Saturday Aug 30, 2014

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of...
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TV

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of Finke's achievements -- founding Deadline in 2006, selling it in a deal worth up to $15m in 2009 -- as well as this week's earlier emergence of an anti-Finke website, NikkiStink.com, that published candid photos, video, quotes and abrasive character statements in a brief but vitriolic campaign against the Hollywood news mogul. Finke left Deadline in 2013 after its owner, Penske Media Corporation, purchased competing outlet Variety, and she began posting to NikkiFinke.com in June 2014. That stopped on August 11, leading to speculation about what lay behind the silence -- ongoing negotiations with her previous employer, it was said. Evidently, there had been other things going on behind the scenes, and Anne Thompson of IndieWire called it on August 25 when she predicted a possible return. "The millionaire blogger could come back, if she so desires," she said, "and write online about topics other than Hollywood, if she or anyone else were interested. Or write for magazines (she has met with Graydon Carter [of Vanity Fair]). Or finish her book." That was before Finke dropped hints about a relocation via her recently revitalized Twitter account, @nikkifinke. "Esteemed @jackshafer thinks I should 'pack up my act and bring it to DC'. Others saying the same thing. Should I?" she tweeted on August 28; it's a city she knows well, having covered hard news there earlier in her career. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Comedian Tracy Morgan still struggling after crash

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — An attorney for Tracy Morgan says the former "Saturday Night Live" actor is having a tough time recovering from a June accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left a fellow comedian dead. Attorney Benedict Morelli tells The Star-Ledger newspaper (http://bit.ly/1sR1Kbk ) that Morgan relies on a wheelchair and it may be months before he can fully walk again. Morelli says Morgan appears to be making progress, but it will be a month before he is assessed "cognitively." Morgan broke his leg, nose and several ribs in a six-car accident involving his limo bus, and comedian James McNair was killed. The bus was struck by a Wal-Mart truck. The truck driver has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Morgan accused Wal-Mart of negligence in a federal lawsuit. ___ Information from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Red Oaks' and 'The Cosmopolitans' debut on Amazon
Friday Aug 29, 2014
'Red Oaks' and 'The Cosmopolitans' debut on Amazon

The VOD platform has launched its third pilot season with five new episodes, which are now available online. As in the past, Amazon's subscribers will vote to determine which series will be greenlighted for a full season.Netflix is a formidable opponent, between its international reach and its Emmy-nominated original series, but Amazon is up to the challenge. The online retail giant plans to steal some of Netflix's thunder by launching its own quality productions. And its third wave of pilots is the most ambitious yet, between the dramas "Hand of God" and "Hysteria" and the comedies "The Cosmopolitans," "Really" and "Red Oaks." "Red Oaks" Produced by Steven Soderbergh, "Red Oaks" was created by Gregory Jacobs, who regularly collaborates with the filmmaker in the role of assistant director. David Gordon Green ("Eastbound & Down") helmed the pilot. Set in suburban New Jersey in 1985, the story follows David Myers, a college student who spends his summer working as an assistant tennis pro at Red Oaks Country Club. Craig Roberts, the young actor seen in "Skins," "22 Jump Street" and "Submarine," plays the protagonist. "Mad About You" stars Paul Reiser and Richard Kind are also featured, along with Jennifer Grey ("Dirty Dancing"), Oliver Cooper ("Californication"), Gage Golightly and Ennis Esmer. "The Cosmopolitans" Developed by Whit Stillman ("Damsels in Distress"), this comedy starring Chloë Sevigny and Adam Brody follows a group of Americans and other foreigners living in Paris. The narrative revolves around the expatriates' search for love and the meaning of life in the French capital. "Hand of God" Harris Pernell, played by Ron Perlman, is a morally corrupt yet influential judge who juggles relationships with a high-end call girl and a wife named Crystal, who is played by Dana Delany ("Desperate Housewives," "Body of Proof"). But his life changes dramatically following a religious awakening, as he becomes convinced God is talking to him through his ventilator-bound son.  Written by Ben Watkins, the pilot is directed by Marc Forster ("World War Z"). "Hysteria" In this medical thriller, Mena Suvari plays Dr. Logan Harlow, a brilliant and charming yet socially awkward neurologist/psychiatrist. Already plagued by her own problems, including a brother who is on death row, the character is forced to return to her hometown of Austin, Texas to investigate a mysterious illness that has stricken a girls' competitive dance team and is possibly transmitted through technology.  The cast also includes James McDaniel, Josh Stewart, Adan Canto, Laura San Giacomo and T.R. Knight. "Really" Created by Jay Chandrasekhar, who also plays one of the main characters, and by Jamie Tarses, this dramatic comedy centers on a Chicago couple and their group of friends as they live out their adult lives while attempting to hold on to their fleeting youth. Sarah Chalke, Selma Blair, Travis Schuldt, Hayes MacArthur, Collette Wolfe, Luka Jones, Lindsay Sloane and Rob Delaney make up the cast. All of the pilots are available at www.amazon.com. Watch a preview of the new Amazon series: youtu.be/phyEY_mBea4 Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Dustin Diamond returns again to his inner Screech
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Dustin Diamond returns again to his inner Screech

NEW YORK (AP) — The rank of mega-stars who are known simply by one name includes, of course, Madonna, Cher, Beyonce and Bono. Oh, and one more, surely — that man-boy known as Screech. Samuel "Screech" Powers of the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell" has become almost an icon — for gross ineptitude. He was adorkable before there was such a thing. He even had a catchphrase: "Zoinks!" Dustin Diamond, the man behind Screech, is 37 now. His hair is cut close to his skull and he wears a beard, both flecked with gray. He's married, works as a stand-up comedian, and lives near Milwaukee. For Diamond, Screech has been a curse and a career. He played the character for a decade and then tried to run away from Bayside High as fast as he could: Diamond was a jerk in a season of "Celebrity Fit Club" that he said was scripted. He released a sex tape, which he said was faked. And he revealed sordid details in a tell-all book, "Behind the Bell," which he said was embellished by a ghost writer. Diamond is back this Labor Day weekend mining familiar territory: Lifetime TV is airing "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story" on Monday, which Diamond executive produced. And he's stepped into the off-Broadway "Bayside! The Musical!" playing — you guessed it — Dustin Diamond, a man who never left high school. The Associated Press sat down with Diamond to discuss the show, his missteps and killing Screech. AP: Your relationship to the show is sort of love-hate, isn't it? Diamond: Everybody of any magnitude that I can possibly think of has gone through love-hate relationships with something that becomes so big. The bigger it is, the more you go through it. Think of 'Star Trek' or any band — 'Hey, play "Free Bird!'" Great song, I'm proud of the song but I'm sick of playing it. Give me some time away and, after there's some space created, then you can come back and give big hugs to the thing that brought you there. AP: You've tried to wriggle free with 'Celebrity Fit Club,' porn and the book. How did that go? Diamond: That was really the one-two-three punch of being the bad boy, not the squeaky-clean Screech you remember, which, on one hand, helped because it did break that image. But in retrospect, I kind of wish I hadn't gone exactly that route. But there's no instruction book for any this. You don't know what's going to work. You have to take a gamble. I wanted to rattle the cage, but I didn't think that it would rattle it so much. AP: Why did that show seize the culture so powerfully? Diamond: We never knew. I think looking back, the look and style of everything really sits well with nostalgic feelings of being young and being in school. The color palates that we chose, the outfits we were wearing, it kind of spoke to that generation. AP: Have you kept in touch with some of your 'Saved by the Bell' co-stars like Mark-Paul Gosselaar or Tiffani Thiessen? Diamond: They can't say they really know me. The last time I saw Mark-Paul and Tiffany, I was 16. That was 21 years ago. That's a hefty amount of time to traverse in growth. I've done a lot of stuff since I was 16. I made a lot of growth changes. AP: What can we expect from the TV movie? Diamond: The Lifetime movie is going to be based on my book in the way that it's a behind-the-scenes look, but my book was written by a ghost writer, and they tried to milk the negativity. It wasn't supposed to be a dirty tell-all. AP: So the movie will set some of that right? Diamond: Yes. The overall vibe, the overall feel, should be pretty surprising. I think people who are warm to the show are going to watch it and really enjoy it. And the people who are skeptical are going to watch it and say, 'Wow, OK. This wasn't what I thought it was going to be at all.' AP: The musical has been rewritten to accommodate you. Are you having fun? Diamond: Oh, yes. With parody, there's new ground to be found. It's not in the confines of 'Hey, keep it serious. This is the real deal here.' Now it's poking fun at the real deal, so there's a whole brand new well to dig around in. Now if I did this for the next 10 years, I might become sick of it, too. AP: In both these projects, you're exorcising demons by going to the very heart of Screech. Diamond: Think of it like a wrestling match: You'd never leave the ring because then you'd lose the match. This thing is on top of you, trying to pin you down. And you're wriggling and wriggling, flailing and tossing, to get this thing off of you. But when you do, you don't walk away from it. You mount it, right? I'm mounting it. ____ Online: http://www.BaysideTheMusical.com http://www.mylifetime.com ___ Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

FX picks up new comedy from Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis
Thursday Aug 28, 2014
FX picks up new comedy from Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis

The network has ordered the first season of "Baskets," a new series created by Louis C.K., Jonathan Krisel and Zach Galifianakis. The star of the "The Hangover" franchise will also headline the comedy.Basking in the continued success of the comedy "Louie," which just won its second Emmy for outstanding writing, FX and Louis C.K. are expanding their collaboration. The network has ordered 10 episodes of "Baskets," starring and co-created by Zach Galifianakis. The comedy will follow Chip Baskets, a man who dreams of becoming a respected clown. After an unsuccessful stint at a prestigious Parisian clown school, he ends up working at the local rodeo. Also co-developing the new comedy is "Portlandia" creator Jonathan Krisel, who penned the pilot. "Baskets" will enter production early next year and is slated to premiere in 2016. In the meantime, Zach Galifianakis will return to theaters in Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu's "Birdman," and the fifth season of "Louie" will air next spring on FX. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Movies

5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

NEW YORK (AP) — The movie of the summer might have been Marvel's irreverent hit "Guardians of the Galaxy," the top domestic film at the box office. Or it could have been Michael Bay's sequel-reboot hybrid "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the lone movie to even approach $1 billion globally. But really, the movie of the summer was "Star Wars: Episode VII." Even though it's not due in theaters for more than a year, no other film captured the popcorn-hunger of moviegoers quite like J.J. Abrams' resurrection of George Lucas' space opera. As the blockbuster-to-come went into production over the summer, every bit of casting news was eagerly consumed; every hint of its plot was carefully parsed. Nothing can stop it, not even the broken leg of an aged Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), at the mercy of a mechanical door on his trusty Millennium Falcon, no less. The rabid interest for "Star Wars" is good news for Hollywood's 2015. No so much for its 2014. When the season sputters to a close on Monday, the summer box office — regardless of whatever is added to the coffers by weekend front-runner "Guardians" — will be about 15 percent down from last year's summer, making it Hollywood's worst summer in at least seven years. Why did this summer fail to ignite at the box office? Here are five take-aways: — THE MOVIES SIMPLY WEREN'T GOOD ENOUGH: "Maybe we had a lot of titles that looked good on paper," says Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., whose Adam Sandler comedy "Blended" and largely acclaimed Tom Cruise action flick "Edge of Tomorrow" found lukewarm receptions. "The audience didn't go for it. We have to do better." Many in Hollywood will often remind that the movies, after all, are ultimately a content-driven business. The self-mocking "Guardians," starring Chris Pratt, and the operatic apocalyptic tale "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" won the most cheers from moviegoers and critics alike. But many of the summer's top releases, like the Melissa McCarthy road trip "Tammy" and the flopping neo-noir sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," simply weren't up to snuff. One likely best picture-nominee did emerge over the summer, though: Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," a unique coming-of-age film made over 12 years. — SEQUELS DIDN'T POP: Make no mistake about it: Sequels still rule the summer. Of the top 10 films at the box office, how many do you think were original? Zero. The most popular original movie — not a sequel, reboot or adaptation of a well-known property — was the Seth Rogen comedy "Neighbors," in 11th place. But many sequels also showed growing audience fatigue. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" performed worse than all four previous "Spider-Man" movies. DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon 2," also didn't rally the box office like it was expected to, and Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables 3" signaled the end of an already elderly franchise. Sequels are expected to stomp through the summer, but this year none surpassed $250 million domestically. — THE CENTER IS SHIFTING: Two of the top movies of the year ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "The LEGO Movie") were released in spring, usually the homely sidekick to summer's dashing hero. And the summer's biggest hit, "Guardians of the Galaxy," wasn't released until the dog days of August. "The studios are starting to realize: Let's take advantage of the soft spots in the calendar," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Not only that, they're also increasingly focusing overseas. "Transformers" was launched not in North America but in China, where it was also partially shot. And it was rewarded for it: The film made more money in China than in North America. Even the summer's cult hit, the futuristic allegory "Snowpiercer," was a distinctly international production made in South Korea and largely seen not in theaters but on video-on-demand. — FEWER MOVIES: The summer was missing a few of its expected tentpoles that by themselves could have moved the needle on the overall box office. Following Paul Walker's death, "Fast & Furious 7" was postponed until next year. Pixar didn't have its usual summer entry. But overall, the studios are largely pulling back on their output, concentrating resources on fewer but bigger films. This has meant slightly less competition in the summer and more carefully guarded profit margins. The summer may have been down at the movies, but the studios had fewer high-profile bombs than they did last year, a record-setting but volatile summer. (Remember "Lone Ranger"?) Instead, the studios downshifted for more dependable results. Budgets may look fine in Hollywood, but they don't look as good for theater owners. — GET 'EM NEXT YEAR: "It'll happen next year," says Universal distribution head Nikki Rocco. "The business is cyclical." The hope is that the constant ebb and flow of the movie business will next year tilt back toward buffo box office. The year boasts arguably the two most lucrative franchises in movies: "Star Wars" and "Avengers." When "Avengers: Age of Ultron" kicks off on May 1, nothing less than record-breaking will be expected. The first "Avengers" film in 2012 was the highest grossing summer movie ever. It won't be until December that "Episode VII" hits theaters, but nothing proves more than "Star Wars" — a series in which the last three films are almost universally derided — that franchise fervor springs eternal. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
Book deal done for Hollywood insider Nikki Finke

The elusive Nikki Finke, founder of Hollywood news site Deadline, will have her book edited by the president of publishing house Simon & Schuster."Whenever we publish," Jonathan Karp told the New York Times, "the book will be an event." That comment can be set against the backdrop of Finke's achievements -- founding Deadline in 2006, selling it in a deal worth up to $15m in 2009 -- as well as this week's earlier emergence of an anti-Finke website, NikkiStink.com, that published candid photos, video, quotes and abrasive character statements in a brief but vitriolic campaign against the Hollywood news mogul. Finke left Deadline in 2013 after its owner, Penske Media Corporation, purchased competing outlet Variety, and she began posting to NikkiFinke.com in June 2014. That stopped on August 11, leading to speculation about what lay behind the silence -- ongoing negotiations with her previous employer, it was said. Evidently, there had been other things going on behind the scenes, and Anne Thompson of IndieWire called it on August 25 when she predicted a possible return. "The millionaire blogger could come back, if she so desires," she said, "and write online about topics other than Hollywood, if she or anyone else were interested. Or write for magazines (she has met with Graydon Carter [of Vanity Fair]). Or finish her book." That was before Finke dropped hints about a relocation via her recently revitalized Twitter account, @nikkifinke. "Esteemed @jackshafer thinks I should 'pack up my act and bring it to DC'. Others saying the same thing. Should I?" she tweeted on August 28; it's a city she knows well, having covered hard news there earlier in her career. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Guardians' retakes box office, tops summer films
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
'Guardians' retakes box office, tops summer films

NEW YORK (AP) — "Guardians of the Galaxy" became the summer's top-grossing movie at the North American box office with a $17.6 million weekend that narrowly bested the young adult melodrama "If I Stay," while the long-delayed "Sin City" sequel, "A Dame to Kill For," flopped. With an estimated $17.6 million in its fourth weekend of release, the Marvel space adventure passed "Transformers: Age of Extinction" to become the summer's biggest domestic hit with a cumulative total of $252 million. The film, released by Disney, was an unlikely August sensation (late summer is usually an afterthought in Hollywood's lucrative summer season) that helped the box office rebound somewhat after big-budget sequels like "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "How To Train Your Dragon 2" failed to ignite the multiplexes. "This movie just couldn't have come at a better time," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "When we were really down and out in the summer box office — at one point down 20 percent from last year — 'Guardians' came along and injected life. What is surprising is that it was a film launched in August." The Warner Bros. tearjerker "If I Stay" failed to top the box office with a weekend haul of $16.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. In the film, a co-production between MGM and New Line Cinema, Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a teen in a coma after a car accident. It came in third place behind Paramount's reptile reboot "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which made $16.8 million in its third weekend. Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said the studio was pleased with the performance of "If I Stay" considering its $11 million production budget. Advance tracking on the film had forecast a box office-topping result, but tracking had also expected "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" to open in the mid-teens. It made just $6.5 million. "This is a complete miss," said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Co.'s distribution chief. "Obviously, we're very, very disappointed in the numbers. We definitely did not see it coming in like this." The hurt was particularly acute, Lomis said, because it happened with a longtime Weinstein Co. collaborator, director Robert Rodriguez. He helmed the first "Sin City" film, which opened with $29.1 million in 2005 and made $159 million globally. But nine years is a long time to wait for a sequel, and clearly the novelty of the film's digital adaptation of Frank Miller's black-and-white graphic novels wore off with both moviegoers and critics. The faith-based high school football film "When the Game Stands Tall" opened with $9.1 million for Sony. 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. "Guardians of the Galaxy," $17.6 million ($20.7 million international). 2. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," $16.8 million ($15.5 million international). 3. "If I Stay," $16.4 million. 4. "Let's Be Cops," $11 million ($1.3 million international). 5. "When the Game Stands Tall," $9.1 million. 6. "The Giver," $6.7 million ($1.4 million international). 7. "The Expendables 3," $6.6 million ($16.5 million international). 8. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," $6.5 million ($4.9 million international). 9. "The Hundred-Foot Journey," $5.6 million. 10. "Into the Storm," $3.8 million ($8.8 million). ___ Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak: 1. "Lucy," $34 million. 2. "Guardians of the Galaxy," $20.7 million. 3. "How to Train Your Dragon 2," $18.2 million. 4. "The Expendables 3," $16.5 million. 5. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," $15.5 million. 6. "The Four 3," $15.1 million. 7. "Into the Storm," $8.8 million. 8. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," $8.5 million. 9. "The Pirates," $8.3 million. 10. "Hercules," $8.2 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 Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Joaquin Phoenix still in the running to play Marvel's Doctor Strange
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Joaquin Phoenix still in the running to play Marvel's Doctor Strange

Denying other rumors on the subject, including recent speculation that Daniel Radcliffe would play Marvel's sorcerer, Collider reports that negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix are about to cross the finish line.Jared Leto, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adrien Brody, Joseph Gordon-Levitt... The rumor mill has churned out the names of several in-demand actors (and some less relevant ones) in connection with Marvel's "Doctor Strange" movie. By mid-July, Joaquin Phoenix seemed to have emerged as the front runner, so much so that the studio was expected to announce him as Doctor Strange at Comic-Con in San Diego. But the lack of confirmation from Marvel in the following weeks led the trades to assume the actor had backed out of the project. Now, however, Collider's source indicates that the "Her" star is still in late talks for the role. Collider speculates that negotiations may have been slowed by Phoenix's aim to avoid a contract that would lock him in for several films over the coming years, as has been the case for Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Evans. The actor may be reticent to commit to a series of effects-heavy, big-budget movies. Joaquin Phoenix was previously approached by Marvel's rival DC Comics to play the villain Lex Luthor in "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice," although the role ultimately went to Jesse Eisenberg ("The Double"). Created in 1963, Doctor Strange is a former surgeon who becomes a sorcerer to protect the Earth from malevolent mystical forces. The character appears in certain episodes of "Fantastic Four" and "Spider-Man," among other Marvel comics. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Events

VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
VENICE WATCH: Director's praise for Robin Williams

VENICE, Italy (AP) — VENICE, Italy — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press: ___ LEVINSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer. Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie. "He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63. At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie. "And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said. "He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being." —By Adam Egan ___ LENA DUNHAM GIVES DO-IT-YOURSELF ADVICE VENICE, Italy — Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself. The creator and star of hit sitcom "Girls" says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression. "The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube. "Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told." Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on "Girls," was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July. Organizers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted. "That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said. Dunham and "Girls" producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show. Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more 'Scandal.' And then we'll stay up all night writing." —By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless ___ QUICKQUOTE: Andrew Garfield "This (beard) is just for me, because I never thought in my life that I would go through puberty and it happened. ... I'm just riding it out. I'm going to see where it goes, so yeah, it could last a while. It's not for a role, particularly, it's just a point of pride on my face." — The "99 Homes" actor, asked whether his luxuriant facial hair had been grown for a role. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage
Saturday Aug 30, 2014
After injury, Kings of Leon ready for stage

NEW YORK (AP) — A brotherly reunion is coming to the City of Brotherly Love: Family band Kings of Leon will play its first show Sunday in Philadelphia since drummer Nathan Followill injured his ribs. The group will headline the second night of the "Budweiser Made In America" festival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Kanye West and Steve Aoki will perform on the first night of the two-day festival over Labor Day weekend. Kings of Leon lead singer Caleb Followill said in an interview Friday that his younger brother is "doing good" since he broke his ribs after the band's tour bus driver was forced to stop short when a pedestrian crossed the street in front of the vehicle. "He has this protective gear that he's wearing that's there to help him," Caleb said. "(On Thursday), we went in (to rehearsal) and we kind of loosened up a little bit, played five or six songs. (On Friday), we went in and played more, but by the end of it he was definitely tired." The band includes youngest brother Jared Followill, who plays bass, and cousin Matthew Followill, who plays guitar. They cancelled two weeks of shows after the Aug. 9 incident and were set to mark a comeback on Thursday, but decided to postpone more shows. "Hopefully he continues to heal," Caleb said. "We're going to throw a long set at him this weekend so he better bring his A-game, otherwise you're going to have a three-piece up there with no drums." Following the Jay Z-curated festival, the Grammy-winning band will play 16 shows before their U.S. tour wraps Oct. 5 in Irvine, California. They've surprised each of the audiences on the current tour by playing an older song they hadn't performed live in years, or a cover. They sang Robyn's cult hit "Dancing On My Own" at Lollapalooza this summer. Caleb laughs when asked if the group would perform a Jay Z song Sunday: "That would be a first for us." "I was online looking up all the artists that have come from Philadelphia," he said of potential covers. "There's quite a well of talent that has come out of that city." Sunday's line-up in Philadelphia will also include Pharrell, Tiesto and Girl Talk. The festival, in its third year, will also play in Los Angeles over the weekend for the first time. Imagine Dragons will headline Saturday, and West will switch coasts to play Sunday. Kings of Leon had its musical breakthrough in 2009 when the rock song "Use Somebody" crossed over to the pop charts and won three Grammy Awards, including record of the year. They released their sixth album, "Mechanical Bull," last year, and Caleb said he's been itching to write new songs. "I am very excited for the future," he said. "I think we'll really go in there and write some songs we're proud of, but at the same time, I'm ready to get back on the radio, so I want to write some hits." ___ Online: http://tour.kingsofleon.com/ http://a.madeinamericafest.com/landing/ ___ Follow Mesfin Fekadu on twitter.com/MusicMesfin Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cee Lo Green enters no contest plea in drug case
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Cee Lo Green enters no contest plea in drug case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cee Lo Green pleaded no contest Friday to one felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a woman during a 2012 dinner in Los Angeles and was sentenced to serve probation and community service. The Grammy-winning singer also entered a special plea in which he maintained his innocence in the case and that prevents his no contest plea from being used against him in civil court. The drug case could be used against Green in criminal court if he faces another drug offense. Superior Court Judge Mark Young sentenced the 39-year-old singer to three years of formal probation and 45 days of community service. Green, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, will be allowed to travel for work and permitted to see a private physician for drug and alcohol counseling, the judge said. Green also can serve his community service through MusiCares Foundation, an affiliate of the organization that presents the Grammy Awards. Green entered the plea just before a scheduled preliminary hearing during which prosecutors would have had to show there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Prosecutors rejected a rape charge against Green when he was charged with the felony drug charge in October 2013. His attorney Blair Berk has said Green had consensual sex with the woman he gave ecstasy to during the July 2012 dinner. No civil case has been filed over the incident in Los Angeles, court records show. Green won a Grammy for the hit "Forget You" and performed as part of the duo Gnarls Barkley. He appeared as a judge on the NBC competition show "The Voice," but left the show after he was charged. ___ Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Harry Belafonte to receive honorary humanitarian Oscar
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Harry Belafonte to receive honorary humanitarian Oscar

Oscar organizers announced Thursday they will give a prestigious humanitarian award to US actor-producer-singer Harry Belafonte, whose work as an activist has helped shed light on racism and inequality.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also announced honorary lifetime awards for Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, French screenwriter/actor Jean-Claude Carriere and Irish actress Maureen O'Hara. The Academy's Board of Governors voted on the awards on Tuesday. They will be presented at the body's 6th annual Governors Awards on November 8 in Hollywood. Belafonte will get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award while Miyazaki, Carriere and O'Hara will receive Governors Awards. "We're absolutely thrilled to honor these outstanding members of our global filmmaking community and look forward to celebrating with them in November," said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. "The Governors Awards allow us to reflect upon not the year in film, but the achievements of a lifetime," she added. Miyazaki, an artist, writer, director and producer, was nominated three times in the Academy's animated feature category, which he won in 2002 for "Spirited Away." As a writer Carriere worked with iconic directors including Luis Bunuel, Volker Schloendorff, Jean-Luc Godard and Andrzej Wajda. He shared a screenwriting Oscar for the action short "Heureux Anniversaire (Happy Anniversary") in 1962. O'Hara starred in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939) at the start of a long and wide-ranging career with films including drama "This Land Is Mine," family classic "The Parent Trap" and spy comedy "Our Man in Havana." She was also in numerous westerns as a favorite of director John Ford. When away from the spotlight, Belafonte, 87, spent much of his life campaigning for various causes such as education, famine relief, children, AIDS awareness and civil rights. His films such as "Carmen Jones," "Odds against Tomorrow" and "The World, the Flesh and the Devil" helped portray the injustices of racism and inequality. He was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr in his heyday. He was also named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1987. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Harrods to launch pop-up store by Best British Designer Bethan Gray
Friday Aug 29, 2014
Harrods to launch pop-up store by Best British Designer Bethan Gray

Luxury department store Harrods is set to host a pop-up shop by Bethan Gray, winner of the Best British Designer Award 2013, during the London Design Festival this autumn.The store will showcase exclusive products alongside Gray's most popular pieces.The centerpiece of the collection is the new Carve furniture collection, comprising a marble-topped dining table, an oak dining chair, a console table and a desk. The collection is made entirely from natural materials including wood, leather and hand-polished marble.An exclusive series of Stud handmade mirrors, featuring leather strips punctuated with brass or nickel and inspired by Asian and Arabic doors. The studs are applied to the inner side of the mirror, so they are reflected to produce a striking double-stud effect. The pop-up will also include a plain back version of the new Ella sofa, a collaboration between Bethan Gray and British furniture manufacturer WorkHouse, and Gray's recently launched monochrome tabletop accessories collection, Alice, which takes its design inspiration from historical buildings across Europe. The shop is part of the store's London Design Festival ‘Design Trail', which supports up-and-coming talent and is part of its new campaign "Harrods is Design". The Bethan Gray pop-up will run from September 8 through October 5. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.