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9 items from 2006

Television reporters remember Ford's term

27 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

PITTSBURGH -- Reporters who covered the Ford administration said he was nothing like the stumbler lampooned by Chevy Chase on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Chase's impersonation helped make the actor's early career and, many believe, tipped the minds of voters who had seen the president stumble and, in one instance in Salzburg, Austria, fall down the stairs of Air Force One.

"It was cold and kind of icy and I had gotten there earlier and was watching the pool feed," remembered Tom Brokaw, the NBC Nightly News anchor who covered the Ford administration for the network. "I thought, 'Mr. President, be careful.' He was holding an umbrella over (his wife) Betty and he didn't have his hands on the rails and he went down."

But Brokaw believed that Ford was much more graceful than, say, Nixon -- Ford was an accomplished skier and tennis player as well as an all-star football player at the University of Michigan in the 1930s -- it's just that Ford had spent so much time in the public eye that his every misstep was recorded.

Journalists who knew and covered Ford said he was a welcome change from the dark days of Richard M. Nixon who, sullied from the Watergate scandal, looked gaunt and hid from reporters and the country until his resignation that led to Ford's swearing in as president in August 1974.

"It was literally and metaphorically night and day," Brokaw said. "He was much more open, he had a very good relationship with reporters." »

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DVD Year in Review

21 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The low-hanging fruit is pretty much gone, but producers kept delivering compelling DVDs in 2006. Here's a roundup of the best DVDs reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter.

"Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier" -- Francis Ford Coppola delivers one of the year's best commentaries in this double-disc release. "I wanted it to have the biggest picture -- the greatest sound," the director said of his vision for the Vietnam war film. This DVD set carries out Coppola's orders: The film looked outstanding on previous DVDs, but the video takes another step up here, to near reference quality. The powerful 5.1 audio carpet-bombs the soundstage. Among the many extras is a short film built around 17 minutes of Marlon Brando reading T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men". (Paramount)

"3 Films by Louis Malle" -- Contains "Murmur of the Heart", "Lacombe, Lucien" and the director's comeback triumph "Au Revoir Les Enfants". These French films, taken as a trilogy, argue for Malle's inclusion as one of the great directors of the century's second half. The four-disc set includes a compelling talk on Malle by his biographer and a bittersweet 2005 interview with his wife Candice Bergen. First-rate transfers, of course. (Criterion)

"Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show -- 50th Anniversary Edition" -- The con is on. The fix is in. Master Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko is back in the game. Often called the first TV ensemble comedy, "Bilko" consistently was a hoot, among the best-written and wonderfully acted shows ever. Phil Silvers played his most-famous role bald and beautiful with a giant grin and a wink that always signaled "Scam Ahead". This three-disc set packs in 18 remastered episodes and a generous but scattered collection of extras. The set begins with the pilot and ends with the final episode, leaving Bilko behind bars, still grinning: "That's all, folks!" (Paramount)

"Epitafios" -- This Argentine miniseries from HBO Ole! is more violent than "The Sopranos", stranger than "Carnivale" and features characters at least as damaged as the "Six Feet Under" undertakers. But for El Norte viewers with savory tastes and strong stomachs to match, "Epitafios" is a seriously cool find. Driving the 13-episode narrative is the brilliant young psychopath Bruno, an evildoer pulled from the same Jungian well as Hannibal Lecter -- only meaner and better looking. Guaranteed addictive, creepy as hell and intellectually challenging. (HBO)

"John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection" -- Warner's restored version of "The Searchers" finally brings home the 1956 masterpiece in an approximation of its original theatrical glory. The revenge saga is the star of this sensational eight-film boxed set. The upgraded "Stagecoach" and the DVD debut of "Fort Apache" join "Searchers" as the best reasons to pony up. First-rate commentaries and extras. (Warner)

"Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" -- Director Taylor Hackford takes full advantage of the DVD medium to chronicle the tense days leading up to Chuck Berry's all-star 60th birthday concert, as well as the surreal conditions under which "Hail!" was produced. Hackford promises "a better-quality film than the original" and delivers. The surround tracks are solid gold: The guitars sound just like ringing a bell. Don't miss the extra in which Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Johnnie Johnson sear the blues in "Mean Old World". (Image)

"The Passenger" -- Jack Nicholson said the making of this Michelangelo Antonioni movie was "the biggest adventure in filming I ever had in my life." That's saying plenty, and probably explains why the actor did his first solo commentary for the DVD. Nicholson is a great host and has vivid memories of making the film across Northern Africa and Europe. The arthouse action film reveals more of its secrets with every spin. (Sony)

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" -- The real-deal original and by far the best movie in the Freddy franchise. New Line's double-disc set proves a significant upgrade, bringing back to life most of the extras from the definitive Elite laserdisc. The overhauled video and audio alone justify New Line's double dip -- check out the creepy-blue color bias and the surgical EX and ES 6.1 audio. Most horror classics would kill for this kind of treatment. (New Line)

"Network" -- Writer Paddy Chayefsky, mad as hell, used this black comedy about a raggedy fourth TV network to denounce the hypocrisies of 1976 and warn of media evils to come. He was right. This double-pump DVD of "Network" smokes Warner's bare-bones versions of 1998 and 2000. Tune in for all of the extras. (Warner)

"Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" -- Creators Nick Park and Steve Box devote much of their fun, detailed commentary talking up the art of "plasticine" animation. The DVD is an advertisement for the technique's possibilities, with nuanced colors, highlights and shadows -- this is a gorgeous piece of work. Includes 19 deleted scenes. (DreamWorks)

* * *

More great DVDs: They weren't reviewed in The Reporter, but should have been.

"SNL: The Complete First Season" -- Chevy Chase. Gilda Radner. John Belushi. Garrett Morris. Laraine Newman. Jane Curtain. Live from 1975-76. And don't forget the other guys -- "SCTV: Best of the Early Years", is the latest from Shout!'s Great White North series. (Universal)

"James Bond Ultimate Editions" -- So good, Q must have personally supervised the restorations. The movies look and sound royale. The extras dossier will look familiar but some are new. (MGM)

"South Pacific" -- Rodgers & Hammerstein's love-it-or-hate-it musical, in standard and extended roadshow versions. Check out the other equally fine R&H titles in the Collector's Edition series. (Fox)

"Seven Samurai" -- Among the best-received sets of the year. Kurosawa's warrior classic returns with a swarm of extras and improved video. (Criterion)

"Homicide Life on the Street: Complete Series" -- 35 discs, 122 episodes of this well-crafted cop series. For periods of extended convalescence. If you don't make it, bring along HBO's "Six Feet Under: The Complete Series." (A&E)

"1900/The Conformist" -- Long-awaited DVD editions of Bernardo Bertolucci tales of power, corruption and oppression set in Italy. (Paramount)


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'Blonde' adds more color with Miller

21 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Penelope Ann Miller has joined the cast of Blonde Ambition, a loose remake of the 1988 film Working Girl being directed by Scott Marshall and starring Jessica Simpson.

Also cast in the film are Luke Wilson, Andy Dick, Rachael Leigh Cook and Jamie Kennedy.

Miller is playing the conniving boss of Simpson's character, who is making her way through the corporate world.

Nu Image is producing. Sony Pictures is in talks to distribute the film, though whether it is theatrical or straight-to-DVD has yet to be determined.

Miller next stars opposite Chevy Chase and Armand Assante in ThinkFilm's slapstick comedy Funny Money, which is set to be released Jan. 19, and next appears in Columbia Pictures' psychological thriller The Messengers, opposite Dylan McDermott. Her credits include Carlito's Way and Kindergarten Cop.

Miller is repped by APA and Untitled Entertainment. »

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Stars Come Out To Say Farewell to Boyle

20 December 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Chevy Chase, Alan Alda and Sopranos stars Lorraine Bracco and Steven Van Zandt were among the 250 mourners who celebrated the life of actor Peter Boyle at a memorial service in New York on Monday. The long list of celebrities at the Frank E Campbell Funeral Chapel service also included the cast of Boyle's TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Folk singer Judy Collins and trumpeter Chris Botti performed at the moving ceremony. Boyle died last week after a long battle with heart disease and cancer. He received seven Emmy nominations for his role in Everyboyd Loves Raymond, and won an Emmy for a guest appearance on sci-fi TV hit The X Files. »

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Chase Defends Gibson Arrest

4 October 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Veteran comic Chevy Chase has defended his friend Mel Gibson following his infamous drink-driving arrest in July. In an episode of Law & Order to be screened in the US next month, Chase guest stars as a TV celebrity who is pulled over for DUI while wearing blood-soaked clothes, and whose religious prejudice comes out after his arrest. Gibson was arrested for drink-driving in Malibu, California and made anti-Semitic comments to his arresting officers. But Chase is refusing to judge Gibson for his actions, because he was intoxicated at the time, and insists his eerily similar Law & Order role is a coincidence. He says, "These statements were made under the influence of alcohol and sleep medication. I've never seen any bigotry out of Mel. I don't really know what took place, except what I've read. I respect him and I hope very much for his sake that he learns a few things and gets over this. I'm well aware that this (Law & Order episode) is familiar, but I look nothing like Mel, I'm older than Mel. He's a good friend." »

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'Fletch' lives as Lawrence, Braff scrub in

25 July 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence is writing and directing a prequel to the '80s franchise Fletch, and if he has his way, Zach Braff will star in the title role. The Weinstein Co. has signed Lawrence to helm and adapt Gregory McDonald's 1985 comic-mystery novel Fletch Won, which follows the irreverent detective from his early days as a ne'er-do-well junior newspaper reporter to his partnership with a crime reporter to solve a murder. Mcdonald's best-sellers were brought to the screen in 1985's Fletch and 1989's Fletch Lives, both starring Chevy Chase. "Zach is perfect for the role," Lawrence said in an interview from his Los Angeles office, where Braff sat laughing in the background. "I'm going to use all my pull trying to make him do it." Filming is expected to start in April once the current season of Scrubs completes filming. No cast members have been signed yet. »

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Brinkley Splits from Fourth Husband

12 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Former supermodel Christie Brinkley is splitting from her fourth husband, architect Peter Cook. The estranged couple have been married for nearly 10 years and have eight-year-old daughter Sailor Lee. Brinkley's spokesperson Elliot Mintz confirmed the split to TV show Entertainment Tonight: "Yes, it's true. The couple has separated. Christie's primary interest at this difficult time is for the protection of her children and (she) would be most appreciative if people would be good enough to respect her privacy." The 52-year-old model, who appeared in the 1980s comedy National Lampoon's Vacation with Chevy Chase, has two other children from her previous marriages - Alexa, 20, and 11-year-old Jack. She was previously married to singer Billy Joel for nearly ten years and he wrote his hit "Uptown Girl" about her. Brinkley was also married to Jean-Francois Allaux from 1973 until 1981, and Richard Taubman from 1994 to 1995. »

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7 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Most movies that aren't screened for the press fall into the horror or teen comedy genres, but the Weinstein Co. has broken the mold with "Doogal", an animated children's film. Clearly hoping that their "Hoodwinked" lightning will strike twice, the distributor opened the film Friday without advance screenings. The inevitable result: seedy-looking critics, unaccompanied by children, attending afternoon screenings and inspiring suspicion among anxious parents.

Based on a British stop-motion animation TV series titled "The Magic Roundabout", this Americanized CGI adaptation is strictly for the small-fry set, lacking the visual style, wit or imagination necessary to entice adult viewers.

The film chronicles the adventures of its titular character (voiced by Daniel Tay), a shaggy-haired mutt who tries to save the world from the evil clutches of evil wizard Zeebad (Jon Stewart). He's aided in his adventures, which involve trekking across oceans, mountains, Molten Lava, etc., by a typically anthropometrical group of friends, including a guitar-playing rabbit (Jimmy Fallon), a lovestruck snail (William H. Macy), a clumsy train (Chevy Chase) and a singing cow (Whoopi Goldberg).

Also aiding in the quest is a spring-legged magician, voiced by Ian McKellen (who has some experience in these sorts of things).

Butch Hartman's American screenplay adaptation includes the usual quota of pop culture references (Blue Man Group, "CSI", etc.), but it's not surprising that neither the script nor the bland visuals exactly come up to Pixar levels. Indeed, the key frame animation, based on three-dimensional models, is rudimentary, with none of the characters proving visually arresting.

Still, children of a certain age will find it reasonably engrossing, though it should be pointed out that their biggest laughs were inspired by a flatulent moose (Kevin Smith).

No less than four Oscar nominees and winners are among the eclectic voice cast, with Judi Dench providing her elegant tones for the narration. As for Stewart, well, as "Death to Smoochy" indicated, he should keep his day job.

"Doogal" is preceded by an amusing Oscar-nominated animated short, "Gopher Broke".


A Weinstein Co. and Pathe Pictures presentation

in association with the U.K. Film Council and Pathe Renn, Pricel, France 2 Cinema and Canal Plus A Film Action SPZ Entertainment/bolexbrothers production


Directors: Jean Duval, Frank Passingham, Dave Borthwick

Screenwriter: Paul Bassett Davies, with additional material by Tad Safran

Co-writers: Raoff Sanoussi, Stephane Sanoussi

U.S. screenplay adaptation: Butch Hartman

U.S. executive producers: Butch Hartman, Matt Landon, Eric Robinson

Executive producers: Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken, Jill Sinclair, Jake Eberts

Associate producers: Claude Gorsky, Linda Marks, Bruce Higham, Andy Leighton, Vertigo Prods.

Music: Mark Thomas

Additional music: James L. Venable


Train: Chevy Chase

Narrator: Judi Dench

Dylan: Jimmy Fallon

Ermintrude: Whoopi Goldberg

Soldier Sam: Bill Hader

Brian: William H. Macy: Zebedee: Ian McKellen

Florence: Kylie Minogue

Moose: Kevin Smith: Zeebad: Jon Stewart

MPAA rating G

Running time -- 80 minutes »

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'Doogal' pal: 'Gopher Broke'

24 February 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The Weinstein Co. will be showing Blur Studio's 2005 Oscar-nominated short film Gopher Broke during the nationwide release of the computer-animated feature Doogal. The film opens in more than 2,300 theaters in North America on Friday. Gopher Broke will be preceded by an introduction from Academy Award winner Judi Dench. The short was written and directed by Jeff Fowler and executive produced by Blur Studio co-founder Tim Miller. "On the heels of last year's Academy Award nomination and this year's Sundance Film Festival, we are delighted that 'Gopher Broke' will now be available for national audiences to enjoy," Miller said. "We are pleased to be associated with the Weinsteins and have our short film open for 'Doogal.' " The G-rated Doogal features the voices of Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy, Chevy Chase and Daniel Tay. Gopher Broke is being developed into a full-length feature film and will expand the endearing story about a hungry gopher who devises a scheme that he hopes will provide him with a tasty snack. »

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