“Wait a minute... Wait a minute... you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”
In 1927, Al Jolson spoke those words in The Jazz Singer, marking the end of the silent film age. (Of course, that film also featured Jolson in blackface which unfortunately was common at the time.) From The Guardian:
Just a year before (The Jazz Singer), Warners had made Don Juan, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, which didn’t exactly set the Hudson river on fire, despite sound effects like the clash of swords or chairs being thrown – all to the accompaniment of the New York Philharmonic.
The reason Sam Warner, the technical genius of the brothers, thought that adding a human voice would make all the difference was a series of shorts brought in as a late addition to the Don Juan programme. Giovanni Martinelli, principal tenor at the Metropolitan Opera, sang Pagliacci. The leader of the Philharmonic played his violin and Al Jolson sang When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along).
They were a secret success. The New York press hardly noticed, but audiences did – and loved them. What would be known as “the talkies” were coming out of the fairground.
It was Sam Warner’s idea to team up with the Western Electric company to buy its Vitaphone synchronising system. He had the faith that few others possessed, but sadly died of a mastoid infection of the brain the day before the hugely successful premiere of The Jazz Singer.
Robert Pattinson is The Batman in director Matt Reeves's take on the dark knight. Pattinson is best known from the Twilight series while Reeves was behind the lens on Cloverfield (2008), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).
The Batman's cinematographer is Greig Fraser with a score by Michael Giacchino. Costume design is by Jacqueline Durran, Glyn Dillon, and David Crossman.
Release date: June 25, 2021. Read the rest
Cubicall, makers of contemporary telephone booths like those you might see in the offices of momentarily flush startups, have created an official replica of the time machine phone booth from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). It is $8,495. For that price, perhaps it provides the same functionality as the one in the film. From Cubicall:
The limited-run phone booth features a design inspired by the original film, including an authentic payphone retrofitted for VOIP/landline service, an umbrella antenna, and all of the same stellar features of Cubicall phone booths. Made in USA. Excellent!
I've watched Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time In Hollywood twice, and I appreciated more even the second time. So I enjoyed this "making of" documentary that Sony released to YouTube last week. It has interviews with all the principle actors and Tarantino himself, along with behind-the-scenes footage.
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On this episode of the Fatman Beyond podcast, Kevin Smith claims that Todd Phillips' Joker originally had a much darker ending written for it. From Hypebeast:
While the final release of the film ended with Arthur Fleck being locked up in a psychiatric hospital with a scene suggesting he killed his new therapist, Smith says around the 16:35 mark in the video above that a source close to the project revealed an alternative ending featuring a flashback at the hospital. The flashback would’ve taken the audience back to Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder scene in the alley, and reveal that it was actually the Joker who killed them. Even more shocking is the fact that the Joker then also shoots Bruce Wayne, effectively killing Batman in that particular universe.
“Originally, the ending in the hospital was different,” Smith said. “He’s in the hospital and he laughs, chuckles, and he says, ‘I was just thinking of something funny.’ What was supposed to happen was you flashed back to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and it was him killing Thomas and Martha Wayne and the boy was screaming and crying and he turned to walk away and he turned back, shrugged, and shot the kid. Credits.”
Back in October, TV writer Liz Alper started posting on Twitter about her harrowing experience as a writer's assistant in LA, hoping to break into the industry. Alper had spent more than a decade being overworked and underpaid, and, well, rightly had enough. Over the course of several weeks, she got the #PayUpHollywood hashtag trending, inspiring other film and TV professionals to share the stories of the less-than-glamorous lives they led in order to maybe, finally "make it" (whatever that entails).
Since then, Alper and her friend Deirdre Mangan, another TV writer, have surveyed more than 1500 support staff members from the LA entertainment industry about their incoming and working conditions. As they explain in a press release about the data they compiled:
“Hollywood has created a paywall around the industry that keeps out anyone who doesn’t come from money or who won’t put up with absurd, unsafe and potentially illegal working conditions,” said #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Alper. “We need to move past the tired myth that ‘this is just how it’s always been’, because it’s not true. Hollywood did not always negligently add to the income inequality, housing and mental health crises our country is facing. We can and must do better.”
Like the recent list of journalism salaries, the survey revealed a lot of people making $50,000 a year or less while struggling to survive in an expensive city where they're expected to live in order to do their jobs. And of course, there's racial and gender inequality a-plenty, and no clear path for upwards mobility for anyone, really. Read the rest
Harriet Tubman was a slave who became an abolitionist after escaping, saving dozens of other slaves through the Underground Railroad. Julia Roberts is an Oscar-winning actress and producer, the star of Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich and Homecoming. Tubman was black, Roberts is white. No problem for one Hollywood executive, in 1994.
In a Q&A with Allen published earlier this month by Harriet studio Focus Features (and reiterated in an L.A. Times essay published Tuesday), Allen recalled how “the climate in Hollywood … was very different” some 25 years ago.
“I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'” Allen explained. “When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, ‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.'” Thankfully, for everyone involved, Roberts was not cast as Tubman.
The Tubman movie is out now, starring Cynthia Erivo, who is black. Trailer below:
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Adapted by Maria Sova from Gareth Crocker’s novel, Finding Jack is based on the existence and abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean will play a character called Rogan, considered a secondary lead role.
"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean," said Ernst, who also produces with Golykh for Magic City Films alongside Donald A. Barton of Artistry Media Group.
"We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down."
TIL: In general, props are the items actors touch/handle, everything else is part of the set decoration and not the responsibility of the property master. Read the rest
For years, it was just about impossible to see a film that Ed Norton didn't have something to do with. Then, just like Kaiser Soze, poof, he was gone. Except now he's back! Given that Norton will wrote, directed and is staring in Motherless Brooklyn, his absence from the big screen is totally understandable—that's a lot of work to shoulder. Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, with Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe are on board to help bring this Jonathan Lethem's gem of a neo-pulp thriller to life. Read the rest
I loved The Mummy back in the day... although it hasn't held up very well.
If I were home and dying of the flu in bed, I wouldn't use the last of my strength to get up and change the channel if The Mummy Returns came on, right up to the point where the Scorpion King appears. That's some fugly VFX work. The folks from Corridor Crew agree. On one of their days off, they decided to do something about it.
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Just after teenage Edward Furlong blew up in Terminator 2, he released an album, titled "Hold On Tight," in Japan. It also enjoyed a CD and vinyl release in South Korea and sweet sweet cassette in Indonesia. Here's 14-year-old Edward doing The Doors' "People Are Strange."
The Doris Day Foundation reports her death at 97.
Doris Day passed away early this morning at her Carmel Valley home, having celebrated her 97th birthday on April 3 of this year. Nearly 300 fans gathered in Carmel last month to celebrate Day’s birthday. Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia , resulting in her death. She was surrounded by a few close friends as she passed.
The BBC rounded up tributes:
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Star Trek actor William Shatner remembered Day on Twitter as "the World's Sweetheart," saying she was "beloved by all".
Novelist Paulo Coelho marked her passing by quoting lyrics from Secret Love, one of her numbers in Calamity Jane.
A prequel to the iconic 1971 musical and 1978 movie Grease is in development at Paramount. Written by John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), the new film, titled Summer Loving, will tell the story of Danny and Sandy's summer romance at the beach as famously recounted from two different perspectives in the original movie's song "Summer Nights."
I only wish Summer Loving would be an animated feature in the style of John D. Wilson's incredible opening titles to the original Grease and star John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John:
After a few false starts and rumors, the classic 1996 teen witch film The Craft will be remade, according to a fresh listing in industry trade Production Weekly. Not a big shock as right now there's a witchcraft resurgence afoot, especially among millennials. (In fact, the directors should hire badass witch Pam Grossman to help them make real magick!) Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Get Out, BlacKkKlansman) will produce the remake. Daniel Casey (Fast & Furious 9) and Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid) are writing it and Lister-Jones is directing. Here's the synopsis:
A remake of the 1996 supernatural teen thriller. When starting at a new school, Hannah befriends Tabby, Lourdes, and Frankie & quickly becomes the fourth member of their Clique. Hannah soon learns that she somehow brings great power to the quartet.