16 items from 2006
Hamilton Von Watts, Frank John Hughes, Adrian Martinez, Reno Wilson, Phil Hendrie, Toby Huss, Nathanial Moon and Ken Jeong comprise the ensemble cast of Three Strikes, a character-based comedy set in the world of minor league baseball. Their characters are part of the team at the center of the half-hour project.
Three Strikes is based on an idea from Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck (Fox's King of the Hill, NBC's Frasier). The pilot will be executive produced by Stewart, Ben Karlin, Gregory and Huyck. Jim Sharp is the executive in charge of production.
Ellen DeGeneres will host the Oscars for the first time in 2007. The comedienne-turned-us talk show host will take charge of the 79th Academy Awards on February 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. DeGeneres hasn't even appeared on an Academy Awards telecast, but ceremony producer Laura Ziskin is convinced she's the perfect choice to take over from this year's host Jon Stewart. Ziskin says, "Ellen DeGeneres was born to host the Academy Awards. There is no more challenging hosting job in show business. It requires someone who can keep the show alive and fresh and moving, as well as someone who is a flat-out great entertainer. Ellen completely fits the bill. I can already tell she is going to set the bar very high for herself and therefore for all of us involved in putting on the show." Emmy Award winner DeGeneres didn't waste any time in accepting the chance to host the Oscars. She says, "When Laura Ziskin called, I was thrilled. There's two things I've always wanted to do in my life - one is to host the Oscars. The second is to get a call from Laura Ziskin. You can imagine that day's diary entry." DeGeneres isn't new to show business' biggest stages - she has twice hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast and co-hosted the show in 1994. She also earned acclaim for her first solo Emmy stint, which took place shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. »
Chicago-native Patrick Creadon's first feature film, a documentary called "Wordplay," shows us the world of crossword puzzles and the puzzlers who attempt and obsess over them. Will Shortz, New York Times puzzle editor and the NPR Puzzle Master, is one of them. We meet him as well as famous faces, such as Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton, who've fallen for the crossword. The culmination of "Wordplay" is the 2005 Crossword Puzzle Championships. But Creadon's personal high point of making the film might've been seeing his movie on the marquee with "Mission Impossible 3" and the "DaVinci Code." Creadon runs through a list when asked about some of his favorite Chicago things, including: cheeseburgers at Billy Goat, Wrigley Field, 16-inch softball leagues in River Forest, Johnny’s Beef and Duey’s Pizza. He grew up in Riverside and attended Fenwick High School in »
- Jeff Bayer
NEW YORK -- MTV Networks gave a high-energy, short-on-executive-talk upfront presentation Tuesday night, preferring to let such stars as Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Stephen Colbert and even Dora from Dora the Explorer talk up its advertiser-friendly networks and digital media. Daily Show host Stewart got the ball rolling, saying that MTV Networks really understood the young-adult viewer. "They have a show that is delivered through Jell-O shots," Stewart joked. Silverman, who will have a new show on Comedy Central, told advertisers that her character will eat Domino's pizza and wash it down with Sierra Mist every episode. "I'm a team player," she said. »
NEW YORK -- It might not be Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise's favorite show, but the jurors for a prestigious television award threw a bouquet Comedy Central's way Wednesday with a Peabody Award for "South Park". "South Park" was one of 32 winners of the prestigious award, given annually by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications to honor the best in TV. But for a judging committee that isn't afraid to wade into controversy, "South Park" seems to be one of the most controversial in recent years. After a 10-year track record of pushing TV boundaries and famously tangling with Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", the Catholic Church, Cruise and Scientology and many others, "South Park" won an Emmy for its Terri Schiavo-themed episode. And after eight or nine self-submitted entries during the past decade, "South Park" will get its Peabody on June 5 in New York from "The Daily Show" host (and Peabody winner) Jon Stewart. »
PARK CITY - Eight-letter word for the award this Sundance documentary entrant will likely win.
You don't have to finish the N.Y. Times Saturday crossword puzzle in under three minutes like some of us (just kidding) to enjoy this witty ditty about the importance of crossword puzzles. A welcome respite from the high-issue entrants in the Documentary Competition here - Gaza Strip, Death Penalty - that generally bark out at you as "important issue," "Wordplay is a delightful diversion.
In this frothy amusement, filmmaker Patrick Creadon focuses on "The New York Times" crossword puzzle editor William Shortz and the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, he hosts in Stamford, Conn, Shortz designed his own major at Indiana University, dubbing it "enigmatology" because even as a teen he knew that crossword puzzles were his life.
While puzzles are not most peoples' lives, they are truly an essential part. "Wordplay" goes up/down and across on the varied reasons why more than 50 million Americans do a crossword puzzle every week. Filmmaker Patrick Creadon not only fills in the empty spaces but arranges the blocks in such a way that unveils not only the puzzles' addictive pleasures but its origins and aesthetics
Centering on the Competition, Creadon rolls out the long line of different-folks who sharpen their pencils, click their pens or partake in whatever personal ritual applies to their crossword "approach." It's a pleasurable and, sometimes, maddening part of their lives. There is no such thing as a "crossword puzzle"-type, as some might expect. True, there are compulsive nerds who grind away at crossword puzzles like taking an SAT, but the range of aficionados is a wonderfully puzzling cross of lines - class, age, personality. However, those in the math professions and music have their brains wired in such a way as to generally lead the pack.
Smartly mixing puzzle construction arcana with idiosyncratic personal asides, Creadon unspools insider puzzle facts with idiosyncratic asides. He presents a wide range of exuberant puzzle-heads who offer commentary: filmmaker Ken Burns, piano man Joe Delfin, ex-President Bill Clinton, Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina, The Indigo Girls, and "The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, among many others. Each expounds on the particular appeals, pleasures and lessons they enjoy from their daily crossword rituals. Clinton exudes that he tries to start at core places where he knows the answers and builds from there, likening it to diplomacy and political problem solving.
While it's smart, "Wordplay" is not too serious about itself. Under filmmaker Patrick Creadon's sharp approach, the technical contributions are graceful, particularly composer Peter Golub's zesty, sounds which are perfect counter-point to any big illuminations on why these doggone things are so fun and addictive.
O'Malley Creadon Prods.
Director/Director of photography
Music: Peter Golub
Editor: Doug Blush
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 90 minutes »
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
Executive producers: Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken, Jill Sinclair, Jake Eberts
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 »
ABC had the glitz and glam of the Oscars, but Fox had a 25-year-old home remodeler from Denver to help it win the week ending March 5. Fox won the Nielsen awards derby in primetime last week by comfortable margins on the back of three nights of American Idol, whose fan-favorite contestants this time around include Denver native Ace Young. Fox prevailed in total viewers, with an average of 13.5 million for the week, and in the adults 18-49 demographic, with an average 5.5 rating/14 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. ABC was No. 2 for the week (12.6 million, 4.6/12) thanks to the 38.9 million cinephiles who tuned in to Sunday's 3 1/2-hour Academy Awards telecast. As predicted, Oscar viewership took a hit compared with last year given the lack of megahit pictures in contention for top awards, but it was still well above the show's Nielsen nadir in 2003, when Hollywood's prom night drew only 33 million viewers. In adults 18-49, the presence of Jon Stewart as host couldn't stem a 7% drop from last year to a 13.9/33 average. »
Don't worry cowboy, you can cry on my shoulder. The results of the 4th Annual Tsr Movie Awards are in and it was a banner year. Now, if you are the type that just needs the numbers feel free to scroll down and get your fix. Tsr Movie Awards were just like the Academy Awards in the fact that they both had a wide variety of winners. The big difference was movie of the year and the host. While the Oscars were lucky enough to get Jon Stewart (and should have him hosting for years ala Johnny Carson), Tsr Movie Awards were once again stuck with a tall blond movie geek shouting out award winners during the commercials. This is normally the time when I attempt to have witty banter about the »
This was not your ordinary Oscars. It was the year that the independent spirit crashed the Academy Awards, from the gritty hip-hop best song winner "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow and edgy, New York cable host Jon Stewart to honorary Oscar winner Robert Altman, who looked shocked to be winning anything from the establishment he had been fighting all his life. This year's winners sent a signal that movies with a renegade pulse and a few brain cells were most likely to come from the likes of the indie Lionsgate (which released best picture Oscar winner Crash) and Focus Features (the specialty division of Universal Pictures that backed Brokeback Mountain, which won three Oscars) than the major studios. »
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. »
Oscar-nominee George Clooney and awards host Jon Stewart have publicly mocked US Vice President Dick Cheney during a star-studded Academy Awards lunch. Clooney, renowned for his opposition to the Bush administration, joked that Cheney had initially invited him to the hunting trip, at which he accidentally shot a colleague. And he told the Beverly Hills audience on Monday that he planned to return Cheney's generosity by bringing him along to the Academy Awards next month. He says, "I'm bringing Dick Cheney as my date. It's so nice - he called me up and wanted me to go hunting so I invited him to be my (Oscar) date. I don't know if that's overly political." Oscar producer Gil Cates also promised the 116 nominees attending the lunch that the show's host, Jon Stewart, would mention the shooting incident again during the ceremony. He said, "Jon told me that part of the show that night will have him talking about how Cheney stands by the shooting and he would do it again, and that the guy was wrong, he obviously shouldn't have been there." Clooney has been named in three Academy Award categories, including Best Director for his efforts with the politically-charged Good Night, And Good Luck. »
The Daily Show host Jon Stewart is celebrating after his wife Tracey gave birth to their second child on Saturday. The 43-year-old funnyman, who will host the Oscars next month, and his veterinary technician wife, 38, welcomed a baby girl in a New York hospital. The couple, who wed in 2000, have a 19-month-old son Nathan Thomas. TV network Comedy Central posted a message on their website, declaring: "Mom, dad, baby and big brother are all doing great." Stewart's spokesman Matt Labov tells People magazine, "Maggie Rose Stewart was born on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan and she was six pounds, nine ounces." »
Latest: Comedian Billy Crystal has confirmed he turned down the chance to host this year's Oscars ceremony because he is too busy with his one-man stage show 700 Sundays. The Analyze This star, who is currently touring the self-written two-act play about his childhood, refused to give in to persistent requests by Academy Awards producer Gil Cates to "please do the show". It would have been his ninth appearance as host. Crystal says, "I'm so tired at the end of 700 Sundays, I didn't want to go from that into a meeting where I'm saying, 'Give me Brokeback Mountain jokes.' It seemed so not what I wanted to do." The job has now gone to The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who is thrilled to host the awards despite suspecting ulterior motives by the show's bosses. He says, "As a performer, I'm truly honored to be hosting the show. Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can't help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal." The 78th annual Oscars ceremony will be broadcast on March 5th. »
As the clock ticks ever closer to the 78th Annual Academy Awards on March 5, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has finally found a host in Jon Stewart. Sources confirmed Stewart's selection, which was reported Wednesday evening by the Los Angeles Times' Oscar watch site, theenvelope.latimes.com. An Academy spokesman declined comment. The assignment would represent the first Oscar-hosting spot for Stewart, who headlines Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Stewart does have black-tie experience, though, having hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002. »
As the clock ticks ever closer to the 78th Annual Academy Awards on March 5, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has finally found a host in Jon Stewart. Sources confirmed Stewart's selection, which was reported Wednesday evening by the Los Angeles Times' Oscar watch site, theenvelope.latimes.com. An Academy spokesman declined comment. The assignment would represent the first Oscar-hosting spot for Stewart, who headlines Comedy Central's "The Daily Show". Stewart does have black-tie experience, though, having hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002. »
16 items from 2006