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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

F3Stage: Brandy razzle dazzles 'em in Chicago

Film Flam Flummox


One of the great ironies of contemporary Broadway is that the show that has become rather synonymous with the most shameless of celebrity stunt casting in recent years, the 20-years-old-and-counting revival production of Chicago, is just about the least friendly vehicle to untested, novice stage talent. Even the most seasoned a musical theater performer would find the demands of this piece daunting, for director Walter Bobbie's minimalist staging concept leaves nothing to for anyone's shortcomings to hide behind, both literally and figuratively. With skimpy costumes in basic black and considerable see-through sheer, and the set consisting of no more than one large box housing the orchestra, two fixed ladders, and varying numbers of chairs, anyone who dares to attempt to tackle any of the principal roles will find their basic stage presence and personal charisma put through their most rigorous test, never mind the singing skills required to nimbly navigate John Kander and Fred Ebb's jazzy tunes and--most especially--the considerable mind-body coordination and control essential to doing any sort of justice to Bob Fosse-by-way-of-Ann-Reinking's famously idiosyncratic, deceptively simple-looking, sharply precise choreography.

When Brandy Norwood's casting in the lead role of adulterous murderess-turned-media sensation Roxie Hart was announced by the Broadway company last year, she appeared to be just the latest pop music star to make their Great White Way debut in the show. This was no knock on her vocal prowess, which has long been proven by her decades-long, Grammy-winning recording career dating back to her teen years; and while she was a fan and judge favorite during her stint on Dancing with the Stars a few years ago, that was no clear indication of her readiness to tackle some of the most iconic movement ever created for any stage. But her turn created an ecstatic buzz for the live show that it hadn't enjoyed in many years, and her limited two-month engagement extended to almost double that after rave notices from media and audiences alike. Now bringing that celebrated performance to the west coast and the Hollywood Pantages Theatre for a limited one-week only run until Sunday, May 1, it's clear why the still fun but overly familiar show was suddenly invigorated: her performance is nothing short of the bright, blaring announcement of a natural and bonafide stage star.

Fosse purists may balk that like many celebrity Roxies before her, Norwood foregoes the climactic cartwheel that caps off the famously exhilarating dance duet finale, "Hot Honey Rag."  But that's the only fault one could find, and a nitpick as she very impressively nails just about every other aspect of the character, dance included.  While she may not  be the technically precise hoofer that her co-star, stage vet Terra C. MacLeod as Roxie's jailhouse archrival-in-infamy Velma Kelly, is, certainly she matched her work ethic in the rehearsal room, for Norwood's dancing is not only excellent for a celebrity Roxie, but a Roxie, period.  Shimmying into Fosse and Reinking's slinky shoulder rolls, arm slithers, hip sways, and knee pivots with an unusual control and finesse for a neophyte, whatever little inexperienced imperfections she might stumble into are more than smoothed over by her infectious confidence and swagger.

And those latter qualities are essential to the character, and Norwood creates a very clear character arc through out the show as her initial naivete about scandal-driven pseudo-celebrity culture gradually evolves into a more cunning vanity.  But making her interpretation a bit more unique is that the trademark sweetness that has made Norwood such an enduringly likable performer adds a certain new depth: while Roxie does some despicably selfish things, one gets the sense that she is simply an average, bored, lonely housewife who is seduced and swept away by something she never can control or ever understand.  While, to paraphrase one of the show's classic tunes, she had it coming as far as her eventual comeuppance, there is a genuine pathos to Norwood's take of Roxie's 11th hour lament "Nowadays."

Of course, helping that are Norwood's platinum-selling pipes, which are in strong form here and breathe new life to Kander and Ebb's score.  While a consistent and justly famous set of tunes, Chicago has always in conception highlighted its star's dance ability and comic skills over vocal prowess, which ranks a distinct third.  Having a true vocalist play Roxie really makes those memorable melodies shine, and as she's shown throughout her recording career, Norwood doesn't overdo the melisma like many of her R&B brethren, deploying elastic runs only when appropriate and for maximum effect.  Hearing her and MacLeod sing together is an even greater delight, bringing some stunning new harmonies to, and in the process virtually reinventing, Roxie and Velma's duets.

And the whole show would not work were it not for MacLeod and the rest of the cast, who make the most of the many built-in moments to shine just as brightly as Norwood.   The other celebrity casting move in this production is former NFL star Eddie George as Roxie and Velma's slimy lawyer Billy Flynn, and he quickly overcomes the obvious initial opening night jitters in his introduction number "All I Care About" by hitting his wicked comic groove--and unleashing a powerfully smooth, belty croon--on the always showstopping "We Both Reached for the Gun."  Roz Ryan is the actress who has logged  the most performances as prison matron Mama Morton in Chicago history, and her comfort and ease in the role shows in her soulful vocals and crack timing.  Finally, appropriately so, there's Paul C. Vogt, who brings real heart to the show's tragic figure, Roxie's hapless cuckold of a husband, Amos.

So regardless of how many times one has seen the show or the 2002 film adaptation, this production of Chicago is a most worthy one--and perhaps will go down as a benchmark in stage history should Norwood go on to have a prolific and illustrious musical theater she shows is truly hers for the taking.


Chicago starring Brandy Norwood and Eddie George is now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in a limited engagement through Sunday, May 1.

(Special thanks to Hollywood Pantages Theatre)

The Movie Report wants to attend and cover all your live stage productions! Please send any and all invitations to this address. Thanks!

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Watch the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice world premiere event live now

Film Flam Flummox


Warner Bros. Pictures's big world premiere event for the DC Comics superhero extravaganza Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from the Big Apple is now streaming live for your viewing pleasure wherever you are in the world. Check out the live broadcast embedded below, courtesy of Warner Bros. and Microsoft's new video product Azure:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in cinemas everywhere this Thursday night, March 24, from Warner Bros. Pictures.

(Special thanks to Warner Bros.)

The Movie Report wants to attend all your film premieres, press junkets, and special events for coverage! Please send any and all invitations to this address. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

F3PR: #OscarsWithMoviePass Contest

Film Flam Flummox

PRESS RELEASE


#OscarsWithMoviePass CONTEST


New York (Jan. 29, 2016) – The team at MoviePass is made up of movie diehards. We love that we make it easier for people like us to see more movies in theaters, and for the Academy Awards, the biggest movie event of the year, we’re going to be holding the ultimate Oscar pool to reward the biggest cinephiles out there. We’re calling it #OscarsWithMoviePass.

All you need to do to enter is fill out our official ballot (find it by clicking here) with your best predictions of who the final Oscar winners of 2016 will be. The person with the ballot closest to the winner list will win a full year of MoviePass and all the movies in theaters they could ask for from 2016 and beyond. Runner-up will receive six months.

MoviePass is the only nationwide movie theater subscription service, allowing members to see a new, standard 2D movie every day in 95% of theaters nationwide for one monthly fee. There are no blackout dates like with some discounted ticket programs, so as soon as a movie hits the theaters, you can see it with MoviePass.

The ballot will be open for entries until 3pm EST on February 28th, then we will announce the winners on or before March 4th. The full rules are listed here.


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Friday, February 19, 2016

The Movie Report #858, February 19, 2016

The Movie Report

#858, February 19, 2016


MOVIES:
  • Fitoor (Obsession) ***
  • Race ***
  • Risen ** 1/2
  • The Witch ***

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

F3PR: Will Smith and Norman Lear to be honored at All Def Digital's All Def Movie Awards

Film Flam Flummox

PRESS RELEASE


WILL SMITH AND NORMAN LEAR
TO BE HONORED AT ALL DEF DIGITAL'S
ALL DEF MOVIE AWARDS


CULVER CITY, Calif., Feb. 17, 2016 -- All Def Digital, the fastest growing video programming brand in hip hop and youth culture, will honor industry legends Will Smith and Norman Lear at the first-ever All Def Movie Awards just days before the Oscars, at the World Famous TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. The light-hearted and fun spirited event will celebrate diversity in motion picture entertainment during a live awards show on February 24 hosted by Tony Rock.

Smith will be recognized by the All Def Academy with the Lifetime Achievement Award and legendary writer, producer, director and social activist Norman Lear will receive the Vanguard Award for his enduring contributions to entertainment that helped foster an essential dialogue about race and race relations.

Said Russell Simmons, Founder and Chairman of All Def Digital: "Will Smith has broken all barriers in music, film, theater and television. As a Grammy Award-winner, television star and the most accomplished and bankable film artist in the world, Will uses his powerful voice for social change. The All Def Movie Awards are enormously proud to honor Will Smith and his incredible body of work with our first Lifetime Achievement Award."

Reflecting on the contributions of Norman Lear, Simmons added, "As a writer, director, producer and author, Norman has been a true champion for people of color. He shined a light on the marginalized in our society and made us laugh. He wrote aspirational and inspirational roles for minorities. He gave us dignity with Good Times. He gave the working class a voice in Sanford and Son. And most important to me, with The Jeffersons, he showed us that a black man could be rich and successful and do the unthinkable: he could curse at the white man while standing up for what he believes in."

Two-time Academy Award® nominee Will Smith has enjoyed unprecedented success in a career encompassing films, television and multi-platinum records. For his memorable portrayal of Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann's Ali, he received his first Academy Award® nomination, which was followed by his second nomination for the true-life drama, The Pursuit of Happyness. Smith recently wrapped production on the David Ayer-directed Suicide Squad for Warner Bros. Pictures. Based on the DC comic book, Smith will play Deadshot opposite Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and Cara Delevingne. The film is slated for release on August 5, 2016. He most recently starred in Concussion as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu's emotional quest put him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful institutions in the world.

Norman Lear, producer, writer, director and author has enjoyed a long career in television and film, and as a political and social activist and philanthropist. Lear began his television writing career in 1950, and went on to produce the iconic series All in the Family, which in its nine seasons on CBS, garnered four Emmy Awards for Best Comedy series and a Peabody Award in 1977. The series was followed by a succession of other hits on television, including Maude, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Lear founded People For the American Way, a non-profit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms. Additionally, he formed other nonprofit organizations, including the Business Enterprise Trust (1989-2000), which spotlighted exemplary social innovations in American business; the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication (2000-present), a multidisciplinary research and public policy center dedicated to exploring the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society; and with his wife, Lyn, and Alan and Cindy Horn, co-founded the Environmental Media Association (1989-present). Lear is the author of a best-selling memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, now available in paperback.

Members of the public can vote for two categories in the All Def Movie Awards (Best Picture and Most Quoted Movie) online at http://bit.ly/AllDefMA through midnight on February 23rd. The following films are in contention for Best Picture:

Other awards will honor Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director as well as Best Bad Muh F**ka and other often overlooked categories, such as Best Helpful White Person and Best Black Survivor in a Movie.

The show will also feature a consistent stream of video content before, during and after the show on all of ADD's social channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope.

The All Def Movie Awards will be programmed as part of All Def Comedy Live, which has become the hottest live weekly comedy showcase in stand-up today. HBO is currently developing a series around the weekly event, which routinely draws celebrities and the best new, emerging and established artists working America's comedy stages.

Tony Rock serves as host and master of ceremonies for All Def Comedy Live as well as the newly revamped legendary talent competition Apollo Live. Rock has appeared in box office hits and television series such as Hitch, Think Like a Man, Everybody Hates Chris, and Real Househusbands of Hollywood, among other shows and films. He has also been seen as a headlining act on two nationwide comedy tours: "The Standing Ovation Comedy Tour" and his own "Rock The Mic Comedy Tour."

All Def Digital (ADD) is the leading multi-platform media company for millennials focusing on urban youth culture through premium video programming across comedy, music, lifestyle and topical and timely social commentary. The company nurtures new, emerging and established artists and produces and incubates a broad spectrum of original content through an efficient and transformative media model leveraged across social video platforms, traditional and premium television and motion-picture development, live events, and its own record label in partnership with Universal Music Group. ADD also includes a curated, invite-only network of talent—from social video stars to traditional writers and stand-up comics, from poets to hip hop recording artists. The company partners with global brands to create immersive and authentic social content experiences with unique talent voices. ADD is among the most subscribed-to and watched digital networks for urban comedy and music. The company is based in Los Angeles, California, with offices in New York. Its investors include Nu Horizons, Greycroft Partners, e.ventures and Advancit Capital.


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F3PR: Phil Groves to receive 2016 CinemaCon Passepartout Award

Film Flam Flummox

PRESS RELEASE


IMAX CORPORATIONS’S
PHIL GROVES TO RECEIVE 2016
CINEMACON PASSEPARTOUT AWARD

WASHINGTON D.C. (February 17, 2016) – CinemaCon Managing Director, Mitch Neuhasuer, today announced that Phil Groves, SVP IMAX Corporation and EVP Global Distribution IMAX Entertainment, will receive this year’s “Passepartout Award”. The CinemaCon “Passepartout Award” is presented annually to an industry executive who demonstrates dedication and commitment to the international marketplace. CinemaCon, the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), will be held April 11–14, 2016 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Groves will be presented with this honor at The International Day Luncheon taking place on Monday, April 11, 2016.

“One of the most respected and admired executives working in the industry today, Phil Groves continues to demonstrate an unequalled commitment, dedication and passion for the motion picture theatre experience,” noted Neuhauser. “For the past 12 years he has played an instrumental role in the success story known as IMAX culminating with new worldwide records set this past December with the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ We are honored to be able to single Phil out for his great work throughout the world.”

“Phil has been my partner in crime for 13 years and besides being an incredibly talented film executive with amazing industry relationships, he’s the most decent and trustworthy person I know,” said Greg Foster, Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp. and CEO of IMAX Entertainment. “He’s played an instrumental role in IMAX’s success and having him as my sounding board is invaluable.”

Groves joined IMAX Corporation in September 2003 with the primary responsibility of overseeing all aspects of the company’s global film distribution, the development of original film content and working with the studios’ distribution teams on event films using the IMAX DMR® process. During his tenure he has brought a slate of Hollywood blockbuster event films to IMAX screens around the world and has increased the reach of IMAX documentaries to more multiplex and institutional IMAX screens worldwide. Prior to IMAX, Groves was Vice President of Film for Loews Cineplex and has earned screenwriting credits or storyboarded a number of films including the comedy classic “Airplane!.”

Previous honorees of the CinemaCon Passepartout Award include Erlina Suharjono and Richard Fox, Warner Bros. Pictures, Jack Ledwith, Universal Pictures International, David Kornblum, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Craig Dehmel, 20th Century Fox International.

About CinemaCon

CinemaCon will attract upwards of 5,000 motion picture professionals from all facets of the industry -- from exhibition and distribution, to the equipment and concession areas -- all on hand to celebrate the moviegoing experience and the cinema industry. From exclusive Hollywood product presentations highlighting a slate of upcoming films, to must-see premiere feature screenings, to the biggest stars, producers and directors, CinemaCon will help jumpstart the excitement and buzz that surrounds the summer season at the box office.

CinemaCon is delighted to have both the International Cinema Technology Association (ICTA) and National Association of Concessionaires (NAC) as its tradeshow partners. CinemaCon is also delighted to have as its official presenting sponsor, The Coca-Cola Company, one of the industry’s greatest and highly regarded and respected partners in the world of the movies. Additional information on CinemaCon, the Official Convention of NATO, can be found at www.cinemacon.com.

About NATO

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 30,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 57 countries worldwide. NATO’s membership includes the largest cinema chains in the world and hundreds of independent theatre owners, too.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

The Movie Report #857, February 12, 2016

The Movie Report

#857, February 12, 2016


MOVIES:
  • Deadpool *** 1/2
  • How to Be Single ***
  • It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong ***
  • Zoolander 2 **
  • Where to Invade Next ***

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

F3PR: All Def Digital to hold first-ever All Def Movie Awards on February 24

Film Flam Flummox

PRESS RELEASE


ALL DEF DIGITAL TO HOLD FIRST-EVER
ALL DEF MOVIE AWARDS HOSTED BY TONY ROCK
AT TCL CHINESE 6 THEATRES ON FEBRUARY 24


CULVER CITY, Calif., Feb. 11, 2016 -- All Def Digital, the fastest growing video programming brand in hip hop and youth culture, is hosting the first-ever All Def Movie Awards just days before the Oscars, at the World Famous TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. The live event will be held on February 24 and hosted by Tony Rock.

Awards will be recognized by members of the All Def Academy, who today announced the following films will compete for Best Picture of 2015:

Members of the public can vote for two categories in the All Def Movie Awards (Best Picture and Most Quoted Movie) online at http://bit.ly/AllDefMA through midnight on February 23rd.

Other awards will honor Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director as well as Best Bad Muh F**ka and other often overlooked categories, such as Best Helpful White Person and Best Black Survivor in a Movie.

All Def Movie Awards , which will be held just yards from the Academy Awards stage, will feature a Black Carpet for celebrity presenters, arrivals and VIP guests. The show will also feature a special live musical performance, and a consistent stream of video content before, during and after the show on all of ADD's social channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope.

"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself," said Tony Rock. "With that in mind I have teamed up (I guess I didn't do it myself) with ADD to bring you the 'All inclusive', All Def Movie Awards. We'll honor the entire movie making process. Great acting, mediocre acting as well as horrible acting. Soundtracks. Wardrobes. Maybe even craft services (the best part of the set). This is the award show Hollywood has been waiting for."

Added Russell Simmons, founder and chairman of All Def Digital, "I don't expect a 90 year-old Academy member to see Straight Outta Compton or vote for it. I'm more concerned that in 2016 there continues to be a stunning lack of diversity in the studios, in the green light process, in the decisions of what films and television series get made, and what actors get chosen. This needs to be addressed institutionally. All Def Movie Awards are not the Black Oscars, but they could be. This will be a fun, entertaining and hopefully thought provoking celebration of the uncelebrated."

The All Def Movie Awards will be programmed as part of All Def Comedy Live, which has become the hottest live weekly comedy showcase in stand-up today. HBO is currently developing a series around the weekly event, which routinely draws celebrities and the best new, emerging and established artists working America's comedy stages.

Admission is by invitation only, but a select number of seats will be reserved for fans by lottery.

Tony Rock serves as host and master of ceremonies for All Def Comedy Live as well as the newly revamped legendary talent competition Apollo Live. Rock has appeared in box office hits and television series such as Hitch, Think Like a Man, Everybody Hates Chris, and Real Househusbands of Hollywood, among other shows and films. He has also been seen as a headlining act on two nationwide comedy tours: "The Standing Ovation Comedy Tour" and his own "Rock The Mic Comedy Tour."

All Def Digital (ADD) is the leading multi-platform media company for millennials focusing on urban youth culture through premium video programming across comedy, music, lifestyle and topical and timely social commentary. The company nurtures new, emerging and established artists and produces and incubates a broad spectrum of original content through an efficient and transformative media model leveraged across social video platforms, traditional and premium television and motion-picture development, live events, and its own record label in partnership with Universal Music Group. ADD also includes a curated, invite-only network of talent—from social video stars to traditional writers and stand-up comics, from poets to hip hop recording artists. The company partners with global brands to create immersive and authentic social content experiences with unique talent voices. ADD is among the most subscribed-to and watched digital networks for urban comedy and music. The company is based in Los Angeles, California, with offices in New York. Its investors include Nu Horizons, Greycroft Partners, e.ventures and Advancit Capital.


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