Hilariously Epic Celebrity Photobombs

     s1600_Selfie-StickIn today’s society people are obsessed with pictures. Now there is even an invention called a “selfie stick” yes, this is a real thing. It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a damn stick with clamps on the end. I have heard of these things but never thought that anyone in their right mind would ever buy an expensive stick with clamps. But arriving at Disneyland negated my logical thoughts as there were a huge number of groups walking around using their “Selfie sticks.”  And let me tell you, that is a hilarious thing to watch. Continue reading Hilariously Epic Celebrity Photobombs

Into The Woods: Great if You Like Woods

Into the WoodsThis is a rave review for a movie that a lot of people did not like. It’s based on a musical I loved that a number of people did not like. The music was composed by a genius who leaves a lot of people cold. Such is the magic and mixed reviews of INTO THE WOODS.

     Here are the three biggest complaints I hear from people about the movie: 1) It’s too long. 2)  It’s too short.  (They cut stuff out.) 3) There is too much singing (it is a musical… shocking)

Several songs from the musical were absent from the movie (notably the reprise of “Agony”) but a Broadway production can last more than 2 ½. And there’s an intermission in there too. Gone are the days that a motion picture features an intermission. (Gone with the wind) So trims had to be made. Composer Stephen Sondheim wrote an original song for the movie and even that got tossed. There goes the Oscar.
The length issue usually stems from the second act suddenly turning very dark. If you’re not on board with that creative choice you’re in for a squirmy forty minutes. If you want a happy ending, don’t stay until the end.

SIDE NOTE: In the musical, act one ends with everyone seemingly living happily ever after. Act two spins all that on its head. When the musical was first tried out in San Diego, people thought the end of the first act was the end of the show. Sondheim himself had to go out to the parking lot every night and tell people to go back to the theater, there was more.

Sondheim’s music is intricate and I have to say that for me, personally, there are times when I’m awestruck by his work and other times when there are songs I do not like very much. And then a song like “No One Is Alone” comes along and he tears my heart out like no other song has.

In the case of the movie version of INTO THE WOODS, none of the basic complaints bothered me. I knew the story going in; I knew it was more song heavy than most musicals, so those weren’t concerns.  

But I had my own trepidations before seeing the film. I always hate that studios insist movie stars be cast in musicals, even if they’re not as good or as right as the Broadway cast. Russell Crowe in LES MIS…. seriously? And I saw that Meryl Streep was playing the witch. Of course she was. Hollywood thinks Meryl Streep can just do anything. Who cares if she can sing? Her singing in Mama Mia, though not bad by any means, was also not overly impressive. But you know what? She can sing. Beautifully. And she found just the right tone of humor and heartbreak. She made every moment work. Damn her. She CAN do anything. Her voice knocked me over.

Into the woods castThe rest of the cast was equally sparkling. Emily Blunt – wow. Anna Kendrick – give me her over Anne Hathaway. James Corden – what the hell is he doing giving up a movie career that’s about to take off to do a late night talk show on CBS? Chris Pine – a pleasantly decent musical comedy surprise. Tracey Ullman – another one who has so much talent and skill that she can do whatever she feels like.

The other concern I always have going into film adaptations of musicals is how weird it sounds when people on screen just break into song. On the stage there is a certain theatricality that allows you to buy it, but the harsh reality of being in the real world in movies often turns the film into something awkward really fast. The badass Sharks and Jets singing show tunes and pirouetting in WEST SIDE STORY looked ridiculous.

But since INTO THE WOODS is set in a fantasy world, the singing felt organic. I bought it. And the fact that I love the songs themselves also helped I’m sure.stars.png

I find the storyline brilliant. There is so much underneath the clever narrative about parenting and relationships and abandonment. Witches can be right. Giants can be good.

     Rob Marshall, who did an amazing job of adapting CHICAGO for the screen, was the perfect director for this project. And James Lapine, who wrote the libretto did the screenplay. What a concept – letting the writer who best understands the material write the movie.

     So I loved the film.  And I recommend it… to people predisposed to love it too.  

Awesomely Random Celebrity Facts You Didn’t Know

We know so much about the lives and movements of celebrities. There are magazines and news shows dedicated to keeping its audience up to date on the circulating news and gossip… we’re kinda creepy in that way. But instead of gossip, I like to inform readers about the cool and random things about them that strip away all the millions they have and make them relateable.
1. Matthew McConaughey: 

     Along with donating money to help rebuild New Orleans, McConaughey rescued pets stranded during the flooding after hurricane Katrina. A year later he rescued a cat in LA that two youths had set on fire– I also hope he proceeded to kick those teens asses.
2. Jake & Maggie Gyllenhaal:
     The siblings are not only good actors, but they are also apparently descendants of the Swedish noble Gyllenhaal family. Yup, apparently these bitches are actually legit nobles! The prefix of the family surname, Gyllen, means golden and was given to soldiers who were made nobles during the 17th century in Sweden.
3. Sam Mendes & Kate Winslet 
      Sam Mendes had been scheduled to fly on the American Airlines flight 77 on September 11, 2001. This plane was hijacked by terrorists and flown into the Pentagon. A month later, his then wife, Kate Winslet was flying with her daughter Mia when a passenger stood up mid flight, claiming to be a terrorist and began threatening peoples lives on board. The plane had to make an emergency landing before the man could be arrested. As a result of these incidents, the then couple, both when they were married and now, will never fly together to ensure that they do not leave their children parentless.
4. Johnny Depp
     Depp suffers from Coulrophobia, a severe fear of clowns. “I have this terrible fear of clowns, so I think that if I surround myself with them, it will ward off evil.” — Clowns are just creepy evil or not, whoever decided they were appropriate for kids parties was high.
5. Rihanna:
  Rihanna was an army cadet that trained with the Barbadian army. Her fellow singer Shontelle was her drill sergeant. –I always knew that Rihanna was badass.
6. Mila Kunis
     Kunis was born in Chernivtsi Ukraine. At the time Ukraine was still part of the USSR (the official Soviet Union.) Kunis knew absolutely no English, only Russian, when her family moved to America after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Still to this day she speaks fluent Russian and does all the translations for her movie interviews in Russia for her and her cast members.
7. Michael Fassbender:
     Fassbender served as an altar boy at his local church while growing up in Ireland. –Hopefully his Priest never saw the movie “Shame.” Fassbender would have had some confessing to do!
8. Joaquin Phoenix
     Phoenix spent most of his childhood traveling around South America with his family. His parents were part of a religious cult called “The Children of God.” They eventually became disillusioned with the practices and settled in LA. — This explains so much!

9. Christian Bale:

     Bales mother was a circus clown. The actor said that his first kiss ended up being with an acrobat named Barta. — That is so awesomely random.

10. Jack Nicholson:
     Nicholson’s sister was actually his mother, and his parents were actually his grandparents. After Jacks mother got pregnant, her parents offered to raise the child as their own so his real mother could pursue a career in dancing. Now it makes sense why Nicholson is on drugs all the time. — Also side note, did you know that this is the same situation in which Ted Bundy (one of the most infamous serial killers of all time) was raised.
11. Emma Stone:
     Stone convinced  her parents to let her take up acting by showing them a power point presentation. –I would love to know what she had on those slides that convinced them.

12. Rebel Wilson:

  While in South Africa for a year, Wilson contracted malaria and hallucinated that she was an award winning actress. This convinced her that she should pursue an acting career.
13. Jennifer Lawrence:
     For her role in “Winters Bone” Lawrence actually learnt how to skin squirrels. –You just never know when you might need that skill later in life.
14. Emily Blunt:
     Blunt had a terrible stutter as a child into her early teens. She went to countless speech coaches, relaxation coaches and even doctors to try and rectify the problem. It wasn’t until her school drama teacher suggested that she play her role in the school production with a different accent that the stuttering stopped. “I distanced myself through this character, and it was so freeing that my stuttering stopped while onstage. It was really a miracle.”

15. Daniel Radcliffe
At age 11 Daniel Radcliffe found out that he had got the part of Harry Potter. He recounts his rather tame celebration at the life changing news “I was in the bath when I found out. And then I was allowed to stay up an extra half hour to watch tv.” –Woah, calm down there big fella, don’t party too hard! 

Not All Famous People Are Scum: Awesome Things Celebrities Have Done

     As much as I wish that this blog could mostly be movie reviews, or something along those lines, I am not Diamond-Jim-Brady (where the hell does that saying come from anyway), in fact, I am not employed. So this week I decided to, perhaps, restore a little faith in the image of celebrities. I saw recently in a news story that Amy Adams discretely gave up her first class plane ticket to a soldier on his way home from the Middle East. The only reason the news story broke was because of fellow passengers on the plane who heard Adams speaking to the Airlines worker trying to get the seat change. When I heard this story, I was very impressed and thought perhaps there were other good Samaritan celebrities out there who were doing little acts of good deeds behind the scenes. So I decided to look into it.

       I am as critical as anyone when it comes to these Millionaires. Bottom line I suppose that I am jealous of their capabilities. What they could do with that money, while instead we see them being selfish, indulgent, and indifferent. However, as is often the case, we lump all celebrities in one group, classifying them as selfish bitches because of the bad apples out there who are pretty obnoxious and terrible people *cough* Justin Bieber *cough.* But today I wanted to take the focus off of these “douche canoe” celebrities, and look at some of the good they do.

     1. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp always travels with his Captain Jack Sparrow costume to make impromptu visits to sick kids in hospitals, or children at schools abroad who have written him fan mail. Depp also often goes to Disneyland dressed up as Captain Jack, without giving notice before hand, and takes over for signature time with the kids.
                            2. Tupac
Regardless of the singers less than stellar history, Tupac was never too busy for his fans. At the height of his fame Tupac received a letter from the parents of a terminally ill boy named Joshua, saying it was Joshua’s dying wish to meet Tupac. Tupac then flew out to Maryland to meet the boy. When Joshua passed away, Tupac changed the name of his publishing company to “Joshua’s Dream.”

   3. Dave Grohl
The famous writer, singer and musician in Nirvana and Foo Fighters  Dave Grohl is said to be one of the coolest guys you could ever meet. This image of him can be verified by two Australian miners who found themselves in a terrible situation, with an awesome result. Two trapped Australian miners asked only for an iPod with Foo Fighters to be sent down to them. When Dave heard about this, he personally included a note saying “I want you to know that when you come home, there’s two tickets to any Foo’s show, anywhere, and two cold beers there waiting for you. Deal?” Apparently they took him up on that offer.
     4. Emma Watson

The brilliant and successful Watson also appears to be quite the charitable humanitarian as well. But while she is not trying to do her part to make a difference in the world, she takes the time to make a little boys day. A 5 year old boy was out in NYC treak-or-treating on Halloween dressed as Harry Potter- the outfit, wand, glasses, the whole 9 yards. It was towards the end of his candy hunt when he was approached by a young woman. She came up to him and said “excuse me, are you Harry Potter?” After he mumbled out a, yes, she said “that’s great, because I’m Hermione Granger and we’re best of friends.” and she gave him a big hug. Of course the boy didn’t really understand that this was indeed the real Herminoe Granger.

                                                  5. J.K. Rowling

Before the official release of the 4th Harry Potter book in the series, J.K. Rowling wrote the books ending a year in advance for Natalie McDonald, a little girl diagnosed with leukemia. Natalie died before she received Rowling’s email, so J.K. named a character after Natalie. That character was sorted into Gryffindor in order to commemorate such a brave little girl.
     6. John Cena
Generally I am not a fan of the WWF… wait is it called the WWE now? I don’t know, fake wrestling, lets just call it that. But this story was just too sweet to pass up. John Cena reaches a major milestone with the Make-A-Wish Foundation… 400 wishes granted!

    7. George Takei
George Takei showed up two hours early for a scheduled press conference just so that he could sign the doll of a young fan who was too sick to stick around for the scheduled time of the meet and greet.
     8. Russell Brand
Brand has been seen multiple times on the streets of LA hanging out with the homeless, taking them to breakfast, giving them new clothes, and even a ride to AA meetings that Brand himself attends.
                   9. Tom Cruise
Though I am not a fan of Cruise these days he was pretty heroic after he witnessed a hit-and-run accident. Cruise called the paramedics, stayed with the victim and followed them to the emergency room. During this process he found out that the victim was un-insured and he paid the 7,000 hospital bill himself.
     10. Zach Galifianakis

When Galifianakis was a struggling actor in Los Angeles 20 years ago, he made an unlikely friend at a laundromat. Now 87 year old Elizabeth “Mimi” Haist volunteered and lived at Fox laundry in Santa Monica living off tips from customers for 18 years. One of the customers was Zach, who after his career launching success of The Hangover, stopped going to the laundramat but continued checking on his friend Mimi. When Zack learned that Mimi had become homeless, he found her an apartment in Santa Monica and paid for her rent and utilities. Zach’s friend Renee Zelleweger helped him decorate the apartment and often brings her groceries to make sure Mimi is always fully stocked with food. Zach has taken Mimi to The Hangover 2 & 3 movie premiers, as well as the premier for his film with Will Ferrell, “The Campaign.”  

I Feel Less Bad About My Job: Actors With Weird/Crap Jobs Before Becoming Famous

It is easy to be bitter against those who make so much more money than I could ever imagine or fathom. But I have found that when it comes to crappy jobs, the pain is real and universal. Shitty jobs are anything but glamorous, and certain A-listers can attest to this. I have scoured the web looking for some of the more odd stints out there, and these celebrities have certainly paid their dues.

Rod Stewart– Gravedigger

Before Stewart charmed audiences with his British accent, he worked as a gravedigger at Highgate cemetery in London during his teens.

Christopher Walken — Lion Tamer 

Yes, this is real! At the age of fifteen, Walken joined a traveling circus and was part of a lion taming act. Whenever asked about this job, Walken is always modest saying ” Sheba, the lion, was really old and more like a dog.” But apparently Walken has his fair share of scars on his back from this “really old lion” so apparently Sheba wasn’t that old.

Sylvester Stallone- Lion cage Cleaner

Sticking with the lion theme, Stallone cleaned up after them. While waiting for his acting career to take off, the Rambo actor cleaned up lion cages at the Central Park Zoo.

Jon Hamm– Set Dresser For Porn Films

Hamm, who stresses that the porn he designed sets for was strictly soft-core, said it was an easy way to earn a few hundred bucks a day. “Essentially, I had to move furniture around sweaty, naked people. It wasn’t a great job but the money was useful. I had to get by and I wanted to be an actor.”

Whoopi Goldberg — Mortuary Beautician & Phone Sex Operator 

The 56 year old comedian and actress took a job as a mortuary beautician after she became a licensed beautician. Her boss played a welcoming prank on her by pretending to be dead and sitting upright to wave at her. During a segment of “The View” she also mentioned briefly working as a phone sex operator. “When I was younger the money was great, See now, people would know my voice.”

Hugh Jackman — Party Clown

Jackman’s natural comedian tendencies would make him the perfect candidate for a party clown. At about $50 per show, he’s come a long way.”I just love making a fool out of myself. I made my living as a clown at kids’ parties for about three years. I was Coco the Clown and I had no magic tricks and I remember a six year old standing up at a party saying ‘mummy this clown is terrible, he doesn’t know any tricks’- and he was right.”

Brad Pitt — Chicken Suit Mascot & Limo Driver For Strippers

 Today, Pitt may be one of Hollywood’s leading men, but once upon a time, he was nothing more than a chicken on the side of the road. His first employer was El Pollo Loco and he had to dress like a chicken to hand out flyers and attract passers by to eat tacos. During that same year he chauffeured strippers in a limousine. “My job was to drive them to bachelor parties and things. I’d pick them up, take them to the gigg, collect the money and play the bad Prince tapes while catching the girls clothes.”

Johnny Depp — Telemarketer -Pen Salesman 

Don’t be so quick to hang up on those telemarketers, you never know who they might end up becoming. This is certainly the case for Johnny Depp. One of his first jobs was cold calling strangers, trying to sell them pens. He claims this job was useful in his acting career as he would use different accents and personas with each call.

What Were They Thinking? -Actors Who Turned Down Big Roles

In general, actors may be prettier than us, richer than us and more successful than we will ever be, but at least we can take solace in the fact that they make stupid work decisions like the rest of us. This is evident with the projects they chose to work on. From time to time even great actors chose uncharacteristically stupid roles or movies to be apart of. I can reconcile this with the fact that it might have sounded better on paper, or merely the fact that bills had to be paid and nothing better was forthcoming. But sometimes I am dumbfounded by the parts that an actor decides to turn down. Granted, I am sure they didn’t think what they were passing up would become an iconic role, but sometimes their arbitrary reasoning for turning down the part gives me serious pause as to whether they have anything in their pretty little heads. Nonetheless perhaps the part would not have been as epic if it had been played by the original choice. Who knows. Though it would be impossible to list every major part passed up by a notable name, I’ve compiled a few.

1. Gwyneth Paltrow- Titanic 
Even though I have never seen Titanic (I know, GASP, but forgive me, I don’t wanna see a movie where I know going in that most people you care about in the movie will die for sure) I know that this film was, and still is, a world wide phenomena, one of the highest grossing films of all time. It launched the careers of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into the stratosphere (as well as creating a really adorable friendship between the two which has lasted over a decade and a half.)  But not as many people know that Paltrow was the first choice to play Rose but Paltrow declined it claiming it wasn’t her “cup of tea.” This is understandable, I too hate success and critical acclaim.

2. Johnny Depp- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

There’s a pretty long list of high profile roles that Depp rejected during the 80’s and 90’s. One of those being Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Why was he against these roles? “I’m not a blockbuster boy” he said. Ha, really? If 90’s Depp could see himself now, he’d cry those beautiful eyes out. Of course none of us can see the future, but it does seem a bit rich for the guy who’s about to start work on Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

3. Julia Roberts- Sleepless in Seattle, The Blind Side, The Proposal

Roberts has suffered her fair share of missed opportunities as each of the films listed above were huge box office success’, not to mention the Oscar win for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Though not stated why she turned down the role in Sleepless in Seattle that was offered to her “many times”, her reasoning for rejecting the lead roles in The Blind Side and The Proposal was due to pure greed. The economy had taken a blow and many lead stars were asked to take a pay cut in films being made during those years, Julia Roberts was no exception, but Roberts refused both films because she was not willing to take a pay cut. Though, I dare say, we benefited from the multi- millionaires greed, as Sandra Bullock was perfect in both films.

4. Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones

Yup ladies and gentleman this is true! Tom Selleck was the original choice to play Indiana Jones and he accepted the offer. He even got in a day of shooting before he had to turn it down because of conflicts with his television show Magnum P.I.

5. Will Smith- Django Unchained
Smith passed on playing Django in this film because he felt that Django was not the main character of the film. (Uhhh… what is the title of the movie friend- and who is on the movie posters? Pretty sure that would be Django.) Smith said that he was only really available for leading roles at this point in his career. I guess these days the only films up to his standard are terrible, half ass-ed movies where he forces his untalented son on us (After Earth).

6. Sean Connery – The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix

The former Bond star turned down the roles of Gandalf and Morpheus in LOTR and The Matrix. According to Connery, “I got offered The Lord of the Rings and I turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I was offered the Matrix a couple times, and turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I’ll be damned if I turn down another role for not understanding it.” How do you not understand the role of Gandalf? He is a smart-ass, sassy old man who occasionally does magic. Not hard. I get not understanding the Matrix though, I still don’t get it.

7. Hugh Jackman- James Bond
  Speaking of James Bond, Jackman said that he was offered the role as the super suave British agent, but he turned it down out of fear that it would limit his opportunities in the future. “I thought it would box me in too much. My natural instinct is to keep as many doors open as possible.” Oh right, cause taking the role of Wolverine wouldn’t box you in at all. Big talk for a guy who has now made 7 movies where he played Wolverine.