(L-R bottom) Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres,Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong’o, (R-L top) Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt,Julia Roberts, unknown,), L-R back: Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o
I don’t think there is a person alive that watched The Academy Awards and don’t think Ellen DeGeneres is one of the greatest hosts the show has ever had.
The second-time host of the arguably most watched awards show coming out of Hollywood, has such a natural way with comedy; so down-played you don’t even know you’re in the midst of a skit until the people start laughing…and then you realize the joke is on you!
Not only did she get the munchies in the midst of the show and decide to order pizza for everyone within range of getting a Styrofoam plate (did the pizza guy look a little embarrassed to you?), but you’ve got to remember when she decided she wanted to “break a Twitter record” and rallied a group of folks together for a selfie?
Well the proud owner of that photo is wearing a big grin right now.
*Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer of ABC’s “Good Morning America” will hit the red carpet for the network’s Oscar live pre-show coverage.
They’ll be joined by Jess Cagle, editor of People and editorial director of Entertainment Weekly, as well as actor, model and television host Tyson Beckford.
The network’s red carpet coverage will kick off on Sunday, Mar. 2 at 7 p.m. ET, with Brad Lachman as producer, Michael Seligman as supervising producer and Bill Bracken as coordinating producer. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, producers of the Oscars telecast, are the pre-show’s executive producers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will be broadcast live March 2 on ABC from the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center.
*Forget ‘LINsanity. Award season has been VIOLAted – in a good way of course – with long overdue accolades for “The Help” star Viola Davis.
For the past two months, she and her talented co-star Octavia Spencer have been making the obligatory talk show rounds to promote the film, as well as their Oscar nominations for best actress and best supporting actress, respectively.
And apparently were just getting started.
On the heels of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the ladies last week as part of her two-hour “Oscar Special,” Viola and Octavia will be grilled as part of ABC’s Oscar-themed “20/20,” dubbed “Before They Were Famous, with Robin Roberts.” Airing Wednesday (Feb. 22) at 10 p.m., the program also includes never-before-seen photos, clips and recently-uncovered home video of several Oscar nominees. [See photo below.]
Guess who? This actress said that growing up poor in largely white Central Falls, R.I., she was the victim of constant racist taunts. Her talent and drive studying drama in high school and college led her to spend four years studying acting at Juilliard School, in New York City. - From "Before They Were Stars, with Robin Roberts"
Then, on Friday at 10 p.m., BET sits down with Viola and Octavia for its first-ever Oscar special “BET Takes Hollywood.” “Access Hollywood’s” Shaun Robinson will interview the pair as part of an overall look at African American talent as it relates to the Academy Awards, past and present.
“The Help” even manages to pop up on this week’s special movie-themed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” [Check local listings.] At some point between Monday and Thursday on the daytime game show, a contestant will be asked the following:
In the 2011 film “The Help,” Emma Stone’s character Eugenia Phelan is known by what nickname? (A) Sunny; (B) Doodles; (C) Buzzy; (D) Skeeter
*Director Brett Ratner says he’s already in talks with “Tower Heist” star Eddie Murphy for yet another new project.
“I’d make anything with Eddie,” Ratner told The Wrap without further elaboration. (He did say that it’s not the widely reported “Beverly Hills Cop 4,” even though he’d still like to make that one day.)
Over the weekend in which Ratner’s latest project with Murphy, the Universal-distributed caper comedy “Tower Heist,” opened to a soft $25 million, the filmmaker added, “It’s been a great experience. He’s come out and really supported the film. What I’m excited about is, we just have a great collaboration … I really love working with him. To me, he’s my hero.”
He seems to mean it.
Ratner, who is producing next year’s Academy Awards, has brought Murphy on to host the show. And Murphy — or at least his voice — stars in Ratner’s upcoming animated film “Hong Kong Phooey.”
Ratner said that Murphy was instrumental in his directing career — even if the actor didn’t know it.
“‘Rush Hour’ wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for Eddie, because I studied his movies,” Ratner said. “No one did an action comedy better than him.”
In “Tower Heist,” the director said, he particularly enjoyed watching the actor return to the sort of “street role” he played early in his career.
“We didn’t see him do a street character in so long,” he said. “He just hasn’t played that street character … He chose to do some different types of movies which are kind of family movies.”
And he said the movie, about working people who try to recover money they lost to a Wall Street billionaire’s Ponzi scheme, wasn’t meant to make any statement.
“It’s nice to make a movie that’s about something or is in the zeitgeist,” he said. “But really, we set out … to make a fun movie that was entertaining. We weren’t trying to pound in some kind of message in there.”
*The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ posh Governors Awards dinner, set for Nov. 12, has announced its first-ever Governors Awards Film Series, which consists of three representative films — one each for Oprah Winfrey, who is to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, as well as the two Honorary Award winners, James Earl Jones and make-up artist Dick Smith.
The series kicks off Nov. 9 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills with a showing of 1973’s The Exorcist, in which Smith’s work helped transform Linda Blair into a demonic, head-spinning, little terror, as well as appearances by Smith, Academy governor Leonard Engelman, fellow make-up artist Rick Smith and cinematographer Owen Roizman.
The following night, the program will offer Steven Spielberg’s 1985 “The Color Purple,” for which Winfrey received a best supporting actor nomination. Academy president Tom Sherak will introduce the evening, which will include actress Margaret Avery, who was also nominated for the film in the role of Shug.
The final feature, on Nov. 11, will be 1970’s “The Great White Hope,” directed by Martin Ritt, for which Jones picked up an Oscar nomination of his own. The program will include Sherak, director Phillip Noyce and actor Courtney B. Vance.
Tickets will be available to the general public beginning Nov. 1 at www.oscars.org and by mail.
*I first came across director Malcolm Lee back in 1999 at the Los Angeles press junket for his directorial debut “The Best Man.”
Back then I was a knotty dreadlock wearing, basketball jersey sporting, cheap marijuana smoking, would-be Venice Beach playground legend and a sometime ne’er-do-well who was enjoying the Los Angeles scene just a bit too much.
Meanwhile, Malcolm being not much older than I, had just accomplished something that blew me away. He took a cast of young African Americans and a great script and created what I knew was going to be a top film and Black Generation X fan favorite the moment I laid eyes on it.
Well, I’ve grown a great deal over the past decade out of necessity and was curious to see how much he had changed as well. I recently had the chance to speak with him again at the Filmmaker’s View, sponsored by African American Women in Cinema and hosted by radio personality turned actress/model Raquiyah Mays. The discussion was lively and Lee was as I had remembered him, a very funny guy. As the evening came to a close I had the chance to speak with him one-on-one. The evening’s topic centered around black film so I asked Lee his perspective on the perceived media “war” between black men and women.
“Look, I think that’s something that’s been going on since the beginning of time,” he explained. “There’s the song ‘Bust Your Windows Out Your Car’. There’s ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman’. These are things that we all talk about that I think are right for discussion or debate. I wish there was a balance but, you know, it gets people talking. It gets people churned up about stuff. It’s funny. I follow Damon Wayans on Twitter and he said ‘Why do women stay with men who are bad?’ and it sparked this whole thing. It’s one of those subjects that people love talking about. It’s always up for debate. The battle of the sexes goes on between all races. I don’t think it’s just with black men and women, but it just so happens that a good deal of our men are incarcerated and women don’t have a whole lot of choices when it comes to good Black men. Women are outpacing us in terms of earning potential and education. So, we gotta shape up a little bit.”
After I saw “The Best Man” I was certain Hollywood had witnessed a director who would go on to greatness. While Malcolm Lee’s directorial portfolio is pretty good, he says he’s still honing his craft.
“I guess I’ve come somewhat far,” said Lee. “I still feel like I’m the same person, you know? I’ve learned a lot more about the business. The business is constantly changing and I’m trying to adapt with it. I always find myself a little bit behind at times, but that’s the person I am. I try to be as up on things as much as possible. I’m married, got kids and I’m a little more domesticated, but I’m still very hungry to tell stories about African American people.”
These days it appears as though the new trend in Black Hollywood is developing sitcoms. Tyler Perry has shown that it can be lucrative and everyone from Ice Cube to Martin Lawrence is in on producing them as well. Lee says he’s trying to work out a sitcom deal as well as complete a project featuring one of the greatest athletes of the past decade.
“It’s a sitcom, I’m hoping,” Malcolm told EURweb. “I don’t know whether it’s going to get made or not but it’s in development. It’s going to explore interracial friendships in an era of a Black president in a quote post-racial America. I’m developing a script with Imagine and Universal called ‘Ballers’ with LeBron James at a fantasy basketball camp. I’m very excited about the possibility of that even though LeBron has been kind of vilified, he’s still like the highest vote getter in the all-star game, his jersey is the number 1 selling jersey in the NBA and his shoe, for the first time ever, just outpaced Michael Jordan’s shoe in sales. LeBron is someone everyone is interested in. People either love or love to hate him. He’s a great guy just from the little bit of time that I’ve spent with him. I love LeBron, can’t wait to work with him.”
Malcolm Lee and the cast of 'Roll Bounce': Chi McBride, Bow Wow & Meagan Good
Being related to someone as accomplished as Spike Lee had to be a great benefit to Malcolm early on, but he was able to successfully distance himself from Spike very quickly, from an artistic perspective.
“We’re different filmmakers, different people,” he explained. “I think people still associate me with him, and that’s fine because he’s a great filmmaker. He’s someone I looked up to, still look up to. He’s a great mentor and guide to me. We have different sensibilities, we’re different people. He’s a way more accomplished filmmaker than me, or than I will ever be. I hit more of a commercial stride and that’s because of the movies that I grew up on and the movies I gravitate towards. (I) grew up on the ‘Star Wars’, the ‘Jaws’, where he was more of a Fellini, Jim Jarmusch kind of fan. So, you know, we’re different.”
Though Spike Lee is a master craftsmen of cinema, his work sometimes goes unrecognized and unappreciated. During the discussion Malcolm admitted that after “Bamboozled” many in the African American movie going community simply began to tune Spike out. Malcolm, on the other hand, has been moderately successful in crafting films that are in the “Goldilocks” zone. They’re not too high, they’re not too low, they’re juuuuust right. As was the case with “Roll Bounce.”
“It was a great story and I had to direct it,” said Lee. “I don’t necessarily like the word positive. I just want to do stuff that’s real and multi-dimensional. Even though there were times when ‘Undercover Brother’ and ‘Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins’ got silly, I don’t mind silly. I just don’t like foolish, you know? I don’t like coonery or buffonary. I don’t mind silly. Silly is fun. The whole thing with ‘Roscoe’ was these were adults who haven’t seen each other in a long time. They revert back to doing what they were doing when they were kids. That’s what happens with families sometimes and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with displaying that.”
We will certainly keep a look out for Malcolm’s upcoming works and keep you posted. In the meantime, you can scroll down below and see some of the lively discussion that took place at the Filmmaker’s View about such things as Tyler Perry, perpetrating Black myths in film and more.