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Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Jessica Simpson and Celebrity Superstition

In Celebrities, Culture, entertainment, Entertainment Business, Hollywood, Jessica Simpson on January 28, 2008 at 7:06 am

Jessica Simpson is not happy about a recent article in OK! magazine.

The singer-actress has directed her attorney to dispatch a retraction demand to OK! over a piece that claimed Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo called it quits in his relationship with Simpson because his team lost in the playoffs, which put the kibosh on the Cowboy’s bid to play in the Super Bowl.

In the letter, Simpson’s lawyer, John Rosenberg, characterized the OK! article as a “personal attack masquerading as journalism.”

Simpson’s spokesperson, Cindi Berger, let the press know that, according to her, the story was “fabricated,” and “made up.”

The OK! article implied that Simpson is bad luck, a charge that could have real life ramifications.

One thing that looms large in sports locker rooms as well as in Hollywood dressing rooms is superstition.

Holy habits, favorable foods and even charmed undergarments have been known to play a part in the rituals surrounding both stadium and studio activity.

Here’s a sampling of star-sized superstition and bad luck deflection from the sports and entertainment worlds:

-When Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, he wore his lucky college gym shorts underneath his Bulls uniform.

– Tiger Woods believes there’s a lucky charm in the color red. When in 1997 the golf sensation won his first Masters tournament, guess what color he was wearing?

-Wade Boggs was known as the “Chicken Man” because he would eat poultry before every game. The baseball great also took exactly 150 ground balls during practice, entered the batting cage at exactly 5:17 p.m. and began sprinting at precisely 7:17 p.m.

-Pitcher Turk Wendell would brush his teeth between every inning.

-Hockey goalie Pelle Lindbergh would wear an old Swedish-made orange T-shirt under his equipment. Each time the shirt started to fall apart he would have someone mend it. Between periods he would only drink a Swedish beverage called Pripps that was delivered by a special team trainer.

-Hockey player Patrick Roy routinely talked to the goalposts during the game.

-Tennis player Goran Ivanisevic would always attempt to be the second person to get up from his chair on the change-over and would avoid stepping on any of the lines. When he won, he would repeat all the events of the day, going to the same restaurant, ordering the same food and talking to the same people.

-Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, refused to attend the premiere of the fifth film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Since he was unable to make previous premieres due to scheduling conflicts, the actor skipped “Phoenix” to avoiding jinxing the box-office.

-Cameron Diaz has some treasured lucky charms and methodically knocks on wood.

-Geoffrey Rush brings a plastic Daffy Duck figure to awards shows. In 1997 the actor was nominated for his role in “Shine.” He brought Daffy to the Oscars and picked up a gold statue.

-Cate Blanchett keeps her “Lord of the Rings” elf ears on her mantle for luck.

-True TV host Star Jones never puts her purse on the floor.

-Legend Eartha Kitt won’t stay in a hotel room above the 8th floor.

-Robin Williams has a lucky carved ivory figurine that belonged to his father.

-Meat Loaf travels with two stuffed bears.

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.


Oliver Stone Set to Direct “Bush” Biopic

In Hollywood, Movies, Politics on January 20, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Oliver Stone apparently loves making movies about Republican presidents.

The director of “Nixon” is set to direct a biopic on the life and presidency of another G.O.P. prez—George W. Bush. The film is tentatively titled “Bush.”

Barbara Streisand’s stepson, Josh Brolin, plans to portray Dubya.

Josh’s dad, James Brolin, played President Ronald Reagan in the deeply flawed, highly criticized TV miniseries, “The Reagans.”

Production on the film involving our current president will most likely begin in Spring 2008, with the movie coming to a theater near you in the thick of the fall presidential campaign.

“It’s a behind-the-scenes approach, similar to ‘Nixon,’ to give a sense of what it’s like to be in his skin,” Stone told Variety.

“But if ‘Nixon’ was a symphony, this is more like a chamber piece, and not as dark in tone. People have turned my political ideas into a cliche, but that is superficial. I’m a dramatist who is interested in people, and I have empathy for Bush as a human being, much the same as I did for Castro, Nixon, Jim Morrison, Jim Garrison and Alexander the Great,” Stone explained.

Stone said that the film will include Bush’s “belief that God personally chose him to be president of the United States, and his coming into his own with the stunning, preemptive attack on Iraq.”

“It will contain surprises for Bush supporters and his detractors,” Stone claimed.

One question Stone asked provides some insight into the director’s mind and the film’s possible slant: “How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?”

In other Left Coast news, Daniel Day-Lewis, Angelina Jolie, Julie Christie, Cate Blanchett and George Clooney are wishing, hoping and maybe even praying.

They are potential nominees and/or presenters for this year’s Oscars, and they don’t want to be part of a Golden Globes redux.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences claims to have a way to put on the Oscar telecast even if the writers fail to settle.

The Oscars are the second most-watched TV show in the nation next to the Super Bowl, bringing in 60 to 80 million dollars in revenue for ABC.

A press conference show like the Globes just won’t cut it.

After the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) made a deal that included residual payments for Internet revenue, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) felt the heat and decided to resume negotiations with studio execs.

The Directors Guild contract doesn’t include some of the items that the writers have been trying to obtain, such as jurisdiction over reality shows and animation.

From my perspective, it’s doubtful that the studios would be willing to settle in a way that’s significantly different from the deal they made with the directors.

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.

Disney Disses Striking Writers

In Entertainment Business, Hollywood, Movies, Politics, Television on January 13, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Using a contract provision known as a “force majeure clause,” ABC Studios notified nearly two dozen writers and non-writing producers that it was terminating their overall deals as a result of the strike.

Force majeure is a common provision contained in entertainment contracts, which allows a party to terminate without liability due to the occurrence of an extraordinary event or, as even Hollywood contracts call it, an “act of God.”

The Disney/ABC Studios action is the biggest move yet by a studio to up the pressure on striking writers.

“The ongoing strike has had a significant detrimental impact on development and production so we are forced to make the difficult decision to release a number of talented, respected individuals from their development deals,” ABC Studios said in a statement.

Meanwhile a new Pew Poll claims television viewers don’t care about the strike.

According to the poll, 49% responded that the strike had not affected their shows at all while 35% said the shows they watched were now airing repeats because of the strike.

54% didn’t know whether the strike had affected the late night shows, and 70% of participants didn’t think they had been missing out on any campaign news.

In a non-scripted drama, Dr. Phil McGraw has responded to some of his critics.

Lately Dr. Phil has been catching a lot of flack on the Britney Spears matter.

He’s been criticized for making public statements about his hospital visit to the troubled Britney.

After the Spears session, McGraw announced that a special episode of his TV show would focus on how to deal with the pop star’s problems. The episode has since been cancelled.

Britney’s parents have let it be known that they are not happy with Dr. Phil. They accused the famed psychologist of violating their trust.

Lou Taylor, a Spears family spokesperson, told NBC’s “Today” show that “the family basically extended an invitation of trust for him [Dr. Phil] to come in as a resource to support them, not to go out and make public statements.”

In a battle of the TV docs, Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” also took a swipe at McGraw through use of a question and did so on an entertainment news show, incidentally.

“My concern was, I don’t know that Dr. Phil has a license in California,” Pinsky told “Access Hollywood.” “He’s not on staff at Cedars. Is he interfering with the care of another doctor’s patient? I don’t know.”

McGraw responded to critics on a competing entertainment news program. He told “Entertainment Tonight,” “There’s been no betrayal of Britney; I have all the respect in the world for her.”

“I may be the one person in the media that’s never said a negative word about that girl, or her family for that matter. My visit to her was private. It was intended to be private from the beginning,” McGraw said.

He added, “There’s some spokesperson that’s been out there talking to the contrary, and I’m just sitting here saying I know the truth and so does everybody in the Spears camp. Right now people need to be focusing on Britney, not on me.”

Tom Cruise Makes His Own Pact with Writers

In Celebrities, Culture, Entertainment Business, Hollywood, Politics, Tom Cruise on January 6, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Studio heads are fuming.

Executives who run the movie biz are members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a group that represents hundreds of movie studios and production companies, and negotiates with entertainment industry trade unions like the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

Interestingly, the WGA has made a deal with Tom Cruise and UA that is similar to the agreement that the union cut with David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants.

By making the first interim deal with the WGA, UA now has a competitive edge over the rest of the Hollywood studios. But this has also created a situation that has weakened the position of the AMPTP and created pressure for other companies to make side deals with the writers’ union, which plays right into the hands of the striking writers.

To that end, the WGA is pursuing similar side deals with the Weinstein Co. (owned by former Miramax Films founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein) and Lionsgate.

The UA deal helps its distributor and majority shareholder MGM because needed product will be supplied to the company.

Because MGM is a member of the AMPTP, in a desire not to break ranks with the group, MGM CEO Harry Sloan had been pleading with Cruise and his sidekick Paula Wagner not to make their own deal with the WGA.

Could it be that there are some second thoughts about making Tom Cruise the head of United Artists film studio?

Meanwhile the awards shows are also feeling weakened and pressured as a result of the writers’ strike.

“What would the N.F.L. be without the Super Bowl?” one movie exec told the New York Times. “They will find a way to make it [the Oscars] happen.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

The Oscar folks started getting nervous when the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced that the actors who were nominated for Golden Globes, in a show of support for striking writers, would not be attending the ceremony.

It could be that the only one walking the red carpet will be Al Gore.

Let’s face it. Awards shows aren’t really about honoring peers. They’re about the public’s insatiable desire to have another opportunity to star gaze. That’s the draw, and that’s what brings in the big bucks.

For the Academy, it translates into around $50 million in Oscar-related revenue. ABC TV brings in scores of millions in ad money each time the golden boy mugs for the camera.

Winning an Oscar can also give a boost to a film, in box-office terms, of 5 to 10 percent.

All of the dough means that keeping actors (who also happen to be SAG union members) away from the awards shows is the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) ace in the hole in getting concessions from execs and ending the strike.