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Joel Freeman, Producer of 'Shaft' and 'The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,' Dies at 95

Joel Freeman, Producer of 'Shaft' and 'The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,' Dies at 95
Joel Freeman, a veteran at MGM who produced such films as Shaft, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Love at First Bite, has died. He was 95.

Freeman died Sunday night at his home in Sherman Oaks after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and lung cancer, a publicist announced.

Freeman, a nephew of Dore Schary, the head of production and later president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1950s, also worked as a production manager and assistant director during his lengthy Hollywood career.

He had a hand in such films as The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947), The Long,...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Best of the Week: More Tom Cruise Movie Sequels, Fall Film Festival Guide and More

  • Movies.com
The Important News Franchise Fever: Tom Cruise said he won't do Top Gun 2 with CGI jets. Tom Cruise is also working on Edge of Tomorrow 2. Christopher McQuarrie revealed a big stunt idea for Mission: Impossible 6. Ivan Reitman claimed there is only one Ghostbusters movie in the works. Casting Net: Rachel McAdams confirmed she's in talks for Doctor Strange. Chris Pine signed on to play Wonder Woman's love interest. Tommy Lee Jones is joining the next Bourne movie. Jake Gyllenhaal is joining the Boston Marathon bombing movie Stronger. Remake Report: Shaft is being rebooted again as a comedy. New Directors/New Films: Christopher Nolan's next film is a short documentary on the Quay brothers...

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See full article at Movies.com »

‘Foxy Brown’ Blu-ray Review

Stars: Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown, Terry Carter, Sid Haig, Juanita Brown, Harry Holcombe | Written and Directed by Jack Hill

With Shaft hitting it big in the cinema in 1971, grabbing an audience spanning both age and race, producers scrambled to find the next big blaxploitation franchise and star. In walked Jack Hill with his 1973 effort Coffy. Starring Pam Grier as a vigilante nurse, the film was a runaway hit for American-International Pictures who commissioned Hill to come up with a follow-up. Originally conceived as a sequel to Coffy, Aip decided at the last minute it did not want to do a sequel and thus Foxy Brown was born…

Foxy Brown stars Pam Grier as the street-smart yet intensely sexy titular character, whose undercover-agent boyfriend is gunned down on the orders of evil drug kingpins. Racked with grief and anger she stops at nothing to exact a thrillingly brutal revenge.
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

Oscars 2013: The Big Night In GIFs

Oscars 2013: The Big Night In GIFs
Did you miss out on the 2013 Oscars? Couldn't stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch Ben Affleck's heartfelt acceptance speech for "Argo," to see Jennifer Lawrence fall upwards towards victory, to witness Quvenzhané Wallis raise the roof? Well, no need for you to break out the ol' DVR and watch the whole thing start to finish — we have you covered with our rundown of the big night ... in GIFs!

Read on to relive the 85th annual Academy Awards in GIFs!

The broadcast began with a vision of the future: Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise traveling back in time to prevent Seth MacFarlane from ruining the Oscars.

The only way to fix his future Oscar mistakes? Implement more song-and-dance routines, like so:

The plan obviously worked, because it motivated standing applause from famous frown-face Tommy Lee Jones. (Perhaps he just hates the Golden Globes?
See full article at MTV Movies Blog »

Wonder Woman 1974 TV Pilot and Superboy: The Complete Second Season Debut on DVD December 11th

Wonder Woman 1974 TV Pilot and Superboy: The Complete Second Season Debut on DVD December 11th
The Warner Archive Collection continues its rollout of fanboy-centric DC Comics properties with the December 11 DVD release of the original 1974 television pilot, Wonder Woman, starring Cathy Lee Crosby; and the much-requested sophomore season of the Alexander Salkind & Ilya Salkind produced Superboy: The Complete Second Season.

Before Lynda Carter took the heroine back to World War 2 for her "New, Original" incarnation in 1975, statuesque tennis pro-turned-performer Cathy Lee Crosby swung the magic lasso in a very different TV incarnation of Wonder Woman. As developed by scribe John D.F. Black (Star Trek, Shaft), and seemingly influenced by her recent turn as a mod, cat-suited crime-fighter in the pages of her DC Comics home, this Amazon Princess was more superspy than superhero. Still, many of the expected wondrous elements from bracelets and lassos to Paradise Island and invisible jets all make an appearance, albeit with a sleek, seventies espionage super-action refit. Three years
See full article at MovieWeb »

Superboy & Wonder Woman Dvds: Coming December 11th

Before Lynda Carter took the heroine back to World War 2 for her “New, Original” incarnation in 1975, statuesque tennis pro-turned-performer Cathy Lee Crosby swung the magic lasso in a very different TV incarnation of Wonder Woman. As developed by scribe John D.F. Black (Star Trek, Shaft), and seemingly influenced by her recent turn as a mod, cat-suited crime-fighter in the pages of her DC Comics home, this Amazon Princess was more superspy than superhero. Still, many of the expected wondrous elements from bracelets and lassos to Paradise Island and invisible jets all make an appearance, albeit with a sleek, seventies espionage super-action refit. Three years before taking up residence on Fantasy Island, Ricardo Montalban plays laconic lothario Abner Smith, who lurks at the top of the conspiracy to make off with ultra-secret code books – leading Agent Prince to discover an Amazon sister-in-exile (Anitra Ford). Following the popular release of its
See full article at ComicBookMovie »

'In the Heat of the Night': 25 Things You Didn't Know About the Sidney Poitier Classic

They called it the "Slap Heard 'Round the World." It happened partway through "In the Heat of the Night" -- a movie released at the height of racial tensions during the Civil Rights Era exactly 45 years ago (on August 2, 1967) -- in a scene where a bigoted Southern cotton plantation owner slaps Sidney Poitier (and Poitier slaps back just as hard). Years of deferential behavior, both from Poitier in saintly role-model performances, and from every black actor ever to perform in a Hollywood movie, halted with a mighty thwack. It's one of the most memorable moments in film history and helped earn "In the Heat of the Night" the Best Picture Oscar that year. Even today, the scene remains brutally effective, a reminder of how much has changed in 45 years, and how much has not. The film -- in which a racist Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) and a haughty black police
See full article at Moviefone »

Skip Pitts, Guitarist on the Funk Classic 'Theme From Shaft,' Dies at 65

Skip Pitts, a master of the wah-wah pedal guitar sound whose signature riff on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft” captured perfectly the blaxploitation vibe of the 1970s, has died. He was 65. Pitts, who got guitar tips from his neighbor Bo Diddley as a kid growing up in Washington and also played on The Isley Brothers’ 1969 funk classic “It’s Your Thing,” died Tuesday at Methodist Hospital in Memphis after a struggle with cancer. Following time with the Isleys’ backing band The Midnight Movers, Pitts in 1971 began a 37-year collaboration with Hayes. When not on the road

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See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

A Bird Of The Air Trailer And Preview

Coming your way in limited release on September 23rd, A Bird of the Air is a quirky, indie number that looks as charming as anything to come along in a while. Centered around a loner who finds a parrot, and embarks on a mission to return the bird to its rightful owner, it's a kind of quest film that spins out of control.

If the trailer is any real indication, my money is on this one coming together into a very solid effort, and one that I think many will find themselves watching again and again.

Below check out some more info, the trailer, and a few images, and find out if this one will make appearance near you.

A sassy parrot and a free-spirited librarian upend the well-ordered life of a solitary man.

Lyman (Jackson Hurst) is a loner, working the graveyard shift for the Courtesy Patrol. When a
See full article at AreYouScreening »

Black Dynamite Blu-ray Review

The blaxploitation genre saved Hollywood. More so than the film school revolution, it was in the early 70’s that low budget films like Shaft, Superfly and The Mack were revitalizing the ailing studio system, which hadn’t fully recovered from the bust of the expensive musicals. The genre has some great films but mostly it’s loaded with cheap terrible films, and is so ripe for parody that Black Dynamite can follow the mostly funny I’m Going To Get You, Sucker in its retro refitting of the clichés of the genre and not feel like a rip off of Sucker. What Black Dynamite has is a lead in Michael Jai White who deserves to be a leading man. My review of the Black Dynamite Blu-ray after the jump.

White is Black Dynamite, a stone cold pimp who helps the people in his neighborhood as an ex-cia agent and master kung-fu expert.
See full article at Collider.com »

American Gangster

American Gangster
The title is catchy but misleading. Frank Lucas was less an American Gangster than an original Old Gangster in sable, a caricature in the tradition of '70s blaxploitation flicks.

He is in fact a real-life character, an apparently highly attractive person -- likable even -- who made millions by killing people and ruining lives with the powdered death of heroin. Going up against this all-powerful yet ghostly figure who operates outside the old Mafia networks, is Richie Roberts, an incorruptible cop from the street who is determined put him in prison. Director Ridley Scott takes on these familiar subjects, themes and characters with a keen eye for the social fabric, false assumptions, suffocating corruption and vivid personalities that make such a story worth retelling.

So this is a gangster movie focused on character rather than action and on the intricacies of people's backgrounds, strategies and motivations. Whether it means to, the film plays off a clutch of old movies, from The Godfather and Serpico to Superfly and Shaft. But Scott and writer Steven Zaillian make certain their Old Gangster is original and true to himself and his times rather than a concoction of movie fiction. Consequently, the movie is smooth and smart enough to attract a significant audience beyond the considerable fan base of its stars, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

You do sense in this movie that its principals are returning to safe harbor. After a discouraging foray into feeble comedy by Scott and Crowe (A Good Year) and Gothic Southern melodrama for Zaillian ("All the King's Men"), these artists scramble back to an emotional naturalism more aligned to their sensibilities. Even for Washington, who seldom makes a false step careerwise, the film represents a welcome return to the larger-than-life villainy he performed so well in 2001's Training Day.

Zaillian, working from Mark Jacobson's magazine portrait of Lucas -- a heroin kingpin of Harlem in the late '60s and early '70s -- sets two men on a collision course. Lucas (Washington), a country lad from North Carolina, is the nearly invisible driver and right-hand man to Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson, the most famous of Harlem gangsters. (So famous that this is his fourth movie reincarnation. Moses Gunn played him in Shaft, and Lawrence Fishburne twice in The Cotton Club and Hoodlum.) When Bumpy dies in his arms, Frank moves into the vacuum caused by his death with ruthless guile and a friendly personality.

Meanwhile, Richie Roberts (Crowe), a street-smart drug cop in New Jersey, is Frank's opposite: He can't help alienating everyone who crosses his path. His wife wants a divorce, insisting he leads a life entirely unsuitable to the welfare of their only child. Fellow cops shun him from the moment he brings in nearly a million dollars of recovered drug money. No one can understand why he didn't keep it, which says a lot about the state of policing in the New York/New Jersey area in 1968.

Frank's stroke of genius in the drug trade is to cut out the middleman. He flies to Thailand, takes a boat up the river in the Golden Triangle, makes a deal with a Chinese general, then arranges through an in-law to ship the kilos to New York in military planes coming back from Vietnam. His heroin, branded Blue Magic, hits the street twice as good and half as much as the competition.

It is so pure that dead junkies turn up all over New York. The police are baffled but look in all the wrong places. It never occurs to them that a black man is behind the scheme. Richie, whose whacked-out partner is one of Blue Magic's victims, is given his own task force. He finally targets Frank, but no one will believe him.

Frank flies under the radar. He hires only relatives -- a veritable army of brothers like Huey Lucas (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as well as cousins -- whom he sets up with storefront businesses that function as drug-distribution centers. He maintains a low profile and adheres to a rigid code of conduct. His major weekly outings are to church with his mother (the inestimable Ruby Dee) or to his nightclub with wife Eva (Lymari Nadal), a former Miss Puerto Rico.

Richie's major opposition comes from within. New York's anti-drug task force, the Special Investigations Unit, is rife with corruption. As personified by Detective Trupo (a strutting Josh Brolin), the SIU takes its cut right off the top.

In a story that ranges from the jungles of Harlem and Thailand to North Carolina backwoods, Scott is both hurried and leisurely. He covers a lot of territory, often in low-light levels and with the Vietnam War playing on background TV sets, soaking up the sordid atmosphere, including naked, surgically masked women cutting the dope -- so no one will steal anything -- and celebrities like Joe Lewis cheerfully slumming with the gangsters. The scruffiness of Richie's world makes a brilliant contrast to Frank's penthouse. Yet both worlds teem with moral ambiguity.

If there are no false steps here, there are few highlights either. Such films as The Godfather and Serpico contain iconic scenes and sequences. American Gangster contributes little. It's workmanlike and engrossing, but what sticks in the mind are Frank and Richie, not what anybody does.

The film concocts a final sequence in which the two finally meet and do a deal, the deal that apparently sprung Frank from prison to enjoy his old age: Frank rats out the SIU cops who shook him down, resulting in most of the unit going to prison. Richie ends up leaving the force to become a lawyer and eventually represents Frank. So American Gangster finally shows its true colors: It's really a buddy movie.

AMERICAN GANGSTER

Universal

Imagine Entertainment presents a Relativity Media/Scott Free Prods. production

Credits:

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian

Based on an article by: Mark Jacobson

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott

Executive producers: Nicholas Pileggi, Steven Zaillian, Branko Lustig, Jim Whitaker, Michael Costigan

Director of photography: Harris Savides

Production designer: Arthur Max

Music: Marc Streitenfeld

Costume designer: Janty Yates

Editor: Pietro Scalia

Cast:

Frank Lucas: Denzel Washington

Richie Roberts: Russell Crowe

Huey Lucas: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Detective Trupo: Josh Brolin

Eva: Lymari Nadal

Lou: Ted Levine

Nate: Roger Guenveur Smith

Freddie Spearman: John Hawkes

Moses Jones: RZA

Nickey Barnes: Cuba Gooding Jr.

Dominic: Armand Assante

Mama Lucas: Rudy Dee

Running time -- 157 minutes

MPAA rating: R

Hayes Welcomes Fourth Child

Hayes Welcomes Fourth Child
Soul singer Isaac Hayes is celebrating after his wife Adjowa gave birth to their first child together. The Shaft hitmaker's wife gave birth to an 8 pounds, 5 ounce son named Nana Kwadjo Hayes on April 10, but they only released the information yesterday. The Scientologist star, who quit as the voice of Chef in South Park earlier this year, has three other sons from previous marriages. Hayes and Adjowa married in May 2005.

TV One inks with WB for pics, series

TV One inks with WB for pics, series
TV One, a channel that targets black viewers, said Monday that it has signed a multiyear agreement with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution to acquire rights to a slew of theatrical titles and off-network series, including UPN's All of Us and Eve. The deal, which marks the biggest programming acquisition for the network in its two-year history, also includes rights to such series as Living Single, For Your Love, Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, The Parent 'Hood, Wanda at Large, All About the Andersons, Fastlane and A Man Called Hawk as well as recent episodes of Showtime at the Apollo. Through the agreement, TV One also is renewing rights to air the comedies Roc and Martin. In addition, TV One has snapped up rights to a range of movie titles, including windows on such films as The Color Purple, Malcolm X, Lean on Me, New Jack City, Purple Rain, Shaft and Superfly. Other movies in the deal include Round Midnight, Rosewood, Boiling Point, Uptown Saturday Night, Strictly Business, Cabin in the Sky, Krush Groove and Sparkle.

Gordon Parks dies at 93

Gordon Parks, who became the first black person to direct a major studio feature when Warner Bros. released his autobiographical film The Learning Tree in 1969 and helped create the blaxploitation genre with 1971's Shaft, died Tuesday in his home in New York. He was 93. A versatile photographer, writer and filmmaker, Parks was a cultural icon whose accomplishments inspired succeeding generations of black artists. He was the first black photographer to work at Life and Vogue, and he reported and photographed the lives of black Americans for Life from 1948-68. Along with director Melvin Van Peebles, he is credited to giving birth to blaxploitation movies with Shaft and its sequel, Shaft's Big Score!

Filmmaker Gordon Parks Dies at 93

  • WENN
Gordon Parks, who became a pioneering and influential force in African-American cinema with the films The Learning Tree and Shaft, died on Tuesday in New York; he was 93. Born in Kansas, Parks was orphaned at 15 and grew up homeless, taking jobs wherever he could before becoming interested in photography in the 1930s, working several government jobs during World War II. He ultimately joined Life magazine in the late 40s as the publication's first African-American photographer, and his worked ranged from celebrity shoots to photo essays chronicling the effects of poverty, segregation, and crime. In the 60s, his work covering the Black Power movement and a poverty-stricken family in Rio de Janiero became some of his most notable, with a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel, The Learning Tree, also published early in the decade. With encouragement from John Cassavettes, Parks became the first African-American filmmaker to helm a major studio film with his 1969 adaptation of The Learning Tree, which was among the first 25 films to be preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. His second film, the groundbreaking cult classic Shaft (1971), was a resounding commercial success, and despite Parks' protestations that the movie was not meant to be exploitative, helped launch the "blaxploitation" movement of the 70s. Parks went on to direct Shaft's Big Score, The Super Cops, and Leadbelly in the 70s; his son, Gordon Parks Jr. (who died in a plane crash in 1979), directed another cult classic, Superfly. Photography and filmmaking were just two of Parks' accomplishments, as he also wrote novels, memoirs, poetry and music, receiving a National Medal of Arts, and was the co-founder of Essence magazine. Married and divorced three times, Parks is survived by a son, two daughters, and several grandchildren. --Prepared by IMDb staff

Isaac Hayes's Concert For Terrorist Attack Victims

  • WENN
Isaac Hayes's Concert For Terrorist Attack Victims
Soulman Isaac Hayes, famed for his theme song to Shaft and for voicing the character of Chef on South Park, is preparing to host a British concert in honor of firefighters killed and injured in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. The charity concert is organised by the L. Ron Hubbard Foundation and the Church Of Scientology and will be held at Scientology founder Hubbard's home in East Grinstead, Surrey in England on October 21st. The concert will also feature a performance by film composer Mark Isham. Proceeds will go to the New York Fire Department Relief Fund.

Samuel L. Jackson Gets The Shaft... Of A Golf Club

Samuel L. Jackson Gets The Shaft... Of A Golf Club
Samuel L. Jackson met up with the original star of the hard-hitting detective movie Shaft (1971) for some tips on playing the role - but ended up being coached on his golf game instead. Hollywood star Jackson snapped up the role of JOHN SHAFT which was originally played by Richard Roundtree in the legendary seventies flick and met up with Roundtree for some hints on the part. But Jackson says, "There is only one thing that Roundtree taught me and that was keep your head down and don't look up until the ball leaves the club face. That's all we talked about, golf, we never discussed the part." And the sports-loving pair met up at a golf tournament recently where Jackson realized he had taken over the cult part and become the new John Shaft. Jackson says, "We were at a golf tournament and I heard someone saying, 'Shaft, John Shaft, over here, Shaft'... I knew Richard was there so I presumed that they were talking to him. When I looked around it was him calling me so I just thought 'Okay it's official now, I am John Shaft.'"

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