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We just had an incredible interview with #BrianTyreeHenry of @AtlantaFX. It airs this Friday on our HIGHLY RELEVANT podcast. Be on the 👀 !

New York Times Archives -

New York Times Archives -

Jack Rico


2016/09/23 at 1:57pm

‘Highly Relevant’ Podcast Ep. 7 – Mark Consuelos On Breaking Hispanic Stereotypes, Anthony Mendez On Emmy Love, Tanzina Vega On Media Diversity

09.23.2016 | By |

In this seventh episode, actor Mark Consuelos, whose new show PITCH premiered this week on FOX, talks to me about what it’s like to co-host with his wife, “Live with Kelly Ripa,” the most coveted seat in morning television right now, plus, his opinion on whether he feels more Hispanic or American, and his answer on what his favorite album is… will leave you crying.  Read More

Mariana Dussan


2014/01/09 at 10:37am

The New Can Its Redesign Guarantee Its Future?

01.9.2014 | By |

The New York Times has finally launched its newly redesigned website, but will it be enough to guarantee the company a future? Read More

Mack Chico


2009/06/25 at 12:00am

Farrah Fawcett dies at age 62

06.25.2009 | By |

Farrah Fawcett dies at age 62

Farrah Fawcett, an actress and television star whose good looks and signature flowing hairstyle influenced a generation of women and, beginning with a celebrated pinup poster, bewitched a generation of men, died Thursday morning in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 62.

Her death, at a Santa Monica hospital, was announced by her spokesman, Paul Bloch, The Associated Press reported.

Ms. Fawcett had been battling anal cancer since late 2006, and to an extraordinary degree the fight was played out in public, generating enormous interest worldwide. Her face, often showing the ravages of cancer, became a tabloid fixture, and updates on her health became staples of television entertainment news.

In May, her cancer battle was chronicled in an NBC prime-time documentary, “Farrah’s Story,” some of it shot on home video. An estimated 9 million people viewed it. Ms. Fawcett had initiated the project with a friend and producer, Alana Stewart, after she first learned of her cancer.

Ms. Fawcett’s doctors declared her cancer-free after they removed a tumor in 2007, but her cancer returned later that year. She had been receiving alternative treatment in Germany and was hospitalized in early April for a blood clot resulting from that treatment, according to her doctor, Lawrence Piro. Her cancer had also spread to her liver, Dr. Piro told The A.P.

Ms. Fawcett’s career was a patchwork of positives and negatives, fine dramatic performances on television and on stage as well as missed opportunities. She first became famous when a poster of her in a red bathing suit, leonine mane flying, sold more than twice as many copies as posters of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable combined.

Ms. Fawcett won praise for her serious acting later in her career, typically as a victimized woman and notably in the television movie “The Burning Bed.”

But she remained best known for the hit 1970s television show “Charlie’s Angels,” in which she played Jill Munroe, one of three beautiful female private detectives employed by an unseen male boss who (in the voice of John Forsythe) issued directives and patronizing praise over a speaker phone. Her pinup fame had led the producers to cast her.

Ms. Fawcett and her fellow angels, played by Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, brought evildoers to justice, often while posing in decoy roles that put them in skimpy outfits or provocative situations.

“Charlie’s Angels,” created and produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg for ABC, was a phenomenon, finishing the 1976-77 season as the No. 5 network show, the highest-rated television debut in history at that time.

Ms. Fawcett was its breakout star. Although she left the show after one season and returned only sporadically thereafter, the show’s influence — among other things, it inspired two much later feature films starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu — was so indelible that she was forever associated with it.

The series, whose popularity coincided with the burgeoning women’s movement, brought new attention to issues of female sexuality and the influence of television. Commentators debated whether the show’s three athletic, scantily clad heroines were exemplars of female strength or merely a harem of pretty puppets doing the bidding of a patriarchal leader.

As the show’s most popular star, Ms. Fawcett became another sort of poster girl, for the “jiggle TV” of the ’70s, and a lightning rod for cultural commentators. Chadwick Roberts, writing in The Journal of Popular Culture in 2003, described her “unbound, loose and abundant hair” as marking “a new emphasis on femininity after the androgyny of the late ’60s and early ’70s.”

In 1978 Playboy magazine called Ms. Fawcett “the first mass visual symbol of post-neurotic fresh-air sexuality.” She herself put it more succinctly: “When the show got to be No. 3, I figured it was our acting. When it got to be No. 1, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”

Ms. Fawcett acknowledged that her sex symbol status was a mixed blessing. It made her famous, but it often obscured the acting talent that brought her three Emmy nominations, most notably for “The Burning Bed,” a critically acclaimed movie about spousal abuse.

“I don’t think an actor ever wants to establish an image,” she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1986. “That certainly hurt me, and yet that is also what made me successful and eventually able to do more challenging roles. That’s life. Everything has positive and negative consequences.”

Ferrah Leni Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi, Tex., on Feb. 2, 1947. Her father, James, worked in the oil pipeline industry; her mother, Pauline, was a homemaker.

After dropping out of the University of Texas, Ms. Fawcett moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. She soon found work in commercials for Wella Balsam shampoo and Noxzema shaving cream, among other products. A Noxzema commercial in which she shaved the face of the football star Joe Namath was shown during the 1973 Super Bowl.

Ms. Fawcett also found acting work in television, landing guest roles on “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Flying Nun” and other sitcoms. She appeared in four episodes of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” whose star, Lee Majors, she had married in 1973. When Ms. Fawcett was cast on “Charlie’s Angels,” she had a clause written into her contract that allowed her to leave the set every day in time to prepare dinner for Mr. Majors. She was billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors until 1979. She and Mr. Majors divorced in

The poster that ignited Ms. Fawcett’s career was shot at the Bel Air home she shared with Mr. Majors. “She was just this sweet, innocent, beautiful young girl,” said Bruce McBroom, who took the photograph. Searching for a backdrop to Ms. Fawcett in her one-piece red swimsuit (which she chose instead of a bikini because of a childhood scar on her stomach), he grabbed an old Navajo blanket from the front seat of his 1937 pickup.

After leaving “Charlie’s Angels” to pursue a film career (she came back for guest appearances for two more seasons), Ms. Fawcett made three forgettable movies in quick succession, then salvaged her reputation by returning to television. In 1981 she starred in the mini-series “Murder in Texas,” as the wife of a doctor who is subsequently accused of murdering her; in 1984 she made “The Burning Bed,” a portrait of a battered wife.

Both movies were shown on NBC, and both performances received strong reviews. In “The Burning Bed,” Ms. Fawcett was one of the first prime-time actresses to forgo cosmetics in favor of a convincing characterization.

In 1983 she played another victimized woman who fights back — a vengeance-seeking rape victim — in the Off Broadway production of “Extremities.” She took over for Karen Allen, who had replaced Susan Sarandon. Ms. Fawcett went on to star in the film version of the play in 1986.

Other roles followed in film and television — she won praise again in the searing 1989 television movie “Small Sacrifices” — but throughout, Ms. Fawcett tended to attract more attention for her looks and personal life than for her professional accomplishments. Her 18-year relationship with the actor Ryan O’Neal, with whom she had a son, kept her on the gossip pages long after her television work had become sporadic. This month, interviewed by Barbara Walters on the ABC program “20/20,” Mr. O’Neal said he had asked Ms. Fawcett to marry her and that she had said yes.

In 1997 Ms. Fawcett negated much of the respect she had earned as an actress when, during an appearance on “Late Show With David Letterman,” she promoted a bizarre body-painting Playboy video and appeared ditsy to the point of incoherence.

But later that year she appeared in the acclaimed independent film “The Apostle” as Robert Duvall’s long-suffering wife, and her critical star rose again — only to be dimmed by publicity about a court case involving a former companion, the director James Orr. Mr. Orr was convicted of assaulting Ms. Fawcett and sentenced to three years’ probation.

Ms. Fawcett is survived by her father, James, and her son, Redmond James Fawcett O’Neal.

Though her career was volatile, Ms. Fawcett’s fame never diminished after “Charlie’s Angels.” She tried to capitalize on her celebrity with the 2005 reality series “Chasing Farrah,” but it was a critical and ratings flop. Writing in Medialife magazine, Ed Robertson described the series and its star as “a living example of a talented actress whose career has been turned into a parody by poor decisions.”

Ms. Fawcett herself described her career succinctly. “I became famous,” she said in her 1986 Times interview, “almost before I had a craft.”

Mack Chico


2009/05/17 at 12:00am

Scorsese to distribute movies on internet

05.17.2009 | By |

Scorsese to distribute movies on internet

Martin Scorsese, as ardent an advocate as there is for serving up film the old-fashioned way, has decided to embrace digital distribution for movies restored by his World Cinema Foundation.

The films that the organization restores every year — often obscure titles like “Dry Summer,” a Turkish picture from 1936 — will now be available online through, a Web site that calls itself a “virtual cinematheque.”

Many will be free. And a partnership with B-Side Entertainment will soon bring the foundation’s films to Netflix and iTunes.

The restored movies will also be broadly distributed for the first time to museums, colleges, festivals and film clubs.

Until now, the foundation’s work was screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival in France, and that’s about it. “To be appreciated, they have to be seen,” Mr. Scorsese said on Friday afternoon at a news conference in Cannes. “Now, they should be seen as they were intended to be seen, but audience awareness can build in surprising ways.”

Kent Jones, who was formerly the associate director of programming at the New York Film Society, will join the foundation as executive director with a mandate to promote the distribution of the foundation’s titles to new platforms, Mr. Scorsese added.

Mr. Scorsese, who serves as the foundation’s chairman, established it in 2007 with a clutch of other celebrated directors (including Stephen Frears and Guillermo del Toro) to restore and preserve neglected films from around the world. Master copies of many obscure films from decades past have deteriorated so much that they are no longer usable or have disappeared. Only about 10 percent of the silent movies made in the United States, for instance, still exist.

“The more audiences see these films, the more they want to see other films like them,” Mr. Scorsese said. “Then what happens is the audience changes, which means the movies that are being made change.”

This year at Cannes, the foundation is reintroducing films like “Al-Momia,” an Egyptian picture from 1969 from the director Shadi Abdel Salam, and “The Wave,” a Mexican title directed by Emilio Gómez Muriel and Fred Zinnemann in 1936.

On Friday, as part of his announcement, Mr. Scorsese included a premiere of a restoration of “The Red Shoes,” the 1948 British film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Mack Chico


2009/05/10 at 12:00am

‘Star Trek’ is #1 at the box office!

05.10.2009 | By |

'Star Trek' is #1 at the box office!

Resistance proved futile: “Star Trek,” the Paramount Pictures prequel, sold an estimated $76.5 million in tickets at North American theaters in its first three and a half days of release, the top draw of the weekend.

The opening was propelled by a megawatt marketing campaign and unexpectedly strong critical notices. Going into the weekend, though, Paramount was a bit nervous about how the film, which cost $140 million, would perform.

Would the average moviegoer dismiss it as a geek flick? What about older women, an audience that has been tough for science fiction films to crack but is needed for a movie to reach blockbuster status? Historically “Star Trek” movies have performed poorly overseas. Would Paramount’s harder-than-usual sell in Europe pay off?

Rob Moore, Paramount’s vice chairman, sounded giddy in an interview on Sunday morning. “A giant new audience came along for this ride,” he said. “It’s a great relaunch to this classic property.”

The studio, Mr. Moore said, thinks “Star Trek,” directed by J. J. Abrams and starring the newcomer Chris Pine as a young James T. Kirk, has “a real shot” to make more than $200 million domestically, a big number for a film with this size of opening weekend. Overseas, where sales information is slower to trickle in, Mr. Moore said “Star Trek” could sell more than $100 million in tickets, more than double the previous showing for the franchise.

Paramount executives said they had hoped the movie would perform like “Batman Begins,” the 2005 series reboot that opened to about $49 million in ticket sales. Helping “Star Trek” was the decision to start showing the movie in limited release on Thursday evening, a move meant to spur water-cooler talk in the office on Friday and give some padding to the weekend total.

Imax also helped boost results, selling an estimated $8.2 million of “Star Trek” tickets over the weekend, an Imax record. “We’ve never even been close to this kind of turnout before,” said Greg Foster, chairman and president of Imax Filmed Entertainment.

In general the box office continues to sizzle. So far this year North American moviegoers have bought $3.44 billion in tickets, a 16 percent increase over the same period in 2008, according to Attendance is up 13 percent.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (20th Century Fox),which had the year’s biggest opening last weekend, taking in more than $85 million, was No. 2 this weekend, with an estimated $27 million for a cumulative total of $129.6 million (including weekday sales). “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” (Warner Brothers) earned an estimated $10.5 million for third place (and a new total of $30.2 million).

Rounding out the Top 5 were “Obsessed,” a low-budget thriller from Screen Gems, with $6.6 million ($56.2 million), and the Warner Brothers comedy “17 Again,” with $4.4 million ($54 million).

Mack Chico


2009/04/27 at 12:00am

Cuarón, Iñárritu, Del Toro: Mexico’s Best!

04.27.2009 | By |

Cuarón, Iñárritu, Del Toro: Mexico's Best!

CHA CHA CHA FILMS is the name of the new production company started by Mexico’s three most successful and acclaimed directors: Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. But don’t go looking for an office or a telephone number here, or anywhere else for that matter, because you won’t find one.

That’s not just because of a dislike for bureaucracy and unnecessary overhead. After scoring a series of box office hits and Oscar nominations and awards in recent years with movies like “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (Mr. Cuarón), “Babel” (Mr. González Iñárritu) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Mr. del Toro) the three directors now have their pick of big-budget, studio-supported projects to take them all over the world.

But that means the Three Amigos, as Hollywood has taken to calling them, don’t spend as much time with one another as they would like. So an official business relationship, with lots of phone calls and e-mail messages flying back and forth across the planet, seemed the best way to continue the conversation about cinema they have been having since they were starting out and first met here two decades ago.

“We don’t have a mission statement,” said Mr. del Toro, 44, who also has directed “Hellboy” and “The Devil’s Backbone” and is now at work on “The Hobbit” in New Zealand. “Right now we can do anything, make a movie in French or in Spanish, together or apart, producing or not producing, helping with the writing and ping-ponging ideas. It’s more like a virtual company than a big development company.”

The first film being released under the Cha Cha Cha banner is “Rudo y Cursi,” or “Tough and Corny,” which the three partners produced but did not direct. Set to open in the United States on May 8, it is a bittersweet comedy about two brothers of humble origin who become big league Mexican soccer stars almost overnight. Spoiled by their success, they see their careers collapse just as rapidly.

The brothers Tato and Beto Verdusco are played by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, probably best known to American audiences for their breakout roles in “Y Tu Mamá También.” That film, nominated for an Academy Award in 2002 for best original screenplay, was directed by Mr. Cuarón, 47, who wrote it with his brother Carlos, 42. Carlos Cuarón makes his feature-length debut as a director in “Rudo y Cursi” in what can only be called a family setting.

“Rudo y Cursi” is set in the world of sports and examines issues like corruption and celebrity, but “this is really a film about brotherhood,” Carlos Cuarón said in an interview here. That seems an appropriate assessment not just because of the plot and Alfonso Cuarón’s involvement as a co-producer, but also because Mr. del Toro and Mr. González Iñárritu, 45, are “like a pair of older brothers to me,” Carlos said.

That means they are willing to offer tough love to help their younger sibling get his directing career off on the right foot. “I don’t think you can find producers who are more demanding than these three, and in a very positive way,” Mr. Luna said. “They gave Carlos a structure and a mechanism that allowed his talent to flourish, but they questioned him a lot too. What do you want to say? Are you sure you want to say this? Is this the best way to say this?”

As Carlos Cuarón recalls it, Mr. del Toro was the one who originally encouraged him to become a director. One night more than a decade ago, when the two men were having dinner together here, Mr. del Toro noticed that Mr. Cuarón was feeling “sad and depressed,” and asked why.

“I told him, that I was writing all these screenplays that weren’t getting produced, and that it was like giving birth to dead babies,” Mr. Cuarón explained. “Being the wise man he is, he answered ‘Don’t be stupid, direct them yourself, damn it,’ and that’s how all this began.”

The presence of Mr. García Bernal and Mr. Luna also adds to the familial vibe. Though they are close friends, this is the first time they have acted together in a film since “Y Tu Mamá También.” In “Rudo y Cursi” they are cast against type, with Mr. García Bernal as the sentimental brother and Mr. Luna as the loutish one, because, as Carlos Cuarón put it, “I didn’t want to make ‘Y Tu Mamá También II.’ ”

For all the talk about the Three Amigos, their personalities, backgrounds and tastes are quite different. Mr. del Toro, for example, is a self-described nerd, renowned for his warmth and good humor, reflected in the cuddly nickname el Osito, or the Little Bear, who had to work his way up to director, starting as a makeup and special effects artist.

Mr. González Iñárritu, on the other hand, has always been regarded here as something of a golden boy. Nicknamed el Negro, he has matinee idol good looks and was a successful director, of commercials and of television programs at Mexico’s leading network, before Mr. del Toro and the Cuaróns, whose careers he helped at crucial moments.

Their work styles and the types of films they have tended to make are different too. “With Guillermo the shots are almost mathematical — everything is planned,” Alfonso Cuarón said in an interview at the Sundance Film Festival in January. “But Alejandro never knows what he is going to shoot until he is there in the place. He is like a field reporter. He has to see to know what he wants to do.”

Mr. García Bernal has a distinctive vantage point, having worked with both of the Cuarón brothers and Mr. González Iñárritu. He described Alfonso Cuarón’s style as “more intimate” and character driven, endorsed the prevailing notion of Mr. González Iñárritu as an auteur fond of complicated, interlocking stories and said Mr. del Toro’s strongest suit was genre films, especially fantasy.

What unites the three, Mr. García Bernal continued, is their hunger to work and their encyclopedic knowledge of film and other forms of pop culture. “They speak a common language, with a lot of shared references that come from the fact that they grew up here in Mexico at the same time,” he said. “Cha Cha Cha is really the formalization of their friendship, but in a work setting.”

As a business venture Cha Cha Cha was clearly conceived as a way for the three to combine and multiply their clout and bargaining power. The company’s deal calls for its coming films to be distributed through Universal Pictures, which released Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men” and, through its boutique division Focus Features, Mr. González Iñárritu’s “21 Grams.” The studio is to handle distribution and marketing, and in return for shouldering the bulk of the financial risk themselves the Three Amigos get what they prize most: creative independence.

“We all had movies out at the same time in 2006,” Mr. Cuarón said. “Alejandro had ‘Babel,’ Guillermo had ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and I had ‘Children of Men.’ There was a synchronicity to that, a lot of layers, and I think it deepened our interest in working together.” Combined these films received 16 Academy Award nominations and won 4 Oscars.

For Latin America cinema the Cha Cha Cha experiment also represents a new way of engaging and relating to Hollywood. Directors of earlier generations, like Glauber Rocha and Ruy Guerra, to cite two examples from Brazil, often defined their identities quite vocally in opposition to Hollywood and took pride in operating outside a studio system that might not have been all that interested in them either.

But the Cha Cha Cha directors and their contemporaries, who include Brazilians like Walter Salles and Fernando Meirelles, move easily in and out of Hollywood, using the studio system when it seems to suit a particular project but going elsewhere for financing and marketing when it does not.

“These guys are Mexican through and through and embrace their heritage and everything that comes with that,” David Linde, a chairman of Universal Pictures, said of the Three Amigos. “But they have a global perspective, much as I hate that phrase. It fascinates them to tell stories in Mexico, Spain, the U.K. and the United States because what drives them, quite simply, is an interest in what it means to be human.”

That flexibility doesn’t always sit well with Latin American critics, intellectuals and even some filmmakers working in the local system, which often relies on government rather than private funds. Here, for example, Cha Cha Cha’s founders, while often praised as examples of how Mexicans can succeed on the world stage, have also found themselves accused of selling out to Hollywood and Europe and toning down or even sacrificing what is specifically and distinctly Mexican in their work.

“That’s an infantile argument, a really simplistic concept that is often used to defend limits and mediocrity,” Mr. González Iñárritu said. “Yes, I am a Mexican, and I have a past and a culture. But what matters is the film itself, not where it was financed or cast. Cinema is universal, beyond flags and borders and passports.”

Cha Cha Cha’s second production will be Mr. González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful,” a drama starring Javier Bardem that Mr. González Iñárritu is now editing in Spain but did not want to discuss. After that three more films are due Universal, and then the Three Amigos will pause to assess whether they wish to continue as a team.

“This is a friendship, not a marriage, and when there is the first symptom that business is going to make it a problem, we will walk away,” Mr. del Toro said. “There is nothing, no big company that ties us together, other than our friendship.”

Mack Chico


2008/09/22 at 12:00am

‘Lakeview Terrace’ is #1 at the box office

09.22.2008 | By |

'Lakeview Terrace' is #1 at the box office

“Lakeview Terrace” (Sony/Screen Gems), the new thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson as a policeman terrorizing his new neighbors, Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington, earned $15.6 million, ousting the Coen brothers’ “Burn After Reading” from first place at the box office over the weekend, according to estimates from Media by Numbers, a box office tracking firm. “Burn After Reading” (Focus Features), starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt, slipped to second place with earnings of $11.3 million. It has made $36.4 million in two weeks. New releases grabbed third and fourth positions: “My Best Friend’s Girl” (LionsGate), the romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson, Dane Cook and Jason Biggs, earned $8.3 million and the animated comedy “Igor” (MGM) was close behind with $8 million. “Righteous Kill” (Overture Films), the action film starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, took fifth place with $7.7 million for the weekend and $28.8 million in two weeks. Over all the weekend was relatively weak with revenues of $93 million, 4 percent lower than the same weekend last year.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 “Lakeview Terrace” ($15.6 million)
#2 “Burn After Reading” ($11.3 million)
#3 “My Best Friend’s Girl” ($8.3 million)
#4 “Igor” ($8 million)
#5 “Righteous Kill” ($7.7 million)

Jack Rico


2008/08/25 at 12:00am

Paul Newman – A retrospective of his career

08.25.2008 | By |

Paul Newman - A retrospective of his career

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as ”Hud,” ”Cool Hand Luke” and ”The Color of Money” — and as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario — has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.

In May, Newman had dropped plans to direct a fall production of ”Of Mice and Men,” citing unspecified health issues.

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including ”Exodus,” ”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” ”The Verdict,” ”The Sting” and ”Absence of Malice.”

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in ”Butch Cassidy” and ”The Sting.”

Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood’s rare long-term marriages. ”I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in ”The Long Hot Summer,” and Newman directed her in several films, including ”Rachel, Rachel” and ”The Glass Menagerie.”

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. ”I was always a character actor,” he once said. ”I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon’s ”enemies list,” one of the actor’s proudest achievements, he liked to say.

A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for ”The Color of Money,” a reprise of the role of pool shark ”Fast” Eddie Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film ”The Hustler.”

Paul Newman in 'The Hustler'

Newman delivered a magnetic performance in ”The Hustler,” playing a smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats — played by Jackie Gleason — and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel — directed by Scorsese — ”Fast Eddie” is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but rather an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.

He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 ”in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.

His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film ”Road to Perdition.” One of Newman’s nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)

As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama ”Empire Falls” and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, ”Cars.”

But in May 2007, he told ABC’s ”Good Morning America” he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. ”I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said. ”You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

He received his first Oscar nomination for playing a bitter, alcoholic former star athlete in the 1958 film ”Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Elizabeth Taylor played his unhappy wife and Burl Ives his wealthy, domineering father in Tennessee Williams’ harrowing drama, which was given an upbeat ending for the screen.

In ”Cool Hand Luke,” he was nominated for his gritty role as a rebellious inmate in a brutal Southern prison. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 1967 and included a tagline, delivered one time by Newman and one time by prison warden Strother Martin, that helped define the generation gap, ”What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate.”

Paul Newman in 'Cool Hand Luke'

Newman’s hair was graying, but he was as gourgeous as ever and on the verge of his greatest popular success. In 1969, Newman teamed with Redford for ”Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a comic Western about two outlaws running out of time. Newman paired with Redford again in 1973 in ”The Sting,” a comedy about two Depression-era con men. Both were multiple Oscar winners and huge hits, irreverent, unforgettable pairings of two of the best-looking actors of their time.

Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed ”Rachel, Rachel,” a film about a lonely spinster’s rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics.

In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1972 film, ”Winning.” After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.

”Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood,” he told People magazine in 1979.

Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator. ”It takes a long time for an actor to develop the assurance that the trim, silver-haired Paul Newman has acquired,” Pauline Kael wrote of him in the early 1980s.

In 1982, he got his Oscar fifth nomination for his portrayal of an honest businessman persecuted by an irresponsible reporter in ”Absence of Malice.” The following year, he got his sixth for playing a down-and-out alcoholic attorney in ”The Verdict.”

Paul Newman in 'The Verdict'

In 1995, he was nominated for his slyest, most understated work yet, the town curmudgeon and deadbeat in ”Nobody’s Fool.” New York Times critic Caryn James found his acting ”without cheap sentiment and self-pity,” and observed, ”It says everything about Mr. Newman’s performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”

Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend.

He also claimed that he never read reviews of his movies.

”If they’re good you get a fat head and if they’re bad you’re depressed for three weeks,” he said.

Off the screen, Newman had a taste for beer and was known for his practical jokes. He once had a Porsche installed in Redford’s hallway — crushed and covered with ribbons.

”I think that my sense of humor is the only thing that keeps me sane,” he told Newsweek magazine in a 1994 interview.

In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman’s original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman’s Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company’s profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site.

Hotchner said Newman should have ”everybody’s admiration.”

”For me it’s the loss of an adventurous freindship over the past 50 years and it’s the loss of a great American citizen,” Hotchner told The Associated Press.

In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.

Paul Newman, a 10 time Oscar nominated actor

He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor ”Nell,” Melissa and Clea.

Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte.

Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son’s death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.

Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman.

He was raised in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, where he was encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts by his mother and his uncle Joseph Newman, a well-known Ohio poet and journalist.

Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions.

He later studied at Yale University’s School of Drama, then headed to New York to work in theater and television, his classmates at the famed Actor’s Studio including Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden. His breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s ”The Battler,” died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer.

Newman started in movies the year before, in ”The Silver Chalice,” a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in ”The Long Hot Summer.”

In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.

”I’m not mellower, I’m not less angry, I’m not less self-critical, I’m not less tenacious,” he said. ”Maybe the best part is that your liver can’t handle those beers at noon anymore,” he said.

Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur.

Mack Chico


2008/08/11 at 12:00am

‘Tropic Thunder’ to be boycott

08.11.2008 | By |

'Tropic Thunder' to be boycott

A coalition of disabilities groups is expected as early as Monday to call for a national boycott of the film “Tropic Thunder” because of what the groups consider the movie’s open ridicule of the intellectually disabled.

The film, a movie-industry spoof directed by Ben Stiller, is set for release on Wednesday by Paramount Pictures and its DreamWorks unit.

“Not only might it happen, it will happen,” Timothy P. Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, said of the expected push for a boycott. Speaking by phone, Mr. Shriver said he planned to be in Los Angeles with representatives of his group and others to picket the movie’s premiere on Monday evening in this city’s Westwood district.

A particular sore point has been the film’s repeated use of the term “retard” in referring to a character, Simple Jack, who is played by Mr. Stiller in a subplot about an actor who chases an Oscar by portraying a mindless dolt.

Mr. Shriver said that he had also begun to ask members of Congress for a resolution condemning what he called the movie’s “hate speech” and calling for stronger federal support of the intellectually disabled.

“The most disappointing thing, the most incredible thing, is that nobody caught it,” said Mr. Shriver, who, as a co-producer of the DreamWorks film “Amistad,” is no stranger to the studio. He spoke of what he described as the studio’s and the filmmakers’ blatant disregard for the disabled even as they stepped carefully around other potentially offensive references, notably in a story line that has Robert Downey Jr. playing a white actor who changes his skin color to play a black soldier.

In a statement on Sunday, Chip Sullivan, a DreamWorks spokesman, said the movie was “an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations.” Mr. Sullivan, in the statement, added that the film was not meant to disparage or harm people with disabilities and that DreamWorks expected to work closely with disability groups in the future. But, he said, “No changes or cuts to the film will be made.”

Formal complaints about the content of films are not uncommon, but well-coordinated boycotts are fairly rare. The groups involved said that they represented millions of members and associates. Perhaps the most striking use of the tactic involved “The Last Temptation of Christ,” released in 1988. Religious groups that considered that movie’s depiction of Jesus blasphemous called for a boycott of companies owned by MCA, whose Universal unit made the film.

DreamWorks and Paramount have shown “Tropic Thunder” in more than 250 promotional screenings around the country since April, but significant complaints came only recently, when marketing materials for the movie caught the attention of advocates for the disabled. The tag line on one mock promotional poster on a Web site, since removed, read, “Once upon a time there was a retard.”

Over the weekend an ad-hoc coalition of more than a dozen disabilities groups — including the Arc of the United States, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the American Association of People With Disabilities and others — laid the groundwork for public protests to begin Monday.

The groups refrained from formally asking that viewers boycott the movie, pending informational screenings that were scheduled for their members at eight locations around the country on Monday morning.

But representatives of the National Down Syndrome Congress saw the movie at one such screening on Friday and immediately advised fellow advocates to expect a film sufficiently offensive to justify mass action.

“I came out feeling like I had been assaulted,” said David C. Tolleson, executive director of the Down syndrome group who saw the movie.

Mr. Tolleson and Peter V. Berns, executive director of the Arc of the United States, said on Sunday that they could not recall a similar coalition of disabilities groups forming against a film. Mr. Berns noted that some people had objected to the use of the word “retarded” in “Napoleon Dynamite,” a comedy released by Fox Searchlight and Paramount’s MTV Films unit in 2004.

“But there’s really been nothing near this magnitude,” Mr. Berns said.

In earlier interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Stiller and Stacey Snider, chief executive of the DreamWorks unit, said the movie’s humor was aimed not at the disabled but at the foolishness of actors who will go to any length in advancing their careers.

After meetings and conference calls with Ms. Snider and others, the studio altered some television advertising, but declined to edit scenes from the movie.

“Tropic Thunder” is likely to be the last movie released by DreamWorks before its top executives — Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Ms. Snider — formally announce their plans to become aligned with a new company to be financed by Reliance Big Entertainment of India. The three will continue to be involved with at least a dozen films at Paramount but are expected gradually to shift their energies to the new enterprise, which will probably distribute its movies through another studio.

Mr. Shriver said that he had spoken with Ms. Snider and others at DreamWorks about “Tropic Thunder” and came away convinced that they had no plans for mitigating measures.

Their response, he said, convinced him that the time had come for his group and others to strike a far more aggressive public posture on behalf of the disabled. “The movement needs to enter the public eye and not just be talking among ourselves,” he said.

Mack Chico


2008/08/09 at 12:00am

Bernie Mac dies at 50

08.9.2008 | By |

Bernie Mac dies at 50

Bernie Mac, a stand-up comic who played evil-tongued but lovable rogues in films like “Bad Santa” and “Mr. 3000” and combined menace and sentiment as a reluctant foster father on “The Bernie Mac Show” on Fox, died on Saturday in Evanston, Ill. He was 50 and lived near Chicago.

The cause was complications from pneumonia, said his publicist, Danica Smith.

Mr. Mac, an imposing stage presence with a line of scabrous insults, parlayed his success as a stand-up comedian onto the big screen in a string of comedies that cast him in cameo roles, usually as wily con men like Pastor Clever in “Friday” and Gin, the store detective in “Bad Santa.” He also excelled as short-tempered misanthropes, notably in his starring role as Stan Ross, the nation’s most hated baseball player, in “Mr. 3000.”

In 2001, the Fox network took a gamble with “The Bernie Mac Show,” an unconventional family comedy with Mr. Mac portraying a childless married comedian who reluctantly takes in his sister’s three youngsters when she goes into a drug-treatment program.

The irascible Mr. Mac made a different kind of TV dad, “more Ike Turner than Dr. Spock,” Chris Norris wrote in a 2002 profile for The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Mac’s special style of tough love — “I’m gonna bust your head ’til the white meat shows,” he warns his surly teenage neice — set the show apart from other family sitcoms and raised a few critical eyebrows, but audiences saw enough of the character’s soft center to find the show touching.

“The success of my comedy has been not being afraid to touch on subject matters or issues that everyone else is politically scared of,” Mr. Mac told The Times in 2001. “It’s a joke, believe me. I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”

Mr. Mac incorporated aspects of his standup act and during each episode would break the fictional world of the show and address the audience directly. On one show, he swiveled in his chair and said, “Now America, tell me again, why can’t I whip that girl?”

“The Bernie Mac Show” show ran for five seasons, and Mr. Mac won Emmy awards as outstanding actor in a comedy series in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Bernard Jeffrey McCullough was born in Chicago to a single mother who inspired him, indirectly, to become a comedian. When he was 5, he told a television interviewer in 2001, he saw her sitting in front of the television set crying. “The Ed Sullivan Show” was playing, and when Bill Cosby began telling a story about snakes in the bathroom, she started laughing despite herself. “When I saw her laughing, I told her that I was going to be a comedian so she’d never cry again,” Mr. Mac said.

His mother died of cancer when he was 16, and he was raised by his grandmother on the South Side of Chicago. His two brothers also died, one in infancy, the other of a heart attack in his 20s.

At Chicago Vocational Career Academy, he was voted Class Clown by his graduating class. Already serious about his intended profession, turned down the honor “I said, ‘I’m funny. I’m a comedian, I’m not a clown,’” he later recalled. “My humor had changed from foolishness to making sense.”

After high school, Mr. Mac worked as a janitor, a mover and a school bus driver before finding a job at a General Motors plant. In 1976 he married his high school sweetheart, Rhonda who survives him, as does their daughter, Je’Neice, and a granddaughter.

Desperate to get started as a comedian, he told jokes for tips on the Chicago subway and worked comedy clubs, many of them off the beaten track. “When I started in the clubs, I had to work places where didn’t nobody else want to work,” he told The Washington Post. “I had to do clubs where street gangs were, had to do motorcycle gangs, gay balls and things of that nature.”

In 1983 he was laid off at GM and for a time his family had to move in with relatives. Plugging away at his comedy career, he caught the attention of Redd Foxx and Slappy White, who invited him to do off-the-cuff material in Las Vegas in 1989, and a year later he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search, a national contest, with his profanity-laced monologues on events in his own life and on black life in Chicago

In 1990, he was invited to do two shows with Def Comedy Jam, a tour featuring young black comedians that was filmed for HBO. Small film roles followed, in “Mo’ Money” (1992), “Who’s The Man?” (1993) and “House Party 3” (1994), as well as an HBO variety series, “Midnight Mac,” and a spot with the Original Kings of Comedy, a tour that showcased some of the most popular contemporary black comedians. The tour, which grossed an astounding $59 million, generated several HBO specials and a film by Spike Lee, “The Original Kings of Comedy.”

Mr. Mac made the move to television reluctantly. “The people come to see you, the person they fell in love with, but when they see you on TV you bvecome a whole other character, another person, and they become disappointed, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen to me,” he said.

Nevertheless, he appeared in a recurring role as Uncle Bernie on the UPN sitcom “Moesha” for several years beginning in 1996, and in 2001 he took the plunge with “The Bernie Mac Show.”

Praised by the critics for its fresh irreverent take on the family sitcom, it became one of Fox’s biggest hits.

The show coincided with a spate of films that made Mr. Mac, if not a box office star, a welcome comedic presence in films like “What’s the Worst that Could Happen?” “Ocean’s 11” and its two sequels and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”

In July, Mr. Mac, a fervent Barack Obama supporter, dismayed his candidate at a fund-raising dinner in Chicago. Delivering a stand-up routine, he told salacious jokes and drew a reprimand from Mr. Obama, who warned him, “Bernie, you’ve got to clean up your act next time.”

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