*“It’s always been easier for me to have a costume to hide behind, but here I had nothing,” says Tyler Perry, who not only sheds his Madea character to take on the lead in “Alex Cross,” but also leaves the directing to someone else and delivers lines written by someone other than himself – a rarity in his universe.
“It was challenging, a big frightening, but usually that’s when I’ll take things on,” the filmmaker said during interviews for the film over the weekend in Los Angeles. “If there’s a bit of fear, I’ll challenge myself to go as far as I can.”
In Perry’s “Alex Cross,” the police detective and psychologist faces serial killer Michael “The Butcher” Sullivan (Matthew Fox), an ex-operative who pre-determines every move made by the cops in their attempts to catch him. He eventually flaunts his skill in the face of Cross by killing his wife in front of him – on their anniversary.
And now for the elephant in the room…
Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross in Paramount’s “Along Came A Spider” – 2001
Moviegoers have only ever seen Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross on the big screen. The veteran actor made his mark on the character in 1997’s “Kiss the Girls,” opposite Monica Potter, and 2001’s “Along Came a Spider” with Ashley Judd.
Below, Perry says he is well aware of those big shoes he had to fill.
Morgan Freeman attends the "Dolphin Tale" premiere at The Village theater in Westwood. (Sept. 17, 2011)
*Morgan Freeman is back in theaters Friday playing a doctor who builds a prosthetic tail for a dolphin in order to save its life.
“Dolphin Tale” is based on the true story of Winter, a Florida dolphin who lost her tail after being snagged in a crab trap. The celluloid version follows young Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) as he rallies everyone around him to help save the mammal. Winter’s journey, in turn, underscores the importance of family, friends and strangers pulling together during life’s hardships.
“I thought it was a good story. It’s real good family fare – no crashes, no chases, no sex,” Freeman, 74, told EURweb in roundtable interviews for the film. “It’s very kid friendly, and I have young grandkids and great-grandkids, so the idea of having them be able to go and see something like that and get a little bit of a boost in some of the values that are out there to learn in life, it’s good to be involved in that.”
(L-R) Nathan Gamble as Sawyer Nelson, Morgan Freeman as Dr. Cameron McCarthy, Austin Highsmith as Phoebe, Cozi Zuehlsdorff as Hazel Haskett and Harry Connick Jr. as Dr. Clay Haskett in Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale.”
Harry Connick Jr. plays a vet who rescues the mammal and brings her to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium hospital he runs. Ashley Judd plays the boy’s mother while Freeman portrays Dr. Cameron McCarthy – who in 2005 built a prosthetic tail for Winter after her original one had to be amputated following the crab trap incident. Not only does the good doctor help Winter continue living, but he saves the marine hospital in the process.
The movie was shot on location in Clearwater, which offers plenty of extra-curricular activity to enjoy during breaks from filming – that is, unless you’re Morgan Freeman, who prefers to spend the down time in his hotel room.
*The other day it was Questlove and the rest of the world responding to Ashley Judd’s criticism about Hip Hop. Now she’s explaining herself, justifying her words.
In a “frantic” move, she called Russell Simmons to release a statement via his Global Grind website, explaining that despite her jarring words, she really was attempting to be helpful.
“My intention was to support artists to know that they have so much power,” she said. “That they make incredible life changing impressions, particularly on the young. And we have choices everyday with our expressions, either empower and celebrate people or to re-enforce inequality and degradation.”
Her statement goes further in saying that her words were taken out of context. In a very defensive way, claims she is not condemning the whole Hip Hop community along with African Americans. Judd said her intent was to point out the oppressive side of the music.
“My intention was to take a stand to say the elements of that musical expression that are misogynistic and treat girls and women in a hyper sexualized way that are inappropriate. That is not acceptable in any artistic expression, in any cultural form, whether its country music or in television story lines. And if they read more than one paragraph in the book, they would see that all four hundred pages are about that.”
Just in case you are out of the loop, the Judd questioned the intentions of artists like Diddy and Snoop Dogg along with other industry leaders, saying their music is “rape music.”
*Hip Hop is always under attack by those who don’t quite understand the story behind the music and most recently, actress Ashley Judd shared her lovely criticism and harsh thoughts about the culture. She called it “rape music.”
While every fight is not worth paying too much to, Roots drummer Questlove actually spoke out about the on screen artists’ remarks and not so friendly interaction on the Jimmy Fallon Show via his Twitter.
“hmmm. at least i got my answer as to why ash judd didn’t give us so much as a nod on her last visit. im a criminal [sic],” he wrote.
Judd wrote some things in her book, “All That Is Bitter, and Sweet,” calling out Diddy and Snoop Dogg for their charity work with YouthAIDS:
“YouthAIDS created hip, public service announcements for TV and radio using popular local and international celebrities and athletes and was participating in the MTV World AIDS Day ‘Staying Alive’ concerts,” she wrote. “Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message … um, who? Those names were a red flag. As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”
Judd has been on a national tour promoting the book, which was released April 5. The explosive nature of the memoir — in which she also characterizes her mother, country singer Naomi Judd, as neglectful, and reveals that she was sexually abused — makes some wonder if her perceived negativity is nothing but a publicity stunt.
*Vanessa Williams and Lionel Richie are among the celebrities tapped to search their family roots in a new season of Lisa Kudrow’s TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?”
NBC said Tuesday that Ashley Judd, Steve Buscemi, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall and Tim McGraw will also explore their family trees in season 2.
Kudrow, the former “Friends” star, is an executive producer for “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researched her own ancestry for the show last season. She said celebrities who take part are eager to find answers about their family history.
“It’s not just like you show up for a couple hours and you’re done,” Kudrow said. “It’s kind of a commitment. So the people who want to do it are genuinely interested in finding answers to their questions.”
Last year’s season finale detailed Spike Lee’s search for his roots in Georgia and Texas, trying to find out more about his mother’s slave ancestry. [Watch entire episode below.]
“Who Do You Think You Are?” returns early next year on NBC.
*Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd are in negotiations to star in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Dolphin Tale,” a film inspired by the true story of a dolphin rescued off the Florida coast and taken in by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Charles Martin Smith will direct the tale about a boy who befriends Winter, an injured dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap. Through their bond and friendship, the boy motivates everyone around him to help save the dolphin by creating a prosthetic appendage to replace the dolphin’s tail. The marine mammal’s strong survival instincts become an inspiration to people with special needs throughout the world.”
Freeman would star as the doctor who creates a prosthetic limb for Winter, while Connick Jr. would play a vet who rescues the mammal and brings her to the marine hospital he runs. Judd would play the boy’s mother.
The movie will be a 3D release, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
*Mekhi Phifer has joined the colossal ensemble cast of “Flypaper,” a crime caper about a man caught in the middle of two simultaneous robberies as he tries to protect the teller with whom he’s secretly in love.
Matt Ryan, Greg Germann, Octavia Spencer, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Jeffrey Tambor have also been cast in the project from director Rob Minkoff (“Stuart Little”). They join Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd and Tim Blake Nelson.
The feature, which began filming Monday in Louisiana, was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (“The Hangover”).
John Ventimiglia, Adrian Martinez, Rob Huebel and Curtis Armstrong have also been cast in the project.
Meanwhile, Foresight is in postproduction on the thriller “The Ledge,” which stars Terrence Howard, Liv Tyler, Charlie Hunnam and Patrick Wilson.