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8 items from 2005


Star-Studded Send Off for Executed Gang Leader

16 December 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Sean Penn, Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover and rapper Snoop Dogg are among the thousands of mourners expected to turn out for the funeral of executed former gang leader Stanley 'Tookie' Williams early next week. Williams, 51, was killed by lethal injection in a Californian prison on Tuesday for four murders during robberies in 1979. His death sentence sparked outrage after he picked up a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for his death row writings, which urged young people not to form gangs. Williams' celebrity supporters campaigned relentlessly for clemency ahead of the execution and many, including Snoop Dogg and human rights activists Jesse Jackson, are tipped to speak at his funeral. The ceremony will be held in Los Angeles, before his ashes are scattered in South Africa. »

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Glover joins Condon's cast in 'Dreamgirls'

27 October 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Danny Glover has been cast in Dreamgirls, the musical Bill Condon is directing for DreamWorks. Based on the stage musical, Dreamgirls follows the rise of a female singing group called the Dreamettes. The musical was a thinly veiled story of the Supremes. Beyonce Knowles already has been cast as Deena Jones, one of the Dreamettes, while Jamie Foxx has been cast as Svengali-like manager Curtis Taylor Jr. and Eddie Murphy as womanizing R&B star James "Thunder" Early. Glover is playing Murphy's manager, Marty Madison. Laurence Mark is producing, and Patricia Whitcher is exec producing. DreamWorks' David Beaubaire oversees. Glover, whose lengthy film career includes Silverado, The Color Purple and the Lethal Weapon movies, appeared in last year's hit Saw and next appears in the Walt Disney Co.'s upcoming The Shaggy Dog. He is repped by ICM and Jeff Morrone at Anonymous Content. »

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Glover joins Condon's cast in 'Dreamgirls'

27 October 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Danny Glover has been cast in Dreamgirls, the musical Bill Condon is directing for DreamWorks. Based on the stage musical, Dreamgirls follows the rise of a female singing group called the Dreamettes. The musical was a thinly veiled story of the Supremes. Beyonce Knowles already has been cast as Deena Jones, one of the Dreamettes, while Jamie Foxx has been cast as Svengali-like manager Curtis Taylor Jr. and Eddie Murphy as womanizing R&B star James "Thunder" Early. Glover is playing Murphy's manager, Marty Madison. Laurence Mark is producing, and Patricia Whitcher is exec producing. DreamWorks' David Beaubaire oversees. Glover, whose lengthy film career includes Silverado, The Color Purple and the Lethal Weapon movies, appeared in last year's hit Saw and next appears in the Walt Disney Co.'s upcoming The Shaggy Dog. He is repped by ICM and Jeff Morrone at Anonymous Content. »

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Williams and Cosby Blast Bush Over Katrina Response

21 September 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

A series of celebrities including Robin Williams and Bill Cosby have slammed Us President George W. Bush for his response to last month's Hurricane Katrina. Speaking at New York's Higher Ground benefit on Saturday, the outspoken stars - who also included Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte - took the opportunity to criticize the Bush administration over its handling of the catastrophe in America's Gulf Coast region. Good Morning Vietnam Star Williams, who took the Lincoln Center stage pretending to be a hurricane, told the crowd he was heading for Bush's home in Kennebunkport, Maine, to "see if they respond any quicker". Veteran funnyman Cosby said, "The people who got into office forgot about the people." Lethal Weapon actor Glover said, "When the hurricane struck, it did not turn the region into a Third World country - it revealed one," while crooner Belafonte added, "Katrina was not unforeseeable. It was the result of a political structure that abdicates its responsibility." Other stars who asked viewers of the televised event to donate money to the hurricane relief fund included Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Laurence Fishburne, while Bette Midler and Paul Simon were among the performers. »

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Lumbly joins 'Nujoma' bio for Burnett

1 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Carl Lumbly has been cast to star in the lead role of independent feature Nujoma: Where Others Wavered. The actor, who plays Agent Marcus Dixon on ABC's Alias, will be joined by Danny Glover in the film, to be written and directed by Charles Burnett. The biopic is based on the autobiography of Sam Nujoma, the first president of Namibia and former president of the South West African People's Organization. Lumbly will play Nujoma, a role that spans his early 20s to his late 60s. The film reunites Lumbly, Glover and Burnett, who worked together on 1990's To Sleep With Anger. »

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Manderlay

18 May 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Lars von Trier continues his reinvention of American history with Manderlay, the second installment of his USA -- Land of Opportunity trilogy. As with the first film, Dogville (2003), he employs the Brechtian device of filming on a soundstage with a painted floor, only a few pieces of decor and props and a curtain cyclorama for backdrop.

Our history lesson this time concerns race relations in the U.S. and how the evils of slavery perpetuate themselves into the future.

Von Trier relishes his status as a provocateur. In all of his films about the U.S., going back to Dancer in the Dark, he works from his fantasies about that country rather than any rigorous study of its history or culture.

His films produce a divide between Americans who don't like being lectured to, especially by a European who doesn't bother to get his facts straight, and open-minded Americans and Europeans fascinated by his take on social problems that face on world's only superpower. But he doesn't deliver for either camp with Manderlay.

American filmmakers, novelists and artists of all stripes have dealt the perplexing issue of race relations for decades, even centuries. Nothing von Trier presents here, whether real or imagined, is fresh or new.

The film will, of course, play worldwide. One hopes it will spark discussions and arguments that do produce the new ideas the film itself so clearly lacks. For many Americans, Manderlay arrives at the height of a Bush administration where concerns over American unilateralism and the culture wars have moved race relations at least momentarily to the back burner. But the issue is always timely.

The movie starts up in 1933 when Grace -- a role taken over by Bryce Dallas Howard when its originator, Nicole Kidman, couldn't fit the film into her schedule -- leaves Dogville with her gangster father (Willem Dafoe) and his men. They drift into the South, passing through a small Alabama town. There, behind the gates of a tattered antebellum plantation, Grace is horrified to discover that slavery is still practiced.

Grace demands that her father's henchmen seize the estate and free the slaves. This proves surprisingly easy. The place is run by an elderly white woman (Lauren Bacall), who dies almost immediately, and only one firearm is found.

Grace sees her duty: She will make up for the injustice suffered by the ex-slaves by staying on to see them through the first cotton harvest and teach them democracy. Her father leaves behind four of his gangsters, a lawyer and a warning that this is none of her business.

The movie now shifts into an imagined reality where the white woman preaches the gospel of self-sufficiency while indulging in sexual fantasies revolving around the proudest of the black workers, Timothy (Isaach De Bankole), who is of African nobility. The old house slave Wilhelm (Danny Glover) warns her against going too fast, but other than Timothy the workers pitch in initially with enthusiasm.

Grace horrified to discover the plantation was formerly ruled by a handwritten book, Mam's Law, which numerically codified the slaves by personality types. But that book has a terrible secret.

Dust storms and famine threaten what has become a commune. Some revert to the practice of eating dirt. Then Grace faces a moral dilemma when the commune votes for the execution of an old woman for stealing a sick child's food.

This postmodern viewpoint treats the heroine's well-intended mission with condescension and sees the former slaves as trapped between a rock and a hard place in a Deep South that still refuses black people the right to vote or have access to education and decent employment.

The story, narrated by John Hurt so that no point from von Trier's script slides by unnoticed, is long-winded at 139 minutes, with noticeable sags in several places. The sameness of the set, including the earthen colors of the costumes and decor, make the film as tiring on the eyes as it is on the brain.

MANDERLAY

Zentropa Entertainments13

Credits: Screenwriter/director: Lars von Trier; Producer: Vibeke Windelov; Executive producers: Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Lene Borglum; Director of photography: Anthony Dod Mantle; Production designer: Peter Grant; Costumes: Manon Rasmussen; Editor: Molly Malene Stensgaard. Cast: Grace: Bryce Dallas Howard; Timothy: Isaach De Bankole; Wilhelm: Danny Glover; Grace's father: Willem Dafoe; Thomas: Michael Abiteboul; Mam: Lauren Bacall; Mr. Robinson: Jean-Marc Barr; Narrator: John Hurt.

No MPAA rating, running time 139 minutes

»

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Von Trier: "Black Americans Shunned My Slavery Film"

18 May 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Lars Von Trier was forced to take his hunt for black actors to Britain, because hordes of African-American stars refused to play slaves. Manderlay - Von Trier's tale of slavery in the cotton fields of southern America in the 1930s - only attracted three US actors, who he discovered are generally terrified of dredging up a past the superpower would rather forget. However, the Danish director was relieved the British attitude to the film was far more open-minded - he managed to find nine of his 12 black slaves in the film in the UK. Von Trier says, "We tried several (Americans) who thought it was a good thing that the films was being made and that it was interesting. But they didn't take part in it because it's explosive stuff in the USA. It's a shame for the coloured (sic) actors if they're only allowed to play heroes. If they aren't allowed to be human too. The English actors are completely relaxed about it, and they said 'yes massa' to me every morning. They had a laugh." And Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover - one of three black Americans to commit to the project - echoes Von Trier's frustrations, and has urged the US to stop ignoring a period of its history. He adds, "It would be extraordinary for (the American) film culture to unravel (slavery) but it doesn't. People are afraid to deal with it." Manderlay is in contention to win the coveted Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend. »

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Christina and Sheryl Step Up for Tsunami Victims

6 January 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow and country star Tim McGraw have signed up to perform on an upcoming US TV telethon which aims to raise funds for the victims of the December 26 tsunami. The hour-long show, which will also feature George Clooney, Courteney Cox and Danny Glover, will air live on January 15 across all of network NBC's broadcast and cable channels. Meanwhile, NBC-owned WNBC New York teamed up with children's charity UNICEF to stage an hour-long commercial-free tsunami benefit show last night, featuring appearances by new UNICEF ambassador Clay Aiken and actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Debra Messing and Tea Leoni. »

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8 items from 2005


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