Sunday Jul 27, 2014

Kevin Bacon brings his 'Six Degrees' to Comic-Con

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...
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TV

Kevin Bacon brings his 'Six Degrees' to Comic-Con
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
Kevin Bacon brings his 'Six Degrees' to Comic-Con

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

'Sons of Anarchy' book announced at Comic-Con
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
'Sons of Anarchy' book announced at Comic-Con

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.

4 DC Comics brought to TV get Comic-Con event
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
4 DC Comics brought to TV get Comic-Con event

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.

'The Vampire Diaries' takes bite out of Comic-Con
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
'The Vampire Diaries' takes bite out of Comic-Con

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.

Tatiana Maslany addresses Emmy snub at Comic-Con
Saturday Jul 26, 2014
Tatiana Maslany addresses Emmy snub at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO (AP) — If Tatiana Maslany is upset she wasn't nominated for an Emmy for portraying multiple clones on TV's "Orphan Black," she didn't show it at Comic-Con. The actress appeared Friday alongside co-stars including Jordan Gavaris and Maria Doyle Kennedy. When the moderator asked Maslany about getting overlooked for an Emmy bid, she said, "We're at a point where television is extremely exciting. I just feel really lucky to be at this point in television history making a show like this." The audience didn't hold back. Maslany received a standing ovation when she walked out. One fan presented her with homemade nesting dolls in the likeness of her various characters. At the end of the panel, security guards had to keep some people from rushing the stage. Actor Ari Millen was also there. It was revealed at the end of season two that he is the new male clone on the show. He said he's "had a couple of conversations" with the writers and looks forward to the "personal journey" of making his clones unique from one another. Millen also knows he can look to Maslany for guidance. He called her "one of the most generous actors out there," adding, "I know if I have any questions, she'll be there." "Orphan Black" will return for its 10-episode third season in 2015 on BBC America. ____ Online: http://www.bbcamerica.com/orphan-black/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

'Lucy' tops 'Hercules' with $44M at box office
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
'Lucy' tops 'Hercules' with $44M at box office

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.

'Avengers' unleash 'Ultron' footage at Comic-Con
Sunday Jul 27, 2014
'Avengers' unleash 'Ultron' footage at Comic-Con

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.

Alba reveals her 'Sin City' dark side at Comic-Con
Saturday Jul 26, 2014
Alba reveals her 'Sin City' dark side at Comic-Con

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.

5 Seconds of Summer get hands-on with ticket sales
Saturday Jul 26, 2014
5 Seconds of Summer get hands-on with ticket sales

INGLEWOOD, California (AP) — The rising pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer gave its feverish female fans the surprise of a lifetime by personally selling tickets Saturday morning for an upcoming concert in Inglewood, California. Many fans, including 13-year-old Trina Umana, camped out overnight at The Forum to get seats for the Australian group's first U.S. headlining concert on Nov. 15. "I can't speak right now. I'm too overwhelmed," she sobbed after purchasing her tickets from guitarist Michael Clifford, 18. Before heading into the box office, drummer Ashton Irwin, 20, said his only concern was the group's math skills. "We might lose track of a lot of coins and stuff like that. But we'll work it out. We'll get through it," Irwin joked. Maria Gomez certainly wasn't paying attention to the numbers. "All I could think was: 'Oh my God. I don't know what to do. Don't embarrass yourself!' " said the 15-year-old fan from Anaheim, California. "None of us thought any of this would happen." The quartet, which also includes lead vocalist and guitarist Luke Hemmings, 18, and bassist Calum Hood, 18, can relate to the fandom. "We're more awkward than anything," said Irwin of meeting artists he admires like Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. "But inside, when they leave, we sort of squeal." Green Day, Blink-182 and Imagine Dragons also top their list of musical influences. Saturday's crowd was treated to a live, outdoor performance of their hits "She Looks So Perfect" and "Amnesia." 5 Seconds of Summer is mirroring the seemingly instant success One Direction achieved when that group hit the U.S. music scene in 2012. 5 Seconds of Summer is currently opening for One Direction on the "Where We Are" tour. 5 Seconds of Summer will play to roughly 17,500 fans when it headlines at The Forum, an impressive feat for an emerging act. The group's self-titled debut album came out last week. Billboard predicts it will debut at No. 1. _____ 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.

Comic-Con gets first look at 'Mockingjay' trailer
Saturday Jul 26, 2014
Comic-Con gets first look at 'Mockingjay' trailer

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The trailer for the next film in the popular "Hunger Games" series is making its premiere at Comic-Con. Fans gathered Friday at the Capitol Gallery in downtown San Diego, where holographic versions of two characters from the film offered visitors a silent welcome before the minute-long teaser trailer was shown. The trailer opens with a hovership landing and a meeting between leaders of the rebellion, where Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a gray-haired Julianne Moore discuss Katniss Everdeen's role. Meanwhile, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) declares the Mockingjay symbol illegal. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is shown entering the underground bunker where refugees of Panem are hiding, and she agrees to take up their cause. Being the first to see the trailer for "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I" was only part of the Capitol Gallery experience, which occupied a portion of the Hard Rock Hotel. In an all-white setting inspired by President Snow's Capitol color scheme, visitors could enjoy treats from Peeta's bakery, witness colorful Capitol fashions, design souvenir T-shirts and have their photo taken with the holographic characters. Even the trailer-viewing experience seemed designed by the Capitol: In an all-white room, fans were offered all-white candies and snacks before being shown into pod-like chairs, where they watched the trailer on personal Samsung tablets. The trailer also can be seen on Samsung devices at Best Buy stores beginning Saturday before it's released widely next week. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

'Up the Down Staircase' writer Kaufman dies at 103
Friday Jul 25, 2014
'Up the Down Staircase' writer Kaufman dies at 103

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.

Bazinga! 'Big Bang Theory' writers hit Comic-Con
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Bazinga! 'Big Bang Theory' writers hit Comic-Con

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.

2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition

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.

'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market

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.

Bridges offers Comic-Con a look at 'The Giver'
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
Bridges offers Comic-Con a look at 'The Giver'

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeff Bridges keeps on giving at Comic-Con. The Academy Award-winning actor, producer, director and musician was on hand Thursday with some of his fellow cast members to show off footage from "The Giver," the upcoming adaptation of the popular young adult novel by Lois Lowry. An extended trailer shown at the pop-culture convention began with black-and-white footage chronicling the dystopian setting of the book. Comic-Con continues through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center. Bridges, known for "Tron" and "The Big Lebowski," said it took close to 19 years to bring the movie to life. He originally envisioned that his late father Lloyd Bridges would play the titular role, but Bridges ultimately cast himself as The Giver. "It proved to be difficult, I think because it was quite controversial," Bridges told the crowd in reference to his struggle to make the film. Lowry, 77, noted that the book, which was originally released in 1993, caused a stir because there are scenes where a baby is killed and a young boy bathes an elderly woman, the latter of which won't be in the movie when it's released Aug. 11. "I loved it when that scene was cut from the film because Lois, you wanted to play that woman," joked Bridges. "He can touch me all he wants," Lowry said of Brenton Thwaites, the hunky 24-year-old actor who plays the boy, Jonas, in the movie directed by Phillip Noyce. Lowry said after watching footage of Meryl Streep, who also stars in the film but wasn't present at Thursday's panel, she wanted to go back and rewrite Streep's character of the Chief Elder. "In the book, it's a small role," Lowry said. "She makes it into something so complex and fascinating." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.