On this week's Empire Podcast, Peter Berg desperately tries to avoid giving away any spoilers about his latest, Lone Survivor, while documentary director Alex Gibney is more than happy to talk about Lance Armstrong, what with his new film being called The Armstrong Lie and all.Elsewhere, the team tackle terrible taglines, come to face-to-face with their movie crushes and end up Alone But Not Alone with the sad truth that they weren't nominated for an Oscar. Also, a few bars from The Book Of Mormon make a cameo appearance, so if you're scared of musicals, be warned.P.S. You can check out our podcast photo gallery here and subscribe to the Empire Podcast via our iTunes page or this handy RSS feed. »
Scarlett Johansson’s fans can buy her as a super-secret agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel’s “Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier,” but they aren’t buying the tiny waistline she flaunts in a new poster for the upcoming film. Backlash against the poster art, which features Johansson as The Black Widow with the body of a Barbie doll, began brewing online as soon as the image was released online Thursday, along with character posters of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. Also read: Lance Armstrong Slams Magazine’s ‘Bull—-’ Photoshop Job »
- Greg Gilman
Here is a striking but flawed documentary by Alex Gibney, famous for his studies of financial fraud in Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) and America's use of rendition in Taxi to the Dark Side (2007). He paints a portrait of the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who admits to drug use with the same calm, clear-eyed candour he once displayed while denying it. Yet the slippery doper hedges his general admission with all sorts of hints that this matter wasn't quite what his accusers have said, and Gibney circles around his man, never quite going in for the kill.
The film is a lesson in the perils of getting caught in the middle of a story – and creating and believing in a "story" in the first place. »
- Peter Bradshaw
★★★☆☆ An investigation into the doping scandal that pushed Us cyclist Lance Armstrong back into the media spotlight, Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie (2013) manages to uncover a veritable peloton of untruth. Whilst mitigating Armstrong's cheating, Gibney successfully unearths the intricate mechanics of the deception - exposing a far more repugnant, ugly side of this once respected icon. Tackling news stories whilst the ink on their headlines is still fresh, his dogged mission to release a minimum of two films a year has initiated a wave of docs broaching current affairs before they've had time to settle within the social psyche.
- CineVue UK
There are few documentary filmmakers quite like Alex Gibney. The American picks up on current affairs, and turns over his productions in a swift yet concise fashion, studying and exploring stories that are still ongoing – such as WikiLeaks, and bringing them to the big screen. His latest endeavour is The Armstrong Lie – and we had the great pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss it.
The film chronicles the journey of cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was found to have been doping when competing in races in which he was triumphant. Having fervently denied all allegations – Gibney gets to heart of this lie, and it’s one he was a victim to himself, as this is actually the second attempt to make this documentary, following on from the first project, which had to be dramatically modified, as it was completed prior to the revelations that took place. Gibney discusses his »
- Stefan Pape
The issue of self-insertion is a tricky one for documentary filmmakers. It's tempting for any director to cast themselves as more than a narrator or a tour guide, but participate too much and you end up distracting from the story you're actually telling, as Michael Moore has demonstrated amply and often.
Alex Gibney, arguably the best non-fiction filmmaker working today, knows when to pull back and when to lean in - he was scarcely a presence at all in last year's compelling We Steal Secrets, but here his involvement is crucial, and his relationship with his subject ultimately more illuminating than any of the talking head segments that surround it.
Gibney was given unprecedented access to Lance Armstrong in 2008, for a documentary that originally took shape as a kind of comeback chronicle-cum-puff piece. »
The "Forrest Gump" star had to curb her cravings for calorific treats while following the diet, reports contactmusic.com
"My fiancé did a movie recently, playing Lance Armstrong, and he was on an 800 calories-a-day diet. I said, 'In solidarity, I am going to go on the diet with you,' even though I really want to go to an in-and-out burger," she said.
Wright was previously married to actor Sean Penn.
- Diksha Singh
A month-long bootcamp was just the start, as the story of a botched Navy SEALs assignment became a mission in itself. And next up for the actor? Lance Armstrong's training regime
Lone Survivor has surprised many. It's the story of Operation Red Wings – a 2005 reconnaissance mission which found four Navy SEALs ambushed by anti-coalition militia on an Afghan mountain – adapted from Seal Marcus Luttrell's memoir of the events. Written and directed by Peter Berg, who last coughed up the hideous Battleship, it's everything that film wasn't: heartfelt and exciting in all the right places. No 1 at the Us box office, it's doubled its $40m budget and garnered frenzied reactions from both ends of the political spectrum.
This was very much a passion project for Berg, whose father was a Marine. He'd been working on it since 2007; after getting to know Luttrell and the families of the 19 SEALs killed in Operation Red Wings, »
- Alex Godfrey
Own’s Tuesday night episode of the Tyler Perry drama The Haves and the Have Nots (January 21 at 9 p.m. Et/Pt) set a series record, drawing 2.84 million total viewers. The third episode of the second season continues the series' growth, up +2% in total viewers over the season premiere (1/7/14), and posting double-digit growth versus last week’s episode up +11% total viewers (1/14/14). In the key female demo Women 25-54, the Tuesday night episode ranked as the #1 cable telecast in the time period and #3 cable telecast for the night. The episode ranks as the #3 telecast in Own history among total viewers, behind only Oprah’s Next Chapter with Bobbi Kristina (3/11/12) and Oprah’s Next Chapter with Lance Armstrong (1/17/13). No one I know personally watches this series, but clearly, lots and lots folks are tuning in, with these increasing record ratings numbers.
- Tambay A. Obenson
Cyclist Lance Armstrong - the lycra-clad, all-American athlete and cancer survivor whose serial doping resulted in him being stripped of all seven Tour De France victories - comes under the spotlight of legendary documentary-maker Alex Gibney. Brusque and apparently unrepentant, Armstrong provides Gibney with his toughest target yet, by turns contrite and bullish. His ignoble story is barely believable as are the dubious professional practices of the sport as a whole. »
It is the first time in Writers Guild Awards history that a documentary has received the Selvin Award. The honor will be presented on Feb. 1 at the Jw Marriott in Los Angeles.
The award is named after the late WGA counsel and given to a WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of constitutional and civil rights and liberties.
“Alex Gibney is one of the foremost documentary filmmakers of this generation,” said WGA West president Christopher Keyser. “His work has been a filmic conscience for our times. In ‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,’ Mr. Gibney tackles issues arising out of us living, increasingly, in a surveillance state – from the public’s right to know and the press’ right to publish, »
- Dave McNary
Wright and Foster were attending the opening of Diane von Furstenberg’s "Journey of a Dress" exhibition in Los Angeles when her new diamond ring was captured by the cameras. A rep for Wright, 47, confirmed the engagement news to People.
The House of Cards actress and Foster, 33, met on the set of Rampart in 2011. Rumors of a relationship between the two began early the next year when they were spotted dining out together in Australia.
Wright has been married twice before, most notably to actor Sean Penn. Wright and Penn, who were married for 13 years, have two children together – Dylan, 22, and Hooper, 20. This will be Foster’s first marriage.
Robin Wright said, "Yes," to boyfriend Ben Foster! Robin's rep confirmed the engagement in the midst of Golden Globes weekend. The actress displayed her new engagement ring at Diane von Furstenberg's Journey of a Dress event Friday night, where Robin and Ben were all smiles with her daughter, Dylan, as they hit the red carpet. Robin, 47, and Ben, 33, reportedly started dating in early 2012 after filming the movie Rampart together. Robin's new love came two years after her divorce from Sean Penn, with whom she shared 13 years of marriage and had two children, Dylan, 22, and Hopper, 20. Robin and Dylan attended a W magazine party for its "Best Performances" issue at the famed Chateau Marmont in La on Thursday, where the blonde mother-daughter duo rubbed shoulders with other A-listers. Robin has been in the spotlight as House of Cards, her hit Netflix show costarring Kevin Spacey, receives critical acclaim, including a »
- Nick Maslow
For Robin Wright, a wedding is in the cards. The House of Cards actress is engaged to actor Ben Foster, Wright's rep confirms to People. The couple attended the opening of Diane von Furstenberg's "Journey of a Dress" exhibition Friday night in Los Angeles, where the actress, 47, flashed her new sparkler. Wright and Foster, 33, costarred in the 2011 film Rampart, and reports began to surface in early 2012 that the two were an item after they were spotted getting cozy at an Italian restaurant in Australia that February. Wright was recently nominated for an Emmy for her turn as a ruthless »
- Alexis L. Loinaz
We’ve all endured countless Star Wars Episode VII rumours over the past year or so, but we now finally have what could arguably be considered the first legitimate piece of casting news. According to The Wrap, The Master and Breaking Bad star Jesse Plemons is in contention for a leading role in the highly anticipated movie from Star Trek Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams.
The site goes on to add that the actor has already impressed those involved with the casting process in his first audition and will meet with Abrams next week for a second reading which could potentially lead to him joining the movie in one of the lead roles (which is still unknown, although his resemblance to Mark Hamill is hard to miss).
They go on to add that two well place sources within major agencies have told them that Plemons is a favourite to land »
- Josh Wilding
The latest Star Wars: Episode VII news has Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) being eyed for a lead role. Nothing is official yet and Plemons hasn't been cast, but he's reportedly returning to audition again for director J.J. Abrams. His first audition, one that was taped and sent in, was apparently received well enough to land him a second go, this time in a face-to-face meeting with Abrams himself. Nothing about the potential role has been revealed just yet, but it's possible that Plemons is being sought to play an offspring of Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker. Hit the jump for more. News of Abrams' interest in Plemons for Star Wars: Episode VII comes courtesy of The Wrap. Plemons had a break-out role on the high school sports drama, Friday Night Lights, and recently made waves in a small but effective role on AMC's Breaking Bad. He's also appeared in such recent feature films as Paul, »
- Dave Trumbore
Films such as Lincoln revitalised the genre by focusing on short periods, but are too many made, too soon?
For a genre that's been dismissed so many times, the biopic is in impertinently rude health. In the past six months in the UK – and only counting the ones about major public figures – we've had Behind the Candelabra, Renoir, Lovelace, Rush, Diana, Hannah Arendt, The Fifth Estate, One Chance, Saving Mr Banks, Kill Your Darlings, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The next few weeks alone will grant us audiences with Solomon Northup (12 Years a Slave), Charles Dickens (The Invisible Woman) and Grace of Monaco.
Somewhere down the line, though, the biopic tightened up its act. The Mandela picture's cradle-to-the-grave trudge looks positively old-fashioned now; even 12 Years a Slave is a bit copperplate. The new-school, high-definition biopic goes for the essence, rather than a chronicle of events, focusing on a galvanising »
- Phil Hoad
The sophomore-season premiere of the series about the powerful Cryer family and the hired help who work in their Savannah, Ga., mansion, averaged 2.78 million viewers in the 9 o’clock hour Tuesday — topping the show’s previous high of 2.78 million for its first-season finale last September.
Tuesday’s audience was a whopping 57% higher than that of the show’s series premiere last May (1.82 million).
Even more impressive is the show’s performance among the network’s target demo of women 25-54. After setting series highs with each of its final eight episodes last summer, »
- Rick Kissell
The Season 2 debut of Tyler Perry’s drama smashed its own ratings and viewership records last night with 2.8 million tuning in for The Haves And The Have Nots. That’s a 57% leap up from the 1.77 million who watched the Season 1 debut on May 28 and makes last night’s show the No. 1 season premiere in Own’s 3-year-plus history. Tuesday’s Haves And Have Nots also saw a 59% rise among W25-54 over the Season 1 opener. With a 7% bop upward, last night’s premiere also beat the 2.6 million who tuned in for the Season 1 finale on September 3. Overall, the return of the Perry-produced series was the second-best telecast in Own history among the W25-54 demo (2.49 rating, 1.1 million), behind the March 11, 2012, episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter with Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina. It is the third-most-watched broadcast ever on the network behind the Houston interview and the January 17, 2013, Oprah »
- DOMINIC PATTEN
We got the video of Yasiel Puig's arrest for speeding 110 mph down a Florida highway -- and the cop raises a great point: Who the hell speeds like that with their mother in the car?? Think Puig got the point?Plus, Johnny Manziel's attempt at sports announcing proves one thing -- he definitely belongs On The Field playing, not calling games.Also ... Bcs champ Jameis Winston fires back at critics of his post game comments »
- TMZ Staff
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