Here's a trailer for Restless, a surprisingly sappy-looking teen romance about a girl dying of cancer who falls in love with a death-obssesed boy who hangs out with the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot. Yeah, it's one of those.
It's a big birthday for Jennifer Lopez. She's celebrating the big 4-0 today. Other people who will be blowing out candles this fine Friday: Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth is turning 41. Anna Paquin is 27. Director Doug Liman turns 44. Director Gus Van Sant is turning 57. Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz is 67. Artist Alex Katz is turning 82. Senator Claire McCaskill is 56. Governor Charlie Crist of Florida is 53. Barry Bonds turns 45. Retired basketball stars Rick Fox and Karl Malone are turning 40 and 46, respectively. Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame is turning 60. Actor Dan Hedaya is 69. And Wonder Woman—actress Lynda Carter—celebrates her 58th birthday today. Weekend birthdays after the jump.
♦ David Pecker's AMI, the publisher of the Star and National Enquirer, has been near bankruptcy for months. Now it's one step closer. [NYP]
♦ The details of Judith Regan's settlement with News Corp. have been revealed: It cost the company $10.75 million to make her go away. [Bloomberg]
♦ Janet Robinson says there are no plans to sell the Times. [E&P]
♦ A brief explanation for why newspapers are so screwed right now. [NYT, AP]
♦ An increasingly desperate OK! has cut the price of the mag. [NYP]
♦ The reorganization of Random House will likely leave Sonny Mehta the big winner. [NYO]
♦ Les Moonves on the state of network TV: "The model ain't broke." [THR]
♦ Gus Van Sant's Milk was named by the New York Film Critics Circle as the best film of 2008. [THR]
The year-end demolition derby that is Oscar season is ramping up, and among the next big films to face the gauntlet is Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic, Milk. Already the recipient of oodles of pre-release buzz (so there, says Focus Features), its release Wednesday will cap a period of real-world gay activism that has unmistakable parallels to the events in the film. Senior editor S.T. VanAirsdale and associate editor Kyle Buchanan have already seen the movie and are ready to share their thoughts; so which editor wanted to see more James Franco, and which wanted to see more of James Franco's stunt phallus? Read on to find out!KB: So, Stu, you and I have both seen one of the year's most anticipated movies, Milk. I'm curious about our reactions, because we both came to from a different place. I saw it before the election, and you saw it after. Also, I'm a gay man, and you're not (aside from that one time at summer camp). STV: True, true. KB: So what did you think of it? STV: I liked it! Well-made prestige Oscar bait. KB: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate its Van Santyness? Or perhaps, on a scale of Finding Forrester to Gerry? STV: 1 being Finding Forrester, Milk is right around a 3. KB: It's pretty straightforward, except for the occasional fun pop touch. I liked the film too, although I felt it ends better than it begins. The beginning is verrry biopic-y, every introduction is portentous and expositional. STV: It's a problem throughout, though. KB: People say things like, "Let me tell you something, CLEVE JONES..." I am pretty sure I never use people's last names when talking to them. Though maybe I would if I knew they'd be famous one day! STV: Try it with me some time, let's see what happens. KB: Do you think we'll see a single review of this film that won't mention Milk's parallel to Obama, or Prop 8? STV: This one won't be it, I guess. I hope so, though. KB: The Prop 8 stuff is pretty hard to ignore, considering Milk is trying to overturn the anti-gay Prop 6 in the movie. He even makes some remarks, like that the anti-Prop 6 ad campaign was "closeted," that I heard about the "No on 8" campaign. STV: So we need 100 critics saying it's relevant?
Supporters of Proposition 8 have something of a homophobic patron saint in Anita Bryant, the former beauty queen/orange juice-spokeswoman whose spunky brand of hatred is revived for a new generation in the upcoming Milk. Archival footage features some of her more winning moments ("If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nailbiters" is in there somewhere) from the campaign for Proposition 6, which in 1978 would have allowed for the firing of openly gay public school teachers. But that was then, we're hearing — Anita Bryant is saved! (Sort of.)Marc Malkin called up Bryant's ministry in Oklahoma to see what the 68-year-old firebrand thought of Gus Van Sant's new film. A man identifying himself as her second husband, Charlie Dry, commenced stonewalling against the gossip's inquiries, though we think we spot a glimmer of hope between the grumpy Bible-Belt lines:
Hollywood PrivacyWatch: No on 8 Edition! 11/8 — I was at the "No on 8" rally/march/protest on Saturday night in Silver Lake when a friend pointed out GUS VAN SANT to me. I was skeptical at first, but the hoodie with something Portland related on it confirmed suspicions. He was with a younger (20s) blonde guy. Later at the same event, I saw one of the stars of Van Sant's Milk, JAMES FRANCO. He looked happy to be among his people. [Hollywood PrivacyWatch is written by and for Defamer readers; send your sightings to email@example.com.]
An angry Focus Features is doing a bit of air-clearing this morning, the day after it premiered its Oscar-chasing biopic Milk to an adoring hometown crowd in San Francisco and offered its first screenings to press in L.A. and New York. But it's a few people who haven't seen the film who are of particular interest to Focus president James Schamus, who all but firebombed Hollywood Reporter headquarters Tuesday in a letter to the editor denouncing its coverage of his film — a screed conveniently CC'd to the rest of the Internet as well.The contretemps started yesterday morning when THR reporter Steven Zeitchik — who mostly sounded ticked off he wasn't invited to the first press screening — wrote about "the Milk marketing conundrum," suggesting that Focus had "eschewed publicity" while pushing director Gus Van Sant and star Sean Penn's biopic about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the country, who was assassinated in 1978. The main point of comparison was Focus's Brokeback Mountain, which THR noted was a lightning rod for conservatives months before it was released in 2005. Citing no festival appearances, limited press exposure and, bafflingly, a Las Vegas test screening in which two senior citizens reportedly sought to leave during a love scene between Penn and co-star James Franco, THR's big picture showcased a movie that Focus depoliticized on purpose, lest the early backlash hinder its box-office and awards chances. "With all the politicking going on (not just the election but, here in California, with Proposition 8, a subject that mirrors eerily one of Harvey Milk's battles)," Zeitchik wrote in a blog follow-up, "the company was eager to avoid talk-radio defining the movie for it."
With Gus Van Sant's Milk set to world premiere tonight at San Francisco's famous Castro Theater—an event that has the locals so excited, the biopic is practically bubbling up and dribbling down their nostrils—we thought we'd take a moment to introduce you to its breakout star. No, not him—you know him already. And not him, or him, or him, or even him. We speak, of course, of screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose name you might have noticed standing approximately 30-feet tall at the last moments of the Milk trailer.Variety announced today that the extremely photogenic and openly gay recovering Mormon would be writing Van Sant's next feature—an adaptation of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Pack it up, Diablo. There's a new It Scribe in town. We now run down for you Everything You Always Wanted to Know About DLB but Weren't Yet Aware of His Existence Enough To Ask: I. HE LOOKS GREAT WITH HIS SHIRT OFF
Despite a star-studded cast and a high profile director, Focus Features' new biopic about the first openly gay pol in California history isn't getting any push from the studio before its Dec. 8 release. Focus' last spectacularly gay-friendly film, Brokeback Mountain was a major winner, so call the development puzzling. Focus execs are spinning that they want the film to gain word-of-mouth slowly, but Occam's razor gives us a better explanation: Milk just isn't very good.In light of the political climate surrounding California's Proposition 8, Focus higher-ups have avoided pushing Milk. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film is "eschewing publicity, keeping its awards contender out of fall fests and heavily restricting media screenings."
Here it is: The trailer for Milk, Gus Van Sant's retelling of the swift rise and violent and untimely fall of America's first openly gay elected official, set against a backdrop of the swinging San Francisco of the late '70s. Everything here seems note-perfect, from Sean Penn's Horshackian (with base notes of I Am Sam) vocal inflections, to the meticulously executed period gayfros, to the Anita Bryant file footage (here's some more of Bryant getting a banana cream pie in the face; ah—that never gets old), to the portentous-but-not-too-portentous tagline: "His life changed history. His courage changed lives." You thought a pair of lovelorn cowboys shot in silhouette were enough to nudge the Oscar envelope? Just wait until Sean Penn's Best Actor clip—featuring the actor entwined in James Franco's naked folds and delivering a stirring monologue on answering one's higher calling—shows the Academy how one really gays their way to the gold.
This is the one day when Jennifer Lopez has the right to act like a diva: The new mom turns 39 today. Also celebrating: Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth turns 40 today (although she looks like she's 12). Anna Paquin is 26. Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame turns 59. Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz is 66. Artist Alex Katz is 81. Director Gus Van Sant turns 52. And scandal-plagued baseball star Barry Bonds is 44.
As you attend to last-minute arrangements and packing for this weekend's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (Off! brand Andy Dick Repellent? Check...Sarah Jessica Parker inflatable love doll? Check...), we guide you to these handy timetables of set times, paying particular attention to an artist scheduled to appear shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.
Thanks to some intrepid, DV-equipped pedestrians in San Francisco's Castro district, the YouTubes now provide some tantalizing glimpses of what Sean Penn looks and sounds like as Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's biopic. (His face is obstructed in the clip above, but you can get a better look at him here.)
There's more A-list casting goodness for Gus Van Sant's Milk, the late-70s biographical drama about San Francisco's beloved openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk, an American civics story that probably wouldn't have two major, competing productions in the pipeline had Milk and then-S.F. Mayor George Moscone not been shot to death at City Hall by political rival Dan White. Reports THR: