lucky that I can travel from one very special universe to another very special universe. My experience in Hollywood with the big blockbuster, though, is very special too, because it's a blockbuster directed, written, produced by Christopher Nolan, who's not a studio director. I had some propositions of big movies, and I met the director, and I thought, ‘This guy is just here because they need a director, but it's not the most important thing in his life to tell this story.’ I need to work with directors who have the need to tell a story – and Christopher Nolan is definitely a director who needs to tell stories.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Twihard (Happily) Bids Farewell]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 11:01:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/twilight2lead_P2.jpg

With the "Twilight Saga" finally coming to its conclusion when "Breaking Dawn Part 2" opens in theaters, hearts will be breaking all over the world—including my own Twiheart.

About one thing I'm absolutely positive: I am an unashamed "Twilight" fan. I have read all the books, can recite much of the key dialogue, and I've seen each film more times than I care to share including multiple times in theaters. From the moment I audibly gasped when Edward and Bella first kissed on her purple bed, I knew I was a goner.

My mom even gave me Edward and Bella plastic dolls one year for Christmas as a joke. Friends always ask if they're supposed to be my husband and me -- nope, just my favorite movie dolls! (Did I mention that I am in my thirties?)

Though as the final installment approaches, I find myself surprisingly ready to say goodbye to Bella and Edward. If Kristen Stewart, who owes her entire career to author Stephenie Meyer, has admitted that she's "relieved" that "Twilight" is over, maybe we should be as well.

Vampires aren't supposed to age, but unfortunately actors do.

The teens in the "Twilight Saga" are supposed to remain teens, even when the actors who play them are well into their twenties. 26-year-old Robert Pattinson was supposed to be 17-year-old Edward across all five films. But despite some hair issues (Pattinson's famous spikes consistently varied in length and Stewart sported a hideous wig in "Eclipse"), the main three stars did a decent job of maintaining a similar look throughout.

The same can't be said for some of the supporting cast. With their dramatically altered hair styles, Ashley Greene and Jackson Rathbone looked as if they were different people in every film, while Peter Facinelli seemed as if he's aged at least 20 years since the first movie (and don't get me started on his perpetually-changing accent). So for the sake of the aging actors and their constant need for change, four years was probably long enough to stay the same.

Real-life love stories get messy.

It was almost too good to be true when Pattinson and Stewart got together on the set of "Twilight" in 2008. Twihards across the country were practically swooning at the news. But after Stewart was caught allegedly cheating this summer with her "Snow White and the Huntsman" director, Rupert Sanders, and she and Pattinson split as a result, it's hard to keep the fantasy of their perfect onscreen/offscreen relationship alive for the final film.

While they reunited publicly just in time for Monday's L.A. premiere of "Breaking Dawn," how can we separate Edward and Bella's relationship from Rob and Kristen's when they are so deeply intertwined? Or as costar Dakota Fanning so aptly said, maybe we shouldn't judge at all: "It's like, 'Why do you think you think you are the authority to judge people's experiences?'" Perhaps it's time to let this couple grow up—and possibly apart—outside of the movies.

The Thrill of the chase is over.

They tied the knot. They had sex. They had a kid. Dare we say that Bella and Edward are venturing dangerously close to "traditional" territory? Well not really, but many of us waited for three movies just to see the couple finally seal the dangerously sexy deal. But now that Bella has successfully bedded Edward and all that sexual tension is gone, what's there to hold our breath for? Not to mention the fact they are parents now. We know their kid is magical and stuff, but it's still no fun to see our favorite vamp lover become a teen mom.

Renesmee.

How many times can these actors say the name Renesmee (pronounced Ruh-nez-may) with a straight face? Even Meyer, who conceived this name from an awkward mixture of Bella and Edward's mothers (Renée and Esme), admits it's painful. “I’ve taken my heckling! I totally get it.," she told EW, adding that when she created the name she "was lost in fantasy land. I’m someone who strongly believes in reality with real children’s names. You don’t monkey around with people’s names. Whether they become a stripper or a lawyer in large part has to do with the name you give them. ... I would never name a real child Renesmee.” And with that name, Meyer's all but killed the chance of a spinoff (I don't care how cute actress Mackenzie Foy is).

Don't get me wrong, though, I will absolutely be camping out with my fellow Twihards come the film's release. But I'll also be okay that this will be the last time.

 

Lesley Savage is a freelance entertainment writer whose work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Elle and The New York Times.
 

]]>
<![CDATA[Hitchcock's Stars Remember Master of Suspense]]> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:58:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hitchcocktober-722.jpg

Alfred Hitchcock held to a longstanding filmmaking belief: “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” And what exquisite tortures he crafted.

Over the course of his five-decade-plus career in cinema, the British-born Hitchcock emerged as one of the preeminent film directors of the 20th Century who had an extraordinary ability to tap basic everyday interpersonal and societal anxieties and twist and turn them into the fodder for some of most absorbing, enduring thrillers the medium has ever seen.

His formalized, funereal public persona is now firmly back on the pop culture landscape with the cinema release of "Hitchcock" on Nov. 23, HBO's "The Girl" (which chronicled the director's obsession with his leading lady Tippi Hedren) and a new Blu-Ray limited edition set titled “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” that includes "Vertigo," "The Birds," "Psycho" (the making of which inspired the new film release starring Anthony Hopkins in the titular role), "North by Northwest" and "Rear Window" among other well known releases from the master of suspense.

“I'm a massive fan of Hitchcock's films,” says actor Toby Jones, who played the filmmaker with uncanny acuity in “The Girl.” “I think he had a huge sense of what was beautiful as well as what was suspenseful and scary…The thing about Hitchcock, which is so extraordinary for a director at that time, is that he had a very strong sense of his own image and publicizing himself.”

With both Hitchcock and his iconic films proving to be the subjects of eternal fascination on the screen, a quartet of actors who starred in a sampling of Hitchcock’s most unforgettable films early in their careers – Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau in “North By Northwest” and Tippi Hedren and Veronica Cartwright in “The Birds,” with Hedren also headlining the polarizing “Marnie” – shared their personal memories of the man behind the seemingly impenetrable image.


Eva Marie Saint: Hitchcock wanted to meet me, so he invited me to lunch to his house with his wife Alma in Bel Air, right on the golf course, and we had this beautiful, wonderful lunch. My mom had read somewhere that Hitchcock liked women in beige, so I said, ‘Oh, that's a nice tip, Mom.’ I used to live in beige, so I had a beige dress. And she said, ‘Well, honey, he also likes women wearing little white gloves, so I said, ‘Oh, well, I'm from New York, and we always wore little white gloves.’ I can't imagine that now, by the way! So I wore the white gloves and the beige dress, had this lovely lunch, and the part was mine.

He put me at ease. It was lovely. I asked, ‘Why would you live on a golf course? Were there ever any balls coming through the window?’ And he said, ‘No, but there were a lot in the garden, and we would throw them back.’ He didn't ask me many questions either, actually, when I think back. Not that sort of thing: ‘Who are you? What have you done?’ It was just really, inviting a stranger – me – to their house and making me feel very comfortable.

Martin Landau:
I was new in California, and I was in a play at The Biltmore Theater. He came opening night. It's a play I did on Broadway called 'Middle of the Night,' Paddy Chayefsky's first play on Broadway, and Edward G. Robinson was the star and Gena Rowlands played my wife. I toured with it, came to California and Hitchcock came opening night and saw me in the play. The next thing I know I got a telephone call from an agent who said, 'Do you know Alfred Hitchcock?' I said, 'Well, know him or know of him? There's a difference. I know of him.' He said, 'He seems to know you, and he wants you to come to MGM tomorrow afternoon.'

My agent and I drive out to Culver City and I'm ushered into his office, takes my hand and welcomes me. We would go around his numbers of offices in his complex and the whole picture is storyboarded on the walls of these offices – the whole picture, every cut from the first to the last shot. But in the course of showing me this, he says, 'Oh, Martin, this is where your character comes into the picture.' He said, 'Here you are on Mount Rushmore.' This is how I was introduced to Alfred Hitchcock and this is how I learned I was working for him, which was a bit of a shock, frankly. That's how I discovered that I was in 'North by Northwest.'

Tippi Hedren:
This call came on Friday the 13th of October, 1961, asking me if I was the girl in the Sego [diet soda] commercials, and they said, 'A producer is interested in you.' And I said, 'Who? Who?' And they said, 'Well, come over and have a meeting with us.' So I did, and they wouldn't tell me at that meeting. They asked if I would leave my reel of 12 or so commercials and my photo book over the weekend, which I did. And I went back on Monday and I met more executives.

Nobody would tell me who this was. It became kind of a game - it was kind of fun. And on Tuesday I was asked to go to MCA, which was then the biggest agency in the United States, and it was then that I was told that Alfred Hitchcock wanted to sign me to a contract, if I would look at it. They handed me the contract and said, 'Look it over, and if you approve, and sign it, we will go over to meet him.' And I was under contract before I met him.


Veronica Cartwright:
He requested meeting me – I think he saw me in ‘The Children's Hour,’ which I did with Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn. I went over to the Universal Lot to his bungalow to talk to him. He found out that I was born in Bristol, England, which was where his favorite wine cellar was. He proceeded to tell me about wines, which I didn't have a clue about when I was12 years old, and he taught me how to cook a steak, because one day I would get married and I would need to know how to do that.

Hedren: It never occurred to me that I would even be considered [to star in one of Hitchcock’s films]. I thought I would be doing the 'Hitchcock Presents' weekly TV shows. The Hitchcocks invited me to Chasen's and he presented me with this jeweled bird pin and said, 'We want you to play Melanie Daniels in "The Birds."' I was stunned – truly stunned – and I got kind of teary eyed. I looked over at Alma and she had tears in her eyes, and Hitch looked very pleased with himself.

And then, of course, the work began, which was fabulous because although I had the technical education, I didn't know how to break down a script, how to develop the character, look at the script and the relationships of the different actors. I mean I didn't know. I didn't have any of those tools. So he became not only my director but my drama coach…It was a gift to be able to listen to him talk about the films, about his past films – and there was so much talk about his past films – and the way he would be able to manipulate the audience. There was such an incredible fountain of information that I received about making film that it was thrilling. It was empowering.

Cartwright: I would ask him questions. I wanted to know why, on the jungle gym and on the wires, there were just cardboard cut-out birds, but they were mixed in with real birds. I said, ‘Won't an audience know that?’ And he said, ‘Your eyes see movement, and you assume that everything is alive.’ And it's absolutely true – you don't find yourself looking at the ones that are stationary. You're looking at the movement, and your eye takes it in as if everything’s moving. And the scene at the end when we go to go out of the door: there was no door there and I wondered how it was going to look like a door. He said, ‘Well, if I had a door there, I wouldn't be able to see you.’ So he said, ‘Rod, show them how it's done,’ and Rod Taylor pantomimes opening up a door, and he pulls it, and then this shaft of light cuts across our faces so it looks like he is inside of the door. It was amazing. He said, ‘You see: that is the magic of movies.’

Saint: He knew exactly what he wanted, and that showed. ‘Eva Marie, you sit here. Cary [Grant], you sit here.’ That was the most direction as I remember, but I was from The Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg there said, ‘The actor is the instrument’ – I love that vision – ‘and the director is the conductor. He conducts you and you figure out what he means and how he means and make it your own performance.’ Hitchcock didn't give much direction…He was editing as he went along. I'm not sure how the other directors work, but I have a feeling this was a very special kind of way of making a movie.

Cartwright: He used to tell bad jokes all the time. I would laugh because everybody else was laughing – I had imagined they were quite rude, but the adults seemed to get a kick out of it. When we did the stuff running down the hill in Bodega Bay, they had marionettes or mobiles of birds on a thing that would swoop down. We were all on this enormous treadmill, and I think he got a little carried away. He kept having us speed it up. We were hanging on – you just had to do your best to stay in the front, because otherwise if one kid went, you all went flying off at the end onto this huge mattress. The sheer look of terror, the faster he made it go, you couldn't miss it. These kids were just like, ‘Oh my God – I have to keep up!’ It was hysterical, and I'm sure he did that on purpose.

Landau: He said ‘I want your character to be better dressed than Cary Grant,’ so he took me to a tailor called Quintino’s on Wilshire Boulevard and had certain suits fitted for me. He accompanied me, and they were lovely suits that fit me impeccably. Then I went to Chicago when we started shooting. He called me – I wasn't working that day – and said, 'Martin, I'd like you to put the blue suit on which you're going to wear tomorrow, because I'd like to see it in the environment.' So I put the blue suit on and I went to the La Salle Street Station where they were shooting.

There was a large crowd cordoned off watching the shooting. I stood with that crowd, waiting for the shot to stop, when I'm tapped on the shoulder. There's a Cockney guy standing there who I later find out is Ray Austin, who happens to be Cary Grant's bodyguard, valet, and general practitioner – whatever. He says, 'Excuse me. Mr. Grant would like to know where you got that suit? Only two people in the world make a suit like that. One is in Beverly Hills and one is Hong Kong.'

I'm standing with a crowd of Chicagoans, and Cary Grant, who I've not met yet, spots my suit. I realize what's going on: Hitchcock took me to Cary’s tailor and my character is going to be better dressed: Cary wears one suit in the entire movie because he's absconded – they made like eight versions of that suit in various disrepair as the picture goes on; it's one suit but eight versions of that suit. I'm wearing his suit, made to his specifications, and I realize with that little introduction what Hitchcock has done. He loved practical jokes. So wisely, I said, 'I think Mr. Grant should have this conversation with Mr. Hitchcock and not with me.' Austin says 'Oh, I see,' and he leaves. The shot is over, and Hitchcock looks at me in the suit. I said, 'I think Cary wants to talk to you.' He said 'I know.' It's a great story and absolutely true.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TMNT Co-Creator Says Michael Bay Film Will Be "Fantastic"]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 12:57:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/AP42631172631.jpg

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans nearly crawled back into their shells this summer when various film blogs began to rumble that the new Michael Bay-produced TMNT film was halting production.

But TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman doesn’t think the foursome's new film will be dead in the water.

“All the intentions are in the right place,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. I think it’s going to be a fantastic film.”

Eastman acknowledged the project has changed significantly since it began three years ago, but said it's heading in an interesting direction.

“Three years ago, I started working on the John Fusco version, which was this awesome, awesome, awesome ‘Batman Begins’ kind of take on the first movie. It was really interesting, but it was maybe a little too edgy for what Paramount wanted. It went through a couple of different versions before Michael Bay took it over and brought in Jonathan Liebesman (‘Wrath of the Titans,’ ‘Battle Los Angeles’) to direct.”

With a focus on fighting scenes and special effects, Eastman says Liebesman’s approach will capture the essence of the ‘80s pop culture phenomenon. Eastman also said that when Liebesman took on the project, he thought that the production schedule was far too short, that more time was needed to do it right.

“Jonathan Liebesman is going to make a great film,” he said. “From what I’ve seen of the script, it’s fantastic. Michael Bay has made some great and intense movies. We’re talking about being inspired by movies like ‘The Avengers’ for scope and roots origin and ‘The Raid: Redemption’ for fight scenes and ‘Rise for the Apes’ as far as computer-quality style.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Director Brings Curtain Down on "Twilight"]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 10:59:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/179*120/119553186.jpg

In assembling a cinematic vision for “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” and “Part 2,” director Bill Condon’s task was not un-monumental: first, he not only had to keep true to novelist Stephenie Meyer’s much-beloved mythology and play into the star appeal of leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson; he also had to tackle pulling together the entire tapestry of the film franchise – each episode of which had been crafted by a different director – and create a final chapter that would effectively close the storyline and above all, keep those passionate fans happy.

With the three leads in particular, what impressed you once you got your first opportunity to have a creative exchange with them?

I met them all separately, but then we sat in a room in Baton Rouge, started going through the script. When we finished four hours later, we'd only gotten to page nine or so because we had so much to talk about. We just started talking. And I was just impressed by how seriously they took everything, how well informed they were about everything and the mythology, but also just what great instincts they had. They had been through this. They knew what worked and didn't work. They were still trying to fix things, try and make it play as well as it could.

So they became just great collaborators. And I have to say that just continues through and by the end, I really felt that, that there was a sense of everybody working really hard and feeling the responsibility. They knew that for people who love it or hate it, but mostly for people who love it, that this was something that had become an important thing culturally to a lot of people. 

For the most part, we've accepted that the director sets the style and the tone of a picture. In the new world of franchises, it can be a little different. You've got the appeal of Stephenie's stories. You've got the star appeal of Rob and Kristen. How did you find a balance?

I don't think you consciously try to figure out what your spot is, but what I think happens is, you make thousands of decisions as a director, right? And that reflects your taste and also what your interests are, starting from the script. There was no script when I got involved. There was an outline based on the novel, which then changed drastically as I worked with Melissa [Rosenberg, the screenwriter]. So you start to focus on what you think is important in the story.

Did the offscreen drama surrounding Kristen and Rob give you pause, like how are the fans going to factor in their emotions about this development into what happens with the movie?

No. Because I was in the cave then. We had 2,000 effect shots and it was like being in production for a solid year. So whether it was that or any other part of my life, it was sort of not my problem. It was going to be something that may have come up later, but luckily, it all seems to be in a happy place. But I was just so really freaked out about making sure I had enough time to make the movie as good as it can be. You get into a whole different zone.

Was there something of the fan sentiment, how the fans feel about things, that made you say, ‘I've got to make sure to factor that into my approach?’

Yeah, I think so. For example, their protectiveness towards Edward. I think that that is something that really struck me this time around last year. I mean, obviously, people love Jacob and Bella, but there's a special kind of feeling of protectiveness, I think is the only way to describe it. You're aware that you can play with it too because he's the one that gets kind of thrown around a lot in the last chunk of the movie. So that provides even more tension because it's so hard to see him – he's such a kind of noble creature.

What has this done for how you want to go forward? How you want to look at the projects you take on, because it was slightly left of center for you?

It was. It is weird. Francois Truffaut always said, ‘The next movie’s always based on the last, in some way.’ And I have found that. I don't know if that's going to be true with what I think I’m going to do next. It's quite different, but I feel like I'd been in a kind of biographical mode for a long time. And it was nice to scratch that itch of doing something that was pure genre like this series, which I consider this genre being kind of romantic melodrama. It was nice to be just within the confines of that and not have to worry so much realism, for example. That was liberating, making it more immersion in emotion.

Do you see an expanded ‘Twilight’ universe being built after these movies, in the way that it's happen with George Lucas and ‘Star Wars.’ Is there room to tell stories about the characters before the ‘Twilight’ things?

Yeah, when we were casting all these actors, who again have very brief moments in the movie. We talked early on about – all of those new vampires have interesting backstories – that it would be fun. We never pulled it together, but it would have been great to take real, new filmmakers, and have them – for the DVD release, or even concurrently released now, have them each make a film, a short film, about each of those characters. But to me, that's an example of something where there's a big mythology that's already been built that you can imagine someone, whether it's Stephenie [Meyer] or someone else sort of trying to explore.

What impressed you about Stephenie – somebody who literally woke up one morning and wrote this dream down and suddenly here comes a phenomenon?

What impressed me about her is just how smart she is and how well read she is, and what a deep, deep love of reading she has. And I think probably what I got from getting to know her a little bit is just that, again, there's a sensibility that informs us that really is quite different from the normal kind of mainstream culture of sensibility and movie sensibility, violence, for example, to be avoided, to be absolutely the last resort. Even conflict, things that you think of as the backbone of drama. I think there's such a kind of practical and reasonable approach that she takes. I think she believes in that, a sort of placid nature. So that was interesting. Not to ratchet it up too much.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Summit Entertai]]>
<![CDATA["Anna Karenina" Too Rich For Keira Knightley to Resist]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 17:09:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/annakarenina.jpg

Aristocratic and sheltered, yet adventurous and full of life. Romantic and naïve, yet selfish and manipulative. Sympathetic, yet difficult to forgive. Given that all those facets are characteristic of the titular heroine of Tolstoy’s venerated novel, is it any wonder that Keira Knightley was eager yet terrified to take on “Anna Karenina?”

Sweetening the gig was the fact that Knightley would reunite with director Joe Wright for their third collaboration, having previously scored big together with 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice” and 2007’s “Atonement.” Knightley reveals both the anticipation and the fear that mingled when she signed on to play one of classic literature’s most complicated female characters.

Anna Karenina has been done so many times on stage and screen. What attracted you to the role, and what about Joe Wright’s vision made it appeal to you?

I first read the book when I was about 19. Obviously, anyone would go ‘Gosh, that’s an amazing character.’ When Joe phoned me up, I think we’d had a conversation when we were doing ‘Atonement’ about great female roles and how few there are and we were trying to name them and Anna Karenina definitely came up within that conversation.

So he phoned me about two years ago, when I was working on ‘A Dangerous Method,’ and he just went ‘”Anna Karenina?”’ and I went ‘Yup.’ And he went ‘Okay, we’ll only do it if Tom Stoppard does the adaptation,’ and I went ‘Okay,’ and he said ‘Okay – I’ll phone you back.’ Two months later, he was like ‘Okay, Tom’s doing it,’ and I was like ‘Great!’ So that was it. The script obviously wasn’t there yet – It was purely on the potential of what that story and that character and that collaboration could be.

When did the bold stylistic choices Joe made in the telling of the story get on your radar?

When the script was first written and when we first started talking about it, it was going to be a completely naturalistic telling and it didn’t turn into this stylized thing until ten weeks before we started shooting when he phoned me up and said ‘I’ve got something to tell you…’ I went into his office and it was this kind of madman’s lair of these weird drawings and storyboards everywhere and he said ‘Right – We’re going to set it in a theater.’

I think if I’d been working with somebody that I didn’t know, that would have been totally terrifying and the alarm bells would have been ringing. Because I do know him and we’ve worked together so many times and there is an implicit trust there, I think the reason I wanted to work with him at all on this was because he was never going to do something just straight. Even when you look at ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ it was deeply naturalistic in that everybody was kind of scruffy and the hemlines were a bit off and there was mud over everything. It was a very different telling.

Is there something that you wanted to do with the character that wasn’t necessarily in the pages of the book?

No. I mean, I think within the pages of the book, it’s so massively open to different interpretations anyway, and partly because he does write from inside her head, but often he doesn’t. Often he writes from outside, judging her and describing her. And I think because of that judgment and that description, it means that there are lots of different interpretations. When I first read it when I was 19, I only remember her being innocent – I don’t remember judging her at all; I don’t remember seeing her as being in any way guilty. And I read it again last year before we started shooting, and when I see this at 26 because I was, I suddenly see this differently.

I see her as being much darker.  I think her moral culpability is constantly in question. I think she is held up to be condemned at certain points. I think she’s also held up to be loved and to be understood and to be sympathized with. But I think the relationship with her is quite a complex one for the reader, and I think because of that, it’s open to a lot of different interpretations. I didn’t go necessarily out of the book in trying to go how am I going to play this role. I think I tried to understand as far as I thought what her function within the book was and therefore what her function could be in the film fashion. And I thought that kind of moral ambiguity was a really interesting one to play around with.

What parts of Anna’s life could you relate to and what parts were far away from yourself?

I think she’s a terrifying character, and she’s terrifying because you do judge her and you try and throw stones at her, and then you go ‘Am I any better than her?’ And I think the answer for everybody is ‘No.’ I think it’s because you go ‘Are we all occasionally deceitful?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are we all occasionally manipulative?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do we all hurt the people whom we love the most?’ They are the people that we hurt the most. None of us are better than her. None of us have a right to judge her, and yet we do – and that’s terrifying.

When I talk about the kind of complex relationship that you have with that character, I think that’s because of it. It really makes you go “I am no better than this person that I am judging.” It’s quite a terrifying mirror, I think, it holds up to human beings in general. So I think as far as the love goes within her, I think it’s completely understandable. You have a woman that’s been married since she was 18.  She gets to 28. She’s never had an orgasm. She’s never experienced romance. Of course, she suddenly feels lust for the first time. She suddenly has a taste of romance for the first time, and she equates that with love – and only that with love.

She doesn’t see that there is many different forms of love and that that is a honeymoon period that will change into something else, and that’s her great tragedy. As soon as that bit, that little honeymoon period bit starts to change, she thinks the love has disappeared, and therefore, she thinks that he is cheating on her, and therefore she thinks that the whole relationship is doomed and that she’s been left alone, and actually, it’s different. It’s that she just doesn’t understand what’s going on. And I think that’s understandable. We all know serial romantics. Probably we’ve been there at certain points.

The costumes were magnificent – how much of you loves all the costuming and all that attention to detail and is there a part of you that is “Ugh – another layer”?

It adds two hours to the day, so you’re shooting a 12-hour day and suddenly you do have to come in two hours before for hair, make-up, costume and it takes an hour to get out of it.  So you’re adding three hours to a 12-hour day, which is just mandatory if you’re doing period pieces or fantasy pieces.

So there is that added thing and you do get to the end of a job like this and go ‘I really don’t want to do a period film for a while because I’m f**king exhausted.’ But the whole process, and particularly with Jacqueline [Durran, the costume designer], [was a] process of building that character from the ground up. Every one of those costumes had an amazing amount of symbolism within it – they were all totally part of telling that story. She was a caged bird, so that idea of the symbol of the cage being that and the cage underneath the dress that you see at the end and then the veils, the idea of keeping death close to her at all times so she’s wrapped in fur, she’s got dead birds in her hair, the jewelry is the hardest of all stones that could slit her throat at any moment.

And keeping sex there all the time so you’ve got these dresses that look like they’ve got lingerie coming through or falling off, and one of the dresses was actually made of bed linen because we wanted to keep that post-coital kind of thing there the whole time, the dress that she dies in.

Was there anything that you, as Keira, just loved to wear?

F**k no! I mean, hey, I would have liked to keep the diamonds! That would have been quite fun, but I didn’t get to keep them.

What’s around the corner for you?

I got to the end of ‘Anna Karenina’ and realized that I’d been sort of doing pieces of work that were incredibly dark and I pretty much died in a lot of them for five years. I wanted this year to be the year of positivity and pure entertainment.  So, I did one film called ‘Can a Song Save Your Life,’ which is about friendship and making an album and possibilities. And ‘Jack Ryan’ is a really great, old school, Hollywood thriller and a piece of pure entertainment, and hopefully it will be just that.

]]>
<![CDATA[James Spader Crafts a Quirky Take on "Lincoln" Lobbyist]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:33:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/James+Spader.jpg

Despite being more recently known for his roles in “Boston Legal” and “The Office,” James Spader has had a vibrant film career ranging from “Less Than Zero” to “Sex, Lies and Videotape” to “Secretary.” Now, in director Steven Spielberg’s "Lincoln," Spader tallies another memorable screen credit playing the prototypical political operative W.N. Bilbo, who resorts to all manner of creative incentivizing and arm twisting to aid Abe Lincoln’s bid to formally abolish slavery before ending the Civil War.

Spader, who like his role is himself a bit of a colorful character with a knock for verbal barnstorming, reveals what his experience was like recreating the most controversial period of 19th Century America.

Given the material, the director, your co‑stars, was it a treat to go to work each day on this film?

It really was lovely. I had an absolutely fantastic time in Richmond, Virginia. I was there with some of my family, and I was very lucky in that, although I'm a relatively small part in the film, my character was sort of peppered throughout the entire schedule. So I was able to drink it in, in its entirety. I think I showed up about ten days into the shoot, and I shot on the last day. So I just had absolutely a delightful time.

How did you avoid overplaying a character such as this, and find the right tone to give it the spirit that you know that character can bring to the proceedings?

At one point after we'd shot a couple of scenes – a handful of my scenes were sort of in a vacuum in that I was shooting with one other person. In some cases, they were a very small cameo and they’d be isolated little scenes – I saw an opportunity with this character to be able to take advantage of his vibrant colors. And I remember pulling Steven aside in, I think, maybe the third scene I did and said, ‘I just want to make sure that as I'm eating a small amount of the scenery.’ I wanted to make absolutely sure that I was making the same film that everybody else was making, and that the tone that my part of the film was going to balance well with the tone of the rest of the film. And he just told me to have at it. He just said ‘Absolutely.’

And he was so confident, that he's such a wonderful director to work with, I just completely trusted him to put on the brakes, or help me to put on the brakes when necessary which he never did [Laughs]. There definitely were a couple of times where in my enthusiasm, my accent might get a little bit stronger than other places, and he would make me aware of it, but he really was so supportive of all the colors. In conjunction with the makeup and hair department and the costume department and myself and [screenwriter] Tony Kushner and everybody, we were given a certain amount of free rein with Bilbo. There was not as quite as much research material available on this character as there were with some of the other characters in the film. They didn't have any images of him, so it gave us a poetic license that we took full advantage of.

Working with Spielberg has got to be at the top of many actors’ bucket lists. What was intriguing or enlightening for you about watching him work?

I was so thrilled by the moment I walked on the set – and I have known Steven, socially on and off through the years, but I never have worked with him before. And I just was so struck, from the very first moment I saw him working on the set, I saw that 16-year-old boy with the Super-8 camera. He has that incredible enthusiasm and thrill and curiosity and imagination that must have been there in the 16-year-old is unflagging in the whatever age he is now. I mean, it is not diminished one iota.

And that's not only thrilling, it's infectious and contagious. I was really inspired by that – and also, he's tireless! He would be shooting, if he had even a moment of break between scenes or between even setups, where others might go and eat or chat or smoke or nap or whatever, Stephen would be back in his trailer cutting previously-shot footage or working on pages with Tony Kushner for up-coming scenes.

Every director I've ever worked with has had to devote every moment to the film that they're working on, but considering the time in his life that he's devoted to the making of films, and the enormous body of work that he has had, and the enormous success that he's had, I was fascinated to see it's completely unjaded, completely lacking in cynicism. He's thrilled to be there every single, solitary day.

Some of your colleagues have described the scenes they shared with Daniel Day-Lewis as feeling as if they had actually in some way met Abraham Lincoln himself. Did you experience anything similar?

I find that every actor – every good actor that I have ever worked with – is immersing themselves to different degrees. And in the moment that the camera is rolling, they're making an attempt to immerse themselves to the greatest degree. And some are more successful at that than others. And some are able to pick it up and put it down, and some aren't. I do not suffer from any form of schizophrenia. I have many other mental incapacities and many other issues and idiosyncrasies, but I am not schizophrenic in any way shape or form.

And therefore, I absolutely, do not believe that I was at any point talking to Abraham Lincoln. But in every scene I had with Daniel, I felt that we were all – and not just Daniel, everybody in the film – being the truest that they could be to that time and place, and those people set within those circumstances. But it may just be in the prism through which I see the world, including my work life, I'm still aware of the fact that I'm making a film.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gordon-Levitt: "Lincoln" Portrayal Accurate]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 08:20:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-AP637495443923.jpg Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about their experiences on the set of "Lincoln" and what it was like to work with Daniel Day-Lewis, who played the title role. "Lincoln" hits theaters Nov. 16. ]]> <![CDATA["Lawrence of Arabia" Makes Epic Blu-Ray Debut]]> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 19:45:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/204*120/120708-this-week-p9.jpg

One of the marvels of cinema has returned from the desert, looking as majestic as ever for its 50th Anniversary.

Lawrence of Arabia,” director David Lean’s sweeping, epic tale of World War I British officer T.H. Lawrence’s (Peter O’Toole) trek into the Arabian deserts to unite conflicted tribes against the looming Turkish Empire, has been restored to its most pristine condition since its debut in 1962. Long considered one of the finest and most influential films of all time, ranked 7th on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies and certainly viewed as Lean’s masterpiece, the film won seven Academy Awards – including Best Picture and trophies for Lean, O’Toole and supporting actor Omar Sharif – from its 10 nominations.

The painstakingly reconstructed epic makes it long-awaited debut in Blu-Ray in both a two-disc set and a lavishly crafted limited-edition, four-disc collector’s gift set featuring three Blu-Ray discs, exclusive featurettes, a CD of the original soundtrack with previously unreleased tracks, an authentic 70mm film frame newly printed and numbered and a 88-page hard-bound coffee table book that features rarely seen photos.

Grover Crisp, who manages the restoration, preservation and mastering of the Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures film libraries for Sony Pictures Entertainment, reveals some of the secrets of bringing one of the most visually breathtaking films of the 20th Century back to its full grandeur.

What do you love about the restored version now when you look at it?

I personally think – and this is not just my opinion, of course – it is one of the great films of all time. It's just a magnificent motion picture. I actually feel it's an honor to be able to do anything with it. To be able to kind of bring it back to life again, they did that in the '80s with that restoration which is all photo-chemical and they did a fabulous job. We wanted to just kind of extend that work into the future with what we can do technologically now to improve it, to improve things that they couldn't do back then. That's really what it was about.

What kind of condition was the film when you started?

We wanted to work with the original camera negative this time. I knew the film negative was in extremely poor condition. Fragile: It was scratched; it was damaged in a number of ways, but I also knew that to get the best image quality for this new release, and really to celebrate the film, we had to go back to that negative. So that is what we did, starting several years ago. We knew that we'd have a lot of work to do, but I think we knew it would be worth it.

Was there a nail-biter that ended with a big victory on the restoration?

I can say that as damaged as I knew the film was, when we really got a good close up look at it, we were actually shocked that it was worse than we thought. When you can really look close up at the negative in a really high-resolution way everything is very visible, all the good qualities and all the bad qualities. So some of the damage to the emulsion, which we knew was present because we could always see it on the prints, we thought was just in certain sections of the film actually ran throughout the whole film. So that was a big shock to us. It actually probably added at least four or five months to the process, trying to figure out how to clean it up. We had to actually invent technical processes to take care of some of this.

That was something that we'd never seen before anywhere, on any film and we've worked on hundreds of films over the years, always with the camera negative. We've encountered a lot of strange anomalies, but this was certainly a very strange one and everyone who looked at it would just say, 'What is that?' And we'd have to explain what it was. So the challenge is to try and fix those things, and is now one hundred percent perfect? No, but it's a huge improvement – or at least I hope everyone will think so when they see it.

Having watched this film over and over in the restoration process, do you have a portion of it that you  never get tire of watching?

There are a number of iconic scenes in the film, of course: the blowing out of the match and the sunrise and the whole desert sequence, it just has a completely otherworldly feel to it which is what, of course, it's all about because that's his introduction to the desert. That is something that people know by heart and is obviously one of the great sequences of all time.

Are you in the midst of another major restoration right now?

We're always working on restorations. We're doing a restoration of 'On The Waterfront' right now and a number of other films that are in the works that we hope to get out in the theaters and on Blu-Ray and any other way that people can see these films.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Twilight" Leads Talk "Huge Highs and Lows"]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 23:23:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-kristen-stewart-twilight-breaking-dawn-part-2.jpg

As the sun sets on the “Twilight” film series after five movies, the saga’s shining stars are taking a moment to bask in the afterglow before moving on to new ventures.

In 2008 actors Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner became overnight superstars thanks to their film roles based on author Stephenie Meyer’s already phenomenally popular series of novels centered on the triangular conflicts of high schooler Bella Swan, her vampire suitor Edward Cullen and her werewolf best friend Jacob Black.

After five years of blockbuster box office, intense fan adoration and extreme media scrutiny, the three leads are about to take their final bow in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two,” and before the credits roll they look back on the ins, outs, ups and downs about being part of – and moving on from – one of the most beloved film franchises of an era.

Kristen Stewart:
[The phenomenon’s] grown so much, even recently, so I don’t know if we ever really realized to the extent that it’s gotten to, but Comic-Con for me was the first time I was ever hit with a wave of human energy that was like, ‘This is not a normal movie!’ We always really approached ‘Twilight’ as something that felt so very much like our own, and that first dose of sharing it, the first dose of looking up and seeing something that’s really affected you and moved you does the same thing to other people was mind-blowing. ... I was excited and it incredibly overwhelmed me, admittedly, but it is kind of the greatest part of the job, to be able to share that.

Robert Pattinson: After the first one, when something becomes so big someone starts referring to something as a ‘franchise’ – Franchise is a Burger King or a Subway. It's not a movie. And as soon as people start to say it – generally the people who are making money off it refer to it as franchise. They love it when something becomes a franchise, but as an actor in it, I think it's scary. You really, really feel like you have no control. It's a huge juggernaut, especially when something becomes part of the cultural landscape in a way as well. It's really scary because you get trapped, and you get scared of changing, which is the worst thing that can happen if you want to be any kind of artist.

Taylor Lautner: I've grown up a ton because I did start this when I was 15 years old, so that's just bound to happen, but it also is kind of an accelerated rate. Also, working as an actor and having the opportunity to work with some of the people in this franchise – I love the fact that we had different directors for each movie, except for these last two. That was amazing to play the same character but be directed in a different way every time and have different input.

Pattinson: It's kind of fun to deal with the terror and the kind of huge highs and lows. I was still getting massive surprises any time you have any kind of ‘Twilight’-related event or anything. I think it was the third movie where we went to Munich, and the entire Olympic stadium was filled with fans and just [for us] to walk in there and do nothing. There was supposed to be a Q & A, and it was me, Kristen and Taylor. We just stood in the middle of the Olympic stadium with 30,000 people just screaming, and we just stood there like, ‘Yep...’ For 15 minutes. I mean, it's absolutely bizarre. There's no way you can ever compute it.

Stewart:
A question that I can’t answer is ‘What do you want to do next? What’s your dream role? What are you really looking to do? Where do you see yourself?’ It doesn’t make any sense because that’s such an outsiders perspective, suddenly you are going ‘Why do people look at me like this?’ And until you see it, what are you responding to? You are responding to other people’s perspective of you, which is so weird. Why a lot of actors do what they do, I don’t get that. But things have fallen in my lap and I’ve gotten incredibly, insanely lucky to get the right feelings and meet people that share them and that’s, if I can keep doing that, I would be a happy girl.

Pattinson: People were asking me if I'm afraid of getting typecast and stuff, but you can't be afraid of it. It's really not up to you. I'm getting other parts that aren't vampires. I don't know if people will accept me in them or whatever, but it’s really nothing to be afraid of. I don't know how people will remember this series at all. It's crazy how intense people are. The fan base is still huge five years on, so I don't know how long it’s going to last for. It will be insane if it was still the same tenacity in 15 years.

Lautner: I love challenging myself and doing different things and exploring different areas that I haven't been to or gone to before, and that's what I love about acting, that's what I love about film. So that's my goal. I'm really excited about a few things that I will most likely be starting really soon, and I'm excited I'm re‑teaming with the producers of ‘Twilight,’ who I love and I have an amazing relationship with on an awesome script that I'm excited about. It's different for me: it's very serious and dramatic.

Pattinson:
When I did ‘Harry Potter,’ I remember looking at Dan [Radcliffe], Rupert [Grint] and Emma [Watson] and being like, ‘Wow – those guys are ACTORS.’ I was starstruck by them. Yeah, I've always had this sort of separation. It's funny to see people get humanized, because with Dan, Rupert, and Emma, I was with them for 11 months, and I still see them as massively famous people. It's strange to have gone through the same experience with Taylor and Kristen as well. It's massive, and to see people retain their sanity as much as possible – I've seen a lot of other people have minor amounts of fame and just lose their mind completely.

Lautner: The biggest thing I'll take from this is those relationships [with Rob and Kristen]. We are so close right now. They're some of my best friends, and that won't go away at all. It will be more difficult because we don't have the excuse to spend months and months and day after day with each other, but our friendships will go on forever.

Stewart: Another really common question is going to be ‘How does it feel to walk away from this?’ and I genuinely feel like I don’t have to walk anywhere. What I love about this job is that you hold these things  - you wouldn’t have done it in the first place if it wasn’t something I was always going to carry, and I think they feel the same way: they tell me they do.

Stewart: I kept Bella’s rings. The rings are really important to me: her mother gives her a mood ring in the beginning, it fully and completely reminds me of Catherine Hardwicke every time I look at it. And the engagement ring. Yeah, I have that too, I hold onto that one.

Lautner:
Every time an actor finishes a movie you have a picture wrap and everybody claps for him – It's a big thing. The last scene I filmed with the wig, I took it off, and they picture-wrapped my wig. They're like, ‘All right. That's a franchise wrap on Jacob's wig.’ And everybody knew how much I hated that thing, so everybody was so happy for me. They asked me ‘Do you want it?’ I was like ‘No! Get that away from me!’ So I told them that they could burn it. And now, looking back on it, of course, I'm like, ‘Man, I should have kept that thing.’

Pattinson:
[The last scene we shot] was hilarious, considering we spent the entire series filming in the most miserable conditions, and then we end on the beach in the Caribbean for two days in the sea. We literally did the last shot as the sun was coming up in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It was a nice way to end it, because they were considering shooting it in the sea in Vancouver, which would not have worked at all.

Stewart: I am so happy that the story is told, you have no idea…But I don’t want it to sound like I am excited just to be done with the experience, because to be honest, it’s like such a particular tone – you do an interview for “Twilight,” you go back, but anything, like reshoots, conversations with past directors, anything, it just falls right back into that. It’s a feeling and I will definitely miss that. But I feel like it’s not going anywhere, I feel like anytime something is brought up, or you see someone, It is sad, it is strange, but it’s normal. Things shouldn’t stay stagnant. Got to move on.

Pattinson: People were asking me how I'd feel when it all ends on the first movie, and I don't think I've ever felt more completely bewildered knowing that I only have a month of ‘Twilight’ stuff left to do. I don't know – I've said since the second one, it's going to take ten years to really settle in my brain. So I'm four years into it, but I don't think there IS any analysis. I don't think anyone knows why people like it. I don't think even the fans know why they connect with it in the way they do. It's a visceral thing – I don't even know if Stephenie Meyer could tell you why she was so fixated on this very, very contained story and kind of obsessive characters. It's just a kind of anomaly.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ties That Bond: Roger Moore On 007]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:51:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/193*120/Roger+Moore+Bond.jpg

Every actor to play secret agent James Bond has brought their own individual style to the role, but no one gave 007 more charming cheek than Sir Roger Moore.

Moore was the third performer to assume 007’s license to kill – following in the footsteps of originator Sean Connery and one-shot star George Lazenby – and also the one who served the longest in the role, appearing in seven official films over the course of a dozen years between 1973 and 1985. And while Connery is generally viewed as the definitive Bond, Moore amassed his own legions of fans by playing Bond with a more debonair detachment, all the while delivering gallows-humor quips and double entendre dialogue. “He’s lovely,” says the current James Bond, Daniel Craig. “I’m a huge fan of his.”

“[Roger] brought enormous charisma and charm and the self‑deprecatory humor, says Barbara Broccoli, the daughter of original Bond producer Cubby Broccoli and one of the current caretakers of the franchise. “It's so much a signature of who he is. I think he's very underrated as an actor. He was always great in Bond, but he's a little bit too self-deprecatory about himself and his abilities because he has such a style. I know he's not very comfortable with that idea, that he's good, but he really is very special. And certainly, his Bond was very much of his time and very enduring. We meet so many people who just love the panache and the style and the ease with which he played the character – but it was difficult. It's not easy to pull off, and I think he was a fabulous Bond.”

A vivid and witty raconteur, Moore has assembled some of his favorite memories, anecdotes and observations about his place in the pantheon of the Bond phenomenon for the lavishly illustrated memoir "Bond On Bond: Reflections On 50 Years of James Bond Movies," and after being tracked down staying under a very Bondian secret alias in posh New York hotel room, the 85-year-old actor looked back on his place in the elite fraternity of actors who’ve assumed the mantle of novelist Ian Fleming’s super spy.

Are you enjoying the 50-year celebration?

Well, it's been very interesting, of course, since we tied in with bringing out the new book. The book just happily coincides with the fiftieth anniversary. Which is what the publishers thought would be auspicious timing. Not planned at all. [Chuckles] And the fact is that there is a lot of interest in Bond, and continues to be. And the new film, I think, guarantees another 50 years of Bond and the Bond franchise. It's quite an extraordinary piece of work, beautifully directed by Sam Mendes.

What do you think has kept Bond, unlike any other film franchise, still vital and still vibrant for audiences?

I think because it's become an old friend with audiences. You know, we're going back to the beginning of the '60s, so grandfathers take their grandsons to see it. Originally it was fathers went to see it, then they took their sons. And now those fathers take their sons. And it sticks to the formula, basically: that good will beat evil eventually. It's White Knight galloping against the forces of evil. There are always beautiful Bond ladies, interesting gadgets, cars and all that sort of thing that men like. And that women have grown to like them, too, I think – they may be going just to please their husbands, but I think now that they can see Daniel Craig in his brief, brief shorts so it's even more attractive to them.

What did you enjoy about playing James Bond?

The fun of it was that I was working with friends. All the crews were virtually the same crews most of the time, and working with the same crews, you didn't have to go through that awkward thing of finding sort of things in common, to do, to talk about. I had the same makeup people, the same hair people, the same costumers. It was like an old family. And working with Cubby [Broccoli] was a joy and a delight, and rather because he was a caring producer. He would do almost anything for the crews – even cooking! He took great care of them when they were on foreign locations.

If, for example, there were casinos, as there are in quite a number of places around the world, he would not let the crews take their full salaries, just to guarantee that when they got home they would have something left. And then I watched him go around in the casinos where we'd be on location and he takes...He used to take a pile of chips around with him and he would put them down in front of the crew to enjoy. And we also had a running backgammon game that went on through every film. It was just fun to do with fun directors and a generally wonderful, friendly atmosphere.

From reading both of your books, it seems like you took that very high level of fame and recognition factor in stride. Was it that easy to be that famous in the heyday of your stint as Bond?

I sort of never had one of those moments in my career where ‘This is make or break.’ I just happily went on and went from one thing to the other. Gradually became more and more famous or whatever you like to call it. And since I had 21 years working with UNICEF, that celebrity, whatever it is that you get, that's proved useful in opening doors around the world when you want to get to see people of some importance. It helps a great deal. I think because, first of all, they're curious as to why some cockamamie actor thinks he can talk on the subject of children's problems.

Did you ever have an opportunity to chat with the other actors who've played Bond?

Is there sort of like a James Bond club? Do we all get together? No. [Laughs] I used to see quite a bit of Sean when he was in Europe and in California. But now he's in the Bahamas full time so I don't get to see him. Timothy Dalton, I saw on and off from time to time when we happened to be in the same town. No, we don't sit and discuss our experiences. [Laughs] Although I must say, when Sean was making the Bond film which actually was not a Bond – because 'Never Say Never Again' wasn't a Broccoli/Saltzman film, it was a rehash of ‘Thunderball’ – we'd catch one another at dinner sometimes and discuss how they were trying to kill us that day. We’d always say that the producers were out to kill you. To get the insurance money, you see.

You played Bond with a light touch. Are you kind of pleased that that's your particular stamp on the character?

Well, it was deliberate. Maybe it's because I do most things in the same way. I found it very hard to believe that I would be accepted as a secret agent in the real world because every barman that seemed to know the particular the drink Martini shaken, not stirred – so I don't think that's a genuine spy.

What is your actual drink of choice?

Anything I can get my lips around! No, I'm mainly a wine drinker. White wines because my wife gets migraines if she has red wine, so I have to sacrifice my desire for some reds. But I’m drinking invariably Sancerre or a Pinot Grigio. If you're sending me a bottle, I love Jack Daniels.

You admired “Skyfall.” What do you like about what Daniel Craig’s done with his stint as Bond?

Oh, I think that he has brought a complete reality to this character who's a killer and also vulnerable. I think he's the greatest asset that the Bond franchise has ever had and I think it's guaranteed another 50 years of the franchise going on.

In a near-Bond experience, did you have as much fun playing a delusional man who believes he’s Roger Moore in 'The Cannonball Run' as it looked like you were having?

Oh it was great fun! When they asked me if I would do it, I said, 'Well, I can't take the piss out of Bond.' I don't do that. But I'll take the piss out of Roger Moore. And so I thought the idea would be to send myself up. The name was Goldfarb, Seymour Goldfarb. And I also asked for Molly Picon – I said she should be my mother, and they went out and did it. They got her.

Given that you are indelibly associated with the character, what's it like for you when you see how people react to encountering Roger Moore/James Bond?

I don't think I think about it, but for example, when my older son was at the age when they think their father's the biggest, strongest man in the world, I took him to lunch at a restaurant in West End of London and he said, 'Dad, could you beat up anybody in this room?' I looked around the room and they were all fairly old and I said 'Yes, I suppose I could.' He said, 'What about if James Bond came in?' I said, 'But Geoffrey, you know, I'm going to be James Bond.' He says, 'Yeah, but I mean the REAL one – Sean Connery.' So it's that sort of family. It keeps your feet on the ground.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA["Skyfall" Gives Bond a Classic Update]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 13:27:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/skyfall-craig.jpg

With “Skyfall” already being touted as the James Bond film for anyone who’s ever loved a James Bond film, current 007 Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes sit down to discuss how how they tried to find ways to freshen up the Bond trappings.

With the franchise already invigorated for the 21st Century with Craig’s gritty debut in 2008’s “Casino Royale,” the pair faced a new challenge when crafting Bond's latest adventure: how to subtly pay homage to the five decades of espionage and assignations that paved the way for “Skyfall” without returning to the over-the-top of pastiche that the films previous to Craig had become known for.

On a return of some of the more lighthearted elements of 007’s world, while still retaining the intense reality established in the last two films:

Daniel Craig: The thing is I just felt that given the great opportunity to do ‘Casino Royale,’ which the conceit was that we’re discovering the character, that we couldn’t just cram in the old gags. It would’ve felt wrong and I was not trying to copy anybody who’d come before. They did it so well and I didn’t want to be that person. I wanted to be me in this, but it’s always been a plan. It’s always been somewhere we’ve wanted to get to and to try to put them back into the movie in an original, fresh way was just the only issue and the thing Sam and I spoke at length about, because we wanted to make a Bond movie. Eventually a Bond movie is a Bond movie because of those things.

Sam Mendes: This is really worth saying: we couldn’t have made this movie without ‘Casino Royale.’ What the producers and Martin Campbell did so brilliantly in that film was bring everything back down to sea level and take away pastiche and the assumption that there were going to be those moments. Now we’re able to reintroduce them with a sense of fun and mischief. Daniel can’t say this but he has earned it, actually. He’s earned it by telling those stories again up to this point. Now I think an audience is delighted when they reappear, hopefully.

On the principal pleasures of this particular James Bond film:

Craig: The thing that stays with me most is not really any particular thing but the fact is walking onto the set with the cast that we had and Sam at the helm and a crew who you did pay good money for, but they were wall there and everybody was excited and enthusiastic about making this film. That enthusiasm was infectious. That really for me is my abiding memory…It was romantic and frustrating. It’s seven months of filming so it’s like making four movies at the same time. There’s a second unit going on, there’s the main unit. We’re shooting action sequences, we’re shooting dialogue sequences, underwater sequences. There’s nothing like it. It’s a real privilege and an honor just to be around that.

Mendes: I wanted to have a huge challenge and there was no question, they don’t come much bigger than Bond in terms of scale and expectation. I wanted to wake myself up, try something completely new. I also wanted to come back to England to make a movie – I’d never made a move in England, bizarrely, despite the fact that I’m English. And I wanted to work with Daniel and Judi Dench again, who I hadn’t worked with for a while. So all of those things – it just felt like the right thing at the right time.

On Bond’s enhanced interaction in the field with his boss M, played by Judi Dench:

Craig: It was about time she did some work because she normally just sits in an office on the phone shouting at people! No, she’s an extraordinary woman and actress, just wonderful to be with. When Judi walks into the room, she lights the room up. It’s incredible: she’s got such an energy about life and she loves doing what she does. I’ve been a fan of her all my life so to get the chance to work with her and play with her, because that’s what she likes doing. She likes playing on set. She takes her job very, very seriously but laughs all the time.

On the enduring potency of the Bond franchise:

Craig: To me it’s a very easy answer. It’s retaining what it always had. It’s making movies for the audience, putting it all on the screen and this family [producers and half-siblings Barbara Broccili and Michael G. Wilson] is the reason for it…I get a huge kick out of doing this, and I can see doing another film. The whole point of this is they take such a chunk out of your life. I’m contracted to two, by the way, which is fairly common.

Mendes: You watch these little mini documentaries about the making of the movies and sometimes, even though you’ve been involved in them yourself, you learn some things, actually. There was an interview with Michael and he said ‘The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a recipe for disaster.” I thought he was going to say ‘”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is true.’ The truth is he’s right, but it takes a hell of a courageous person – or two people – to know that actually what you’ve got to do is keep changing it and not making it the same. I think that has been ultimately the reason it’s regenerated so brilliantly: taking the risk on somebody like Daniel, taking the risk to take away everything in order to rebuild it and that’s why it endures – because it’s not the same. Every Bond is different and every generation needs a different Bond, and it’s been able to move with the times. Now it’s hopefully set up, we’d like to think, for another 50 years and to a whole other generation of people.
 

]]>
<![CDATA["Amazing Spider-Man" Director Looks Ahead to Sequel]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 18:57:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/amazingspiderman_722x406_2193768596.jpg

Director Marc Webb is untangling some secret strands from “The Amazing Spider-Man” even as he’s ready to spin a new film adventure for Marvel Comics’ friendly neighborhood wall-crawler.

As the super-heroic summer hit – which recast the cinematic web-slinger in the form of actor Andrew Garfield and paired him with Emma Stone as potentially ill-fated first love Gwen Stacy – makes its home video debut, Webb took a hands-on role in the assembly of the discs, including several deleted scenes that add even more intrigue as to the role of Peter Parker’s parents in his origins and also reveal a more sympathetic side of Rhys Ifans’ Lizard.

As the director discusses the home video version and looks back at the lessons learned from the audience, he also provides a tantalizing hint or two about what lies ahead for the sequels.

Are you excited for people to get a chance to see some of the extra scenes that you couldn’t squeeze into the theatrical release?

As a filmmaker, I’m always interested in seeing behind the curtain, and I think it’s really important when you’re creating a DVD that you’re catering to the people who are really big fans of the material. As a viewer, I’m interested in seeing how movies are made – and I think there are a lot of directors who are rightly protective of that process, but I find that the viewer, I’d be curious to see how these things evolved. There’s an interest in seeing that, but when you’re editing a film, It’s like your brain is the final draft of film – there’s a lot of things that go on, and I thought it was an interesting thing to put forth.

Once the audience got to see the film this summer, to respond to it, what did their reaction mean to you?

I think what I was really pleased about was that people really reacted to the relationship between Peter and Gwen, which was always my avenue into the movie. It’s the most relatable and most meaningful part of his life and that kind of relationship has always fascinated me on screen, cinematically. ...I think people reacted positive to Emma and Andrew. And that was really the hardest part: finding a Spider Man that felt new, but also honored the character. I think Andrew was really exceptional and people have embraced him in a way that’s pretty incredible, and I’m really proud of that.

Did the audience reaction give you any new insight as to where you wanted to take future adventures?

Certainly, there are parts of the parents’ story, the father and the mother story that we’re going to pick up in the subsequent films but I think that’s something that people left the movie a little more curious about.

Is there a scene, when you watch the movie now, that makes you say, ‘Yeah. We really had a good time that day'?

The scene where Peter asks Gwen out for the first time. It was in a hallway shot. It was really funny – they connected in a way that you don’t get to see very often in big superhero movies. There’s sort of a something innocent but something true and dramatic and something very intimate about it. It just felt really real. I remember on that day things were really clicking, and I think it really shows on screen.

Of the behind-the-scenes material that’s going to be on the discs, what do you think the home viewers are going to find the most fascinating?

I think the second screen app is pretty amazing where you can follow the movie on your iPad and watch the special features – that was something that I worked on really hard with Charlie de Lauzirika, the author of the DVD who’s done great, amazing DVDs before – he did the ‘Transformers’ and the ‘Avatar’ DVDs and he’s just a brilliant guy and it’s going to be a really interesting feature for people.

Where are you as far as planning stages for the follow-up film right now?

We have a really killer script, and of course we have an amazing cast, so we’re getting ready to go. We’re really at the starting line – we’re going to start production not too far from now.

How far ahead did you look at Spider-Man’s story when you were making the first one?

Usually these kinds of movies have a trilogy, and I wanted a certain storyline to remain for longer than one film. So in some ways I anticipated what was happening down the road and I wanted to plant certain acknowledgments of what would happen in the future.

I think there’s something really interesting with franchise films that’s emerging recently. It’s become more of a novelistic form. It happens in a lot of serialized TV: you can see the big stories unfold in a much bigger universe because of they way people view things, because they have DVDs. There’s a more complex, nuanced universe, and I think that’s really fun for the audience.
 

]]>
<![CDATA[Spielberg, Day-Lewis on "Lincoln"]]> Mon, 14 Jan 2013 01:37:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lincoln+1.jpg

When two of the most respected artistic forces in contemporary filmmaking decide to collaborate on a movie detailing a crucial period in the life of one of the most pivotal presidents in American history, people tend to take it seriously.

With that in mind, director Steven Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis admit that when it came to their long-discussed project chronicling Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to bring an end to the bloody Civil War and simultaneously formally abolish slavery, they took their time before committing to rolling film. As both men reveal, though, their desire to get “Lincoln” right ultimately led them to make the film at what they believe the ideal moment to explore the life and legacy of America’s 16th president.

Steven Spielberg:
I just always had a personal fascination with the myth of Abraham Lincoln. And once you start to read about him and the Civil War and everything leading up to the Civil War, you start to understand that the myth is created when we think we understand a character. And we reduce him to a kind of cultural, national, stereotype. Lincoln has been reduced to statuary over the last 60 years or more because there's been more written about Lincoln than movies made about him or television portraying him. He's kind of a stranger to our industry, to this medium. You have to go back to the 1930s to find a movie that's just about Abraham Lincoln.

Daniel Day-Lewis: Really the most obvious thing is trying to approach a man's life that has been mythologized to that extent in such a way that you can get close enough to properly represent it. I just wasn't sure that I would be able to do that. Beyond that, I felt that probably I absolutely shouldn’t attempt. Somebody else should do it instead.

Spielberg:
It was hard to get him to say yes!

Day-Lewis: I ran out of excuses at a certain point. For Steven to put the idea put in front of me – not that I didn't take it seriously from the word ‘go,’ but it seemed inconceivable to me that I could be the person that helps him to do that thing he wished to do. Least of all did I want to be responsible for irrevocably staining the reputation of the greatest president this country's ever known.

Spielberg:
[Screenwriter] Tony Kushner was not the first person to attempt to tell a story about Abraham Lincoln for me to direct, and that was the only exposure Daniel had to our Lincoln was another script, which was really more about the Civil War and all the battles than it was about the presidency. But when Tony had written his draft, that was sort of the first shoe in the door that really get us together in Ireland to talk about – it was almost like a feasibility study: Daniel was doing a feasibility study to see whether he would allow himself to go near a script that was clearly on the verge of brilliance, and I was just at that point, without putting any extra pressure on Daniel – because I didn't say this to anybody, but if he had finally and ultimately said no, I would never have made the movie Abraham Lincoln. It just wouldn't have been in my life anymore. It would have been gone.

Day-Lewis:
It really was for me a combination of that meeting, even if nothing had come from it, I would have left me with a really wonderful memory of the time spent talking about Lincoln with Steven and Tony. It had become such an important part of their lives. Reading Tony's script, discussing what it might become if Tony were to carry on and work on it because he more or less stopped writing it.  It was still an incomplete version.

And then, when Tony went away to begin to continue that work, I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, and I think it really became the platform for me, as it had been for Steven and Tony from which I could believe there was a living being to be discovered there. Because she makes that so beautifully clear in her book, and that had been the great problem for me, not just the responsibility of taking on that task, but really asking the question, has he now been removed for all time from that possibility because of the iconographies surrounding his life.

Spielberg:
I would have been very happy to have made ‘Lincoln’ in the year 2000, the year after I met Doris Kearns Goodwin. It took her a couple of years to write the book. It took us more than a couple of years to get the screenplay written. So I wasn't waiting for a certain time. But one point, I flirted with coming out on the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, but we weren't ready to make the picture then.

People say, ‘Oh, you made it because of what's happening in politics today?’ No, we were ready to make it during the Bush administration. It had nothing to do with current politics. It had nothing to do with holding a mirror up to the way we conduct our business on Capitol Hill today. This was meant to be a story, a Lincoln portrait, if you will. I think any time is the right time for a very compelling story, any time….I'm really excited to see how deeply people will reach to contemporize our film far beyond how it deserves to be contemporized…

There's a lot of confusion about the political ideologies that both parties have switched about 180 degrees in 150 years. It's just too confusing, everybody claiming Lincoln as their own. And everybody should claim Lincoln as their own because he represents all of us, and what he did basically provided the opportunities that all of us are enjoying today.

Day-Lewis: The wonderful surprise with that man is that as you begin to discover him, and there are many different ways in which you can do that, he welcomes you in. He's very accessible. That took me by surprise…I knew nothing about him, so I had everything to learn, and apart from a few images, a statue, a cartoon, a few lines from the first inaugural, a few from the Gettysburg Address, I guess that would be my entire knowledge of that man's life.

I think probably the most delicious surprise for me was the humor, to begin to discover that aspect of his character was, I think, undoubtedly used, in a conscious sense for some purpose, to make some point. There are accounts of people that came to ask him a question of, to them, great importance, found themselves in his presence, got a handshake, a story, and were out of the room before they even realized it. That's good politics, but, I also think it was innately positive – I think there was a very joyful element to that, actually.


 



Photo Credit: IMDB]]>
<![CDATA[Declassifying 007's Secrets]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 19:57:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/james-Bond.jpg

The secrets of 007 are now for everyone’s eyes only.

At 600+ pages, "The James Bond Archives" (Taschen) is as epic in scope as the 50-year, 23-film (or 25, depending on how you count) history of the cinematic adventures of Ian Fleming’s globe-hopping, martini-swilling, world-saving British secret agent with a license to kill. With total access to EON Productions’ prodigious archives, editor Paul Duncan immersed himself in the behind-the-scenes world of Bond.

What was your level of Bond fandom when you decided to tackle this project?

Well, I was a person who had basically lived with Bond all my life. By default, if you're British, then you're a Bond fan – there's no either/or! You're either a fan or you're not British, basically. Bond was somebody who’s part of the culture here, and everybody wanted to be Bond or would like to meet Bond. I wasn't a fanatic fan, but he was somebody I always admired and always went to see the films since I was a kid.

How easy or how difficult was it to get EON to “declassify” all of their 007 files and archives?

When I joined Taschen over ten years ago. I had my job interview with the publisher Benedikt Taschen, and one of the things we discussed was doing a book on James Bond. And about three years ago, we were talking and Benedikt said, ‘Isn't it about time we did that big James Bond book?’ A couple of months later, I get a phone call from Eon saying, ‘Can we meet to discuss the book.’ And I thought,’ Oh, great, Benedikt has been in contact with producers, Barbara [Broccoli] and Michael [Wilson], and it's all sorted out. So I met Jenny MacMurray of EON at the Taschen office in London, and said, ‘Oh, when did Benedikt meet with Barbara and Michael?’ And she said, ‘What are you talking about?’ Basically, we'd come up with the same idea at the same time, and so there was no problem whatsoever.

Was there a Holy Grail that you were looking for or stumbled upon while you were going through this massive amount of material?

Very early on with ‘Dr. No,’ one of the things I wanted to find out was actually how did the project come about? And what's great is that right at the end of the book, I was in contact with Steven and Hilary Saltzman, the children of [producer] Harry Saltzman, and they had the very first agreement between Cubby [Broccoli] and Harry [Saltzman] about the two of them working together on the film. I couldn't believe it. From their very first meeting, this actually is the documentation of their agreement between each other. It was from there that the series started, so that was a complete surprise right at the end of the book.

In the course of all your research, did you get to hold in your hands any of the iconic touchstones?

Even though we don't include the props in the book, there were many props around and I was like a kid in a candy store. And yes, I held Oddjob’s hat, and Jaws’ teeth and the knife shoes from ‘From Russia with Love,’ all those things.I have to say, it was a tough slog in terms of the time I had to put in, in order to get the book done, but with a joy all the way because it was just so much fun.

Bond Girl trivia: There's always a little bit of a mythic aspect to the scene with Shirley Eaton in the golden body paint in ‘Goldfinger’?  Is there a good story behind it?

Shirley Eaton was actually in the film only for a few minutes, but she had a tremendous impact on the movie. She's painted gold and dies from asphyxiation of the skin – which is impossible by the way. It's simply a myth. But in order to produce that, the make-up people had to devise all these different goos and potions over several weeks. Eventually, they came up with a substance that they could just paint onto Shirley Eaton very quickly so that she could do her scene quickly in one morning. That was it: It was all over in one morning, but it had a tremendous impact worldwide. ‘Goldfinger’ was the film that really hit big in America – ‘Dr. No,’ and ‘From Russia with Love’ were big hits in the UK, but not so big in America. And when ‘Goldfinger’ came out, everybody said, ‘This is tremendous!’

Along with the six gentlemen who have portrayed Bond, who are some of the other people who should get a good share of credit for what the Bond movies became?

For the look and feel of the movies, you have to go back to Ken Adam, who was the production designer right from ‘Dr. No.’ He did a whole series. He didn't do all of them, but he did many of them. He did ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Thunderball,’ right up to ‘Spy Who Loved Me’ and ‘Moonraker,’ which was his last one. He really epitomized the 60s style, the new age architecture and design. He was incredibly innovative with materials and the look and the feel, and I think a lot of people associate Bond with that look and feel.

Also, you've got to remember that the cinema Bond is different to the fictional Bond in the novels because right from the beginning Terence Young, the first director, and Sean Connery, on ‘Dr. No,’ got on so well together that their sense of humor really clicked. And they were very humorous on set and used to ad‑lib, and some of these ad‑libs they used to film while they were filming in Jamaica. When they got to look at their dailies they noticed that the humor really worked. So when they would then run back to Pinewood Studios to do the interiors, they ended up rewriting elements of the script in order to match that humor that they found encapsulated in Jamaica. And I think that they really helped define Bond's character on screen in a literary way, if you like, whereas I think that Ken Adam really defined the visual essence of Bond.

After two and a half years of research, in your now-expert opinion, what's the key to the enduring appeal after 50 years on screen?

James Bond’s job is to go out and kill people, but it means that he, himself, could be killed over the course of that job – so it means that he can die at any day. And so you have to think of the psychology of that sort of character: It means that he has to make the most of every moment of his life. He has to enjoy every drink, every kiss, every moment of excitement has to be lived to the full. And I think that that's one of the things with the character that's remained consistent over the past 50 years, and it's something that I think people consciously or unconsciously really relate to, the fact that they would like to be somebody who lives life to the full.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Close-Up on "Sunset Boulevard" Star ]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 17:24:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/198*120/SunsetBlvd_BRD_Front.jpg

“I am big,” proclaimed faded movie star Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard.” “It’s the pictures that got small.”

But that never happened to director Billy Wilder’s grimly glamorous 1950 masterwork, one part film noir potboiler and one part scathing assessment of the toll the Hollywood machinery can take on a person’s soul.

Making its debut on Blu-Ray, “Sunset Boulevard” – which Wilder co-wrote with collaborator Charles Brackett – remains a cinematic giant, continuing to land near the top of various critical lists. And the tawdry story of the delusional Desmond, played with high-pitched hauteur by former silent screen siren Gloria Swanson (herself seeking a comeback, but from nowhere near the depths of her demented character) and opportunistic screenwriter Joe Gillis, played with equal dashes of cockiness and self-loathing by William Holden.

And then there was actress Nancy Olson, then a 21-year-old relative newcomer to the screen playing the talented and ambitious studio secretary Betty Schaefer, the lone bright spot in Gillis’ increasingly grim existence. Like her character, Olson – Oscar-nominated for her “Sunset Boulevard” role – ultimately escaped any collateral damage from her Hollywood career: After a few more pairings opposite Holden and stints in some still-beloved Disney films (“The Absent-Minded Professor,” “Son of Flubber” and “Pollyanna”), Olson married acclaimed songwriter Alan Jay Lerner (and later, Capital Records head Alan Livingston), opting out of the movie business for family and less fame-driven turns on Broadway and television.

Today, at age 84, her memories of “Sunset Boulevard” remain as crystalline as the film’s new high-definition incarnation.

Is it still a treat to be talking about ‘Sunset Boulevard’?

It's amazing to me that I, now in my early 80s, and my children and my grandchildren and my great‑grandchildren are going to be aware of this film. I don't know how long that these films resonate. I think that if they have a universal theme that is as powerful as this film creates, then perhaps it goes on forever. By the way, there are only a few films that really do that. They come along once every so many years, right? It's a phenomenon to be a part of it, and a great privilege – and I got to work with Billy Wilder, one of the extraordinary artists of the 20th century.

You’ve said you had a sense that you were making something extraordinary during production on the film.

First of all, there was such a momentum of interest on the lot because they showed the dailies every night of 15 films or so that were shown across the lot. The dailies would start at 6 o'clock and every group – the technical people, the director, the writer, whatever, but not the actors; they were never invited – the people that were working on it, they would go and they’d see their own dailies, and they'd leave. And about a quarter of the way through the filming, everybody stayed for those dailies. And they had to bring extra chairs because they wouldn't leave, so there was an underground feeling of excitement.

And also, Gloria Swanson, she of all of us had a sense of this film, in that she knew that she would never be forgotten, ever, ever again, and she knew that she was filming a film that was so unique and so powerful and so true because she had been in the business. She understood what the film was about, which has an even universal feeling: that if you hype and create a product, the person that is being hyped is part of the conspiracy. They're not only the victims, but they're the accessories. And when they're casually thrown away because it just isn't as powerful anymore, they are left with this distortion of what they've been created to be, which is larger than life.

The four of the lead actors were all at different points in your careers. William Holden was finally coming into his own; Gloria Swanson on the brink of an unlikely comeback; Erich von Stroheim was ready to really sparkle in a great character role; and you were the new face on the scene. What was that experience like for you?

I think that perhaps I had more of a sense of it in retrospect as I got a little bit older. I was still a student at UCLA, although at that point, I just simply had to quit when I started filming ‘Sunset Boulevard’ because I couldn't handle it all. But this film warned me and said, ‘Be careful about being made into a movie star.’

Already, I had a sense of isolation. My friends at school treated me differently. Even some of my family members treated me differently. And also, I was 19, 20 years old, and we worked six days a week. And I was on that dark set. I arrived at seven in the morning, and I left at six at night. There was no life for me except for on that set with a makeup man, a wardrobe lady, an assistant director, and many times a lecherous producer – not on ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ nobody was lecherous!

I realized that this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and I was quickly put into a film called ‘Mr. Music’ as the leading lady – Bing [Crosby] was much too old for me, and there I was. And then I was put into another film called ‘Union Station’ with Bill Holden, of course. They wanted to put us together all the time after 'Sunset [Boulevard]'. And before any of these pictures were released, including ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ I married Allen Jay Lerner of [the songwriting duo] Lerner and Loewe and moved to New York. And I said to Paramount, ‘I don't want to be under contract anymore.’

You get credit for recognizing early that path was not the one for you.

On the other hand, I loved acting. And once those films came out, I couldn't stop. So I did two more pictures with Bill [Holden], and then I did ‘Battle Cry’ at Warner Brothers, and then I stopped. And then I did three plays on Broadway. ‘My Fair Lady’ was dedicated to me. I was so involved with the creation of what Allen was doing, and then I had two girls.

And I lived in New York City at that time where theater was just the most exciting thing on the planet, especially the musical theater, which I adored. With Cole Porter, and Oscar [Hammerstein] and Dick [Rogers] and Frank Lesser and Irving Berlin – I mean, unbelievable at the time! And also at the time of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and all the great playwrights. So I never looked back, honestly. With ‘Sunset Boulevard,’ I feel so fortunate that I was given that opportunity to be a part of something so magnificent.

Tell us your best anecdote about Billy Wilder and his legendary wit, just as he was entering the most celebrated phase of his career.

Do you know what he did to me? Remember the balcony scene where we embrace and kiss and carry on? That was shot at night on the balcony and down below there was a party because everybody was having supper. Which we didn't start shooting the scene until – I didn't get to the studio until 6 o'clock. And I had makeup and hair and all of that, and I arrived at the balcony. And I looked down, and there are long tables with benches. And there is Mrs. Holden, Bill's wife. There’s Audrey Wilder. There's the whole family of [co-screenwriter] Charlie Brackett.

I am playing this intimate love scene with Bill [Holden]. I was scared to death, but I knew how important the scene was. This is when the whole thing changed for Holden’s character: he had sold his soul to Norma Desmond, but now, look, he's got this. He fell in love. And anyway, I just grit my teeth and say, ‘We're going to do this, right?’ So Billy said, ‘We're going to shoot this in one shot. So you're going to be very close from the very beginning. Now Bill, at this point, you will take her into your arms, and you will kiss her and embrace. And I do not want you to break away from that embrace until I say cut because this is a fade-out moment for me, and I want it to fade, fade, fade, fade, into my next scene.’

And he's done this before with us, so we know that this is how he works. So even though it seems forever, just do not move. Keep kissing. Okay.  So now we start, and he says, ‘Action.’ And we go through the lines, and Bill asks me, ‘What happened?’ And I answer, ‘You did.’ And he takes me into his arms and kisses me and holds me. We kiss and we kiss, and we are getting this embrace, let me tell you. And finally, nobody says, ‘cut,’ so there we are and suddenly there's this female voice from the bottom of the party saying, ‘Cut, Godammit! Cut!’ And it was Mrs. Holden. Now, this was a setup, obviously, by Mr. Wilder. Here we are shooting this really serious, pivotal scene, but he had something a little mischievous up his sleeve.

]]>
<![CDATA[Jodie Foster to Receive DeMille Award]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:56:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jodiefosterfather.jpg

Actress and director Jodie Foster will be honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Foster, 49, is a two-time Golden Globe and Academy Award winner for her leading actress turns in 1988's "The Accused," and 1991's "Silence of the Lambs."

"Jodie is a multi-talented woman that has achieved immeasurable amounts of success and will continue to do so in her career," HFPA President Aida Takla-O'Reilly said in a statement. “Her ambition, exuberance and grace have helped pave the way for budding artists in this business. She’s truly one of a kind.”

The Cecil B. DeMille Award winner is chosen by the board of directors for the foreign press association and is given to individuals who have impacted the world of entertainment. Previous winners include Morgan Freeman, Bette Davis, Walt Disney, Audrey Hepburn, Robert De Niro, Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand.

Foster has acted in more than 40 films, beginning her career at the tender age of 3 when she appeared in a Coppertone commercial. Her other acting credits include "Taxi Driver," "Nell," "Little Man Tate" and "Carnage." She will next be seen onscreen in 2013 in the futuristic thriller "Elysium" with Matt Damon.

Her directing credits also include "Little Man Tate," "The Beaver" and "Home for the Holidays."

The Award will be presented at the 70th annual Golden Globe ceremony on Jan. 13, 2013.

The Golden Globes will air live on NBC  with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>