By Mika Rekai - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Disney’s princess dust-up, a Star-Strangled Banner, and Canada’s next basketball superstar makes his choice
A slam-dunk decision
The waiting game is over for America’s top college basketball teams: one of the most-hyped recruits in years, the Canadian basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins, is going to Kansas. The six-foot-eight, 18-year-old forward and Toronto native passed over Florida State—the alma mater of both his parents—Kentucky and North Carolina, and will don a Jayhawks jersey come the fall, a decision that left coach Bill Self with what he called a “kind of surreal feeling.” Wiggins has been compared to the likes of LeBron James and is known for a blend of athleticism and effortless style on the court. Kansas, whose basketball program was founded by James Naismith, the Canadian-born inventor of the game, “felt like the place for me,” Wiggins said. But he’s only expected to stay for the year—he’s the heavy favourite for the top spot in the 2014 NBA draft.
Learn your ABZs
U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he had “99 problems” and rapper Jay-Z, who had recently taken a controversial trip to Cuba with superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles, was one. Now it looks like the Obamas might well become a problem for Jay-Z, if first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Bowie State University in Maryland are any indication. At a commencement ceremony, she told graduates of the historically black university to “be an example of excellence to the next generation” instead of “fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.” That’s career advice that might rufﬂe the feathers of Jay-Z, a high-school dropout who hosted a $40,000-a-head fundraiser for the president during his last campaign.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM - 0 Comments
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When Lalo Alcaraz learned this week that Disney was seeking to…
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When Lalo Alcaraz learned this week that Disney was seeking to trademark “Dia de los Muertos,” the name of the traditional “Day of the Dead” celebrated by millions in Mexico and the U.S., the cartoonist had an idea.
The trademark was for an animated movie by Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Inc. that is inspired by the holiday.
The Los Angeles-based humorist created a movie poster that quickly went viral of a skeletal Godzilla-sized Mickey Mouse, with the words: “It’s coming to trademark your cultura (culture).”
Anger and ridicule expressed on social media largely by Latinos began circulating. On Tuesday, Disney said it was no longer seeking a “Dia de los Muertos” trademark request because the film’s name will change before its release.
“Disney’s trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities,” a company statement said. “It has since been determined that the title of the film will change.”
Disney has not said that social media responses were responsible for the withdrawn trademark request. The company did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.
Whatever the reason, the episode showed how quickly reactions to even the smallest corporate move can spread online and lead to calls for boycotts.
“It was not social media that started this. It was Disney that started this,” said Tom Garrity, head of the Garrity Group, a public relations firm that advises companies on social media practices. “Social media only highlight the deficiencies in Disney’s planning and what people saw as cultural insensitivity.”
The Disney request momentarily replaced immigration as the hottest topic among Latinos on Twitter, said Elianne Ramos, vice chair of LATISM, a non-profit group Latino social media group. She noticed the trend by monitoring posts on Twitter and had planned a live tweet town hall until the trademark request was withdrawn.
“Some people saw it as an attempt to own our culture and profit from it,” she said.
Critics said they were concerned about the company attempt to trademark a cultural holiday like November’s Day of the Dead and its history of trying to profit from cultural icons.
“This is a corporation that has consistently co-opted culture for profit,” said Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Albuquerque-based Media Literacy Project, a group that focuses on media literacy and policy. “Just look at Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine,” Quijada said, referring to characters from Disney films.
Not only was the move seen as insensitive, critics said, trademarking the popular holiday put thousands of businesses that made products linked to the day at risk. Disney had hoped to secure the naming rights for merchandise such as snack foods and Christmas ornaments.
“It’s a terrible idea. I’m outraged,” said Kiko Torres, owner of Masks y Mas in Albuquerque, a shop that sells Day of the Dead art and clothing year-round. “I mean, what’s the purpose of that?”
The Day of the Dead honours departed souls of loved ones who are welcomed back for a few intimate hours. At burial sites or intricately built altars, photos of loved ones are centred on skeleton figurines, bright decorations, candles, candy and other offerings such as the favourite foods of the departed. Pre-Columbian in origin, many of the themes and rituals are mixtures of indigenous practices and Roman Catholicism.
In the last decade or so, this traditional Latin American holiday has spread throughout the U.S. along with migration from Mexico and other countries where it is observed.
Not only are U.S.-born Latinos adopting it, but various underground and artistic non-Latino groups have begun to mark the Nov. 1-2 holidays through colorful celebrations, parades, exhibits and even mixed martial arts fights.
Lois Zamora, a University of Houston English professor who has studied the Day of the Dead, said Disney’s interest shows how much this once obscure holiday has grown in the U.S. But she said the trademark attempt was odd.
“Disney doesn’t quite get it,” Zamora said. “It would be like copyrighting ‘Christmas or ‘Easter’ or, for that matter, ‘Halloween.’”
Graham Harvey, owner of the Thibodaux, La.-based Matthew Media group, said the Disney flap should be a reminder that all companies should have social media strategy as part of their promotions, or face the wrath in real time if any promotion is controversial.
“Any company or organization that wants to protect its brand needs to understand the powerful, viral nature of social media,” he said. “A backlash can occur in the blink of an eye.”
By Russell Contreras, The Associated Press - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When Lalo Alcaraz saw a tweet this week that Disney was…
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – When Lalo Alcaraz saw a tweet this week that Disney was seeking to trademark “Dia de los Muertos,” the name of the traditional “Day of the Dead” celebrated by millions in Mexico and the U.S., the Los Angeles-based cartoonist immediately pressed “retweet.”
The humorist then sent out a series of satirical social media posts warning that Disney was out to trademark dead Latino relatives. He also created a cartoon, which quickly went viral, of a skeletal Godzilla-sized Mickey Mouse destroying a city. The words on top of the monster read: “It’s coming to trademark your cultura (culture).”
Those tweets, along with tens of thousands of others similar social media posts, sparked Disney Enterprises Inc. into announcing that the company was withdrawing a “Dia de los Muertos” trademark request it made on May 1 to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Disney had hoped to secure name rights for merchandise such as snack foods and Christmas ornaments as it partners with Pixar Animation Studios Inc. to create an animated movie inspired by the holiday. Continue…
By The Associated Press - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:46 AM - 0 Comments
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Disney has dropped an effort to trademark “Dia de los…
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Disney has dropped an effort to trademark “Dia de los Muertos,” the name of the traditional “Day of the Dead” holiday celebrated by millions in Mexico and the U.S.
The company announced Tuesday that it was withdrawing a trademark request it made on May 1 to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The application prompted online criticism and petitions.
“What were they thinking?” Genevieve Barrios Southgate, director of community programs at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, told the Orange County Register.
“Disney obviously responded to public pressure,” she said. “I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have culturally sensitive people as your advisers.”
Many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans observe the November holiday, which honours deceased relatives and loved ones. Traditions include cleaning and decorating graves, leaving gift offerings for the dead and building elaborate shrines decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds.
Disney Enterprises Inc. hoped to secure name rights for merchandise such as snack foods and Christmas ornaments as it partners with Pixar Animation Studios Inc. to create an animated movie inspired by the holiday.
“Disney’s trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities,” a company statement said. “It has since been determined that the title of the film will change and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing.”
Disney was trying to infringe “on something that is so uniquely Mexican and Mexican-American,” Alejandro Gradilla, chairman of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Fullerton, told the Register. “I don’t think this will be the last time we hear about a company trying to copyright a holiday.”
Had Disney won the trademark, it might have given the company exclusive rights to use the name on merchandise, but it wouldn’t necessarily have prevented holiday events, an attorney told the Arizona Republic.
“It doesn’t mean they can stop anyone else from putting on a Dia de los Muertos celebration or anything on those lines,” Michael Campillo said. “They could stop someone from putting out a movie with the same name, or other merchandise.”
However, Disney erred in trying to trademark a commonly used phrase, he said.
“It seems odd that they would go out of their way to upset the consuming public,” Campillo said, “a large part of which they’re trying to court for business.”
Two years ago, Disney was fiercely criticized for attempting to trademark the name “SEAL Team 6″ days after that elite U.S. Navy team killed Osama bin Laden. The company later withdrew the application.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
A Star Wars movie every year? Scott Feschuk imagines the synergies
Walt Disney Co., which paid $4 billion for George Lucas’s film company, has announced that, beginning in 2015, it will release a Star Wars movie every year—yes, every single year. Let’s look ahead:
2015: Although many are eagerly anticipating J.J. Abrams’ take on the series, some are apprehensive that he will introduce to the Star Wars universe the element of time travel—which would enable a middle-aged Luke Skywalker to encounter his younger self, his older self and, quite possibly, a very confused Spock. On the other hand, it could also bring together seven Yodas for the most backwards-talking, ass-kicking climax in film history. Let’s agree to let the time-travel thing slide so long as Abrams uses the device to have two incarnations of Jar Jar Binks beat each other to death.
2018: The franchise is entrusted to other directors, beginning with Michael Bay—who opens his film in flashback with a 14-minute shot of a young Princess Leia (Megan Fox), clad in cut-off jeans, leaning over a landspeeder to tinker with its engine. On the radio we hear the sounds of Alderaan’s best Aerosmith cover band. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
An onslaught of Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar could be too much for audiences
When Disney buys a franchise, it exploits that franchise for all it’s worth. Six months after purchasing Lucasfilm for $4 billion, Disney announced its plans for the Star Wars movies: there will be new sequels in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and in the years between, the company plans to bring out other films based on characters from the franchise—meaning there could be a new Star Wars movie every single year.
This kind of overkill could backfire: in the ’90s, Disney’s decision to release an animated musical every year may have killed off the genre. But moderation may not be an option. Disney is releasing few films of its own, and this month announced layoffs of much of its in-house animation staff. That makes it even more important to wring every cent out of well-known brands such as Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. The company recently demanded theatres turn over a bigger share of ticket revenue from the next Marvel blockbuster, Iron Man 3, and the AMC Entertainment theatre chain, North America’s second-largest, temporarily stopped selling advance tickets in protest. “Clearly, they are under some kind of financial pressure,” the head of AMC told the Los Angeles Times. So was the guy who owned the golden goose.
By Emily Senger - Monday, March 18, 2013 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
Kids who are under the age of 14 will no longer be able to…
Kids who are under the age of 14 will no longer be able to enter Disney parks without a guardian present, a spokesperson for the company says.
While banning some kids from a theme park designed for kids may seem strange, the change is based on Red Cross guidelines for babysitting and on standards recommended by child welfare agencies, Suzi Brown, a spokesperson for Disney parks told NBC News.
It will be up to employees at the front gates to make the judgement call. “If a cast member who is working at the front gates sees a guest who appears to be younger than 14 without someone who appears to be older than that, they will engage in a conversation with the guest,” Brown told NBC. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:38 AM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – Disney won over more fans on Wall Street with its latest…
SAN FRANCISCO – Disney won over more fans on Wall Street with its latest quarterly performance, despite a slight drop in its earnings.
The downturn announced Tuesday was less pronounced than the modest dip analysts anticipated as Walt Disney Co. digested higher programming costs at its ESPN television network and dealt with a less appealing line-up of home video releases in its movie studio. Higher expenses for distributing box-office hits such as “Lincoln” and “”Wreck-It-Ralph” also created a drag during the holiday-season quarter.
The Burbank, California company offset some of those problems with an advertising upturn at its ABC network, higher spending at its theme parks and a reversal of an operating loss in its video games division.
It was good enough to set the stage for Disney’s stock to hit a new high in Wednesday’s trading. The shares gained $1.48, or 2.7 per cent, to $55.77 in Tuesday’s extended trading after the release of the financial results. If the stock reaches that level Wednesday, it will top its previous peak of $54.87, which the shares touched just last week.
By Emma Teitel - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Sometimes we get leaders whose ascent to power is hard to understand: i.e. how did we end up with this jerk? And other times, we get leaders who make us question whether or not they ever wanted to be leaders in the first place. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, ever absent, and always cranky, is one of those people.
His life looks a lot like a bad movie, the kind in which a salt-of-the-earth football coach wakes up one morning and realizes that, by some magic, he is the mayor of a metropolis that doesn’t take kindly to salt-of-the-earth football coaches. Suddenly he’s snubbing gay people, tackling reporters, flipping off constituents and before he knows it, he’s embroiled in a series of scandals involving tax payer money and his own high school football team — two things that don’t belong in the same sentence, but so often are these days.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM - 0 Comments
What a mixed bag of movies we have this week: a highland feminist fable (Brave), a quirky apocalyptic dramedy (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), a presidential horror movie (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), and a cottage love triangle (Your Sister’s Sister). Each story hinges on what Hollywood likes to call a high concept. Brave‘s family fable will, of course, leave the others in the dust at the box office. But if you’re looking for a good grown-up movie, see Your Sister’s Sister, by far the smallest of these pictures. It’s reviewed at the tail end of this blog. Now to business:
Much has already been made of the fact that Brave is the first Disney-Pixar movie devoted to a female protagonist, and that its fiery, red-haired heroine, Merida, breaks the passive stereotype of the Disney princess. But those aren’t the only things that are unprecedented about this animated feature. Brave is also the first Pixar movie that treats its kiddie audience with flashes of nudity— bare bums flashed below kilts, and a POV shot that dives headlong into the cleavage of a buxom maid. Which is not to say it’s more “adult” than previous Pixar fare. On the contrary, Brave is the broadest, most juvenile entertainment that the studio has produced, a movie that plays like a slapstick cartoon, without the layers of sophisticated adult wit that we’ve come to expect from the creators of Toy Story, Ratatouille and WALL-E. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this Scottish fable is also the preachiest Pixar movie I’ve seen, a roaring adventure capped with the kind of heavy sentiment and sermonizing that we’d associated with old-school Disney—although the values being preached are more progressive. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Do realistic mannequins make kids aspire to own the clothes they see?
Disney stores in the United States have implemented a new marketing ploy to attract shoppers, and children in particular—hyper-realistic mannequins. According to Jeff Zimmerman, Disney’s regional store manager in Southern California, the dolls, which are developed by the Colorado mannequin-making company Fusion, are the perfect spending trigger for prepubescent consumers because they’re “aspirational.”
In other words, if kids see clothes on fake kids who look real, they’re more likely to want to buy the merchandise. It may sound far-fetched but apparently it works: 32 Disney stores that have adopted the mannequins reported a sales increase in clothing modelled on the dolls. The trend has captivated other U.S. retailers like Athleta and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who have all ordered their own sets.
By Peter Shawn Taylor - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Book by Michael Wallis
He never called himself Davy. He rarely wore a coonskin cap. He wasn’t born on a mountaintop. And while he kilt an impressive number of b’ars during his life, he was almost certainly toilet trained before bagging his first one. This new book, which makes ample use of Crockett’s own memoirs, is a lively read that deflates many of the myths surrounding the famous frontiersman while preserving the popular appeal that has made him such a recognizable cultural figure.
David Crockett was born in Tennessee to pioneer parents. He was a veteran of the Creek Indian War of 1813-14 and a putative farmer who repeatedly moved his family westward in search of better land. But his real passions were hunting—he once killed 47 bears in one month—telling yarns and drinking whisky. A career in politics beckoned.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:55 AM - 0 Comments
If anyone understands how tweens think, it’s Dan Schneider, creator of ‘iCarly’ and ‘Victorious’
Meet the man who’s killing Disney. Or, at least, beating Disney when it comes to supplying children with lighthearted sitcoms and wholesome teen stars. The real king of kids’ entertainment is Dan Schneider, a portly ’80s sitcom actor turned comedy mogul. Schneider is the creator and producer of iCarly, the most popular live-action kids’ show in the U.S. and Canada, and Victorious, a very similar show that’s on its way to similar popularity. The shows, which currently air on YTV and are preparing for an hour-long crossover episode this summer, are dominating the kids’ sitcom market; Jocelyn Hamilton, who supervises original programming for YTV, says that “iCarly is the No. 1 show on YTV,” and that the audience for Victorious has “grown immensely” in the year since it premiered. This follows previous Schneider hits like Drake & Josh and stars, like Amanda Bynes, who were discovered on Schneider’s shows. Disney may once have been the leader in this world with shows like Hannah Montana, but now it’s Dan Schneider who’s become, as one critic called him, “the Norman Lear of children’s television.”
Though Schneider has been at Nickelodeon long enough for some of his viewers to have children of their own, his biggest hit came in 2007 with iCarly, the broadly acted story of a girl making her own Web series. Its highest-rated episode drew 12 million viewers, millions more than any episode of 30 Rock has ever had. In Canada, Hamilton says the show started slowly but now rules every kids’ demographic, and the New York Times reported that “nearly eight per cent of England’s population tunes into iCarly.” And while Disney has shown an uneven track record trying to create the new Miley Cyrus, Schneider has built his own personal star factory. Miranda Cosgrove, who used to play a bratty little girl on Drake & Josh, got moved up to starring in iCarly, where she’s done such a good job of staying out of the tabloids that the Times called her “the good girl” compared to the misbehaving Disney stars.
By Anne Kingston - Friday, March 12, 2010 at 4:19 PM - 42 Comments
Gabourey Sidibe isn’t exactly on the road to becoming an “American Cinderella”
Howard Stern can be a nasty bastard—but he’s also often the only one willing to voice unpleasant truths others won’t. So it was this week when the Sirius shock jock unleashed a tirade against the future prospects for Gabourey Sidibe, the Best Actress nominee for her role in Precious. “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen,” Stern proclaimed the day after the Academy Awards. He went on to slam Oprah Winfrey’s tribute to Sidibe during the telecast in which she called the actress “a true American Cinderella on the threshold of a brilliant new career.” Stern was having none of it: “Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”
Stern was pilloried for being racist. He was also attacked for getting his facts wrong: Sidibe has been cast in the new Showtime comedy The C Word and the upcoming movie Yelling To The Sky, though neither are leading roles. The C Word stars Laura Linney; in Yelling to the Sky Sidibe plays a bully, which is safe to say not a role Halle Barry turned down.
On Wednesday, Stern defended his comments, taking on the role of compassionate health crusader. He compared Sidibe to his co-star Artie Lange, who recently attempted to commit suicide: “Like, I kind of don’t see a difference between what our Artie did—Artie tried to kill himself. And I feel this girl, in a slower way…she’s gonna kill herself.”
Stern being Stern, he couldn’t leave it there. He went on to deride the newcomer’s acting ability, calling her a “prop” in Precious, which suggests he didn’t see the movie or slept through it. His sidekick Robin Quivers chimed in with another inaccuracy: “You don’t have to be unhealthy to do that part,” she said. But any actress playing Precious, a 16-year-old girl monstrously abused by her parents, did have to be seriously overweight. The character’s only comfort comes from scarfing down tubs of fried chicken. Her excess flesh is not only a salient class indicator but also protective armour.
Off the screen, the 26-year-old is also creating buzz for showing no indication of signing up for a celebrity weight-loss reality show. On Oprah, she revealed she has battled her weight all of her life; it wasn’t until she was in her early 20s that she finally became comfortable in her own skin, she said. That was evident on the Oscar red carpet where she was joy to watch—exuberant, confident, loving every second, very much in the character of Precious who sustained herself with fantasies of being a celebrity. The actress ordered a camera to pan back to get her entire cobalt blue Marchesa gown in the frame and told Ryan Seacrest: “If fashion was porn, this dress would be the money shot.”
Watching, one couldn’t help wish for Sidibe to luxuriate in every second because deep-down we know Stern is right: Precious was a unique role; the odds of her transitioning into an American Cinderella—at least the Cinderella created by Disney who is slender and white—are nil in today’s Hollywood where women are valued for their youth, beauty and willingness to aspire to invisibility size-wise. “Plus-sized” or “full-figured” actresses (read: anyone over size six) have a tough enough time of it. Consider Nikki Blonsky who received high praise for her performance in Hairspray but hasn’t been heard from since. The verdict remains out on Jennifer Hudson, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Dreamgirls; she just dropped 60 pounds to play Winnie Mandela in a bio-pic.
The double-standard is so ingrained, it’s tedious: when Renée Zellweger gained 20 pounds to play Bridget Jones it was a major news story (and one suspects part of the reason she won an Oscar). Yet when Jeff Bridges packed on 25 pounds for his Oscar-winning role as washed-up country singer Bad Blake, no one asked for his weight-loss secrets. Male actors can get soft and paunchy and age and still get work—and the girl. Jack Black is allowed to play romantic lead against Kate Winslet. And nobody’s complaining that Philip Seymour Hoffman isn’t buff.
But Sidibe isn’t just “full-figured,” she’s obese—which, as Stern points out, is a hot-button topic in the U.S. and also a serious health risk. In Hollywood, morbid obesity is cheap-laugh fodder—slap a fat suit on Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal) or Eddie Murphy (The Nutty Professor/Norbit) and let the pathetic yucks begin. The 500-pound Darlene Cates who starred in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993 is an exception: she went on a few other roles, all of which hinged on her weight.
People went overboard rooting for Sidibe, Stern argues, “because she’s a big fat lady.” Maybe he’s right again. Consider it the Susan Boyle effect—the righteous pleasure of being so broad-minded to see that talent can come in different-sized packages. But the craving for change, evidenced in the first U.S. Black president, is deeper than that. Hollywood is taking tiny steps: Kathryn Bigelow broke through the male Best Director Oscar barrier. Meryl Streep is hotter at age 60 than she’s ever been. Helen Mirren is an inspiration. And non-stick figure Queen Latifah is playing a romantic lead in the upcoming movie Just Wright.
Fat, however, is more impenetrable, reflected in Stern mocking Sidibe’s for saying “I’m going to hit a Chick-fil-A,” a L.A. fast-food chain, after the awards. “That’s so sad,” he said. Of course, when the slender Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock expressed similar sentiment, it was heralded as a sign of how down to earth she is: “I just want to eat!” Bullock told the press room. “I just want to sit down and take my shoes off, and take my dress off, and eat a burger—and not worry that my dress is going to bust open.” Nobody, even Howard Stern, sees anything wrong with that picture.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, December 14, 2009 at 3:16 PM - 54 Comments
Tasteless, Ignorant Dismissals of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Movies of 2009, None of Which I Have Seen
500 Days of Summer: This is the one with that anime-eyed chick who has the indie-pop duo, right? And the whole movie is pretty much just her being super mean to some guy for a year and a half? And the title comes from the character being named “Summer”, which should have been a dead giveaway to her boyfriend that she was a narcissist raised by obnoxious people?
An Education: I’m guessing the working title was A Pedo-cation. The “-cation” is short for “hour-and-a-half vacation in a movie theatre that’s probably not gonna be crowded at all”.
The Hurt Locker: Whoa, wait, I actually saw this one! Protip: it’s the same old buddy-cop movie, only in Iraq. [NOTE: REVIEW IS NOT IRONIC]
Inglourious Basterds: I was going to make the standard cheap joke about how Quentin found a way to make Hogan’s Heroes look relatively tasteful, but then I remembered that nobody under 80 really has any business questioning the tastefulness of Hogan’s Heroes (several of those cast members ran from the Nazis or risked death fighting them or both; the guy who played LeBeau was in Buchenwald). I find myself wondering if maybe QT did us a favour by bringing WW2 back within range of a purely artistic treatment. I’m actually going to watch this later today, so pretty soon I’ll be entitled to an opinion!
Invictus: Am I the only one who literally couldn’t believe this is the first time Morgan Freeman has played Mandela in a movie?
The Messenger: Outstanding year for Woody Harrelson, with Zombieland, Defendor, and now this. It’s not even a comeback—he’s always popping up in cool stuff, even though he’s got that Skoal-stuffed Kallikak face and gives every indication away from the set that he started life with an IQ of 80 and gave away about a sawbuck of that smoking the chronic. This is a guy who spoke the following words about making this very movie: “It made me care about the soldiers. Prior to that it wasn’t that I didn’t care about them, I just thought of them and the war as all the same thing.” And yet here we are, legitimately wondering: great American actor, or greatEST American actor?
A Serious Man: Do you figure the Coen Brothers realize we’ve all figured out which ones to skip and which ones to go see? Given the pattern of their career, you can actually catch yourself thinking “God, it’s almost like they’re two different people.” Just fire the Hudsucker Proxy one and keep the Fargo one already!
Star Trek: My hypothesis about the Disney-Marvel deal was that comic books don’t need to be profitable because they’ve become storytelling R&D labs for the movies. This is confirmed here by the use of the time-honoured “retcon” strategy as a means of breathing life into an effed-out bunch of characters we could otherwise hardly stand the sight of.
Up: Let you in on a secret: I’ve never really liked, as in really really really liked, a Pixar movie. I find even the good ones a little bit sterile and contrived. Which, obviously, they are, but that doesn’t stop other people from flipping out about how deep the philosophy of The Incredibles was or how Ratatouille was pretty well the equal of anything Kubrick ever did. The emperor has no clothes, guys! Most celebrities are terrible at voice acting, most of these movies have Kricfalusi’s Cal Arts disease in the worst way, and we should be way past having “Ooh, cool” reactions to nerdy little touches in CGI animation! Plus, shame on anybody who fell for the 3-D thing. You’re, what, the fifth or sixth generation of audiences to fall for this crap?
Where the Wild Things Are: I didn’t think it was possible for any literary work to attain a higher exegesis-to-original-text ratio than either the New Testament or Shakespeare, but Sendak proved us all wrong.
By Yoni Goldstein - Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
The year’s biggest mergers
Alex Rodriguez and Kate Hudson
The baseball slugger and ﬁlm starlet confirmed their relationship in July, though Hudson pretty much gave away the secret by following A-Rod’s Yankees across the U.S. during the baseball season. In February, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids between 2001 and 2003—which proves that women love an “honest” man.
Peter MacKay and Jana Juginovic
The hunk on the Hill is engaged, and this time the object of his affection isn’t a fellow pol. MacKay announced his engagement to Juginovic, director of programming at CTV News Channel, in November. Jack, the MacKay family dog, is reportedly happy—his master walks him way too often when there’s no amour in his life. Eat your heart out, Belinda and Condi.
Disney and Marvel
Disney got significantly cooler in August when it announced a US$4-billion deal to buy Marvel Entertainment. Walt’s company will finally have a stable of strong heroes—Iron Man and Wolverine come to mind. Perhaps the Marvel guys will find a way to toughen up Mickey and Pinocchio.
Archie and Veronica
First he married Veronica. Then he married Betty. But Archie’s no bigamist—both were “dreams.” Could you see this ending any other way? The redhead has been stringing these two on for 70 years. Some may say he’s got the best of both worlds—one rich girl, one nice girl—why ruin it by choosing Veronica? By the way, have you noticed Betty and Veronica look exactly the same, except for their hair colour?
Suncor and Petro-Canada
“I don’t know if it is a marriage made in heaven. But it is a match made in Canada,” Suncor’s CEO Rick George said when his company mergered with Petro-Canada. The deal protects two big players in Canada’s oil patch from foreign takeovers. It also means we have one less company to blame the next time gas prices skyrocket.
Michael Vick and the Humane Society
Michael Vick used to be a sick puppy, now he’s helping them. The dogfighting quarterback and the Humane Society of the U.S. teamed up after Vick was released from prison in May. Now that he’s back in the NFL, we’ll see how much time he has for the Sparkys and Rexes of the world.
Fiat and Chrysler
If anyone can make Chrysler stylish again, it’s the Italian automaker. But this deal isn’t just about reviving the moribund American institution—Fiat plans to use Chrysler’s dealerships and manufacturing plants to promote its own brands (and those of subsidiary Alfa Romeo) in the North American market. As the Italians say: Chi non risica, non rosica (“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”).
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
Honestly, we can’t figure out whether the Twilight stars are dating or not. They keep denying a relationship, but then were recently photographed holding hands in Paris. It’s not fair to keep so many teens languishing in crush purgatory.
Ivanka Trump marries
Mazel tov! Ivanka Trump—or Yael Trump, as she’s now known—converted to Judaism and married New York Observer owner Jared Kushner on Oct. 25. She wore a Vera Wang dress. No one could tell whether Donald was wearing a yarmulka—or whether he was having another bad hair day.
CPP and Skype
The Canada Pension Plan’s purchase of a portion of the Internet phone company signals the emergence of a bolder CPP. Now that a lawsuit between Skype and the computer nerds who developed the online phone technology has been settled, pensioners can expect to see money start rolling in—over the Web, that is.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, November 6, 2009 at 1:05 PM - 3 Comments
‘A Christmas Carol’ is a hot item in hard times, but Jim Carrey sucks the soul right out of it
He did it for the money. An indebted Charles Dickens dashed off A Christmas Carol in six weeks and saw it published, with opportune timing, six days before Christmas, in 1843. The first 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve and the book has never been out of print. With his blockbuster novella, Dickens founded a franchise and reinvented the Christmas spirit, making a plea for joy and generosity in dour industrial England. But had he been visited by the Ghost of Xmas 2009, he would be shocked to see what’s become of his creation—a monstrous, half-human Ebenezer Scrooge who glowers from 3-D movie screens, heralding a Yuletide blitz of getting and spending more than six weeks before Christmas Day. And in Jim Carrey, the star of Disney’s A Christmas Carol, he’d see an actor who out-Scrooges Scrooge by hoarding five of the story’s roles—Ebenezer as an old man and a young boy, plus all three Christmas ghosts.
Tis the season to be tight-fisted, and Scrooge has never been bigger. Tailor-made for these penny-pinching times, he’s the original bipolar capitalist—the boss from hell who turns into a bailout benefactor. Everyone wants a piece of him. As Margaret Atwood writes in her introduction to a new Dickens anthology, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Books, “Scrooge is one of those characters—like Hamlet—who has become detached from the story in which he had his birth, and has become instantly recognizable, even by those who have never read the book.” Recalling her childhood affection for Disney’s Scrooge McDuck, who splashed in a giant vault of coins, Atwood calls him “a sort of anti-Santa Claus—Santa Claus’s dark twin.” Continue…
By Michael Friscolanti - Friday, October 30, 2009 at 9:30 AM - 1 Comment
Plus a week in the life of Danielle Smith
Face of the week
Champagne shower: Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth celebrates after his team earned a spot in the World Series
A week in the life of Danielle Smith
Last week, the former journalist and broadcaster won the leadership race for Alberta’s Wildrose Alliance Party; this week she’s hoping to win over Albertans. After a brief appearance at the provincial legislature on Monday, Smith set out on a cross-province tour to drum up support for her fledgling party, which is seeking to uproot a majority Conservative government. According to a recent poll, 18 per cent of Albertans support the Wildrose Alliance. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 2:00 AM - 21 Comments
The company has tried to make Demi Lovato a multimedia star even before her sitcom airs
Demi Lovato is the new Miley Cyrus. The Disney company hasn’t actually called her that, but it doesn’t need to; its promotional technique says it all. Not long before Cyrus’s naughty Vanity Fair photos appeared, Disney made a big investment in Lovato, who had been appearing in some of the company’s smaller shows; it put her in the TV musical Camp Rock (with those other cash cows, the Jonas Brothers), concert tours, and a new sitcom, Sonny With a Chance. The show premieres in Canada on the Family Channel on March 16, but the 15-year-old Lovato had already been promoted as a star before an episode had aired anywhere; creator Steve Marmel told Maclean’s that this is the first kids’ sitcom where “instead of going from TV show to star, someone has gone from star to TV show.” It’s a youthful version of the old Hollywood studio system: a company picks a performer and turns her into a star before anyone quite realizes it.
Lovato told Maclean’s that while Disney has been “awesome helping my career” in both music and acting, the company never actually spelled out its plans. “I don’t think they ever tell somebody ‘we want you to be a star,’ ” she said. “It’s just that they like to push the shows or movies or things like that.” But the projects Disney has chosen for her have all somehow managed to reinforce the image she needs to be the new Miley Cyrus: someone who can sing, is constantly perky, and seems like a regular girl who got the break of a lifetime.