Born and raised in Winnetka, Illinois to Princeton and Harvard grads, it was expected that Charlotte Ross would follow in her parent's footsteps and continue in the field of education. However, falling in love with acting in the tender years of her childhood, Charlotte had other plans in mind and decided at an early age she would follow the "Hollywood" route, instead.
From that moment on, Charlotte studied, with anyone and everyone she possibly could, to polish and sharpen her craft. She worked at Second City and the Goodman Theater in Chicago and earned an early living with numerous commercial and modeling gigs. Then, a month after graduating from the famous New Trier High School, Charlotte made the move to Los Angeles, where she quickly landed her first role in Hollywood as "Eve Donovan" on Days of Our Lives, a role that later garnered her 2 Emmy nominations. After a wonderful four years on the infamous Soap, she went on to pursue other roles. Charlotte then quickly jumped into starring in numerous TV movies, including A Kiss So Deadly, Kidnapped in Paradise, Fall Into Darkness, and She Says She's Innocent, to name a few. She also landed the lead in Aaron Spelling's The Heights (FOX), which earned a Gold record for her and the cast's singing.
Since then, Charlotte has remained a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, starring in TV series, such as CBS's comedy, The 5 Mrs. Buchanans, by Marc Cherry; FOX's Pauly ("Mommie and Me") with Pauly Shore; NBC's ER; and, later, their family drama, Trinity. She also starred in Showtime's critically-acclaimed Beggars and Choosers as "Lori Volpone", a role the Los Angeles Times said made Charlotte an "Emmy Shoe-in".
Before "Beggars and Choosers" was officially canceled after two seasons, Charlotte was asked to consider replacing Kim Delany on the Emmy Award- winning show, NYPD Blue. Charlotte gratefully jumped at the opportunity and made her debut on the ever-successful cop drama as the tough talking Irish Detective, "Connie McDowell". Again, the media's response to Charlotte echoed that of "Beggars and Choosers", saying "If NYPD Blue still had the popularity it once had, Charlotte would have a shelf of Emmys".
At the end of her fifth season as "Detective Connie McDowell" on "NYPD Blue", Charlotte was 8 months pregnant with her first child and eager to take a break from acting to just be a mom. After so many years of being so grateful for work, she craved a break and today still says that time-off was the best decision she ever made.
Two years after the birth of her beautiful little boy, Max, Charlotte went back to work, starring in the "re-tooled" second season of Jake in Progress, Lifetime's Nora Roberts film, Montana Sky, Christmas in Paradise, and Law & Order as the memorable character "Anne Coltour", which once again generated Emmy buzz.
Today, Charlotte stays busy with work and, in addition to playing 'Quinn's' uptight, Escada-wearing mother, "Judy Fabray", on the new hit show, Glee, she continues to challenge and reinvent herself for a diverse array of roles. Whether it be showing off her athleticism as the first female umpire in professional baseball in the upcoming and highly-anticipated short film, The Umpire; seducing Nicolas Cage as the white trash, tattoo-covered sex cougar, "Candy", in Summit's 3D film, Drive Angry (February, 2011), or starring in Street Kings 2: Motor City (April 2011), opposite Ray Liotta, Charlotte continues to captivate audiences and impress critics with her unbelievable range as an actress.
A successful actress for over two decades, a proud single mom to her now 6-year-old son, Max, a huge animal rights activist (widely known for PETA "I'd rather go naked..." campaign) and a fitness fanatic, Charlotte is fortunate to be able to do what she loves. Once a Winnetka gal with a love of finding the truth on screen, Charlotte is now living her dream and couldn't be in a happier place in her life.
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 19 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep, Jr., a pharmaceutical executive. Her father was of German and Swiss-German descent, and her mother was of English, Irish, and German ancestry.
Meryl's early performing ambitions leaned toward the opera. She became interested in acting while a student at Vassar and upon graduation she enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. She gave an outstanding performance in her first film role, Julia, and the next year she was nominated for her first Oscar for her role in The Deer Hunter. She went on to win the Academy Award for her performances in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice, in which she gave a heart-wrenching portrayal of an inmate mother in a Nazi death camp.
A perfectionist in her craft and meticulous and painstaking in her preparation for her roles, Meryl turned out a string of highly acclaimed performances over the next decade in great films like Silkwood; Out of Africa; Ironweed; and A Cry in the Dark. Her career declined slightly in the early 1990s as a result of her inability to find suitable parts, but she shot back to the top in 1995 with her performance as Clint Eastwood's married lover in The Bridges of Madison County and as the prodigal daughter in Marvin's Room. In 1998 she made her first venture into the area of producing, and was the executive producer for the moving ...First Do No Harm. A realist when she talks about her future years in film, she remarked that "...no matter what happens, my work will stand..."
Ryan Gosling was born on November 12, 1980, in London, Ontario. He is the son of Donna, a secretary, and Thomas Ray Gosling, a traveling salesman. Ryan was the second of their two children. His ancestry includes English, French-Canadian, Scottish, and German. The Gosling family moved to Cornwall, Ontario, where Ryan grew up and was home-schooled by his mother. Ryan attended Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational High School in Cornwall, where he excelled in Drama and Fine Arts. The family then relocated to Burlington, Ontario, where Ryan attended Lester B. Pearson High School in Burlington, Ontario.
Ryan first performed as a singer at talent contests with his older sister Mandi. He attended an open audition in Montreal for the TV series "The Mickey Mouse Club" (The All New Mickey Mouse Club) in January 1993 and beat out 17,000 other aspiring actors for a a spot on the show. While appearing on "MMC" for two years, he lived with co-star Justin Timberlake's family.
Though he received no formal acting training, after "MMC," Gosling segued into an acting career, appearing on the TV series Young Hercules and Breaker High, as well as the films The Slaughter Rule, Murder by Numbers, and Remember the Titans. He first attracted serious critical attention with his performance as the Jewish neo-Nazi in the controversial film The Believer, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. He was cast in the part by writer-director Henry Bean, who believed that Gosling's strict upbringing gave him the insight to understand the character Danny, whose obsessiveness with the Judaism he was born into turns to hatred. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award as Best Male Lead in 2002 for the role and won the Golden Aries award from the Russian Guild of Film Critics.
After appearing in the sleeper The Notebook in 2004, Gosling won the dubious honor of being named one of the 50 Hottest Bachelors by People Magazine. More significantly, he was named the Male Star of Tomorrow at the 2004 Show West convention of movie exhibitors.
Gosling reached the summit of his profession with his performance in Half Nelson, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor. In a short time, he has established himself as one of the finest actors of his generation.
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949, a decision for which he was severely criticized when his star began to dim in the 1960s and he was excoriated for squandering his talents. No actor ever exerted such a profound influence on succeeding generations of actors as did Brando. More than 50 years after he first scorched the screen as Stanley Kowalski in the movie version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and a quarter-century after his last great performance as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, all American actors are still being measured by the yardstick that was Brando. It was if the shadow of John Barrymore, the great American actor closest to Brando in terms of talent and stardom, dominated the acting field up until the 1970s. He did not, nor did any other actor so dominate the public's consciousness of what WAS an actor before or since Brando's 1951 on-screen portrayal of Stanley made him a cultural icon. Brando eclipsed the reputation of other great actors circa 1950, such as Paul Muni and Fredric March. Only the luster of Spencer Tracy's reputation hasn't dimmed when seen in the starlight thrown off by Brando. However, neither Tracy nor Olivier created an entire school of acting just by the force of his personality. Brando did.
Marlon Brando, Jr. was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a calcium carbonate salesman, and his artistically inclined wife, the former Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. "Bud" Brando was one of three children. His ancestry included English, and smaller amounts of Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish; his surname originated with a distant German immigrant ancestor named "Brandau". His oldest sister Jocelyn Brando was also an actress, taking after their mother, who engaged in amateur theatricals and mentored a then-unknown Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native, in her role as director of the Omaha Community Playhouse. Frannie, Brando's other sibling, was a visual artist. Both Brando sisters contrived to leave the Midwest for New York City, Jocelyn to study acting and Frannie to study art. Marlon managed to escape the vocational doldrums forecast for him by his cold, distant father and his disapproving schoolteachers by striking out for The Big Apple in 1943, following Jocelyn into the acting profession. Acting was the only thing he was good at, for which he received praise, so he was determined to make it his career - a high-school dropout, he had nothing else to fall back on, having been rejected by the military due to a knee injury he incurred playing football at Shattuck Military Academy, Brando Sr.'s alma mater. The school booted Marlon out as incorrigible before graduation.
Acting was a skill he honed as a child, the lonely son of alcoholic parents. With his father away on the road, and his mother frequently intoxicated to the point of stupefaction, the young Bud would play-act for her to draw her out of her stupor and to attract her attention and love. His mother was exceedingly neglectful, but he loved her, particularly for instilling in him a love of nature, a feeling which informed his character Paul in Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris") when he is recalling his childhood for his young lover Jeanne. "I don't have many good memories," Paul confesses, and neither did Brando of his childhood. Sometimes he had to go down to the town jail to pick up his mother after she had spent the night in the drunk tank and bring her home, events that traumatized the young boy but may have been the grain that irritated the oyster of his talent, producing the pearls of his performances. Anthony Quinn, his Oscar-winning co-star in Viva Zapata! told Brando's first wife Anna Kashfi, "I admire Marlon's talent, but I don't envy the pain that created it."
Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Konstantin Stanislavski, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theater would mark a watershed in American acting and culture.
Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in "I Remember Mama," a great success. As a young Broadway actor, Brando was invited by talent scouts from several different studios to screen-test for them, but he turned them down because he would not let himself be bound by the then-standard seven-year contract. Brando would make his film debut quite some time later in Fred Zinnemann's The Men for producer Stanley Kramer. Playing a paraplegic soldier, Brando brought new levels of realism to the screen, expanding on the verisimilitude brought to movies by Group Theatre alumni John Garfield, the predecessor closest to him in the raw power he projected on-screen. Ironically, it was Garfield whom producer Irene Mayer Selznick had chosen to play the lead in a new Tennessee Williams play she was about to produce, but negotiations broke down when Garfield demanded an ownership stake in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Burt Lancaster was next approached, but couldn't get out of a prior film commitment. Then director Elia Kazan suggested Brando, whom he had directed to great effect in Maxwell Anderson's play "Truckline Café," in which Brando co-starred with Karl Malden, who was to remain a close friend for the next 60 years.
During the production of "Truckline Café", Kazan had found that Brando's presence was so magnetic, he had to re-block the play to keep Marlon near other major characters' stage business, as the audience could not take its eyes off of him. For the scene where Brando's character re-enters the stage after killing his wife, Kazan placed him upstage-center, partially obscured by scenery, but where the audience could still see him as Karl Malden and others played out their scene within the café set. When he eventually entered the scene, crying, the effect was electric. A young Pauline Kael, arriving late to the play, had to avert her eyes when Brando made this entrance as she believed the young actor on stage was having a real-life conniption. She did not look back until her escort commented that the young man was a great actor.
The problem with casting Brando as Stanley was that he was much younger than the character as written by Williams. However, after a meeting between Brando and Williams, the playwright eagerly agreed that Brando would make an ideal Stanley. Williams believed that by casting a younger actor, the Neanderthalish Kowalski would evolve from being a vicious older man to someone whose unintentional cruelty can be attributed to his youthful ignorance. Brando ultimately was dissatisfied with his performance, though, saying he never was able to bring out the humor of the character, which was ironic as his characterization often drew laughs from the audience at the expense of Jessica Tandy's Blanche Dubois. During the out-of-town tryouts, Kazan realized that Brando's magnetism was attracting attention and audience sympathy away from Blanche to Stanley, which was not what the playwright intended. The audience's sympathy should be solely with Blanche, but many spectators were identifying with Stanley. Kazan queried Williams on the matter, broaching the idea of a slight rewrite to tip the scales back to more of a balance between Stanley and Blanche, but Williams demurred, smitten as he was by Brando, just like the preview audiences.
For his part, Brando believed that the audience sided with his Stanley because Jessica Tandy was too shrill. He thought Vivien Leigh, who played the part in the movie, was ideal, as she was not only a great beauty but she WAS Blanche Dubois, troubled as she was in her real life by mental illness and nymphomania. Brando's appearance as Stanley on stage and on screen revolutionized American acting by introducing "The Method" into American consciousness and culture. Method acting, rooted in Adler's study at the Moscow Art Theatre of Stanislavsky's theories that she subsequently introduced to the Group Theatre, was a more naturalistic style of performing, as it engendered a close identification of the actor with the character's emotions. Adler took first place among Brando's acting teachers, and socially she helped turn him from an unsophisticated Midwestern farm boy into a knowledgeable and cosmopolitan artist who one day would socialize with presidents.
Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Brando denounced Strasberg in his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me" (1994), saying that he was a talentless exploiter who claimed he had been Brando's mentor. The Actors Studio had been founded by Strasberg along with Kazan and Stella Adler's husband, Harold Clurman, all Group Theatre alumni, all political progressives deeply committed to the didactic function of the stage. Brando credits his knowledge of the craft to Adler and Kazan, while Kazan in his autobiography "A Life" claimed that Brando's genius thrived due to the thorough training Adler had given him. Adler's method emphasized that authenticity in acting is achieved by drawing on inner reality to expose deep emotional experience
Interestingly, Elia Kazan believed that Brando had ruined two generations of actors, his contemporaries and those who came after him, all wanting to emulate the great Brando by employing The Method. Kazan felt that Brando was never a Method actor, that he had been highly trained by Adler and did not rely on gut instincts for his performances, as was commonly believed. Many a young actor, mistaken about the true roots of Brando's genius, thought that all it took was to find a character's motivation, empathize with the character through sense and memory association, and regurgitate it all on stage to become the character. That's not how the superbly trained Brando did it; he could, for example, play accents, whereas your average American Method actor could not. There was a method to Brando's art, Kazan felt, but it was not The Method.
After A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he received the first of his eight Academy Award nominations, Brando appeared in a string of Academy Award-nominated performances - in Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar and the summit of his early career, Kazan's On the Waterfront. For his "Waterfront" portrayal of meat-headed longshoreman Terry Malloy, the washed-up pug who "coulda been a contender," Brando won his first Oscar. Along with his iconic performance as the rebel-without-a-cause Johnny in The Wild One ("What are you rebelling against?" Johnny is asked. "What have ya got?" is his reply), the first wave of his career was, according to Jon Voight, unprecedented in its audacious presentation of such a wide range of great acting. Director John Huston said his performance of Marc Antony was like seeing the door of a furnace opened in a dark room, and co-star John Gielgud, the premier Shakespearean actor of the 20th century, invited Brando to join his repertory company.
It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionized American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean - who modeled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando - the young Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. After Brando, every up-and-coming star with true acting talent and a brooding, alienated quality would be hailed as the "New Brando," such as Warren Beatty in Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. "We are all Brando's children," Jack Nicholson pointed out in 1972. "He gave us our freedom." He was truly "The Godfather" of American acting - and he was just 30 years old.
In the second period of his career, 1955-62, Brando managed to uniquely establish himself as a great actor who also was a Top 10 movie star, although that star began to dim after the box-office high point of his early career, Sayonara (for which he received his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination). Brando tried his hand at directing a film, the well-reviewed One-Eyed Jacks that he made for his own production company, Pennebaker Productions (after his mother's maiden name). Stanley Kubrick had been hired to direct the film, but after months of script rewrites in which Brando participated, Kubrick and Brando had a falling out and Kubrick was sacked. According to his widow Christiane Kubrick, Stanley believed that Brando had wanted to direct the film himself all along.
Tales proliferated about the profligacy of Brando the director, burning up a million and a half feet of expensive VistaVision film at 50 cents a foot, fully ten times the normal amount of raw stock expended during production of an equivalent motion picture. Brando took so long editing the film that he was never able to present the studio with a cut. Paramount took it away from him and tacked on a re-shot ending that Brando was dissatisfied with, as it made the Oedipal figure of Dad Longworth into a villain. In any normal film Dad would have been the heavy, but Brando believed that no one was innately evil, that it was a matter of an individual responding to, and being molded by, one's environment. It was not a black-and-white world, Brando felt, but a gray world in which once-decent people could do horrible things. This attitude explains his sympathetic portrayal of Nazi officer Christian Diestl in the film he made before shooting One-Eyed Jacks, Edward Dmytryk's filming of Irwin Shaw's novel The Young Lions. Shaw denounced Brando's performance, but audiences obviously disagreed, as the film was a major hit. It would be the last hit movie Brando would have for more than a decade.
One-Eyed Jacks generated respectable numbers at the box office, but the production costs were exorbitant - a then-staggering $6 million - which made it run a deficit. A film essentially is "made" in the editing room, and Brando found cutting to be a terribly boring process, which was why the studio eventually took the film away from him. Despite his proved talent in handling actors and a large production, Brando never again directed another film, though he would claim that all actors essentially direct themselves during the shooting of a picture.
Between the production and release of One-Eyed Jacks, Brando appeared in Sidney Lumet's film version of Tennessee Williams' play "Orpheus Descending", The Fugitive Kind which teamed him with fellow Oscar winners Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. Following in Elizabeth Taylor's trailblazing footsteps, Brando became the second performer to receive a $1-million salary for a motion picture, so high were the expectations for this re-teaming of Kowalski and his creator (in 1961 critic Hollis Alpert had published a book "Brando and the Shadow of Stanley Kowalski). Critics and audiences waiting for another incendiary display from Brando in a Williams work were disappointed when the renamed The Fugitive Kind finally released. Though Tennessee was hot, with movie versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer burning up the box office and receiving kudos from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, The Fugitive Kind was a failure. This was followed by the so-so box-office reception of One-Eyed Jacks in 1961 and then by a failure of a more monumental kind: Mutiny on the Bounty, a remake of the famed 1935 film.
Brando signed on to Mutiny on the Bounty after turning down the lead in the David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia because he didn't want to spend a year in the desert riding around on a camel. He received another $1-million salary, plus $200,000 in overages as the shoot went overtime and over budget. During principal photography, highly respected director Carol Reed (an eventual Academy Award winner) was fired, and his replacement, two-time Oscar winner Lewis Milestone, was shunted aside by Brando as Marlon basically took over the direction of the film himself. The long shoot became so notorious that President John F. Kennedy asked director Billy Wilder at a cocktail party not "when" but "if" the "Bounty" shoot would ever be over. The MGM remake of one of its classic Golden Age films garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was one of the top grossing films of 1962, yet failed to go into the black due to its Brobdingnagian budget estimated at $20 million, which is equivalent to $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Brando and Taylor, whose Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century-Fox due to its huge cost overruns (its final budget was more than twice that of Brando's Mutiny on the Bounty), were pilloried by the show business press for being the epitome of the pampered, self-indulgent stars who were ruining the industry. Seeking scapegoats, the Hollywood press conveniently ignored the financial pressures on the studios. The studios had been hurt by television and by the antitrust-mandated divestiture of their movie theater chains, causing a large outflow of production to Italy and other countries in the 1950s and 1960s in order to lower costs. The studio bosses, seeking to replicate such blockbuster hits as the remakes of The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, were the real culprits behind the losses generated by large-budgeted films that found it impossible to recoup their costs despite long lines at the box office.
While Elizabeth Taylor, receiving the unwanted gift of reams of publicity from her adulterous romance with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, remained hot until the tanking of her own Tennessee Williams-renamed debacle Boom!, Brando from 1963 until the end of the decade appeared in one box-office failure after another as he worked out a contract he had signed with Universal Pictures. The industry had grown tired of Brando and his idiosyncrasies, though he continued to be offered prestige projects up through 1968.
Some of the films Brando made in the 1960s were noble failures, such as The Ugly American, The Chase and Reflections in a Golden Eye. For every "Reflections," though, there seemed to be two or three outright debacles, such as The Bedtime Story, A Countess from Hong Kong and The Night of the Following Day. By the time Brando began making the anti-colonialist picture Burn! in Colombia with Gillo Pontecorvo in the director's chair, he was box-office poison, despite having worked in the previous five years with such top directors as Arthur Penn, John Huston and the legendary Charles Chaplin, and with such top-drawer co-stars as David Niven, Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Taylor.
The rap on Brando in the 1960s was that a great talent had ruined his potential to be America's answer to Laurence Olivier, as his friend William Redfield limned the dilemma in his book "Letters from an Actor" (1967), a memoir about Redfield's appearance in Burton's 1964 theatrical production of "Hamlet." By failing to go back on stage and recharge his artistic batteries, something British actors such as Burton were not afraid to do, Brando had stifled his great talent, by refusing to tackle the classical repertoire and contemporary drama. Actors and critics had yearned for an American response to the high-acting style of the Brits, and while Method actors such as Rod Steiger tried to create an American style, they were hampered in their quest, as their king was lost in a wasteland of Hollywood movies that were beneath his talent. Many of his early supporters now turned on him, claiming he was a crass sellout.
Despite evidence in such films as The Chase, The Appaloosa and Reflections in a Golden Eye that Brando was in fact doing some of the best acting of his life, critics, perhaps with an eye on the box office, slammed him for failing to live up to, and nurture, his great gift. Brando's political activism, starting in the early 1960s with his championing of Native Americans' rights, followed by his participation in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's March on Washington in 1963, and followed by his appearance at a Black Panther rally in 1968, did not win him many admirers in the establishment. In fact, there was a de facto embargo on Brando films in the recently segregated (officially, at least) southeastern US in the 1960s. Southern exhibitors simply would not book his films, and producers took notice. After 1968, Brando would not work for three years.
Pauline Kael wrote of Brando that he was Fortune's fool. She drew a parallel with the latter career of John Barrymore, a similarly gifted thespian with talents as prodigious, who seemingly threw them away. Brando, like the late-career Barrymore, had become a great ham, evidenced by his turn as the faux Indian guru in the egregious Candy, seemingly because the material was so beneath his talent. Most observers of Brando in the 1960s believed that he needed to be reunited with his old mentor Elia Kazan, a relationship that had soured due to Kazan's friendly testimony naming names before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. Perhaps Brando believed this, too, as he originally accepted an offer to appear as the star of Kazan's film adaptation of his own novel, The Arrangement. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando backed out of the film, telling Kazan that he could not appear in a Hollywood film after this tragedy. Also reportedly turning down a role opposite box-office king Paul Newman in a surefire script, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brando decided to make Burn! with Pontecorvo. The film, a searing indictment of racism and colonialism, flopped at the box office but won the esteem of progressive critics and cultural arbiters such as Howard Zinn.
Kazan, after a life in film and the theater, said that, aside from Orson Welles, whose greatness lay in filmmaking, he only met one actor who was a genius: Brando. Richard Burton, an intellectual with a keen eye for observation if not for his own film projects, said that he found Brando to be very bright, unlike the public perception of him as a Terry Malloy-type character that he himself inadvertently promoted through his boorish behavior. Brando's problem, Burton felt, was that he was unique, and that he had gotten too much fame too soon at too early an age. Cut off from being nurtured by normal contact with society, fame had distorted Brando's personality and his ability to cope with the world, as he had not had time to grow up outside the limelight.
Truman Capote, who eviscerated Brando in print in the mid-'50s and had as much to do with the public perception of the dyslexic Brando as a dumbbell, always said that the best actors were ignorant, and that an intelligent person could not be a good actor. However, Brando was highly intelligent, and possessed of a rare genius in a then-deprecated art, acting. The problem that an intelligent performer has in movies is that it is the director, and not the actor, who has the power in his chosen field. Greatness in the other arts is defined by how much control the artist is able to exert over his chosen medium, but in movie acting, the medium is controlled by a person outside the individual artist. It is an axiom of the cinema that a performance, as is a film, is "created" in the cutting room, thus further removing the actor from control over his art. Brando had tried his hand at directing, in controlling the whole artistic enterprise, but he could not abide the cutting room, where a film and the film's performances are made. This lack of control over his art was the root of Brando's discontent with acting, with movies, and, eventually, with the whole wide world that invested so much cachet in movie actors, as long as "they" were at the top of the box-office charts. Hollywood was a matter of "they" and not the work, and Brando became disgusted.
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential. As Rod Steiger once said, Brando had it all, great stardom and a great talent. He could have taken his audience on a trip to the stars, but he simply would not. Steiger, one of Brando's children even though a contemporary, could not understand it. When James Mason' was asked in 1971 who was the best American actor, he had replied that since Brando had let his career go belly-up, it had to be George C. Scott, by default.
Paramount thought that only Laurence Olivier would suffice, but Lord Olivier was ill. The young director believed there was only one actor who could play godfather to the group of Young Turk actors he had assembled for his film, The Godfather of method acting himself - Marlon Brando. Francis Ford Coppola won the fight for Brando, Brando won - and refused - his second Oscar, and Paramount won a pot of gold by producing the then top-grossing film of all-time, The Godfather, a gangster movie most critics now judge one of the greatest American films of all time. Brando followed his iconic portrayal of Don Corleone with his Oscar-nominated turn in the high-grossing and highly scandalous Last Tango in Paris ("Last Tango in Paris"), the first film dealing explicitly with sexuality in which an actor of Brando's stature had participated. He was now again a Top-Ten box office star and once again heralded as the greatest actor of his generation, an unprecedented comeback that put him on the cover of "Time" magazine and would make him the highest-paid actor in the history of motion pictures by the end of the decade. Little did the world know that Brando, who had struggled through many projects in good faith during the 1960s, delivering some of his best acting, only to be excoriated and ignored as the films did not do well at the box office, essentially was through with the movies.
After reaching the summit of his career, a rarefied atmosphere never reached before or since by any actor, Brando essentially walked away. He would give no more of himself after giving everything as he had done in "Last Tango in Paris," a performance that embarrassed him, according to his autobiography. Brando had come as close to any actor to being the "auteur," or author, of a film, as the English-language scenes of "Tango" were created by encouraging Brando to improvise. The improvisations were written down and turned into a shooting script, and the scripted improvisations were shot the next day. Pauline Kael, the Brando of movie critics in that she was the most influential arbiter of cinematic quality of her generation and spawned a whole legion of Kael wanna-be's, said Brando's performance in "Last Tango" had revolutionized the art of film. Brando, who had to act to gain his mother's attention; Brando, who believed acting at best was nothing special as everyone in the world engaged in it every day of their lives to get what they wanted from other people; Brando, who believed acting at its worst was a childish charade and that movie stardom was a whorish fraud, would have agreed with Sam Peckinpah's summation of Pauline Kael: "Pauline's a brilliant critic but sometimes she's just cracking walnuts with her ass." Probably in a simulacrum of those words, too.
After another three-year hiatus, Brando took on just one more major role for the next 20 years, as the bounty hunter after Jack Nicholson in Arthur Penn's The Missouri Breaks, a western that succeeded neither with the critics or at the box office. From then on, Brando concentrated on extracting the maximum amount of capital for the least amount of work from producers, as when he got the Salkind brothers to pony up a then-record $3.7 million against 10% of the gross for 13 days work on Superman. Factoring in inflation, the straight salary for "Superman" equals or exceeds the new record of $1 million a day Harrison Ford set with K-19: The Widowmaker. Before cashing his first paycheck for Superman, Brando had picked up $2 million for his extended cameo in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in a role, that of Col. Kurtz, that he authored on-camera through improvisation while Coppola shot take after take. It was Brando's last bravura performance, though he did receive an eighth and final Oscar nomination for A Dry White Season after coming out of a near-decade-long retirement. Contrary to those who claimed he now only was in it for the money, Brando donated his entire seven-figure salary to an anti-apartheid charity.
Brando had first attracted media attention at the age of 24, when "Life" magazine ran a photo of himself and his sister Jocelyn, who were both then appearing on Broadway. The curiosity continued, and snowballed. Playing the paraplegic soldier of The Men, Brando had gone to live at a Veterans Administration hospital with actual disabled veterans, and confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks. It was an acting method, research, that no one in Hollywood had ever heard of before, and that willingness to experience life.
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953. He began attending The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre In New York City on the G.I. Bill in 1955, studying under Sanford Meisner along with Dustin Hoffman, with whom Duvall shared an apartment. Both were close to another struggling young actor named Gene Hackman. Meisner cast Duvall in the play "The Midnight Caller" by Horton Foote, a link that would prove critical to his career, as it was Foote who recommended Duvall to play the mentally disabled "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird. This was his first "major" role since his 1956 motion picture debut as an MP was in Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Paul Newman.
Duvall began making a name for himself as a stage actor in New York, winning an Obie Award in 1965 playing incest-minded longshoreman "Eddie Carbone" in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", a production for which his old roommate Hoffman was assistant director. He found steady work in episodic TV and appeared as a modestly billed character actor in films, such as Arthur Penn's The Chase with Marlon Brando and in Robert Altman's Countdown and Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People, in both of which he co-starred with James Caan.
He was also memorable as the heavy who is shot by John Wayne at the climax of True Grit and was the first "Maj. Frank Burns", creating the character in Altman's Korean War comedy MASH. He also appeared as the eponymous lead in George Lucas' directorial debut, THX 1138. It was Francis Ford Coppola, casting The Godfather, who reunited Duvall with Brando and Caan and provided him with his career breakthrough as mob lawyer "Tom Hagen". He received the first of his six Academy Award nominations for the role.
Thereafter, Duvall had steady work in featured roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II, The Killer Elite, Network, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The Eagle Has Landed. Occasionally this actor's actor got the chance to assay a lead role, most notably in Tomorrow, in which he was brilliant as William Faulkner's inarticulate backwoods farmer. He was less impressive as the lead in Badge 373, in which he played a character based on real-life NYPD detective Eddie Egan, the same man his old friend Gene Hackman had won an Oscar for playing, in fictionalized form as "Popeye Doyle" in The French Connection.
It was his appearance as "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in another Coppola picture, Apocalypse Now, that solidified Duvall's reputation as a great actor. He got his second Academy Award nomination for the role, and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most versatile actor in the world. Duvall created one of the most memorable characters ever assayed on film, and gave the world the memorable phrase, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!".
Subsequently, Duvall proved one of the few established character actors to move from supporting to leading roles, with his Oscar-nominated turns in The Great Santini and Tender Mercies, the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now at the summit of his career, Duvall seemed to be afflicted with the fabled "Oscar curse" that had overwhelmed the careers of fellow Academy Award winners Luise Rainer, Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson. He could not find work equal to his talents, either due to his post-Oscar salary demands or a lack of perception in the industry that he truly was leading man material. He did not appear in The Godfather: Part III, as the studio would not give in to his demands for a salary commensurate with that of Al Pacino, who was receiving $5 million to reprise Michael Corleone.
His greatest achievement in his immediate post-Oscar period was his triumphant characterization of grizzled Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Stalin, and a third Emmy nomination playing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in The Man Who Captured Eichmann.
The shakeout of his career doldrums was that Duvall eventually settled back into his status as one of the premier character actors in the industry, rivaled only by his old friend Gene Hackman. Duvall, unlike Hackman, also has directed pictures, including the documentary We're Not the Jet Set, Angelo My Love and Assassination Tango. As a writer-director, Duvall gave himself one of his most memorable roles, that of the preacher on the run from the law in The Apostle, a brilliant performance for which he received his third Best Actor nomination and fifth Oscar nomination overall. The film brought Duvall back to the front ranks of great actors, and was followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for A Civil Action.
Robert Duvall will long be remembered as one of the great naturalistic American screen actors in the mode of Spencer Tracy and his frequent co-star Marlon Brando. His performances as "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Jackson Fentry" in Tomorrow, "Tom Hagen" in the first two "Godfather" movies, "Frank Hackett" in Network, "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in Apocalypse Now, "Bull Meechum" in The Great Santini, "Mac Sledge" in Tender Mercies, "Gus McCrae" in Lonesome Dove and "Sonny Dewey" in The Apostle rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It's a body of work that few actors can equal, let alone surpass.
Peyton is well known for her roles on the hit Disney series Jessie and Fox's Diary of a Wimpy Kid film franchise. List most recently wrapped the teen comedy The Outskirts for director Peter Hutchings. Her other feature credits include Fox 2000's 27 Dresses and Summit's Remember Me. List has an array of television credits with pivotal roles in Cashmere Mafia, A Sister's Nightmare, Gossip Girl and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Peyton is hard at work writing songs for her debut album and devotes her spare time to Girls On the Run, a youth development program for young women.
Peyton resides in Los Angeles but her heart remains in Brooklyn, NY, where she grew up. She lives at home with parents John and Suzanne, twin brother Spencer and younger brother Phoenix. Their rescue dogs, Windsor and Gatsby, round out the household.
Peyton enjoys theatre, water sports, travel, songwriting and, naturally, engaging with her fans on her various social media channels. With all that Peyton has accomplished in a mere 16 years, her stage is set for boundless possibilities in film, music, multimedia, fashion and philanthropic platforms.
Over a 30 year film career, Daryl Hannah has starred in over 40 feature films, and has created numerous iconic roles in successful, critically acclaimed and enduring films.
Daryl Christine Hannah was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She is the daughter of Susan Jeanne (Metzger), a schoolteacher and later a producer, and Donald Christian Hannah, who owned a tugboat/barge company. She has Scottish, Irish, English, and German ancestry.
Daryl graduated from the University of Southern California School of Theatre. She practiced ballet with Maria Tallchief and studied drama at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In her twenties, she played keyboard and sang backup for Jackson Browne. Hannah, a tall (5' 10") blond beauty, with haunting blue-green eyes, was a natural for show biz.
She started with small roles, such as a student in The Fury and as Kim Basinger's kid sister in Hard Country. Daryl's breakout role was as the acrobatic, beautiful replicant punk android Pris in Blade Runner; Pris was the vixen who wanted to live beyond her allotted years and risked the wrath of the title character. Showing her versatility, from there she portrayed a mermaid, Madison, who falls in love with Tom Hanks's character in Ron Howard's zany comedy Splash, and a Cro-Magnon in The Clan of the Cave Bear. Hannah played Roxanne in the eponymous Steve Martins contemporary take on the Cyrano de Bergerac story, and co-starred as Elle Driver in Quintin Tarantino's cult classics Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
Hannah has been a consistent, strong supporter of independent cinema, both acting in and producing many films, starring in such indie films as John Sayles's Casa De Los Babies as well as his political satire Silver City. She worked on several films with the revered Robert Altman, including The Gingerbread Man, as well as several films with the Polish Brother's including Northfork and Jackpot. Daryl Starred in the experimental improvised Michael Radford film Dancing at the Blue Iguana and made As a filmmaker, Hannah wrote, directed, and produced an award winning short film, entitled The Last Supper. Hannah also directed, produced and shot the documentary Strip Notes which was inspired while researching her role for Dancing At The Blue Iguana that was shown on HBO and UK's Channel 4. Daryl is in the process of shooting a documentary on Human Trafficking and has traveled undercover to South East Asia to document this atrocity and has become and advocates raising awareness and ending slavery. She has made over 40 video blogs for various websites including her popular dhlovelife.com. She designed dhlovelife.com (online since 2005) her website dedicated to sharing solutions on how to live more harmoniously with the planet and all other living things. Daryl Hannah has been passionate, committed and effective advocate for a more ethical relationship with each other and all life on the Planet. She has produced, hosted and shot numerous environmental awareness/ health documentaries, TV appearances and is a frequent speaker on both the conservative and progressive news.
Hannah has been a greening consultant for events such as the Virgin Music Festival, attended by over 150,000 people. Her many speaking engagements include keynote speeches at the UN Climate Change Summit, UN Global Business Conference on the environment,, Natural and Organic Products Expo, LOHAS and numerous national and international universities, conferences and events. She has written articles on self sufficiency and sustainability for many magazines and has done a plethora of interviews on the topic in thousands of publications. The site features weekly five-minute inspirational video blogs which Daryl produces and films. There are daily news updates, alerts, community and access to goods and services. She is a member of the World Future Council, sits on the boards of the Sylvia Earle Alliance, Mission Blue, Eco America, Environmental Media Association (EMA), The Somaly Mam Foundation, and the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, She is the founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA).
Sean Hardy Faris was born in Houston, Texas, to Katherine (Miller) and Warren Stephen Faris. His ancestry is English, along with some German, Scottish, and Irish.
Faris moved to Ohio at age 12 and has been honing his craft in Los Angeles since moving four years upon his high school graduation. He received an MTV Movie Award for his lead role in Summit Entertainment's hit Never Back Down, and starred as Betty White's grandson and Jennifer Love Hewitt's love interest in the CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm The Lost Valentine. In addition to his central role in the rugby-inspired feature Forever Strong, he appeared as Dennis Quaid's eldest son in Paramount's hit remake of the classic Yours, Mine & Ours and previously starred as the hunky object of affection in MGM's comedy romp Sleepover. Next on the horizon is the crime thriller Pawn in which he stars opposite Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker, and the coveted title role in The Story of Bonnie & Clyde. In direct contrast, Faris starred as the lead in FOX's acclaimed drama series Reunion which followed six close friends from their high school graduation to their 20th reunion. He previously led the cast of ABC's dramatic series Life As We Know It. Based upon British author Melvin Burgess' controversial novel Doing It, the acclaimed show chronicled the sexual antics of a group of high school friends in Seattle. For his role as sensitive jock Dino Whitman, he was heralded as a breakout talent by the likes of Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. A more recent foray into television included a multi-episode arc on The CW's top-rated Vampire Diaries. No stranger to television, Faris has also guest-starred on such shows as Smallville, One Tree Hill, and Boston Public. His big screen debut featured him alongside the likes of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in Michael Bay's epic Pearl Harbor.
Julian Morris began acting at the Anna Scher Theatre in London. After his training under Scher, he went on to spend three seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which he merits as being a major influence on his learning and craft.
He has played popular characters in several of the most successful shows of the last decade: Agent Owen in '24', as Dr Andrew Wade in 'ER', as part of the original cast in 'Pretty Little Liars', and as Prince Phillip in 'Once Upon A Time'.
In film, he's appeared alongside Jon Voight in 'Beyond' and Tom Cruise in 'Valkyrie', starred in Universal's 'Cry Wolf', the British smash-hit 'Donkey Punch', and Summit Entertainment's 'Sorority Row'.
He's recently finished filming the lead in Universal's, 'Dragonheart' produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis, and can be seen in the BAFTA winning movie, 'Kelly + Victor' directed by Kieran Evans.
He's currently shooting the series 'Hand of God' directed by Marc Forster.
Don Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in Denver, Colorado, Cheadle attended and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a Bachelor¹s Degree in Fine Arts. Encouraged by his college friends, he attended a variety of auditions and landed a recurring role on the hit series Fame, which led to feature film roles in Dennis Hopper's Colors and John Irvin's Hamburger Hill.
Early in his career, Cheadle was named Best Supporting Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics for his breakout performance opposite Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress. His subsequent film credits include: Traitor, an international thriller which he produced, starring opposite Guy Pearce; Kasi Lemmons's Talk to Me, with Chiwetel Ejiofor; the 2006 Oscar-winning Best Picture, Crash, which Cheadle also produced; Hotel Rwanda, for which his performance garnered Oscar, Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics and Screen Actors Guild award nominations for Best Actor; Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney; Mike Binder's Reign Over Me with Adam Sandler; the Academy Award-winning Traffic and Out of Sight, with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, both films also directed by Soderbergh; Paul Thomas Anderson's acclaimed Boogie Nights with Julianne Moore and Mark Wahlberg; Bulworth, directed by and starring Warren Beatty; Swordfish, with John Travolta and Halle Berry; Mission to Mars with Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise; John Singleton's Rosewood, for which Cheadle earned an NAACP Image Award nomination; Brett Ratner's The Family Man, starring Nicolas Cage; and the independent features Manic and Things Behind the Sun.
Cheadle was honored by the CineVegas Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival and received ShoWest's Male Star of the Year award. He is also well-recognized for his television work, including his portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. in HBO's The Rat Pack, for which he received a Golden Globe Award and a Best Supporting Actor Emmy nomination. That same year, he also received an Emmy nomination for his starring role in HBO's adaptation of the best-selling novel A Lesson Before Dying, opposite Cicely Tyson and Mekhi Phifer.
He also starred for HBO in Eriq La Salle's Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault. Cheadle's TV series credits include his two-year stint in David E. Kelley's acclaimed series Picket Fences, a guest-starring role on ER (earning yet another Emmy nomination) and a regular role on The Golden Palace He also starred in the live television broadcast of Fail Safe opposite George Clooney, James Cromwell, Brian Dennehy, Richard Dreyfuss and Harvey Keitel. He also co-executive produced the TV version of Crash.
His most recent big screen appearances have been in Antoine Fuqua's ensemble crime thriller Brooklyn's Finest and Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2, another mainstream breakthrough where he played Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, replacing Terrence Howard from the first film. The Guard, an art-house hit directed by John Michael McDonagh and co-starring Brendan Gleeson, followed.
Cheadle stars in House of Lies on Showtime. Late in 2012, he was seen in Flight, Robert Zemeckis's return to live-action filmmaking. In 2013, he reprised his role as Rhodey in Iron Man 3. Among his projects in development is a movie based on the life of jazz legend Miles Davis.
A talented musician who plays saxophone, writes music and sings, he is also an accomplished stage actor and director and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Spoken Word Album for his narration/dramatization of the Walter Mosley novel "Fear Itself".
Other notable off-stage achievements include the 2007 BET Humanitarian Award for the cause of the people of Darfur and Rwanda, and sharing the Summit Peace Award by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome with George Clooney for their work in Darfur.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Squamish, British Columbia, Daniel grew up in an athletic household. The middle of three boys, Daniel excelled at a number of different sports including ski racing, snowboarding, football and rugby. However, in addition to his vast interest in athletics, Daniel always had a passion for the arts. He took drama classes and performed in school and local theatre productions while his athleticism earned him a Football Scholarship to Gannon University. Unfortunately, his sports career was cut short due to a devastating injury while on the field. It was at this crucial crossroad that Daniel decided to move back to Vancouver and focus his attention on his other passion, acting. Daniel's breakout role came shortly after he made the transition from college star to actor, when Bryan Singer cast him alongside Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian Mckellen, and Halle Berry in the 2003 superhero film X2, as Colossus, the strongest member of the X-Men team. Daniel's character was brought back in the film's sequel X-Men: The Last Stand. He has since showcased his extraordinary talents on numerous television shows including "Stargate SG-1," "Supernatural," and "Psych." However, it is Daniel's role as Felix in the popular Summit Entertainment film franchise The Twilight Saga that has given this actor international recognition. Off screen, Daniel has the same strength and physicality as his well-known characters. A glorified outdoorsmen, this 6'6'' actor spends a great deal of time enjoying recreational activities including skiing, snowboarding, riding motor bikes and motor cycles, mountain biking and is a huge supporter of the Canadian National Rugby team, where his brother Jaime plays as a forward.
Daniel has appeared in blockbuster films from hit series: The Twilight Saga and X-Men. Next up, see him reprise his role as Felix, the all-powerful Volturi guard in the Twilight Saga series: New Moon and Eclipse, as he is once again bringing the larger than life character to the big screen in the next two installments of the Saga, Breaking Dawn- Part 1 out November 18th and Part 2 scheduled for a 2012 release. Additionally, Daniel has several projects coming out in the new year including a leading role in the independent thriller Rites of Passage. He shares the screen with seasoned actors Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff and Wes Bentley in the film about a young anthropology student seeking a traditional ceremony to mark his entry into manhood. He also recently completed shooting the highly anticipated drama The Baytown Disco alongside Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Wesley and Eva Longoria. Disco, which was on the 2009 "Black List" of Hollywood's best unproduced movie projects, is about a federal agent who comes into a small Southern town to investigate the Oodies - three redneck brothers who get more than they bargained for after agreeing to help a woman get her son back from his seemingly abusive father. Daniel also stars alongside Edward Furlong in the horror film Bind set for release in early 2012.
Bateman was born in Rye, New York. Her younger brother is actor/director Jason Bateman.
Bateman played the role of superficial Mallory Keaton on the television sitcom Family Ties from 1982 to 1989, for which she was nominated for two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. Bateman hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live during its 13th season in 1988. That same year, she starred in the lead role in Satisfaction, a film about an all-girl band that also starred Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson. Bateman starred as the lead vocalist and also performed the vocals on the soundtrack. Bateman co-starred in the 1996-97 NBC sitcom version of the British TV comedy Men Behaving Badly with Rob Schneider and Ron Eldard. She has appeared in several made-for-TV movies, indie films and plays.
Taking a break from the entertainment business, Bateman established a clothing design company, Justine Bateman Designs, and ran it from 2000 until 2003. She was known for her unique one-of-a-kind hand knits and sold to BendelsNY, Saks, and Fred Segal. Justine returned to acting with Out of Order, a Showtime series with Eric Stolz, Felicity Huffman, and Bill Macy. In the third season Arrested Development episode, "Family Ties", her character is initially believed to be Michael Bluth's sister, but she turns out to be a prostitute taken advantage of by his father and pimped by his brother. Michael Bluth was played by Justine Bateman's real-life brother, Jason Bateman. In 2006, she guest starred in the tenth episode of Men in Trees as Lynn Barstow; this turned into a recurring role for the following eight episodes. She also starred as Terry in Still Standing. In 2008, she portrayed a drug dealer who rents a room from Carlos and Gabrielle Solis, in a guest role on Desperate Housewives. That same year, Bateman appeared on an episode of Showtime's Californication. In 2009, she took on the role of Lassiter's ex-wife in USA Network's Psych. Also she was in the third episode of Criminal Minds:Suspect Behavior. The actress made her first script sale to Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place.
Digital career: In the Fall of 2007, Justine helped produce the very successful Speechless campaign in support of the Writers Guild of America strike. Justine began a digital production company, FM78.tv, at this time and her digital future was secured. To accommodate demand, she soon after replaced FM78 with the production and consulting company SECTION 5. Since then she has been sought after as an authority in the space for various panels including The Cannes Lion Int'l Ad Festival, Digital Hollywood, NATPE, and The Branded Content Summit and has been involved creatively in a multitude of digital projects. She acted in John August's (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) web-series Remnants, Illeana Douglas' (Cape Fear, Good Fellas) IKEA-sponsored web-series Easy to Assemble (for which she won the 2010 Streamy Award for "Best Ensemble Cast" and was nominated for a 2010 Streamy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Web-Series, and Anthony Zuiker's (CSI creator) digi-novel series Level 26: Dark Prophecy. Bateman served as a producer on Easy to Assemble, created Digital Components for Level 26, is currently writing an adaptation of The Clique for a Warner Bros web-series, producing the film short "Z", and is in talks with various Brands to produce a selection of her scripts. Justine also Co-Produces and Co-stars with fashion maven, Kelly Cutrone, in their internet talk show, Wake Up And Get Real. Personal life: She served on the National Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild, until July 2009, when she resigned just prior to the end of her initial 3-year term. In 2008, Bateman testified before the United States Senate Commerce Committee in support of net neutrality. A dedicated advocate for Net Neutrality, Justine serves as an Advisor to FreePress.com
Holland was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, the son of Nicola Elizabeth (née Frost), a photographer, and Dominic Anthony Holland, who is a comedian and author. His paternal grandparents were from the Isle of Man and Ireland, respectively. He lives in Kingston-upon-Thames with his parents and three brothers - Sam, Harry (who are twins), and Paddy, with all of them being younger than him.Holland have attended Donhead Prep School. Then, after a successful eleven plus exam, he became a pupil at Wimbledon College. Having successfully completed his GCSEs, in September 2012 Tom started a two-year course in the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology notable for its numerous famous alumni.
Holland began dancing at a hip hop class at Nifty Feet Dance School in Wimbledon, London. His potential was spotted by choreographer Lynne Page (who was an Associate to Peter Darling, choreographer of Billy Elliot and Billy Elliot the Musical) when he performed with his dance school as part of the Richmond Dance Festival 2006. After eight auditions and subsequent two years of training, on 28 June 2008 Tom made his West End debut in Billy Elliot the Musical as Michael, Billy's best friend. He gave his first performance in the title role of Billy on 8 September 2008 getting rave reviews praising his versatile acting and dancing skills.
In September 2008 Tom (together with co-star Tanner Pflueger) appeared on the news programme on channel FIVE and gave his first TV interview. In 2009 Tom was featured on ITV1 show "The Feel Good Factor". At the launch show on 31 January he and two other Billy Elliots, Tanner Pflueger and Layton Williams, performed a specially choreographered version of Angry Dance from Billy Elliot the Musical, after which Tom was interviewed by host Myleene Klass. Then he became involved into training five ordinary British schoolboys learning to get fit and preparing their dance routine (fronted by Tom) for the final "The Feel Good Factor" show on 28 March 2009. On 11 March 2010 Tom Holland along with fellow Billy Elliots Dean-Charles Chapman and Fox Jackson-Keen appeared on The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV1.
On 8 March 2010, to mark the fifth anniversary of Billy Elliot the Musical, four current Billy Elliots, including Tom Holland, were invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It was Tom Holland who was chosen to be a lead at the special fifth anniversary show on 31 March 2010. Elton John, Billy Elliot the Musical composer, who was at the audience, called Tom's performance "astonishing" and said that he was "blown away" by it. Holland had been appearing on a regular basis as Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical rotating with three other performers till 29 May 2010 when he finished his run in the musical.
In two months after leaving Billy Elliot the Musical, Holland successfully auditioned for a starring role in the film The Impossible (directed by Juan Antonio Bayona) alongside Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. The Impossible was based on a true story that took place during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2012, and was released in Europe in October 2012, and in North America in December 2012.
Tom has received universal praise for his performance, in particular: "What a debut, too, from Tom Holland as the eldest of their three lads" (The Telegraph); "Tom Holland, making one of the finest feature debuts in years" (HeyUGuys); "the excellent Tom Holland" (The Guardian); "The child performers are uncanny and there is an especially terrific performance from Tom Holland as the resourceful, levelheaded Lucas terrified but tenacious in the face of an unspeakable ordeal" (Screen Daily); "Young Holland in particular is astonishingly good as the terrified but courageous Lucas." (The Hollywood Reporter); "However, the real acting standout in The Impossible is the performance of Tom Holland as the eldest son Lucas. His portrayal is genuine, and at no moment does it feel melodramatic and forced. The majority of his scenes are separate from the lead actors and for the most part it feels like The Impossible is Holland's film" (Entertainment Maven); "Mr. Holland, meanwhile, matures before our eyes, navigating the passage from adolescent self-absorption to profound and terrible responsibility. He is a terrific young actor" (New York Times).
Tom has given a number of interviews about his role in The Impossible. In particular, he talked on video to Vanity Fair Senior West Coast editor Krista Smith and with IAMROGUE's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick. He has also given interviews to The Hollywood Reporter, to the MovieWeb, to Today Show on NBC and to other outlets. Tom's director and co-stars have also talked about him. Juan Antonio Bayona: "He had this extraordinary ability to get into the emotion and portray it in a very, very easy way. The best I'd ever seen in a kid." Ewan McGregor: "It was wonderful watching Tom who had never worked in front of a camera before, to see him really get it and grow as a film actor as he went along. He's really talented and polite to everyone. It's very easy for children to lose perspective but he's absolutely on the right road and a brilliant actor." Naomi Watts: "He has an incredible emotional instrument and an unbelievable sense of himself... Tom Holland and I had a couple of moments where we came together and I could just tell how wonderful he was and what a beautiful instrument he had. It was just easy to work with him, that was one of the greatest highlights for me: discovering a friendship with Tom off-screen and this beautiful relationship between mother and son on-screen. The intimacy that develops through the course of the film between Lucas and Maria, I just loved that relationship. I mean, Tom is a beyond gifted actor. He's just a raw, open talent that is just so easy to work with. And Tom, he's inspiring, he kind of lifts everyone's game around him because he can do nothing but tell the truth. He was great."
In his turn, Tom Holland has returned favours to Naomi Watts when he was asked to present Desert Palm Achievement Award to her at Palm Springs International Film Festival. According to HitFix: "One recurring theme of the night was how the introductions were often better than actual winner's speeches... The best intro, however, had to go to 16-year-old Tom Holland who intro'd his "Impossible" co-star Watts. Holland admitted of all of Watts' great performances his dad had only let him see "King Kong" and while they spent six weeks shooting in a water tank he didn't know it was "difficult" because he actually "loved it"... Most important, this was Holland's first film role and he sweetly noted, "From the moment I met you, you took my hand and you never let go." Cue the "awwww" from the audience." The presentation is available on video.
In 2011, Holland was cast in British version of the animation film Arrietty, produced by Japan's cult Studio Ghibli. He has provided voice over for the principal character Sho. In 2012 Tom Holland played the starring role of Isaac in the film "How I lived Now" (directed by Kevin Macdonald) alongside Saoirse Ronan. The film is due to be released in 2013. Awards, nominations and affiliations
On 17 October 2012, Holland became a recipient of Hollywood Spotlight Award for his role in The Impossible. "We are very excited that we will be able to recognize acting talents that are on the road to discovery and stardom," said Carlos de Abreu, founder and executive director of the Hollywood Film Awards in a statement. On 6 December 2012 it was announced that Holland became a winner of the National Board of Review award in the "Breakthrough Actor" category. In the end of December 2012, Holland was voted a winner for the year's Best Youth Performance in Nevada Critics Awards.
In December 2012, Holland received a number of nominations (pending) for his role in The Impossible: for the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards, in the "Best Young Acror/Acress" category; for Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2012 in the "Most Promising Performer" category; for the 27th Goya Awards in the "Best New Actor" category; for the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards 2012 in the "Best Youth Performance" category; for the London Film Critics Circle Awards 2012 in the "Young British Performer of the Year" category.
Kristopher Tapley, Editor-at-Large of HitFix, reported on 27 August 2012 that Summit Entertainment, the company responsible for distribution of The Impossible in USA, would be campaigning Holland rather than McGregor as the lead, and strongly argued that Tom Holland deserved to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category. The fact of long-listing for an Academy Award was confirmed in the article in the Hollywood Reporter: "And though McGregor stars as his father in the film, Holland has been submitted as the lead actor for awards consideration. Regardless if he receives any nominations, his performance as the strong-willed and determined eldest son is garnering critical acclaim."
As one of the most promising young actors, Holland was featured in Screen International's "UK Stars of Tomorrow - 2012" and in Variety's "Youth Impact Report 2012". Holland has been signed up by William Morris Endeavor (WME) global talent agency and is represented by Curtis Brown literary and talent agency
Celina Jade is a quadruple threat: an actress, singer/songwriter, model and martial artist.
Born in Hong Kong to American Kung Fu star, Roy Horan (who shared the big screen with the legendary Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan), action fighting has been in Celina's blood from an early age and her passion shows in her lead role in Legendary Assassin.
It was evident that Celina would be an entertainer from a young age. Her love for music led to her winning an Asia-wide singing competition at 14 in which she landed a record deal with Japanese producer, Tetsuya Komuro. Together, they released two EPs, ''Good News Bad News'' and 'Kwong Ying Zi Gan'. In July, 2000, she performed alongside Namie Amuro at the G8 Summit in Okinawa, Japan for the World Leaders. At age 15, she had her first No. 1 hit with the song, "Kwong Ying Zi Gan" in Taiwan. She has since then been featured in multiple ad campaigns for Marks & Spencer, Cathay Pacific, Motorola and Ponds globally.
Celina's ambitions did not stop here. In 2003, she went on to pursue a a degree in Management from the prestigious London School of Economics and graduated at the top of her class with First Class Honors. Despite this penchant for the analytical, Celina followed her passion for the creative arts. She signed with music mogul Paco Wong (EMI) in 2007.
Since her role in Legendary Assassin, she has garnered a solid fan base from her roles in the films Love Connected, and All's Well Ends Well; TV shows like Dolce Vita, Jade Solid Gold; and, regular appearances across TV channels in China including CCTV, Hunan TV, and CETV.
Celina also sang the theme song for Legendary Assassin, "Ceng Jing Xin Teng", which was performed live on TV and radio stations across Asia.
In 2009, she left Golden Typhoon (EMI) and signed with Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group (the force behind Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Dido).
Thereafter, she landed her first role in a US movie, the Man With the Iron Fists, as directed by the RZA. She also began filming her first web series, Wish Upon a Star, as lead actress alongside Asian superstar Peter Ho.
Kirsten Prout was born in Vancouver, Canada. Meeting with success at an early age, she worked locally in Vancouver, guest-starring on shows such as First Wave, Stargate SG-1, Cold Squad and Stephen King's Dead Zone. Her first sizable break in film came in 2005, when she landed the part of "Abby Miller", a young martial arts prodigy, alongside Jennifer Garner, in Elektra. Kirsten performed her own stunts and utilized her martial arts training for the film, then went on to play the demure "Amanda Bloom" on the ABC Family television series, Kyle XY. After the show finished its successful three seasons, Kirsten attended McGill University as an English Literature major. She was then immediately cast in Summit's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, becoming a part of the hugely successful Twilight Saga. Shortly thereafter, she starred as the troubled "Alex Bell" in parts two and three of MTV's horror trilogy, My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2 and My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 3, and portrayed the lovable "Char Chamberlin" on ABC Family's teen drama, The Lying Game. Kirsten has both a solid history in the industry as well as a promising future in both film and television.
Born "Omari Latif Hardwick," he grew up in Decatur, Georgia. Hardwick's parents gave him a name to set a precedent, "Omari" meaning "most high," and "Latif" meaning "gentle." He shares, "I in no way believe that I am the highest or most high, but I feel like my name gives me something to strive for." Growing up, sports were Hardwick's world, but early on he knew he had a passion for the arts. By the age of 14, Hardwick was writing poetry on a regular basis, a passion he would carry with him into adulthood. In high school, he excelled at basketball, baseball, and football, and went on to play football at the University of Georgia. Although a star on the field, Hardwick never gave up his passion for acting, and minored in theatre in college. He shares, "I hugely attribute sports to my success in entertainment business. Being on the field taught me dedication and discipline - I already came from a strict household when I was growing up, sports just took that to another level. Whenever I approach a set, I always feel as though the cast, crew, director, are all part of a team. I have always married athletics and art, two huge parts of my life."
After graduation, Hardwick relocated to San Diego for a spot on the San Diego Chargers (NFL) however a knee injury cut his football career short. He decided to revisit his original passion for acting, and moved to New York to study his craft more extensively. In New York, Hardwick studied off Broadway until 2000, when he made the move to Los Angeles. As a struggling actor, he worked odd jobs to pay for acting classes, however the security gigs and substitute teaching at times were not enough to make ends meet, and at one point he lived out of his car. Hardwick shares, "what is so crazy, is that where I presently shoot my series 'Dark Blue,' is where I lived in my car when I first moved to Los Angeles. It is surreal at times."
Hardwick's first big break came in 2003, when he was cast in his first major role as a series regular in Spike Lee's "Sucker Free City." Two years later, he landed the feature The Guardian and TNT's "Saved"- both of which he booked within a three-week span in 2005. He notes, "I felt like I had arrived when I went back to one of my odd jobs that had let me go several years prior, and I looked out over Sunset Boulevard right next to the Chateau Marmont, and saw myself plastered on a billboard overlooking the city. I had to break down a little at that point, it was a big moment for me." Throughout 2007 - 2009 Hardwick worked on various projects, including guest starring on several television series, and filming several movies including Summit Entertainment's Next Day Air and Touchstone Picture's Miracle at St. Anna. In 2008 he landed the role of "Ty Curtis" on the TNT series "Dark Blue," season 1 aired throughout 2009.
In addition to acting, Hardwick is a founding member of Plan B Inc. Theater Group, and a co-founder of Los Angeles Actor's Lounge. He has big plans for his production company, Bravelife, in 2010 as well, and plans on expanding the company. Hardwick also continues to work on his poetry, and has written over 4,000 poems.
Oscar-winning character actor Martin Landau was born on June 20, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. At age 17, he was hired by the New York Daily News as a staff cartoonist and illustrator. In his five years on the paper, he served as the illustrator for Billy Rose's "Pitching Horseshoes" column. He also worked for cartoonist Gus Edson on "The Gumps" comic strip. Landau's major ambition was to act, and in 1951, he made his stage debut in "Detective Story" at the Peaks Island Playhouse in Peaks Island, Maine. He made his off-Broadway debut that year in "First Love".
Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955 - only he and Steve McQueen were accepted. Landau was a friend of James Dean and McQueen, in a conversation with Landau, mentioned that he knew Dean and had met Landau. When Landau asked where they had met, McQueen informed him he had seen Landau riding into the New York City garage where he worked as a mechanic on the back of Dean's motorcycle.
He acted during the mid-1950s in the television anthologies Playhouse 90, Studio One in Hollywood, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Kraft Theatre, Goodyear Playhouse and Omnibus. He began making a name for himself after replacing star Franchot Tone in the 1956 off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya", a famous production that helped put off-Broadway on the New York theatrical map.
In 1957, he made a well-received Broadway debut in the play "Middle of the Night". As part of the touring company with star Edward G. Robinson, he made it to the West Coast. He made his movie debut in Pork Chop Hill but scored on film as the heavy in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller North by Northwest, in which he was shot on top of Mount Rushmore while sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant, who was holding on for dear life to the cliff face. He also appeared in the blockbuster Cleopatra, the most expensive film ever made up to that time, which nearly scuttled 20th Century-Fox and engendered one of the great public scandals, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton love affair that overshadowed the film itself.
In 1963, Landau played memorable roles on two episodes of the science-fiction anthology series The Outer Limits, "The Bellero Shield" and "The Man Who Was Never Born". He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock on Star Trek, but the role went to Leonard Nimoy, who later replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible, the show that really made Landau famous. He originally was not meant to be a regular on the series, which co-starred his wife Barbara Bain, whom he had married in 1957. His character, Rollin Hand, was supposed to make occasional, though recurring appearances, on Mission: Impossible, but when the producers had problems with star Steven Hill, Landau was used to take up the slack. Landau's characterisation was so well-received and so popular with the audience that he was made a regular. Landau received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.
Eventually, he quit the series in 1969 after a salary dispute when the new star, Peter Graves, was given a contract that paid him more than Landau, whose own contract stated he would have parity with any other actor on the show who made more than he did. The producers refused to budge and he and Bain, who had become the first actress in the history of television to be awarded three consecutive Emmy Awards (1967-69) while on the show, left the series, ostensibly to pursue careers in the movies. The move actually held back their careers, and Mission: Impossible went on for another four years with other actors.
Landau appeared in support of Sidney Poitier in They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, the less successful sequel to the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night, but it did not generate more work of a similar caliber. He starred in the television movie Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol on CBS, playing a prisoner of war returning to the United States from Vietnam. The following year, he shot a pilot for NBC for a proposed show, "Savage". Though it was directed by emerging wunderkind Steven Spielberg, NBC did not pick up the show. Needing work, Landau and Bain moved to England to play the leading roles in the syndicated science-fiction series Space: 1999.
Landau's and Bain's careers stalled after Space: 1999 went out of production, and they were reduced to taking parts in the television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island. It was the nadir of both their careers, and Bain's acting days, and their marriage, soon were over. Landau, one of the most talented character actors in Hollywood, and one not without recognition, had bottomed out career-wise. In 1983, he was stuck in low-budget sci-fi and horror movies like The Being, a role far beneath his talent.
His career renaissance got off to a slow start with a recurring role in the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill, starring Dabney Coleman. On Broadway, he took over the title role in the revival of "Dracula" and went on the road with the national touring company. Finally, his career renaissance began to gather momentum when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in a critical supporting role in his Tucker: The Man and His Dream, for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He won his second Golden Globe for the role. The next year, he received his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. He followed this up by playing famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in the TNT movie Max and Helen. However, the summit of his post-"Mission: Impossible" carer was about to be scaled. He portrayed Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood and won glowing reviews. For his performance, he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Martin Landau, the superb character actor, finally had been recognized with his profession's ultimate award. His performance, which also won him his third Golden Globe, garnered numerous awards in addition to the Oscar and Golden Globe, including top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Landau continued to play a wide variety of roles in motion pictures and on television, turning in a superb performance in a supporting role in The Majestic. He received his fourth Emmy nomination in 2004 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Without a Trace.
Martin Landau was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.
Sterling Beaumon is best known for his starring role as 'Young Ben' on ABC's hit series LOST. Since then the accomplished actor has shown his diverse acting skills seamlessly segueing into characters you'd never expect the sweet, well-mannered young actor portray - teenage serial killers on two of primetime's most popular dramas, Law & Order: SVU (NBC) and Criminal Minds (CBS).
Sterling became widely known as a 13-year old when he pulled off the memorable role of 'Max,' in Mostly Ghostly, which has become one of the most popular movies ever on the Disney Channel and has sold an astonishing number of DVDs.
He has guest starred on a wide range of popular series including Bones, ER, Cold Case, Heroes, 7th Heaven, Crossing Jordan, In Case of Emergency, Scrubs and Gary Unmarried. In 2009, he earned critical raves as a strung-out meth addict/drug dealer on the critically-lauded series, The Cleaner (A&E).
The versatile thespian is adept at voiceover work-it's Sterling Beaumon you'll hear as one of the starring English voices in the Japanese anime series Gunsword and in Summit Entertainment's big screen Astro Boy (as "Sludge/Sam") opposite Freddie Highmore and Nicholas Cage.
Sterling made his professional stage debut at the age of seven in The Grapes of Wrath. An Equity stage actor , he has performed in theaters throughout Southern California, inc. a role in the Geffen Playhouse's All My Sons, opposite Broadway veteran Len Cariou, Neil Patrick Harris and lauded actress Laurie Metcalf. His stage work ranges from musicals to straight plays- comedy and drama to performances with the esteemed West Coast Ensemble in which he is a member. Sterling's star turns in WCE's "Assassins and BIG! The Musical earned favorable reviews and critical acclaim. In fact, Sterling won the 2010 Young Artists Award as Best Stage Actor for the starring role in BIG!.
Television commercials have also been a fun outlet for sterling's talents. When he was six he was lucky to star in a Disney Cruise Line spot. Since then, he has been in several national commercials including those for car manufacturers, pool products, foods, video games and mobile phone companies. This past year, Sterling was a standout in a Nintendo spot and is waiting for a ATT commercial to air where he plays a musician.
Ironically Sterling really is a vocalist. His 1st CD, Step Back to Reality was released in 2010 and he is writing and recording new songs regularly.
Sterling supports numerous charities including the Lollipop Theater, Ronald McDonald House, the American Cancer Society, Bookshare, Feed the Children and arts programs.
He is adept at many sports and dance but his heart and soul are in Ice Hockey. Having been a competitive figure skater at a young age has made him a formidable skater while chasing down the puck and pursuing the opposing team.
Paul Haggis is the award-winning filmmaker who, in 2006, became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back-to-back - Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood, and Crash which he himself directed. For Crash, he won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The film also received an additional four nominations including one for Haggis' direction. Crash reaped numerous awards during its year of release from associations such as the IFP Spirit Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA.
In 2006, Haggis' screenplays included the duo Clint Eastwood productions Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, the latter earning him his third screenplay Oscar nomination. He also helped pen Casino Royale, which garnered considerable acclaim for reinvigorating the James Bond spy franchise.
In 2007, Haggis wrote, directed and produced In the Valley of Elah for Warner Independent Pictures, Samuels Media and Summit Entertainment. The film, which starred Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon, was a suspense drama of a father's search for his missing son, who is reported AWOL after returning from Iraq. Jones earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the film. Haggis' latest film, The Next Three Days, stars Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks. It was produced by Highway 61 and Lionsgate Films. Hwy 61 is the production company Haggis formed with his friend and producing partner Michael Nozik. This is their first feature. It was released in November 2010.
Haggis was born in London, Ontario, Canada and moved to California in his early 20s. For over two decades he has written, directed and produced television shows such as thirtysomething and The Tracey Ullman Show, Due South, The Black Donnellys and also developed credits as a pup writer on many 'Norman Lear' sitcoms. He also created the acclaimed, if short-lived, CBS series EZ Streets which the New York Times cited as one of the most influential shows of all time, noting, that without it "there would be no Sopranos."
Haggis is equally committed to his private and social concerns. He is the founder of Artists for Peace and Justice. Under this umbrella, many of his friends in the film business have come forward to build schools and medical clinics serving the children of the slums of Haiti.
He divides his time between residences in Los Angeles and New York.
David Hemmings, one of the great English cinema icons of the 1960s, was born in Guildford, Surrey, on November 18, 1941, to a cookie merchant and his wife. He was educated at Glyn College, Epsom, but while still a child, Hemmings made his first forays into the world of entertainment. An accomplished singer, he toured as a boy soprano with the English Opera Group, famed for his performances of the works of Benjamin Britten. Britten, who befriended the youngster, wrote some roles specifically for Hemmings, including that of "Miles" in "The Turn of the Screw". Hemmings subsequently took up painting after his career as a soprano was ended by his transit through puberty. He studied painting at the Epsom School of Art, where he staged the first exhibition of his work at the school when he was 15 years old.
Hemmings made his film debut in 1954, with The Rainbow Jacket for Ealing Studios. He also had bit part in Otto Preminger's 1957 version of Saint Joan. In his 20s, he returned to singing, appearing at nightclubs before concentrating on the stage and the cinema. As the youth culture hit Britain in the late 50s (the Notting Hill race riots of August 1958 limned in Julien Temple's 1986 film Absolute Beginners being a kind of bookmark signaling its arrival), Hemmings was in the right place at the right time to capitalize on his skills and looks. Boyish-looking, with large, protuberant blue eyes covered with heavy lids, his face was at once startling and decadent while simultaneously conveying an air of fragility. He starred in pop music movies Sing and Swing and Be My Guest, as well as co-starring in one of Michael Winner's first films, The Girl-Getters, with Oliver Reed.
The 24-year-old Hemmings desperately wanted what would become his career-defining role, as the morally jaded fashion photographer Thomas in master-director Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. He was up against the crème of British actors, including Terence Stamp, who already had an Oscar nomination under his belt and was conventionally handsome.
Hemmings thought he had blown his audition as Antonioni shook his head constantly throughout his audition. However, he later found out the great director had a mild form of Tourette's which caused him to move his head from side to side.
The role made him a star and, for a while, a darling of the pop culture filmmaking that was expected to revolutionize the English-speaking cinema in the 1960s, after the 1964 Best Picture Oscar-win of Tony Richardson's Tom Jones. He was cast as Mordred in the big-screen adaptation of Lerner & Lowe's musical Camelot with Richard Harris and Hemmings Blow-Up co-star Vanessa Redgrave to critically panned results. The same year that "Camelot" was released (1967), he put out a pop single ("Back Street Mirror") and an album, "David Hemmings Happens", recorded in Los Angeles. His album was produced by Jim Dickinson, the early producer of The Byrds, and featured instrumental backing by several members of group. It was re-released on CD in 2005.
However, to reduce stereotyping and his identification with pop culture filmmaking, he took on the role of the anti-hero Captain Nolan in Tony Richardson's masterful satire The Charge of the Light Brigade and later, the eponymous role in Alfred the Great. While both films were imbued with the counter-cultural attitudes of their times, the roles themselves were rather straightforward. Hemmings had reached the summit of his career as an actor. These were the heights he never reached again.
As the quality of his roles declined, Hemmings turned more to directing. He had directed his first film in 1972, helming the thriller Running Scared which starred Gayle Hunnicutt, his wife from 1968 to 1974. Hemmings also co-wrote the script. In the 1970s, he had relocated to Malibu, California to live with Hunnicutt, and the fabled beach community which was his home for the next generation. In 1975, he starred as Bertie Wooster in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "Jeeves", one of Lord Webber's few flops.
Hemmings formed the independent production company Hemdale Corp. with his business partner, John Daly, in the early 1970s as a tax shelter. He was able to use Hemdale and his role as a producer to vivify his directing career. In 1979, Hemmings the director first attracted major attention with Just a Gigolo, but the film was a flop in spite of its interesting cast. After directing the 1981 adventure film Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr and an adaptation of James Herbert's novel "The Survivor", he focused on TV directing. He soon became one of the top directors of American action TV programs, including The A-Team, Airwolf, Magnum, P.I. and Quantum Leap.
However, in the nineties, he abandoned directing, and returned to live in the UK. The role of "Cassius" in Gladiator heralded his full-time return to acting. He was also memorable in a small role in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. But it was his last major role, in the cinema adaption of Graham Swift's Last Orders, that showed Hemmings at the top of his talent. Unrecognizable from the boy-man of 1966-70, he was memorable as the ex-boxer who ruefully remembers the past with his remaining buddies as they travel to throw the ashes of a departed friend into the sea. That two of the other major roles were filled by Michael Caine and Tom Courtenay, two other British actors whose careers first flourished in the 1960s, added to the poignancy of this tale of men trying to recapture lost time. He also appeared, less memorably, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen opposite the ultimate 60s male British cinema icon, Sean Connery.
David Hemmings died of a heart attack on December 3, 2003, in Bucharest, Romania, on the set of Blessed, after playing his scenes for the day. He was 62 years old. His autobiography, "Blow Up... and Other Exaggerations" was published in 2004.
Jack Warden was born John H. Lebzelter on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey to Laura M. (Costello) and Jack Warden Lebzelter. His father was of German and Irish descent, and his mother was of Irish ancestry. Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 17, young Jack Lebzelter was expelled from Louisville's DuPont Manual High School for repeatedly fighting. Good with his fists, he turned professional, boxing as a welterweight under the name "Johnny Costello", adopting his mother's maiden name. The purses were poor, so he soon left the ring and worked as a bouncer at a night club. He also worked as a lifeguard before signing up with the U.S. Navy in 1938. He served in China with the Yangtzee River Patrol for the best part of his three-year hitch before joining the Merchant Marine in 1941.
Though the Merchant Marine paid better than the Navy, Warden was dissatisfied with his life aboard ship on the long convoy runs and quit in 1942 in order to enlist in the U.S. Army. He became a paratrooper with the elite 101st Airborne Division, and missed the June 1944 invasion of Normandy due to a leg badly broken by landing on a fence during a nighttime practice jump shortly before D-Day. Many of his comrades lost their lives during the Normandy invasion, but the future Jack Warden was spared that ordeal. Recuperating from his injuries, he read a play by Clifford Odets given to him by a fellow soldier who was an actor in civilian life. He was so moved by the play, he decided to become an actor after the war. After recovering from his badly shattered leg, Warden saw action at the Battle of the Bulge, Nazi Germany's last major offensive. He was demobilized with the rank of sergeant and decided to pursue an acting career on the G.I. Bill. He moved to New York City to attend acting school, then joined the company of Theatre '47 in Dallas in 1947 as a professional actor, taking his father's middle name as his surname. This repertory company, run by Margo Jones, became famous in the 1940s and '50s for producing 'Tennesse Williams''s plays. The experience gave him a valuable grounding in both classic and contemporary drama, and he shuttled between Texas and New York for five years as he was in demand as an actor. Warden made his television debut in 1948, though he continued to perform on stage (he appeared in a stage production in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman). After several years in small, local productions, he made both his Broadway debut in the 1952 Broadway revival of Odets' "Golden Boy" and, three years later, originated the role of "Marco" in the original Broadway production of Miller's "A View From the Bridge". On film, he and fellow World War II veteran, Lee Marvin (Marine Corps, South Pacific), made their debut in You're in the Navy Now (a.k.a. "U.S.S. Teakettle"), uncredited, along with fellow vet Charles Bronson, then billed as "Charles Buchinsky".
With his athletic physique, he was routinely cast in bit parts as soldiers (including the sympathetic barracks-mate of Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra in the Oscar-winning From Here to Eternity. He played the coach on TV's Mister Peepers with Wally Cox.
Aside from From Here to Eternity (The Best Picture Oscar winner for 1953), other famous roles in the 1950s included Juror #7 (a disinterested salesman who wants a quick conviction to get the trial over with) in 12 Angry Men - a film that proved to be his career breakthrough - the bigoted foreman in Edge of the City and one of the submariners commended by Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster in the World War II drama, Run Silent Run Deep. In 1959, Warden capped off the decade with a memorable appearance in Twilight Zone episode, The Lonely, in the series premier year of 1959. As "James Corry", Warden created a sensitive portrayal of a convicted felon marooned on an asteroid, sentenced to serve a lifetime sentence, who falls in love with a robot. It was a character quite different from his role as Juror #7.
In the 1960s and early 70s, his most memorable work was on television, playing a detective in The Asphalt Jungle, The Wackiest Ship in the Army and N.Y.P.D.. He opened up the decade of the 1970s by winning an Emmy Award playing football coach "George Halas" in Brian's Song, the highly-rated and acclaimed TV movie based on Gale Sayers's memoir, "I Am Third". He appeared again as a detective in the TV series, Jigsaw John, in the mid-1970s, The Bad News Bears and appeared in a pilot for a planned revival of Topper in 1979.
His collaboration with Warren Beatty in two 1970s films brought him to the summit of his career as he displayed a flair for comedy in both Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait. As the faintly sinister businessman "Lester" and as the perpetually befuddled football trainer "Max Corkle", Warden received Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actor. Other memorable roles in the period were as the metro news editor of the "Washington Post" in All the President's Men, the German doctor in Death on the Nile, the senile, gun-toting judge in ...And Justice for All., the President of the United States in Being There, the twin car salesmen in Used Cars and Paul Newman's law partner in The Verdict.
This was the peak of Warden's career, as he entered his early sixties. He single-handedly made Andrew Bergman's So Fine watchable, but after that film, the quality of his roles declined. He made a third stab at TV, again appearing as a detective in Crazy Like a Fox in the mid-1980s. He played the shifty convenience store owner "Big Ben" in Problem Child and its two sequels, a role unworthy of his talent, but he shone again as the Broadway high-roller "Julian Marx" in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway. After appearing in Warren Beatty's Bulworth, Warden's last film was The Replacements in 2000. He then lived in retirement in New York City with his girlfriend, Marucha Hinds. He was married to French stage actress Wanda Ottoni, best known for her role as the object of Joe Besser's desire in The Three Stooges short, Fifi Blows Her Top. She gave up her career after her marriage. They had one son, Christopher, but separated several years ago.
Gabrielle Dennis is an actress and comedian best known for her work in television as Janay on the hit series "The Game" (CW & BET) and as Denise Roy on Spike Tv's "Blue Mountain State"
With a background as a trained dancer, actress, and singer that stretches all the way back to age 4 Gabrielle always knew she would have a career in the Arts. However, her original plans of pursuing a career as a ballerina in NYC altered when she had the opportunity to move to DC and appear as a regular on BET's award winning teen talk show "Teen Summit." Along with this move came the decision to turn down a scholarship to Ohio State in exchange for an education at Howard University, a prestigious HBCU, where she studied TV Production and Theater.
Now living in Los Angeles, Gabrielle has had the opportunity to put all her training to use and maintains a career as a working actress. Additionally, Gabrielle does stand up comedy, writes and performs sketch comedy, and is getting her feet wet as a Writer/Producer. Her first project as Writer/Producer was her short film "a Super secret" which has gotten praise on the indie festival circuit. In the feature length world, Gabrielle was a Producer on the highly anticipated action indie "Call Me King" and she recently wrapped production on "My First Love" where she was both star and Executive Producer. Both films slated for release in 2015.
As rugged as he is genteel, 6'2", 220-lb. Patrick Kilpatrick has been one of the finest screen/television character actors and villains of his generation, playing against a spectrum of Hollywood's leading action heroes while occasionally delivering the redemptive, even sensitively challenged, hard-edged heroic role.
After nearly dying in a car crash as a teenager, he rehabilitated to the point where he could largely do his own stunts in his more than 100 films and TV projects. His action film appearances span a multitude of genres and embrace an international Who's Who of leading men: The Replacement Killers against Yun-Fat Chow; Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Caan in Eraser; Last Man Standing opposite Bruce Willis; Under Siege 2: Dark Territory opposite Steven Segal; The Presidio opposite Sean Connery and Mark Harmon; two award-winning and highly rated original cable westerns opposite Tom Selleck, Last Stand at Saber River and Crossfire Trail; one western opposite Sam Elliot and Kate Capshaw, HBO's Premiere Films adaptation of Louis L'Amour's The Quick and the Dead; and the ever-popular action mainstay Death Warrant opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme, as "The Sandman". He has even done battle with the largest mammal on earth in Free Willy 3: The Rescue.
The versatile Kilpatrick has played leads in everything from American Playhouse to Nicolas Roeg's masterwork Insignificance (his film debut) to William Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" at the Los Angeles Theater Center in the hands of Academy Award-winning director Tony Richardson. His resume includes recurring roles on such hit television shows as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Tour of Duty, Dark Angel, Stephen King's popular miniseries The Stand, HBO's Arli$$ and many, many more. It was his work on James Cameron's "Dark Angel" series that led Steven Spielberg to seek him out for Minority Report.
In a whirlwind 18-month period Kilpatrick did five major studio films, two independents and 27 television guest star spots on 18 different shows. The pace continues to the present with appearances on Boomtown, Las Vegas, Blind Justice, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 24 as Secret Service Agent Dale Spaulding--the man who "killed" Jack Bauer"--Criminal Minds and James Woods Shark.
Kilpatrick, president and CEO of Uncommon Dialogue Films, Inc. (UDF), is the writer/producer/director of the upcoming film "Vain Attempt." In addition to "Vain Attempt" UDF has a dynamic slate of arresting movies including "Naked Warriors" set in the Pacific in 1943, "Lady Pirates", "The End of the Onslaught" set in WWII Germany and "Nine Heroes in the Rape of Nanking" set in 1937 China, plus two documentaries and a television series "Natural Laws" concerning US Fish and Wildlife Special Agents amidst global threat of illegal wildlife traffic and ecological calamity. He travels the world organizing film, ecological business development and acting. UDF recently hosted the Entertainment Conservation Summit in northern California, a first-time assemblage of Hollywood heavyweights and representatives of global outdoor sports and ecological groups. The UDF series "Natural Laws" was presented there.
A single father, Kilpatrick has two sons, Ben and Sam. His interests range from politics to fashion, veterans' affairs to solar/wind energy application, gun ownership to Mohandas K. Gandhi. He has traveled to Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Kyrgyzstan with the USO, entertaining troops as part of the Henry Rollins/Patrick Kilpatrick South West Asia Tour and is active with the Coalition to Salute Americas' Heroes, Brooke Army Medical Center (San Antonio, TX) and California Paralyzed Veterans. Patrick, trained as an actor by Navy Seals and the LAPD, is a member of the Sons of The American Revolution, and cam trace his ancestors back to the American colonies in the 1640s. His father received the Silver Star for his actions at the battle of Okinawa in World War II as a member of an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT), a predecessor of the Navy SEALS--the inspiration for "Naked Warriors". He has a strong appreciation of linguistics and global ecological development, has been known to utilize dialects while acting and has been a gastronome of organic, elegant food and beverage for 35 years.
Hope joined Fandor as CEO in February of 2014, bringing with him a wealth of film experience as a creator, curator, advocate and innovator in the film community as well as a vision for how Fandor will grow in the ever-changing digital world of content distribution. Using innovative ways to find and share a greater array of works with the audience that craves them is Fandor's mission and among Hope's strongest passions.
Prior to Fandor, Hope was the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society where he successfully raised significant new sponsorship funding, expanded the San Francisco International Film Festival's offerings to include the innovative Artist to Entrepreneur (A2E) program and launched their new Fall Awards event. He also introduced new alliances, including a distribution arrangement with Sundance Artist Services and implemented several grants in such areas as documentary, strategic planning, and operations.
Hope is an influential figure in the film community with a survey of films numbering over seventy that includes many highlights and breakthroughs of the last two decades. Hope co-founded and ran the 90's production and sales powerhouse Good Machine, which produced notable and Academy Award nominated films such as EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN (1994) and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000). After he and his partners sold the company in 2002, Hope went on to co-found the New York production company This is that, which over its eight years produced eighteen features and received numerous awards, including four Academy Award Best Screenplay nominations. Subsequently, he founded Double Hope Films with his wife, filmmaker Vanessa Hope, and looks forward to premiering Vanessa's feature directorial debut ALL EYES AND EARS at festivals this fall.
Hope's films have received some of the industry's most prestigious honors: THE SAVAGES (2007) earned two Academy Award nominations; 21 GRAMS (2003), two Academy Award nominations and five BAFTA nominations; and IN THE BEDROOM (2001), five Academy Award nominations. Ted holds a record at Sundance: three of his twenty-three Sundance entries (AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003), THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN (1995), and WHAT HAPPENED WAS . . . (1994)) have won the Grand Jury Prize, more than any other producer. Two of his films, AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003), and HAPPINESS (1998) have won the Critics Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Hope's first book HOPE FOR FILM, a film memoir with insights from his directors and productions, comes out late Summer 2014 from Counterpunch Press. Hope posts regularly on his HopeForFilm blog, home of Truly Free Film, which Variety has called a "fantastic resource." He also co-founded HammerToNail.com, a film review site focused on Truly Independent Film. Hope is recognized, by The Hollywood Reporter and other publications, as one of the most influential and powerful people in Independent Film. He has received numerous awards and honors including the Vision Award from the LA Filmmakers' Alliance and the Woodstock Film Festival's Honorary Trailblazer Award. He lectures throughout the world (most recently as the Keynote Speaker at both the FEMA's Directors Conference in London and at the Binger FilmLab Digital Summit in Amsterdam) and participates on many film juries, (including Sundance, SXSW, and Karlovy Vary). Hope serves on the advisory boards of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, The Film Collaborative, Power to the Pixel, SXSW Film, and the Woodstock Film Festival.
Patrick's acting career spans over a decade. Born and raised in Montreal, Patrick grew up in a 3-language household speaking French, English and Arabic. Patrick was active in all facets of academic life as well as competing seriously in several sports throughout high school: 12 years of American football (including two shots at the Provincial Championship at the Collegiate level), basketball, track & field (holding the Provincial high-jump record for a year) and martial-arts (which still plays a huge part in his life) as well rock & ice climbing and mountaineering (having summited peaks across North America and the Alps). Patrick then earned a BFA in Drama for Human Development from Concordia University, a Certificate from the National Theatre Conservatory in Colorado and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from the University of California. Patrick has had the opportunity to work with some of the world's most influential directors including Steven Spielberg, Zack Snyder, Tarsem Singh, John Cassar, Yves Simoneau, Richard Donner, Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard and Roland Emmerich. On television, he has appeared on several hit shows such as "24", Flashpoint, Covert Affairs, Psych, Smallville and Stargate: Atlantis to name a few. His athletic background and martial-arts training has also landed him work on action films "300", Immortals, MI:4, A-Team, The Bourne Legacy, Tron: Legacy and more. His involvement in the "biz" isn't limited to acting. As a creative artist he has also written, directed and produced several short films. Patrick is slated to direct his first feature film, Outside Chance, in the summer of 2013. His most recent theatre creation garnered him and his co-creators an award at the 2012 Vancouver Fringe Festival with their unique, site-specific play, "Felony". Patrick is also the co- director of the not-for-profit mentorship program, Fulfilling Young Artists: an organization dedicated to helping young actors and actresses find fulfillment in their pursuit of a positive, sustainable acting career by pairing them with seasoned, well established actors who mentor them over the course of a six- month program which he helped design. As a father, artist, actor, director, producer, mentor and athlete he is the embodiment of a renaissance man in today's entertainment industry.
|Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Jennifer Siebel Newsom is a filmmaker, actress, speaker, and advocate for women, girls, and their families.
Newsom is the writer, director, and producer of the 2011 Sundance documentary film Miss Representation, which explores how the media's misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence. Miss Representation made its national broadcast debut on OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network on October 20th, 2011.
Coinciding with the distribution of her film, Newsom launched MissRepresentation.org, a call-to-action movement that gives women and girls the tools to realize their full potential. Newsom serves as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MissRepresentation.org.
Newsom is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Girls Club Entertainment, LLC, a film production company established to develop independent films focused primarily on empowering women. Newsom is an Executive Producer of the 2012 Sundance Award-winning documentary The Invisible War which exposes the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military. As of 2012 she is in pre-production on her next documentary film series, The Mask You Live In.
Prior, Newsom worked on assignments in Africa, Latin America, and Europe for Conservation International, a global environmental organization, where her primary focus was providing micro-enterprise opportunities to women.
Newsom is a nationally recognized speaker. She has spoken at corporations, universities, non-profits, and conferences including TEDxWomen, Google, Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, AT&T, Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT, Georgetown University, the Professional BusinessWomen of California, YWCA Salt Lake City, California Commission on the Status of Women, GirlVentures, and Women's Foundation of California.
Newsom serves as a board member of PBS's Northern California affiliate KQED; a commissioner on the Girl Scouts Healthy MEdia: Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls; a member of the Make Mine a Million $ Business National Steering Committee; an advisory board member of Emerge America; and an honorary board member of the International Museum of Women.
Recently, Newsom joined "The League of Extraordinary Women" by Fast Company, and was named one of the "Most Influential Women in Business" by the San Francisco Business Times, and in 2011, one of "150 Fearless Women Who Shake The World" by Newsweek Daily Beast. She has been awarded the "Champion for Kids" by Common Sense Media. Newsom has also been featured in O Magazine, NPR, ABC's Top Line, MSNBC Live, The Huffington Post, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Tribune, Fox News, Vogue, and SELF.
Newsom graduated with honors both from Stanford University and Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Newsom also speaks Spanish.
Newsom resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and their two young children.
Ellen has enjoyed a unique and extremely diverse career as an actor. The striking, leggy 5'10-1/2" native of Toronto began performing as a ballet dancer. When a temporary knee injury sidelined her, Ellen segued into acting with a wide variety of critically acclaimed stage roles from Shakespeare to musicals, from drama to comedy.
A Gemini Award nominated actress for her series regular role Jeri Slate in the Leo Award winning supernatural drama THE COLLECTOR (which just aired on Chiller TV in the US, and has aired in 65 countries), Ellen is also a cult figure in the sci-fi world for playing the wild alien cannibal Giggerota the Wicked in the international cult hit LEXX. She has the distinction of doing all four seasons and playing four different characters in this very popular show. Ellen played the first female Pope in sci-fi history in LEXX.
She recently wrapped two sci fi pilots NOBILITY with the legendary Walter Koenig, Doug Jones, Cas Anwar, James Kyson , Christopher Judge, Torri Higginson and Adrienne Wilkinson. The other pilot STARFALL, she worked with Andrew Jackson and Damien Puckler in Reno, Nevada. Both roles are very unique and intriguing!
She also enjoyed working on two recent film roles playing a nerdy shy wallflower in BIG FAT STONE with Academy Award nominated Robert Loggia, Tony Nardi and Margot Kidder which won many awards including Best Picture at the Action on Film Festival in Pasadena and NO DEPOSIT where she played a foul mouthed alcoholic woman opposite Art Hindle, Peter Coyote, Doris Roberts and Eric Roberts.
Her comedy zombie film DEAD BEFORE DAWN 3D with Devon Bostick and Christopher Lloyd opened at the Grauman's Theater in Los Angeles and across the United States. The zomedy won the Perron Crystal Award for Live Action 3D Film from the prestigious International 3D Stereo Media Summit and Film Festival. DBD was nominated for five Canadian Comedy Awards.
In NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, the multi award winning Sundance Film Festival favorite and one of the most iconic film comedies of all time, Ellen plays the Tupperware-loving mom of Napoleon's potential prom date.
Her affinity for the unusual has also lead her to starring roles in THE LISTENER, THE DEAD ZONE, EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT, BLOOD TIES, MUTANT X, A WRINKLE IN TIME and HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN where she is the only female to have a broad-to-broad broadsword fight in that shows' history.
She is also the go-to-girl for a host of movies on the Lifetime Network. She stars in THE WIVES HE FORGOT opposite Molly Ringwald, LIES AND DECEPTION with Madchen Amick and SECOND CHANCES with Melissa George, all airing now on LIFETIME. Her Hallmark Hall Of Fame Presents/ CBS Emmy nominated movie of the week THE LOIS WILSON story (opposite Winona Ryder) is among her favorites.
Ellen voiced many characters in Time Magazine's #1 PC video game of 2012 GUILD WARS 2 and Ultimate Game of the Year ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM. She also was thrilled to lend her voice to DEFENSE GRID:2, WORLD OF WARCRAFT and MURDERED:SOUL SUSPECT. She is the voice of the highly acclaimed Disneyland attraction THE WORLD OF COLOR and WORLD OF COLOR:WINTER DREAMS and the new promo trailer for SCREAMRIDE coming out next year.
Ellen is honored to be the spokesperson for the Make A Wish Foundation in Toronto and Central Ontario and volunteers at the Los Angeles Mission.
Laurence Harvey, the British movie star who helped usher in the 1960s with his indelible portrait of a ruthless social climber and became one of the decade's cultural icons for his appearances in socially themed motion pictures, was born Laruschka Mischa Skikne on October 1, 1928, in Joniskis, Lithuania. The youngest of three brothers, he emigrated, with his family, to South Africa in 1934 and settled in Johannesburg. The teenager joined the South African army during World War II, and was assigned to the entertainment unit. His unit served in Egypt and Italy, and after the war the future Laurence Harvey returned to South Africa and began a career as an actor. He moved to London after winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He then did his apprenticeship in regional theater, moving to Manchester in the 1940s. The tyro actor reportedly supported himself as a hustler while appearing with the city's Library Theater. Even at this point in his life he was known to be continually in debt and adopted a firm belief in living beyond his means, a pattern that would continue until his premature death. His lifestyle would often dictate working on less worthy projects for the sake of a paycheck.
His film debut came in House of Darkness, and he was soon signed by Associated British Studios. His early film roles proved underwhelming, and his attempt to become a stage star was disastrous - his debut in the revival of "Hassan" was a notorious flop. After failing in the commercial theater in London's West End, Harvey joined the company of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon for the 1952 season. Regularly panned by critics during his stint on the boards in the Bard's works, he built up his reputation as a personality by becoming combative, telling the press that he was a great actor despite the bad reviews. Someone was listening, as Romulus Pictures signed him in 1953 and began building him up as a star.
Harvey was cast as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, a film that exemplified the main problem that kept Harvey from major stardom (but subsequently would serve him quite well in a handful of roles): his screen persona was emotionally aloof if not downright frigid. Despite his icy portrayal of the great romantic hero Romeo, Harvey attracted enough attention in Hollywood to be brought over by Warner Bros. and given a lead role in King Richard and the Crusaders.
In Old Blighty with Romulus after his Hollywood adventure, Harvey met his future wife Margaret Leighton on the set of The Good Die Young. Other film appearances included I Am a Camera and Three Men in a Boat, the latter becoming his first certified hit, and even greater success was to come. The colorful Harvey, a press favorite, became notorious for his high-spending, high-living ways. He found himself frequently in debt, his travails faithfully reported by entertainment columnists. More fame was to come.
After making three flops in a row, Harvey began a brief reign as the Jack the Lad of British cinema with the great success of Room at the Top. That film and Look Back in Anger, which was also released that year, inaugurated the "kitchen sink" school of British cinema that revolutionized the country's film industry and that of its cousin, Hollywood, in the 1960s.
Harvey was born to play Joe Lampton, if not in kin, then in kind. Lampton was a working-class bloke who dreams of escaping his social strata for something better. It was a perfect match of actor and role, as the icy Harvey persona made Joe's ruthless ambition to climb the greasy pole of success fittingly chilling. In bringing Joe to life on the screen, Harvey was more successful than Richard Burton (a far better actor) had been in limning the theater's Jimmy Porter in the film adaptation of John Osborne's seminal "Look Back in Anger," despite Burton's own working-class background. Burton's volcanic use of his mellifluous voice, a great instrument, is much too hot for the the small universe on the screen, a case of projection that is so intense that it overwhelms the character and the film (it took Burton another half-decade to learn to act on film, and a half-decade more to lose that gift). Whereas Burton had to learn to rein it in, Harvey's already tightly controlled persona made the social-climbing Lampton resonate. Harvey fits the skin of the character much better than does Burton. Despite not being an authentic specimen, the success of his performance as a working-class man-on-the-make proved to be the vanguard of a new generation of screen characters that would be played by the real thing: Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Terence Stamp and Michael Caine, among others. "Room at the Top" signaled the appearance of the New Wave of British cinema. For his role as Joe, Harvey received his first (and only) Academy Award nomination.
While historically significant, "Room at the Top" is no longer ranked at the summit of other, more contemporary kitchen-sink dramas, such as Karel Reisz's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tony Richardson's A Taste of Honey and Lindsay Anderson's This Sporting Life, or even John Schlesinger's provincial comedy Billy Liar, films that made stars out of the authentic working-class/provincial actors Finney, Alan Bates, Richard Harris and Courtenay, respectively. The virtue of the film is its emotional honesty about the manipulation of personal relationships for social gain in postwar Britain, a system that after a decade under the Conservatives had become self-satisfied and complacent. In its portrayal of class warfare, the film offers the most intense critique of the British class system offered by any film from the British New Wave, including "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," which never leaves the confines of the working-class strata its main character, Arthur Seaton, is stuck in and ultimately reconciled to.
That Joe chooses a woman other than the one he really loves in order to gain social mobility, engaging in emotional manipulation of other human beings, is a brutal indictment of the class structure of postwar Britain. Joe, on his way to his wedding and his great chance, has lost his humanity. His failure is symbolic of Britain's failure as well. It is the haughtiness and narcissism of the actor Harvey (qualities his screen persona engenders in film after film) that elucidates Lampton's weakness. A further irony of Harvey's effective, if ersatz, portrayal of working-class Joe is that it made him such a success - he soon went off to Hollywood to play opposite box-office titan Elizabeth Taylor in BUtterfield 8, thus losing out on further opportunities to appear in the British New Wave he helped introduce. As well as supporting Taylor in her Oscar-winning turn in "Butterfield 8" (the two became close friends), a badly miscast Harvey also co-starred as Texas hero Col. James Travis in John Wayne's bloated budget-buster The Alamo.
With the exception of the lead in the British Jungle Fighters- a war picture that was decidedly NOT New Wave - Harvey did not appear again in a major British film until 1965, when he returned to the other side of the pond to reprise Joe in the "Room" sequel Life at the Top. However, if he had never gone Hollywood, he might never have been cast in his other signature role: Raymond Shaw, the eponymous The Manchurian Candidate. Once again, the match of actor and character was ideal, as Harvey's coldness and affect-free acting perfectly embodied the persona of the programmed assassin. The film, and Harvey's performance in it, are classic.
In this Hollywood interlude, Harvey also appeared in the screen adaptations of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke opposite the great Geraldine Page, Oscar-nominated for her role, and the artistically less successful Walk on the Wild Side, supported by the legendary Barbara Stanwyck, French beauty Capucine and a young Jane Fonda. The critics were less kind to his acting in these outings, and, indeed, the rather elegant Harvey does seem miscast as Dove Linkhorn, the wandering Texan created by hardboiled Nelson Algren, reduced to working in an automotive garage by the exigencies of the Great Depression. Critics were even less kind when Harvey tried to follow in Leslie Howard's footsteps in the remake of Of Human Bondage.
Although he could not know it then, Harvey had reached the zenith of his career. In 1962 he won the Best Actor prize at the Munich film festival in 1962 for his role in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. Honors for Harvey were few after this point. He co-starred with Paul Newman and Claire Bloom in Martin Ritt's film version of the Broadway re-envisioning of Akira Kurosawa's cinematic masterpiece Rashomon. The result, The Outrage, in which Newman played a murderous Mexican bandit and Harvey his victim, was an unqualified flop that still boggles the mind of viewers unfortunate enough to stumble upon it, so outrageous is the idea of casting Newman as a Mexican killer (a role originated by Rod Steiger on the Broadway stage). Harvey, very often a wooden presence in his less inspired performances, was appropriately upstaged by the tree he remained tied to throughout most of the film.
Along with "Life at the Top," Harvey appeared in support of Oscar-winner Julie Christie in John Schlesinger's Darling, an allegedly "mod" look at the jaded and superficial existence of what was then termed the "jet set." Despite its "New Wave"-like cutting and visual sense, "Darling" - which was embraced wholeheartedly by Hollywood and originally had been envisioned as a vehicle for Shirley MacLaine - was, at its heart, an old-fashioned Hollywood-style morality play, a warning that the wages of sin lead to emotional emptiness, hardy a revolutionary idea in 1965. Christie was excellent - particularly as she metamorphosed from Dolly-bird to a more mature sort of hustler - and first-male lead Dirk Bogarde always proved an interesting actor, but it was Harvey who most clearly embodied the zeitgeist of the picture. Once again, his coldness did him well as he limned the executive who manipulates and is manipulated by Christie's Diana character.
Harvey had become at this point a kind of good-luck charm for actresses with whom he appeared. Simone Signoret, Elizabeth Taylor and Christie won Best Actress Oscars after appearing in films with him, and Geraldine Page and "Room at the Top" co-star Hermione Baddeley were both Oscar-nominated in the period after appearing opposite Harvey. Alas, no one else collected kudos in a Harvey picture: he reached the high-water mark of his career in 1962, and his star was already in in decline to a murkier, less-lustrous part of the Hollywood/international cinema firmament.
Another irony of Harvey's career is that, despite ushering in the British New Wave and a cinema more independent of the meat-grinder ethos of the Hollywood and British studios catering to popular taste, he would have been better served in the 1930s and 1940s as a contract player at a major studio. Like Michael Wilding (who also became the third husband of Harvey's first wife, Margaret Leighton), another handsome man of limited gifts who nonetheless could be quite affecting in the right role, Harvey's career likely would have thrived under the studio system, with an interested boss to guide him. Like Minniver Cheever, however, he was unfortunate to have been born after his time.
As it was, the next (and last) decade of Harvey's screen life was a disappointment, with the actor relegated to less and less prestigious pictures and international co-productions that needed a "star" name. In the 1970s, Harvey became largely irrelevant as a player in the motion picture industry. His luck had run out. Good friend Liz Taylor, whose string of motion picture successes had also run its course, had him cast in Night Watch, and he directed the last picture in which he appeared, Welcome to Arrow Beach. If he had lived, he might have made the transition to director (he had earlier directed The Ceremony and finished directing A Dandy in Aspic after the death of original director Anthony Mann).
Laurence Harvey died on November 25, 1973, from stomach cancer. He publicly revealed that he was dismayed by being afflicted with the fatal disease, as he had always been careful with the way he ate. Sadly, his personal luck, just as capricious as his professional career, had also gone into eclipse. One of the more colorful characters to grace the screen was dead at the age of 45, exiting the stage far too soon for the legions of fans that still admired him despite the downturn in his fortunes.
Born in Summit New Jersey. Played Professional Ice Hockey for the Vail Avalanche, Boston Jr. Bruins, and the Amarillo Rattlers of the Western Professional Hockey League.
Graduated from California State University in 2004.
Started out in Commercials for Dodge, Coors, Levi's, Ford, ACE, and Nissan.
Recently shot Modern Family, Eagleheart, Franklin & Bash, Anger Management and Reckless for CBS.
Leah Diane Gibson grew up in Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. She began dancing at the age of four, marking the beginning to her many years of training and performance in such dance forms as ballet, modern, contemporary/lyrical, jazz and broadway jazz. She discovered musical theatre through her early years of dancing and singing performance, and over the last ten years has performed in various theatrical productions and cabaret performances
Leah has worked on various TV series, TV movies, mini-series and feature films, including Warner Bros' Watchmen, Summit Entertainment's Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and 20th Century Fox' Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Leah's background in psychology from the University of Victoria lends itself to her introspective and soulful approach to her character work.
In between her filming, Leah continues to perform singing and dancing in live venues.
A director, actress and producer, April Mullen was brought up magically in the city of wonder Niagara Falls. She left to study at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto where she received a B.F.A. Honors. She skipped over to the United Kingdom to further her training at the prestigious Royal Welsh College of Drama.
Mullen's latest directorial offer is an action thriller entitled 88 which is being released in the US by Millennium Films in 2015. The Feature Dead Before Dawn 3D confirms April Mullen as the youngest person and first female to ever direct a live action stereoscopic 3D feature film. Dead Before Dawn 3D has sold all over the world and is a 3D success story in terms of its' technological achievement. While in Belgium at the 3D StereoMedia summit the film was also awarded The Perron Crystal for it's achievement in Stereoscopic 3D. She is co-founder of the award winning production company Wango Films alongside Tim Doiron. Wango Films produced the cult hit features, Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser and GravyTrain, which were both distributed by Alliance Films. A true maverick in the independent feature film world, Miss Mullen is a young creator who stops at nothing to see a film from concept to screen. As an actress April Mullen was recently the lead in the HBO series Good God, which showed off her skilled, unique comedic timing. It was her leading role in Cavedweller directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) an Original Showtime feature, that got her nominated for Best Leading Actress by the Young Artist Awards in Los Angeles. April Mullen is from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and now resides in Los Angeles.
Laura Pradelska was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. After spending several years in Los Angeles, she relocated to London, UK in 2005 and was accepted at the prestigious Drama Centre London. Since graduating in 2008, she has worked solidly as an actor and as a voice-over artist. Her roles in 2010 included "Faith" in "Still Life At The Sushi Bar" a role for which Laura was awarded Best Actor at the 2010 Fringe Report Awards and "Eva Braun" in Summit Conference for which Laura was nominated by Off West End.com for Best Female Performance 2010 Laura also recently starred in Knuckleball at the Rosemary Branch Theatre where, What's on Stage called her performance "particularly impressive in a difficult role" and the British theatre Guide commented, "It's a story, which Pradelska's performance makes entirely believable" She also just finished starring in the one-woman show Still Life at the Sushi Bar at the Leicester Square Theatre which got 5 star reviews as well as playing "Liv Edeth" in On the permanence of fugitive colours and "Surly" in The Alchemist which won Time Out's critics choice. Her credits in 2009 include Strindberg's The Stronger, performed as a one-woman show at the 2009 Edinburgh fringe and Product Medea 4.0 at The Cock Tavern Theatre.
Carlos Santana is a guitarist, composer, singer and band-leader who helped to shape the concept of "world music" by his experiments with blending many styles of music from a multitude of ethnic sources.
He was born Carlos Augusto Alves Santana on July 20, 1947, in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He is one of six children born to Jose Santana and Josefina Barragan. From the age of 5 young Santana learned the violin from his father, a professional mariachi violinist. He switched to guitar at the age of 8, when the family moved to Tijuana. During the late 50s he was playing gigs at clubs and bars with various bands up and down the Tijuana Strip. In 1961 he moved to San Francisco, California, joining the family, which moved there the previous year. In 1966 he made his debut with the newly formed Santana Blues Band. In 1968 Santana was promoted by Bill Graham to play at the famous Fillmore West in San Francisco. The first album, self-titled 'Santana', was released in 1969.
Santana shot to fame after the legendary performance at Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969. His surprise appearance was captured in the film 'Woodstock' which vastly increased Santana's popularity. The psychedelic second album titled 'Abraxas' (1970) reached No.1 on the album charts and went on to sell over four million copies worldwide. Three songs from that album: 'Black Magic Woman', 'Oye Como Va', and 'Samba Pa Ti' became huge international hits. Then he collaborated with poet and guru Sri Chinmoy and jazz guitarist John McLaughlin in a spiritual and musically innovative album 'Love, Devotion, Surrender' (1973).
After years of touring, Santana participated in the first-ever joint US-Soviet "Rock'n Roll Summit" in 1987. At that time Santana evolved to become a multi-faceted artist and prepared to re-emerge as a conscientious member of society. He contributed to the benefit of San Francisco Earthquake Relief, Doctors Without Borders, Indigenous People Fund, Hispanic Media & Education Group, Amnesty International, LA Museum of Tolerance, and other charitable causes. In 1998, Carlos Santana and his wife Deborah started the Milagro Foundation which contributed 1,8 million dollars to help underprivileged youths. Santana also contributed the profits of his 2003 'Shaman' tour to fight AIDS.
'Supernatural' (1999) is considered by many to be Carlos Santana's greatest work. It became the Album of the Year, received eleven Grammy awards, and sold over 25 million copies worldwide. It included such hits as "Smooth" and "Maria Maria" and featured guest artists Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean, Eric Clapton, and Dave Matthews among others. Santana continued collaboration with various artists in his next albums, 'Shaman (2003) and 'All That I Am' (2005), and also contributed to the 2005 album of Herbie Hancock. He received the Latin Recording Academy's honor as "Person of the Year" in 2004.
During the four decades of his career Santana has been a true multi-cultural artist. He contributed to shaping the concept of "world music" by his experiments with blending many styles and genres of music from a multitude of ethnic sources. His instantly identifiable blend of Latin, salsa, blues, rock, and Afro-Cuban styles has been evolving with the inclusion of elements from jazz, fusion, and world beat. Santana's high-pitched and clean guitar sound has been coming out of his custom-made PRS guitars. His unique and instantly recognizable sound is legendary: "With one note people know me..." says Carlos Santana.
A street and public square in his native town of Autlan de Navarro is bearing his name. Carlos Santana is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has sold more than 90 million records, and performed to over 100 million people globally.
Wendy Girard, an award-winning actor and producer, began acting in her teens in Washington, D.C. as a clown. She performed all of the womens voices for Gallaudet College for the Deaf productions, and acted at The Washington Shakespeare Festival, The Washington Theatre Club, Arena Stage, where she also spent a year doing Spolin Improvisation,and Center Stage in Baltimore, playing mostly leads from the Greeks and Shakespeare to Anderson, Brecht, Eliot and Brooks.
In New York, Girard became the youngest life member ever accepted in to The Actors Studio where she worked under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg for 13 years, and fulfilled her dream of working with her inspiration and idol, Elia Kazan. She also studied with Stella Adler among other masters. She played leads in classical, contemporary and original plays including Miranda in The Tempest, the hit happening Oil! supported by Pat Quinn, Jim Gammon and Michael J. Pollard as her family, A Difficult Borning, the works of Sylvia Plath, and the autobiographical Lucky Star about her saving the life of the private secretary of Joseph N. Welch (the attorney who dis-empowered Sen. Joe McCarthy during HUAC).
In Los Angeles theatre she starred in the world premiere of Playing for Time to rave reviews, the West Coast premiere of Extremities at the LA Public Theatre, and the unpublished Clifford Odets play The Nursery at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where she was a founding member, while continuing to work at The Actors Studio West under Strasberg, Shelley Winters, Ellen Burstyn, Martin Landau and others.
Behind the scenes, Girard began producing at the age of 19 off-off Broadway, and directing in her twenties. Still a teen, she produced the first Earth Day Street Fair in New York's Lower East Side. She has developed, directed and/or produced numerous original plays in New York City and Los Angeles, several of which have been published, including the first all black musical by a black writer, Lamar Alford's Thoughts, which moved to La Mama, NYC.
Still in her twenties she directed, shot and edited her first documentary, and has since worn virtually every hat on numerous documentaries, primarily focusing on the environment. Girard has also produced award-winning Public Service Announcements for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (a former home town), as well as the United Nations 50th Anniversary, with Dennis Weaver, Lloyd Bridges, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Marsha Hunt and others.
As a voice-over artist she has done national television campaigns for Maybelline, American Express, AT&T and Wheaties to name a few, as well as narration for documentaries. Girard is also an award winning still photographer and works as a writer, journalist and film reviewer.
She grew up in Latin America and studied in Europe. She is a certified Sivananda Yoga and Da Dao Qi Gong instructor, and ordained to teach Zen meditation. She coaches and teaches film acting, method acting, and improvisation privately, at performing arts academies, and abroad.
Jaylen Moore is on a roll having booked eight features since 2012. And it's no wonder - he can sing, dance, make you laugh while shooting a semi automatic weapon, perform stunts, and kick ass in in the next. He also speaks Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Pashto, and Spanish - think of him as an "Action Hero and Renaissance Man" all in one.
He can most recently be seen on Season Three of Showtime's Emmy winning drama, Homeland in the recurring role of Eric Baraz. Jaylen also appears in the upcoming films, Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire, and with Stallone and Schwarzenegger in The Escape Plan (Lionsgate/Summit), and his biggest motion picture role to date in the action/comedy Aztec Warrior in early 2014.
Recently, Jaylen was seen in the Weinstein Company's feature, Random, opposite Ashley Green, in the Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion for director Joseph Kosinki, in the indie sci fi thriller Sons of Liberty, and in the MTV comedy film, Ladies Man: A Made Movie. He has appeared on over six episodes of Conan as "Wolfboy" spoofing Taylor Lautner.
In director Andrew Niccol's The Host, Jaylen played "Seeker Song", a role that required him not only to act, but to perform stunts using his training in martial arts and fighting. In The Host, he acted opposite Saorise Ronan and Diane Kruger and worked directly with writer Stephenie Meyer of the Twilght saga.
Jaylen brings to acting, his extensive background as a Los Angeles athletic coach and trainer. His exotic good looks are a result of parents that hail from Spain and Afghanistan. He began in theatre, studied at Chicago's Second City, and appeared in the Ovation Award winning musical City Kid where he met his future wife, actress/screenwriter, Britt Logan - proof that musicals can change your life.
Phil Tippett is the founder and namesake of Tippett Studio. His varied career in visual effects has spanned more than 30 years and includes two Academy Awards; and six nominations, one BAFTA award and four nominations, two Emmys and the advent of modern digital effects in motion pictures.
As a child of seven, Phil was profoundly inspired by Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion classic, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Willis O'Brien's classic character King Kong. His subsequent devotion to the creation of the fantastic creatures in film has become his raison d'etre. As a kid, and then as a student always drawing, sculpting and making animations, he developed his skills in a broader context first with a Fine Arts degree from University of California at Irvine, then as an animator at the commercial house, Cascade Pictures in Los Angeles. As a young adult Phil sought out teachers and mentors establishing connections and friendships with Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury.
A huge turning point came in 1975 when George Lucas hired Phil and Jon Berg to create a stop motion miniature chess scene for Star Wars: A New Hope. Phil also had a hand in many other aspects of the Star Wars films, including modeling and casting alien heads and limbs for the busy Cantina scene in the first film. By 1978 Phil lead the animation team at Industrial Light and Magic that would launch his career bringing life to the sinister Imperial Walkers and the alien hybrid Tauntaun for The Empire Strikes Back.
In 1982, building upon insights from 'Empire', the same ILM team developed a stop-motion process that they comically christened as 'Go Motion' that produced a startlingly realistic beast for Dragonslayer and won Phil an Academy Award; nomination. And in 1983, as head of the ILM creature shop, he began work on Return of the Jedi, designing Jabba The Hut and the Rancor Pit Monster as well as animating the two legged Walker and later winning the Oscar; for Best Visual Effects.
In 1984 Phil left ILM to create a 10-minute short film, Prehistoric Beast. The newly formed Tippett Studio, then operating out of Phil's garage, drew upon Phil's wealth of experience with stop motion and his expertise in anatomical modeling and rigging. He and Tippett Studio went on to create top-notch stop motion animations for various television and film projects including Dinosaur!, Willow, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and the Robocop trilogy.
In 1991, Steven Spielberg, learning of Phil's expertise in dinosaur movement and behavior, selected him to supervise the dinosaur animation for Jurassic Park. When Phil learned of the choice to go with the computer generated dinosaurs, instead of stop motion, his initial reaction was, "I think I'm extinct!" It was this project that was responsible for Tippett Studio's transition from stop-motion to computer generated animation and for which Phil was awarded his second Oscar®.
Phil's next major challenge came in 1995 when Paul Verhoeven, again with producer Jon Davison, asked Tippett Studio to create the swarms of deadly arachnids for the sci-fi extravaganza, Starship Troopers. Leading a team of 150 computer artists and technicians, earned Phil a sixth Academy Award; nomination in 1997. Starship Troopers firmly planted Tippett Studio (and Phil) into the digital age of filmmaking.
In the following years Phil has been a guide and mentor for the Tippett Studio VFX supervisors and crew as they create monsters, aliens and appealing creatures for the numerous films that wind their way through the Tippett pipeline.
Partnering with associate, writer Ed Neumeier (Starship Troopers and Robocop scribe), the two created the story for Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, which Phil went on to direct in 2004 for Screengems.
Recently, Phil oversaw the design and creation of the wolf pack in Summit Entertainment's New Moon and Eclipse, the second and third film installments based on the Twilight series of novels by Stephanie Meyer.
Phil's roots in stop motion, modeling and practical effects and his ability to use this foundation in conjunction with developing technologies has made him one of a handful of artists whose careers have spanned the transition of visual effects from largely practical to digital. In this way he is a great teacher and mentor to the crew passing on the tradition of mentorship given to him in the early part of his career.
Vikki Carr is one of the best-loved and most accomplished entertainers in the United States, Latin America and Europe. She is celebrating her fifth decade of a career in which she has won four Grammy Awards and has released over 60 best-selling recordings. Her concert tours of 2006-2007 sold-out shows in the U.S., Mexico and South America. She has performed for the Queen of England, five United States Presidents, wartime soldiers in Vietnam and sold-out audiences around the world. She has worked in radio, television, film and theater. Her music embraces two languages and she is among the first artists to bridge the cultures of the United States and Latin America, paving the way for many performers today.
In 2008, Vikki Carr was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy from the Latin Recording Academy.
In 2008, Vikki filmed a TV special Fiesta Mexicana for PBS TV.
EMI-Gold released a 3-disc set, "Vikki Carr: The Ultimate Collection" to rave reviews. Recordings made in the very early years of Vikki's career debut on this compilation. Along with many of her well known hits such as "It Must Be Him" (in English, Italian and Spanish), "With Pen In Hand", "He's A Rebel" and concert staple including "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". In April 2007, EMI-Gold released "Vikki Carr: Ways to Love a Man/Nashville by Carr" a 2 on 1 CD that allowed fans to hear a very emotional delivery of classics like "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", "Singing My Song" and "A Dissatisfied Man". Sony Mexico just released a CD/DVD collection titled "Las Numero 1" featuring 20 of Vikki's top Spanish hits on CD along with 10 of her television performances on DVD.
In 2002, Vikki starred in the Reprise production of Stephen Sondheim's beloved musical "Follies" in Los Angeles. She garnered glowing reviews for her performance from the LA Times, Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Her latest recording projects include "The Vikki Carr Christmas Album", released on Delta, which features Christmas Classics in both English and Spanish. Another recording, the PBS special "Vikki Carr: Memories, Memorias", is a salute to the English-language hits of the 1940's and 1950's, which were originally composed by Latinos. Produced by KCET/Hollywood, the program recreates the elegant setting of Hollywood supper clubs and theaters where popular artists of the era performed. The show, which features Jack Jones, Pepe Aguilar and Arturo Sandoval, was first released on video and CD through the national PBS pledge campaigns.
The diversity of her rich voice is impressive. She can belt out the blues or touch the heart with a soft romantic ballad. Frank Sinatra said, "She possesses my kind of voice", Dean Martin called her "the best girl singer in the business" and Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald named her among their three favorite female singers of all time. Elvis Presley was also very fond of her and even remarked on stage in Las Vegas many times that Vikki Carr was one of his favorite singers and that he liked her because "she sang from the gut" and introduced her at many of his personal appearances in which she attended. Born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in the San Gabriel Valley of California, Vikki Carr, the eldest of seven children, began performing at the tender age of four singing Adeste Fidelis in Latin at a Christmas program. She was signed to a contract with Liberty Records in 1961. She recorded "He's A Rebel", which first became a hit in Australia. That title was soon followed by the unforgettable release, "It Must Be Him", which charged up the charts in England. One year later, the single was released in the United States and earned Carr four Grammy Award nominations. The international hit emerged again when she and the song were featured in the storyline of the Academy Award winning movie Moonstruck. After "It Must Be Him" came a string of hits including "With Pen In Hand", for which she received her fourth Grammy Award nomination, "The Lesson", "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You", "For Once in My Life" and "Eternity".
In the States, Vikki became a darling of the White House, performing regularly at State Dinners and at President Richard Nixon's 1973 Inaugural celebration. President Gerald Ford called her his "favorite Mexican dish". She also performed for Presidents' Ronald Reagan, George Bush and at the 1992 Presidential Summit hosted by President Bill Clinton. A frequent guest-star on major network variety shows, including Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Jimmy Dean and Carol Burnett, Vikki also taped six specials for London Weekend TV. Vikki was the first female to regularly guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She was also a visitor and guest host on Michael Jackson's ABC radio show.
Vikki made her acting debut on The Bing Crosby Show. She has had several guest roles in numerous television series ranging from Mod Squad to Fantasy Island, and has co-hosted the nationally syndicated Mrs. America and Mrs. Woman of the World Pageants. Carr also made two guest appearances on the popular series Baywatch and, most recently, in the motion picture Puerto Vallarta Squeeze. Vikki's music has been featured in movies such as The Silencers, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Walt Disney's "Oliver & Company" in Spanish, HBO thriller "Mrs. Harris" and, recently, in John Turturro's Romance & Cigarettes.
The critics praised Vikki for her stage performances in "South Pacific" at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City and in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", with the John Kenley Players in Ohio. In 1983, her starring performance in "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road" broke house records at the Westport Playhouse in St. Louis. Columbia Records signed Vikki Carr in 1970, releasing such favorites as "Love Story", "Live at the Greek" and "One Hell of a Woman", and "Ms. America", which was so ahead of its time.
Proud of her Mexican heritage, Vikki Carr has always shared her birth name with her concert audiences and held a deep desire to one day record an album in Spanish. In 1972, she went to the head of Columbia Records for permission to do so and, while her request was initially met with resistance, Carr had a solution to every argument. "My Anglo audience has asked me to do this", she responded firmly. Several months later, she released her first Spanish language album, "Vikki Carr En Espanol". Somos Novios, Grande, Grande Grande and Se Acabo became momentous successes and Vikki was established as one of the most popular and loved recording artists in the Latin World.
Since making her first personal appearance in Mexico in 1972, the country has had a love affair with Vikki Carr. She is the first non-National named Mexico's "Visiting Entertainer of the Year". Playing nightly to standing ovations and appearing on numerous TV programs, her two-hour special broke ratings records, attracting more than half of the viewers in Mexico. In 1980, because of the enormous success of her first Spanish language album, Columbia Records in Mexico offered her a contract and beginning with Vikki Carr y El Amor, her triumphs were unbridled, especially in Latin America. Songs like Total, Disculpame, Esos Hombres, Mala Suerte earned her Gold and Platinum albums in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador. Carr followed with Grammy Award nominees Simplemente Mujer in 1986, Cosas del Amor in 1992, Brindo a la Vida, al Bolero y a Ti in 1993, Recuerdo a Javier Solis in 1995, and Emociones in 1997 taking three of the five awards. In 2008, Vikki Carr was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy from the Latin Recording Academy. She marked the occasion with an appearance on the Latin Grammy telecast in which she performed "Cosas del Amor" with Olga Tangan and Jenni Rivera.
She has received prestigious awards, which include the 2005 National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003 Latino Spirit Award, 2003 Tito Guizar Award, 2002 Trefoil Award, 2000 Inductee, Latino Legends Hall of Fame, 1998 Imagen Foundation "Humanitarian Award", 1996 Hispanic Heritage Award, 1988 Nosotros Golden Eagle Award, 1984 Hispanic Woman of the Year, 1981 Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1974 Doctorate in Law from San Diego University and Doctorate in Fine Arts from St. Edwards University, 1972 American Guild of Variety Artist's "Entertainer of the Year", and the Los Angeles Times' highly respected "Woman of the Year" for 1970.
She earned the career achievement award of the Association of Hispanic Critics, Chicago's Ovation Award, the YWCA Silver Achievement Award and was honored in 1990 by the City of Hope with the Founder of Hope Award. In 1991, she was presented the Girl Scouts of America Award.
Respected as both an artist and a humanitarian, she devotes time to many charities including The United Way, The American Lung Association, Cancer Therapy and Research Center, The Muscular Dystrophy Association and St Jude's Hospital. For 22 years, she held benefit concerts to support Holy Cross High School in San Antonio. In 1971, Vikki established the Vikki Carr Scholarship Foundation, dedicated to offering college scholarships to Latino students in California and Texas. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 280 scholarships totaling over a quarter of a million dollars.
Juggling engagements, recording sessions, charity events and family, the pace is frantic, but she remains calm. Smart, successful, warm and engaging, Vikki Carr's energy and style are as radiant and irresistible as her extraordinary voice.
|Sarah Megan Thomas
Sarah was born and raised in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. The daughter of two lawyers, Sarah was an avid athlete growing up, and was the first person at her high school to score over 1000 points in basketball.
Sarah starred opposite James Van Der Beek in the feature film BACKWARDS, released in select theaters Nationwide, as well as On Demand, Netflix, iTunes, and DVD. She has been seen in various other films, television shows, and commercials. She was the spokeswoman for the original New York Times "Weekender" commercial. Sarah has been interviewed on The Today Show (by Al Roker), CNN, and Fox.
In 2014, Variety announced the launch of Sarah's new production Company, Broad Street Pictures.
Sarah has produced several Off-Broadway plays that were supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, including the New York premiere of "Summit Conference" extended twice due to popular demand and rated "Don't Miss" four consecutive weeks by Time Out Magazine.
Sarah is a graduate of Williams College, and received a graduate degree in acting at Drama Studio London.
Born and raised in Pakistan, her family lived throughout South East Asia before settling down in Vancouver, BC. She not only brought her suitcase, but her passion for performing as well. Zara has been a prominent figure in the Vancouver entertainment industry for almost a decade. She has held many titles including actress, model, television host, producer, director and activist. Through her work, she strives to make a positive difference in the world.
2010 was an intensely busy year for Durrani, as she juggled several different projects and roles. Sindoor, a short film Zara garnered a lead role in opposite Balinder Johal, had a great festival run around the world alongwith getting nominated for 4 Leo Awards and opening the Vancouver Asian Film Festival that year. Sindoor also won the best short film award at VAFF, and Golden Kahuna Award at the Honolulu Film Awards. Zara was announced as the Official Reporter for We Canada campaign, the Canadian Initiative for the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio. She represented the organization at various charity events and interviewed celebrities and campaign ambassadors to help raise awareness on sustainable living. Same year, Durrani was handpicked as the Field Producer and Host for VISAFF (Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival). The festival's purpose and vision is to "bridge the gap" between South Asian talent and mainstream audiences and Zara played a huge part in being an ambassador for the festival in 2010 and 2011. Shortly afterwards, Zara was approached to produce and host VanEssence with Novus TV and Suhrwardy Brothers. 'VanEssence' aimed to promote fashion, music, arts and culture that make Vancouver what it is, 'one of the best cities in the world' and a champion for diversity. The show was well received and it led to Durrani starting her own production company and creating the infamous talk show, as seen on 4 networks across Canada, Life & Style with Zara. Zara interviewed many influential Canadians and Hollywood celebrities for the show including David Suzuki , Severn Suzuki, Bif Naked, Rick Campanelli (ET Canada), Adam Beach (CBC Arctic Air),Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Lana Parrilla (CW Once Upon a Time), Thomas Dekker (CW Secret Circle), Agam Darshi (Sanctuary, Played), David Sutcliffe among many others. Founded on the principles of fairness, equality, spirituality and inspiration, Life&Style with Zara wrapped up it's 13-episode first season which began airing in July 2011. The show aired on 4 networks in Canada including CHEK and JOY TV nationally, and Shaw TV and Novus Community Channel in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. The show nabbed prime-time spot on CHEK News, airing at 7pm until fall 2012. For almost a year the show aired 10 times a week on three networks across Canada and was hard to miss for anyone who a owned a television. Currently, Zara is still producing online content for the show.
2012 was a very exciting and busy year for Zara as she returned to her first love; acting. She finished 4 feature films in 3 different countries, Canada, US and Mexico. She worked as supporting lead in Kavi Raz's 3 part feature film Maple Heart/Rukh/BC Gangs. Mr.Raz (director/writer) handpicked her for this role after auditioning 300 actresses between Los Angeles and Vancouver. For her role in Maple Heart Zara trained physically to get in shape for the character and also had to learn Punjabi. The film is loosely based on Bindy Johal, a deceased South Asian gangster's life and deals with drugs and human trafficking. In December, she wrapped filming on Cancel written and produced by famous Iranian director Mohammad Rahmanian. Durrani played the lead role of a street performer battling depression and addiction.
In January 2013, the long-awaited selection of the international Spokes Model Ambassador for Fashion Hope resulted with the choice of Pakistani born and Canada native Zara Durrani. Fashion Hope builds awareness and raises funds in the fashion industry, then partners with Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) that are doing the front line work to rescue and rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking. "To us, Zara will be triple threat with her grace, beauty and humanitarian compassion - along with the tenacity to speak her passion. She will speak for Fashion Hope touching places only her voice could reach. We are truly grateful for this period in the early growth of our organization, and look forward to working with Zara on awareness campaigns." Fashion Hope CEO Marc Palmer Most recently, Miss Durrani booked a fantastic guest star role on the USA Network show Psych, which is in it's 8th season. She is working on several film projects while juggling her duties as the Fashion Hope Global Ambassador.
Born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Tim has been a writer, producer and actor for over 15 years.
In 2005, Tim co-founded Wango Films alongside April Mullen, and has written, produced and starred in every one of the company's feature films to date. Wango's first two feature films, Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser and GravyTrain, were seen in festivals worldwide, picked up by Alliance Films for distribution and theatrically released in Canada. Wango's third feature, Dead Before Dawn 3D, is the first fully Canadian Feature Film to be shot in Stereoscopic 3D and was awarded the Perron Crystal Award by the 3D Stereo Media Summit in Liege, Belgium for its achievements in 3D.
Tim has numerous projects in development including his next feature, TV series and an interactive web project.
Peter Joseph (B. 1979, Winston-Salem, NC, USA) inadvertently become globally acclaimed after a private performance work called "Zeitgeist" went viral online in 2007. This highly controversial art piece was artlessly placed online after a short performance run in Manhattan. Peter is/was a solo percussionist/electronic musician and originally produced "Zeitgeist" as a performance, not a "film".
Afterwards "Zeitgeist" became "Zeitgeist: The Movie", with over 50 million+ online views counted in the first year alone via Google Video, Peter went on to produce 2 sequel ( Zeitgeist: Addendum, Zeitgeist Moving Forward) to that work, each achieving a similar level of viral attention. It is estimated that combined, well over 350 million have seen one of more of his three documentaries since 2007.
Apart from his film and music work, Peter is a dedicated activist and has lectured around the world, including the UK, Canada, America, Brazil, Germany & Israel, on subjects of cultural/ social sustainability, the importance of critical thought, and the social role of the arts and scientific literacy. He has been profiled in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Marker, Free Speech TV, The Young Turks, Hollywood Today and many other outlets. He has participated in multiple TEDx Events, has worked with The Global Summit and is also a frequent social/economic critic on the news network Russia Today.
Side projects include his hit web series Culture in Decline.
In 2013, he was tapped to direct the official music video of 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist Black Sabbath, which requested actual segments from the Zeitgeist Trilogy for their Grammy Award winning single "God is Dead?".
Donovan Philips Leitch was born May 10, 1946, in Glasgow, Scotland. Music was always part of his home life, with both traditional Scottish/Irish songs at family and local celebrations, and popular music through radio and live performances. When Donovan was ten his family moved south to England, resettling in Hatfield. Before starting college in his teens, the young man had run away from home more than once; on one outing at fourteen, he found an old guitar in a trash can, still good enough to learn the basics on.
Though interested in rock-n-roll through artists like Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers, Donovan embraced the folk-music boom that swept both England and America in the early 1960s, and also the Beat Generation writers and poets. Donovan settled into the St. Albans music scene, north of London, but traveled to different parts of the country, frequently with longtime friend "Gypsy Dave", who played kazoo and passed the hat while Donovan played guitar and harmonica and sang, for their keep. Their songs included traditional and recent folk music, songs by their friends (like Mick Softley) and the beginnings of Donovan's own writing, about what he'd seen and experienced away from home.
On a beach trip to Southend with members of the St. Albans circle, Donovan played and sang between performances by an R&B group called the Cops and Robbers, and so impressed the group's managers that they expressed interest in signing him up as a performer. Beginning with taping some publishers' demos for other songwriters, Donovan was soon demoing his own material, and the tapes found their way to the ears of Elkan Allan, producer of Britain's popular rock show Ready, Steady, Go!. Donovan's first appearance (in cap and denim) led to a short residency on the show, which in turn led to a recording contract with England's Pye Records. His first singles were respectable UK hits in 1965, and made a minor impact on the American market that year.
Promoted first as mainly a folk performer and a kind of British rival to Bob Dylan, evidence of Donovan's own blossoming style as writer and musician was undeniable as early as his second album, with its hints at jazz and a different kind of pop sense from Dylan's. When Dylan toured England in 1965, the two met for a well-publicized "summit" at his hotel suite; after an hour's private talk, they emerged smiling arm-in-arm to a waiting press conference. Press headlines announced "DYLAN DIGS DONOVAN!" and he joined Dylan and Joan Baez on the road, though he didn't perform with them onstage. (Donovan can be seen keeping Dylan and Baez company in Dylan's Dont Look Back). Donovan went on to the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where he was welcomed.
After his first two mostly-folk albums in England (distributed in the US by Hickory Records), produced by his managers, Donovan immersed himself in the pop sounds of the "British Invasion" bands, and both his writing and choices in the studio reflected this. In 1966 Mickie Most became Donovan's new producer, and his sidemen began to include future Led Zeppelin members John Paul Jones (who arranged several Donovan tunes, augmenting the sound they were aiming for) and Jimmy Page. (John Carr usually played drums at Donovan's sessions, although John Bonham was also sometimes around.) Epic Records in the US expressed an interest in picking Donovan up for the American market, with Clive Davis offering a contract, and Allen Klein was also interested in taking over Donovan's management. New and bigger deals offered led to lawsuits, and Donovan vanished from the record market for a few months while matters were being settled.
Emerging with new management and production teams, Donovan followed up his first US #1 single, "Sunshine Superman" (dedicated to John Lennon and Paul McCartney), with his signature hit "Mellow Yellow", which reached #2 on the US charts late in 1966. Working with Most, Donovan enjoyed hits on both sides of the Atlantic through the end of the decade. As a pop performer, he made frequent guest appearances on television in the UK and US; most notably in America on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He also contributed to the stage and film worlds, writing the title song for the movie Poor Cow and adapting William Shakespeare's "Under The Greenwood Tree" for Britain's National Theatre. Later he would contribute the title song for the 1969 comedy If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (also appearing onstage in the movie), and star in The Pied Piper. Donovan brought his parents along on tour, with his father Donald introducing him to the audience.
Offstage, Donovan was a frequent guest collaborator and companion to other celebrities of the time; he contributed lyrics to The Beatles's song "Yellow Submarine" and dated George Harrison's sister-in-law Jenny Boyd (later to marry Mick Fleetwood). In turn, Donovan's recording sessions sometimes included members of The Beatles, Paul Samwell-Smith and The Rolling Stones and their circle of musician friends, as guest performers. When former Stones member Brian Jones died in 1969, Donovan married his widow Linda Lawrence, raising Jones' son Julian and having two daughters of their own. (Donovan also fathered son Donovan Leitch Jr. and Ione Skye by Enid Karl; family information is sparse at best.)
An arrest for drug possession late in 1966 was a moving experience for him, as was his noticing that the flirtation his generation had had with marijuana and LSD was getting ugly, and many young people were turning to harder drugs and destroying themselves. In the notes for his 1967 album "A Gift From A Flower To A Garden", he called for all drug use to stop and for young people to find other ways to expand their consciousness, and peace from within, as they became the parents of the next generation. He set an example by studying meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and later embraced many Eastern lifestyle changes, including a vegetarian diet and studies in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy.
Though not a major player in popular music since the end of the 1960s, Donovan continues to tour and perform, and recall the experiences and friendships of his heyday for the media. His music (recorded and live) appears frequently in programs about the Sixties era, and has reached the newer generations through its use in TV commercials. In late 2005, he published an autobiography, "The Hurdy Gurdy Man."
The director and actor Andre Gregory was born on May 11, 1934, to a family he describes as fugitives from Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. Gregory was born in a hotel in Paris, his mother reportedly having just played cards with the Turkish ambassador. His childhood was spent in Hollywood amongst the stars of the 1940s. Gregory attended Harvard and then studied acting, but was unable to find his feet in that profession. Theatrical success finally came to Gregory as a director in the avant-garde theater in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. By the late 1960s he had established himself as a prominent director in New York experimental theater, collaborating with such luminaries as the legendary Polish director Jerzy Grotowski. Probably the most remarkable achievement in this early summit of Gregory's career came in 1970 when his theater group, The Manhattan Project, staged "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in New York for a year, which then went on to tour the world to acclaim, and earned him OBIE and Drama Desk Awards for his directing.
In the early 1970s, Gregory underwent an existential crisis in his life and work which essentially brought this successful career to a halt. Five years later, as he began to emerge from a period of doubt and introspection, he met with and shared his many recent experiences -- all unique, some even bizarre -- with a friend, the actor and writer Wallace Shawn. (Gregory had met Shawn when Shawn famously attended every performance of Gregory's 1970 "Alice in Wonderland" staging.) Shawn was impressed by Gregory's humane, articulate way of relating this painful time in his life, and saw the potential for humor in the huge personality difference between the two friends, and suggested that the couple consider staging these discussions as a movie. The result, in collaboration with director Louis Malle, was My Dinner with Andre, one of the most unique, touching, and funny movie-going experiences in modern cinema.
The success of "My Dinner with Andre" marked the end of Gregory's hibernation, and he returned to directing plays in his extremely slow and deliberate way - Gregory often works with the cast of a play for a year or longer before taking the play to an audience. Remarkably, the exposure "My Dinner with Andre" gave him resulted, finally, in the acting career which eluded him so long ago, and has since led to roles in such films as The Last Temptation of Christ and The Mosquito Coast as well as acting work on Broadway. Gregory's work with an acting troupe on the play "Uncle Vanya" in a decaying theater in Times Square was brought to the screen in Vanya on 42nd Street, also directed by Malle (it would be his last film). Ironically, one of Gregory's first roles after "My Dinner with Andre" brought him back to _Alice in Wonderland (1983) (TV)_, this time as an actor, in a production for PBS.
A lifelong progressive, Gregory has increasingly devoted his time to political causes. Gregory was married to the prominent New York filmmaker and theater producer Mercedes (Chiquita) Gregory for many years. Mercedes passed away, and Gregory recently married filmmaker Cindy Kleine. Gregory and Kleine now live on Cape Cod.
|Nicole I. Butler
Nicole graduated with a Master's Degree from NYU after growing up in a small town of 3,000 people in the Midwest (Mt. Zion, Illinois). Nicole summited Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro (highest free standing mountain in the world) in 5 days. Nicole is best known for Currently Cool (2014), Mademoiselle Emmanuelle (2013) and the Oprah Network's show called "Ask Oprah's All-Stars".
Kent Speakman is a producer and entrepreneur who is experienced on both sides of the camera, for the big screen, small screen and the second screen. Examiner.com has called him one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry and has won the iMedia Entertainment Marketing Award for the best digital campaign. He writes for trade publications, speaks at conferences and film festivals as well as engaging in interviews on outlets such as KTLA News, the Los Angeles Times, CTV News, American Business Journal and LuckyStartups.
Kent Co-Founded ENGAGEIA, an interactive, incubation and intelligence agency working with startups, brands and entertainment properties, co-founded fameus, a new social network to connect the entertainment industry. He started Speakman Entertainment right after graduating and has been producing cross platform content ever since.
Recent Accomplishments Include: -Advisory Board Member, iMedia Entertainment Summit, 2014 -Advisory Board Member, iMedia Content Summit, 2014 -Evan Carmichael Top 100 Entrepreneurs to follow, 2013 -Winner, Best Mobile Entertainment Startup, iMedia Awards, 2012 -iMedia Top 10 Hottest Digital Marketers of 2011. -Finalist, Best Social Media Agency of 2011, iMedia Agency Awards for ENGAGEIA -Winner, iMedia Entertainment Award, Digital Campaign, 2009 (Awarded by Disney, Showtime & Hallmark)
Kent has a wide & influential network having orchestrated a variety of film & technology projects spanning Canada, USA, UK, Asia and India. He leverages his connections to unite organizations with the right partners, connecting the dots to take projects from concept to completion, and building audience along the way.
He is an award-winning digital marketing strategist, social media authority, speaker and internationally published writer. Speakman has won-over studios, networks and big brands. He has a track record of helping fast-growing and established companies effectively navigate the world of online media, websites, blogs, communities, social networks, branded entertainment, virtual worlds, web and mobile applications.
Daniel Zirilli founded Popart Film Factory at age 24 (after graduating from Pepperdine University in Malibu) and to date has directed and/or produced over 250 music videos (for artists as diverse as The Rolling Stones to Oscar winners Three 6 Mafia), and has written &/or directed 20 feature length films. Zirilli just directed two Action films back to back- most recently "Roadrun" (2013) starring Jacob Vargas, Rudy Youngblood, Luke Goss, Shawn Lock, and Tom Sizemore and "Blunt Force" with Dan Henderson, Adam Von Rothfelder, Selina Lo, as well as executive producing "Blood of Redemption" with Dolph Lundgren, Billy Zane and Vinny Jones, and before that "The Package" with Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren. (in 2012) Zirilli produced "The Tell-Tale Heart" starring Patrick John Flueger, Rose McGowan, Jacob Vargas, and Peter Bogdanovich- a literary thriller based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story. Zirilli also shot a slate of Action films for Grindstone/Lionsgate including "Locked Down" (director/producer/co-screenplay) starring Vinnie Jones, Bai Ling, Dwier Brown, Tony Shiena and MMA stars including Rashad Evans, Kimbo Slice and Forrest Griffin. "House Of The Rising Sun" (executive producer) starring Dave Bautista, Amy Smart, Dominic Purcell, and Danny Trejo, "Circle of Pain" (director/executive producer/co-story) starring Dean Cain, Bai Ling, Tony Shiena, Frank Mir, Roger Huerta and Heath Herring. Zirilli also executive produced "Beatdown" with Rudy Youngblood, Danny Trejo, Eric Balfour, Michael Bisping, and "Guilty By Association" starring Morgan Freeman.
Zirilli's other films include "Fast Girl" (director/co-story) a race-car film and winner of the "Guirlande D'Honneur" at the FICTS Festival in Milan, Italy for "Best Sports Movie of 2008" starring Mircea Monroe, Justin Guarini, Caroline Rhea. "Choices 2" (director) starring Three 6 Mafia, Katt Williams, Tiny Lister, Clifton Powell, as well as "The Stonecutter" (director/producer) shot in Tahiti and winner of "Visionaries In Film Award" at the Bahamas One World Film Festival.
He has directed and/or produced #1 videos on MTV and BET, for videos from over 20 singles and albums that went on to reach beyond gold or platinum sales (1 million units RIAA), for record companies such as Virgin, Universal, Sony, Warner Bros, TVT, Def Jam, BMG, Polygram, Wea Latina, and Capitol, for artists including Redman, Cypress Hill, Shaq, Montel Jordan, Master P, Twista, Chayanne, Freddie Jackson, Roger Troutman Jr., Gerald Levert, Bobby Womack, Bokeem Woodbine, Cushh, Peter Himmelman, Flea, Domino, Supercat, Wilton Felder, Najee, Scarface, Three 6 Mafia and other Grammy Award-Winning Artists. Zirilli produced music videos from the soundtracks of "Money Train" (starring Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Lopez, and Woody Harrelson for Columbia Pictures/Peter Guber) "The Show" (Def Pictures for Russell Simmons) and Dangerous Minds" (starring Michelle Pfeiffer for Hollywood Pictures) as well as music videos for such notable directors as multimedia pioneer Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, and Kevin Lima (who directed Enchanted, Tarzan & 102 Dalmatians). Aside from executive producing Soundtracks for his own films, Zirilli co-executive produced the album "Memories of Amnesia" featuring Members of Suicidal Tendencies, Weapon of Choice, The Untouchables, and Arik Marshal, Flea, and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Zirilli produced and segment directed the film and video for The Rolling Stones interactive "Voodoo Lounge", working directly with Mick Jagger on multiple productions, and directed & produced a series of Popping/Locking Dance documentaries directly for Michael Jackson and Moonwalker Entertainment. Other Zirilli long-form/docs include Kenny Hicks "Vocal Secrets of the Stars" and Cypress Hill "Live". Zirilli has won multiple Telly awards, and has been nominated for 4 Billboard Music Video Awards and 8 M.V.P.A. awards (Music Video Producers Association).
Popart's public service announcements include projects commissioned by the Earth Communication Office (E.C.O.), Earth Summit, Save our Skies (S.O.S.), and The Garden Project L.A. (in association with Disney) which have featured socially conscious celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Newton-John, Ed Begley Jr., Mark Hammill,, Herbie Hancock, Bob Saget, Rita Coolidge, Richard Mull, Jane Seymour and the late John Ritter, among many others.
Zirilli has lectured on directing/producing at film festivals, seminars and UCLA extension/film school, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, (Minor in Creative Writing) from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.
Matty Rich Bio
Matty Rich - Producer/Writer/ Director/Actor
Born and raised in the Red Hook housing projects in Brooklyn, NY, Matty Rich, became highly regarded as the pioneer of Black Filmmakers. Rich made his way onto the Hollywood scene in the early 90's. He gained major recognition as, 19 year-old acclaimed writer/director/producer with his award winning film, "Straight out of Brooklyn". After winning the Sundance Film Festival Award, Samuel Goldwyn Films distributed the movie. The film would go on to sweep the award season winning the prestigious Independent Spirit Award, the NAACP Image Award, The CEBA Award, The Big Apple Award, The Producer's Guild's "Most Promising Film Producer" award and the Nova Award. The movie, which was made for a mere $77,000, and became a worldwide box office success and a favorite that continues to play on television to this day!
Matty then landed a three-picture movie deal with Tri Star studios under the helm of studio chief Mike Medavoy. While at Tri Star, Matty developed the First Black Organize Crime family film "Forty Theives" and "Sunset Park" with stars such as Danny and others.
Next, Matty was headed for Disney studios where he was given a three picture deal from studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. Matty soon directed the summer splash movie, The Inkwell! for Touchstone Pictures. The star studded cast members of the Inkwell included Jada Pinkett-Smith, Larenz Tate, Joe Morton, Morris Chestnut and many other notable names. The Inkwell was made for on a modest $4 million budget and became a summer splash hit in the U.S box office.
After The Inkwell's success, Matty developed/produced and directed and developed several television and film projects, "Red Hook" as creator/producer/director of the drama series for Warner Brothers TV/Fox Network, the Tupac Shakur bio picture project for HBO, "Subway Scholar" with Whitney Houston as producer for Showtime Networks.
"Tommy Morris vs Ray Mercer" Matty produced, directed the boxing documentary pieces for HBO pay per view, "Free At Last" feature film screenplay for the Weinstein Company and Edmonds Entertainment, "The Kool Moe Dee" Variety Show" for Buena Vista/Disney television.
Matty soon headed for Paris, France where he served as Creative Director and Artistic director for the video game, 187 Ride or Die. Matty lead a team of over 100 artists, game designers and programmers. Matty also wrote/directed the 187 Ride or Die 3D animation game cinematics overseeing an animation team in Hong Kong, China.
After the release of 187 Ride or Die, Matty formed Matty Rich Games, a Los Angeles based gaming development company that creates games for Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets.
Matty hasn't forgotten his filmmaking roots, he is now developing film and television properties that will also feature games under his Matty Rich Games brand.
Matty has been a featured speaker in Hollywood's most prominent Video Games conferences; The Ayzenberg A-List Gaming Summit (2011-13).Variety Magazine's 3D Entertainment Summit (2011-2013) Variety Magazine's 3D Gaming Summit (2010-2013). Matty was also the official host for the AT &T gaming & technology exhibition during the 2014 BET Awards Fan Fest weekend in Los Angeles.
Tressa's feature film debut was the Robert Townsend film, The Five Heartbeats, in which was featured with R&B legend Patti LaBelle, on the movie's soundtrack for the song, "We Haven't Finished Yet". Her other film credits include Flatliners and Message In A Bottle. She also played the singing role of Ruth Brown in NBC's made for TV movie "The Little Richard Story."
Some of her extensive performances and appearances include BET (Teen Summit), ABC, Fox, CBS, and NBC. She toured with Motown legends The Dells promoting the film The Five Heartbeats and received rave reviews. She has shared stages with Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Howard Hewett, Dionne Warwick, Earth Wind, & Fire and Run DMC, just to name a few.
In 2001, Tressa completed an international tour performing for Royal Caribbean Entertainment (Cruise Lines) as the lead female vocalist, and was asked to sing "God Bless America" for a public memorial to the fallen heroes of the 9/11 tragedy - with Mayor Giuliani in attendance.
In 2007, she produced "The Yesterday Pool", a short film starring the legendary Academy Award winner Mickey Rooney. This film was also submitted for Academy Awards consideration in October, 2007, and has been featured in such publications as UPI, Reuters and Entertainment News Weekly. The film is an official selection of the 2009 Hollywood Black Film Festival.
Tressa is currently in pre-production on her 2010 Academy Awards short film submission, "I Gathered With..." - which she will produce and make her directorial debut.
In April 2009, Tressa is starring in "Back To Bacharach And David" at The Music Box @ Fonda Theater in Hollywood, CA. The musical review is directed by acclaimed actress and comedian Kathy Najimy.
Todd Lieberman is Partner and Co-Owner of Mandeville Films and Television where he is one of the leading producers in the entertainment industry today. Since its founding in 1995, Mandeville Films has produced feature films that have grossed well over $1 billion in domestic box office receipts. Mandeville Films recently renewed its first look deal with Disney and will have enjoyed 20 years there in 2015.
Lieberman, along with his Mandeville Films partner David Hoberman, produced the critically hailed Academy Award©-nominated feature "The Fighter," starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, directed by David O. Russell. Produced for $25 million, the film has grossed over $125 million worldwide and earned a host of awards, including an Academy Award© nomination for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor and Actress Awards for Bale and Leo. Lieberman and Hoberman also produced the hit film "The Muppets," starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams and a new Muppet named Walter. Directed by James Bobin ("Flight of the Conchords") and written by Segel and Nick Stoller, "The Muppets" was one of the best reviewed films of 2011 and earned the Academy Award© for Best Song. Most recently, Lieberman spearheaded "Warm Bodies," the genre-bending zombie romance based on Isaac Marion's novel, starring Nicholas Hoult, John Malkovich and Teresa Palmer, written and directed by Jonathan Levine, for Summit/Lionsgate. The Mandeville-produced film opened to rave reviews and took the top spot at the boxoffice its opening weekend and has earned over $100 million worldwide. Lieberman is currently overseeing production of "The Muppets ... Again," filming in England, starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, alongside Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Walter and the rest of the gang of Muppets.
Lieberman and Mandeville have a broad slate of upcoming projects that encompass a variety of genres, including the feature version of the popular Disney Channel cartoon "Phineas and Ferb," and several films based on the Top Cow comic books - "Crosshair," "Alibi" and "The Darkness." Lieberman and Hoberman will produce "The Darkness" with Len Wiseman for New Regency. Also in the works are "Dolphin Boy," for Disney, which is the feature version of the acclaimed Israeli documentary; "Wonder," based on R.J. Palacio's best-selling young adult novel, and "Revoc," original movie from Icelandic filmmaker Olaf de Fleur, both for Lionsgate. Under the Mandeville Television banner, Lieberman is producing the untitled ABC pilot starring John Leguizamo and Andrea Savage.
Lieberman and Hoberman produced the hit romantic comedy "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, which Lieberman sold to Disney based on his own personal experiences. "The Proposal" became the highest grossing romantic comedy of 2009, earning over $317 million worldwide. It was the People's Choice award winner for Best Comedy of the year.
The company also produced the acclaimed and gritty network television series "Detroit 1-8-7," starring Michael Imperioli, set in and filmed in Detroit as well as "The Kill Point," starring Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo for Spike TV.
Lieberman also produced "Wild Hogs," starring Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. The film generated $254 million in worldwide boxoffice receipts. Other films include "Traitor," starring Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce; "The Shaggy Dog" with Tim Allen, Robert Downey Jr. and Kristin Davis and directed by Brian Robbins; "Eight Below," starring Paul Walker and directed by Frank Marshall; "Beauty Shop," starring Queen Latifah, Djimon Honsou, Kevin Bacon and Alicia Silverstone; "Bringing Down the House," starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, (which grossed about $165 million in worldwide boxoffice) and "Raising Helen," starring Kate Hudson and directed by Garry Marshall. Lieberman also produced Spike TV's hit show "The Kill Point," starring John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg. Prior to joining Mandeville, Lieberman acted as senior vice president for international finance and production company Hyde Park Entertainment, which produced and co-financed such films as "Anti-Trust," "Bandits," and "Moonlight Mile." Lieberman established himself at international sales and distribution giant Summit Entertainment, where he moved quickly up the ranks after pushing indie sensation "Memento" into production and acquiring the Universal box-office smash "American Pie." In 2001, Lieberman was named one of the "35 under 35" people to watch in the business by The Hollywood Reporter. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Lieberman is a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and a judge for the Academy's Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. He is also a member of the Television Academy and a Producer's Guild mentor.
Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Communist Party who initiated changes known as 'perestroika' and 'glasnost' which melted the rigid Soviet system and liberated 15 republics of the Soviet Union to become independent states, thus ending the existence of the USSR in December 1991.
He was born Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev into a peasant family on March 2, 1931, in the village of Privolnoe, Stavropol province, Southern Russia. His father, named Sergei Gorbachev, was a tractor driver. His mother, named Maria Panteleyeva, was a peasant. His grandparents were deported and sentenced for nine years under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, for their success in becoming richer independent farmers known as kulaks. Young Gorbachev witnessed the destruction of traditional farming and degradation of villages, that caused massive exodus of people from their land and to gloomy industrial Soviet cities, where they were doomed to become brainwashed by propaganda and live in small flats under restricting political and economic conditions for the rest of their lives. During the Second World War Gorbachev survived the Nazi occupation of his land in Stavropol province in 1942-1943. After the war, Gorbachev chose to remain on his land, although it was now taken by the Communist Government, the ranks of which he would penetrate later. Gorbachev privately described his life and work on a Soviet collective farm as serfdom.
In 1947 Gorbachev shot to fame at the age of 16, after helping his father, a combine harvester operator, to harvest a record crop on a collective farm. For this achievement he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and was promoted to the Communist Party at the age of 21. From 1950 - 1955 he studied law on a State scholarship at Moscow State University. There he met his future wife, Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva (nee Titarenko), they married in September 1953, and their daughter, Irina, was born in January 1957. After a brief stint as a Government Lawyer in Stavropol, Gorbachev made a career as a ranking leader of Komsomol (Union of Young Communists), then as a Communist Party leader of Stavropol province, climbing to the ranks as Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. At that time Gorbachev made his first travels outside of the Soviet Union. While the Soviet leaders were manipulating their own people into submission through fear and control, the West Europeans enjoyed freedom and prosperity that attracted East Germans and other Soviet satellites. Gorbachev learned his first lesson on his tour in East Germany, witnessing their rapid recovery after the Second World War. At the same time, in 1956, Yuri Andropov and Georgi Zhukov led the attack on Hungarian Revolution, and killed thousands of Hungarians who opposed the Soviet-imposed regime. Then Soviet leadership made more aggressive international actions by spreading military support to pro-communist regimes across the world and also by building the Berlin Wall and enforcing Soviet military and political domination in Eastern Europe. These Soviet actions alienated Europeans.
Open political discussions in the Soviet Union were not allowed under threat of prosecution, freedom of speech was never guaranteed, all media was owned and controlled by the Soviet government and independent activity was suppressed, and only some fragmented information was made available to ranking provincial communists, such as Gorbachev. In 1961 he attended the important 22nd Congress of the Communist Party in Moscow, where Nikita Khrushchev announced his Utopian plan to surpass the USA per capita income in 20 years. At the same 22nd Congress, upon Khrushchev's instruction, Gorbachev, among other top communists received a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's anti-Stalin publication "One day of Ivan Denisovich" which criticized the brutality of Gulag prison-camps and the Soviet regime in general. That gave Gorbachev and some other young communists a hope that Khrushchev may change the brutal Soviet regime. However, in 1964, Nikita Khrushchev was arrested and dismissed by pro-Stalin group led by Leonid Brezhnev who eventually established a remake of Stalinism for the next 18 years, albeit in a more grotesque and senile version of Soviet regime. Then Brezhnev's regime crushed the Prague Spring of 1968, fought the Chinese Army over a border dispute in 1969, sent Soviet Tanks and Air Force to Egypt and Syria against Israel in the 1970s, as well as in North Vietnam against the French and Americans. At that time Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa Maksimovna, were allowed to travel to the Western Europe and see the difference between reality in European countries and its distorted depiction by the Soviet propaganda. In 1972 he headed the Soviet official delegation to Belgium, then, in 1974 was made Member of the Supreme Soviet in charge of the Commission on Youth Affairs. During the 1970s Gorbachev enjoyed a highly privileged life of a ranking communist, having many perks such as a villa in a suburb of Moscow, a special limo with a chauffeur and guards, and regular luxurious vacations in Italy and in the South of France, all at the expense of the Communist Party. However, this allowed him to see the striking difference between the quality of life in the Western Europe and gloomy survival of masses in the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev witnessed that people were living hopeless lives having no choice. Workers of collective farms lived without identification documents up until the 1970s. Undocumented citizens at collective farms were disposable. Migrants were used as industrial slaves, for symbolic pay. Wages were set by the state and did not depend on productivity or quality. The economy was governed by the state 5-year plan. This mostly ignored the world and domestic market signals; and lacked the incentives for innovation and efficiency. Teachers were forced to indoctrinate children of all ages from kindergartens through schools and universities. Total control and manipulation was demonstrated twice a year at annual May Day parades and Great Revolution parades on November 7. Military parades were accompanied by marching masses of industrial workers and managers, doctors and scientists, as well as teachers and students from all schools and universities. Exemplary obedient people were rewarded with better food and perks. Taming millions to obedience by fear and hunger led to a massive degradation of human rights, poor spirituality, lack of initiative and creativity, and the decay of public health and vitality. The country of almost three hundred million people was stuck in stagnation, inefficiency, and apathy. Brighter students were taken into the military-industrial system, brainwashed and locked there for life with little choices. Opponents were locked in the "Gulag" prison-camps, mostly in Siberia. There, millions were working various hard labor jobs in grand-scale economic projects; like the Baikal-Amur railroad (BAM). Since the Communist Revolution of 1917, people had been continually stripped of their land and property. Under Khrushchev and Brezhnev the destruction of independent farming was finalized. By the 1960s and 1970s massive poverty and anxiety pushed millions to migrate to cities. Mass-construction of cheap panel buildings was lagging behind. Millions of families shared poor housing, hostels, and dorms in cities. Villages were deserted. Collective farms decayed. Agricultural output fell below the levels of the Tsar's age. Tens of thousands of churches and monasteries were destroyed across the Soviet Union, and many churches were replaced by offices and halls of the Communist party. Spiritual life was dominated by ugly propaganda. People were blinded by fear and pushed to wrong values. Meaningful human virtues were replaced with fake ideals of ruthless Soviet communism. Propaganda idolized members of the Soviet Politburo, their portraits were decorating every school and factory along with countless portraits and statues of the first Soviet leader V.I. Lenin.
In November 1979 Gorbachev was promoted Candidate Member of the Politburo, then less than a year later, he was made Full Member of Politbureau, the highest rank in the Communist Party which gave him unlimited direct access to Brezhnev and Andropov. The latter also promoted Gorbachev to sub for him at several Politburo meetings, and gave him a huge power in decision-making. Gorbachev developed a personal friendship with another Politburo member, Eduard Shevardnadze, and the two were vacationing together at the prestigious Black sea resort of Pitsunda. At that time the invasion of Afghanistan, ordered by senile Brezhnev in 1979, seriously undermined international credibility of the Soviet Union. Andrei Sakharov wrote an open letter to Brezhnev calling for a stop to the war. 50 nations boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Crackdown on intellectual freedom and human rights included the use of psychiatric terror, arrests, and the exile of dissidents. The head of the KGB Yuri Andropov declared Andrei Sakharov the "enemy No. 1." Sakharov was forcefully exiled from Moscow to the militarized 'closed' city of Gorky. He was placed under tight surveillance and restricted from any contacts. His wife was also under tight surveillance. By his 70th birthday Brezhnev's health declined dramatically; but he made himself a Generalissimus Marshal of the Soviet Union, similar to that of Joseph Stalin. Brezhnev accepted over 200 decorations and awards, including awards from all pro-Soviet governments, except China. Brezhnev accepted countless expensive gifts and amassed a collection of vintage cars and other bribes. His personal vanity and behavior was replicated at all levels of the Communist Party and led to massive corruption. The old Brezhnev lost his acting abilities and couldn't even read the script. Massive disillusionment was reflected in cynical jokes about the Soviet life. The ugly reality in the Soviet Union was reflected in its senile leader. Gorbachev saw that outdated economic and political system in the Soviet Union was doomed, but propaganda was still brainwashing the minds of millions, because it was controlled by the privileged few top communists who lived in denial of the big reality.
The youngest Politburo Member, Mikhail Gorbachev, was contemplating reforms. Leonid Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982, and was succeeded by Yuri Andropov who died just 16 months later. He was replaced by Konstantin Chernenko, who died in just 13 months. In 1983 Politbureau member Rashidov committed suicide, then, in 1984 the powerful Defence Minister Ustinov died. While the Soviet Union was in a dying mode, the real world was rapidly growing into computer age that reshaped global community. The rigid Soviet System was incompatible with the constantly innovating world. USSR failed to respond to rapidly changing reality and alienated forward-thinking people even in the pro-Soviet countries. During the early 1980s Soviet Politbureau was torn between two viciously fighting groups of Communists, one was made of the old hard-liners led by Andrei Gromyko, the apprentice of Joseph Stalin. The other, pro-democracy group, was made of the forward-thinking members of the Politbureau who chose Gorbachev as their leader along with Aleksandr Yakovlev who was the brain behind Gorbachev's moves. With Gorbachev's support Yakovlev managed to change all hard-liners in the Soviet media and propaganda system. In March 1985 Gorbachev was made the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, becoming the first Soviet leader to have been born after the disastrous Russian Revolution of 1917. He announced reforms called 'perestroika' (aka.. restructuring) and 'glasnost' (aka.. opening up), and lifted the walls of propaganda and denial. However, Gorbachev's first reform on regulations related to manufacturing and trade of alcohol became an economic disaster, causing a serious economic damage to the Soviet Union's State budget with annual losses exceeding tens of billions of dollars. Although his reforms were supported by public, many communist hard-liners openly opposed Gorbachev. Eventually, by the late 1980s Gorbachev's push for economic liberalization resulted in emergence of co-operatives and other forms of independent businesses, making the movement to freedom irreversible.
In December of 1986, Gorbachev personally contacted Andrei Sakharov in his exile. Gorbachev ordered that the KGB should release Sakharov and return him to Moscow. Back in Moscow Sakharov continued his work as a humanitarian. A few months before his death, he was elected as a representative of the Academy of Sciences to the Supreme Soviet in 1989. Sakharov showed to the World what an independent thinker can do by going to the extremes of science. He invented a bomb that could bring the most horrible extermination of life, and then took a stand to ban his own invention for the salvation of planet Earth. Gorbachev had important meetings with Ronald Reagan culminating in their summit in Reikjavik, Iceland, and leading to a more stable political and military situation in the world, that resulted in reunification of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989. At that time the Soviet hard-liners criticized Gorbachev's international moves, saying that he was not a leader, but rather a follower of Ronald Reagan's instruction: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall" when the state of world affairs did not allow Gorbachev to disobey without a risk of losing his face. He also followed recommendations by Margaret Thatcher on opening the "Iron Curtain" to allow the Russian people to see the world and learn about the diverse international reality and travel freely on their own. A first, Gorbachev skillfully used hidden buttons within the rigid structure of the Soviet power tainted by the long tradition of obedience, fear and intimidation, which was installed by dictator Joseph Stalin within the ranks of Communist bureaucracy. That fear of the man in Kremlin served Gorbachev's plans well, as he managed to overcome the resistance of hard liners in ending the ruling powers of the Communist Party. Soon Gorbachev began giving away many power buttons in Moscow, which allowed his rivals to gain strength and independently form opposition groups. Andrei Gromyko, the last living member of Joseph Stalin's old Politbureau, had criticized Gorbachev's methods as "weak leadership" and also said "He (Gorbachev) is unfit for the Hat" (where the Hat means Kremlin, or an allusion to the Tsar's crown of power). Such criticism was ignored by most of the younger members of the Communist Politbureau and Central Committee, because weak central leadership allowed provincial bosses to privatize state property at a fraction of its real value.
Gorbachev replaced his hard-line critic Andrei Gromyko with Eduard Shevardnadze as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and both Gorbachev and Shevardnadze pushed for international détente and withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. In another effort to add weight to his gradually eroding power, in March of 1990 Gorbachev updated his official title by adding a newly created post as President of the Soviet Union, albeit he was not really a democratically elected president. He surrounded himself with the political council of 15 top politicians, but he was lacking the grass-roots connections with masses and mid-level bureaucracy across the country. At that time Gorbachev began to experience powerlessness in his efforts to change the gigantic Soviet system, he was known for expressing his powerlessness by using profanities and anger at his meetings with the ranks of Soviet Government and industrial leaders. Gorbachev was facing an impossible task of modernizing the brittle structure of the Soviet Communism, especially the massive and inefficient Soviet military-industrial complex where opposition to reforms was the most organized, and inefficiency was dissembled as a military secret, like a catch-22, thus making it unreformable. Gorbachev himself was still perceived as the Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party, and that stigma became the weakest part of his image in the eyes of many open-minded and quickly learning people in the Soviet Union. His effort to gain political weight by adding a figure of Vice-President of the Soviet Union had failed and soon backfired. Gorbachev's fatal mistake was letting the Members of Politbureau to chose the Vice-President of the Soviet Union behind closed doors in Kremlin; the "chosen" one was a career communist Gennadi Yanayev who would very soon betray Gorbachev during the coup.
Eventually Gorbachev became overshadowed by a much stronger figure of Boris Yeltsin, who gained more popular support by pushing further economic and political reforms, and also criticized Gorbachev's manner of restructuring of the Soviet system as slow, indecisive and inefficient. The rivalry between two former Communist comrades ended in the August 1991 coup, when still powerful KGB and Soviet Army leaders tried to take the power away from both Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Their coup failed just a couple days later, after the entire country watched Gennady Yanayev and his coup members on TV. "Let me say that Mikhail Gorbachev is now on vacation. He is undergoing treatment, himself, in our country. He is very tired after all these years and he will need time to get better." said Gennadi Yanayev before the cameras, and his hands were visibly trembling from fear. Gorbachev's disappearance during the coup was also seen as his grave weakness. Boris Yeltsin disposed his Communist ID card in front of the cameras and publicly denounced Gorbachev. Then all ranks of communists deserted the Communist Party in a massive exodus, and that was the end of the Soviet Union. All regional leaders were anxious to rule as presidents of their own independent states, and Yeltsin was already elected the president of Russia, the biggest part of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin met with the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus and they made a treaty as independent states. By the end of December 1991 the Soviet Union became obsolete and Gorbachev retired after a formal signing of dissolution of the USSR.
Mikhail Gorbachev is still regarded in the Western world for his input in ending the Cold War and helping the reunification of Germany. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1990) and received numerous international awards, decorations and privileges, such as the Honorary German Citizenship. However, in Russia Gorbachev's political standing failed to gain any substantial public support. He received less than 1% of popular vote in the 1996 presidential elections in Russia, when his former rival Boris Yeltsin was elected for his second presidential term. In 2001 Gorbachev founded the Social Democratic Party of Russia, but later, in 2003, he had resigned from the party leadership and stayed away from most of the current Russian political forces and media. In contrast to Gorbachev's popularity all over the world, he fell in obscurity in Russia, largely because in the new era of the wild Russian capitalism his outdated views and experience became obsolete. Instead he turned to business of giving lecture tours and speeches internationally and selling photo-ops with him for money that goes to humanitarian causes; he also sold his name and image to commercials such as the Pizza Hut and other businesses. He has been running the business of the Gorbachev Foundation, which handles his international appearances, while keeping a low profile in the current political life of Russia. In 2005 he was awarded the Point Alpha Prize for his role in re-unification of Germany. In 2006 Gorbachev underwent a carotid artery surgery in Munich, Germany.
He currently resides in Moscow, Russia.