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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Jenny Priestley | Mon, 25/08/2014 - 14:17

By Jenny Priestley

Game of Thrones author George RR Martin is working on a one-off story got a new book. It's for a collection of 21 original stories from authors including Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Neil Gaiman and Martin. The book is titled Rogues and Martin's story will follow one of the biggest rogues from the Thrones series. The book is being released on September 15.

Sherlock star Andrew Scott will be at the Apple store on Regent Street on August 28 to promote his new film, Pride. He'll be joined at the event by co-star Faye Marsay. The film's premiere follows on September 2nd at the Odeon Camden.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Eddie Marsan and Peter Mullan have joined the voice cast of Jungle Book: Origins. Cumberbatch is voicing the film's villain, Shere Khan, whilst Andy Serkis will play Baloo the bear, and Bale will voice panther Bagheera. Blanchett will play Kaa, a sinister python who is also a friend to Mowgli, while Hollander will play Tabaqui, the jackal who is an underling of Shere Khan. Mullan will be Akela, the leader of the wolf pack that raises Mowgli. Harris is the female wolf Nisha, while Marsan is her mate, Vihaan. Serkis is also directing the film.

Ashley Jensen has been cast in the lead role in a new drama for Sky that sounds a bit more like a comedy. She'll star in Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, a 120 minute drama that will be shown at Christmas on Sky1, with Jensen playing PR turned detective Raisin. “It’s not often a part like this comes along for a woman" says Jensen. "Agatha Raisin is a strong forthright, independent, driven, successful woman, who is both funny and flawed, a real woman of our time.”

Steve Martin looks set for his first film in a few years. He's in talks to star in Magic Camp for Disney, a film he's already helped to write. The story follows a banker who returns to Magic Camp, which he attended as a shy child. This time he's working there and makes it his mission to improve the lives of all the kids while aiming for the top spot at the Golden Wand competition. Martin used to be a magician in real life (something I didn't know).

Bates Motel actor Freddie Highmore is co-writing the script for a new to com TV show. He'll be working with Kerry Ehrin, who is the showrunner on Bates Motel. The show, which is being set up at NBC, is set in the world of venture capitalism and follows the relationship between an overly emotional but talented female executive and her ambitious and eccentric young British assistant. No word yet on whether Highmore will appear in the show.

Rob Brydon is to host the BAFTA Britannia Awards in Los Angeles on October 30. The annual event helps kick off award season and is a celebration of achievements honouring individuals and companies that have dedicated their careers to advancing the entertainment arts. Last year's winners included Kathryn Bigelow, George Clooney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Winona Ryder is to star in a new miniseries from David Simon, creator of The Wire. She'll appear alongside Alfred Molina, Jon Bernthal, Oscar Isaac and Catherine Keener in Show Me a Hero. The drama is set in an American city overseen by young, idealistic mayor Nick Wasickso. He's given a federal court order to build low-income housing in a rich part of town which leads to civil disorder and may mean the end of his political career.

A new biography of Robin Williams will be published in the UK in October. Robin Williams 1951-2014: When the Laughter Stops is written by Emily Herbert, who has also written about Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Matt Smith. The book will look at the late actor's career including both his comedic and dramatic roles.

Sigourney Weaver is joining Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones in the film adaptation of children's fantasy book, A Monster Calls. The story follows a young boy who attempts to deal with bullying and his mother's terminal illness by escaping into a fantastical world thanks to a tree monster. Weaver will play the boy's grandmother, Jones his mother and Neeson the monster. The film's due for release in 2016.

David Yates is expected to return to the world of Harry Potter and is in talks to direct Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Yates directed the last four Potter films and had a close relationship with both producers Warner Bros and writer JK Rowling, who is currently busy on the film's script. The story is set 70 years before Potter and follows author Newt Scamander, who is commissioned to write a reference guide to the magical beasts found in the Potterverse. The film's due for release in November 2016.

Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage is to appear in a new play off Broadway early next year. He’ll be joined in the production of A Month in the Country by Taylor Schilling from Orange is the New Black who is making her New York stage debut in the show. The play is being directed by Dinklage’s wife, Erica Schmidt. Schilling will play Natalya, the wife of a wealthy landowner, in the 19th century comedy of manners, with Dinklage as her admirer Rakitin. The play will run at the Classic Stage Company from January 9 to February 15.

Mad Men star Elizabeth Moss and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery are to co-star in psychological thriller, Queen of Earth. The story follows two women who head to a beach house to escape the pressures of the outside world. Although they grew up as best friends, they soon realise they now have little in common. The film's being directed by Alex Ross Perry.

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Small-Screen Jabber 23-29 August

Posted by Louise Bolotin | Fri, 22/08/2014 - 16:06

By Louise Bolotin

If ever there was “event TV”, then surely it is Doctor Who (Sat, BBC1, 7.50pm). I for one can’t wait to see the brilliant Peter Capaldi (left) in the role – judging by the teasing trailers (I do believe the Ed has a full review here), he will not disappoint. I’m loving his tailored costume, a marked contrast to Smith’s bonkers professor look. The  80-minute opening episode (actually a two-parter concluding next week) focuses on the regenerated Doctor figuring out who he is and getting used to the new body he’s inhabiting. And while he’s doing this, he’s also investigating why a dinosaur is on the loose in Victorian London while Clara frets about how their friendship might change. Regular sidekicks Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax give the doctor a helping hand.

Want more? An Adventure in Space and Time (Sun, BBC2, 10pm) is a rerun of last year’s feature-length drama about the creation of Doctor Who, written by Mark Gatiss. David Bradley inhabits the role of first Doctor William Hartnell perfectly and producer Verity Lambert is played by Jessica Raine. It’s affectionate, as you’d expect from a superfan scriptwriter, and captures the sense of being on the brink of creating a radical show at a still rather fusty BBC. It’s a Jane Austen weekend (Sat, Drama, from 1pm) – all six episodes of the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice back to back, followed by all three episodes of Death Comes to Pemberley. The latter is a marvellous spoof whodunit based on the imagined married life of the Darcys, spoiled only by the lack of on-screen chemistry between the two leads, Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Goode.

The Stephen King sci-fi drama Under the Dome (Mon, Channel 5, 10pm) returns for a new series. In the opening episode the dome turns into a giant magnet, sucking up cars, scrap, household appliances and knives, while the Chester’s Mill residents try to decide if it’s trying to converse with them.

If you’ve been watching The Mill on Sunday nights, The Real Mill with Tony Robinson (Sun, More4, 9pm) sees the presenter explore the real Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire where the drama is set, from the harsh life of the workers to the pampered owners Gregs, who treated them better than mill workers elsewhere. The stunning Taj Mahal is the splendid setting of Hotel India (Wed, BBC2, 8pm), a four-part look at life within the palatial hotel it has now become. A destination for the wealthy, whose every whims are catered for by the staff, who include a British butler and a barman who has worked there for 42 years stocking up the bedroom minibars. Allergies: Modern Life and Me (Wed, BBC2, 9pm) is a Horizon investigation into the rising number of people developing allergies and how this epidemic might be halted through new treatments and lifestyle changes.

Good to have David Attenborough back on our screens. The veteran naturalist’s latest offering is Attenborough’s Fabulous Frogs (Thurs, BBC2, 9pm), in which he takes us on a fascinating trip through all things amphibian after confessing frogs were his first pets as a boy. There are toads too. Some of these creatures do amazing things – changing colour, secreting their own suntan lotion in arid climates, freezing itself then thawing again… Prepare to be enthralled. The invasion of the American prom goes under the microscope in Prom Crazy: Frocks and Ferraris (Thurs, ITV, 9pm). I remember when I was lucky to get a pound off the parents to buy lemonade at the school disco at the end of term, but the shocking sums parents now spend on designer outfits, stretch limos and beauty salon treatments for their 16-year-olds is an eye-opener in this documentary. The cameras follow four teenagers as they get ready for the big night.

Blondie’s New York (Fri, BBC4, 9pm) tells the story of how the NY punk-pop band broke through into the big time in 1978 with their third album Parallel Lines. With two critically acclaimed but little-bought albums already under their belt, the pressure to write a hit record was immense. Terry Ellis of Chrysalis Records bought out their existing contract for $1 million then sent them into the studio to recoup his investment. There’s some great archive footage of their studio time with Australian producer Mike Chapman, as they wrote songs about the poverty, crime and drug abuse in downtown New York. Debbie Harry also discusses her song-writing, the media’s obsession with her looks and her relationship with then-boyfriend, Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. It’s followed by an hour-long show of their appearance at Glastonbury Festival this year.

David Walliams’ comic drama Big School (Fri, BBC1, 9.30pm) is back. Walliams stars as hapless head teacher Mr Church, now trying to salvage his relationship with Miss Postern (Catherine Tate) after a misunderstanding puts romance further out of his reach. The strong cast includes Philip Glenister, Frances de la Tour and Daniel Rigby although the writing never quite hits the heights. An undemanding and cosy show for a Friday night on the sofa but don’t expect more. By far the better option is Josh (Fri, BBC3, 11pm), a 15-minute sitcom pilot starring standup Josh Widdicombe that debuted on iPlayer. After his fiancée dumps him, Josh moves back in with his his friends but sympathy for his breakup is in short supply as flatmates Owen and Kate are busy  pursuing their own love interests. He heads to the pub, where he hangs out with Geoff the landlord (Jack Dee) and the barmaid.

Peter Capaldi, now the Doctor but so good as The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker and Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers earlier this year, presents The Cricklewood Greats (Mon, BBC4, 11.10pm), a spoof documentary first shown in 2012 and written by Tony Roche. It’s the tale of a fictional film studio, possibly based on Elstree, and the contributions its output made to cinematic history. Terry Gilliam also stars, as the high-spending director who pushed Cricklewood to bankruptcy. 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy (Mon, Sky1, 9pm) takes the bucket list concept to the extreme when Irish TV presenter Baz Ashmawy takes his 71-year-old mother on a US road-trip to do things she’d never do in the comfort of her Dublin home. The TV gongs get handed out at the 66th Annual Emmy Awards (Tues, Sky Living, 8.30pm). British shows Sherlock and Downton Abbey are nominees, up against smash hits Breaking Bad and True Detective. James Corden’s sporting challenge show, A League of Their Own (Fri, Sky1, 9pm) returns for a new series, testing celebrities’ skills against the professionals. Guests in the opening show include Frank Lampard and Judy Murray.

Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers go head to heads in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final (Sat, BBC1, 2.20pm). Kick-off is at 3pm at Wembley Stadium. The smart money is on the Tigers – the Rhinos have lost all six of their last cup finals.

Best of the rest
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond faces off Alistair Darling, frontman for the all-party no campaign, in round two of Scotland Decides: Salmond versus Darling (Mon, BBC2, 8.30pm). Expect 90 minutes of fierce debate as the referendum is only three weeks away. The pair’s last encounter was only viewable in Scotland but as a split would affect the rest of the UK it’s only right the rest of us get to hear the arguments. Darling won last time, narrowly. Can he convince voters not to break away this time round?

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Relive the best in horror this Film4 FrightFest

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 22/08/2014 - 10:20

In celebration of this year’s Film4 FrightFest, Zavvi is offering a special deal on the best in horror for chills, thrills and scares.

From the icons of fright, right through to the classic scenes that always leave a chill down your spine, experience the terrifying horrors that everybody knows and loves, both old and new, that take suspense to that all-time teeth-chattering high, so high in fact that you need to experience it time and time again.

The films on offer at Zavvi include the following from Warner Home Video’s extensive range of horror:
The Shining Blu-ray
The Conjuring Blu-ray
The Exorcist Blu-ray
Poltergeist Blu-ray
A Nightmare On Elm Street Collection Blu-ray

The Shining extended edition is also screening at this year’s Film4 FrightFest on Sunday August 24, at 6:10pm. Frightfesters are being treated to a rare UK appearance from Kubrick’s former producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan, who will give an invaluable insight into the mind of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. You cannot miss this once in a lifetime opportunity - tickets are available to book now.

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A look back (and inside) The Mask

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 19/08/2014 - 21:00

By Mark Searby

1994 seems to have been the year that kick-started new trends that are still prevalent in today’s society. The year saw the launch of the PlayStation games console by Sony, and Oasis exploded onto the music scene with one of the greatest debut albums ever, Definitely Maybe. Sadly, the music scene also saw the death of Kurt Cobain, a man who pushed grunge music into the mainstream. On the movies front, the Hugh Grant-led Four Weddings And A Funeral became the UK’s biggest box office film ever with worldwide takings of more than $250m worldwide. The box office also caught light thanks to Tom Hanks’s Forest Gump, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Disney’s The Lion King.

Coming in at number nine on the highest-grossing films of 1994 was a movie that not many people at the studio had high hopes for or that audiences were particularly interested in watching (comic book-style movies were not box office gold – unlike today), yet The Mask became a global phenomenon and its opening weekend in the US saw it take $23m.

The Mask was a film that the whole family could enjoy, and quote to each other for years to come. But what made this movie such a huge success? And where did it all start?

“Ooh, Somebody Stop Me!”

The Mask was intended to be a horror film from New Line Pictures. The studio was looking for a new type of horror icon, much like Freddy Krueger, to kick start another scary movie franchise. Charles Russell was offered the job of directing the horror version of The Mask, but he felt it worked better as a comedy. New Line thought differently and had three alternate scripts written where the protagonist would put on the mask and go around killing people. Then about a year later, the studio came back to Russell and asked him if he would be interested in doing his version of The Mask.

“What are you doing down there?”
“I’m just looking for ... My Mask. FOUND IT!”

Russell had wanted to work with Jim Carrey for a long time. Carrey was only really known as one of the guys on the TV series In Living Colour. Jim modelled the character of Stanley Ipkiss on his own father, so many  of Ipkiss’s traits are Carrey family ones – such as the fact that Stanley keeps asking people ‘Ah?’ ‘What?’ ‘Eh?’. This was because his father was deaf in one ear. His motions as The Mask are very dance like and his movements bring to mind slapstick stars of the silent era. The facial expressions on the mask were devised to resemble Carrey’s own expressions.

It wasn’t a rigid mask like most would have today; instead, it was latex that had the ability to move with Carrey’s facial features. The mask was made of 17 separate pieces of latex that had to be joined together, and took four hours in the make-up chair to apply and only 30 minutes to remove. The problem was trying not to bury Carrey underneath too much rubber.

Some people might say that Carrey's rubbery face doesn’t need a mask as he has the ability to contort his face in nearly every way imaginable. Carrey said that: “[The Mask] makes Stanley the person who has all the answers. He can never be hurt. He is the guy everybody would love to be when they are faced with a situation.”

The Mask opens up the suppressed side of Stanley’s personality. Co-star Cameron Diaz commented that it wasn’t when Carrey was wearing the mask that scared her; instead, it was when he had to have it removed at the end of the day. “It was terrifying as it was glue and chunks of sponge would just stay on his face.”

“You know what Mrs Peenman ... Nothing”
“Well that’s what you are Ipkiss. A big fat nothing”

The CGI was created by two teams at Industrial Light & Magic, as they had to create cartoon-like images directly fused to the real actors. The scene where Stanley, as The Mask, has his eyes and tongue pop out when Mrs Peenman walks into him took about four weeks to complete. The only CGI scene that wasn’t scripted was when The Mask blows a heart shape from his cigarette smoke followed by snorting the arrow out. Carrey had come up with the idea at about 3am on the set, so the crew shot the scene and just hoped that the digital effects could be included later. As it turned out it’s one of the best visual CGI moments in the film.

The howling wolf shot when The Mask see’s Tina is a complete ripoff of the legendary Tex Avery cartoons. Carrey filmed it, but then post production at ILM saw his head removed and a computer graphics metal frame imposed on the shot. That was then covered with CGI skin and finally the stars and planets flying round his head.


The role of Tina Carlyle was set to be filled by the up and coming actress Anna Nicole Smith. It was only changed when the producers were on their way out of a modelling agency and noticed Diaz. It was her first film role – previously a model, Diaz burst onto and in to the film with one of the greatest entrances ever committed to celluloid. Anybody who saw that film upon release will remember, until their dying breath, the dolly-in and pull-back scene.

Diaz turned 21 while shooting, so the crew decided to throw her a party after filming had finished. As they were filming through the night the party started in the early hours of the morning and went on into a normal working day. During the entire filming process Diaz used a pushup bra as she felt it suited the character, but she has never worn one since in a film. Cameron’s singing in the nightclub was all overdubbed by Susan Boyd, who does a lot of voiceovers for animated films including Mulan, The Little Mermaid and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure TV series.

“They call me Cuban Pete. I’m the king of the rhumba beat”

The Mask was completed in a little over eight months at a cost of $18m – which included all of the special effects that had never been done before. Russell commented that: “It saved us a lot of money when we cast Jim. As he was so flexible that we didn’t need to enhance his movements via digital.” Carrey had signed on for the film before the release, and blow up, of Ace Ventura so he was only paid $500,000 for his work on The Mask. Once it was released he next inked a deal for Dumb & Dumber at a fee of $7m.

“That’s a spicy meatball”

A year later, Nintendo Power magazine exclusively revealed that there would be a sequel – The Mask 2. Alongside announcing the sequel, the magazine also ran a competition for the winner to have a walk-on part in the forthcoming film. But it never materialised, mainly due to Carrey not wanting to reprise the role. The basic storyline would have been that mob boss Dorian would have returned and The Mask would have been worn by a woman, which follows some of the stories from the original comics. Rather than that we were given Son Of The Mask, a terrible prequel that involves no one from the original film. Also churned out was an animated TV series that ran from 1995-97. The final episode saw The Mask/Stanley Ipkiss team up with Ace Ventura. None of the subsequent tie-ins could match the popularity of the original film.

“We all wear masks ... metaphorically speaking”

The Mask is silly at its heart, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable, but it also has this charming personality about it – a human romance that takes place within the cartoon comedy world. A Jekyll and Hyde story for the 1990s that gave Jim Carrey a bigger canvas to express his talents, and it introduced us to the beauty of Cameron Diaz.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 17/08/2014 - 20:08

The Expendables 3 proves undependable while Turtles and Guardians stay on top

By Rich Matthews

With Paramount's Michael Bay-produced reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney/Marvel's latest blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy holding strong in the top two spots, this weekend's three new releases – Fox's Let's Be Cops, Lionsgate's The Expendables 3, and the Weinstein Company's The Giver – could only manage third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The fourth place showing for the third in Sylvester Stallone's Expendables marks a franchise low of $16.2m, with the first entry grossing $35 and the sequel $28m. This is in part probably because of a leaked pristine copy of the star-jammed actioner early in the month being heavily downloaded and damaging business, but nonetheless shows that the concept of putting Sly, Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and co in one movie together has now run out of steam. Just the fact that it was beaten to the number three spot by Let's Be Cops' $17.7m – which stars low-level celebs Jake Johnson (from TV's New Girl) and Damon Wayans Jr – is a major blow for Lionsgate. Fifth place was taken by The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift, with $12.8m.

None of the these could challenge Teenage Mutant Turtles ($28.4m, US total of $117.6m, global $185.1m) or Guardians Of The Galaxy ($24.7m, $222.3m, $418.7m). Currently Guardians is pacing ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Transformers: Age Of Extinction at the domestic box office, although its worldwide haul is lagging behind all of them.

Positions six to 10 were filled by disaster flick Into The Storm ($7.7, $31.3m, $49.8m), Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey ($7.1m, $23.6m), Scarlett Johansson's Luc-Besson-augmented Lucy ($5.3m, $107.6m, $168.5m), dance sequel Step Up All In ($2.7m, $11.8m, $49.6m) and Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making indie smash Boyhood ($2.2m, $13.8m, $22.7m).

Next weekend Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For debuts alongside Chloe Moretz's Warner Bros drama If I Stay and Jim Caviezel football drama When The Game Stands Tall, so don't expect any major dents at the top.

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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Jenny Priestley | Sun, 17/08/2014 - 13:36

By Jenny Priestley

★ Michael C Hall is being lined up to star in a new miniseries based on an unproduced Stanley Kubrick drama. God Fearing Man follows the true story of Canadian minister Herbert Emerson Wilson, who become one of the best safecrackers and most successful American bank robbers in the early 20th century. Hall will star as Wilson and executive produce the drama. The project is now being offered to TV networks.

Yet more big names have joined the cast of forthcoming TV drama, Westworld. The latest additions include Thandie Newton, Miranda Otto and Ed Harris. Filming on the pilot is due to begin this month.

The cast for Mission: Impossible 5 continues to come together. Director Christopher McQuarrie has tweeted that Ving Rhames will return (he had more of a cameo in M:I 4). Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are all reprising their roles, with Alec Baldwin rumoured to join the cast as well as up-and-coming actress Rebecca Ferguson.

★ Mad Men star Jon Hamm will be at the Apple store on Regent Street this week. He's promoting his new film, Million Dollar Arm, on August 22. Also this week, Daniel Radcliffe is at the store on Monday to discuss his latest film, What If. And on Wednesday, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster will be in the store to promote their new film, The Maze Runner.

Dates for your diary: Godzilla 2 has been dated for a June 8, 2018 release in the US (and presumably the UK). Gareth Edwards will return to direct but not until he's visited a galaxy far, far away... Meanwhile, a sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be released on June 3, 2016. The first one gets released in the UK on October 17.

Is Emma Stone heading to Broadway? Lots of rumours she's in talks to replace Michelle Williams in Cabaret. Stone was originally being lined-up when the production was first being out together but had to drop out due to scheduling issues. Williams is due to leave the show in November with Stone's people confirming she is in talks about taking over as Sally Bowles. I saw the show earlier this year and thought Williams did an OK job, but Stone would definitely make me want to see it again!

It's just over a week to the Primetime Emmy Awards in LA. This year's show takes place on a Monday night (no idea why) and is being hosted by Seth Meyers. Halle Berry, Bryan Cranston, Zooey Deschanel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Woody Harrelson, Adam Levine, Matthew McConaughey, Julianna Margulies, Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler, Julia Roberts, Gwen Stefani, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Lucy Liu, Debra Messing, Andy Samberg and Octavia Spencer have all been confirmed as presenters. Meanwhile, the first set of winners has been announced at the Creative Arts Emmys with Joe Morton, Allison Janney, Jimmy Fallon, Orange is the New Black and Sherlock all picking up prizes.

One Man Lord of the Rings and One Man Star Wars are heading out on a UK tour. The theatre shows are written and performed by Canadian actor Charles Ross. He takes his audience through both trilogies (leaving out the awful Star Wars prequels). The tour kicks off in High Wycombe on September 26 and wraps up in Radlett on October 17.

It's only a couple of weeks until film festival season kicks off with the Venice Film Fest. The event opens with Birdman on August 27 with stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough and Amy Ryan all expected on the red carpet. Other actors due at screenings of their films are Owen Wilson and Imogen Poots for She's Funny That Way, and Al Pacino for Manglehorn. And in case you missed the news, Brad Pitt will walk the red carpet at the London Film Festival when his new film, Fury, screens on October 19.

★ Sharknado 2: The Second One will be released on DVD on November 3.

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Small-Screen Jabber 16-22 August

Posted by Louise Bolotin | Fri, 15/08/2014 - 18:33

By Louise Bolotin

Crime drama Suspects (Wed/Thurs, Channel 5, 10pm) has been gifted a second series. Edgy and with partly improvised naturalistic dialogue, it’s an exceptionally well written police procedural starring Fay Ripley and Damien Moloney. New Tricks (Mon, BBC1, 9pm) returns for its 11th series, with only Dennis Waterman remaining of the original Gang of Five. Worth watching for Nicholas Lyndhurst’s beautifully underplayed DCI Dan Griffin, stealing pretty much every scene he’s in. OK, OK, we all know the new series starts next weekend. To refresh your memory, catch last year’s Christmas special of Doctor Who (Sat, BBC3, 7pm) so you can get up to speed on the Timelord’s business and watch Matt Smith morph into Peter Capaldi.

This weekend’s boxset binge: The Forsyte Saga (Sat/Sun, Drama, 9pm) –  the ITV remake from 2002. An epic tale of drama, sex, power, and money, it stars Damian Lewis, Gina McKee and Dominic Cooper.

With that referendum approaching, Andrew Marr’s Great Scots (Sat, BBC2, 9.15pm) is a short three-part series on some of Scotland’s most important writers of the past 300 years. Exploring the issue of how these writers expressed their national identity through their work, journalist Marr begins with another journalist, James Boswell, as he dubs the revered diarist and biographer of Samuel Johnson. Boswell’s colourful life – split between his patriotism and his hedonistic pursuit of fame and fortune – reflected, Marr argues, the difficult relationship between Scotland and England following the Union of the Crowns in 1707. As the world teeters on the brink of major food security problems, Horizon asks Should I Eat Meat? (Mon/Wed, BBC2, 9pm). In the first part, Dr Michael Mosley looks at the impact of a meat-heavy diet on the body, versus vegetarianism (and yes, he uses himself as a guinea pig again), while part two investigates how high global meat production is killing our ability to feed the world’s population.

Dogs who can sniff drugs and explosives, deer who use ultraviolet light to ward off wolves, snakes with thermal detectors that allow them to find warm-blooded prey – how they do it is all revealed in Super Senses: the Secret Power of Animals (Tues, BBC1, 9pm). In Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds: a Tale of Three Cities (Tues, BBC4, 9pm), Dr James Fox (the art historian, not the actor) explores the artistic movements in three cities at a fixed point in time, to see how their influences rippled out to the wider world. In the first episode he heads off to the Vienna of 1908, where Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were rocking the art world and architects and psychiatry were also making an impact. It’s a harsh job, being a fisherman and Trawlermen’s Lives (Wed, ITV, 8pm) shows just how tough it is out in all weathers in the treacherous North Sea. Ben Fogle hitches a ride to sample the perils of fishing for cod and prawns.

It’s a great week for music on the box. Swing is the thing in The Sunday Prom (Sun, BBC4, 7pm). Halfway through this year’s proms season and jazz singer Clare Teal takes us on a trip back to the 30s and 40s and the glorious big band sound. The Duke Windsor Proms Band goes head to head with the Count Pearson Proms Band in a battle of the bands, belting out the big hits of the era. Nina Simone Live at Montreux 1976 (Thurs, Sky Arts 2, 8pm) is probably her definitive live concert. Often given to diva-ish tendencies, Simone seriously chucks her weight around on stage as she frets over the equipment, storms off repeatedly and demands to say hello to David Bowie (yes, really). But when she plays, who cares – she’s divine.

At Reading Festival (Fri, BBC3, from 7pm), Queens of the Stone Age kick off three days of gigs. Also on stage are Vampire Weekend and Paramore. Friday Night at the Proms (Fri, BBC4, 7.30pm) is In Memoriam WW1, with music that pays tribute to the composers whose lives were cut short by the conflict. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra plays compositions by George Butterworth, Rudi Stephan and Frederick Kelly, with the concert closing with Vaughn Williams’ (who did survive) Pastoral Symphony. Andrew Manze conducts. And the piece de resistance – The Kate Bush Story – Running Up That Hill (Fri, BBC4, 9.10pm). As she prepares to play her first live concerts since 1978, this timely profile catalogues her lengthy, groundbreaking career. She’s a performer who’s run her career on her own terms and influenced many others, as the contributions from a surprising range of people attest – Tori Amos, Guy Garvey, Bat for Lashes and Outkast’s Big Boi among them. We also hear from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who discovered her, Linday Kemp, who taught her to dance, musical collaborators Peter Gabriel and Elton John. Celebrity fans Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman and Jo Brand discuss what her songs mean to them. Stay tuned for an hour's worth of her best clips at the Beeb right after. 

Renowned for playing scheming bitches in shows like Dynasty, Joan Collins presents TV’s Nastiest Villains (Sat, Channel 5, 9pm). It’s a glorious romp through drama baddies such as JR Ewing, Janine Butcher and Breaking Bad’s Walter White, as well as real on-screen nasties – step forward Gordon Ramsay, Anne Robinson, Simon Cowell et al. Definitely one for a drinking game.

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Trips of the Week

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 11/08/2014 - 13:03

By Stuart O'Connor

Each week, the Screenjabber inbox gets overloaded with emails containing new film trailers, or clips of films or upcoming Blu-ray/DVD/VoD releases. Here are a few of those trailers and clips (hence trips) that caught our eye this week ...


Doctor Who World Tour hits Korea

Maps To The Stars trailer

Doctor Who World Tour launches in Cardiff

Alex Zane's Movie Rewatchability

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 10/08/2014 - 19:38

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles startle Guardians Of The Galaxy

By Rich Matthews

Well, that didn't last long. While Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy continued to impress at the US domestic box office this weekend, it's reign at the top only lasted one week. Paramount and Nickelodeon's relaunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay and starring that franchise's Megan Fox, confounded expectations and outperformed all expectations – much as Guardians did last week. Taking in $65m at home and a further £32.3m internationally, Paramount wasted no time in announcing a sequel for summer 2016 such was the level of success.

Between them, Turtles and Guardians have managed to boost the ailing summer box office, which was running more than 20 per cent behind 2013 and has now clawed back at least three per cent of that deficit thanks to these two fantastical tentpoles. Whether TMNT can hold on to pole position longer than Guardian's short-lived triumph will hinge on whether anyone really cares about seeing Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson together in one movie anymore, with The Expendables 3 vying with Fox Jake Johnson/Damon Wayans Jr comedy Let's Be Cops for top newcomer plaudits.

For its part, Guardians showed the now-standard decline for Marvel films of 56 per cent to bag a further $41.5, taking its overall US tally to $175.9m and its Earthbound gross to $313.2m. It still has a long way to catch up stablemate Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $713.9m, but then it has only been on release for 10 days – it will be interesting to see how quickly interest tails off now that it's been classified a hit.

Of the other new releases for the weekend, Warner Bros disaster flick Into The Storm followed behind Guardians at three, scooping up a middling $18m for a $50m-budgeted movie, while Lasse Hallstrom's dramedy The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, came in fourth with $11.1m. You have to spring over five to find the weekend's final new entry, with Step Up All In only managing sixth with a franchise lowpoint of $6.6m. But don't feel sorry for the Lionsgate/Summit dance sequel, because it's already body-popped to $26.2m internationally for a global haul of $32.8m.

In between the walking and the dancing, Scarlett Johansson continued to show strong legs of her own in Luc Besson's Lucy, with grabbed a further $9.3m at five, to swell its total to $97.4m, plus an extra $5m from only three international territories, so expect those global numbers to swell soon, especially from Besson's native France. Dwayne Johnson alas showed that he while he's good as saving existing franchises, he still isn't a lock at starting new ones, with Brett Ratner's Hercules already down to seventh with $5.7m for an underwhelming domestic total of $63.5m and a global cume of $136m. Compare it to the similarly themed The Scorpion King, which opened 12 years ago to $91m and $165m worldwide, and it seems The Rock hasn't made much progress – especially if you adjust for inflation, which sends the US total alone up to $127.7m. James Brown biopic Get On Up went on down to eighth with $5m for a total of $22.9m, while Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes hit ninth with $4.4m, which gives the Andy Serkis-led mo-cap sequel a US gross of $197.8m and a worldwide tally of $456m – surpassing the domestic gross of original reboot Rise by more than 20m, but still lagging a good $25m-odd behind its global total. Interestingly, if you adjust for inflation, Tim Burton's 2001 "reimagining" (the first film to try to so dodge the remake tag) comes out on top with $259m, with the 1968 Charlton Heston original second with $202.8m. Lastly, Planes: Fire & Rescue brought up the rear with $2.4m and a home gross of $53m and $83m worldwide. The first Planes made $90m and $220m, respectively, last year.

Once Sly and Ahnuld have made their third Expendable bow next weekend, the summer is officially winding to a close, with only Sin City: A Dame To Kill For of any note, and that's fairly niche, so it's doubtful that the US box office will be able to claw back much more of that 17 per cent decline, but at least it'll be going out on a more positive note.

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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Jenny Priestley | Sun, 10/08/2014 - 12:21

By Jenny Priestley

★ Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, Aaron Eckhart and Stanley Tucci are to star in a new drama about pedophile priests. The film's called Spotlight and it follows an investigation by the Boston Globe into a cover-up in the Catholic Church that allowed priests to prey on young children for many years. The film's being directed by Tom McCarthy and is due to shoot in Boston and Toronto this autumn.

Did you know that Jeff Bridges was almost cast in Big? He's revealed he was close to winning the role of Josh Baskin but it "didn't quite fit". It's such an iconic role for Tom Hanks that I really can't imagine anyone else playing the part.

It doesn’t matter if you are Hollywood’s It Girl, if your film gets stuck in development hell then there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. But there’s good news for Jennifer Lawrence as her film The Glass Castle looks to be happening two years after she signed on. The film’s studio says it’s now actively searching for a major actor to co-star in the drama about a young girl raised in a dysfunctional family with an eccentric artist mother and an alcoholic father.

The nominations for the 72nd Golden Globe Awards will be announced at 8am ET/ 2pm UK time on Thursday December 11. The winners themselves will be announced on January 11, 2015. No word yet on the hosts.

★ Simon Pegg will be out and about promoting his new film Hector And The Search For Happiness this week. Pegg will be at the Apple store on Regent Street on August 14 alongside director Peter Chelsom.

Prolific stage and screen actor Roger Allam will be taking to the stage at the Hampstead Theatre later this year. He's starring in a new production of Theresa Rebeck's Seminar. Allam will play the role of Leonard, a former celebrated novelist turned cantankerous editor, teacher and grandstanding chronicler of third-world war zones, who is tasked with mentoring four aspiring young writers. Alan Rickman originated the role in the play's Broadway debut which I was lucky enough to see. No further casting has been announced yet. Seminar opens on October 1.

★ James Marsden has officially joined the cast of new HBO drama Westworld (I told you he was in talks a couple of weeks ago). He's landed the lead role in the drama and will co-star alongside Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Rodrigo Santoro. The show counts JJ Abrams among its executive producers so there's a lot of expectations to shoulder!

★ James Franco is to be presented with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Award at this year's Venice Film Festival. He'll receive the awards before a screening of his latest film, The Sound And The Fury. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory award is given to an individual who makes “an original contribution to innovation in contemporary cinema”. Previous winners include Spike Lee, Takeshi Kitano and Sylvester Stallone. The ceremony takes place on September 5.

Not content with starring as Nick Fury, Samuel L Jackson has signed up to play The Black Phantom. The comedy follows an odd partnership between a clever double-crossed mob hitman, played by Kevin Hart, and the notorious hit man The Black Phantom, who has been hired to kill him. Jamie Foxx was originally cast as the Phantom but dropped out due to scheduling reasons. Tim Story directs.

★ Naomie Harris is to co-star with Jake Gyllenhaal is his next movie. Harris will play a social worker in Southpaw, which stars Gyllenhaal as a boxing champion whose personal life is falling apart despite his professional success. Antoine Fuqua directs.

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