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1-20 of 25 items from 2006   « Prev | Next »


Gibson Offers Disgraced Richards His Support

30 November 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Mel Gibson has offered his support to disgraced comic Michael Richards, revealing he came close to penning a note to the former Seinfeld star after his racist rant in a Los Angeles comedy club. The movie mogul, who hit the headlines this summer for making drunken anti-Semitic remarks to a California highway patrol cop, insists he knows what Richards is going through. The comic is desperately trying to make amends with African-American groups after repeating the word "n**ger" in an angry rant aimed at two black hecklers during a recent show at The Laugh Factory. Gibson tells America's Entertainment Weekly magazine, "I felt like sending Michael Richards a note. I feel really badly for the guy. He was obviously in a state of stress. You don't need to be inebriated to be bent out of shape. But my heart went out to the guy... I like him." But Gibson remains a lone voice of support for Richards - Oscar nominee Queen Latifah has also weighed in with her verdict on the controversy. She says, "It's always disappointing when you hear someone that you really like say something really stupid and really foul and wrong... You pray for people like him." »

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Stranger Than Fiction

10 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the Toronto International Film Festival screening of "Stranger Than Fiction". TORONTO -- Hearing the premise, you'd guess "Stranger Than Fiction" is Marc Forster's entry into the Charlie Kaufman meta-movie arena: One day, Harold Crick discovers that he is the creation of a novelist; rebelling against the idea of a predetermined destiny, he sets out to find his creator and beg her to set him free instead of killing him off.

Surely, you imagine, it won't be long before Crick and his neighbors start to suspect an even larger fiction, addressing the filmmakers directly and turning the whole thing into a comic Mobius filmstrip.

In practice, "Fiction" isn't nearly that unusual. Less like "Adaptation" than a smarter version of "Click", the picture pleases while remaining unchallenging to a broad audience. Boxoffice prospects are particularly good given star Will Ferrell's recent success, though his performance here is hardly a Ricky Bobby-like yukfest.

His performance isn't shtick at all, in fact. Like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", this is a film that seems tailored to a comedian's weirder side but instead offers sweetness and sincerity. Ferrell is deliberately, almost distractingly normal as a by-the-numbers IRS auditor who sees his orderly world come apart. (Kay Eiffel, the author who invented him, is supposed to be a heavy hitter, but she lifted Crick straight out of central casting -- the only innovation being his R2D2-like wristwatch, which with beeps and blinks tries in vain to wake Crick from his robotic existence.)

Ferrell's straightman act isn't ironic, either. Treating it that way would have earned some easy laughs early on, but it would have sabotaged the film's aim to move quickly away from its broadest material into light romance. "Fiction" doesn't entirely succeed in that department -- love interest Maggie Gyllenhaal, as a baker being audited by Crick, is especially sexy here, but the two don't make much sense as a couple -- though it comes close.

When he isn't fumbling toward love with Gyllenhaal, Crick tries to make sense of his predicament, winding up with Dustin Hoffman's literature professor Jules Hilbert, who (shades of his character in "I § Huckabee's") comically examines Crick's real-world problems through the lens of theory. (In the brightest moment here, Hilbert has Crick gathering evidence to see if the novel he's starring in is a comedy or a tragedy.)

Meanwhile, the only reason Crick isn't dead is that his creator has writer's block. As Eiffel, Emma Thompson is an exaggerated knot of angst, chain-smoking while her assistant Penny (an under-utilized Queen Latifah) tries to jumpstart her imagination.

If the movie doesn't make the most of its self-aware conceit, it fills in the gaps with small, lovely touches that would work in any normal romance: Shy banter on an extended bus, with Ferrell sitting in the hinge section while Gyllenhaal, a row away, is moved to and fro when the bus turns corners; the tightly wound accountant being introduced to the joy of milk and cookies; the warm glow of multicolored light fixtures that break the ice on the couple's first date. "Fiction" may disappoint viewers at the extremes -- those hoping for wild experimentation or for another wacky Ferrell comedy -- but it's awfully satisfying on its own terms.

»

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Stranger Than Fiction

10 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the Toronto International Film Festival screening of "Stranger Than Fiction". TORONTO -- Hearing the premise, you'd guess "Stranger Than Fiction" is Marc Forster's entry into the Charlie Kaufman meta-movie arena: One day, Harold Crick discovers that he is the creation of a novelist; rebelling against the idea of a predetermined destiny, he sets out to find his creator and beg her to set him free instead of killing him off.

Surely, you imagine, it won't be long before Crick and his neighbors start to suspect an even larger fiction, addressing the filmmakers directly and turning the whole thing into a comic Mobius filmstrip.

In practice, "Fiction" isn't nearly that unusual. Less like "Adaptation" than a smarter version of "Click", the picture pleases while remaining unchallenging to a broad audience. Boxoffice prospects are particularly good given star Will Ferrell's recent success, though his performance here is hardly a Ricky Bobby-like yukfest.

His performance isn't shtick at all, in fact. Like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", this is a film that seems tailored to a comedian's weirder side but instead offers sweetness and sincerity. Ferrell is deliberately, almost distractingly normal as a by-the-numbers IRS auditor who sees his orderly world come apart. (Kay Eiffel, the author who invented him, is supposed to be a heavy hitter, but she lifted Crick straight out of central casting -- the only innovation being his R2D2-like wristwatch, which with beeps and blinks tries in vain to wake Crick from his robotic existence.)

Ferrell's straightman act isn't ironic, either. Treating it that way would have earned some easy laughs early on, but it would have sabotaged the film's aim to move quickly away from its broadest material into light romance. "Fiction" doesn't entirely succeed in that department -- love interest Maggie Gyllenhaal, as a baker being audited by Crick, is especially sexy here, but the two don't make much sense as a couple -- though it comes close.

When he isn't fumbling toward love with Gyllenhaal, Crick tries to make sense of his predicament, winding up with Dustin Hoffman's literature professor Jules Hilbert, who (shades of his character in "I § Huckabee's") comically examines Crick's real-world problems through the lens of theory. (In the brightest moment here, Hilbert has Crick gathering evidence to see if the novel he's starring in is a comedy or a tragedy.)

Meanwhile, the only reason Crick isn't dead is that his creator has writer's block. As Eiffel, Emma Thompson is an exaggerated knot of angst, chain-smoking while her assistant Penny (an under-utilized Queen Latifah) tries to jumpstart her imagination.

If the movie doesn't make the most of its self-aware conceit, it fills in the gaps with small, lovely touches that would work in any normal romance: Shy banter on an extended bus, with Ferrell sitting in the hinge section while Gyllenhaal, a row away, is moved to and fro when the bus turns corners; the tightly wound accountant being introduced to the joy of milk and cookies; the warm glow of multicolored light fixtures that break the ice on the couple's first date. "Fiction" may disappoint viewers at the extremes -- those hoping for wild experimentation or for another wacky Ferrell comedy -- but it's awfully satisfying on its own terms.

»

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Bullock and Latifah Named Women of the Year

2 November 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock and Queen Latifah were named Women Of The Year at the American edition of Glamour magazine's annual awards on Monday. Bullock was honored as The Undercover Activist for her quiet million dollar donations to charities following September 11th and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004. Accepting her red trophy at New York City's Carnegie Hall, Bullock thanked her fellow Women Of The Year - An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David, Rachael Scdoris, Somaly Mam, Iman, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Billie Jean King, Katie Couric and Angela, Rosita and Margherita Missoni. Bullock said, "Bishop - all I can say to you is it's about damn time. Billie Jean King for some reason I don't play tennis, but I try - I try really hard. Rachael - You're my hero, you amaze me, I can't even make it to the gym." Queen Latifah, real name Dana Owens, was reunited with her Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, who presented the rapper/actress with The Role Model award. Owens explained, "The reason why I took the name Queen was that my mother told me that all women were Queens and should be treated as such...So I dedicate this award to my mother who is the first Queen in my life." »

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ThinkFilm hip to 'Hip Hop' docu project

30 October 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

ORLANDO -- ThinkFilm has nabbed all worldwide rights to The Hip Hop Project, a documentary from executive producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah. It is the first acquisition for the distributor since it was purchased last week by David Bergstein and Ron Tutor's Capco Group.

Directed by Matt Ruskin, Hip Hop revolves around of Chris Kharma Kazi Rolle, an abandoned and homeless New York teenager who grew up to develop an outreach program for troubled teens to help each other and express themselves through hip-hop. As Kazi and two of his students attempted to create their own album, rap entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Bruce Willis donated a recording studio to their Hip Hop Project. Rapper Doug E. Fresh also makes an appearance in the chronicle of the youths' four-year struggle.

"We are extremely impressed by this film, which blends classical themes of salvation and self-discovery, with utterly contemporary sights and sounds," ThinkFilm head of U.S. theatrical Mark Urman said. "Not since our own 'Born Into Brothels' have I seen such a powerful and entertaining story about young people and the redemptive power of art."

The docu will be released in theaters in the spring, and will be introduced this week at the American Film Market by the company's ThinkFilm International division.

After premiering at this year's Tribeca Film Festival with the initial title Word.Life: The Hip-Hop Project, the film won the audience award at the Urbanworld Vibe Film Festival and Zurich Film Festival, as well as the best docu award at the Harlem International Film Festival.

»

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Michel heads East Coast talent at WMA

9 October 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Randi Michel has been promoted to head of talent, East Coast, at WMA and will oversee the talent department in the firm's New York office. Michel's clients include Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Terrence Howard, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez. She also reps Latifah's production/management company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, and Freeman's production outfit, Revelations Entertainment. »

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N.Y. Comedy fest will finish with a bang

3 October 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Dane Cook will close the third annual New York Comedy Festival with a rare comedy performance Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden. According to festival sources, Cook is only the third comedy act to be featured at the world's most famous arena after past performances by the Kings of Comedy and Andrew Dice Clay. Festival presenting partner Caroline Hirsch, founder and owner of the Carolines on Broadway comedy club, in a statement promised that "Dane Cook: Vicious Circle Live!" will turn out to be "the comedy event of the year" for New Yorkers. The festival, which runs Nov. 7-12, also will feature Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, Howie Mandel, Artie Lange and Jim Norton, among others. »

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Stranger Than Fiction

11 September 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Hearing the premise, you'd guess Stranger Than Fiction is Marc Forster's entry into the Charlie Kaufman meta-movie arena: One day, Harold Crick discovers that he is the creation of a novelist; rebelling against the idea of a predetermined destiny, he sets out to find his creator and beg her to set him free instead of killing him off.

Surely, you imagine, it won't be long before Crick and his neighbors start to suspect an even larger fiction, addressing the filmmakers directly and turning the whole thing into a comic Mobius filmstrip.

In practice, Fiction isn't nearly that unusual. Less like Adaptation than a smarter version of Click, the picture pleases while remaining unchallenging to a broad audience. Boxoffice prospects are particularly good given star Will Ferrell's recent success, though his performance here is hardly a Ricky Bobby-like yukfest.

His performance isn't shtick at all, in fact. Like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, this is a film that seems tailored to a comedian's weirder side but instead offers sweetness and sincerity. Ferrell is deliberately, almost distractingly normal as a by-the-numbers IRS auditor who sees his orderly world come apart. (Kay Eiffel, the author who invented him, is supposed to be a heavy hitter, but she lifted Crick straight out of central casting -- the only innovation being his R2D2-like wristwatch, which with beeps and blinks tries in vain to wake Crick from his robotic existence.)

Ferrell's straightman act isn't ironic, either. Treating it that way would have earned some easy laughs early on, but it would have sabotaged the film's aim to move quickly away from its broadest material into light romance. Fiction doesn't entirely succeed in that department -- love interest Maggie Gyllenhaal, as a baker being audited by Crick, is especially sexy here, but the two don't make much sense as a couple -- though it comes close.

When he isn't fumbling toward love with Gyllenhaal, Crick tries to make sense of his predicament, winding up with Dustin Hoffman's literature professor Jules Hilbert, who (shades of his character in "I ? Huckabee's") comically examines Crick's real-world problems through the lens of theory. (In the brightest moment here, Hilbert has Crick gathering evidence to see if the novel he's starring in is a comedy or a tragedy.)

Meanwhile, the only reason Crick isn't dead is that his creator has writer's block. As Eiffel, Emma Thompson is an exaggerated knot of angst, chain-smoking while her assistant Penny (an under-utilized Queen Latifah) tries to jumpstart her imagination.

If the movie doesn't make the most of its self-aware conceit, it fills in the gaps with small, lovely touches that would work in any normal romance: Shy banter on an extended bus, with Ferrell sitting in the hinge section while Gyllenhaal, a row away, is moved to and fro when the bus turns corners; the tightly wound accountant being introduced to the joy of milk and cookies; the warm glow of multicolored light fixtures that break the ice on the couple's first date. Fiction may disappoint viewers at the extremes -- those hoping for wild experimentation or for another wacky Ferrell comedy -- but it's awfully satisfying on its own terms.

STRANGER THAN FICTION

Columbia Pictures

Mandate Pictures

Credits:

Director: Marc Forster

Screenwriter: Zach Helm

Producer: Lindsay Doran

Executive producers: Joe Drake, Nathan Kahane, Eric Kopeloff

Director of photography: Roberto Schaefer

Production designer: Kevin Thompson

Costume designer: Frank Fleming

Music: Britt Daniel, Brian Reitzell

Editor: Matt Chesse

Cast:

Harold Crick: Will Ferrell

Ana Pascal: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Dr. Jules Hilbert: Dustin Hoffman

Penny Escher: Queen Latifah

Kay Eiffel: Emma Thompson

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time -- 112 minutes »

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'Hairspray' Says Goodbye to Baltimore

20 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

The producers of much-anticipated movie musical Hairspray have upset film fans in Baltimore, Maryland by deciding to shoot the project in Canada. The original Hairspray movie and hit Broadway musical were set in Baltimore, where quirky film-maker John Waters, the creator of the concept film, hails from. It even features the song "Good Morning, Baltimore." But the new movie, starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah and Amanda Bynes, will turn its back on Maryland and take advantage of tax breaks and studio space in Toronto, Canada. Producer Craig Zadan says, "No offense to Baltimore is intended." Zadan tells newspaper the Baltimore Sun that he had hoped to shoot parts of Maryland for background shots in the film, but that was abandoned and now the US city will be rebuilt on a sound stage in Toronto. Waters, who is a consultant on the new movie, says, "Do I wish the film was shot in Baltimore? Yes. But I'm not going to go against the film because of that... They certainly didn't change the name of the song to Good Morning, Toronto." Meanwhile, blonde actress Brittany Snow has been added to the star-studded cast. Michelle Pfeiffer was also added earlier this week. »

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Pfeiffer Set To Sing in 'Hairspray'

18 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Michelle Pfeiffer has joined the cast of the forthcoming big screen version of Hairspray as villain Velma Von Tussel. The star joins John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes and newcomer Nikki Blonsky, who'll play Tracy Turnblad. Pfeiffer will play the former Miss Baltimore Crabs beauty queen-turned-bitter Baltimore, Maryland TV station owner in the film based on the hit Broadway, New York City play. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are writing new songs for their Tony-Award-winning score, including a new tune for Pfeiffer. She last sang in the film The Fabulous Baker Boys, which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Plans to shoot the film in Baltimore have been scrapped - it will now be shot entirely in Toronto, Canada starting in September. Director Adam Shankman says, "Not only do we have her singing, which she hasn't done in a long time, but she's been a delicious villain in roles like Catwoman. Velma is this amazing mess of contradictions. I'm going to dress and wig Michelle to death on this one!" »

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Unknown Teen Lands 'Hairspray' Lead

12 June 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Unknown teenager Nikki Blonsky has landed the role of a lifetime - as the chubby star of the Hairspray movie remake. The 17-year-old New Yorker will play hefty heroine Tracy Turnblad in the star-studded new film, in which John Travolta will play her mother. Billy Crystal and Queen Latifah have already signed on for the project, while teen queen Amanda Bynes will play Turnblad's best pal Penny Pingleton. Blonsky is well known in her native Great Neck, where she often performs the National Anthem at local sports meetings, but her biggest role to date is in the hometown musical Hair. The actress was discovered during a nationwide casting search to find an unknown to play Turnblad. She'll quit her job as an ice-cream store employee to play the part. Ricki Lake played Turnblad in the original 1988 Hairspray, directed by John Waters. »

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Pierce, Smith provide 'Support'

11 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Wendell Pierce and Anna Deavere Smith have joined Queen Latifah in HBO's original movie Life Support. Also cast in the film, executive produced by Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx, are Evan Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tony Rock and newcomer Rachel Nicks. Based on a true story, Life Support centers on Ana Willis (Queen Latifah), an HIV-positive former drug addict who has overcome her addiction to become a wife and mother committed to educating people in the black community on how to protect themselves from becoming infected. Pierce will play Willis' husband, Smith will play her mother, and Nicks will play her daughter. Evan Ross will play Trace, a gay teenager and childhood friend of Willis' daughter who was born HIV-positive and ends up on the street, selling his AIDS drugs for money. »

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Turner nearing deal to get pic package including 3rd 'Mission'

9 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Turner Broadcasting is said to be nearing a deal to acquire a movie package from Viacom Inc. that includes Paramount Pictures' Tom Cruise starrer Mission: Impossible 3, which has earned more than $122 million at the domestic boxoffice, along with eight other titles, according to sources. Other Paramount titles that are believed to be part of the deal include Failure to Launch, the Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker film that has pulled in more than $88 million domestically, and Last Holiday, the Queen Latifah starrer that earned just over $38 million during its domestic theatrical run. Turner and Paramount declined comment. »

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Latifah finds 'Support' for HBO telefilm

24 May 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Queen Latifah has signed on to star in HBO Films' Life Support, a telefilm that centers on the HIV crisis in the black community. The actress also will executive produce the HBO project with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray), Jaime King (Ray), Marcus King (WB Network's The Jamie Foxx Show), Shakim Compere (Beauty Shop) and Emmy nominee Shelby Stone (HBO's Lackawanna Blues). Support, based on the life of writer-director Nelson George's sister and their family, is a depiction of the black community's HIV crisis as told through the true story of one survivor -- a mother, former crack addict and current AIDS activist (Queen Latifah). »

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Latifah Plans to Adopt

6 April 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Queen Latifah has elaborated on her motherhood claims by revealing she plans to join the Hollywood singles who have adopted children. The rapper/actress shocked fans last month when she revealed she was getting broody, adding "I'm really working on it (motherhood). I've got everyone galvanized, I've cleared my schedule, and it's going to happen soon. God willing, I will be a mom by this time next year." But now Latifah, real name Dana Owens, has confessed she isn't planning to get pregnant - she's looking to adopt an abandoned American baby. She explains, "I definitely plan on going through with adoption." But the Chicago star knows the odds are stacked against her as a single adoptive mother - thanks to America's strict laws. She adds, "There's a law that tries to keep the family together - so if you've had an adopted child for up to three years or so, the birth mother can come back and reclaim the child if they pull themselves together. "The law is good in a way because you love to see parents pull themselves together, but that's got to be tough on the adoptive parents, who've grown up to love that child." »

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Ice Age: The Meltdown

31 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

In the energetic sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown", youngsters may fret over whether the animal heroes will reach their new home safely, parents may wonder how all this melting ice pack parallels the current concerns over global warming, and 20th Century Fox Animation may have to figure out what to do with the bounty undoubtedly flowing its way from boxoffice and DVD coffers. Ray Romano again heads the voice cast, reunited with John Leguizamo and Denis Leary from the original 2002 "Ice Age".

The story gets under way with the zany sloth Sid (Leguizamo) running a day camp for young animals. His old buddies -- the mature woolly mammoth Manny (Ray Romano) and the dryly witty saber-toothed tiger Diego (Leary) -- make Sid realize that he is really quite unsuitable as any kind of role model. Con artist armadillo Fast Tony Jay Leno) alerts the various breeds that a global warming will imminently melt the enormous glacial dam that protects their valley. Oceans of water will flood the landscape, thus they must embark on a trek toward safety. It is at this point that the very good CGI effects are never more impressive, as the enormous scope of their changing environmental habitat is revealed.

The charm of the original film was its endearing character development, mixing humor with personality traits with real dimension (not all that unlike Romano's former smash-hit TV sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond"). This lifts "Meltdown" above many other animated efforts. Along their trip, each of the three leads gets a story arc: Manny may be the last of his species, that is until Ellie (Queen Latifah) shows up, a mammoth who thinks she's an opossum, like her sidekicks Crash Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). Sid, the Rodney Dangerfield of sloths, finds respect in a fun midnight-cult sequence. And Diego struggles to face a long-held fear.

In most respects, this sequel is better than the original. No human characters appear this time, so it's a more seamless animal tale. Although Diego's tiger is more of a pussycat here, the film's overall story line, complete with predatory prehistoric alligator creatures, is more involving. Even clocking in 11 minutes longer than "Ice Age", director Carlos Saldanha (who received co-director credit on the original) has made a vivid and entertaining (and educational?) family film that never flags.

Highlights include the tender depiction of Ellie's life-changing moment when she recognizes her childhood home is now completely melted; a rousing all-vulture version of "Food, Glorious Food" from "Oliver!"; and, last but hardly least, Scrat, the unspeaking squirrel/rat, back from the first film with more silly screen time. He is still risking life and limb on sheer, frozen cliffs above and below icy water in pursuit of that elusive acorn. Scrat's intermittent sequences are episodic, like chapters of an old serial -- and like those old serials, the kids will eat it up.

ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox Animation presents a Blue Sky Studios production

Credits:

Director: Carlos Saldanha

Screenwriters: Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow, Jim Hecht

Story by: Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow

Producer: Lori Forte

Executive producers: Christopher Meledandri, Chris Wedge

Art director: Thomas Cardone

Character designer: Peter de Seve

Music: John Powell

Editor: Harry Hitner. Voices: Manny: Ray Romano

Sid: John Leguizamo

Diego: Denis Leary

Ellie: Queen Latifah

Crash: Seann William Scott

Eddie: Josh Peck

Lone Gunslinging Vulture: Will Arnett

Fast Tony: Jay Leno

MPAA rating PG

Running time -- 91 minutes »

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Flood of business for 'Meltdown'

31 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The early spring thaw that drove the chill off the boxoffice last weekend could escalate into genuine global warming this go-round as 20th Century Fox launches Ice Age: The Meltdown in the U.S. and a number of foreign territories. Although three other wide releases will bid for the attention of audience segments ranging from urban moviegoers to adults to horror fans, the animated Meltdown, by virtue of its lineage as a Blue Sky Studios offering, is guaranteed to dominate. Directed by Carlos Saldanha, a co-director of the original Ice Age, the PG sequel continues the adventures of the prehistoric pack consisting of Ray Romano's woolly mammoth, John Leguizamo's sloth and Denis Leary's saber-toothed tiger along with such new additions as a mammoth love interest voiced by Queen Latifah. »

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The Shaggy Dog

17 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

If Queen Latifah can step into Alec Guinness' Last Holiday and Steve Martin can go from Father of the Bride to Cheaper by the Dozen to The Pink Panther remakes, why shouldn't producer-actor Tim Allen take a romp as The Shaggy Dog? Director Brian Robbins, a young veteran of teen and family fare, and five writers have turned out a fast-moving Walt Disney Co. comedy that manages to sail past many of the cliches usually found in this genre while throwing together a wild story line more apt for a new millennium. Business could be brisk for the tweener crowd. DVD sales and rental figures look to be strong.

The original 1959 release was the first of scores of live-action family comedies from the Walt Disney studio, producing a lineage of teenage stars that would lead to Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan. Although Fred MacMurray was top-billed, that film focused on his teenage son, played by Tommy Kirk, who stumbled onto Cold War missile secrets. Back then it was Kirk's Wilby Daniels who turned (off and on) into a canine, courtesy of an ancient Borgia curse. Years later, a sequel, The Shaggy D.A., had studio regular Dean Jones stepping into the role of an adult Wilby.

The remake credits both earlier screenplays with an acknowledgment of Felix Salten's original story, The Hound of Florence, as well. About the only similarity to the first film plot-wise is Dad's dislike of dogs (though in the original, there was a valid rationale: MacMurray was a veteran postal employee). As before, the fun is in the shape-shifting between man and beast, usually at the most inopportune moments.

Like Batman Begins, The Shaggy Dog opens in Tibet. A brief prologue introduces us to a 300-year-old bearded collie living -- and praying! -- among the monks. Henchmen from an evil pharmaceuticals conglomerate, headed by an ailing Philip Baker Hall, are on a reconnaissance mission to snatch the dog. Once back at the U.S. headquarters/secret genetics lab, two young scientists try to use the collie to perfect the Fountain of Youth for greedy corporate nincompoop Robert Downey Jr. (who seems to be playing a campy Prince Hal).

The balance of the film has assistant DA Dave Douglas (Allen) prosecuting his animal-activist daughter's (Zena Grey) tree-hugging social studies teacher, when his bloodstream gets infected with the ancient serum that gradually transforms the star into a furry dog. Allen is at his comic best in these scenes, from growling at opposing counsel in the courtroom (reminiscent of his Home Improvement hyper-masculine barking shtick) to chasing his bathrobe's tail at home. Kristin Davis, almost too attractive, plays Mrs. Douglas, and Spencer Breslin (Disney's The Kid, The Santa Clause 2) is the atypical younger brother. As a four-legged animal whose "voice" is heard only by the viewer, Allen starts to see how much he had neglected his family.

The supporting cast includes Jane Curtin as the judge, Danny Glover (miscast) as the DA and Shawn Pyfrom (Desperate Housewives) as Grey's teen boyfriend. The best supporting players are the mutant creatures (a snake with a dog's tail, a bulldog-headed frog) -- real animals mixed with concoctions bred by the Stan Winston and Tippett labs -- that aid Allen in an elaborate laboratory escape.

THE SHAGGY DOG

Buena Vista Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures/Mandeville Films/Boxing Cat Films

Credits: Director: Brian Robbins; Screenwriters: The Wibberleys and Geoff Rodkey and Jack Amiel & Michael Begler; Producers: David Hoberman, Tim Allen; Executive producers: Robert Simonds, Todd Lieberman, William Fay, Matthew Carroll; Director of photography: Gabriel Beristain; Production designer: Leslie McDonald; Costume designer: Molly Maginnis; Music: Alan Menken; Editor: Ned Bastille.

Cast: Dave Douglas: Tim Allen; Rebecca Douglas: Kristin Davis; Carly Douglas: Zena Grey; Josh Douglas: Spencer Breslin; Ken Hollister: Danny Glover; Dr. Kozak: Robert Downey Jr.; Judge Claire Whittaker: Jane Curtin; Lance Strictland: Philip Baker Hall; Baxter: Craig Kilborn.

MPAA rating PG, running time 92 minutes.

»

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The Shaggy Dog

6 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

If Queen Latifah can step into Alec Guinness' Last Holiday and Steve Martin can go from Father of the Bride to Cheaper by the Dozen to The Pink Panther remakes, why shouldn't producer-actor Tim Allen take a romp as The Shaggy Dog? Director Brian Robbins, a young veteran of teen and family fare, and five writers have turned out a fast-moving Walt Disney Co. comedy that manages to sail past many of the cliches usually found in this genre while throwing together a wild story line more apt for a new millennium. Business could be brisk for the tweener crowd. DVD sales and rental figures look to be strong.

The original 1959 release was the first of scores of live-action family comedies from the Walt Disney studio, producing a lineage of teenage stars that would lead to Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan. Although Fred MacMurray was top-billed, that film focused on his teenage son, played by Tommy Kirk, who stumbled onto Cold War missile secrets. Back then it was Kirk's Wilby Daniels who turned (off and on) into a canine, courtesy of an ancient Borgia curse. Years later, a sequel, The Shaggy D.A., had studio regular Dean Jones stepping into the role of an adult Wilby.

The remake credits both earlier screenplays with an acknowledgment of Felix Salten's original story, The Hound of Florence, as well. About the only similarity to the first film plot-wise is Dad's dislike of dogs (though in the original, there was a valid rationale: MacMurray was a veteran postal employee). As before, the fun is in the shape-shifting between man and beast, usually at the most inopportune moments.

Like Batman Begins, The Shaggy Dog opens in Tibet. A brief prologue introduces us to a 300-year-old bearded collie living -- and praying! -- among the monks. Henchmen from an evil pharmaceuticals conglomerate, headed by an ailing Philip Baker Hall, are on a reconnaissance mission to snatch the dog. Once back at the U.S. headquarters/secret genetics lab, two young scientists try to use the collie to perfect the Fountain of Youth for greedy corporate nincompoop Robert Downey Jr. (who seems to be playing a campy Prince Hal).

The balance of the film has assistant DA Dave Douglas (Allen) prosecuting his animal-activist daughter's (Zena Grey) tree-hugging social studies teacher, when his bloodstream gets infected with the ancient serum that gradually transforms the star into a furry dog. Allen is at his comic best in these scenes, from growling at opposing counsel in the courtroom (reminiscent of his Home Improvement hyper-masculine barking shtick) to chasing his bathrobe's tail at home. Kristin Davis, almost too attractive, plays Mrs. Douglas, and Spencer Breslin (Disney's The Kid, The Santa Clause 2) is the atypical younger brother. As a four-legged animal whose "voice" is heard only by the viewer, Allen starts to see how much he had neglected his family.

The supporting cast includes Jane Curtin as the judge, Danny Glover (miscast) as the DA and Shawn Pyfrom (Desperate Housewives) as Grey's teen boyfriend. The best supporting players are the mutant creatures (a snake with a dog's tail, a bulldog-headed frog) -- real animals mixed with concoctions bred by the Stan Winston and Tippett labs -- that aid Allen in an elaborate laboratory escape.

THE SHAGGY DOG

Buena Vista Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures/Mandeville Films/Boxing Cat Films

Credits: Director: Brian Robbins; Screenwriters: The Wibberleys and Geoff Rodkey and Jack Amiel & Michael Begler; Producers: David Hoberman, Tim Allen; Executive producers: Robert Simonds, Todd Lieberman, William Fay, Matthew Carroll; Director of photography: Gabriel Beristain; Production designer: Leslie McDonald; Costume designer: Molly Maginnis; Music: Alan Menken; Editor: Ned Bastille.

Cast: Dave Douglas: Tim Allen; Rebecca Douglas: Kristin Davis; Carly Douglas: Zena Grey; Josh Douglas: Spencer Breslin; Ken Hollister: Danny Glover; Dr. Kozak: Robert Downey Jr.; Judge Claire Whittaker: Jane Curtin; Lance Strictland: Philip Baker Hall; Baxter: Craig Kilborn.

MPAA rating PG, running time 92 minutes.

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Travolta To Play a Housewife

5 March 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Movie star John Travolta is set to display his versatility by playing a housewife in the screen version of Hairspray - his first musical since 1978 film Grease. The 52-year-old actor is preparing to take on the role of Edna Turnblad, alongside Queen Latifah, who will reportedly play Motormouth Maybelle. Producer Michael Lynne says, "This is our dream cast for the film. Bringing Travolta back into a musical is so gratifying. They were our genuine first choices for the film." »

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