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Entries in Diana Ross (8)

Wednesday
Sep192018

Soundtracking: "Lady Sings the Blues"

The 1972 Smackdown is coming soon! Here's Chris on that year's Oscar nominated biopic on Billie Holliday...

We complain a lot about stodgy biopics in the “greatest hits” mold, simply relying on the known Wikipedia fenceposts to construct its narrative. Lady Sings The Blues is kind of the poster child for such frustrations - I mean, the original poster literally proclaimed “Diana Ross IS Billie Holiday”.

What we were given is a film mostly bored by subject and performer, or at least unable to capture what made Ross and Holliday such captivating performers. Blues meanders through the singer’s life story, halting for her performances with fly-on-the-wall passivity that’s as indifferent to the magnetism of the music as it is to Ross’ take...

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Thursday
Sep062018

Showbiz History: La Strada, It Chapter Two, The King's Speech

7 random things that happened on this day, september 6th, in showbiz history...

←   1879 Max Schreck born in Berlin. He is immortalized by playing undead Orlok in Nosferatu. Later Willem Dafoe will be Oscar-nominated for playing him in all his creepy eccentric possibly actually vampiric glory in Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

1928 How's this for a weird bit of history? Warner Bros second talkie was released on this day (well, some accounts say August 15th... dates are so iffy the further back you go) and it was a horror film called The Terror. In '28 many theaters had yet to convert to sound so a silent version of the same picture was released the following month. The film is one of many lost films from the era. 

1954 Federico Fellini's La Strada premieres at the tail end of the 15th annual Venice Film Festival...

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Sunday
Jul172016

Catherine the Great, Billie Holiday, Wong Kar-Wai

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1762 Catherine the Great becomes tsar of Russia, rules until her death 34 years later. Many actresses have played her since including icons as great as Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, and Marlene Dietrich. (Kiera Knightley and Annette Bening both have been rumored for various new Catherine the Great projects but we'll believe those when we see them.)
1898 Berenice Abbott, a major figure in photography, an early LGBT feminist, whose life spanned nearly the entire 20th century and would make a great biopic,  is born. We keep mentioning important women as potential biopic subjects to debunk the theory, perpetuated by Hollywood, that there are only Great Men worthy of movie treatment in history.
1899 Speaking of Great Man biopics...

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Tuesday
Jun072016

Best Shot: Trevor (1994)

For Pride Month... A great moment in Oscar gayness

This week's Best Shot spotlight shines on an adorable miniature. Since June is Pride Month we're looking at Great Moments in Cinematic Gayness throughout the month. Great Moments in Oscar Gayness are rarer things and usually come with significant caveats. When they award actors for playing LGBT characters it's literally only when they are straight and labelled "brave" for playing the character and the character is either dying or victimized in some way. Their ultimate Best Picture rejection of a universally acclaimed frontrunner in Brokeback Mountain (2005) left another stain on the Academy's rainbow colors.

But in Oscar's gay history, there is a beautiful moment that comes without so many uncomfortable footnotes.

Trevor, a sweet funny short about a boy who realizes his schoolmates have figured out his gayness took home an Oscar in a surprise tie, one of only six in their history, at the 67th ceremony. To make the moment even gayer in retrospect, the late producer and casting director Randy Stone thanked Jodie Foster ("Jodie, I love you") from the stage. (Stone and Foster were frequently each other's dates at film events in the 1990s and he was even rumored to be the biological father of her sons.)

More...

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Wednesday
Jul292015

Jane (Don't) Got a Link

Guardian has the Venice film festival lineup 
ICYMI here was Toronto's. They run concurrently so they share a few titles
Empire Nosferatu getting another remake -this time from the director of the Sundance hit The Witch. This is a terrible idea. It's one thing to top a classic. It's another thing to try and live up to memories of TWO classics simultaneously
Salon on "showrunner auteurs" and True Detective Season 2
Slant Magazine has a interesting 'noir' essay on a blu-ray restoration of the great Fabulous Baker Boys
The Wrap Relativity is going bankrupt which means their current most star driven films, Jane Got a Gun (Natalie Portman) and Collide (Felicity Jones & Nicolas Hoult) probably won't be opening as planned
The Wrap It's Chris Pine as Wonder Woman's Steve Trevor in 2017 though not everyone likes this idea


Yahoo Style "Madonna and the Fading Politics of Diva-dom" I normally groan my way through essays that are critical of Madonna in-the-now since they usually instantly show, nay even flaunt, their ageism and disrespect/misunderstanding of her legacy. But this one is smart and really interesting.
Empire Amy Schumer, who recently appropriated Star Wars for a photoshoot, has now done a Madonna-related photoshoot (Truth or Dare era specifically)

Bob the Musical?
Playbill Recent EGOTer Robert Lopez (Frozen) and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez have a new musical called Up Here at the La Jolla Playhouse. Will their lucky streak continue? This one takes place inside the lead character's head. That's going around - hi Inside Out!) They were previously reported to be working on the  long-gestating original film Bob the Musical
THR ... but then who hasn't been reported as working on that? Currently we're looking at Michel Hazanivicius directing, Michael Chabon writing, Bret McKenzie songwriting and Tom Cruise circling to star...
Pajiba doesn't want Tom Cruise to do it and I agree with every word of this. Also: he's just not good at comedy. He's too intense for comedy, particularly musical comedy which requires an effortless-looking lightness.

Showtune to Go from The Wiz
Remember when Margaret (I miss Margaret!) did such a fine job of dream-casting the forthcoming live television production of The Wiz? Well, the actual casting is starting now and sadly they haven't taken any of her suggestions to heart. The first announced members of the cast are Queen Latifah as the Wizard, Mary J Blige as Evilene (AKA the Wicked Witch), and the original Broadway production's Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as her own Auntie 'Em. 

 

But who will sing this classic finale "Home"?

P.S. Incredibly and sadly, the legendary long-retired Diana Ross, who is only 71 years old, is the only principle cast member from the 1978 film who is still with us. (And she's too young for this list)

Friday
Apr032015

Cast This: NBC's "The Wiz Live" 

Margaret here. Earlier this week, NBC announced that this December they will be following the surprise ratings smash that was The Sound of Music Live and the more modestly-rated Peter Pan Live with a third simulcast musical: The Wiz! Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (fresh off their third and likely final Oscar ceremony) are returning, with Harvey Fierstein on board to augment William F. Brown's original book. The team is also partnering with Cirque du Soleil for the production, with plans to later move it to Broadway.

The 1975 "Super Soul Musical" is, for many reasons, an excellent choice. Because it's a pop musical, the network heads' desire to stunt cast with big stars will actually serve the material. And it's become a staple in high school productions because of its generosity with its musical parts- it requires a deep cast, with 9 characters who have their own show-stoppable numbers.

Like with most pop music, the score to The Wiz is only as strong as the people performing it, and the right actor can take even the least crucial number and make it into a sensation. That makes casting especially crucial. We owe it to the good people of NBC to make their jobs easy!

Here's my dream cast:

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