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After years of being relegated to small-screen renderings ("The Amazing Howard Hughes") or quirky supporting roles ("Melvin and Howard"), the inimitable billionaire industrialist finally has been provided with a canvas expansive enough to contain his numerous larger-than-life personae courtesy of Martin Scorsese and "The Aviator".
Working with many of his previous collaborators, Scorsese has crafted a rip-roaringly gorgeous-looking, beautifully acted biographical epic that is certain to garner Oscar nominations across the board.
But while firing on all cylinders, there's something oddly distancing about the picture that ultimately prevents the viewer from being taken along on its emotionally turbulent journey.
Still, if we have to be content to wave admiringly from the sidelines, there's an embarrassment of cinematic riches to appreciate, and Miramax should have little problem translating the inevitable awards season goodwill (Warner Bros. is handling the film internationally) into highflying numbers.
Long before Donald Trump, Richard Branson and reality TV, there was the man who wrote the book on driven, compelling billionaire businessmen, and Leonardo DiCaprio nails his subject with an assured bravado and focused energy. It's the actor's most accomplished turn to date and easily quells skeptics' worries that he wasn't the right man for the part.
Following a brief but character-defining childhood prologue, the script by John Logan ("Gladiator") dives right into the filming of "Hell's Angels" in the late 1920s, the costly aerial epic the naively ambitious heir financed with earnings from the family company, Hughes Tool.
The picture would make Hughes, barely in his mid-20s, a celebrity who would often be spotted courting glamour girls at the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub. But despite counting Katharine Hepburn (a perfectly pitched Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (a similarly adept Kate Beckinsale) among his steady supply of amorous interests, none would be able to compete with Hughes' one true love -- aviation.
Given that Scorsese is known for a lifelong fear of flying, the director (who took on the project after Michael Mann stepped down) throws irony to the wind, and, introducing some impressive digital effects work late in his career, delivers a series of spectacular sequences, from recreations of that "Hell's Angels" footage to Hughes' devastating plane crash into a Beverly Hills neighborhood.
Despite all those lofty events, which are propelled along with the help of newsreel audio, Scorsese and Logan manage to keep the storytelling grounded, moving some events around when necessary to incorporate Hughes' disturbing behavior as it progressed above and beyond mere eccentricity.
With the exception of some of those later scenes in which he physically fails to appear convincing as a man in his 40s, DiCaprio turns in a robust, fully realized performance.
Aside from Blanchett and Beckinsale, there also are colorful turns by Alec Baldwin as Hughes' rival, Pan Am visionary Juan Trippe; Alan Alda as Hughes' adversary, Sen. Owen Brewster; and the always reliable John C. Reilly as his loyal if beleaguered right-hand man, Noah Dietrich.
Technical attributes abound, from Robert Richardson's dazzling, Technicolor-approximated cinematography to Dante Ferretti's lavish production design to Sandy Powell's stellar costumes and Howard Shore's rich but never intrusive score, all impeccably strung together by Scorsese's longtime collaborator, editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Miramax Films present
a Forward Pass Inc./Initial Entertainment Group production
A Martin Scorsese picture
Director: Martin Scorsese
Executive producer: Chris Brigham
Screenwriter: John Logan
Director of photography: Robert Richardson
Production designer: Dante Ferretti
Costume designer: Sandy Powell
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker
Music: Howard Shore
Howard Hughes: Leonardo DiCaprio
Katharine Hepburn: Cate Blanchett
Noah Dietrich: John C. Reilly
Juan Trippe: Alec Baldwin
Ava Gardner: Kate Beckinsale
Errol Flynn: Jude Law
Glenn Odekirk: Matt Ross
Johnny Meyer: Adam Scott
Jean Harlow: Gwen Stefani
Professor Fitz: Ian Holm
Jack Frye: Danny Huston
Sen. Owen Brewster: Alan Alda
Faith Domergue: Kelli Gardner
MPAA rating: PG-13
Running time -- 169 minutes »
Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has announced he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The Cooler star admits that over the years he's developed a huge fixation with cleaning things around his home. He says, "I'm very OCD, I find. I'm ashamed to say that. I come home and I'm like, 'Did somebody move that book?' I just notice everything. I'm very kind of observant. I'll have to catch a plane, like I'm in a hurry to go somewhere, and I'm in my kitchen rinsing out the glasses. I have a housekeeper that can do that and I'm sitting there cleaning the glass." »
Alec Baldwin has signed on to topline MGM's long-gestating basketball flick Street. Baldwin will play a down-on-his-luck coach brought in to revive an NBA team. The film is being produced by Alex Gartner and Arthur Sarkissian. The writers on the project are Chris Parker and Matt O'Neil. Michael Shapiro recently signed on to direct the project, which is described as an underdog story about street basketball players in the NBA. The executives on the project are Eric Paquette, Pete Chiarelli and Toby Jaffe. Baldwin also has signed on to play Boss in Columbia Pictures' Fun With Dick and Jane. The remake of the 1977 classic stars Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni. Dean Parisot directs. Baldwin is repped by CAA. »
Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin was fascinated by Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in The Aviator - and could not keep his eyes off DiCaprio's forehead. DiCaprio plays legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes in the biopic, while Baldwin takes on the role of Juan Trippe. During filming, Baldwin noticed DiCaprio's forehead was a strange shape. He says, "Leo DiCaprio has this thing where when he really is concerned about something... he screws up his forehead and it looks like some kind of Chinese or Japanese character on his forehead. You feel like they're gonna put ink on it and stamp it on a piece of paper (make it) the symbol for anger or something." »
Back in the 1980s, a pair of aspiring filmmakers finally found a producer to make their dream project, not realizing that they were actually fronting an FBI undercover mob sting operation.
While the incident was recounted by Steve Fishman in the 1996 Details magazine article, "What's Wrong With This Picture?" it sounded more like a classic Hollywood high-concept pitch.
Screenwriter Jeff Nathanson obviously thought so, too, and after six years and numerous drafts (taking time off to collaborate with Steven Spielberg on Catch Me if You Can and The Terminal), he makes his directorial debut with the Hollywood version.
The resulting The Last Shot is an often funny if slight satire that's never as edgy as it thinks it is or as sharply focused as it needs to be to put it in a league with a Get Shorty or a State and Main.
Despite knowing, expertly modulated performances by Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick and company, the Touchstone presentation is more like the long shot where ticket sales are concerned beyond industry towns. More likely it'll go into a fairly swift DVD turnaround.
Following a playfully inventive opening credit sequence (designed and produced by yU+co), the setup is put into action. Baldwin's Joe Devine is an FBI agent who's constantly struggling to emerge from the shadow of his brother Jack (Ray Liotta), who happens to head up the bureau.
When he stumbles across the practice of mob-brokered bribes between motion picture productions and the teamsters who provide the necessary trucks, a light bulb goes off in his head.
Posing as a Hollywood producer backed by a bunch of dentist investors, Joe finds himself an ideal dupe in Steven Schats (Broderick), a struggling screenwriter who works as a ticket taker at the Chinese Mann Theatre and lives with his struggling actress girlfriend (Calista Flockhart) in a complex that is also home to a business that boards movie stars' yappy dogs.
Not only is Devine, now known as Wells, willing to bankroll Schats' epic Arizona, but he also wants him to direct, provided that he's able to recast the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and Native-American caves in Providence, R.I.
When mobster Tommy The Black Sanz (Tony Shalhoub) easily takes the brokering bait, Joe figures he can cast an even wider net by taking the picture right up to principal photography and possibly beyond.
Before you know it, the FBI is prepared to offer Devine a three-picture deal.
Baldwin and Broderick have an easy, breezy rapport, laying down a sturdy foundation for the rest of the cast to strut their comic stuff, including a very amusing Toni Collette as the film's fading leading lady and an unbilled but always welcome Joan Cusack as an extra-nutty producer.
But writer-director Nathanson feels the need to pad the story with superfluous, distracting bits of business -- like giving Steven a brother Tim Blake Nelson), who also threatens to thwart his dreams -- that end up blunting the picture's satirical edge.
The genial breeziness that remains extends to the technical credits, especially the buoyant score by Rolfe Kent, whose music for Alexander Payne's films (most notably Election, About Schmidt and the upcoming Sideways) always effectively captures the desired quirky tone.
The Last Shot
Touchstone Pictures presents a Morra, Brezner, Steinberg and Tenenbaum production
In association with a Mandeville Films production
Director-screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson
Based on an article by: Steve Fishman
Producers: Larry Brezner, David Hoberman
Executive producers: Stan Wlodkowski, Todd Lieberman
Director of photography: John Lindley
Production designer: William Arnold
Editor: David Rosenbloom
Costume designer: Gloria Gresham
Music: Rolfe Kent
Steven Schats: Matthew Broderick
Emily French: Toni Collette
Valerie Weston: Calista Flockhart
Jack Devine: Ray Liotta
Marshal Paris: Tim Blake Nelson
Abe White: James Rebhorn
Tommy The Black Sanz: Tony Shalhoub
MPAA rating: R
Running time -- 93 minutes »
Acclaimed actor Jack Nicholson snubbed fellow Hollywood A-lister Alec Baldwin when the Pearl Harbor star rushed to meet the legend. The Anger Management star refused to shake Baldwin's hand when he approached his table at an exclusive New York restaurant. An onlooker says, "After standing there for five minutes, Alec put his hand out in front of Jack to shake hands and Jack looked up at him, put his hands up and said, 'Sorry. Can't shake. Got grease all over my hands', and went back to talking to his friend. It was really embarrassing." »
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have ridiculed suggestions their forthcoming film Team America: World Police was designed to persuade voters against re-electing US President George W. Bush in next month's election. The $32 million puppet movie mocks celebrities including Michael Moore, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and anti-war actors Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins and George Clooney - but doesn't single out Bush for special treatment. And Stone hopes controversial Team America: World Police, which is released in the US on October 15 and features hardcore puppet sex, won't influence how the American public votes. He tells website Pagesix.Com, "If anyone walks out of this movie, or a Michael Moore movie, thinking about voting a certain way, then they're f**king stupid and shouldn't be voting. If this movie makes you think that much, then you're too weak-kneed to vote." »
Feisty actor Alec Baldwin has infuriated studio executives after bitterly slamming film-related promotional campaigns during an interview. The hunky actor is sick of speaking to journalists about The Last Shot - which centers on a government agent who poses as a Hollywood producer to catch mobsters - and stunned journalists by launching a scathing attack on the Screen Actor's Guild and the studio publicity departments for giving him too many movies to promote. He also accused film chiefs of blaming him if their film flops. He complained, "The problem is that most of the marketing that's done now means 'let's get the actor out there to charge up the hill and if you get shot to pieces you get shot to pieces'. Get out there and do Letterman, Good Morning America, these tiresome tedious rounds of promotional things to raise the awareness again in a very crowded marketplace to call attention to your film. It's a bad, bad situation when there are just so many movies out there right now, which is ridiculous. Actors are treated like suppositories that are inserted into cavities of the movie- going public." »
Hollywood actress Kim Basinger credits her eight-year-old daughter Ireland with helping her become more courageous. The agoraphobic screen star, who shares custody of her offspring with ex- husband Alec Baldwin, recently spoke at a school benefit at her daughter's urging - something she would never have considered a few years ago. She says, "We've been through a lot together, but she has given me so many gifts." The 8 Mile star even admits her child has ignited her new passion for pop culture, gadgets and fashion. She adds, "(Ireland) made me try on these teeny jeans the other day, the kind that show off your navel." »
Alec Baldwin's younger brother actor Stephen Baldwin is throwing his support behind President George W Bush in the forthcoming Presidential election - because his country's leader is "being led by God". The former liberal and now born-again Christian is attending the Republican National Convention in New York to cheer on the current premier, who he deems has more faith than Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry. Baldwin tells gossip site Pagesix.Com, "I'm there to support the man I believe has the most faith. That's who I'm voting for. I believe the next president should be a guy who is being led by God. I believe there is one guy, and that's the guy I want to vote for." As for any disharmony between him and his Democratic-supporting siblings Alec and William, Baldwin comments, "I don't have a perception about that." »
NEW YORK -- Vincent Farrell -- whose Iron Films banner is developing the Alec Baldwin starrer The Swimmer and Steven Shainberg's Arbus, among other projects -- has launched Iron Post, a full-service postproduction house, with former October Films staffer David Bartin and producer Joseph Farrell. Iron Films is further ramping up by bringing Nick Karlson, who has held posts at Hypnotic, Shooting Gallery and HBO, in as a partner. The company also has forged a strategic relationship for commercial production work with Bill Sandwick's bicoastal Sandwick Films. With Iron, Sandwick recently wooed helmers John Curran (We Don't Live Here Anymore) and Stephen Kessler (The Independent) into its commercial stable. »
Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has courted controversy by branding President George W Bush a "non-entity" who relies on his team to make all of his decisions. Staunch Democrat Baldwin had quieted his politically outspoken ways in recent years, but has now decided it's time to speak out again, after appearing on conservative commentator Bill O' Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor on Monday. After labeling Vice President Dick Cheney a "troubled man", Baldwin continued, "Most of the people that I work with now in whatever issue-related or candidacy-related thing that I'm involved with, they have one problem and they have one problem only - that is that Bush has to go. We believe that the president should be a really smart guy with his own ideas. I think that Bush is a non-entity in his administration. He's like (late Us President Ronald) Reagan. He's a figurehead. He's the host of the show. All of the strings are pulled by other people behind his back. He's a frontman." During Baldwin's rant, host O'Reilly repeatedly warned him he was "making a mistake" with his strong comments, but the actor was quick to insist he's very much a proud American. He said, "I think that if there's one thing that's really troubling to me about this political climate and this kind of dialogue with people who come from where I come from is that they think that people who are progressive, liberal, Democratic - anybody that's not aligned with this (Republican) administration - that they're not patriotic and they don't care about what's happening to the troops overseas. They're wrong." »
About A Boy star Toni Collette has shocked fans by turning her back on movies to launch a singing career. The 31-year-old decided to quit acting to make her first album, after the devastating reviews of her film Connie And Carla and she's relieved she has completed her last two films - the drama In Her Shoes, by LA Confidential director Curtis Hanson, and comedy The Last Shot, co-starring Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin. Collette explains, "I've been writing music for more than ten years and I think if I don't actually record it, I'll go insane. But I don't want to be one of those crass actors turned singers or indeed singers turned actors. There are two sides to the coin, the notion that if you're a creative person why should it be funneled through one avenue, why shouldn't you leap over into other areas? Then there's the idea you stick to what you do because you're an embarrassment. But I certainly won't be baring my midriff. I won't be purring, there'll be no little sex kitten thing going on, it's just music that is part of me and I want to get it out." »
BOSTON -- What a difference an election makes. Four years ago when Democrats gathered at the Staples Center in Hollywood's backyard they held the entertainment industry at arms length. Both candidates were long-term critics of Hollywood fare and then Vice President Al Gore listed "protecting your children from entertainment that you think glorifies violence and indecency" as a priority when he accepted the nomination for president. This year the tone is different. That arms-length relationship has become much closer. Hollywood celebrities, musicians and entertainers have once again become part of the socio-political whirl as a series of musicians took to the Fleet Center stage this year, and the hottest tickets in town were for a parties sponsored by the Creative Coalition and the RIAA and entertainment companies like News Corp. and Time Warner. Ben Affleck, whose hometown is Boston, has been an ubiquitous presence, but the star power didn't stop with him. Bono, Alec Baldwin, Rob Reiner, Janeane Garofalo and rapper P. Diddy are among those who spent at least some time here this week. Top-level executives also attended the convention; there was a Harvey Weinstein sighting, and News Corp. president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin hosted an event at Fenway Park. »
Hollywood star Alec Baldwin has rubbished Dessarae Bradford's account of their alleged romp - which she detailed in her book My S/M Romp With Alec Baldwin. The author - a former phone sex worker - devotes 57 pages analyzing her alleged one-night sex fest with The Cooler actor - which involved an egg- shaped vibrator, a Hershey chocolate bar and a bottle of baby oil. Bradford - who has headed one chapter in the volume "Stumbling Into His Chest Hairs" - claims to have met Baldwin while walking her dog one day in 2002. Baldwin denies ever meeting the writing bedroom experimentalist. »
Hollywood hunk Alec Baldwin will lose his rights to visit daughter Ireland if he ignores his ex-wife Kim Basinger's detailed custody deal. The Cooler actor, 46, has been handed a strict timetable dictating when he can see his child and the number of minutes he can spend on phone calls to her - he is also ordered to have "personal female assistance" on standby when the eight-year-old visits. Oscar-winning Basinger, 50, was given primary custody by a Los Angeles judge - who says Baldwin can spend the first and third weekends of the month with Ireland. The couple have also agreed not to put each other down in front of their daughter and to communicate by phone or fax to avoid more arguments - as part of the legal arrangement. Basinger and Baldwin met on the set of The Marrying Man in 1991 and divorced in 2002. »
Hollywood beauty Kim Basinger yearned to kill ex-husband Alec Baldwin during their vicious custody battle for daughter Ireland. The 50-year-old actress confesses she found it "nearly impossible" to forgive Baldwin and fantasized about his death during their violent battle for the eight-year- old when she was branded a "black widow spider" and "nutcase" for accusing the Beetlejuice star of drunken wife battery. Basinger admits, "Forgiveness is a hard thing to practice when the person keeps repeatedly doing what he's doing - sometimes you want to go out and kill somebody. It's a tragedy that there are so many divorces and messed-up family relationships, and that certain adults put their emotional illnesses on their children." The pair met while filming 1991 movie The Marrying Man and divorced two years ago but now have joint custody of their child. »
Actress Kim Basinger has sold her 3.7 carat diamond engagement ring from ex-husband Alec Baldwin for $59,750. The 8 Mile star, a noted animal rights activist, auctioned the modern Tiffany & Co ring and some other jewelry at Christie's to raise money for The Performing Animal Welfare Society. The group runs a California refuge for abused, retired and surplus elephants, lions, bears and other captive wildlife. The engagement ring, estimated to fetch between $30,000 and $40,000, was the top-priced item in the auction. The only other gift on offer from actor Baldwin - whose nine-year marriage to Basinger ended in 2002 - was a multi-gem necklace which went for $20,315. Christie's had predicted it would fetch $8,000 to $10,000. Yossi Dina of South Beverly Wilshire Jewelry & Loan, who says his clients include George Hamilton, Liza Minnelli and Winona Ryder, estimates he paid 30 per cent more than the ring was worth. He says, "I got it for a fan. They'll pay crazy money for that." »
Kim Basinger is selling all the dazzling jewelry her ex-husband Alec Baldwin gave her during their nine-year marriage - except for her wedding ring. The Oscar-winning actress, 50, is auctioning the gems at Christies in New York, in aid for the Performing Animal Welfare Society. Items on sale include a Tiffany engagement ring worth an estimated $40,000, given to Basinger on the set of The Marrying Man, and a diamond and platinum 'eternity band' worth $3,000. Basinger's spokeswoman Annet Wolf says, "It's a good cause. And how many women do you know who wear their ex-husband's jewelry after they've divorced?" The LA Confidential star is hoping to raise thousands of dollars to help the charity support retired lions and tigers. »
Movie star Alec Baldwin is considering turning his messy divorce with Kim Basinger battle into a new guide for warring dads. The Pearl Harbor star has only just completed his latest court battle with his sexy actress ex-wife for custody of his daughter Ireland - and he thinks his ongoing problems would make interesting reading. Baldwin tells New York magazine Gotham, "My own divorce experience has triggered me to want to write a book about divorce. I have a publisher that wants to work with me. It's going to be a compilation of essays from people who have been through the divorce experience from every aspect to share their hope and strength about how they got through that situation." »
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