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Jack Rico


2012/02/14 at 12:00am

Sparkle: Whitney’s last film

02.14.2012 | By |

Sparkle: Whitney's last film

Before her sudden death at age 48, the legendary singer Whitney Houston made her last film – Sparkle. The film has an official release date for August 17, 2012 and sure to be now one of the most anticipated films of the year. Not much is known about Whitney’s character except she will play a single mother whose daughter has high aspirations of becoming a music superstar.

‘Sparkle’, is loosely based on the 1976 musical film that tells the story of Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) a girl who strives to become a music star, while trying to overcome the problems that are destroying her family. She comes from a wealthy neighborhood in Detroit, where she lives with her single mother (Whitney Houston). In the midst of her personal difficulties, Sparkle tries to balance a new romance with music manager, Stix (Derek Luke), while she and her two sisters (Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) face unexpected challenges in trying to become a dynamic group of singers during the golden era of Motown.

The only photo that exists so far of Houston in the movie is the one below. In it we see a Whitney holding her daughter in the film, Jordin Sparks, with a glamorous dress. She looks young, healthy and beautiful.

At the time of this publication, it is unknown when exactly the official premiere of the trailer of ‘Sparkle’ will be released or how much screen time Houston will have. So remember, August 17 we will see on the silver screen the last picture of one of the most unique voices of the 20th century.

Jack Rico


2011/04/09 at 12:00am

Legendary director Sidney Lumet dies at 86

04.9.2011 | By |

Legendary director Sidney Lumet dies at 86

Sidney J. Lumet, a New York-based filmmaker whose work frequently focused on power, politics, and corruption, has died at the age of 86.

He had been suffering from lymphona.

Lumet, who came to prominence in 1957 with the classic courtroom drama “12 Angry Men,” spent much of his career portraying New York City as a cesspool of violence, filth and compromised ideals. In such gritty films as “Serpico” (1973), “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), “Prince of the City” (1981) and “Night Falls on Manhattan” (1996), Lumet showed a dysfuctional city where the only certainty was that integrity was impossible to preserve. The first two starred Al Pacino in two of his most-acclaimed roles.

Lumet’s other prominent social-issue films included “Fail-Safe” (1964), a deadly somber tale (in contrast to Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”) of the world accidentally brought to the brink of nuclear disaster, and “Network” (1976), a searing indictment of the corrosive power of television, particularly TV news. Neither film ended cheerily, which was generally true of much of his work.

Lumet made two prominent films with Sean Connery: “The Hill” (1965), a story of authority run amok in a British army prison, and “The Anderson Tapes” (1971), which showed a world where everyone was under surveillance seemingly all the time. “Running on Empty” (1988) dealt with Abbie Hoffman-like fugitives still on the run, and “Daniel” (1983) portrayed someone who seemed very much like the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg . A 1986 film starring Richard Gere and Denzel Washington was simply titled “Power.”

In “Network,” he directed three actors to Academy Awards: Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight. Though he never won one in competition, Lumet was nominated for five Oscars, for “12 Angry Men,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Network,” “Prince of the City,” and “The Verdict” (1982). He was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 2005.

The Philadelphia native’s other acclaimed films included “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (1962), “The Pawnbroker” (1965), and “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974). After a long dry stretch, his final film was 2007’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” a rich and disturbing effort about a family destroyed by greed and delusion.

Jack Rico


2010/12/09 at 12:00am

Leslie Nielsen’s last movie

12.9.2010 | By |

Leslie Nielsen's last movie

For all you Leslie Nielsen fans, Nielsen filmed his last project, a comedy on DVD, which will be out next year. We received a press release about the details and info on the film:

New York (Thursday, December 9, 2010) — Screen Media Films is proud to announce the acquisition of Stonerville, to be released on January 11, 2011 on DVD. The hysterical stoner comedy is the final film of Leslie Nielsen, the recently departed comedian.
Starring Leslie Nielsen, Pauly Shore,  Patrick Cavanaugh, and Phil Morris, Stonerville tells the story of comedian and self-proclaimed “King of YouTube” Slam Slamsky who wants to make it big in mainstream advertising, even though his sense of humor and frequent pot use are not exactly in sync with the stuffy suits he meets. Things only get worse when a disastrous attempt to impress an executive results in Slam losing both his job and his girlfriend. He finds new inspiration in Erica, a smokin’ hottie who is a fan of his viral videos. Stonerville is a hilarious comedy about living online, getting high, and growing up—though not necessarily in that order! 

Watch the trailer at:
“Screen Media is proud to be a part of Leslie Nielsen’s legacy. He was one of comedy’s brightest stars, so it is only fitting that he take on his final role in the hysterical Stonerville,  a film that pays tribute to the man who made us all laugh” says Robert Baruc, Screen Media Films, President.

Mack Chico


2009/03/18 at 12:00am

Natasha Richardson, Dies at 45

03.18.2009 | By |

Natasha Richardson, Dies at 45

Natasha Richardson, a Tony Award-winning actress whose career melded glamorous celebrity with the bloodline of theater royalty, died Wednesday in a Manhattan hospital, where she had been flown suffering from head injuries after a skiing accident on Monday north of Montreal. She was 45 and lived in Manhattan and Millbrook, N.Y.

Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha,” said a statement from the family. “They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Ms. Richardson’s condition had prompted an outpouring of public interest and concern and flurries of rumor and speculation in the news media since Monday, when reports of her accident began filtering out of the Mont Tremblant ski resort in the Laurentian Hills.

Ms. Richardson, who was not wearing a helmet, had fallen during a beginner’s skiing lesson, a resort spokeswoman, Lyne Lortie, said on Monday. “It was a normal fall; she didn’t hit anyone or anything,” Ms. Lortie said. “She didn’t show any signs of injury. She was talking and she seemed all right.”

Ms. Richardson was an intense and absorbing actress who was unafraid of taking on demanding and emotionally raw roles. Classically trained, she was admired on both sides of the Atlantic for upholding the traditions of one of the great acting families of the modern age.

Her grandfather was Sir Michael Redgrave, one of England’s finest tragedians. He passed his gifts, if not always his affection, to his daughters, Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, and to his son, Corin Redgrave. The night Vanessa was born, her father was playing Laertes to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.

Ms. Richardson was the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and the film director Tony Richardson, known for “Tom Jones” and “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.” Married in the early 1960s, they were divorced in 1967. He died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 63.

Ms. Richardson came to critical prominence in England in 1985 as Nina, Chekhov’s naïve and vulnerable ingénue in “The Seagull,” a role her mother had played to great acclaim in 1964. It was a road production, and when it reached London, Vanessa Redgrave joined the cast as the narcissistic actress Arkadina. The production became legendary, but working with her mother intimidated her.

“She rehearsed like a tornado,” Ms. Richardson recalled in a 1993 interview with The New York Times Magazine. “It was completely crazy. She rolled on the floor in some scenes. I was terrified of being on stage with her.”

But almost no one doubts that Ms. Redgrave inspired her daughter as well. Like her mother, Ms. Richardson was known for disappearing into a role, for not capitalizing on her looks and for being drawn to characters under duress.

In the performance that made her a star in the United States, she played the title role on Broadway in a 1993 revival of “Anna Christie,” Eugene O’Neill’s grueling portrait of a waterfront slattern in confrontation with the abusive men in her life. Embracing the emotional wreckage that showed in her character’s face, she modeled her makeup each night on Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream.”

Her performance, nominated for a Tony Award, was vibrantly sensual, and her scenes with her co-star, Mr. Neeson, were acclaimed as sizzling and electric. The chemistry between them extended offstage as well; shortly after the run, Ms. Richardson separated from her husband, the producer Robert Fox. She and Mr. Neeson married in 1994.

Besides her husband, Ms. Richardson is survived by their two sons, Micheal Richard Antonio, 13, and Daniel Jack, 12, as well as her mother, her sister and a half-sister, Katherine Grimond.

Ms. Richardson’s Tony Award came in 1998, for best actress in a musical, for her performance as Sally Bowles, the gifted but desperately needy singer in decadent Weimar Berlin who is at the center of “Cabaret.”

It was a remarkable award: Ms. Richardson’s strengths did not include singing. But her reinvention of the role that was famously created by Liza Minnelli proved that a performer could act a song as well as sing it and make it equally affecting.

“Ms. Richardson, you see, isn’t selling the song; she’s selling the character,” Ben Brantley, writing in The Times, said of her delivery of the title song. “And as she forges ahead with the number, in a defiant, metallic voice, you can hear the promise of the lyrics tarnishing in Sally’s mouth. She’s willing herself to believe in them, and all too clearly losing the battle.”

Natasha Jane Richardson was born in London on May 11, 1963. She made her first film appearance at the age of 4, playing a bridesmaid at the wedding of her mother’s character in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” directed by her father. She attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and got her first job in an outdoor production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She eventually moved to the United States, where “no one cares about the Redgrave baggage,” as she once said. She gave her greatest performances there.

In the movies she played the title character in Paul Schrader’s film “Patty Hearst” (1988), about the heiress and kidnap victim. She worked with Mr. Schrader again on “The Comfort of Strangers” (1990), a creepy psychological drama with a screenplay by Harold Pinter from a novel by Ian McEwan.

The same year, she also starred in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” an adaptation of the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood about subjugated women in a pseudo-Christian theocracy. In a 1993 television adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s one-act play “Suddenly, Last Summer,” she was Catherine Holly, a young woman (played by Elizabeth Taylor in the original movie) driven to the brink of insanity by the gruesome death of her young cousin. And she played the title role in the 1993 television movie “Zelda,” based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ferociously competitive and emotionally delicate wife.

Ms. Richardson’s more recent work has included more conventional Hollywood fare, including a remake of “The Parent Trap” (1998), the comedy “Maid in Manhattan” (2002) and the teen melodrama “Wild Child” (2008).

On stage, she appeared on Broadway in “Closer,” Patrick Marber’s play about infidelity and the Internet, and as Blanche DuBois in a revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Though the production did not draw much praise, Ms. Richardson’s performance did, as perhaps her grandfather had envisioned.

In 1985, a week before he died, Sir Michael, enfeebled by Parkinson’s disease, went to see Ms. Richardson as Ophelia in a production of “Hamlet.” Turning to his daughter Vanessa, Ms. Richardson’s mother, he uttered a brief review. “She’s a true actress,” he said.

Mack Chico


2008/09/03 at 12:00am

Don LaFontaine, legendary voice of trailers dies at 68

09.3.2008 | By |

Don LaFontaine, legendary voice of trailers dies at 68

Don LaFontaine, who brought his sonorous, ominous, melodramatic baritone to so many thousands of movie trailers, commercials and television promos that he became known in the industry as “the voice of God,” or just “the V.O.G.,” died Monday near his home in Los Angeles. He was 68.

His death was confirmed by his agent, Kevin Motley. The official cause has not been released.

In a 33-year career Mr. LaFontaine did voice-overs for more than 5,000 movie trailers, 350,000 commercials and thousands of television promos, including dozens of “Next week on ‘E.R.’ “ spots.

“Don was an absolute treasure to the voice-over industry,” Joan Baker, the author of “Secrets of Voice-Over Success” (Sentient Publications, 2005), said in an interview on Tuesday. “He had a unique sound, a voice placed deep in his body that cut through the sound bites and the music.”

Ms. Baker said Mr. LaFontaine “understood the dynamics of each word and gave each word a musical note that was intuitive, which is why he could perform in so many genres — action, drama, comedy, romance, horror films, science fiction.”

Mr. LaFontaine wrote most of his voice-overs and, sometimes with collaborators, came up with familiar phrases like “a one-man army,” “one man, one destiny,” “from the bedroom to the boardroom,” and “nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and no way out.”

But he is best known for “In a world where … ,” which has become overused and the subject of parody. Ms. Baker could not say for what production that phrase was first used. But in an interview last year, Mr. LaFontaine explained its intent.

“We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to,” he said of his viewers. “That’s very easily done by saying: ‘In a world where … violence rules,’ ‘In a world where … men are slaves and women are the conquerors.’ You very rapidly set the scene.”

Comics have since pounced on the phrase, and in 2005 Mr. LaFontaine himself spoofed it in a commercial for Geico Insurance. It was one of a series in which celebrities commented on the tales of real people involved in accidents.

“People had heard his voice for decades, but the Geico spot put him on the map, visually,” Ms. Baker said. “In his commercial, this very plain woman describes her accident, and Don, in the background, narrates it in movie-trailer promo talk. The very first thing he says starts, ‘In a world where both of our cars are totally under water … ’ “

Born in Duluth, Minn., on Aug. 26, 1940, Mr. LaFontaine joined the Army soon after graduating from high school and was assigned to an Army band as a recording engineer. After his discharge, he got a job with National Recording Studios in New York. There he met Floyd Peterson, a producer of radio commercials, and they formed a company to produce movie trailers.

In 1965, a scheduling mix-up prevented an announcer from making a session; Mr. LaFontaine took over the mike to read radio spots for “Gunfighters of Casa Grande.” To his surprise, MGM liked his first personal performance. In 1976, Mr. LaFontaine started his own production company. His first assignment was for “The Godfather, Part II.” Two years later, he became head of the trailer department at Paramount Pictures.

He later returned to independent production. Over the years, he did promos for films including “Terminator,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Batman Returns” and “The Elephant Man.” He did commercials for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, among other companies.

Mr. LaFontaine is survived by his wife, the singer-actress Nita Whitaker, and three daughters, Christine, Skye and Elyse.

Working from a home studio that his wife dubbed “the Hole,” Mr. LaFontaine remained active until recently, averaging at least seven voice-overs a day. Last year, he did a promotion for the “The Simpsons Movie,” in which his comments were immediately echoed by characters from the film. At one point he says, “Hey, you’re just repeating everything I’m saying!” and Homer responds: “I know. It’s weird!”

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