Johnny Oleksinski When Tina Fey’s film “Mean Girls” came out in 2004, the comedy was lauded as a silly, satirical excoriation of modern high-school life and its cliques, cafeteria antics and materialism. “Mean Girls” was a “Clueless” for the millennial age. And it was so fetch.
“It just might not be the moment for ‘Mean Girls,’ ” one Broadway insider told me on the condition of anonymity. “It might feel stale and tone-deaf to the critics. And while this is something that could be critic-proof, maybe not.”
The fear of offending audiences isn’t limited to musicals about bratty teens. In this oversensitive era, TV shows, Oscar-worthy movies and pop music are all under pressure to be as nice as Betty Crocker. For millennia the best art has offended, tantalized, frightened, riled up and, of course, been life-affirming. But today the American public, looking more than ever like Soviet Russia, has just one rule for entertainers: Don’t rock the boat.
Nearly five decades ago, on July 18, 1969, a car went off the Dike Bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick. The driver, Ted Kennedy escaped. His 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, did not.
An upcoming movie, Chappaquiddick, attempts to tell the story of what happened that night and why it took Kennedy some ten hours to report the accident to the local Edgartown police …
… The film, directed by John Curran, stars Jason Clarke as Senator Kennedy, Kate Mara as Kopechne, and Bruce Dern as Ted’s father Joe Kennedy. It’s based on the 1969 inquest into the accident. Read the rest of this entry »
Director James Toback told women that he could put them in movies. But then, they say, he sexually harassed them.
Glenn Whipp reports: He prowled the streets of Manhattan looking for attractive young women, usually in their early 20s, sometimes college students, on occasion a high schooler. He approached them in Central Park, standing in line at a bank or drug store or at a copy center while they worked on their resumes.
His opening line had a few variations. One went: “My name’s James Toback. I’m a movie director. Have you ever seen ‘Black and White’ or ‘Two Girls and a Guy’?”
Probably not. So he’d start to drop names. He had an Oscar nomination for writing the Warren Beatty movie “Bugsy.” He directed Robert Downey Jr., in three movies. The actor, Toback claimed, was a close friend; he had “invented him.” If you didn’t believe him, he would pull out a business card or an article that had been written about him to prove he had some juice in Hollywood. That he could make you a star.
But first, he’d need to get to know you. Intimately. Trust him, he’d say. It’s all part of his process.
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: (L-R) Producer, writer and director Michael Moore and writer, director and actor James Toback attend Museum of the Moving Image Inaugural Envision Award Gala Dinner at Museum of the Moving Image on June 11, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
Then, in a hotel room, a movie trailer, a public park, meetings framed as interviews or auditions quickly turned sexual, according to 38 women who, in separate interviews told the Los Angeles Times of similar encounters they had with Toback.
During these meetings, many of the women said, Toback boasted of sexual conquests with the famous and then asked humiliating personal questions. How often do you masturbate? How much pubic hair do you have? He’d tell them, they said, that he couldn’t properly function unless he “jerked off” several times a day. And then he’d dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies and then walk away. Meeting over.
The women’s accounts portray James Toback as a man who, for decades, sexually harassed women he hired, women looking for work and women he just saw on the street. The vast majority of these women — 31 of the 38 interviewed — spoke on the record. The Times also interviewed people that the women informed of the incidents when they occurred.
Actor Alec Baldwin, left, speaks with director James Toback during a photo call for the film Seduced and Abandoned at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
As is often the case, none of them contacted the police at the time. When contacted by The Times, Toback denied the allegations, saying that he had never met any of these women or, if he did, it “was for five minutes and have no recollection.” He also repeatedly claimed that for the last 22 years, it had been “biologically impossible” for him to engage in the behavior described by the women in this story, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication. Toback declined to offer further details.
The women interviewed during The Times’ investigation offered accounts that differed from Toback’s recollections.
“The way he presented it, it was like, ‘This is how things are done,’” actress Adrienne LaValley said of a 2008 hotel room encounter that ended with Toback trying to rub his crotch against her leg. When she recoiled, he stood up and ejaculated in his pants. “I felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends. And I deserved not to tell anyone.”
“In a weird sense, I thought, ‘This is a test of whether I’m a real artist and serious about acting,’” remembered Starr Rinaldi, who was an aspiring actress when Toback approached her in Central Park about 15 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
It appears that the “Golden Age of Cinema” has lost its sheen to the young over the years, as millennials are turning their back on classic movies.
A new study finds that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or 50s and only a third have seen one from the 1960s.
Thirty percent of young people also admit to never having watched a black and white film all the way through – as opposed to 85 percent of those over 50 – with 20 percent branding the films “boring.”
Top 10 most common movies millennials have seen
“The Lion King” 81.60 percent
“Forrest Gump” 74.60 percent
“Back to the Future” 66.80 percent
“The Dark Knight” 66.50 percent
“The Matrix” 63.20 percent
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” 60.90 percent
“Terminator 2: Judgement Day” 59.20 percent
“The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” 59 percent
“The Silence of the Lambs” 54.90 percent
“The Godfather” 55 percent
Top 10 most common movies over-50’s have seen
“Forrest Gump” 84.30 percent
“Back to the Future” 80 percent
“The Silence of the Lambs” 71 percent
“It’s a Wonderful Life” 70.50 percent
“The Godfather” 69.90 percent
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” 69.30 percent
“Saving Private Ryan” 68.30 percent
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” 66.40 percent
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” 65.90 percent
“The Green Mile 65.60 percent
A new survey polling 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Americans over the age of 50 conducted by FYE.com, reveals that looking back into the history of cinema isn’t the preference of youth today, with millennials exponentially more likely to have binged on films of the last 15 years than on classics from bygone eras.
Less than half of millennials have seen the likes of “Gone with the Wind,” “The Sound of Music,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or even “The Shawshank Redemption” — rated the greatest film of all time on IMDB.
Only 28 percent have seen “Casablanca,” 16 percent have watched “Once Upon a Time in the West” and only a measly 12 percent have seen the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window” – though the director’s “Psycho” fares moderately better at a rate of 38 percent.
On the other side of things, some over-50s appear to have the tendency to stick to their old classics and ignore new cinema altogether with one in ten admitting they aren’t sure if they have seen a film newer than 2010 – and eight percent straight up saying no, they have not. Read the rest of this entry »
A sobering reality has gripped Hollywood as domestic film industry revenue fell an estimated 16% during the all-important summer season.
Ryan Faughnder writes: As Hollywood wraps up the all-important summer box-office season this Labor Day weekend, a sobering reality has gripped the industry.
The number of tickets sold in the United States and Canada this summer is projected to fall to the lowest level in a quarter-century.
The results have put the squeeze on the nation’s top theater chains, whose stocks have taken a drubbing. AMC Theatres Chief Executive Adam Aron this month called his company’s most recent quarter “simply a bust.”
Such blunt language reflects some worrisome trends. Domestic box-office revenue is expected to total $3.78 billion for the first weekend of May through Labor Day — a key period that generates about 40% of domestic ticket sales — down nearly 16% from the same period last year, according to comScore. That’s an even worse decline than the 10% drop some studio executives predicted before the summer began.
And the number of actual tickets sold this summer paints a bleaker picture, with total admissions likely to clock in at about 425 million, the lowest level since 1992, according to industry estimates.
No one can fully explain why. Studio executives, movie theater operators and analysts cited the usual explanations for the summer slump. There are the obvious reasons: Too many bad movies, including sequels, reboots and aging franchises that no one wanted to see. Some point to rising ticket prices, which hit a record high in the second quarter, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. Then there are long-term challenges, including competition from streaming services such as Netflix and the influence of the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. How about all of the above?
What is clear: This summer was marred with multiple high-profile films that flopped stateside, including “The Mummy,” “Baywatch,” “The Dark Tower” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Sequels in the “Alien,” “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises also disappointed. (International ticket sales are helping to ease some of the pain.) Read the rest of this entry »
Steven Mnuchin brought in the right-wing power brokers, as well as Bill Gates, to help fund such Hollywood projects as ‘Dunkirk’ and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘Ready Player One.’
Tatiana Siegel reports: Though they might be the most reviled figures among Hollywood’s liberal crowd, the Koch brothers have been a silent investor in Warner Bros.‘ slate of movies for four years.
Sources say Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch — who are worth a combined $96.2 billion and wield enormous power in political circles as major backers of right-wing politicians — took a significant stake valued at tens of millions of dollars in RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013 — a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company.
Though Mnuchin is no longer involved with the slate financing facility, having recently put his stake into a blind trust in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the Koch brothers continue to be stakeholders in such films as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.
A RatPac spokesperson didn’t respond to a request. A spokesperson for Koch Industries says, “Charles Koch, David Koch and Koch Industries do not have any involvement with this investment.”
The brothers aren’t the only unlikely billionaires who have sunk money into the Warner Bros. deal. Sources say Mnuchin also brought in Bill Gates for an amount similar to the Koch brothers’. Read the rest of this entry »
Now, Eastwood is working on his next project, about three friends who stopped a terrorist attack two years ago on a train in France. One of them, a U.S. Air Force enlisted man named Spencer Stone, did something very few people have done and lived to tell about: Without a weapon or anything to defend himself, he charged a fanatical and heavily armed enemy, knocking him to the ground. And then he and his friends, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, disarmed the man and rendered him unconscious, saving dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent lives in the process.
“It was a very important event, because there were so many people on the train, and the guy had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and he could have done a tremendous amount of damage,” Eastwood said. “And there’s no reason to think he wasn’t going to.”
At his office on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Eastwood is busy these days refining the shooting schedule, while his casting directors are choosing the actors, costumers are picking the outfits, and set designers are planning the shots — all routine tasks for a major Hollywood picture. But the film, “The 15:17 to Paris,” which Eastwood says will probably be released later this year, has a story that promises to be unprecedented in its heart-stopping impact, yet which carries a timeless message of people putting their lives on the line to protect others.
“My buddies and I were on a trip around Europe,” Stone told The Pine Cone this week from a family cabin at Lake Tahoe. He’d known the men — Sadler, a student at Sacramento State, and Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — since their childhood in a Sacramento suburb. “Anthony and I started the trip in Rome, and then we went to Venice, Munich and Berlin. And then Alek, who was coming off a tour of duty in Afghanistan, joined us in Amsterdam.”
Their next destination was to be Paris, and on August 21, 2015, they boarded a high-speed train set to leave Amsterdam at 3:17 p.m. (15:17 on the 24-hour clock used in Europe) for the French capital. “As we boarded,” Stone said, “we noticed there didn’t seem to be any security — no metal detectors, no bag check. Nothing.”
But they didn’t think much about it, and the men — off duty and in civilian clothes — soon settled into their first class seats, had a meal and a little wine, checked the internet, and promptly went to sleep.
“We were always on the go, and for us, trains rides were a chance to take a nap,” Stone said.
A brief stop at the Gare Midi in Brussels woke them up — but for only a moment, Stone said. They had no idea a 25-year-old Moroccan man, Ayub El Ghazzani, had boarded in Brussels carrying a deadly backpack.
A man running and glass shattering
As the train hurtled through the European countryside, the three friends dozed, and the next thing Stone remembers was being awakened when a train crew member sprinted past him toward the front of the train. Taking off his noise-reducing headphones, Stone says he heard glass shatter behind him, and people gasping and screaming. Turning around to look in the direction of the noise, he saw El Ghazzani, shirtless and with a backpack attached to his chest, bend down at the end of the car and pick up an assault rifle.
“It was an AK-47, and he was trying to load a round, and I immediately knew he was a terrorist,” Stone said.
And this was no movie. Suddenly confronted with what was sure to be a life-or-death situation, the Air Force man hesitated for just a moment. Read the rest of this entry »
Lewinsky was a 22-year old White House intern and Tripp a White House aide who secretly recorded her young pal’s revelations of sexual liasons with then President Bill Clinton in the White House. Tripp, who later said she was acting in her former friend’s best interests, leaked the tape to Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who was investigating Whitewater. It became a tawdry scandal complete with a subpoena of her blue semen-stained dress, and it later a congressional call for impeachment. It severely crushed the career and life of Lewinsky, and her family — I remember her father once speaking out publicly when the NBC series Law & Order took to calling a certain sex act a “Lewinsky.” Lewinsky said the notoriety made it impossible for her to find work, and she stayed out of the limelight until briefly resurfacing as an anti-bullying advocate several years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
“Sadly, I’m no longer able to commit to Barbie due to scheduling conflicts,” the actress said in a statement to Variety. “The film has so much promise, and Sony and Mattel have been great partners. I’m bummed, but look forward to seeing Barbie on the big screen.”
The big screen adaptation of Mattel’s iconic toy line was expected to start production this summer on June 23, but Schumer’s busy schedule includes a lengthy promotional tour for her new Fox comedy “Snatched,” which opens in May, as well as an upcoming shoot for Rebecca Miller’s “She Came to Me” opposite Steve Carell.
Sony needed to stick to its June 29, 2018 release date since Mattel already has merchandise and product cycles in motion–shifting the production to accommodate Schumer would have put on a strain on other partners on the film, according to insiders. Read the rest of this entry »
Thought your holiday family dinner was a nightmare? Wait until you see your favorite elf in this creepy version of the holiday comedy. At least now you’ll definitely be up all night to wait for Santa Claus.
“Miss Sloane marks another chapter in Brady’s partnership with Hollywood to integrate the realities of gun violence into entertainment. We’ve consulted on scripts for powerhouse television shows including ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’”
— Brendan Kelly, press secretary for the Brady Campaign
The movie pulled in $1,167 on average at the 1,648 theaters across the country it was shown in. It made $1,922,300, meaning it was the 11th-highest grossing movie in the country. It is number 79 on Box Office Mojo’s list of Worst Opening Weekend by Per-Theater Average since 1982.
“Gun owners always knew the movie was—pardon the pun—a dud.”
— Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation
Industry observers criticized the movie’s performance on Monday. Timesaid the movie “fizzled in its wide expansion.” Fortunedescribed it as struggling. The Los Angeles TimessaidMiss Sloane failed to meet “an already lackluster” projection of $5 million for the weekend.
“EuropaCorp expanded the terrific Jessica Chastain vehicle Miss Sloane into 1,648 theaters over the weekend, with just tragic results,” Scott Mendelson wrote at Forbes. “Unless Jessica Chastain ends up with a Golden Globe nomination and/or an Oscar nomination in a robustly crowded ‘Best Actress’ field, this one is finished.” Read the rest of this entry »