Cop shows, doctor shows, courtroom-based dramas–for years, Halle Berry had heard pitches for just about every iteration of what’s already on TV. Nothing seemed invigorating enough for her to briefly abandon a still-thriving film career. Then, in the fall of 2013, a spec script called Extant started a feeding frenzy in Hollywood, with just about every major TV player–ABC, FX, Netflix, you name it–trying to buy the sci-fi thriller. As soon as CBS prevailed, CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tasser knew exactly who she wanted to play Molly Woods, an astronaut who returns from a year-long solo mission in space with a baby (possibly alien in origin) in her belly. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Steven Spielberg (1-10 of 55)
When I was growing up on the Jersey Shore, mere miles from the 1916 shark attacks that Peter Benchley used as inspiration for his best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws had a profound effect on my summers. Whenever I was alone in the water, I inevitably began to fear that I was being stalked by something beneath the surface. The panic would grow and grow — as John Williams’ daaa-dum music grew louder in my head — until I finally felt compelled to make a break for it. Swimming for my life, my flailing arms furiously pounded the water and my lungs felt about to burst because my face never turned to gulp more air. In my mind, the Great White from Jaws was inches behind me, his mouth wide open, about to turn me into lunch. I never dared slow down or look back until my entire body was out of the water… and safely back on the deck of the pool.
See, that was the thing about Jaws. The fear was so visceral — and irrational — that even a dip in a chlorinated swimming pool seemed like a risky proposition to a kid whose imagination was much deeper than the pool’s diving well. READ FULL STORY
More than two decades later, and we still can’t look at a cup of water the same.
Just as the rippling water in that now iconic scene signaled the T. rex’s grand entrance, so did Jurassic Park usher in a new era of cinematic innovation. Making a reality of so many childhood dreams, it marries moviemaking wizardry and emotional complexity to electrifying effect. Park also straddles a number of genres (action-adventure, family, thriller, and sci-fi, to name a few) on top of its ready-made merchandising and theme-park ride potential, ultimately offering something for everyone. But the leaps and bounds made by director Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning special affects artist Stan Winston aren’t solely accountable for the film becoming a global phenomenon.
At its core, Spielberg told EW’s Tim Stack and Keith Staskiewicz, Park is also “a helluva yarn.” Screenwriter David Koepp improved on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel about the foolhardy hubris of eccentric mogul John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), who built a theme park after recreating dinosaurs from DNA extracted from an amber-preserved mosquito. During the first — and last — tour of Jurassic Park, a bit of corporate espionage by a crusty computer programmer (Seinfeld‘s Wayne Knight) causes the power to go out, which allows the prehistoric predators to run amok and terrorize the park’s inaugural guests: child-averse paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his paleobotanist girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), snarky- yet-stylish math wonk Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Hammond’s grandkids Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello).
Without further ado, let’s continue EW’s Summer Blockbuster Month with a start-to-finish thrill ride and an undeniable game-changer. Open the gates to the utterly dino-mite (sorry, couldn’t resist) Jurassic Park!
In 2014, it’s difficult to appreciate the awe felt by uninitiated audiences who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters in 1981. Think about the film’s opening scenes, which introduce Indiana Jones and his now-iconic fedora in the jungles of South America. He narrowly avoids getting shot in the back by his mutinous guides, proves his Zorro-esque expertise with a whip, cleverly maneuvers through the deadly booby-traps of an ancient Peruvian temple, flicks away tarantulas like they’re gnats, nabs the prized golden idol but sets off a chain-reaction of destruction that includes a giant boulder chasing him back out into the sunlight, finds himself surrounded by angry natives and a smug Eurotrash rival, outruns them and their poisonous darts to an idling sea-plane that barely gets him in the air in time — only to find himself sharing the front seat with a giant snake, which we soon learn, is his kryptonite.
In just 12 minutes and 47 seconds, audiences experienced more pulsating action than most action movies stuff into two full hours. It was exhilarating. And it only picked up steam from there. Indy fought Nazis in Nepal and re-teamed with lost love Marion (Karen Allen), infamously dueled with an Arab swordsman in Cairo, discovered the Well of Souls where the mysterious Ark was hidden (guarded by hundreds of slithering asps), and then stole the Ark back from the Germans in the death-defying stunt that had Indy being dragged underneath and behind a speeding truck — a clever homage to the classic scene in John Ford’s iconic western Stagecoach. READ FULL STORY
There were movie aliens before E.T., and there were movie aliens after E.T., but none were as memorable (or weirdly adorable) as Steven Spielberg’s 1982 creation.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial told the story of a young boy who discovers an extra-terrestrial — often referred to as a goblin before they find out its true origins — and forms a loving, brotherly relationship with it as he struggles with his parents’ recent separation. Between the amazing child acting in the film (more on that later), the wonders of an animatronic alien with facial expressions as real as mine or yours, and the tear-inspiring story, E.T. wooed audiences in the summer of ’82.
Naya Rivera, get your agent on the phone.
Yesterday, we learned that Fox has unlocked West Side Story for a possible remake — because Steven Spielberg, of all people, has expressed interest in directing a new version.
Since making movies based on beloved stage shows like Les Misérables and Into The Woods is “in” again — something I wholeheartedly encourage — it makes sense tha Spielberg might want to try his hand at directing a musical. But it’s surprising to hear that he’s interested in something that already has such a prestigious history: The original West Side Story film is as close to a sacred cow as movie musicals get. The stage show debuted on Broadway in 1957; the legendary film, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, premiered in 1961. It went on to win 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. So, yeah, those are some big character shoes to fill. READ FULL STORY
Moments after 12 Years a Slave was prematurely anointed as a lock for Best Picture in September, whispers began that Steve McQueen’s harrowing true tale of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) trafficked into pre-Civil War Southern slavery was too raw, too unflinching, and too grisly to go the distance. Some Academy voters confided that the early reviews — which highlighted the film’s searing violence and haunting imagery — had scared them off, and even though they recognized that 12 Years was an important film about an important and long-neglected subject, actually watching it wasn’t their idea of a good time for a Friday night. Since opening in October, 12 Years has grossed $49 million and heads into Oscar weekend a co-favorite, along with Gravity, to win Best Picture, but doubts remain whether enough voters actually saw it — and appreciated it — to push it over the top.
Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was greeted similarly by the critics upon its release in 1993. That World War II epic about the Nazi profiteer Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved hundreds of Polish Jews from the gas chambers by putting them on his factory payroll, was praised to the heavens for bringing audiences face to face with the evils of the Holocaust. EW critic Owen Gleiberman’s review of that film begins by noting its “visions of profound shock and terror … the recurring image of people getting shot in the head,” and closes with “Spielberg has done something that can’t quite be said of any other film about the Holocaust. He has allowed us — for the first time — to see it.”
But rather than repel or alienate viewers, the naked brutality of the Holocaust in Spielberg’s film compelled people to see it in theaters. For some, it became almost a moral obligation to witness Schindler’s List, to confront pure evil — Ralph Fiennes’ sadistic Nazi, Amon Goeth — and share in a worldwide cathartic chorus of “Never again!” That required-viewing duty even became a joke on Seinfeld. Schindler’s List went on to gross $96.1 million ($186.9 million in 2013 dollars) and breezed to seven Oscars, including Best Picture.
12 Years a Slave and Schindler’s List are, of course, different films, and Spielberg and McQueen are different filmmakers, but the audiences’ conflicting reactions to the movies’ dedication to authenticity — no matter how ugly — raises interesting questions. READ FULL STORY
The Material Girl isn’t going to be short on materials anytime soon.
Madonna has been named the highest paid celebrity of 2013 by Forbes, which reports that the pop star brought in $125 million between June 2012 and June 2013. Not even an album flop can keep this woman down.
Behind Madonna is the king of movies, Steven Spielberg, with $100 million, the king of reality singing competitions, Simon Cowell, with $95 million, and the queen who gave us the red room of pain, E.L. James, also with $95 million. Rounding out the top five is Howard Stern — the king of awkwardness? — with the ever-popular intake of $95 million.
The first athlete joins the list at number 12, with Tiger Woods bringing in $78 million. And believe it or not, Oprah Winfrey sits at number 13 with $77 million. Luckily, that’s still enough money to give away a handful of cars if she feels the need.
Looks like The Mummy reboot isn’t going to be in theaters for awhile.
Len Wiseman, director of the seemingly endless onslaught of Underworld films and high-action hot messes like Total Recall, recently left the Universal project, according to Variety. Universal had no comment, but this obviously means that a spot is open for one of Hollywood’s greatest directorial talents to step in and make a quality reboot, one good enough that it’ll make it seem like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor never happened.
You, the ever intelligent pop culture fanatic at home, might ask: Why the reboot? Well, first of all, that’s what we were all saying about The Amazing Spider-Man, and that turned out just fine. And what about Batman Begins, Evil Dead, and Star Trek? (Just don’t mention The Lone Ranger – it ruins the theory). The Mummy, though close to perfect in my eyes, could use a little revamping. First of all, it was one of those underrated gems, it didn’t necessarily receive the best reviews and it wasn’t necessarily on Avatar‘s box office level — though grossing over $400 million is impressive — but it did have heart. It also had Brendan Fraser, the “next big thing” of the ’90s/early naughts and a pre-Oscar Rachel Weisz. It was fun, it was ridiculous (mummies rising from the dead!), it was scary (mummies rising from the dead!). Plus, instead of sucking, the sequel, The Mummy Returns, was actually good. And in my mind, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor does not exist.
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After losing out on the No. 1 spot in 2012, Oprah is once again sitting on top of the Celebrity 100 throne. In my dreams, Oprah is currently lip-synching and dancing along to Yeezy’s “I Am a God” in one of her massive mansions.
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