Monday, July 31, 2006

Hung Up on the 2006 MTV VMAs

Earlier today, MTV announced the list of nominees for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which will air live from New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, Aug. 31.

Vying for a Moon Man trophy, with a leading seven nominations each, are the videos for Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California.”

Madonna, who is currently in the middle of her “Confessions Tour” and will probably not attend the ceremony – so don’t expect any shocking performances from her this year – followed closely with five nominations for “Hung Up,” including Best Female Video, Best Pop Video, Best Dance Video, and Best Choreography in a Video.

Las Vegas rockers Panic! At the Disco’s "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" also scored five nods, while "Ain't No Other Man" scored Christina Aguilera four.

These five videos will go head-to-head for the coveted Video of the Year VMA.

Panic! At the Disco, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, T.I., Ludacris, and the Killers are already confirmed to perform at the show.

For the first time in VMA history, viewers will be able to vote for their favorites in all categories – not just Viewer's Choice. So, start voting. I don’t have to tell you for whom I’m voting, do I?


Photo: MTV.com.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Harry Potter and the Nakedness on Stage

It was reported today that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe will strip off for his London stage debut as a psychologically disturbed boy in Equus, a controversial play by Peter Shaffer that calls for the actor to ride naked on a horse.

Radcliffe will play a stable boy who is interviewed by a psychiatrist after he blinds six horses with a metal spike.

The 17-year-old, who is currently shooting Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will star in the play alongside recent Tony Award winner Richard Griffiths, who plays his grumpy uncle in the wizard sagas.

"This is an extraordinary play and, yes, there is a scene of nudity in it, but that's not what the play is about," said the young actor’s publicist.

Equus is expected to open in March.

Photo: Waner Bros. (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).
Miami Blah

Most of the promotional material for Michael Mann’s Miami Vice will have you believe that one of television's “most influential series” (which he executive produced way back when) has come back to life as an “explosive” feature film this summer.

Certainly, the studio’s marketing minds didn’t mean “explosive” as in bomb, which the movie comes very close to being. Granted, if this weren’t Miami Vice I’m pretty sure the anticipation factor would’ve been considerably lower, but the truth is the movie is a major disappointment.

Mann’s big screen offering, however, is not a remake – you couldn’t really call it that. It is a (failed) reinvention of sorts. The fractured script has done without any sense of camaraderie between Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, who, as played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, mumble incomprehensively and sleepwalk around for most of the first act – and they’re supposed to be setting up some sort of sting at a Miami Beach hot spot!

The story is basic cops and robbers…except the cops have carte blanche to nab the robbers, who in this case are members of an extremely dangerous and well-organized drug cartel. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A leak at the FBI has led to multiple murders and blown a massive international drug-trafficking case wide open. With the Miami-Dade Police Department one of the only uncompromised agencies remaining, Crockett and Tubbs are pulled into the investigation of the Cuban drug lord Arcángel de Jesús Montoya and his alluring business adviser Isabella (Memoirs of a Geisha’s Gong Li).

The stakes are high – but just how high is telegraphed at best. Soon, Crockett and Tubbs discover that it will take more than deep expert undercover work to bring down Montoya’s big-budget international operation. It will take attitude, ingenuity, and a total immersion in their undercover roles that will ultimately put their whole personal and professional lives on the line.

Miami Vice is a departure from the TV show, all right – it is its exact opposite. Remember what I said about it being a reinvention? The pastel color palette has been replaced with a heavy use of blues and grays, and though the sprawling views of the Magic City remain, they are extremely dark and gritty.

Farrell and Foxx are apart for more than two thirds of the movie, and the rapport between their Crockett and Tubbs suffers as a result. I hardly bought the two as partners – not that I wanted them to be on top of each other (hey, that’s a thought), but I at least would’ve liked to think they really had each other’s backs.

Having said, their respective relationships with women – Farrell’s with Li and Foxx’s with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’s Naomie Harris (as his intel analyst girlfriend) – were established quite well. But this is supposed to be Miami Vice, not a romantic action drama.

There’s lots of boom in this artfully shot movie, but very little bang (that standoff at the end notwithstanding).


Side note: Miami Vice had its East Coast premiere at the Lincoln Theatre, and, as I told E! Online’s Ted Casablanca, it was not the star-studded affair it could have been.

The celebration got started with a pre-premiere benefit dinner for CURED hosted by Emilio Estefan at Quattro on Lincoln Road, which drew the likes of Madonna’s BFF Ingrid Casares (whose presence effectively put the kibosh on the rumor that she had flown to Europe with Madonna) and Heatherette designer Richie Rich.

The following night, the red carpet premiere drew a large crowd of onlookers, yet the two stars of the movie, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, were conspicuously MIA. Considering they had been making the talk show circuit in New York City, everyone thought they would fly down and party. Alas, they did not, but Mann did.

Guests included the Estefans, Casares (seen sneaking into the theater), Rich, Hulk Hogan and his family, Sammy Sosa, the Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning, Timbaland, Mya, and Nicky Hilton, who was accompanied by a fresh-out-of-rehab Brandon Davis (he checked himself in after TMZ.com caught him calling Lindsay Lohan a "firecrotch"). Hilton and Davis left hastily – a mere 20 minutes after working it for the press. Perhaps they heard the movie was…not so great.

Pretty much everyone hit the after-party at Mansion (a location in the movie), as did fabulous local diva Elaine Lancaster, Paris Hilton’s music producer Scott Storch and Finesse Mitchell (TV’s SNL).

My Rating **

Photo: Universal Pictures.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Madonna in Miami Report

As expected, Madonna and Co. arrived in Miami last week to play the last two American nights of her “Confessions Tour” at the American Airlines Arena, which made a nut-nut out of this fan.

One of my spies (and fellow Madonnaphile) spotted tour dancers Cloud and Tamara walking hand in hand down Lincoln Road in South Beach last Thursday. He said they looked very casual and very hot. Then on Friday, Madonna’s co-producer and “partner in crime,” held court at Social at the very happening Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach where her BFF Ingrid Casares was hosting a party (little brother Christopher Ciccone was there, too).

On Saturday, Gloria and Emilio Estefan were seen taking their floor seats at the arena; ditto Casares, Ciccone, and Guy Oseary. During the concert, Madonna dedicated "Paradise (Not For Me)" to her brother, which made her all the more endearing.

The following morning, Madonna and her daughter Lola hit the beach at the Shore Club in Miami Beach (she reportedly stayed at The Setai, where she had no less than 30 rooms at her and her entourage’s disposal). No one knew she was on the beach and no one noticed her until she and her five bodyguards got up to leave. She was covered in towels, by the way, probably to protect her royal skin – a smart move since Sunday was bright, hot, and oh-so steamy (as would be her concert later on).


Quick side question: Where were Guy Ritchie and Rocco?

Sunday night’s concert was amazing. The Queen of Pop turned it up for her second night at the AAA. She was enjoying herself quite a bit as she appeared from within the crystal ball during "Future Lovers" and was smiling a lot during "Get Together."

During "I Love New York," she pointed toward the people in section 3 on the floor right after singing about L.A. being for people who sleep, and then said, "but not you." Lucky rascals! Then she pounded her guitar like there was no tomorrow. It was sooo hot!

Toward the end of "Let It Will Be" I think her mic pack came undone because she seemed a little distracted, but not frazzled. While she was out in the middle of the arena, she sang something along the lines of, "Now I can tell you / that I'm supposed to sing this song." When she was done, she sat on the steps on the main stage, catching her breath. "It’s hot in here...it feels like global warming has caught up with us...maybe I should have a chat with Mr. Bush about it," she wisecracked.

Oh, cut to me, forgetting that she started that bit by saying she was indeed having some technical difficulties, which had kind of sort of affected her brain (Price gave her some punch line music much like he did in I'm Going to Tell You a Secret) and seemed to have affected her crew as well (followed by more punch line music). Then she talked about Bush, which was kind of cute and funny.


Before "Ray of Light" Madonna demanded that we jumped and put our hands in the air, which he happily did. She did say, "This isn't a barbecue," after all. When she was done with "Sorry," she said, "I don't have a problem with men. I have a problem with stupidity!" The audience loved that – it was classic Madonna.

The whole show was spectacular, but my favorite number, I think, was "Drowned World/Substitute for Love," which was a beautiful showcase of her voice. "Ray of Light" and "Music Inferno" were definitely the show-stopping numbers of the night, especially the latter – Miami couldn't get enough of it.

There was no bigger show-stopper than Her Madgesty herself, though, and there never will be.


Photo: Madonname.com.

Friday, July 21, 2006

You Just Wait and See How Much Fun She’s Going to Be

Madonna will be performing the last two American nights of her “Confessions Tour” at the American Airlines Arena this weekend. I. Cannot. Wait.

Fittingly, I have a confession: I have been checking out the fan postings on YouTube, so I know what to expect – horses, a crucifixion, and lots of disco! I know the set list, I know where she spends a great deal of time on stage, and I know she turns it up.

So why would I spend lotsa de casha to see the Queen of Pop?

Well, if catching not one but three shows of her “Re-Invention Tour” (the first time I ever saw her live) a couple of years ago taught me anything, it is that Madonna is well worth it.

Not that I didn’t have a qualm or two about this tour. But making people think, especially her fans, is Madonna’s wont – and I love, love, love her for it.

So that’s what I’m doing this weekend: dancing and singing (so don’t even think to ask me to sit down) and having a blast.

Photo: People.com.
Uma Goodness!

I have long worshipped at the altar of Uma Thurman.

I think she’s a terrific actress and oh-so gorgeous. I think she was robbed – robbed, I tell ya – of an Oscar nomination, at the very least, for her turn in the Kill Bill movies, and I also think nothing can stop her. That is why I think it’s so great to see her trying her hand at making us laugh, which she does quite superbly in My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

Everyone's had a painful parting of the ways with a romantic interest, right? We hurt, we pick up the pieces, and we move on.

Easier said than done – just ask Luke Wilson’s character, Matt Saunders. When he breaks up with his girlfriend, Jenny Johnson (Thurman), he discovers she is actually the reluctant superhero G-Girl. And you know what they say: hell hath no fury like a superhero woman scorned.

While the movie gets off to a bit of slow start and isn’t super by any standards, its saving grace is Thurman. Magnetically beautiful, quite adept at physical comedy, and a total hoot as the banging-her-head-into-a-refrigerator-door jealous, neurotically needy, shark-chucking G-Girl, she is the real reason to sit through it.

Wilson isn’t half bad, either – check out what someone (cough, cough) told E! Online’s Ted Casablanca about him.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: 20th Century Fox.
No Life Preserver Needed, But…

In Lady in the Water, Paul Giamatti plays Cleveland Heep, the modest building manager of The Cove, a place filled with interesting tenants.

One night, he rescues a mysterious young woman named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) from danger. But Story isn’t any young woman; she is actually a narf, a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the treacherous journey from our world back to hers.

Soon, Cleveland and the people of The Cove begin to realize they are also integral characters in this story. As he is more and more drawn to her, Cleveland sets out to protect his fragile new friend from the deadly creatures that reside in this fable and are determined to prevent her from returning home.

Expectations for M. Night Shyamalan’s latest couldn’t have been lower, which is surprising because this is the same man who gave us The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village (in which Howard starred, by the way). This interesting Entertainment Weekly article should help you somewhat understand why.

Here’s the thing, though: Lady in the Water is a departure for Shyamalan. The movie is inventive, all right, but it lacks whimsy – and it’s supposed to be a bedtime story!


The mythology, though quite simple after further analysis, feels a tad too complicated at times, and the storytelling is far too self-important and serious. This renders the movie watching experience a bit awkward, especially when you have a roomful of people laughing when they probably aren’t meant to.

Not bad by any means (it helps that there isn’t a Big Twist, but rather several little ones throughout), Lady in the Water just needed to be lighter to really grasp my interest, which isn’t to say it won’t grasp yours.

My Rating **

Photo: Warner Bros.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sink Your Teeth Into This, Buffy Fans

Dark Horse Comics will resurrect dearly departed critical darling and cult favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the form of a new comic – penned by creator Joss Whedon himself!


Check out the cover image at right by artist Georges Jeanty.

Scott Brown of EW.com’s Pop Watch reports that as we may recall, “the show ended with the creation of an army of Slayers. Now they're organized, and the tide has turned in favor of the good guys,” which in the Buffyverse means the Chose One and the Scooby Gang are in for one heck of a battle when an "’old enemy’ surfaces."

Welcome back to life (again), Buff!

Photo: EW.com.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Whip’em Good, Michelle!

It was reported today that Michelle Pfeiffer is in final negotiations to join the cast of the movie adaptation of the Broadway hit Hairspray. That’s what I like to call really good news – that and having the Discovery return to Earth safely.

The Tony-winning musical comedy was itself based on the 1988 John Waters cult comedy feature about star-struck teenagers on a local Baltimore dance show.

The erstwhile Catwoman, absent from movie screens since 2002’s White Oleander, would play Velma von Tussel, a former beauty queen who can't move on and is the producer of the dance show. (Pfeiffer will be seen next in this fall’s I Could Never Be Your Woman and next year’s Stardust).

Already cast in Hairspray are John Travolta as Edna Turnblad, Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle, Amanda Bynes as Penny Pingleton, and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. Adam Shankman (The Wedding Planner, Bringing Down the House) is directing; production is set to begin in the fall for a December 2007 release date.

Let’s just hope that Hollywood doesn’t have another Producers in its hands or else it's going to be hell on wheels!

Photo: Warner Bros. (Batman Returns).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Are You Ready to “Jump”?

As the Queen of Pop would say, “All right, people, we’re just getting this party started!”

Madonnalicious.com reported yesterday that Billboard.com’s Keith Caulfield confirmed recently that “Jump” will be the fourth single off Her Madgesty’s dance sensation Confession on a Dance Floor, following "Hung Up," "Sorry," and "Get Together."


Here's to hoping American radio will give "Jump," which was already featured in the summer release The Devil Wears Prada, the airplay it deserves.

The news comes as the end of the American leg of Madonna’s “Confessions Tour” grows nearer every day (I have to get me a ticket!). She will next cross the pond to play dates in Europe before heading to Japan in September.

Photo: MCB Online.
Must Be Summer Because…It’s Snakes…on a Plane!

The coolest cat in Hollywood, Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, has a new movie coming out in August. It’s called Snakes on a Plane, and as the cleverly straightforward title reveals the movie is about snakes…on a plane.

Never has a movie sounded so bad that you just knew is was going to be good – make that sssssssooo good.

In case you’re wondering about the movie’s plot, a ruthless assassin unleashes a crate full of lethal snakes aboard a packed passenger jet over the Pacific Ocean in order to eliminate a witness in protective custody, leaving it up to Jackson to kick some “motherf---in’” snake ass!

SoaP, as the movie has been dubbed thanks to incessant fan chatter on the Internet pretty much since production was announced, has easily become the cult movie of 2006. It hisses its way into movie theaters Aug. 18.

You can find the teaser trailer and first TV trailer here.


Photo: New Line Cinema.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This Fall Running with Scissors May Be Unsafe Yet Riveting

I love Annette Bening.

This is an actress who, as best evidenced by her most recent turns in American Beauty and Being Julia, is long overdue an Academy Award.

If the trailer for this fall’s Running with Scissors – an adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir written and directed by Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy – is any indication, she may finally take an Oscar home next year.

In the film, young Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) absorbs experiences that could make for a shocking memoir: the son of an alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin) and an unstable mother (Bening), he is handed off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch (Match Point’s Brian Cox) and spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family.

Running with Scissors opens Oct. 11. It co-stars Evan Rachel Wood (The Upside of Anger), Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jill Clayburgh.

Photo: TriStar Pictures.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What Booty! $132 Million Is a Lot of Gold Coins

I spent most of the weekend watching sports, which, if you know me, is quite the statement. What were you thinking, Zinédine Zidane?! Congratulations, Roger Federer.

As a result, it is possible I am the only one who did not see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest over the weekend. And I call myself a movie enthusiast!

But can you believe these numbers? Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch barely could. Not even decidedly mixed reviews could keep crowds away from checking out Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley take another high-seas adventure with a swaggering and swashbuckling Johnny Depp in this sequel, which with a box office gross of just a little more than $132 million set a new record for best three-day opening of all time.

The previous record-holder was Spider-Man, which took in $114.8 million in its first three days in 2002. One thing is for sure, already: it'll be interesting to see who will walk away next summer’s box office champ when Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End open next May.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures.


Update: It was reported that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest actually gathered $135.6 million. I have finally seen movie. I found it too long and rather humorless. Actually, I couldn't help but think back to what happened to The Matrix, and how it, much like the first Pirates movie, stood alone quite nicely and how it was kind of tarnished by a couple of simultaneously shot sequels that ultimately proved unnecessary.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Emmy Nominations: So Many Snubs, So Few Surprises

The nominations for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning. It has taken most of the day to begin to wrap my head around them – sad, isn’t it?

I still haven’t, actually, and I don’t know if I will since, yet again, Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham and Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell have gone criminally unrecognized.

I was pleasantly surprised more than a few times, though, like when I heard Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s Christopher Meloni’s name called, at long last. And, oh, I was quite happy when I found out that many of the big-name stars that made guest spots on the Ricky Gervais HBO show Extras were recognized.


You can find the complete of nominees here.

So here is my rant (and Michael Ausiello’s, and Matt Roush’s, and Kristin Veitch’s):

  • Desperate Housewives may have suffered quite a sophomore slump, but Marcia Cross was stellar. And Eva Longoria deserved to be invited to the party as a first-time nominee.
  • Guess the academy has lost its Lost love. Better to have had it once upon a time than never, right? Yeah, right – you tell that to Battlestar Galactica.
  • Recognizing dead comedies (like Malcolm in the Middle, Out of Practice, or the mostly-phoned-in Will & Grace), with the exception of Arrested Development and The Comeback, is not funny.
  • Where were any of the cast members of the surviving-and-thriving Scrubs? The show’s best season yet was included in the Best Comedy category, but I guess it acted itself.
  • And finally, a question for the ages: Why do voters dislike The WB and UPN so much!? Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars are terrific shows, boasting some of the finest performances anywhere. They never recognized Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gilmore Girls has one more year to go before it signs off and Veronica Mars needs all the support it can get.

On the other hand, Emmy voters got some things right:

  • Lisa Kudrow overcame cancellation to score a deserved nomination for her dear fantastic portrayal of tragically funny Valerie “I don’t need to see that” Cherish in The Comeback.
  • Kathy Griffin’s climb up the Hollywood ladder gets a little bit easier as her Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List netted an Outstanding Reality Program nomination.
  • My Name Is Earl’s Jaime Pressly is officially a TV star.
  • The Office and Steve Carell were singled out (but, sadly, not John Krasinski).
  • 24 finally garnered some much-deserved attention in the supporting categories (for Gregory Itzin’s turn as the villainous President Logan and Jean Smart’s performance as the more-than-meets-the-eye First Lady).

The Emmys will be presented Aug. 27 in Los Angeles.

Photo: Amazon.com.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Scene-Stealer: Winona Ryder Is on the Comeback Trail

This Friday, following a four-year absence, disappearing act Winona Ryder returns to movie screens everywhere in Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly. Her last high-profile gig was 2002’s Mr. Deeds…which as you may remember came out on the heels of her even higher-profile December 2001 arrest on shoplifting charges.

Water under the bridge, as they say – Ryder is, indeed, on the comeback trail. As a longtime fan – Edward Scissorhands! Reality Bites! Little Women! – I couldn’t be happier to finally get to see her back on the screen where she so rightfully belongs.

Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, A Scanner Darkly follows the story of an undercover cop, Fred (Keanu Reeves), one of many agents hooked on the popular drug Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred, for instance, is also Bob Arctor, a notorious drug dealer. Along with his superior officers, Fred sets up an elaborate scheme to catch Bob and tear down his operation.

The erstwhile Girl, Interrupted plays Donna in the Philip K. Dick novel-based movie, which is also a must because Linklater gave it a necessarily surreal look by using rotoscope animation, much like he did in 2001’s Waking Life.

Ryder is also currently filming Sex and Death 101, which reunites her with Heathers writer Daniel Waters, and has The Darwin Awards in the can and Alpha Numeric in the pipeline.


Photo: Warner Independent Pictures.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Spider-Man Weaves a Web of Tease

Mark your calendars: your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man will be arriving in theaters on May 4, 2007.

A teaser trailer for Spider-Man 3 made its debut recently; the preview promises a somewhat darker and more complicated story for the web-slinger’s third cinematic outing, as it features a look at a black-suited Spidey, a glimpse of the villainous Sandman, and the introduction of Peter Parker love interest Gwen Stacy.

Joining Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are James Franco as Peter Parker’s former BFF Harry Osborne, Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman, Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom, and Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady in the Water) as Gwen Stacy.


The countdown has begun.

Photo: Sony Pictures.