Archive for April, 2011
Apparently, so impressed by his performance in the Celebrity All-Star Game during the NBA’s All-Star weekend, Mark Wahlberg has pitched Paramount Studios a dramatic, street basketball centered film starring himself and in his “scripted” feature film debut….JUSTIN BIEBER! (Cue the shrieking tweens.) The film, being produced by Wahlberg and written by How to Make it in America creator Ian Edelman, is described as The Color of Money meets The Karate Kid, but with basketball instead of pool and karate. Before he pitched it to the studio though, Wahlberg must have pitched it to the Biebs himself. This is how that conversation went.
(Lights up on Mark Wahlberg, very sweaty and panting after a heavy boxing workout. He asks his assistant (who has been watching Wahlberg box all morning) to connect him with Justin The call goes through and the assistant hands Mark the phone as soon as Justin picks up.)
Justin Bieber: Hello?
Mark Wahlberg: Hello Justin Bieber, how are you right now?
JB: I’m great man, just chilling in my jacuz with Selena.
MW: You sound like you’re having a very fun time, Justin Bieber. Tell Selena I say hello and that I think her show is very funny for small children who love laughter.
(Justin turns to Selena and tells her that Mark says hello. Selena giggles and says that she thinks Mark is cute.)
JB: Selena says you’re cute.
(Selena playfully slaps Justin)
MW: That is very nice of her to but I don’t care about what she has to say right now. I called you because I would like to talk to you about something very huge.
JB: Is it that big dick you had in Boogie Nights?
(Selena splashes Justin for being so inappropriate. Justin splashes back. Giggling.)
MW: Yes I was in Boogie Nights and yes I’m very proud of that film, god bless, but I didn’t want to talk to you about Boogie Nights right now so would you just LET ME TALK!
(Almost in tears) Thank you! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to lose my temper but this idea I have is very huge and I really think you’ll be interested if you just gave me a chance.
JB: Alright Mark go! But Usher’s coming over in 15 and I got to make sure my bed is made.
MW: Ok then. Justin Bieber, I recently saw you play in the celebrity all-star game during the NBA’s All-Star weekend.
JB: Yeah, that was great.
(Justin smiles and whips his hair at Selena who giggles)
MW: And I saw that you won the Most Valuable Player of that game which is a great accomplishment.
JB: Yeah. (Smiling) I guess I did.
MW: And I’m no stranger to great accomplishments, and if I had been playing you probably wouldn’t have won that award, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about, ok! I had this idea that since I am good at basketball, and you are also good at basketball, we should star in a movie about basketball together, what do you think?
JB: A movie? Well my manager did say I should get into acting more…
MW: I really think you should. I saw you on that episode of CSI: Miami which is a wonderful show on cable if you’re into crime procedurals like my friend Vincent Chase is. Do you know Vincent Chase?
JB: Isn’t he the dude from Entourage?
MW: Yes. But Vincent Chase is actually me. I am into crime procedurals.
JB: You want to star in a movie with me?
MW: Yes I really want to. I think it could be really, really huge. I’ll take care of everything Justin Bieber, the scripts, the director, the costumes—everything. Did you see The Fighter?
JB: Naw, I missed that one. I was on tour.
MW: Well that is a huge regret of yours then.
JB: (Pause) I just don’t know…I got this other tour coming up…
(Selena gets out of the tub)
JB: Babe, can you get me a smoothie. (He winks. Selena blushes and scampers away).
MW: No, I cannot get you a smoothie right now Justin Bieber, I am in Boston shooting a film and you are in Los Angeles most likely. Those two cities are very far away. You would have to take an airplane to get from one of those cities to the other.
JB: Listen Mark, I just don’t really have much…like…acting training.
MW: I can teach you Justin! Bieber! That’s why this is perfect! I was at one point in my life, when I was younger, a huge rap star, god bless, and then I transitioned into serious work like The Basketball Diaries with Leonardo DiCaprio and the aforementioned Boogie Nights. I learned how to act and now I’m one of the best actors that I know. I can make you a great actor, you just have to trust me on this one, ok? This is a very big decision, I understand, but know that this can be very, very huge. My friend is already writing the script. You’ll get to play basketball in it. Don’t you love basketball?
JB: I do, but…
MW: Look Justin Bieber, I tried to be nice, I tried to be polite, but I can’t do that anymore. This is the biggest decision of your life, do you understand! And I’m not going to let you throw it away because of fear. Fear about learning lines and crying in front of guys and knowing where to put your hands when you’re on camera. I had those fears myself and I’ve overcome them and you can overcome them too, you just have to believe in yourself and overcome the obstacles! Like I did in my movie Invincible! Everything is possible Justin Bieber!
JB: Alright, I’ll do it!
MW: That is a very smart move, Justin Bieber. (Pause) Did you see Invincible?
JB: Oh shit! Usher’s here and my bed’s not made. Shit! I got to run!
MW: Ok Justin Bieber it was great talking to you. One more thing. (Pause) Say hi to your mother for me.
I’m now going to finish up writing about the notable NBC fall pilots.
COULD BE FUNNY
FREE AGENTS- Based on a British TV series, this show is set to star Hank Azaria (who does one-third of the voices on The Simpsons), Kathryn Hahn (Adam Scott’s hilarious wife in Step Brothers who has “sex” with John C. Reily in the bathroom and then pees at the urinal), and Anthony Head (who was on the UK Free Agents and also played the Prime Minister in Little Britain). Writing and executive producing is John Enbom, who worked on the fabulously underrated series, Party Down. The show “explores the attraction between two PR executives who are on the rebound.” I have never seen the original British version but Hank Azaria is a great live-action actor with very funny turns in Along Came Polly, The Birdcage, and Mystery Men (Azaria is also set to play Gargamel in the new Smurfs movie, and is one of the finalists for the Farrelly Brothers Three Stooges Movie) and Kathryn Hahn is one of the funniest women around. Adam McKay and Will Ferrell put her in everything they do together. It’s also a good sign that Anthony Head is coming over the pond to play the exact same part he played in the original. If this show makes it to air I would definitely give it a shot.
MY LIFE AS AN EXPERIMENT- This project is based on a book by A.J. Jacobs (also the author of The Year of Living Biblically) about a writer (played by comedian Jon Dore) who undergoes experiments, like going on a dates dressed as a woman, outsourcing everything in his life to a company in India. He also has a wife who is not so approving of his decision-making. It is produced by Jack Black and his production company Electric Dynamite, and written by a team of writers who worked on Til Death and The King of Queens. I don’t know if this show follows a structure similar to My Name is Earl where each episode features a different “experiment,” but I do think the concept is ripe for comedy. It will also be interesting to see Donald Sutherland (Kiefer’s dad) back in comedy after spending the past few years in drama (Dirty, Sexy, Money among others).
EMILY SPIVEY PROJECT- Emily Spivey, a former SNL writer and Parks and Recreation producer has the backing of none other than Lorne Michaels behind this project. Accumulating the talented trifecta of Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph (in her first primetime TV series gig), and Will Arnett, this show seems to be a lock to make it to series. It is not an absolute certainty though because Lorne had a similarly promising pilot, the Matthew Broderick-starrer, Beach Lane, which never made it to air. The show is described as a look at parenthood through the eyes of an “acerbic working mother” (Applegate), her stay-at-home husband (Arnett, whose 30 Rock character Devon Banks coincidentally also is a stay-at-home dad for his gay-bies) and opinionated parents. Rumor had it though that after last year’s disastrous Running Wilde, Arnett was not ready to come back to television, but he really liked this script, which is a great sign. I will surely give this show a look.
Now I am turning my focus to the new pilots on FOX.
EXIT STRATEGY- This show is notable not only because it teams together the Training Day combo of director Antoine Fuqua and star Ethan Hawke, but also it is produced by the JJ Abrams-approved combo of writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. If you do not recognize their names, you are certainly familiar with their work as they wrote the films Star Trek and Transformers (I and II), and the TV shows, Fringe, Lost, and Alias. They also wrote for Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess). Ethan Hawke (who arguably is one of the biggest movie stars to make the transition to television) will play the team leader of an elite CIA team who are deployed to help clean up the mess when a CIA mission gets botched. Each episode will deal with a different crisis. Tom Sizemore (of Saving Private Ryan and Celebrity Rehab) also stars. This show kind of reminds me of a more serious Human Target, which I actually enjoyed when I watched one episode. However, I don’t know that I would carve out precious TV time to watch this. Even if the star’s name is Ethan.
TOUCH– Jack Bauer is back! Kind of. After a one year hiatus from television, Kiefer Sutherland is back on Fox with a show from the creator of Heroes. He plays Martin, a father, who discovers that his autistic, mute son, can predict events before they happen and is capable of communicating through a complex series of numbers. So Mercury Rising meets Knowing. For those of you who don’t remember Mercury Rising (and honestly, no one would expect you to), it is a 1998 Bruce Willis film about an FBI agent (check out that hilarious screencap to the right) assigned with protecting a 9-year old autistic kid who cracked a government code. And Knowing is a Nic Cage movie about a numerical code his son uncovers that predicts the future. So there you go. Perfect combo. Fun fact, all the critics absolutely hated Knowing, except for Roger Ebert who called it, “among the best science-fiction films I’ve seen — frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.” I’m sorry Mr. Ebert, but you are so very, very wrong. Even if this show is silly (which it probably will be), I will have to give it a shot simply because there hasn’t been any terrorist attacks on US soil since Jack Bauer has been on television, so the sooner he can get back on the TV, the safer America can feel. Since the pilot isn’t even filming until June, this will probably be a mid-season order.
ALCATRAZ– No wonder Star Trek 2 isn’t in pre-production yet! J.J. Abrams has been too busy developing TV shows. This one, a crime drama set in (wait for it) Alcatraz, revolves around a team investigating the “mysterious disappearance of its 1960s inhabitants in the present.” So maybe Prison Break meets The Rock. Not able to get enough of Hurley, Abrams has cast Jorge Garcia in the pilot as well as Dr. Alan Grant (Jurassic Park reference) himself, Sam Neill. I’ve spoken about J.J. Abrams track record in the past so I won’t go into that, only to say that it’s mostly strong. The show’s writer, Liz Sarnoff, wrote for Lost and Deadwood, both notable, acclaimed shows (at least at one point). There have been many prison break type shows in the past (and there’s even one now on A&E) so the determining factor to me is how is this one different. Will there be flashbacks? Why is anyone investigating a fifty-year old occurrence? Is Hurley going to say funny things? Alcatraz has been mythologized about for years, and if this show can pull something new and exciting out of it, then I can get on board.
THE FINDER– That sounds like a fake TV show title right? It’s not. It’s a Bones spinoff based on The Locator books, about a “finder,” a former military policeman, who finds people and things. Sounds stupid? Well it gets stupider! Geoff Stults, one-half of the handsome twin fireman duo from 7th Heaven is the star. Needless to say, you don’t guest star on 7th Heaven because you can act. (See: Haylie Duff). He was in Wedding Crashers too, but as the handsome guy getting married in the beginning. He’s just so bland, I can’t see him carrying a series. At least The Mentalist’s Simon Baker is a roguishly charming. This show also has Michael Clarke Duncan, but I don’t think he’ll be enough to bring this show out of mediocrity.
More to come!
I’m going to be bouncing around now with post topics to satisfy my writing ADD. So stay tuned for more iconic role/upcoming TV pilot posts. In the meantime enjoy my latest post topic—Celebrity Siblings with Huge Disparities in Success!
1. Dennis Quaid and Randy Quaid- Randy’s film career started off very strong, appearing in Peter Bogdonovich’s The Last Picture Show, and moving on to even getting an Oscar nod for his work in 1973’s The Last Detail. He segued successfully into comedy appearing on SNL (1985-6), the Vacation series, Kingpin and Independence Day. But in the last few years a series of incidents have lead the public to believe that Randy Quaid is certifiably insane. In 2008, while rehearsing for a Seattle production of a Western-themed version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor called Lone-Star Love, the Actor’s Equity Association (a union which represents stage actors) banned Quaid for life and fined him more than $81,000 for “physically and verbally abusing his fellow performers.” Quaid responded to this charge stating, “I am guilty of only one thing: giving a performance that elicited a response so deeply felt by the actors and producers with little experience of my creative process that they actually think I am Falstaff.” In 2009, Quaid and his wife were arrested for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper, burglary, and conspiracy and they kept missing their court appearances leading to arrest warrants, fines and probation. A year later they faced burglary charges again, reportedly living in a guest house without permission, to which they claim that the house was actually theirs, but had wrongfully transferred to a third party by the use of the forged signature of a fake dead woman named Ronda Quaid. In October 2010, Randy and his wife hauled ass to Canada to seek protection under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act but were arrested at the border. They claimed that their lives were in danger as they, along with numerous actors, were being followed by “Hollywood star whackers.” Needless to say, Randy isn’t viewed as a Hollywood success story.
His brother Dennis on the other hand has continued to work steadily since the mid-90s, appearing in family friendly fare such as The Parent Trap, The Rookie, and most recently, Soul Surfer, action films such as The Day After Tomorrow and G.I. Joe, and dramas such as the HBO Film, The Special Relationship. While he’s had some tabloid worthy stories in the past (a cocaine addiction in the early 90s, being cheated on by Meg Ryan), he’s considered a fine, bankable, likeable actor and can be seen in the upcoming Footloose remake.
2. Rob Lowe and Chad Lowe- Rob Lowe has managed to work and stay relevant since 1983. He first appeared with Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze and Ralph Maccio in The Outsiders and cemented his position as a Hollywood hottie/bad boy in 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire. In 1988, he was involved in a sex scandal when a videotape surfaced of him having sex with two women, one of whom was sixteen. He of course asserted that he didn’t know she was underage at the time. Another part of that same sex tape featured him having sex with a model in Paris and became one of the first commercially available celebrity sex tapes. After its release Lowe entered rehab for sex and drug addiction. But since then he has been clean, married, and well-liked appearing in comedies such as Wayne’s World and Austin Powers 2, and critically acclaimed television dramas such as The West Wing and Brothers and Sisters. He is in marvelous shape and currently he can be seen pointing at people and saying their name (“Ann Perkins!”) as the hilarious Chris Traeger.
Chad Lowe is most famous for being left out of wife at the time Hilary Swank’s Oscar acceptance speech for Boys Don’t Cry in 2000. He is an actor though, mostly on televison, whose biggest role was as Deputy Chief of Staff on the sixth season of 24.
3. Sean Penn and Chris Penn- Sean Penn is a two-time Oscar winner (for Mystic River and Milk) who is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of his generation. He is an actor, screenwriter and director, as well as an outspoken social/political activist. In his personal life, Spicoli has always been a center of attention as he was at one point was married to Madonna and later, actress Robin Wright (Better known as Forrest Gump’s Jenny or The Princess Bride. Which one moreso?!) They recently got divorced and Penn can be currently be seen in Us Weekly in pictures where he is canoodling with Scarlett Johanssen.
Chris Penn on the other hand, while mostly well-liked, seemed to only play lugs, low-lives, villains or bit comic parts and never quite achieved his brother’s success. He’s best known for his appearances in Resevoir Dogs, True Romance, and for me, Rush Hour. Unfortunately Chris died in 2006, at the age of 40 from heart disease, probably caused by his weight and prescription drug usage.
4. Ron Howard and Clint Howard- Clint Howard also happened to be a child actor, but never quite reached the fame of his older brother. His most famous parts as a child were as a weird looking baby in an episode of Star Trek, the voice of the little elephant Hathi Jr. in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) and as the voice of Roo in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966). Later, Clint became a mostly one-scene cameo actor, appearing in all 17 of his brother’s films as well as in non-Ron Howard related work such as Austin Powers, Night at the Museum 2 and That Thing You Do. His biggest professional achievement was being the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1998 MTV Movie Awards, an award whose previous recipients were Chewbacca, Godzilla and The Three Stooges.
Ron, as I wrote about previously, is perhaps one of the most successful child stars of all-time, finding success as a child, a teenager and an adult. Despite living his entire life in the business, he never had any notable run-ins with the law, seems to be well-adjusted, has well-adjusted kids, and is a big-time (though not necessarily fantastic) Oscar-winning director. He also is responsible for producing and narrating the funniest television series of all-time, Arrested Development.
5. Hilary Duff and Haylie Duff– Hilary Duff was at one point the biggest, hottest young star in the Disney universe. She starred in the number-one show for kids (Lizzie McGuire), recorded three platinum albums (Metamorphosis, Hilary Duff, Most Wanted and apparently she even has a “Best of” Album!) which are filled with some quality hit pop songs (So Yesterday, Come Clean, The Math(!)). Billboard even ranked her the 69th artist of the 2000s! She had a clothing line (the cleverly titled Stuff by Hilary Duff), perfume collection, and she even wrote a young adult “novel.” She was also in the news for a while for dating the tattooed Good Charlotte “badboy” Joel Madden (though how “bad” can you be when you write lyrics like “Girls don’t like boys, girls like cars and money/Boys will laugh at girls when they’re not funny.”) While she isn’t so hot right now, she is still producing and acting, appearing on Gossip Girl and Community. She is also slated to appear in a remake of Bonnie and Clyde and can still hold her own starring in direct to DVD movies. She’s rich, she’s famous, she can still get on the cover of magazines…she’s doing just fine.
Haylie Duff? She’s the one that Hilary’s mom makes her include in everything she does. “Hilary, let your older sister sing on your album! Let her design something for your collection! Let her have sex with someone who you didn’t want to have sex with, but you feel sorry for.” Somehow Haylie actually finagled her way into a producer’s credit on A Cinderella Story! Her biggest non-Hilary related role was in Napoleon Dynamite. Since then she’s hosted the reality show Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods (a musical she only appeared in as part of the chorus) and appeared in straight to DVD movies. Definitely the lesser Duff.
I will return to my fall TV pilot preview in a later post, but in the meantime I want to address an interesting dilemma (at least twice as interesting as the film The Dilemma) that a comment by reader Greg Gilbert brought up. In the previous post I referenced actor BD Wong to the film Sixteen Candles, while Greg insisted that he will always associate Mr. Wong with the role of Dr. Henry Wu from Jurassic Park. This got me pondering about actors who have played multiple iconic roles. Some actors have had the opportunity to play an iconic part and for the rest of their lives are forever associated with that part; for example, Christopher Reeves as Superman and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. There are a select few actors though have had the privilege of playing multiple iconic roles. In this post, which will surely be controversial, I plan to give my take on which roles of certain actors should get first “billing” when discussing an actor’s career.
Robert DeNiro- Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull) vs. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)
Ironically, Jake LaMotta is #10 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time, while “You talking to me?” was voted as the #10 movie quote by the American Film Institute. So already it’s a tough decision. DeNiro won his first Oscar for Raging Bull, and the story of him gaining 60 pounds to play older Jake LaMotta is legendary. His performance in that film is raw, unhinged, powerful, demonic, and will be looked to as a model of “method acting” for generations. As the mentally deranged Travis Bickle, DeNiro is also incredibly powerful. Diving into method acting once more DeNiro actually worked twelve-hour days for a month driving cabs before the shoot. DeNiro made the character of Bickle, a psychotic murderer, actually likable. If I have to choose one performance though to represent his legacy….I choose Bickle, by a hair. While DeNiro certainly made LaMotta his own, I feel like because you can call Raging Bull a fantastic “boxing movie” or “biopic,” it belongs in multiple conversations. When you think about Raging Bull, you think about a lot of elements, whereas with Taxi Driver, all you can say about that movie is, “Wow. Robert DeNiro. What a performance.” That seals the deal for me.
Winner: Travis Bickle
Al Pacino- Michael Corleone (The Godfather Trilogy) vs. Tony Montana (Scarface)
Many cinemaphiles will tell you that as Corleone, his first major role, Pacino gave the best performance of his career. His descent from family golden boy into ruthless, fratricidal Don is a marvel of tightly clenched intensity. Pacino was also nominated for the Oscar (losing to Cabaret’s Joel Grey) and The Godfather is also ranked #2 on the AFI’s 100 Years….100 Movies list. Then you have Scarface, a character and film which has become a cultural icon, especially in the hip-hop community. The poster and image are still immensely popular appearing on everything from t-shirts to bedsheets to baby bibs, to shoes to teeth. On the other hand, the movie and performance itself was ridiculed. Leonard Maltin said, “[Scarface] wallows in excess and unpleasantness for nearly three hours, and offers no new insights except that crime doesn’t pay” and another top critic noted, “[Pacino’s] efforts expended on the flawless Cuban accent and the attempts to flesh out a character cut from inch-thick cardboard are hopeless.” But critics be damned because the line “Say hello to my little friend” is one of the most quoted lines of all time. So while Michael Corleone may be the better performance, at the end of the day though, in my opinion, when you think of The Godfather, you think of Marlon Brando, and the entire scope of the film (ie. the cast, the music, the direction etc.). When you think of Scarface, you think of Al Fucking Pacino. And vice versa.
Winner: Tony Montana
Harrison Ford- Han Solo (Star Wars Trilogy) vs. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones… Movies)
Harrison Ford is the box-office champion of all-time. Combined, his movies have grossed more than any other actor, and most of those dollars come from his two giant franchises: Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Han Solo is many Star Wars fans’ favorite character. He’s handsome, rugged, sly, sarcastic, clever, and rebellious and his “journey” into deciding to be more selfless and fight for the cause is one that carries the trilogy. Coincidentally, Indiana Jones is also handsome, rugged, sly, sarcastic, clever, etc. Examining both characters by themselves, maybe Han Solo is a little more entertaining and special because he came first, and Indiana Jones is a bit derivative. However, personally, when I think of Star Wars, I think of Darth Vader, Yoda, the force, Luke, Chewy etc. Han is an integral part of that universe, but he’s just a part. The Indiana Jones trilogy is Indiana Jones, who is played by Harrison Ford. At the same time though, it’s Star Wars, the single most culture-seeping franchise of all time. The fact that Harrison Ford helped create that gives Han Solo the upper hand for me. I know this is reverse logic from the reasoning I took with Pacino, but this isn’t The Godfather. It’s Star Wars, and in 100 years, Star Wars will still be relevant. I can’t say the same for Indiana Jones.
Winner: Han Solo
Ron Howard- Opie (The Andy Griffith Show) vs. Richie Cunningham (Happy Days)
Both are television classics for sure, but whenever I hear people talk about the career Ron Howard has had, they always begin by mentioning Little Opie. As in, “Can you believe Opie went so far and is now a big time director? Or “Can you believe that Opie made such a shitty movie as, The Dilemma? (Alright! I get it! It’s not a good movie! Get over it Ethan!) Plus, we all know that Happy Days belongs to Fonzie. At one point the network even wanted to change the show’s name to Fonzie’s Happy Days. How do I know this? Because when I was sick one day when I was 11, I watched a Henry Winkler biography special on E!. To this day I’m amazed by how many Winkler facts I’ve retained from that day. What do I remember about the Gold Rush? Not much.
Will Ferrell- Frank the Tank (Old School) vs. Ron Burgandy (Anchorman)
Marlon Brando- Don Corleone (The Godfather) vs. Stanley Kowalski (A Streetcar Named Desire) vs. Terry Malloy (On the Waterfront)
AND MORE! Send your own suggestions in!