Entertainment News 04-04-09
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Editor, The Konformist
Wed., Mar. 25, 2009
MGM gets its 'Stooges'
Penn, Carrey, Del Toro part of studio's plan
By MICHAEL FLEMING
MGM and the Farrelly brothers are closing in on their cast for "The Three Stooges."
Studio has set Sean Penn to play Larry, and negotiations are underway with Jim Carrey to play Curly, with the actor already making plans to gain 40 pounds to approximate the physical dimensions of Jerome "Curly" Howard.
The studio is zeroing in on Benicio Del Toro to play Moe.
The film is not a biopic, but rather a comedy built around the antics of the three characters that Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Howard played in the Columbia Pictures shorts.
The quest by the Peter and Bobby Farrelly to harness the project spans more than a decade and three studios. They first tried at Columbia, again at Warner Bros., and finally at MGM, where Worldwide Motion Picture Group chairman Mary Parent championed the cause and bought the WB-owned scripts and made a deal with Stooges rights holders C3.
Production will begin in early fall for a release sometime in 2010. The Farrellys, who wrote the script, are producing with their Conundrum partner Bradley Thomas, and Charlie Wessler.
C3 Entertainment principals Earl and Robert Benjamin will be executive producers.
Project will get underway after Penn completes the Asger Leth-directed Universal/Imagine Entertainment drama "Cartel." He hasn't done a comedy since the 1989 laffer "We're No Angels."
The Farrellys have long had their eyes on Del Toro to play Moe. Del Toro, who's coming off "Che," showed comic chops in the Guy Ritchie-directed "Snatch."
The surprise is the emergence of Carrey to play Curly. Howard established the character as a seminal physical comedian, from the first time he appeared in the first Stooges short in 1934 until he suffered a stroke on the set in 1946.
Hands-on with Batman: Dark Asylum
We got to play Batman: Dark Asylum at GDC 2009, and our expectations were more than met. This is a dark, violent, and thrilling take on the character... complete with explosive foam.
By Ben Kuchera
March 27, 2009
While it can sometimes be hard to actually get your hands on a game to play at GDCpeople talk about their titles more than they're willing to let writers try themI was delighted to be able to spend about 20 minutes with Batman: Dark Asylum.
We weren't able to show the story; instead we were offered the chance to play some of the Challenge Rooms, and see how the battle system works out. The good news is that the title looks and feels like Batman; in one room I was using my Batarang to jump from gargoyle to gargoyle in a large gothic area, before swooping down to take out enemies... one at a time.
If an enemy walks below you while you're stalking, you can tap the "Y" button to slide down for a moment, grab him, and string him up. If you're feeling particularly nasty, you can glide away, turn back, and then cut the rope with a batarang, causing him to fall. You don't kill anyone with the game, and the title is keeping a Teen rating, much the same way that Dark Knight was a PG-13 movie with more than enough darkness. In this title, Batman comes off as suitably badass and menacing.
The gadgets are also impressive. There is a Sonic Batarang that you can throw which sends off a pulse to attract enemies to investigate, and then detonates when they are near. There is explosive gel that you can spray on the ground to drop down a level and take someone out. You can throw a Batarang to take out enemies; the right bumper allows the camera to follow the flying weapon. Skulking through the levels, using every trick you can find to battle your enemies, causing them to scatter in terror as they're picked off... it really does feel like you're the godda***d Batman. That's not to say you'll always rely on terror to do your job: you're more than able to take down a group of enemies with some liberal use of acrobatics and misdirection. With one brutal attack I disarmed an opponent and cracked his skull with his own baseball bat, before dropping it, confusing the other two enemies with my cape, and then slamming the fourth into the wall. Delicious. It's hard to describe, but you feel trapped and desperate in the game, yet more than able to tackle the challenges ahead of you.
The other good news is that the voice cast from the sublime Batman: The Animated Series is providing the vocals. I'm tired of Bale's cartoony growl from the movies. Kevin Conroy from the cartoon ironically sounds more like Batman in my head. Mark Hamill is the quintessential Joker, and I'm told that Mr. Skywalker was a blast to work with in the studio, riffing on his lines and providing in-character improvisation for the game. "You just hear his laugh, and it makes you go..." the Warner Bros. spokesmen shivers, and I know what he's talking about. Hamill does a helluva Joker.
The combat is cinematic without making you feel weighed down by the animations. Finishing moves and brief moments of slow-mo to show off a brutal attack give you the feeling of power and weight. This is how the Batman operates: he feels like an almost unstoppable foe, but still human; the world's greatest detective is more than well represented in Dark Asylum.
Wallace and Gromit world recreated in £2m exhibition at Science MuseumA World of Cracking Ideas intended to inspire young visitors
Maev Kennedy guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 March 2009
The multiple Oscar-winning animator Nick Park had the odd feeling of being about five inches high and made of Plasticine as he stood leaning on the gate of the impeccable garden of 62 West Wallaby Street a gate he has sketched and modelled hundreds of times but never seen taller than a coffee cup.
The world of Wallace and Gromit has been recreated in a £2m exhibition on the second floor of the Science Museum, complete with mad machines, giant cabbages, villainous rabbits, extensive research library on cheese, improbable collections one illustrating the evolution of the welly boot and kitchen cupboards stuffed with the packets and jars fondly remembered from Park's own childhood in Preston, Lancashire.
Wallace and Gromit's world of genius inventions that very nearly work perfectly, and hoarded bits and bobs that might come in handy one day, is very much Park's own, he revealed.
"To this day I find it really difficult to throw away a cardboard tube or a bit of plastic packaging I think oh, I could use that for something."
He cannot remember a time when he didn't draw, but he was following his father's example and creating inventions, including a bottle that squeezed out different colour wools which he was so proud of he sent it to Blue Peter, even before he started borrowing his mother's home movie camera and making his own animations from the age of 12.
Like the most dazzling creations of Wallace, there was often some tediously fundamental flaw in his inventions. He remembers with modest pride the staggering patent nut cracker he built in metalwork class, working on the principle of a jack hammer and highly likely to remove a finger. Its only practical disadvantage was that it proved impossible to fit even a hazelnut into its jaws. Tellingly, Park has said of Wallace that all his inventions are based on using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
The exhibition is jointly funded by the Intellectual Property Office, and intended to encourage small visitors not just to fuel the thinking cap with brainwaves, or to hurl bean bags to bring the television set within reach of the sofa avoiding the need for anything as dull as a remote control but to come up with and patent their own inventions. It includes the inspiring story of Sam Houghton, who saw his father struggling with two brooms to sweep up twigs and leaves, and raced to find a stout rubber band to fasten them together. Sam is five, but his father is a patent attorney: as of last April, Sam's broom enhancer is registered as British patent number 2438091.
The exhibition ends in Wallace's own museum, selected on his behalf from the Science Museum's vast stores by curators John Liffen and Andrew Nahum: as Liffen is mad on communications, and Nahum on flight, they sensed Wallace would be too. Their assemblage includes a truly Wallacian piece of kit, a home tin can sealing machine. Liffen believes it was one of those paid for at the time of the second world war by donations from American housewives, and sent to rescue their unfortunate British sisters from the archaic practice of bottling in glass jars: the thrifty and houseproud Gromit would approve.
Wallace and Gromit present A World of Cracking Ideas, Science Museum, London, until 1 November
'Monsters vs. Aliens' buzz gives boost to 3D revolution
Buzz around "Monsters vs. Aliens" adds new momentum to drive for fully 3D industry
Economic slowdown affected introduction of 3D screens and projectors in cinemas
Other 3D films, like James Cameron's sci-fi "Avatar," slated for 2009 release
British film critic, Nick De Semlyen on 3D: "It's a revolution"
By Neil Curry
DreamWorks Animation's 3D movie, "Monsters vs. Aliens" should give Hollywood's new medium of choice a welcome boost in tough economic times.
It is a welcome boost to the 3D schedule: The introduction of special screens and digital projectors into cinemas across the world has have slowed in the last six months along with the economy.
Instead of the 5,000 3D screens expected to roll out, the figure is closer to 2,000, as the cost of installing new technology during the downturn causes pause for thought.
The release of "Monsters vs. Aliens," along with the recent announcement that Pixar 3D animation, "Up" will open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May, should give Hollywood's new medium of choice a lift.
"Monsters vs. Aliens," which U.S. movie industry bible, Variety describes as "'Monsters, Inc.' Meets 'War of the Worlds'" features a fight between a collection of well-loved movie monsters ( think 1950s B-movie characters like a 50 ft woman, a friendly amorphous blob, and a genius cockroach scientist) and alien invaders who want to take over Earth.
The brains behind the feature -- which has an all-star cast including Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland -- are Rob Letterman, the writer-director of Will Smith animated pic, "Shark Tale" and Conrad Vernon, the director of "Shrek 2."
The film is one of a number of 3D films, like James Cameron's sci-fi "Avatar," already in production that are slated for 2009 and 2010 release.
Of course, 3D is not new: Films like "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "It Came from Outer Space" first emerged during the affluent years of the 1950s, but because 3D was quite gimmicky the medium fell into decline and exhibitors turned their attention to other technologies.
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is one of the new breed of 3D movies, projected digitally and very immersive for audiences, that Hollywood is hoping will lure paying audiences out of the comfort of their living rooms and back into cinemas.
"Hollywood is throwing themselves into 3D like never before," said Nick De Semlyen, critic for British movie magazine, Empire.
"All the big directors from Spielberg to Peter Jackson from 'Lord of the Rings,' they are making 3D films and it's looking like pretty much every big film is going to be in 3D in the next couple years ... It's a huge thing, it's a revolution."
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is the first film that DreamWorks Animation, the Hollywood giant behind movies like the "Shrek" franchise, "Madagascar" and last year's "Kung Fu Panda," has designed from scratch as a purely 3D movie.
Dennis Laws is Chief Projectionist at the BFI IMAX, which is home to the UK's biggest cinema screen and also has 3D capability. He told CNN, "It's the first film from DreamWorks that was designed from the very beginning to be in 3D and DreamWorks are very proud of the fact."
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is probably 3D's most devoted advocate. He has said that the medium's introduction may be as significant to the movies as sound, and that all DreamWorks animations will be made in 3D from now on.
"Mr Katzenberg was so articulate in explaining what he wanted to do, and it was very different than anything that I had ever heard of before, which was 3-D used as a gimmick in a film," Keifer Sutherland told CNN at the UK premiere of "Monsters vs. Aliens." Watch Kiefer Sutherland talking about "Monsters vs. Aliens"
"He actually wanted to envelope the audience in the movie and make you feel like you were part of the scene.
"That not only knocks down the fourth wall between the movie and the audience but it also furthers telling the story."
With commercial 3D still in its infancy, all eyes are on each new release to take in the advances in the technology, which is moving forward very quickly.
"The technology is growing really fast," De Semlyen told CNN, "It's very exciting."
Mairi Mackay contributed to this story.
$150M buys you late TV producer's L.A. mansion
By ALEX VEIGA
LOS ANGELES (AP) The widow of producer Aaron Spelling is placing "The Manor" in the exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood on the market for a jaw-dropping $150 million, making it by far the most expensive home for sale in the U.S.
The French chateau-style mansion has 56,500 square feet of space on more than 4.6 acres and is the largest home in Los Angeles County. Among the neighbors are the Los Angeles Country Club and, not too far away, the Playboy Mansion.
Candy Spelling's late husband produced hit shows such as "Charlie's Angels," "Dynasty" and "Beverly Hills 90210." He died in 2006.
"Everything there is glamorous, and is luxurious and it's really great scale," said Sally Forster Jones, an agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International in Los Angeles, which is co-listing the property. "There really is nothing to compare it to."
Candy Spelling told The Associated Press that she let her dog Madison, a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, help pick out the best real estate agent for the task. She had her security bring the dog into the room every time she met one of the candidate agents and watched how the dog reacted. If Madison didn't like them, Spelling crossed them off the list.
Prospective buyers won't have to worry about passing such scrutiny, Spelling jokes.
"Not at all," she says.
The three-story mansion, built in 1991, is gated and features a winding driveway that leads up to the three-story house, which includes ceilings that reach up to 30 feet high, Jones said.
While some published reports put the tally of rooms in the mansion at well past 100, Jones couldn't provide an exact count.
Spelling says she doesn't know either.
"You're really asking the wrong person," Spelling jokes. "There's a lot. (The house) has evolved and I actually haven't gone around and counted."
The Spellings found no shortage of uses for the many rooms in the mansion, however.
There's a bowling alley, wine cellar, wine tasting room, gift-wrapping room, a humidity-controlled silver storage room, China room, library, gym and media room, among many others.
The screening room is one of Spelling's favorites.
"I had some really wonderful times entertaining in that room," she said. "We showed movies and I still do."
The room features a movie projection system that automatically comes up from the floor at the same time that shades extend over the windows. It's an idea that came to Candy Spelling in dream as she sought to avoid having a projection screen open all the time.
"I wanted Aaron to have the best projection room anyone had ever seen, and the biggest, so I came with this solution, not realizing that we had to excavate a lot of dirt to get down that low, to have a special room that housed the screen that was totally dust free," said Spelling, 63.
The Spellings also finished the 17,000 square-foot attic that includes a barber shop and beauty salon.
The home also includes a wing for service staff, including a kitchen and seven bedrooms, and five fireplaces and four wet bars.
Lavish features also can be found outside the house, including a tennis court, fountains, a waterfall, a pool and spa, a reflection pool and a pool house with a kitchen, and 16 car ports.
The estate also boasts an 18th Century-style garden, a rooftop rose garden and a citrus orchard.
Prospective buyers won't have to worry much about parking when they host big parties. The property includes a winding motor court with space for more than 100 cars.
Spelling plans to trade her mansion lifestyle for a luxurious, two-story condo atop a residential tower in Los Angeles that she bought last year for $47 million.
"I have a lot of wonderful, wonderful, wonderful feelings about this house and special things that I went through in building it, with a love that you can't even imagine," she gushed. "Yet I feel like I'm moving on to a new chapter in my life."
March 24, 2009
Shamwow vs. Zorbeez: Which works Better? As Seen On TV Lab Test
In a radio interview on Feb. 10, 2009, infomercial superstar Billy Mays claimed that the popular Shamwow has trod on the turf of Zorbeez, a super-absorbent towel he promoted in a separate infomercial about two years prior.
Zorbeez is the most absorbent towel in the world, Mays said in the interview. Vince, host of the Shamwow ad, has now "unleashed and woken up the sleeping giant," Mays said, suggesting the two settle the score via a "pitch-off." Mays predicted the outcome: "Shampow!"
Mays said Vince tried apologizing over e-mail, to which he replied, apology not accepted. "Don't knock Billy Mays off," Mays said. "Don't take my products. I take it personally. And I'm gonna take 'em back." He added, "Zorbeez was mine."
"Billy Mays doesn't take this," Mays said. "I am the ultimate pitchman."
In conclusion, Mays rapped, "I ain't the Beastie Boys or Run DMC. I'm Billy Mays, I'm gonna knock you down to your knees!"
We put the rival rags head-to-head in a spill test of some blueberry beer we had lying around. We also soaked snow puddles and clocked drying times.
Shamwow, by a mile.
Immediately out of the package, the burnt-orange Zorbeez looked a bit listless compared to the vibrant Shamwow. It had probably been sitting on a shelf a bit longerit is a few years past its infomercial primebut even so, its fleecy surface sparkled like fiberglass insulation.
After the first champagne flute tipped, though, it became clear that the Zorbeez was outgunned on this one. The Shamwow soaked three paper towels' worth of blueberry beer on a single swipe, but the Zorbeez pushed the liquid off the edge of the table. We sopped and wiped with both sides of the Zorbeez, but a single stroke of the Shamwow chugged the beer with fratboyish speed. We threw each rag into two deck chairs wet with puddles of melted snowthe Zorbeez sloshed some out on the ground while the Shamwow sucked it up as if with a straw. Disclosure: we actually caught ourselves whispering "wow" while the Shamwow workedand as our earlier tests proved, that's no guarantee.
The Zorbeez measures 19-1/4 x 27-1/4 inches. The Shamwow, at 19 x 23 inches, soaks more despite its smaller size. A cold-water rinse of the beer-soaked rags caused heavy saturation of the Zorbeez, but the Shamwow sprung back after wringing and seemed to have already shed most of the moisture. Dry times in the sun proved otherwiseafter 5 hours in cool air, the Zorbeez had become dryer than the damp Shamwow, though neither clammy rag felt ready for storage. After one use, the Zorbeez began shedding fibrous blonde tufts, while the Shamwow retained its rubbery integrity. Both products smelled awful.
The Bottom Line:
If you have reusable cloth rags (and a roll of paper towels for backup), then neither product is necessary.
But we have a proper duel on our hands, and somebody's got to get "Shampowed." PM crowns Vince the new king of the rag ads. Sorry, Billy, but to the victor go the spills.
Padma Lakshmi Seduces a Hamburger
Padma Lakshmi, the host of Bravo's Top Chef, is the latest beauty to get down and dirty for a Hardee's/Carl's Jr. ad campaign.
The former model follows the Paris Hilton route and gets intimate with a beefy hamburger, seductively consuming an oozing burger, licking and slurping it down. She recounts in a sultry voice-over how as a teenager she would sneak out to grab a burger and consume it without leaving any evidence.
Lakshmi has long been a fan of the fast food restaurant. In her 2007 cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet, she wrote, "The sublimely pleasurable taste of bacon was further enhanced by its mingling with the barbeque sauce, greedily licked off as it dripped down my teenage fingers." The burger helped transform the teenage vegetarian into a meat-eater.