Entertainment news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Five Perfect New Year's Lessons I Learned from Lee Daniels in Dubai (Mon, 29 Dec 2014 05:39:50 -0500)
Just in time for the ideal reflections on the new year ahead, I sat down with filmmaker Lee Daniels on a terrace overlooking the splendid Arabian Gulf during the recent Dubai International Film Festival. Daniels served as Jury President for the Muhr Feature Competition in Dubai and turned out to be the best interview, the kind that simply "shut it down" for me -- as Rachel Zoe would put it. In fact, after speaking with Daniels, I found it difficult to interview anyone else. Probably because, through his great wit, the wonderful self-mocking way he talks about his work and himself, I learned so much, I didn't really need anything more. Here are some of his wisdoms worth sharing.
Be altruistic, it will challenge and inspire you.
Lee Daniels' upcoming foray into television is the highly anticipated Empire, set to premiere on Fox on January 7th. Starring the divinely talented Terrence Howard as a former street thug turned hip hop king, now CEO of Empire Entertainment, alongside one of my favorite actresses Taraji P. Henson, the drama series takes the audience "right to the edge of Netflix, almost HBO, to the edge of your seats for primetime, and then lets the mind wander," Daniels disclosed, though still proving (barely) acceptable for its primetime network slot. So why did Daniels choose to create his first TV series for FOX and not, say, HBO or Showtime where he may have enjoyed more freedom? Well, it turns out, for very un-selfish reasons, "I did it because my family can't afford cable, you know. And I really wanted my family to experience television, my television." When asked why not buy his family cable instead, tongue in cheek, he replied, "I got a lot of family. I mean... That's a small city!"
Watch more British TV, it's groundbreaking.
While still on the subject of the upcoming Empire, Daniels admitted he's inspired by European television, but particularly British comedy and drama series. He described Absolutely Fabulous as the "be all, end all Bible," a place where everyone should start their Brit TV viewing, to then continue onto "Helen Mirren's Prime Suspect" and Idris Elba's everything on television. When asked why he thinks British TV is so far ahead of the competition, he first admitted "it's that wit, and it's also the actor, because the actor is far more sophisticated." Pushed further, Daniels revealed "it's something about the truth. I live for telling the truth, and though I'm sure there are a lot of liars over there, I don't see it on screen."
Find your own truth, it can change your life.
Speaking of truth, after his set up I couldn't resist asking Daniels what had been his personal truth while in Dubai, what he was walking away from here -- these crossroads of East and West -- knowing. His answer is what I live for in my writing, and a glorious example of how film can change the world. "I'm gonna tell you the truth," he started, "I'm 55, you think you know everything there is to know," then continued, "and what I've learned is that I have been brainwashed; that I have been brainwashed since a child about the Arabic culture, I have been brainwashed and I'm embarrassed about it -- I'm ashamed." What did he mean? He explained, "I just think that we have a very specific view of the Arabic culture that is not one of peace." Dubai, and the films he watched while at DIFF changed Daniels, so that now his view of the cultures of the Arab world has become, "that they're a peaceful people; that the injustices and the atrocities that have happened are insurmountable; that... America does not lend the support that they should. And... it's not right."
Much of Society's Unrest Caused By Barrage of Negative Stereotypes in Films (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 23:39:54 -0500)
By Anthony Major
UCF Forum columnist
Everybody has a perception about what the image of art should say -- or not say -- but few have an informed opinion. The power of the communicative arts transcends the mere power to inform. That power is used in film, television, newspapers, radio, art, magazines, music, theatre and the new social media network as a means of influencing and shaping attitudes by providing images and opinions.
This power of film is universal as it transcends place, race and gender. It has the power to set or change behavior.
A former mentor of mine, Rheet Taylor, once explained to me there are only two types of opinions: informed and uninformed. Which one should we all desire to have? It becomes increasingly difficult, however, to become informed when only one group is calling the shots as to what that image of a particular culture is seen through the arts, especially film -- which has a larger-than-life image and gets exported throughout the world. As the Andre Agassi commercial for Canon cameras years ago said: "Image is everything."
It is my opinion that negative images of African-Americans perpetrated by some of the media is the cause of a lot of the unrest happening across our nation and around the world today. The constant barrage of images of African-Americans as troublemakers, as threatening or as menacing, are so embedded in our psyche that when incidents happen -- such as we saw in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island, N.Y., or Ohio, where a 12-year-old was shot within seconds of police arriving at the scene -- many feel they are justified.
As an audience, we all bring our own personal perception and bias, but these large visual and sound images in film affect us all and alter our perception and bias to the message projected for us to see. The size of the image has a lot to do with the power of the experience. We empathize with an image that is larger than us, in an experience that we cannot control. Good or bad, we've experienced an adventure on film and we leave with the negative images of African-Americans portrayed on the screen.
These bigger-than-life images are how the rest of the world perceives us, and that perception -- good or bad -- becomes the reality.
Leaving the production of the images in the hands of the few who control the economics, who themselves were influenced by negative images, brings predictable results. For example The Color Purple, Colored Girls and Training Day, which are all good films, all portray the black man in a negative way. We get a steady dose of Tyler Perry films, where the main character is a male dressed as a female, which many black comedians did to become successful, and a ton of negative reality-television shows.
To have more positive outcomes, we need to have a balance of positive images. We all say we want positive images, but what is positive, to whom and for what purpose?
Why do we keep having incidents like the recent leaked emails between Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures, and producer Scott Rudin about what President Obama's favorite films would be, and the comments of an unnamed producer in a New York Post article who said "Denzel Washington (who is a two-time Academy Award winner) shouldn't star in blockbuster movies because he is black...the international market is too racist."
Yet films like Shaft, Superfly, Trouble Man and a bevy of other African-American films boosted Hollywood during the '70s. And the international markets have been duplicating African-American arts, jazz, Michael Jackson's dances, even black dress and gestures for centuries.
When African-Americans live in a pluralistic society and try to preserve their culture and its meaning, it becomes difficult in a capitalist society, where to some, increasing the bottom line at all costs is imperative.
Where does this leave the artists? The artists, who are trying to balance out the bigger-than-life power called film, need to be supported. In Hollywood studios, there has never been an African- American who can "green-light" a film. Support of African-Americans in the boardroom, with the power to green-light, may one day balance out the bigger-than-life images that are both entertaining and economically successful.
We need to do our due diligence, and research and listen to differing viewpoints of all cultures. We also need to try to understand differing opinions of how the local and foreign media view our culture. That way we can have an informed opinion about what our fellow citizens are complaining about, real or unreal.
Anthony B. Major is an associate professor of film in UCF's School of Visual Arts & Design and program director of Africana Studies in the College of Arts and Humanities. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Selma (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 23:15:48 -0500)
R.I.P. Martin Luther King. Your story has been told. Your legacy passed on. Your strategies for non-violent demonstrations shared. Your ability for changing hearts, minds and laws well-documented. Selma, in the most inspiring way, relays MLK's state of grace. It is a worthy homage befitting of America's most iconic Civil Rights Leader. A monumental achievement.
How 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' Critiques Our Culture (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 18:46:42 -0500)
American Horror Story: Freak Show (which airs Wednesdays at 10 on FX) is set to wrap soon, with only three more episodes left in the season. This installment is set in the early 1950s, which was an era generally characterized as conservative and repressive, prone to McCarthyism, racial segregation, and female domestic confinement. As such, it's appropriate that the season arc concerns itself with the topic of "freaks," being set in such a traditional era.
The season also explores classism and social privilege, with the affluent mother and her sociopathic, spoiled son. They live in obscene wealth, with sprawling manors displaying both their decadent splendor that their affluence provides, as well as the emotional distance, isolation and subtle yet divisive separation in their familial relationship. The son, Dandy Mott, is the epitome of the excesses of wealth and privilege taken too far to its detrimental conclusion. Dandy is apparently incapable of finding satisfaction in anything. The world is seemingly at his fingertips, and yet he's consumed with a constant, gnawing feeling of ennui and Feminine Mystique housewife-like malaise. The only way he's able to slake his boredom is through murder.
In one episode, in a scene classically indicative of the urban legends/cautionary tales-of-morality format, a pair of teenage lovers are about to have sex in a park when they are interrupted by a homicidal, maniacal clown bent on a murder rampage. The boyfriend is brutally stabbed to death (which is a phallic, penetrative symbol akin to sex itself) and the girlfriend (with her classic girl-next-door, blonde-haired and blue-eyed features) is taken hostage by the clown and imprisoned, along with a young boy. The couple is punished for their loose or lack of appropriate sexual mores, a la the custom of anyone who drinks, does drugs, has sex or engages in any other "wild" behavior always dies in horror films. The young boy represents the impressionable, vulnerable, wholesome young children of America collectively at large. As such, his danger and imprisonment reflects the fear that's instilled and instigated whenever seemingly morally questionable or taboo, controversial behavior is displayed. From the War on Drugs to gay marriage to sex education and abortion, the question is always, "what about our nation's children?" It's what's always called upon as reasoning or explanation for a necessary traditional, conservative schema or paradigm. Thus, the clown (symbolic of deviance, nonconformity, and shock-and-horror-eliciting reactions) threatens America's children.
An interesting aspect to the character of the murderous rich kid Dandy Mott is that he wants to run away and join the circus. He's ostensibly the most "normal," WASPish person around, and yet he feels like he's painfully different (which, in a way, he is). He teams up with the unhinged clown in a spree of murder, torture, kidnapping and imprisonment. It's worth noting that all the killers are white male characters (the rich kid, the strongman, the con man, and the clown). Thus, evidently the real dangers to society are those at the top of the social hierarchy, those whom appear to be innocuous and hide in plain sight. As current events have shown, this is a woefully true observation.
The homicidal rich kid's sociopathic nature is presented as being due to inbreeding of affluent families, and apparently his father had the same psychosis. His psychotic nature is looked at as being a sign of his familial prestige. His mother even tells him, "These mental perversions are an affliction of the extremely affluent... It becomes a rite of passage to have a psychotic or two in the line. Jack the Ripper was a Windsor, for god's sake." He also has an unnaturally close relationship to his mother; his character is very reminiscent of Norman Bates from Psycho and Bruno from Strangers on a Train. He desperately wants to be an actor, is effeminate and melodramatic, prone to bratty histrionics and temper tantrums. There is an inferable gay vibe to his character, yet again equating nonheteronormativity with pathology and psychosis. At one point, he says (in a workout scene recalling American Psycho), "This body is America: strong, violent, and full of limitless potential." It seems to be a succinct summation of the dark nature of American capitalism and imperialism. His wealth essentially ensures his legal insulation or clemency. It's a pay-to-play legal system wherein those who can afford to hire the most skilled and most expensive lawyers have a much better chance in court. Plus, as recent current events have sadly shown, there's an inherently institutionalized racism to the so-called justice system. After discovering Dandy Mott's true nature, Gabourey Sidibe's character brings a cop to his manor to arrest him. Dandy Mott offers the cop $1 million to shoot her, which the cop does without the slightest hesitation. The scene is a scathing yet all-too-true indictment of American corruption, greed, racism, yuppie culture, and ruthless capitalism. Evidently, these "American horror stories" are truly American in essence and consequence.
'The Interview' Becomes Sony's No. 1 Online Movie Of All Time (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 18:46:01 -0500)
By Liana B. Baker
Dec 28 (Reuters) - Sony Pictures said on Sunday that the "The Interview" had been purchased or rented online more than 2 million times, generating more than $15 million in the first four days after the controversial comedy's wide theatrical release was shelved.
This would rank the film, which angered North Korea and triggered a cyberattack against the studio, as the No. 1 online movie ever released by Sony Pictures, the company said in a statement.
The film has also brought in $2.8 million in the limited theatrical run that began Christmas Day in more than 300 mostly independent theaters, according to tracking firm Rentrak.
Sony is likely to reap larger receipts. The company's first online revenue figures do not include Apple's iTunes purchases or rentals after Apple agreed on Sunday to carry the movie on iTunes, the biggest and most-used store of online content.
The $44 million film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco had been expected to gross at least $20 million in its opening holiday weekend if it had gone to wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.
After large movie theater chains refused to screen the comedy following threats of violence from hackers who opposed the film, Sony stitched together a limited release in theaters and a $5.99 video-on-demand (VOD) rental option on YouTube, Google Play and other sites starting Dec. 24. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Mary Milliken; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
Chris Rock And Malaak Compton-Rock Split After 19 Years Of Marriage (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 16:40:51 -0500)
Chris Rock and Malaak Compton-Rock are divorcing after 19 years of marriage. People reports that Rock’s lawyer Robert S. Cohen confirmed the news in a statement:
“Chris Rock has filed for divorce from his wife, Malaak, This is a personal matter and Chris requests privacy as he and Malaak work through this process and focus on their family,” Cohen said.
Malaak Compton-Rock also released a statement on Sunday confirming the split:
“After much contemplation and 19 years of marriage, Chris and I have decided to go our separate ways,” she wrote. “Being fortunate enough to lead a life of service by working with those most vulnerable makes me well aware of life’s blessings, even when faced with difficulties."
Compton-Rock is the founder of two nonprofits, the Angel Rock project and styleWorks.
She continued, “While recognizing that this is a significant change, my children remain at the center of my life and their well-being is my top priority. It is in this spirit that I sincerely ask that their privacy and the privacy of our family be respected during this transition in our lives.”
The pair married in 1996 and have two daughters together: Lola, 12, and Zahra, 10.
No, That Madonna Song Isn't About Lady Gaga, Manager Says (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 16:17:55 -0500)
Another Madonna demo has leaked, following a slew of unfinished tracks that made their way onto the internet earlier in December. Titled "Two Steps Behind," the demo drew up allegations that the lyrics -- "You're a copycat, get back/I'm always on your mind" -- were directed specifically at Lady Gaga. However, during a Twitter Q&A about Madonna's upcoming album "Rebel Heart," her manager, Guy Oseary, cleared the air, writing, "That song is NOT about Gaga or anyone in particular."
@EDXCX that song is NOT about gaga or anyone in particular.— Guy Oseary (@guyoseary) December 28, 2014
@EDXCX the song is an unfinished demo she had no intention of finishing or releasing along with many others..— Guy Oseary (@guyoseary) December 28, 2014
@diamondflesh She has NO ill will towards gaga. It's nonsense She was listening to the Tony Bennett duet album last week and appreciating it— Guy Oseary (@guyoseary) December 28, 2014
Mark Wahlberg And His Wife Bring Their PDA To The Beach (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 16:14:47 -0500)
During a sunny getaway in Barbados, Mark Wahlberg shared major PDA with his wife, Rhea Durham.
Alicia Keys Welcomes Second Baby Boy With Swizz Beatz (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:49:55 -0500)
It's another baby boy for Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz.
Keys announced the good news on her Instagram account Sunday, posting a sweet shot of the newborn's footprints. The "Girl on Fire" singer and Beatz, a rapper and music producer, welcomed their son, Genesis Ali Dean, in the early morning hours on Saturday:
These Bloopers Made Watching The News Worthwhile In 2014 (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:10:08 -0500)
This is why it paid to watch the news in 2014.
From the unfortunate news anchor who took a skateboard to the head to the kid who dropped his iPhone 6 after standing in line for hours to get it, it was a great year for watching people embarrass themselves on live television. Newsbefunny made a mashup video of the best news bloopers of 2014, because reading off a teleprompter is hard, and when you don't have a teleprompter ... forget about it.
Watch the clip above.
Khloe Kardashian Gets Candid About Her Love Life (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 14:46:50 -0500)
Calling all big spoons: Khloe Kardashian is looking for someone to cuddle up to at night. As cover star of Cosmopolitan UK's February 2015 issue, the reality star got real with the magazine about what she wants from her romantic life:
“I don’t crave sex," Kardashian said. "I talked about it more openly when I was married because it’s more comfortable. I crave companionship-- I just want to cuddle."
Kardashian was married to NBA player Lamar Odom for four years before filing for divorce in December 2013. She told Cosmopolitan UK that she's still adjusting to living the single life:
"I was 30 in June and by the time I hit that age I thought I would have kids and still be married. But because that’s not the way it went, you can’t sit in a ball and cry. I had a husband, so I think there’s an adjustment period, which I don’t want to rush. Dating is so weird."
Most recently, the 30-year-old dated rapper French Montana for a few months before they reportedly split in September. Rumors of their rekindled romance spread again in November, after Kardashian and Montana reuninted at Montana's birthday bash.
See photos of Kardashian's sexy spread in Cosmopolitan UK here:
Read more with Khloe Kardashian here, and pick up a copy of Cosmopolitan UK's February issue, on newsstands and available in a digital edition on Jan. 2.
'The Interview' Is Now Available On iTunes (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 14:22:41 -0500)
After being made available on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft's Xbox Video and Sony's own film-dedicated site, "The Interview" is now on iTunes. Apple added the comedy on Sunday, available for rent at $5.99 or purchase at $14.99 in the U.S..
"We're pleased to offer 'The Interview' for rental or purchase on the iTunes Store," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said in a statement.
"The Interview" also opened in 331 theaters across the nation this Christmas weekend, earning $2.8 million from its limited release.
In other news about "The Interview": Seth Rogen and James Franco and co-director Evan Goldberg will live tweet the film with fans starting at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Tomorrow @JamesFrancoTV, @evandgoldberg and myself will be LIVE TWEETING #TheInterview at 2pm PST! Join us! It'll be like Pop-UP Video!— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 28, 2014
'Hobbit' Tops Christmas Box Office, 'Into The Woods,' 'Unbroken' & 'Big Eyes' Fall Short (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:09:08 -0500)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Audiences had their pick of genres during the Christmas weekend, but despite a host of fresh arrivals, splashy holiday fare like "Unbroken" and "Into the Woods" proved no match for "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."
"The Interview," meanwhile, wowed with $15 million from its over 2 million online rentals and purchases. The final installment in Peter Jackson's trilogy marched to the top spot once again with an estimated $41.4 million take across the weekend ($54.5 including Christmas day earnings), according to studio estimates Sunday.
Universal's World War II epic "Unbroken" took second place with $31.7 million from the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $47.3 million from its first four days in theaters.
"We're all thrilled," Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of domestic distribution said of the Angelina Jolie-directed drama. "It's a testament to how great this movie is. I'm so happy that America found out about it."
Added Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian: "The story of Louis Zamperini really offered a nice alternative for moviegoers who weren't looking for a fantasy world, a musical or a family film."
Disney's musical "Into the Woods," boasting a star-packed cast and a PG rating, came in a close third with $31 million, and $46.1 million across the four-day period. It replaced "Mamma Mia" as the biggest opening for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical ever.
"To be able to take (Stephen) Sondheim and (James) Lapine's work and make it available to a mass audience? It's a great holiday gift in and of itself," Disney's distribution Executive Vice President Dave Hollis said.
The rest of the top five was populated by holdovers "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" and "Annie" and which earned $20.6 million and $16.6 million, respectively, in their second weekend in theaters.
"Their opening numbers didn't really set the world on fire, but, as we thought, they would play well over the Christmas holiday," Dergarabedian said.
Sony's "The Interview" earned $15 million from online rentals and purchases through Saturday. The movie took in $2.8 million from 331 theaters since its opening on Thursday, and $1.8 million of that came from the weekend.
"I'm so grateful that the movie found its way into theaters, and I'm thrilled that people actually went out and saw it," said writer, director and star Seth Rogen in a statement.
"We are very pleased with how it is doing both theatrically where we are seeing numerous sell-outs across the country, and online where it remains at the top of many charts" added Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. In just four days, "The Interview" became Sony's most successful online film of all time.
Other weekend debuts include Paramount's $25 million crime drama "The Gambler," which took seventh place with a middling $9.3 million from 2,478 theaters. The Weinstein Company's "Big Eyes" earned only $2.97 million over the weekend from 1,307 screens and $4.4 million from the four-day. The haul is a career low for director Tim Burton compared with his other wide-release openings.
In limited release, Clint Eastwood's fact-based Iraq war drama "American Sniper" opened in four locations, taking in a phenomenal $610,000. The staggering $152,510 per-theater average is second this year only to "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. drama "Selma," meanwhile, opened in 19 locations to $590,000 over the three-day weekend for a solid $31,053 per-theater average. The film expands nationwide on Jan. 9.
Dergarabedian thinks that less impressive debuts, such as awards hopeful "Big Eyes," could find an audience in the coming weeks.
"It's just very, very crowded out there," Dergarabedian said. "The audience wins, though. There is so much choice out there. If you can't find a movie to your liking in this lineup, then you just don't like movies."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," $41.4 million ($89.2 million international).
2. "Unbroken," $31.7 million ($2.7 million international).
3. "Into the Woods," $31 million ($1.6 million international).
4. "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," $20.6 million ($30.3 million international).
5. "Annie," $16.6 million ($5.9 million international).
6. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," $10 million ($7.9 million international).
7. "The Gambler," $9.3 million.
8. "The Imitation Game," $7.9 million ($400,000 international).
9. "Exodus: Gods and Kings," $6.8 million ($31 million international).
10. "Wild," $5.4 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:
1. "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," $89.2 million.
2. "Exodus: Gods and Kings," $31 million.
3. "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," $30.3 million
4. "The Taking of Tiger Mountain," $25 million.
5. "Big Hero 6," $24.7 million.
6. "Penguins of Madagascar," $16.1 million.
7. "P.K.," $14.3 million.
8. "International Market," $14 million.
9. "Paddington," $12 million.
10. "Love on the Cloud," $10 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr
Tim Burton And Helena Bonham Carter Grab Lunch Following Split (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 12:56:08 -0500)
Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton kept close in the cold weather while heading to grabbing lunch together on Saturday afternoon in London, England.
Miley Cyrus Shares Topless Photo To 'Free The Nipple' (Sun, 28 Dec 2014 12:49:16 -0500)
Miley Cyrus showed out for the "Free the Nipple" campaign by posting a topless Instagram with a caption taunting people to report the racy photo.