Monday Jul 28, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — A male contestant on a new VH1 dating show didn't beckon a woman to walk in front of him out of politeness. He wanted to check her out from behind, and didn't need to use his imagination. The "Dating Naked" series is the latest example of reality television's newest trend. Nudity is hot, no longer confined to late-night premium cable. Leading the way is Discovery's "Naked and Afraid," where a man and woman who don't know each other fend for themselves in the wilderness for three weeks without a stitch between them. That program's success since its June 2013 premiere begat VH1's "Dating Naked" and TLC's real estate show, "Buying Naked," with more in the planning stages. What's the appeal? Well, what do you think? In a world of endless choices, titillation lures. So does a catchy title, and the word "naked" jumps off the program guide. Brent Montgomery, who produces the nonfiction hit "Pawn Stars" that airs on the History channel, said many early fans were drawn in by that title even though the show had nothing to do with the image left in your head. He's now doing the spinoff, "Pawnography." To truly succeed, however, a show needs more going for it to keep viewers once the novelty of watching naked bodies with blurred body parts wears off. "The secret sauce of our show is not the fact that they're naked," said Denise Contis, West Coast head of production and development at Discovery. "I think it's the storytelling, the cast and a survival experience that's authentic." Memorable characters make successful shows, "and it takes a big character to take off their clothes in front of a reality TV camera," Montgomery said. Standards are the same at each show: male and female genitalia are blurred out, along with female breasts. Backsides are fair game. A graphic artist takes about a week to cleanse each episode of "Naked and Afraid." A strategically placed flowerpot or sofa obscures the nude home shoppers in "Buying Naked." Discovery wasn't searching for a "naked" show when developing "Naked and Afraid," Contis said. It wanted a new twist in the survival genre and, ultimately, the most elemental shelter is clothing. Yet, let's face it: One hook is the question of whether a romance develops between two naked strangers left alone in the woods (except for the producers and camera crew, of course). It hasn't happened yet. The opposite is more likely; in one upcoming episode the two survivalists detest each other so much they agreed to separate until they were picked up at the end. Romance is the point of "Dating Naked." Susan Levison, head of programming at VH1, gave the series a green light her first day on the job last September, and hurried to beat competitors to the air. Fox has its own naked dating show in the works, but put it on hold during a management change. "The idea of using nudity as a metaphor for allowing yourself to be truly exposed and truly yourself in the search for love felt really fresh and exciting," Levison said. While the nudity arguably serves a thematic purpose on "Dating Naked" and "Naked and Afraid," it's hard to see "Buying Naked" as anything other than a typical real estate show where prospective owners leave their clothes at home. TLC says the Florida-based show exposes the habits of a nearby nudist colony. The "Dating Naked" debut earlier this month featured a woman in her 30s stung when her chosen man was distracted by a younger, gorgeous temptress — an intriguing story for VH1's female-dominated audience. The older woman's name, Wee Wee, trended on Twitter and the episode's audience of 826,000 easily beat the network's average of 335,000 viewers in the time slot. With more than 4 million viewers, "Naked and Afraid" was Discovery's most-watched series premiere ever. That explains why plenty of other "naked" pitches are being heard in network boardrooms. "You'll probably see four or five work and a dozen that don't work," Montgomery said. The Parents Television Council is dismayed that each of the "naked" shows is judged by its network as being suitable for children. But Tim Winter, president of the lobbying group that backs family friendly programming, predicted the trend will be short-lived. Despite the ratings, the shows likely make many advertisers squeamish. "It's just so lazy," he said. "This is how you have to resort to making a buck? Is this really what your entertainment brand stands for?" ___ David Bauder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@bauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder. ___ Online: http://www.vh1.com/shows/dating-naked/ http://www.history.com/ http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kevin Bacon's "Six Degrees" world got even bigger Sunday at Comic-Con. During a Sunday panel for his Fox show "The Following," a fan brought up the pop culture game known as "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," whose premise is anyone in Hollywood can be linked to the actor. She wondered if by talking to him she could then be a part of his universe. Bacon said that technically you need to be in a movie with him to be connected in the "Six Degrees" world. The actor then stood up and took a video of the crowd in the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500-seat Hall H. He also got laughs when a young girl told him she loved him in the 2011 movie "Crazy Stupid Love." "Thank you for loving me for such a long time, I guarantee you that I have socks that are older than you, but time is relative," Bacon said. In "The Following," Bacon plays an FBI agent who hunts down killers. He spent the first two seasons tracking a psychotic murderer, played by James Purefoy, who manipulated others to follow his lead. Show creator Kevin Williamson said at the panel that he was looking at season 3 as a reset. To do that, the show needed "a bigger, badder, more complicated villain," show runner Jennifer Johnson teased. "It will take a few episodes before you start to understand what that means. We're going to throw the title of the show on its head." The audience also got to see an alternate ending of the season 2 finale, where Purefoy's character is shot. In the version that aired, he was arrested. ___ Online: www.fox.com/the-following Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — "Sons of Anarchy" is revving up for its final season but the outlaw motorcycle club will live on in books. Series creator Kurt Sutter revealed the cover art to "Sons of Anarchy: Bratva" (Titan Books Ltd.) Sunday at Comic-Con. The first of a series about the "Sons" world, "Bratva" is set in the show's fourth season. It follows Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Opie (Ryan Hurst) and Chibs, played by Tommy Flanagan. Sutter also revisited the topic of a possible prequel to the series. He said serious "talks are ongoing." "I don't know if it will be a full-on series or a mini-series," he said. One thing he's sure of is "there'll be no spinoffs" because he believes those only work for procedurals. Fans also got to see footage from the season 7 premiere, which airs Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. EDT on FX. Hunnam was not at the panel session but pre-taped a video message for the audience. ___ Online: www.fxnetworks.com/soa Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Four DC comics brought to life for television took over the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500 seat Hall H at Comic-Con on Saturday night. "Arrow" star, Stephen Amell, hosted the extravaganza called "Warner Bros. Television Presents a Night of DC Entertainment." He introduced actors Ben McKenzie, Grant Gustin and Matt Ryan before the world premiere of Fox's "Gotham," a screening of The CW's first episode of "The Flash" and footage from the upcoming third season of CW's "Arrow." At the end of the night, they played the pilot for NBC's "Constantine" for fans who sat through the three-hour event. In the "Arrow" footage, it was revealed that DC villain Ra's al Ghul will appear in Season 3. The part has not yet been cast. The hero character Ted Grant, known as Wildcat, will also be introduced. Following the screenings, the cast and producers of all four shows participated in a panel session hosted by Geoff Johns of DC Comics. "Gotham" premieres on FOX on Sept. 22, "The Flash" debuts Oct. 7 on The CW, "Arrow" returns to The CW on Oct. 8 and "Constantine" comes to NBC on Oct. 24. ___ Online: http://www.fox.com/gotham/ http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-flash/ http://www.cwtv.com/shows/arrow/ http://www.nbc.com/constantine/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Season 5 of The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" ended with characters Damon and Bonnie (played by Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham) being separated from their loved ones as they enter a mysterious, purgatory-like dimension. The cast returned to Comic-Con on Saturday where they played a video of Somerhalder and Graham wondering about their fate off-screen, now that their characters are trapped in oblivion. Are they off the show? Will they get a spin-off? Somerhalder, Graham along with Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Matt Davis and showrunner Julie Plec attended the panel to tease the new season premiering Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. EDT. "The Vampire Diaries" is a about vampires, werewolves, doppelgangers, witches and a few humans living in and around the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia. It's loosely based on a book-series. A few panel spoilers: —Season 6 picks up about four months after the events of the finale. —Davis' character Alaric, back from the dead and a full-time cast member again, is now a college professor. —Plec doesn't see Dobrev's Elena turning to her former flame Stefan Salvatore for anything other than friendship, now that she's separated from Damon. "Right now the love between Damon and Elena is so strong," she said. ___ Online: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-vampire-diaries/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The second prequel to the cult sci-fi movie, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" remains in first place at the worldwide box office at the end of its third week in theaters. The blockbuster is followed by "Hercules" and "Lucy" in the ranking for the weekend of July 27, according to Rentrak.During its opening weekend in 26 territories, the historical fantasy movie starring Dwayne Johnson grossed $57.7 million. Luc Besson's new action movie with Scarlett Johansson, only in US theaters for the time being, earned $44 million. "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and "Continent" round out the top five with revenues of $42.1 million and $33 million respectively. "Lucy" even managed to claim the top spot at the US box office ahead of "Hercules" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." The film, directed by Luc Besson and produced by Europacorp, is due for release in additional territories over the coming days. In terms of total revenues, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" now claims $966.3 million, meaning that it could easily reach the $1 billion threshold before next weekend. Michael Bay's latest action movie has already far surpassed the hit movies "Maleficent" ($715 million) and "How to Train Your Dragon 2" ($425.8 million). "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," meanwhile, boasts total revenues of $355.8 million after its third week in theaters. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
Director Luc Besson's action sci-fi thriller "Lucy," about a woman turned superhuman by using 100 percent of her brain, debuted at the top of the North American box office, estimates showed Sunday.In its first weekend out, the film whose title role is played by Scarlett Johansson, earned $44 million in ticket sales according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. It beat out another box office newcomer, "Hercules" which muscled its way to second place with $29 million. Behind was "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," based on the Pierre Boulle sci-fi tale of humans and chimps clashing to survive, which brought in $16.4 million and fell to third place in its third week out. Horror-thriller sequel "The Purge: Anarchy" scared up $9.9 million, landing it in fourth. Meanwhile "Planes: Fire & Rescue," the Disney computer-animated tale of talking aircraft working to fight blazes and help save a national park, raked in $9.3 million landing it in fifth. In sixth place with $6 million was comedy "Sex Tape," starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as two parents trying to keep their homemade sex tape from finding its way onto the Internet. And summer blockbuster "Transformers: Age of Extinction" made $4.6 million in ticket sales, landing it in seventh place, down two spots from last week. It has earned $236.4 million during its five-week run in theaters. "And So it Goes," starring Michael Douglas as a self-centered realtor whose life is interrupted by a granddaughter he never knew he had, and which features Diane Keaton as his neighbor, landed in eighth with $4.6 million. Sliding into ninth was comic romp "Tammy," starring Melissa McCarthy, whose road trip with her alcoholic grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon, brought in $3.4 million. And rounding out the box office top 10 with $2.7 million was "A Most Wanted Man," the story of a Chechen Muslim who lands in Germany and becomes embroiled in the war on terror. It features Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last performances. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Luc Besson's "Lucy" proved mind can overpower muscle, topping a remake of "Hercules" by director Brett Ratner at the box office on the weekend. The Universal Pictures-released movie starring Scarlett Johansson as an accidental psychokinetic took in $44 million in North American movie theaters over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Hercules," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and produced by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, brought down an estimated $29 million. Universal's president of domestic distribution, Nikki Rocco, said audiences were attracted to the original story about the main character gaining superhuman powers by using more and more of her brain. People also wanted to see Johansson in an action role, something she's done more frequently in movies like "The Island" (2005), "Iron Man 2" (2010), "The Avengers" (2012) and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014). "The main reasons for coming to see the film were the story, and then Scarlett," Rocco said. "She's very diversified in what she does. Luc brought out the best of her in this movie." "Lucy," rated R, opens internationally next week. Meanwhile, Johnson's draw with men, women and children helped PG-13-rated "Hercules" power into the No. 2 spot. In addition to its domestic haul, the film brought in $28.7 million from Russia, Australia, Britain, Malaysia and other countries in Asia. Megan Colligan, Paramount's head of domestic marketing and distribution, said Johnson once again proved his appeal as a global action star who fights bad guys with a "a wink and a smile." "He can be very serious and menacing and imposing, and he has this ability to melt it all away, which is why women show up for a movie like this," Colligan said. "He has a lot of appeal for kids." Johnson himself drove over half of the buzz on social media platforms like Twitter, said Benjamin Carlson, president of tracking firm Fizziology. "They weren't talking about any of the co-stars or Brett Ratner, the director," Carlson said. "It was all about 'The Rock' with this film." Despite the two films' solid performances, the summer box office is still down by around one-fifth compared to last year, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak. That's partly because one would-be huge performer, "Fast & Furious 7" was postponed from its July 11 release due to the death of actor Paul Walker, he said. This summer also lacked some other blockbuster sequels like last year's "Despicable Me 2." That puts a lot of pressure on "Guardians of the Galaxy," a Marvel superhero film being released in the U.S. next week, to outperform, he said. Even though it features lesser-known characters, including Chris Pratt as Peter Quill and Zoe Saldana as Gamora, it could still break out, Dergarabedian said. "Any time you have a Marvel movie in the summer, it's still a factor," he said. Another film that opened in wide release over the weekend was the Rob Reiner-directed romantic comedy "And So It Goes," starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, which collected an estimated $4.6 million, according to distributor Clarius Entertainment. "Boyhood," a Richard Linklater film that tracks the life of a boy from age 5 to 18, gained traction in its third week of release by distributor IFC Films with $1.7 million from just 107 locations. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday. 1. "Lucy," $44 million. 2. "Hercules," $29 million ($28.7 million). 3. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," $16.4 million ($54.4 million). 4. "Purge: Anarchy," $9.9 million. 5. "Planes: Fire & Rescue," $9.3 million. 6. "Sex Tape," $6 million. 7. "Transformers: Age of Extinction,"$4.6 million ($37.5 million). 8. "And So It Goes," $4.6 million. 9. "Tammy," $3.4 million. 10. "A Most Wanted Man," $2.7 million. ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak: 1. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," $54.4 million. 2. "Transformers: Age of Extinction," $37.5 million. 3. "Continent," $33 million. 4. "Hercules," $28.7 million. 5. "How To Train Your Dragon 2," $24 million. 6. "Kundo: Age of the Rampant," $20 million. 7. "The House That Never Dies," $8.7 million. 8. "Tiny Times 3.0," $7.2 million. 9. "Step Up: All In," $6.3 million. 10. "Maleficent," $5.2 million. ___ Universal and Focus are owned by NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC. ___ Follow AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/rnakashi Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Several members of "The Avengers" descended on Comic-Con on Saturday to debut the first footage from the upcoming superhero sequel. Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. were on hand with other cast members from "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," including Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders. "It just keeps getting better," Downey told the boisterous crowd of 6,500 assembled in the San Diego Convention Center. "I'm so excited we're all here." The footage kicked off with the Marvel superhero team comically attempting to pick up Thor's mighty hammer off a coffee table. "If I lift it, do I get to rule Asgard?" Tony Stark wondered while trying to wield Thor's hammer — both with and without one of his Iron Man gauntlets. The teaser quickly launched into a barrage of action-packed imagery, including Hulk battling a giant robot resembling Iron Man and Thor grabbing Stark by the throat. The footage ended with a bleak scene of all the Avengers fallen with a haunting close up of Captain America's shield split down the middle. Jackson, who most recently starred in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" with Evans, took a moment during the celebration to appreciate the fans. "It makes me feel like going out and making movies for the rest of you," he said of coming to Comic-Con. "We make movies because we want to entertain you guys, and I make movies because I want to see myself in them." "Avengers" director Joss Whedon wasn't present at Saturday's unveiling because he recently underwent knee surgery, nor was pregnant Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson, who sent along a video message. The original "Avengers" cast was joined on stage inside Hall H by newcomers Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany and James Spader, who personifies the villainous mechanical force Ultron in the sequel. "I play an 8-foot robot in this movie," Spader joked. "I've always played humans up until this point." In the trailer, Ultron takes a few different forms, from a wobbly 'bot to slick metallic general. At one point, he tells the Avengers that he has no strings. "Joss really gets these big, big, big ideas," said Ruffalo backstage after the panel "There is a discussion that's coming up about artificial intelligence and the ethics of artificial intelligence I think that's dealt with in the movie. We're kind of on the threshold of that — the movie 'Her' — all of this technology is just about ready to hit the world. But he's also talking about our ability to destroy the world. And it's a real thing. We're there." The presentation ended with a brief appearance by Josh Brolin, who voices the alien baddie Thanos in both "Age of Ultron," which is set for release May 1, 2015, as well as "Guardians of the Galaxy," the cosmic Marvel romp that comes out Friday. Brolin came on stage wearing a foam Infinity Gauntlet, the powerful artifact depicted in Marvel lore. ___ AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jessica Alba told the crowd at Comic-Con that she got in touch with the dark side for her return to "Sin City." The "Fantastic Four" and "Dark Angel" star is reprising her role as exotic dancer and revenge seeker Nancy Callahan in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," a prequel to the 2005 graphic novel adaptation "Sin City." "I just really connected with the dark side of Nancy," Alba told fans Saturday at the pop-culture convention. "It was hard to detach from that until the movie was over." Frank Miller, the film's co-director and graphic novel creator, didn't initially understand the effect that returning to the role had on Alba's personality. "I haven't seen her in eight years, how did I piss her off?" joked Miller. Alba said she worked with an acting coach and choreographer before production, which was a special-effects-laden endeavor mostly shot in front of green screens. "The second time, I felt comfortable. I felt like a woman," Alba said. Alba was joined at the San Diego Convention Center panel with "Sin City" co-stars Josh Brolin and Rosario Dawson, as well as co-directors Miller and Robert Rodriguez. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Orange Is the New Black" actress Uzo Aduba is flooded with marriage proposals these days. "People on the street, people on Twitter ask, 'Can I be your prison wife?' I'm like you know, 'Name the day and the time,'" Aduba joked. Aduba plays Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the Netflix Inc. original series about a women's prison. She's nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series along with her "Orange" co-stars Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne. Fan reaction also includes questions about her character's unique hairstyle and her most memorable quotes. "'Chocolate and vanilla swirl,' always. Throwing pie, dandelions, that they're not crazy, they're unique," she said. "For it to be received the way it has been, it's humbling." For Aduba, the role is much more than Suzanne's quirky hairdo and scene-stealing one-liners. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the Nigerian-American actress said she's thrilled to be involved in a show that is pushing boundaries and shattering stereotypes. AP: Is the discussion about the lack of diversity in Hollywood overblown? Aduba: I don't think it's overblown if I'm speaking candidly. I think the attraction is the freshness of it, the uniqueness of it. I think that's what the thirst is for, something else and different and new with regards to diversity, with regards to gender, with regards to orientation representation, with regards to the number of each of those things on a singular show. I think all of those things brought together is what is exciting and thrilling for people to see on the show. AP: The series has a number of celebrity fans, including your friend Lupita Nyong'o. How did you meet? Aduba: We met some years ago in this play 'Eclipsed' (written by) another friend of ours Danai Gurira, who's on 'The Walking Dead.' ... We did (the play) together and she's just so phenomenally talented and just so beautiful from her heart to her work as well. Just like phenomenal. AP: Nyong'o has had an extraordinary year, including her Oscar win. Aduba: It makes me proud. It just makes me happy. It makes me want to beam because I root (for her), and if I could have pom-poms, like you know what I mean, I would carry them. ... You feel like this is a person whose head and spirit is of the right place. ... And you stepping into this (success), it's like yes, that's exactly how it should be. AP: There's a stereotype about women in Hollywood not getting along. Has that been your experience? Aduba: There is a myth out in the world that women can't work together. And I don't know if it's a chicken or an egg thing or what, but ... it's not true. ... I think it's an idea that is put out there maybe to divide and conquer. ... It's something that I just have to write off as being a lie. If you bring good people together, regardless of their gender ... they're going to collaborate and support each other and that's going to happen. And that's what I feel like I'm a part of on 'Orange.' AP: What was it like to receive an Emmy nomination? Aduba: The word is bananas or crazy (pause) eyes. ... I just love to act. I like to make good work. And I like to tell good stories, and I'm just thankful, humbled and grateful that people are enjoying it as much as we enjoyed making it, you know? AP: Do you have an Emmy dress picked out? Aduba: I have no idea yet. I dream in color and I have visions of feelings and energies that I would love to feel. AP: How would you like to feel on Emmy night? Aduba: Beautiful and full. Those two things: beautiful and full. _____ Follow Nicole Evatt at http://twitter.com/NicoleEvatt Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — Bel Kaufman, the witty and spirited fiction writer, educator and storyteller whose million-selling "Up the Down Staircase" captured the insanity and the humor, the pathos and the poetry of the American high school, died Friday at age 103. Kaufman, the granddaughter of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem and a vital link to Yiddish culture, died at her Manhattan home after a brief illness, said her daughter, Thea Goldstine. Kaufman was a middle-age teacher and single mother in the mid-1960s when her autobiographical novel was welcomed as a kind of civilian companion to Joseph Heller's "Catch-22," a send-up of the most maddening bureaucracy. Like "Catch-22," even the title of Kaufman's book became a tell-all label, shorthand for all the senseless rules students and educators could never quite follow. "Up the Down Staircase," a scrapbook of letters, notes and memos, follows a few months in the life of the idealistic young Sylvia Barrett, the new teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School. She is a kind soul staggering under a blizzard of administrative nonsense and student impudence. When she's not being reprimanded for her kids' failure to memorize the school's alma mater song, she faces a crowded but endearing class of misfits and other characters, from rebel Joe Ferone to the brown-nosing Harry A. Kagan. When the book was released in 1965, The New York Times' Beverly Grunwald praised Kaufman's "refreshing way of stating the facts, of breaking down statistics into recognizable teenagers, of making you smile, be contrite and infuriated all at once." Kaufman became a heroine for teachers and students worldwide. "Up the Down Staircase" has sold more than 6 million copies and has been translated into 16 languages. It was made into a film of the same name, starring Sandy Dennis, and it helped start a trend of candid education books. Kaufman was delighted to learn that teachers in one of her former schools were warned not to let her see any memos, for fear they would end up in a book. Decades later, another New York teacher-turned-celebrity, Frank McCourt, would praise "Up the Down Staircase" as one of the few honest looks at the public school system. "She got all the craziness of the paperwork and the administrators and supervisors," McCourt, author of the memoirs "Angela's Ashes" and "Teacher Man," said in 2005. She was born Bella Kaufman in Berlin and raised in Odessa, her first language Russian. Her family fled in 1923 to escape the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and she arrived in the U.S., at age 11, speaking no English. She was forced to begin her American schooling in the first grade, her classmates years younger. The kindness of her teacher inspired her to become an educator, too. Language was a temporary handicap. She caught up quickly, graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College in 1934 and received a master's degree in English from Columbia University two years later. Around the same time, she married Sidney Goldstine, with whom she had two children. Literature was in her blood, not just from her grandfather, but from her mother, Lyalya Kaufman, a popular and prolific writer. After leaving Columbia, Bella Kaufman wrote short fiction, including "La Tigresse," published in Esquire with a small but lasting revision: Kaufman shortened her first name to Bel because the magazine only accepted work by men. During the 1950s and into the '60s, she taught in high schools and community colleges, never suspecting the good fortune of the second half of her life. The turn began in 1962 when her brief essay "From a Teacher's Wastebasket" was published in the Saturday Review of Literature. She received $200 and was soon contacted by an editor at Prentice Hall, Gladys Justin Carr, who told her that her article might make a nice start for a novel. Kaufman resisted. Carr offered an advance. Kaufman spent it. "So I had to write the book," she recalled. The novel took nine months and was finished during the "lowest point" of her life. She had left her husband, her kids were grown and her mother was ailing. She was alone and lonely in a two-room apartment and some pages had to be retyped, she said, because of the teardrops on the manuscript. After "Staircase," she wrote a second novel, "Love, Etc.," and was a popular lecturer and speaker, talking about schools, the arts and her famous grandfather, including in the 2011 documentary "Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness." She received numerous honorary awards, enjoyed tango dancing well into her 90s, and, in 2010, was invited by Hunter College to teach a course in Jewish humor. Her own life was a good punchline. "In schools where I used to patrol the toilets," she once said, "I am today required reading." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Past "Big Bang" Comic-Con panels have paid off for fans that score tickets. One viewer was awarded a trip to space. And there was a surprise appearance by Johnny Galecki, who hid in the audience in costume until he asked a question. For the second year in a row, the writers and executive producers represented the long-running CBS comedy. Stars Jim Parsons, Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are without contracts for season 8. (Last week, CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that she was confident it would be worked out.) Friday's session kicked off with a performance by folk duo Garfunkel and Oates, who sang a fresh take on a song from the series that Helberg's character performed on the show. They changed the lyrics to include, "We couldn't have imagined we'd get to sing this song for 'The Big Bang Theory' fans at Comic-Con." A mock trailer was shown for "Serial Ape-ist 2, Monkey See, Monkey Kill," a low-budget horror film mentioned on the show that was to star Wil Wheaton and Cuoco's Penny. (Wheaton plays himself in a recurring role on the comedy.) After the trailer, Wheaton surprised the audience by walking onstage and joining the panel. The writers dodged any real spoiler-like questions (such as whether characters Sheldon and Amy will ever be intimate), but here are some highlights: —Penny and Leonard's (Cuoco and Galecki) wedding won't happen anytime soon. "They are engaged but the wedding is sometime off in the future. They're not in a rush," said show runner Steve Molaro, who also said there are "no plans for any babies at any point." — Penny will continue to not have a last name. "At this point we've come so far it's a bit of a superstition for us. Wait until we have to wrestle if and when (she and Leonard) get married, how they get around that point," said Molaro. —The comic-book store that burned down in the seventh season will return. "There will be a comic-book store in the future," Molaro said. "The show will not go on without a comic-book store." —That darn elevator in the apartment building won't get fixed. It remains a functional element for the writers. "What the stairwell gave us was a place to have walk-and-talk conversations that was organic," said co-creator Bill Prady. ___ Online: http://www.cbs.com/BigBang Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Set to take place from August 26 to September 7 with French composer Alexandre Desplat as president of the jury, the next edition of the Biennale di Venezia will include screenings of 55 international films.Alejandro González Iñárritu will have the opening honors with the world premiere of his film "Birdman." The comedy, which stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero movie actor attempting a comeback, will also be in competition. The Mexican director, whose film "21 Grams" was featured in the official selection in 2003, will compete to follow in the footsteps of the Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, who won the Golden Lion last year for his documentary "Sacro GRA." US directors are well represented in the festival's selection. Among other US titles premiering in the main competition are David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn," headlined by Al Pacino and Holly Hunter, and Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" with Ethan Hawke and January Jones. Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes," a drama about the US housing bubble, is also among the highlights of the competition, along with Abel Ferrara's "Pasolini," a biopic with Willem Dafoe in the title role. French directors Benôit Jacquot ("Farewell, My Queen") and Xavier Beauvois ("Of Gods and Men") will also compete with their latest films, "Trois Cœurs" and "La Rançon de la Gloire," respectively. The out of competition program will include screenings of James Franco's "The Sound and the Fury," the director's cut of Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Volume II," and Peter Bogdanovich's "She's Funny That Way," a comedy with Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots and Jennifer Aniston. Alexandre Desplat will preside over the jury for this 71st edition of the festival. Known for scoring such iconic films as "The Queen," "The King's Speech" and more recently "The Grand Budapest Hotel," the French composer has earned six Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe, three César awards, two European Film Awards and a BAFTA. He will be the first film composer to serve as president of the competition panel at the Venice Film Festival. The complete program of the 71st Venice International Film Festival: In competition: Birdman - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (opening film)The Cut - Fatih AkinA Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - Roy Andersson99 Homes - Ramin BahraniTales - Rakhshān Bani E'TemadLa Rançon De La Gloire - Xavier BeauvoisHungry Hearts - Saverio CostanzoLe Dernier Coup De Marteau - Alix DelaportePasolini - Abel FerraraManglehorn - David Gordon Green3 Hearts - Benôit JacquotThe Postman's White Nights - Andrei KonchalovskyIl Giovane Favoloso - Mario MartoneSivas - Kaan MujdeciAnime Nere - Francesco MunziGood Kill - Andrew NiccolLoin Des Hommes - David OelhoffenThe Look Of Silence - Joshua OppenheimerFires On The Plain - Shinya TsukamotoRed Amnesia - Xiaoshuai Wang Out of competitionWords With Gods - Guillermo Arriaga, Emir Kusturica, Amos Gitai, Mira Nair, Warwick Thornton, Hector Babenco, Bahman Ghobai, Hideo Nakata, Alex de la IglesiaShe's Funny That Way - Peter BogdanovichDearest - Peter Ho-sun ChanOlive Kitteridge - Lisa CholodenkpBurying The Ex - Joe DantePerez - Edoardo De AngelisLa Zuppa Del Demonio - Davide FerrarioThe Sound And The Fury - James FrancoTsili - Amos GitaiLa Trattativa - Sabina GuzzantiThe Golden Era - Ann Hui (closing film)Make-Up - Im KwontaekThe Humbling - Barry LevinsonThe Old Man Of Belem - Manoel de OliveiraItaly In A Day - Gabriele SalvatoresIn The Basement - Ulrich SeidlThe Boxtrolls - Anthony Stacchi, Annable GrahamNymphomaniac Volume II (long version) Director's Cut - Lars Von Trier HorizonsTheeb - Naji Abu NowarLine Of Credit - Salome AlexiSenza Nessuna Pieta - Michele AlhaiqueCymbeline - Michael AlmereydaNear Death Experience - Benoît Delépine, Gustave KervernLa Vita Oscena - Renato De MariaRéalité - Quentin DupieuxI Spy/ I Spy - Veronika Franz, Severin FialaHill Of Freedom - Hong SangsooBypass - Duane HopkinsThe President - Mohsen Makhmalbaf (opening film)Your Right Mind - Ami Canaan MannBelluscone, Una Storia Siciliana - Franco MarescoNabat - Elchin MusaogluHeaven Knows What - Josh Safdie, Ben SafdieThese Are The Rules - Ognjen SvilivivCourt - Chaitanya Tamhane Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.
After dominating the global box office for weeks, Disney's seasonal animated film now tops the list of the best-selling DVD and VOD titles for the first half of 2014, according to Rentrak.Released in November 2013 and awarded the Oscar for best animated feature last March, "Frozen" recently became the fifth highest-grossing film of all time thanks to its revenues with over 1.2 billion at the worldwide box office. And this success isn't limited to theaters: the feature has also become the top-selling film DVD and VOD title for the period from January to June 2014. "Frozen" was just ahead of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second movie in the popular franchise, and "The Wolf of Wall Street," which earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar nomination for best actor. Martin Scorsese's latest movie wasn't the only one to benefit from Oscar buzz. Rentrak's ranking of the top selling DVD and VOD titles also includes "12 Years a Slave," which claimed the award for best picture, as well as "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips" and "Gravity," all of which were nominated in some of the most elite Oscar categories. The sequels to the blockbusters "Thor" and "The Hobbit" round out the ranking, along with Johnny Knoxville's comedy "Bad Grandpa." Top 10 best-selling DVD and VOD titles from January to June 2014: 1. "Frozen" (Disney) 2. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Lionsgate) 3. "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount) 4. "Captain Phillips" (Sony) 5. "Gravity" (2013) (Warner) 6. "12 Years a Slave" (Fox) 7. "American Hustle" (Sony) 8. "Thor: The Dark World" (Disney) 9. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Warner) 10. "Bad Grandpa" (Paramount) Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.