Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

August 19, 2018

"My Favorite Wife" Cary Grant Film Which in Today's Know How It Might Be His Coming Out


My Favorite Wife, the Hecka Gay Film Starring Cary Grant and His (Alleged) Gay Boyfriend.  by Chase Burns 


The gaydar is pinging!
The gaydar is pinging! YOUTUBE
If we're to believe Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Cary Grant was hecka gay. In the new documentary based on his popular memoir, Full Service, Scotty Bowers, bisexual "pimp to the stars," claims that he would regularly hook up with Grant and his alleged longtime lover Randolph Scott—often at the same time. Bowers is hardly the first person to talk about Grant's gay relationships, but his honesty is salacious and refreshing. The documentary highlights the 1940 film that stars Grant and Scott, My Favorite Wife, and... guys... I watched the film for the first time last night, and it's so gay. It begs to be rewatched.
Let's review:

The film was promoted as a hot, spicy reunion between Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, who had previously worked together on Leo McCarey's The Awful Truthin 1937. (The duo would go on to star in Penny Serenade in 1941, but that would be their last movie as costars.) But the important pairing in this film isn't Dunne and Grant, it's Grant and Randolph Scott. 

This is the scene where Grant sees Scott for the first time. It's... uh... pretty gay. Romantic music swells as Grant swoons on his tip-toes.
Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were some of Hollywood's most popular
gaysbachelors in the '30s and '40s. This was a time when Hollywood's studio system aggressively controlled their stars' professional and personal lives—which I outlined in my piece on Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood—and subjected them to morals clauses. Nevertheless, Scott and Grant lived a very public life together after meeting on the Paramount set of Hot Saturday in 1932, the only movie besides My Favorite Wife that the two men appeared in together. They hit it off immediately and were soon living together. However, in 1934, in a move that seemed to be aimed at breaking the two men apart, Grant was allegedly ordered to marry Virginia Cherril. But Cherrill—maybe because Grant kept fucking Scott—divorced Grant 13 months after they married. Grant moved back in with Scott.
By the time My Favorite Wife premiered in 1940, the two men had been publicly living together for around five years. The American public was very aware of Grant and Scott's relationship, but viewed them as entangled in a celebrity bromance, mostly because the studio allegedly planted images of women going in and out of their house to the press. The two
lovers womanizers were viewed as having a "Bachelor Hall" together. 

Who really came inside that "Bachelor Hall"?
In Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Scotty Bowers, when asked if he feels guilty about spreading all these Hollywood secrets, says: "It's not a secret, really. It may be a secret to some square who lives in Illinois—but in Hollywood, they knew these people." This quote really sticks out to me when watching My Favorite Wife. There are two stories being masterfully played out in the open here. The double entendres are so obvious, it's remarkable to think that audiences didn't view this film as an admission of a homosexual relationship between Grant and Scott. 
My Favorite Wife was incredibly popular when it premiered in 1940. It was RKO's second highest grossing film of the year and nominated for three Academy Awards. It was—and continues to be—billed as a wacky screwball comedy. On the surface, it's about Nick Arden (Grant) remarrying after his wife (Irene Dunne) is lost at sea in a shipwreck. But it turns out she's not dead, she's just been living with another man (Randolph Scott) on an island for seven years. When she returns, Nick decides to abandon his new wife but finds himself increasingly preoccupied with the man his first wife shagged on an island. Some queer highlights:
 When his dead wife Ellen (Irene Dunne) shows up, she's dressed as a sailor. (Why, IDK.) She's asked by the children (her children, although they don't know it yet) if she's a lady or a man. "I used to be a lady," she says. It's weird. 
 After Nick discovers Ellen lived on an island with a man named Stephen (Randolph Scott), he starts to rush out to find the man. Ellen yells that Stephen is at the YMCA (gay), and Nick (wearing a leopard print robe), rushes out to find Stephen at the YMCA. 
 Nick has no luck at the YMCA, but he does discover Stephen at the pool (all of those embedded GIFs above). He swoons. It is incredibly and shockingly homoromantic. I don't know how this got produced in 1940. 
 Nick cannot get Stephen out of his mind. It makes him sweat. Sitting in his office, he is tormented by the half-naked image of Stephen. (KEEP IN MIND THESE GUYS WERE ACTUALLY—ALLEGEDLY—FUCKING AND IT WAS—ALLEGEDLY—NOT A SECRET AMONGST HOLLYWOOD ELITES.)
 When Stephen and Nick do meet, Nick asks Stephen if he's the sort of man who eats raw meat. Stephen says he's a vegetarian and basically only eats carrots. Nick says Stephen is probably full of carrots (gay). During this meeting, Stephen says he has nothing to hide. Nick's wife (Dunne) says "I know, but hehas," referring to Nick. 
 Nick's new wife assumes he has an illness because he's acting so strange. She has a creepy therapist show up to help him. The therapist assures Nick that there are many men like him, but Nick says he doesn't need help. He then literally goes into the closet and puts on women's clothing. The therapist, shocked, follows him out to the car, where Nick's new wife and him fiercely argue, pulling the clothes between them, while Nick shouts that he could lose his career if any of this is found out by the public. She pulls him back inside and he finally yells, "I'm... MARRIED!" (Referring to his dead wife, who's not actually dead, who is his real wife, his favorite wife.) It's very difficult to watch this scene in 2018 and not see it as a coming out scene for Grant. It's heartbreaking.  
Grant and Scott were never in another film together. Their relationship is still disputed. Grant's daughter, Jennifer Grant, wrote a memoir in 2011 in which she dismisses the notion that her father was gay: "Dad somewhat enjoyed being called gay. He said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong." Is that true? Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood and My Favorite Wife seem to offer a flamingly different answer. 
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood opens Friday, Aug 24 at SIFF Film Center.

October 23, 2017

Agent of Young Actor "Of Stranger Things" Fired For Sexual Abuse Claims



                                                                       

Getty Images



APA agent Tyler Grasham has been fired from the Hollywood agency following a sexual assault claim made against him, EW has confirmed.

“Tyler Grasham’s employment with APA has been terminated, effective immediately,” Manfred Westphal, head of communications for APA, said in a statement to EW.

EW has learned that earlier Friday, Stranger Things and It star Finn Wolfhard fired Grasham and parted ways with the agency. The 14-year-old actor’s decision to leave the agency comes a few days after multiple accusations were leveled at the agent by former clients, including Blaise Godbe Lipman, who has appeared in episodes of Weeds and Hawaii-Five-O.

Wolfhard wasn’t alone in his actions; Descendants star Cameron Boyce also fired Grasham, EW has confirmed, though his future with the agency remains to be seen.

Originally, actor-turned-filmmaker Lipman (a.k.a. Blaise Embry) joined in on the #MeToo movement to share his story of assault at the hands of a “prominent talent agent from the firm APA” when he was 17. Then, according to Lipman, after he came forward, he received a “poke” on Facebook from Grasham, which led Lipman to pen a follow-up social media post outing Grasham as the assaulter.
The allegations against Grasham come two weeks after the initial New York Times exposé detailing “decades” of sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, Heather Graham, Rose McGowan, Cara Delevingne, and Mira Sorvino are among the women who have come forward accusing Weinstein of assault, harassment, or rape. Last week in a statement through a representative, he denied claims of sexual assault: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”

“The positive thing about the attention the Weinstein scandal has had, is it’s no longer about Harvey,” wrote Lipman. “The conversation has moved on to the size of this epidemic and how to dismantle the system that protects these predators. And it’s given space and courage for victims to speak up, against their abuse. This is bigger than Weinstein.”

The Wrap first reported Wolfhard’s exit from APA, while Deadline broke the Boyce news.



July 22, 2017

Sir Dirk Bogarde Taped Interview 1993










July 7, 2017

Everybody Loves Steven of Walking Dead


 

 pic by Youtube





It’s hard not to love Steven Yeun. His character, Glenn, on The Walking Dead, was a beloved everyman, and his recent turn as a radical animal rights activist in Okja has been called the “most realistic Korean American character in film history.” Yeun is the kind of actor you wish you could see in more roles—or on the cover of magazines—and his latest interview with Vulture’s E. Alex Jung won’t dispel you of that desire.
Yeun is reflective, charming, and very honest in addressing race and Hollywood, especially when it comes to Asians and Asian Americans. His thoughts are particularly interesting in the light of the scandal surrounding the pay gap between the white and Asian stars of Hawaii Five-0 which is still taking place at CBS.
A few highlights:
On why only a Korean-American could have played his role in Okja:
A Korean-American actor is very specific. I think if you got a native Korean who spoke English the comedy wouldn’t have worked. If you got a Korean-American who didn’t have a better understanding of Korean, it wouldn’t have worked. As an Asian-American person, K feels ostracized from the community on both sides and no one will really let him in, so he’s kind of at the mercy of what they decide. It makes him a little foolish; he just wants to be liked really bad, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get that.
On how Glenn was treated on The Walking Dead:
I didn’t think of it as racism, where it’s like, Oh, this is racist. I caught it in a way of Oh, this is how we’re viewed all the time – as part of some glob, some amorphous, non-individualistic collective. We’re like a Borg, and so because of that, they’re like, “Well, we don’t need to give the shine to that character. There’s all these other characters who are so cool!” I’d always hear people go, “I love Glenn, he’s my favorite character.” But the merchandise would go one way. That really might be the market, so I’m not going to sit here and be like, “Why didn’t they make Glenn merchandise?” But there was a disparity.
On what it means being a second generation Korean American:
Even I struggle with the fact that I’d been doing what America told me I am without even understanding I was doing it. I grew up in the suburbs of Michigan. Racism was not overt, it was super undercover, and while you’re there you don’t notice it. You think you’re fine, because 6 percent of your school is Asian, and that’s enough. ... Then you grow up, you go to a place that’s more diverse, you talk to other people, and you go, “Holy shit. I became exactly what everybody told me I was instead of being who I actually am.” That’s where I feel like a lot of Asian kids are.
On being an Asian American from a “weird” place:
Even now, talking about this new wave of Asian-Americans who are advocating for our fair shake is a beautiful thing, I think, but a lot of them are from the coasts! They’re getting, like, angry about new racism and it’s like, “Dude, I was formed by that racism.” I’m not saying their struggles are any less than mine, but mine is very different. You look at someone who comes from where we come from and they go, “Oh, you’re the dude who got whitewashed.” No dude, I had to survive, so I conformed, and now I’m finally fucking out of that matrix. I did it!
On turning down racist roles:
It was for a thing called Awesome 80s Prom, like Tony and Tina’s Wedding, where you physically go to a play but you’re in the play as a patron and they act around you and improvise. There was one Awesome 80s Prom in Chicago, and they go, “Bring an ‘80s monologue from a movie,” so I did Ferris Bueller’s opening monologue, and they’re like, “Can you do it in an accent?” I was like, “It’s Ferris Bueller, what do you mean do it in an accent?” And I realized they wanted me to do Long Duk Dong, so I left. I got reamed out by my brand new agent, but I was like, “Fuck that! I’m not doing that shit!”
You can read the full interview here.
Fusion.com

June 10, 2017

Adam West, Performer of Batman Has Died




Burt Ward and Adam West on the set of the 1960’s Batman TV series.






Brian Lowry reported today on Variety the news Batman had passed away.

Adam West — an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series “Batman” — died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

West became known to a new generation of TV fans through his recurring voice role on Fox’s “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island. West was a regular on the show from 2000 through its most recent season. West in recent years did a wide range of voice-over work, on such shows as Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and Disney Channel’s “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” 
But it was his role as the Caped Crusader in the 1966-68 ABC series “Batman” that defined West’s career.

With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, “Batman” became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. The half-hour action comedy was such a hit that it aired twice a week on ABC at its peak. But within two seasons, the show’s popularity slumped as quickly as it soared.

West’s portrayal of the superhero and his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.

West also chafed against the darker versions of Bob Kane’s hero that emerged in more recent years, beginning with the Michael Keaton-starring, Tim Burton-directed adaptations that began in 1989 and followed by Christopher Nolan’s enormously successful Dark Knight trilogy.

In February 2016, CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which had hosted a number of geek favorites over the years, celebrated its 200th episode — and marked the 50th anniversary of “Batman” — with an appearance by West.

Asked by Variety what the character of Batman has come to mean to him over five decades, West said: “Money. Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman. There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. And they’d be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to re-engage myself with Batman. And I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.” 

Before he donned the mask and cape, West was a rising star in the late 1950s and early 1960s TV series, notably Westerns and cop shows. He logged roles on “Lawman,” “Cheyenne,” “The FBI Story,” “Colt .45,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “Bonanza,” “The Rifleman,” “Perry Mason,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Real McCoys,” “Bewitched,” “The Outer Limits” and “The Virginian,” among other programs. He was a series regular on the 1959-62 drama series “The Detectives” (which aired on ABC and later NBC), playing a police sergeant.

His film roles in this period were few and far between but included a part in the 1965 Three Stooges vehicle “The Outlaws Is Coming.”

The origins of the “Batman” series are actually quite complex, but the project eventually landed at 20th Century Fox, which handed it to producer William Dozier, who devised the show’s camp comedy sensibility.

Both West and Lyle Waggoner were considered for the part of Batman before West was cast, playing alongside Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin.

In a PBS special that touched on the show, Ward noted that West’s slow, portentous delivery was occasionally designed to eat up screen time, thus cutting into his co-star’s dialogue.

With actors like Cesar Romero (Joker) and Burgess Meredith (Penguin) comprising Batman’s rogue’s gallery of villains, the show became an almost instant success, urging viewers to tune in for the next episode at the “Same Bat-time.” The series spawned a movie — pitting the Dynamic Duo against a team-up of villains — before being canceled after three seasons due, primarily, to its high production costs.

The show came to be viewed with some contempt in comic book circles, especially after the darker vision of Batman became dominant in the ’70s and ’80s.

West found serious film work scarce following the series, though he remained in demand for personal appearances as the character and voice work, including a recurring stint on “Family Guy” and animated versions of Batman. Other roles ranged from “The Happy Hooker” and “Hooper” to the Michael Tolkin-directed movies “The Rapture” and “The New Age.” 

By many accounts, West maintained a good sense of humor about his fame and his caped alter-ego. He remained a favorite of many producers for comedy guest shots, logging roles in recent years on such shows as “30 Rock,” “George Lopez,” “The King of Queens” and this year’s short-lived NBC comedy “Powerless.”

West was also prolific as a voice actor. He worked on dozens of animated series during the past 40 years, from numerous incarnations of the Batman character to “Kim Possible,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Fairly Oddparents,” “The Boondocks” and “Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.”

West wrote two books, one, titled “Back to the Batcave” and published in the mid-1990s, in which he said that he was “angry and disappointed” not to have been offered the chance to reprise the role in the Burton movies, despite being 60 at the time. The attendant publicity seemed to put West back on the cultural radar, at least as a source of nostalgia.

Born William West Anderson in 1928 in Walla Walla, Wash., the actor later adopted his stage name and began his career in earnest when he moved to Hawaii in the 1950s to star in a local children’s program.

He is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


Let me just add a note about Burt Ward who played loyal pal, Robin. I was much younger than him but I watch Batman because of Robin. Now I know I had a crutch on him. I talked about Robin with friends that related because he was closer to our age (we were half his age or less). I was so proud of the Batman shoes my mom bought me. The salesman kept telling my mom those shoes would not last because they were a fad (they guaranteed shoes for a year at Tom MCcan then). He was concerned my mom would return them. I kept arguing they were great shoes and it was what I wanted. My mom who always wanted to make me happy (up to a point) bought them for me. I was very sickly when young and also the baby of the family so I guess my mom felt bad for me but she tried her best when she knew I wanted something ( To be fair I would also become a pest repeating the request). Those shoes made me the star with my friends in school church. I guess I started the fad in my neighborhood and school. I made sure those shoes lasted me. After a while, I only wore them to church or special occasions.



December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, Dead at 60






 

"Star Wars" has lost its most beloved princess. 
Carrie Fisher, best known for her portrayal of the plucky Princess Leia in George Lucas' epic intergalactic movie series, died Tuesday, days after suffering a heart attack on a plane. She was 60 years old. 
"It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 855 this morning," Simon Halls, a representative for Fisher's daughter, said in a statement to NBC News. "She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly."

October 31, 2016

Black Life in it’s Joy and Sadness in ‘Moonlight’







The film Moonlight is extraordinary for many reasons, but to me it is most so for two. First, it considers black boys to be precious, at a time when news stories perpetually make it seem as if the United States considers them to be utterly expendable. Second, it acknowledges the effects that the stalking ghosts of premature death and incarceration have upon gay black masculinity – and it manages to do so without ever diminishing the lives full of complex humanity that black gay men still manage to have in America while navigating that reality.
So often, gay lives in America are coded as white, and the forces that shape the lives of queer people of color – say, how immigration affects being Chicano and gay in Calfornia, or how police surveillance affects being black and gay in the New York – are ignored, as gay identity is usually swept up into whiteness. Moonlighteschews this reductivism entirely, brilliantly portraying in a lyrical story how love and connection attempt to take hold. 
The fact that there are about a million and a half black men disappeared from American society by early death and incarceration is not a side issue to black gay men. It’s certainly no side issue to Chiron, Moonlight’s hero, who successfully seeks out a father figure, Juan (Mahershala Ali), only to lose him to an early death. And yet, Moonlight also shows how creative and brilliant black humanity is at being so much more than its pain. Director Barry Jenkins doesn’t dwell on Juan’s death as much as he does on the beauty of his embrace of Chiron in his arms in the sea, on his smile, on his joyful proclamation that you can find black people wherever you go in the world.

September 15, 2016

Zachary Quinto and “Snowden"

Zachary Quinto, far right, plays Glenn Greenwald, one of three people (including Melissa Leo's Laura Poitras and Tom Wilkinson's Ewen MacAskill) who helps Joseph Gordon-Levitt's whistle-blower leak damning documents in Oliver Stone's "Snowden."

   
It’s never a walk in the park making a movie for Oliver Stone. For Zachary Quinto, it was more rough than usual. The filmmaker’s latest film is “Snowden,” which tells the story of CIA and NSA employee-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who learns that the government can and has been snooping in on anyone with a computer of gadget. Quinto plays Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, then working for The Guardian, who met Snowden in Tokyo as he was about to leak the intel that proved malfeasance. The “Heroes” and “Star Trek” actor, now 39, talks to us about how the film made him much more aware of how technology makes us vulnerable.

You’re not only making a movie about the infringement on privacy, but one by Oliver Stone. Did that make you even more worried about what Snowden revealed?
Like most people, I was pretty cavalier about my relationship to online security. I didn’t think about it that much. When this story initially broke, my reaction was, ‘Wow, that’s intense — and it probably has nothing to do with me.’ The more I learned about the documents that were released and how far-reaching and wide-spread this dragnet operation went — and how many tens of millions were exposed and vulnerable as a result — it made me recognize we’re all in this and against it together. 

“It has nothing to do with me” is a pretty common line. Most of us probably think that.
It’s a complacent attitude to adopt, because you never know when the definitions are going to shift or change. You never know when someone might find themselves in opposition to either the government or on the wrong side of the lines. It makes them more of a target. By that time the attitude of “I have nothing to hide” has allowed groups to collect all kinds of information and all kinds of data, and use it against you when it serves them to do so.

It’s hard to imagine there being a revolution in which people give up their smartphones.
That’s what it would require, whether it was voluntary or brought about by catastrophic undercurrents. If you look at the power that technology has in the cyber world, everything is filtered through online networks. All of our infrastructure is controlled by this technology. If there’s some kind of cyber-attack on any of these systems, the ramifications are very real and very dire.

Reading Glenn [Greenwald]’s book “No Place to Hide” was really tough. It delves into a lot of information on these programs — how they evolved, how they found themselves re-appropriated to serve the interests in the NSA and the CIA, and how they infiltrated different aspects of our lives. It was hard to wrap my head around how when you log onto wireless Internet networks, they can be rerouted and observed. Certain hardware can be intercepted by the CIA and tampered with to put in catch-alls, so that any information that goes through it is rerouted to collection stations and archived. It’s this endless labyrinth.

Have you changed your tech habits since?
Only to the extent that I have tape over the camera on my laptop [as Snowden did], I changed all my passwords, I did a two-step verification on all my devices. I did the things we can do. But the reality is at the level we’re talking about, we’re still vulnerable. We can strengthen ourselves against lower-level interference. But it’s when you get to the top of the pyramid, you think, ‘How safe can we ever be at this point?’ That’s the question this film asks audiences to consider and discuss.


Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge 

August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka) Dead at 83







The comic actor was at his best in 'The Producers,' 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein' and teamed with Richard Pryor in four films.
Gene Wilder, the leading man with the comic flair and frizzy hair known for teaming with Mel Brooks on the laugh-out-loud masterpieces The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, has died, his family announced. He was 83.

The two-time Oscar nominee also starred as a quirky candy man in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and in four films alongside stand-up legend Richard Pryor.

Wilder's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said that the actor died Sunday night at home in Stamford, Conn., after a three-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

"The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity," Walker-Pearlman said, "but more so that the countless young children who would smile or call out to him, 'There’s Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world."

His nephew noted that when Wilder passed, a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was playing. She was one of his favorite artists.

Wilder will forever be remembered for his ill-fated Hollywood romance with Gilda Radner. Less than two years after they were married, the popular Saturday Night Live star was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died on May 20, 1989, at age 42.

READ MORE Gene Wilder Remembered: 5 of His Biggest Movie Roles
In 1963, the Milwaukee native appeared on Broadway opposite Anne Bancroft in Jerome Robbins’ Mother Courage and Her Children. The actress introduced Wilder to Brooks, her future husband, and the couple invited him to Fire Island, where he got a look at the first 30 pages of a screenplay titled Springtime for Hitler.

“Three years went by, never heard from [Brooks],” Wilder told Larry King in a 2002 interview. “I didn’t get a telegram. I didn’t get a telephone call. And I’m doing a play called Love on Broadway, matinee, taking off my makeup.

“Knock-knock on the door, I open the door. There’s Mel. He said, ‘You don’t think I forgot, do you? We’re going to do Springtime for Hitler. But I can’t just cast you. You’ve got to meet [star] Zero [Mostel] first, tomorrow at 10 o’clock.’

“[The next day] the door opens. There’s Mel. He says come on in. ‘Z, this is Gene. Gene, this is Z. And I put out my hand tentatively. And Zero grabbed my hand, pulls me to him and kisses me on the lips. All my nervousness went away. And then we did the reading and I got the part. And everything was fine.”

Springtime for Hitler, of course, would become The Producers (1968), written and directed by Brooks. For his portrayal of stressed-out accountant Leopold Bloom in his first major movie role, Wilder earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

Brooks cast Gig Young for the part of the washed-up gunfighter The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles (1974), but the actor, who was an alcoholic, got sick playing his first scene and had to be taken away by ambulance.

“I called Gene and said, 'What do I do?'” Brooks recalled in a 2014 interview with Parade magazine. “Gene said, 'Just get a horse for me to try out and a costume that fits and I’ll do it.' And he flew out and he did it. Saved my life.”

While working on Blazing Saddles, Wilder fiddled with an outline he had written for Young Frankenstein and asked Brooks to do it with him. Wilder played Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, who creates a monster just like his grandfather did, and he and Brooks shared a screenplay Oscar nom for the 1974 classic, released in theaters just 10 months after Blazing Saddles.

(It was Wilder’s idea to have Frankenstein and his monster, played by Peter Boyle, do the song-and-dance number, “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”)

Said Brooks in a statement: "Gene Wilder, one of the truly great talents of our time, is gone. He blessed every film we did together with his special magic. And he blessed my life with his friendship. He will be so missed."

For the 1971 musical fantasy based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fred Astaire and Joel Grey were recommended for the role of Willy Wonka. But director Mel Stuart wanted Wilder.

“He had been in The Producers, but he wasn’t a superstar,” Stuart told the Washington Post in 2005. “I looked at him and I knew in my heart there could only be one person who could play Willy Wonka. He walked to the elevator after he read and I ran after him and I said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got it.’”

Wilder and Pryor — who was a writer on Blazing Saddles — first teamed up on the train comedy Silver Streak (1976), followed by Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991), with Wilder writing and directing the latter pair.
 
Wilder was born in Milwaukee as Jerry Silberman on June 11, 1933. His father was a Russian immigrant who imported and sold miniature beer and whiskey bottles. His mother had a heart attack when he was 6, leaving her an invalid.

The young boy got his start in comedy by trying to perk up his bedridden mother’s spirits (she died when he was 23).

In high school, Wilder played Willy Loman in his own adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in theater and studied at the Old Vic School in Bristol, England.

While overseas, he became the first American to win the all-school fencing championship, a skill he put to use when he starred as a swashbuckler in Start the Revolution Without Me (1970), directed by Bud Yorkin.

Returning to the U.S., Wilder was drafted into the U.S. Army. While stationed outside of Philadelphia at Valley Forge Medial Hospital — he worked as an aide in a psychiatric ward and helped administer electroshock therapy to patients — he commuted to New York twice a week to study acting with Herbert Berghof.

Following his discharge, he changed his name — Wilder is from Thornton Wilder, Gene is from the main character in the Thomas Wolfe novel Look Homeward, Angel — and studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

In 1961, Wilder landed a part in the off-Broadway play Roots, then played a comic valet on Broadway in Graham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover, for which he earned a Clarence Derwent Award.

He also thrived on the stage in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as the repressed Billy Bibbit (played by Brad Dourif in the 1975 film adaptation) and as John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes and other characters opposite Helen Hayes in The White House.

Wilder made his motion picture debut in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), playing undertaker Eugene Grizzard from Milwaukee who, along with his nervous new bride Velma (Evans Evans, then the wife of director John Frankenheimer), is kidnapped by the outlaws.

Wilder accessed his zanier side as an Irish manure peddler in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) and as a doctor with a yen for sheep in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972).
 
Flush with the success of Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Wilder made his directorial debut in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975), which he also wrote and starred in. He went on to write, direct and star in The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), for which he also composed a song performed by Harry Nilsson, and played a bumbling Polish rabbi in the Old West in The Frisco Kid (1979).

On television, Wilder starred as an older father of 4-year-old twins in his short-lived 1994-95 NBC sitcom Something Wilder; portrayed Cash Carter, a community-theater director who solves murders, in a pair of 1999 telefilms for A&E; and won a guest-actor Emmy in 2003 for playing Eric McCormack’s boss on NBC’s Will & Grace.

Twice divorced, Wilder met Radner while they were starring in the comedy Hanky Panky (1982), directed by Sidney Poitier. She was married to Saturday Night Live bandleader G.E. Smith at the time.

Radner divorced Smith, and she and Wilder were wed on Sept. 14, 1984, in the south of France. They appeared together in The Woman in Red (1984) and Haunted Honeymoon (1986) before she was found to have stage 4 ovarian cancer in October 1986.

In 1999, Wilder was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and treated with radiation and stem cell transplants.

Wilder titled his 2005 memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger, something Radner had once said to him. “I had no idea why she said it,” he once offered.

In September 1991, Wilder married his fourth wife, Karen Webb. She was from the New York League for the Hard of Hearing and had coached him in the art of lip reading in preparation for his role as a deaf man in See No Evil, Hear No Evil. She survives him.

Wilder’s sister Corinne died in January.

August 27, 2016

Anti Gay Gays Made Hollywood and Their Movies Outs Them as Such





When I came out of the closet and declared to my family that I was a homosexual at 19, I had just moved to San Francisco. Not yet ravaged by the Plague, the city was an infamous gay Mecca, still drunk on the relatively recent advent of gay liberation. As an introduction to the city I took one of the “self-help” workshops popular at the time, a seminar particularly attuned to gay men, where a final exercise involved writing your parents to let them know you’re gay. Because all my interest in theater and disco wasn’t enough. Coming out was framed as an act of the Gay Revolution, a passport to freedom from guilt and stigma.

It sounds good on paper. But like so many things, the reality was bracing. My mother’s response was an award-worthy display of feigned shock. “I had no idea,” she wrote back to me unconvincingly before imploring me not to say anything to my stepfather. And while her apparent ignorance seemed preposterous, her idea of gay men was based on effeminate celebrities she’d seen in movies and on TV, like Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and Alan Sues. None of these supporting actors ever actually declared they were gay, they just portrayed quick-witted men who wore jaunty scarves, not handsome enough to seem sexual or masculine enough to be seem threatening.

However while there are now several popular actors who’ve come out as gay, the most notable probably being Neal Patrick Harris, none of them are seen as matinee idols. A number of leading men still manage a double life, juggling their public image with their hidden orientation. I recently watched the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential in which 1950s screen idol Tab Hunter provides a glimpse into the machinations involved with being a closeted movie star in that era. He gave an interview this week revealing more. Coming out as we know it today was not an option. However, Hunter says how he worked around the complications and even managed to have relationships, including with actor Anthony Perkins who was pursuing his own star trajectory.

And while Confidential shows us an idealized and noble version of how Hunter handled the pressures of being gay, much of what he says is sincere and thoughtful. In particular he’s adamant about how the decision to reveal his sexual orientation was ultimately his alone. It’s a truth increasingly overlooked when people talk about coming out as the worldly stigma is minimized and people become flippant. The consequences may be less drastic but it’s still a personal call.

Recently the young gay actor Noah Galvin, lead in the sit-com The Real O’Neals, was publicly chastised for remarks he made in an interview about fellow actor Colton Haynes. Haynes had just come out as gay himself in a rather subdued way, an act Galvin described as “fucking pussy bullshit” (he has since apologised). His sneering at the milquetoast manner of Haynes’ admission is in stark contrast to the long avoidance by the film industry of the idea there are gay men at all, particularly male actors who hope to be leading men. 

It could seem puzzling that a business that depends so heavily on the talents and gifts of gay people would be obsessed with obscuring the true sexual orientation of it’s leading players and public faces. Usually this boils down to some variation of “the audience won’t believe so-and-so is playing a straight man if they really know he’s gay”. Its an amusing ploy on the film industry’s part, feigning concern over our belief in a hero’s sexual desires while he or she is surrounded by flying dragons and belligerent aliens.

Who, exactly, is this mystery audience confounded by movie leads acting straight? Gay men would believe it. Hell, we’re experts on that grift. I can’t imagine women really care. The ultimate concern of course is that precious young male heterosexual demographic, the one whose buying powers are legend. Just knowing your screen hero is gay could call into question what it means to be masculine, what it means to be yourself, what it really is to be a man who is honest about who he loves. Perish the thought. What would ever happen then?

February 22, 2016

A Gay Kiss In Star Wars but No Disturbance in the Force


                                                                         
Pic by Pinterest
                                                                

Strange but brilliant things have been happening in Hollywood recently. Last weekend saw an R-rated Deadpool movie featuring a version of the pansexual “Merc with a Mouth” barnstorm the box office, keeping mainstream audiences, hardcore comic book acolytes and plain old Ryan Reynolds fans happy. The biggest movie of 2015 at the global box office featured a black male and white female as its all-action, galaxy-straddling leads. And the new Mad Max film saw the title character playing second fiddle to a disabled female desert warrior with a hatred for post-apocalyptic systemic misogyny.
And yet none of the above would be half so revolutionary as Star Wars delivering the long-running space saga’s first ever interracial gay couple. 
This rumour has been in the ether ever since fans noticed the bromantic chemistry between Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and John Boyega’s Finn in JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens. Rian Johnson, the director of new instalment Star Wars: Episode VIII, has fanned the flames by retweeting fan art depicting the rogue stormtrooper and Resistance pilot locking lips. And speaking after the Bafta awards on 14 February, Boyega himself hinted he was more than open to the idea of shifting the Finn-Dameron relationship to the gay side. “What’s so funny, I posted a video the other day of myself working out, skipping, and in the background Oscar is just like, ‘Yeah baby go on!’ and people just went crazy,” he told Radio Times. “But as far as I’m concerned, when JJ [Abrams] sat us down to go through the script, it was a bromance.”
“But now I’m learning what Mark Hamill said before, when he didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke’s father: you never know what they’re going to pull. I’m looking at the director Rian [Johnson] closely so he can get me involved early, so I can prepare myself. So who knows?”
Some commentators have speculated that the studio Disney, once a bastion of conservative values but these days a pretty liberal-minded place, might baulk at the prospect of losing out on box-office revenue in China and Russia. However, Abrams’ movie made just $125m out of a current total of $2.029bn in China, the world’s second-largest box office, while pansexual, pegging-curious Deadpool broke The Force Awakens’ all-time box office opening record in the land of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps Russian filmgoers aren’t as bothered about homosexuality as we might think, and perhaps China isn’t all that important when you’re smashing records everywhere else.
 I have to admit, I assumed Finn and Daisy Ridley’s Rey were intended to end up as lovers by the end of the new Star Wars trilogy. But the heroes’ relationship is more about looking out for each other than gazing, starry-eyed into each other’s eyes. 
 Disney certainly shouldn’t avoid developing a gay plot out of fear. That way lies the dark side. But neither should Johnson worry himself overly about how to present Star Wars’ first same-sex relationship. Because romance has never been all that important in this (at its best) most kinetic of space sagas. 
It took Han Solo and Princess Leia almost two movies to declare their love for each other, at the denouement of The Empire Strikes Back. And George Lucas and his team never spent long dwelling on the details. In fact, the only Star Wars movies to delve deeply into romantic territory are the appalling prequels, with all those excruciating love scenes between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala set against epic, sweeping, totally ersatz CGI planetary-vista backdrops. The most successful Star Wars films, 1977’s saga opener and The Force Awakens, are pretty blasé about affairs of the heart.
So let’s hope Finn and Poe continue their really-shouldn’t-be-so-groundbreaking-in-2016 space romance in the currently filming Episode VIII – provided they do so without undermining the breakneck pacing and planet-jumping joi-de-vivre of The Force Awakens. Then we can all move on to the really important Star Wars sex questions, such as whether R2-D2 or C-3PO goes on top, and how on earth Hutts procreate.

February 13, 2016

For Valentines take your pick: The Highest Grossing Movies for 2015


December 20, 2014

Angelina Strikes a raw Nerve in Hollywood Lover’s Japan


                                                                           

Angelina Jolie’s new movie “Unbroken” has not been released in Japan yet, but it has already struck a nerve in a country still fighting over its wartime past.
And the buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film that depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a World War II prisoner-of-war camp.
Some people are calling for a boycott of the movie, although there is no release date in Japan yet. It hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec 25.
Others want that ban extended to Jolie, the director — unusual in a nation enamored with Hollywood, especially Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, who both have reputations as Japan-lovers.
The movie follows the real-life story of Louis Zamperini as told in a 2010 book by Laura Hillenbrand. The book has not been translated into Japanese, but online trailers have provoked outrage.
Especially provocative is a passage in the book that refers to cannibalism among the troops. It is not clear how much of that will be in the movie, but that is too much for some.
“But there was absolutely no cannibalism,” said Mutsuhiro Takeuchi, a nationalist-leaning educator and a priest in the traditional Shinto religion. “That is not our custom.”
Takeuchi acknowledged Jolie is free to make whatever movie she wants, stressing that Shinto believes in forgive-and-forget.
But he urged Jolie to study history, saying executed war criminals were charged with political crimes, not torture.
“Even Japanese don’t know their own history, so misunderstandings arise,” said Takeuchi, who heads his research organization, the Japan Culture Intelligence Association.
Hollywood films that touch on sensitive topics for the Japanese have had a troubled history here.
Theaters canceled screenings of the Oscar-winning 2009 “The Cove” about the bloody dolphin hunts in the town of Taiji after the distributor was deluged with threats from people who said the movie denigrated the “culture” of eating dolphins although most Japanese have never eaten dolphin or whale meat.
Roland Kelts, a journalist and expert on Japanese culture, called the outburst over “Unbroken,” like the frenzy over “The Cove,” ‘‘banal and predictable.”
“None of them have even seen the film, and while it is based on one man’s story, it’s a feature, not a documentary. There are plenty of movies that depict the brutality and inhumanity of war,” he said.
“Unbroken” portrays the story of war hero Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell, who with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a plane crash, only to be caught by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Jolie said recently on a promotion tour in Australia that she wanted to depict a human story, one that gives hope, noting that war “brings out the extremes,” both the good and the bad, in people.
Japan has not always been averse to Hollywood portrayals of World War II.
Clint Eastwood’s 2006 “Letters From Iwo Jima,” which focused sympathetically on a gentle commander, played by Ken Watanabe, was favorably received here.
Japanese directors have made their share of movies critical of war. Akira Kurosawa made “No Regrets for Our Youth,” as well as “Ran” and “Seven Samurai.” Kihachi Okamoto’s “The Human Bullet” and Kon Ichikawa’s “The Burmese Harp” relay powerful anti-war messages.
But the release of “Unbroken” comes at a time some in Japan are downplaying the country’s colonization of its Asian neighbors and the aggressive act carried out by the Imperialist Army during World War II.
For example, some politicians dispute the role of Japanese soldiers in the Rape of Nanjing, which began in 1937, in which 300,000 Chinese were killed. They say that is a vast overcount.
Similarly, they reject historical studies that show women from several Asian countries, especially Korea, were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military. 
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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