Monday, February 25, 2013


Tom Hanks as Walt Disney
  Now that Argo has lifted the Best Picture trophy,  you might think the Oscar campaigns are finally over for another year. But don't you believe it. Already buzz is beginning to circulate around possible contenders for next year's honours.
  And this time Tom Hanks, missing from this year's nominees, features prominently in next year's crop of films.
   So here's a look at the movies already being talked about:
   Hanks could well be a best actor nominee for portraying Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins, as well as starring in British director Paul Greengrass's Captain Phillips in which he plays a seaman kidnapped by Somali pirates.
  George Clooney, too, is likely to be front and centre at next year's awards, as he is producing the dysfunctional family drama August: Orange County, starring Meryl Streep and also directing and starring in Monuments Man, based on Robert Edsel's book about art experts retrieving works stolen by the Nazis.   
  Leonardo Di Caprio, too, could be in the running with his role in Martin Scorsese's tale of corporate greed, Wolf of Wall Street.
   So they, along with the Coen Brothers for their 1960's-set Greenwich Village folk-music drama Inside Llewyn Davis and Alexander Payne's road-trip drama Nebraska, are the early frontrunners already being talked and written about and are probably worth a bet at long odds. But hey! There's a whole year ahead and anything could happen. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


  He's back....but it seems like very few people care.
 The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie comeback and his first starring role in nearly a decade, has flopped badly at the box office and now doubts are being cast about several of his upcoming movies, with Hollywood analysts questioning whether the 67-year-old former California governor has any future as an action star. 
 The Last Stand's dismal performance---it grossed only $7 million on its three day opening weekend and after three weeks has only taken in less than $12 million---indicates that a combination of personal scandal and longtime absence from the screen could mean the beginning of the end of the Governator's screen career.
  He has two more films in the can awaiting release ---The Tomb in which he and Sylvester Stallone play prisoners who mount a bold escape, and Ten in which he plays the commander of an elite Drug Enforcement Agency squad that steals from a cartel.
   "If they work, he's fine," says one agent. "But if they follow The Last Stand, he's done."  

Friday, February 15, 2013


 He's a vocal gun advocate and a member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors but it seems that rocker Ted Nugent was not always so anxious to bear arms.
The 64-year-old musician avoided toting around an M14 during the Vietnam War thanks to a series of military deferments that allowed him to dodge the draft, according to Selective Service records. 
  Theodore Anthony Nugent first received a high school deferment in February 1967 when he was 18 and after briefly being reclassified as available for service, he received a college deferment when he enrolled in Oakland Community College in Michigan. 
   He was later classified as 1-Y, indicating that he was qualified for service only in time of a national emergency, a classification usually issued to candidates saddled with significant medical or mental issues.
  In interviews, Nugent has provided varying accounts of how he avoided a seat on a troop transport to Southeast Asia. In a High Times interview, he claimed to have stopped bathing a month before his draft physical, adding that he showed up for the exam with pants “crusted” with urine and feces. “I was a walking, talking hunk of human poop,” recalled Nugent.
  He also said he snorted a line of crystal meth before the physical because, “I wanted to see the look on the Sergeant’s face."
  Nugent recently relied on a false and outdated report frequently promoted by conspiracy theorists to claim that no assault weapons were used in the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In fact, Connecticut authorities have stated that all of the Newtown victims were shot with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon, some victims receiving up to 11 gunshot wounds. 
  In a February 13 website column Nugent wrote: "No so-called assault weapon was used in the grisly murders of the children and teachers in Newton," and instead suggested that four handguns were used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Monday, February 11, 2013


Fawad (right) and Jawa
   Young Fawad Mohammadi, a first-time actor who was discovered selling gum and tourist maps on a street corner in Kabul, will be attending this year's Oscar ceremony thanks to a worldwide campaign to raise the money for his trip.
   Fawad, 14, stars in the Oscar-nominated live-action short film Buzkashi Boys but had no hopes of getting to the ceremony in Los Angeles on February 24 until the Afghan Film Project launched a fund-raising effort. 
   So far more than $10,000 has been raised, which will not only pay for Fawad and his co-star Jawa Paiz's trip, but will also go towards Fawad's college education. 
  Fawad, who will be fitted with a tuxedo for the walk up the Oscar red carpet, has never previously been far from the corner of Kabul's Chicken Street, so the visit, which will involve a full schedule of interviews and parties, will be a major cultural change for him. 
  To help them make the transition, he and Jawa, who has been acting since he was five-years-old, will be staying at the home of an Afghan couple in Los Angeles and will be accompanied by a chaperone from Kabul.        
 Buzkashi Boys is set against the background of contemporary Afghanistan and the national sport of Buzkashi---a brutal game of horse polo played with a dead goat. The film follows two best friends, a defiant blacksmith's son (Fawad) and a charismatic street urchin (Jawa) as they struggle to survive in one of the most war-torn countries on Earth.

Friday, February 8, 2013


                                                 Picture: Theo Kingma
 I picked a bad time to come to New York and it wasn't a good day for Tina Fey to leave her apartment either. But we both braved snow and sleet (me on foot and her in a limo) to meet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
  While I was wondering how to get back to Los Angeles with all the flights cancelled, Tina wasn't expecting any problems getting back to the $3.4 million apartment on the city's West Side where she lives with her husband and two young daughters.   
  But this year's Golden Globes co-host has a longer trip coming up, she tells me, when she goes to London soon to film her role in The Muppets 11 in which she will be playing a Russian prison guard who falls in love with Kermit. 
  I didn't tell her, but it sounds sounds a lot more fun than her current movie, the disappointing and dreary Admission.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


  Dame Helen Mirren has refused to join in the tributes to the outspoken and controversial writer/director Michael Winner who died recently.  
Helen Mirren then.......................................and now
  The Oscar-winning actress has described how the “insulting and sexist” director of Death Wish deliberately tried to humiliate her on the first, and only, time that they met.
   She claimed that Winner made her turn around and show off her body during a casting session for a film in 1964.
Winner: ..."sagging boobs"
“I was mortified and incredibly angry,” she said. “I thought it was insulting and sexist, and I don’t think any actress should be treated like that, like a piece of meat, at all. Even if they haven’t done the kind of work that I have done, it was incredibly insulting. I was so angry – I still am.”
Winner, charmingly, said he had only met her as a favour to her then agent, who was worried that Mirren’s refusal to wear a bra in publicity photographs would lose her work. She had, he said, "sagging boobs."

Friday, February 1, 2013


                                                                                                              Picture: Theo Kingma
There have been some classic movies made over the years on the venerable Stage 8 on the 20th Century Fox back lot. But unfortunately the latest one to have taken over the vast soundstage isn't one of them.
  A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth in the series starring former bartender Bruce Willis,  is an abysmal mess....100 minutes of explosions, bombings, bullets and car chases (108 cars were wrecked during the filming) with a "story" that makes absolutely no sense.
Willis and Gianopulos unveiling the mural
   Nevertheless, the franchise has made over one billion dollars for Fox, so representatives of the world's press were invited onto the lot for a screening of the movie and to witness studio boss Jim Gianopulos and Bruce Willis unveil a hideous mural of a young-looking Willis, resembling a cross between the Jolly Green Giant and a manic Mel Gibson.
  Afterwards, perhaps to compensate them for having had to sit through the movie, the guests were invited for food and drink on the 21st floor of the Fox Plaza, where the first Die Hard was filmed 25 years ago. In those days Willis looked more like the mural. 


  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...