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Entries in Rob Marshall (14)


Beauty vs Beast: Which of the Woods

Jason from MNPP here seizing the moment with this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" -- well, seizing one of many moments, but not only moments, because if life were only moments then we'd never know we had one. You know how it goes. Anyway this moment, this one of many not only, is the birthday of the director Rob Marshall, who makes magical movies that, uh... defy description. Like Into the Woods, perhaps? Yes, we are in the right story.

PREVIOUSLY Here it is a week later and I'm still pretty shocked it took me over 125 editions of this series to get to my favorite movie Rosemary's Baby - but who won? Well you guys sided with the Devil, just like the Oscars did, and gave the prize to Ruth Gordon's Minnie Castavet and her eternally chalky undertaste - said Marsha Mason:

"I think Ruth had the greater acting accomplishment. Mia was good at being afraid, but Ruth pulled off "loud old NYC lady in league with Satan," succeeding in making her both hilarious, outspoken and very creepy. She reminds me of Barbara Bush that way."


On a Clear Day You Can See Anniversaries Forever

On this day in showbiz history...

1886 Spring Byington is born in Colorado Springs. Goes on to supporting actress glory in Hollywood including Marmee in Little Women (1933, her feature debut) and an Oscar nomination as the eccentric hobbyist mom in You Can't Take It With You (1938). Curiously her screen daughter in that best picture winner Jean Arthur, an even bigger star, shares her same birthday (for the year of 1900)
1888 Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (an early step in creating the cinema)
1903 Author and screenwriter Nathanael West is born in NYC. Movies adapted from his work include Lonelyhearts (1958) and The Day of the Locust (1975)
1915 One of the world's most celebrated playwrights, Arthur Miller, is born. His classics include Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View From the Bridge. After marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe, he wrote The Misfits (1961) for her which would eerily (considering its elegiac tone) be the last film for both her and co-star Clark Gable and one of the very last for Montgomery Clift who was born on this same day in 1920...

Click to read more ...


"Mary Poppins Returns" and "In the Heights"

Broadway's Hamilton fever has caught up with mainstream Hollywood. The Tony winning writer/director/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton is the easy frontrunner going into the Tony Awards a week from Sunday (I'm finally seeing it, too, wheeee, albeit a few days after the Tony Awards - thanks Rory!) has two big movies brewing now.... and that's before anyone gets around to trying to get Hamilton on the big screen. He exits Hamilton on July 9th so he'll have plenty of time to chase these Hollywood opportunities.  

Mary Poppins Returns
We've heard rumors of a Mary Poppins remake for ages but it looks like we're getting a sequel instead with the delightfully versatile Emily Blunt as the magical nanny (the iconic Julie Andrews part) and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a new character but I'd still expect a jolly-holiday sort of partner in magical highjinks for Mary. He's described as a "lamplighter" which isn't that far off of chimney sweep in civic duties, don'cha know. The score will be written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who wrote most of the best songs for Smash as well as Broadway's terrific Hairspray. So all of that is very good news. Plus an ORIGINAL movie musical. That is a rarest of things since forever outside of Disney's Little Mermaid era!

But... the film is to be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods, Nine).

The choice of Marshall is wholly expected since Hollywood doesn't seem to believe it can make musicals without him. That's a pity. Nothing against Marshall but he's not consistent enough to be anywhere close to a "must get". We wish they'd realize that the genre needs and deserves new Vincente Minnellis, Stanley Donens, and Bob Fosses, not someone who can just get the job done and hope for the best about the final result. I am confident that those people exist but remain untapped. The film is due on Christmas Day in 2018. The original Disney classic was nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5. (It's still Disney's only live action Best Picture nominee... though there Touchstone wing has been nominated before) Good luck measuring up! 

In the Heights
The Weinstein Company is also getting into the Miranda business with a film version of In the Heights, his musical from 2008 about three days in the lives of characters in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC (which is largely Hispanic). A previously announced production by Universal failed to materialize. The film won 5 Tonys including Best Musical. No casting or director announced for this one but they want it to be bare bones and "scrappy." No release date yet announced but sometimes stage to screen versions take decades. ("Wicked"? What's that?)

Any suggestions for the director's chair? 


Beauty vs Beast: All Their Jazz

It's Monday and this is Jason from MNPP writing at you, so it must be time for another round of "Beauty vs Beast" -- this week's duo are each individually and together beautiful and beastly all at once, and I don't know which their prouder of, honestly. A little of this, a little of that, some razzle dazzle and a lotta sheba shimmy shake. Indeed we speak of that pair of murderin' funny honeys Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta Jones) & Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) in Rob Marshall's 2002 Oscar winner Chicago. Today is Renée's 47th birthday and this we do in celebration of her. Now make like Lipschitz and choose.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we took a little ride on the Pineapple Express and y'all decided it was James Franco's Saul that two-thirds of you decided you wanted bringing up your caboose. Seth Rogen had his defenders though -- taking up his cause in the comments forever1267 had this to say:

"Big laugh. Big personality. Big Dorkiness. Big Chest hair. Seth Rogen is my secret crush boyfriend."


A Spoonful of Annie? Perhaps...

Kieran here. In the age of remakes, re-imaginings and two Spiderman reboots in less than five years, the announcement that Disney is developing a new musical featuring Mary Poppins actually feels kind of refreshing. Revisiting a character from a live-action musical? And a female character at that? I say "kind of refreshing" because it still feels like a very strange project this far out. It's supposedly set twenty years after the events of Mary Poppins, which immediately had me imagining something darker in tone, not unlike Return to Oz. How does the Banks family fare two decades after the wind changed and Mary bid them adieu? This is all speculative of course. No plot details have been released and only a few key crew members have been announced. Rob Marshall is slated to direct and the script is being penned by David Magee (Finding Neverland and Life of Pi).

How do I put this diplomatically...Can we stop giving every live-action musical (unfortunately few and far between at this point) to Rob Marshall? It seems knee-jerk and lazy every time a musical is announced with Marshall at the helm. I liked Chicago quite a bit, but it's been a pretty steep decline since then. He seems to direct screen musicals with the desire to make them palatable for modern audiences rather than leaning into the medium and truly working well within it. Remember that odd "Musical for People who Hate Musicals" campaign during Chicago's Oscar run? Or that first Into the Woods trailer where no one was singing? Or how over half of the musical numbers were cut out of Nine and the rest were sung on a stage for no reason? It's time to give another director a chance. Perhaps someone with a little less internalized musical self-hatred (Yes, I just made that term up). Musicals are a tough medium with a specific audience. They need a director who will embrace their heightened theatrics and overt sentimentality without pandering to 21st century audiences who aren't accustomed.

For the role of Mary herself, no one is officially attached as of yet, though Anne Hathaway's name is certainly being thrown around. A lot. I think she'd be a fine, more than worthy choice. I was relieved, as someone who likes Anne Hathaway and doesn't understand why I'm not supposed to, when it seemed that she wouldn't be doing that Judy Garland biopic that was in development a while back. Should she play Mary, I do worry about the inexplicably pilloried actress having an even larger target on her back by stepping into such an iconic part. Other names being tossed around are pretty much the ones you'd expect. Any young actress who's been in a musical or shown vocal talent. 

Who would you like to see in the role of the magical singing nanny? Discuss in the comments.


Who Should Play Mary Poppins?
Anne Hathaway
Emily Blunt
Anna Kendrick
Amanda Seyfried
Sutton Foster
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Someone Else Entirely!
I Don't Care. I'm Not Watching This!
Quiz Maker



Brandy. Whitney. Bernadette. It's Cinderella... Again

Cinderella Week continues with Andrew Kendall on a true event in showbiz history...

On our journey through Cinderellas we take a stop in 1997 for an unlikely entry in the canon. Unlike the animated version it did not change a cinematic form, nor like the Julie Andrews version did it launch a star. When the 1997 TV production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella premiered in 1997 it was hailed as one of the most successful TV musicals in years and audiences did, love it, 60 million of them. But, it has endured as little more than a footnote on the résumé of its fêted cast and crew.

This would be the second remake of the Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella written for Julie Andrews in 1957 (the first remake a Lesley Ann Warren version in 1965). And, still, I’d swear on the altar of all things magical that this is the finest adaptation of the Cinderella story. Myriad reasons, but principally because this Cinderella has more on its mind than just the girl at the centre…

Click to read more ...


AFI Fest Honors Sophia Loren, Actress, Fashion Icon, Mistress of Throwing Shade

 Anne Marie from the AFI Fest on an International Legend...

At age 80, Sophia Loren is still magnetic. When the Academy Award-winning actress appeared onstage at the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday night for an AFI Fest tribute to her career, she received a two-minute long standing ovation. The audience whooped and yelled "Bellisima" before Loren, elegant in a black gown studded with crystals, could do more than walk onstage and smile. Once the furor died down, Rob Marshall, her director for Nine, interviewed Sophia Loren about her career, co-stars, and controversies.

“When I saw the movies, I forgot the war, forgot hunger. It was possible to believe there was another life than the one I was in.”

Despite her glamorous image, Loren's description of her early life growing up poor in the slums of Italy was bleak. When she met her husband, producer Carlo Ponti (who passed away in 2007), he took an active role in shaping her career. Ponti was the one who brought her to America after a successful Italian film career and encouraged her to learn English (“you have to learn English, because movies are in English"). Of course, we all know how that turned out. She had a hugely successful international film career, starring in films by some of the best American and Italian directors (not Fellini, of whom she said “I was not his kind of actress"), and an Oscar in 1961 for Two Women, a movie to which she felt deeply connected, since it reflected her own impoverished childhood.

Besides an illustrious film career, Sophia Loren also has a wicked sense of humor. She was happy to dish on her various famous co-leading men. Here are some scattered observations:

On Cary Grant: "...a great actor, absolutely incredible as a person, as a man.”

Peter Sellars: “very melancholic person. He would light up only when the director said action.”

Clark Gable: "He had a watch and it rang every evening at 5. When it rang, he would leave without saying goodbye."

Daniel Day Lewis: "One of the best alive."

Marlon Brando: <shrug> "Eh."

But of course, nothing could top her most famous moment of shade, the immortal side-eye she gave Jayne Mansfield at a Hollywood party. Rob Marshall showed Loren the picture, and asked her exactly what was going through her mind. Here, for a brief moment, Loren was at a loss for words.

"I was afraid that everything would... come out!"

The tribute concluded with two films starring the legendary actress: her son Edoardo Ponti's short film, The Human Voice, and Marriage Italian Style, the 1964 film for which Loren earned her second Academy Award nomination. As Sophia Loren rose to leave the stage before the movies began, she received another standing ovation. She paused briefly, clearly touched, and then swept away.