HBO ANNOUNCES MORGAN FREEMAN SPECIAL

HOLLYWOOD – HBO yesterday announced as part of its Fall scheduling a new eight part series starring Morgan Freeman and entitled Morgan Freeman Sits on a Stool and Reads from the Phone Book.

Each episode will feature the Shawshank Redemption star and Oscar winner sitting on a comfortable stool – ‘like a bar stool’ – and reading from the telephone book.

‘People have been saying that I have a mellifluous honey toned voice,’ Mr Freeman said. ‘And more than once someone has said to me, I could listen to you read from the phone book. So I got to thinking… Why not.’ 

Of course the concept isn’t entirely original. One of the television highlights of last year was the HBO special, ‘Sir Ian McKellen Sits in a Comfy Armchair and Reads the Yellow Pages.’ Producer Sally Arlow said that audience figures were through the roof so a follow up was almost inevitable. ‘But whereas Sir Ian brings with him the Gandalfy Shakespearey Englishness, we had a lot of conversations with Morgan about making his 8 part series a specifically American experience. Hence the stool.’

‘The show is not going to appeal to everyone,’ says Ms. Arlow. ‘The iPhone generation, people with computers, Google, that sort of person. But there is still an audience of perhaps more traditional, very sleepy people who wish to doze in front of the television while Morgan Freeman reads from the phone book.’

Although the exact identity of the phone book has not been revealed, there are already plans afoot for similar programming should Morgan Freeman Sits on a Stool and Reads from the Phone Book prove a success.

Dame Judi Dench has expressed an interest in reading out John Deere Tractors Owner Manuals while sitting in a wicker chair. And John Malkovich has just signed on for a new NBC programme entitled: John Malkovich Sits in a Jacuzzi and Reads out Wikipedia Entries of Long Forgotten Boy Bands from the 1980s.

Morgan Freeman Sits on a Stool and Reads from the Phone Book will show this Fall.


QUANTUM OF SOLACE IS THE BEST BOND MOVIE EVER

HOLLYWOOD – Daniel Craig’s second outing as secret agent 007 Quantum of Solace has been widely reviled but is actually the best Bond movie ever.

I’m putting it on the line here. Everyone had high expectations for the follow up to Daniel Craig’s brilliant debut as James Bond Casino Royale. But when Quantum of Solace hit the screens in 2008 there was a sense of dismay as Bond went too Bourne, Marc Foster’s hyper kinetic direction and  a sense of general confusion marred what should have been a triumphant second chapter. Many blamed the script strike which had Daniel Craig and Mathieu Amalric  trying to put scenes together themselves in the absence of a finished draft, or over enthusiasm on the part of the producers to cash in on the success of the first film.

However, re-watching Quantum of Solace I have to say it is the best Bond movie ever.  My reasons? Okay, if you insist.

The idea of starting the film directly from the end of Casino Royale sets the stage for the whole Craig cycle of Bond films. Of all the Bonds, Craig is unique in creating a through line and giving his character some genuine depth and development. In fact, even in Quantum of Solace, we see Craig change and learn. The only problem with this is that almost every Craig Bond is an origin story. Except perhaps Spectre, but even… well SPOILERS.

The film starts at 90 MPH and continues in pretty much the same vein all the way through. I admit that the first time I saw the film I found it difficult to keep track but every repeated viewing is a revelation. The action sequences have no fat on them at all. The lean economy means that Foster’s version is the shortest Bond at only an hour and a half and there’s something truly admirable by the way it disposes of car, boat and airplane chases without lingering for a second or giving you multiple angles when one will do.The fights are suitably brutal and even Bond skipping out of a hotel is done with such careless elan as to deserve a round of applause.

The script. Okay, there was this whole thing about the writer’s strike, but I like the confusion, the murk is curiously fitting. And this is the Bond with the least quips, frankly a part of the whole franchise that reached its apotheosis with Goldfinger’s ‘shocking’ and has been on a law of diminishing returns ever since. With not much talking, the long winded exposition goes out of the window and instead we have a series of pithy summaries. M (Judi Dench) and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) actually get some really interesting political scenes to play with and this is one of the more subtle Bond films when it comes to assessing the geopolitical role of the secret service in the pre-Snowden but post 9/11 world.

Olga Kurylenko is a great character and doesn’t sleep with Bond and the characters around Bond begin to form a consistently believable universe, including Matthias (Giancarlo Giannini) and Mr. White (Jesper Christensen). And although Skyfall was rightly praised for Roger Deakins’ cinematography, but Roberto Schaefer’s camera work is stunning. The scene at the Austrian Opera House is beautifully done, impressionistic almost with the soundtrack dropping out. All the locations are given a sumptuous treatment, with Haiti and Sienna captured marvelously, and never has the desert seemed so parched.

Okay I will admit that the exploding hotel is a problem and is where the film rather depressingly reverts to type. Something has to blow up towards the end, but a hotel seems a tad random and here we really feel the lack of ideas. However, that said almost all Bond films have disappointing finales where everything goes boom and the baddie gets his. Pyrotechnics taking over from any real sense of satisfactory conclusion. In fact it is the quiet coda in a snowy Russia which is the real conclusion of the film and a deeply satisfying one at that.

I recognize I’m swimming against the tide of Bond opinion here and will be happy to read any comments you might have below and respond to them, if I can.

For the review of SPECTRE CLICK HERE.

FIRST LOOK AT CHRISTOPH WALTZ AS JAMES BOND IN SPECTRE TRAILER

HOLLYWOOD – The first look at new 007 James Bond Christoph Waltz arrived today in the new Spectre trailer.

The 24th Bond outing features Christoph Waltz as James Bond, Léa Seydoux as beautiful but deadly Bond girl Goldie Hawn, Naomie Harris as Miss Moneyeuro and Ben Whishaw as Q.  Monica Bellucci plays Italian lady and Ralph Fiennes plays Judi Dench.

Although there was some controversy about casting an Austrian James Bond Christoph Waltz himself was relaxed about the challenge:

James Bond has been Scottish, Welsh and Irish. Even Australian! Why not Austrian? After all it’s just a shorter version of Australian, ha ha ha ha!

Studio Exec remains the only film site to EXCLUSIVELY reveal the news of Christoph Waltz’s casting (CLICK HERE), while others continue to speculate that the Inglourious Basterds star is actually playing Bond’s arch-enemy Blofeld. This makes absolutely no sense as Daniel Craig is obviously playing the villain with his cold eyes and weird ears.

Spectre will be released in October, 2015.

RICHARD LINKLATER’S 24 HOUR FILM CHALLENGE FAILS

HOLLYWOOD – Boyhood and Before Midnight director, Richard Linklater has failed in his attempt to script, shoot, edit and release a feature film within 24 hours.

Speaking EXCLUSIVELY with the Studio Exec, Linklater complained:

There simply wasn’t enough time. I mean twenty four hours to write a script is already pushing it, but to film the script, edit it and have it show in movie theaters…? It was a foolhardy attempt to say the least.

Why did you accept the challenge?

I was drunk and it was Michael Haneke who told me I couldn’t do it. He kept saying ‘Linklater’s a slowdy coach.’ His English isn’t great. And anyway I’m not having the asshole who made Funny Games twice tell me what I can and cannot do.

Is it true he also made disparaging remarks about your hair?

Yes, it is. And he’s Austrian for crying out loud. Austrian! The country that invented bad hair.

What was the film going to be about?

It was called Day Care and it was a bout this young guy (Chris Pine) who is working in a day care center and there’s this old lady, played by Judi Dench and a kind of gentle unlikely friendship evolves over the course of the day.

How far did you get with the film?

Well, I decided that if I was going to do it, I needed to cut out some parts of the film making process, so I dumped the script once I had the synopsis and decided the whole thing would be improvised. Luckily Chris Pine doesn’t have much experience acting so he was fine with that. And Judi was very game. We filmed for eight hours and I though we had it in the bag so we rushed over to the editing suite. Everything was digital and I had a minimum of takes, mostly just the one take for each scene.

And so you stalled in editing?

No, we put together a rough assembly and then watched it through tweaking her and there. And at the same time I was adding music that our composer was improvising on a range of instruments we’d brought in for him.

So the film was completed?

No, unfortunately not.  You see, as soon as I saw the film in its complete form I realized that the story was incomplete. Yes, we know what happens to Chris and Judi on this day, but for us to be true to the characters I wanted to know what happened to them for the next twenty years and given our limitations – imposed on us by Haneke – I decided to surrender rather than release something I couldn’t live with.

So you’re going to take the time and complete the film?

No, I deleted all of it. And I have to wear a t-shirt that Haneke sent me which has writing saying ‘I’m a foolish head’ with an arrow that points up to the wearer, that is me.

Day Care will never be seen. 

FLUFFER’S 2014: PART 5

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns with his final installment of his 2014 yearbook.

Nov 1st I don’t know how he did it, but Kirk’s managed to get Mike Nichols to direct Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? To be honest I think he mentioned my name and called in a favor: Mike still owes me one after I let him use one of my legs on the poster for The Graduate. The look on Dustin Hoffman’s face still haunts me.

Nov 7th Just seen my dear old pal Michael Caine in Interstellar. I think that he agreed with me, the story really lacked something. From the opening scene you could tell exactly what was going to happen. I passed on the script when they said I couldn’t wear a pair of funny ears like Mr Spock in Star Trek, but that sort of thing always goes down so well in sci-fi.

Nov 19th Mike Nichols has died. I still remember when he fired me from The Birdcage for being too over the top! In the end he got darling Robin Williams to play it instead, and although I always enjoyed the subtlety he brought to the part it was a wasted opportunity really. I offered him the use of my giant chicken costume, but he was determined to manage without it.

Dec 1st Debbie Reynolds called. Apparently it says on the Internet that Kirk Douglas is dead! Apparently he was Spartacus and I never even knew. You would’ve thought he’d have mentioned it.

Dec 4th Got on the wrong bus and missed the photo call for this new Bond film I’m doing. I’ll be playing W, the Head of Health and Safety at MI7. Young Danny Craig’s got the lead again and Sammy Mendes is directing. They’ve dropped Dame Judi from this one: apparently they asked her to tone down the language on set and she didn’t take it very well.

Dec 17th Kirk Douglas phoned! It turns out he’s not dead after all! He just nodded off in front of Big Bang Theory and some idiot published his obituary by mistake. He had some bad news though: we’ve both been dropped from the Baby Jane remake. Apparently they’re going to shoot it with a couple of chaps called The Minions instead. It’s a shame really. After two Academy Awards, three knighthoods and counting I thought it would be a nice final curtain, but I may as well carry on for a bit longer. And let’s be honest, I need the money. The script for Police Academy: Next Generation arrived this morning, I’ll have a flick through that later…

For more of Sir Edwin FLUFFER, be a peach and Click Here.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL UNRATED VERSION

LONDON – A new extended hardcore version of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is to be released on blu-ray and DVD later this week, which will include scenes of unsimulated sexual intercourse, S&M orgies and animal torture.

The Director’s Cut comes with a special warning that the contents are only suitable for an adult audience. The film’s director John Madden said it was an opportunity for him to go back to ‘the pure vision of sex and violence of the novel’ and which he claimed was massacred by the editing team for commercial motives. Madden said:

The marketing people got hold of our film and they saw Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy and they decided to go after the grey dollar basically. Out went the orgies, out went the savage violence, the scenes of necrophilia and the amoral and extremely cynical view of racial relationships between the white English middle class and the Indians. What we were basically left with was something that was twee and utterly forgettable. They went from Pasolini to passe.

Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson have both expressed their delight that the scene where they murder a monkey for fun has been restored. ‘It sums up the nihilism of our characters,’ said Dame Judi Dench. ‘I think it’s utterly delightful.’ 

The Best Exotic Marigold Hostel Unrated is available to buy on DVD and Bluray and Digital Download from iTunes.

PHILOMENA VS. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS FOR 2016

HOLLYWOOD – Oscar contenders Philomena starring Judi Dench and Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks are also going head to head in a new film mash up inspired by the Batman Vs. Superman superhero collision.

Paul Greengrass who will directed the new film said:

The Philomena universe and the Captain Phillips universe are actually the same universe, and so I got to thinking what if they actually met. The Irish mother with the long lost son could be returning from America by boat and she would meet Captain Phillips who would have taken the job as captaining the cruise ship as a way of recovering from his hostage ordeal. However, the brother of the dead Somali pirate is out for revenge. Will Captain Phillips once more be able to save the day helped by the ‘fish out of water’ housewife with the ready Irish wit?

Will she say ‘fecking eejit’?

Of course she will.

The new film will have competition however when August: Osage County Vs. Nebraska begins production later this year. Ron Howard says that the film ‘will combine the bitter sweet bitter family dramas of mouth cancer and Alzheimer’s in a fun for all the family black and white misery ride’.

Philomena Vs Captain Philips will be released in 2015.   

EMILIA CLARKE BECOMES LODGE MOTHER OF THE JOLLY BASTARDS

HOLLYWOOD – You’ll know her as Daenerys Targarayen on HBO’s Game of Thrones, but British born actress Emilia Clarke today was enrolled as the Lodge Mother of the Ex-Pat British Actors Club, The Jolly Bastards.

At a ceremony at exclusive Santa Monica restaurant Chinois on Main, Jolly Bastards President Benedict Cumberbatch said that everyone was ‘frightfully thrilled at the news’:

Emilia has a pair of stunning eyebrows and we’re all going to have a lot of fun getting up to high jinks and japes over here in our favorite former colony, America-landia. And so say all of us!

The Jolly Bastards was originally formed in the 1960s by Cary Grant and David Niven, but through the years has become the gang of choice for former UK thespians living in La-La Land. Ms. Clarke was introduced to the group by fellow Game of Thrones star and long time Jolly Bastard Charles Dance. Other members include Tom Hiddleston and Alan Rickman.

The group has caused some controversy in the past as it has allegedly (actually self-confessedly) been involved in a number of crimes including Swan murder, but which the LAPD have declined to investigate because the perpetrators ‘have such charming accents.’

The mayhem is likely to only increase with the glorious Ms. Clarke now counted alongside Carey Mulligan and Judi Dench in the female wing of the group.

For more on the Jolly Bastards be so good as to CLICK HERE.

PHILOMENA: REVIEW

VENICE – Evil Irish nuns steal M’s baby and so Alan Partridge teams up with M and they head to America to steal him back!

It should be a sad story, this time round but 1. Peter Mullen did sad with The Magdalene Sisters and 2. we want a nice film to watch while we eat our custard creams. If you painted a B. an A, an F, a T and another A on the negative, the film wouldn’t have any more BAFTA written all over it as it alraedy has. Judi Dench is Oirish and calls Coogan a fecking Ejiit at one point. There’s laugh and tears and acceptance speeches to come. It’s the King’s Last Exotic Full Monty Speech all over again! Watch and feel good. 

ASHTON KUTCHER AND JUDI DENCH TO MARRY

 

HOLLYWOOD – Jobs star and ex-Mr Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher announced his long awaited marriage to M actress Judi Dench earlier today.

Rumors had been rife about the couple ever since, Kutcher accompanied Dame Dench o the premier of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last year, and friends of the couple have said the two have made no secret of their commitment. A source close to Kutcher (it was Jonah Hill) told Studio Exec anonymously:  

We went out for dinner and although they were discreet, arriving separately and leaving at different times, it was obvious to everyone in the room that they were very much in love. They had their hands all over each other and Kelsey Grammer actually told them to get a room at one point.

Friends said that the two have a great deal in common, one of them is a highly accomplished actor and they both enjoy breathing cool air and taking walks in the moonlight. It is reported that they are planning a small private ceremony to which close friends and Bruce Willis will be invited. 

Jobs 2: Retina Display will be released in 2015. 

ONLY GOD FORGIVES ‘BASICALLY A REMAKE OF BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL’
















COPENHAGEN – Nicholas Winding Refn has revealed that his Drive follow up and Cannes contender Only God Forgives has taken as its inspiration The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Pusher director commented:

I already had the script of Only God Forgive written when I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and immediately I saw the thematic similarities of a violent clash between East and West, man and woman. I immediately rewrote the script to bring it more in line.


John Madden – director of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and other comfortably carpeted films such as Shakespeare In Love – said that he was flattered by the attention paid to his films:

I know Nicholas’ work very well and it is difficult for me to believe he could have found anything inspiring in my well worn but pleasant little film. And yet he is adamant that my film is the true inspiration for his so, with that in mind, I can only feel great pride. Mystification naturally, but also pride.  

The Great Dane (as Refn prefers to be known) said:

My film will obviously be a bit more violent, because basically I haven’t got the courage of John just to let the story tell itself and I need to drag the audience into my world via such flummeries. I tried to cast the same actors but Bill Nighy was doing every other film this year and had quite a full schedule and Judi Dench slapped my face, which I took as a personal honour.

Only God Forgives will première at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

BOND 24 TO BE TITLED: ‘THE WALKING DENCH’

Barbara Broccoli has confirmed that the follow up to Skyfall with be titled The Walking Dench.

“We are interested in exploring how James would deal with the undead,” said Broccoli.

“Zombies are very popular these days and we thought now would be the perfect time for Bond to dip his slightly salty tasting wick into that genre.” 

Broccoli went on to say that they went through many titles before they settled on The Walking Dench.

Oh we had a fun brain storming session and many great titles were suggested. Dead and Let Die, You Only Die Twice, The Spy who Ate Me, Eyeraker and Dr Noooooo! Eventually we settled on the Walking Dench but we haven’t really got a story yet. I just wanted to bring Judi back so I could kill her again.


Bond: The Walking Dench is due to be released in 2015

SKYFALL: REVIEW

Buggalugs










Buggalugs Bond runs, jumps and falls in rivers in an attempt to save the Dench-ist from the hands of Anton Chigurgh.

007 is back! And this time without the invisible car. Although frankly there might be millions of them but we wouldn’t know because they’re, you know, invisible. Bond is helped in his mission by Tom Jones, Voldemort and Romantic poet, John Keats as Q. Plenty of fun to be had – out Bournes Bourne at the beginning, Batmans it in the middle and Harry Potters it towards the end – but in the end is his own loveable self. Bond films have never had to be any good but it’s a genuine treat when they are.

SKYFALL: M TO GET HER OWN MOVIE

LONDON – Today on the release of Skyfall  in the United Kingdom, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that they are working on a breakaway project. ‘We have two main possibilities,’ said Michael Wilson. ‘But by far the most popular idea is that we’ll have M having her stand alone movie.’
‘And what will it be called?’ we asked, excited.
‘Erm,’ he said. ‘M.’
Judi Dench – when asked about the prospect- expressed enthusiasm. ‘Oh, definitely,’ she said. ‘Why should all the boys have all the fun?’

It is believed that Paul Haggis has already submitted a treatment. ‘Yeah,’ he said, when we asked him.

The story would begin before M met James Bond and would see her rise through the ranks of the British secret service fighting misogyny and the villainous Margaret Thatcher who is seen as a Moscow implant. Daniel Craig is expected to make a cameo as a little boy on a school trip.

M: the Early Years is due out in 2015.