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- 12/24/13--08:55: _Before She Was Famo...
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- 12/24/13--22:32: _BIEBER: 'I'm Offici...
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- 12/25/13--12:02: _8 Big Movies Came O...
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- 12/25/13--13:30: _The True Story Behi...
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- 12/26/13--09:24: _Jay Z's Brand Is Su...
- 12/26/13--10:11: _Watch A 7-Minute 'S...
- 12/26/13--10:56: _The 15 Video Games ...
- 12/24/13--19:10: The 15 Highest-Grossing Movies Of 2013
- 12/24/13--22:32: BIEBER: 'I'm Officially Retiring'
- 12/25/13--07:39: Carlos Santana Reunites With Homeless Former Bandmate
- 12/25/13--12:02: 8 Big Movies Came Out Today — Here Are The Ones You Should See
- 12/25/13--13:30: The True Story Behind Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas'
- 12/26/13--03:23: What It Takes To Be A Special Effects Engineer
- 12/26/13--05:27: Beyonce Granted One Little Girl's Dying Wish During Her Concert
- 12/26/13--08:41: 10 Real Wall Street Stories That Should Be Movies
- 12/26/13--09:24: Jay Z's Brand Is Suffering Because People Don't Trust Him Anymore
- 12/26/13--10:11: Watch A 7-Minute 'Sherlock' Season 3 Prequel
- 12/26/13--10:56: The 15 Video Games From 2013 Everyone Should Play
Before Eva Mendes was an award-winning actress, she was just a young Alyssa Milano fan like the majority of her peers.
Former "Who's The Boss" star Milano retweeted an amazing throwback photo of herself at age 17 signing an autograph for Mendes, who was 15 at the time and not yet famous. Mendes had "waited in line for hours to get my picture taken with her" at the Glendale mall.
Mendes, now 39, spoke of her admiration for Milano, 41, in a new feature on VioletGrey.com:
CASSANDRA HUYSENTRUYT GREY : DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST ACTOR YOU ADMIRED?
E.M.: Alyssa Milano from Who’s The Boss. I just thought she was living my ideal life on that show. It was a rags-to-riches story and I felt like that maybe it could happen to me. I just loved her little attitude and her name, I loved her actual name and her character’s name, Samantha Micelli. She also had this workout video called Teen Steam. I know it word for word. When I was 15 I even went to the Glendale Gallery mall and waited in line for hours to get my picture taken with her. I still have that picture. More recently I admire Julianne Moore as an actor and a woman. She’s fearless in her role choices and really embraces being out of her comfort zone. Though at the same time she’s grounded and elegant in her private life.
Last week, Sarah Palin wrote this on Facebook:
Free speech is an endangered species. Those “intolerants” hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.
But as Politico reports, yesterday on Fox News Palin admitted she hasn't read the GQ profile that led to all the intolerants "hatin' and taking on" Phil Robertson — you know, the one where he waxes about the evils of Shintoism and homosexuality and describes how Jim Crow didn't look that bad to him.
In 2008, when Katie Couric asked Palin what newspapers and magazines she reads, she answered "um, all of them."
Indie Filmmaker Casey Neistat was offered $25,000 of Twentieth Century Fox's advertising budget money to create a promotional video with the theme “live your dreams" for the upcoming Ben Stiller movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
Neistat accepted the challenge, but there was a catch -- he wanted to take the studio's money and travel to the Philippines, where a massive Typhoon had hit days earlier.
Fox agreed and the result is an inspirational, six-minute YouTube video following Neistat’s journey to the Philippines and how he provided more than 10,000 meals, tools to 35 villages, and medicine to local organizations.
In the end, it was perfectly on-theme with the studio's “living your dreams” video assignment. Watch the result below:
Neistat documented the journey via Instagram:
"Couldn't find any trucks so I filled two busses with; 4,000 cases of crackers 1008 cans of tuna 1000 cans of canned fish 4290lbs of rice 1440 cans of spam 15000 packs of instant coffee 30 hammers 35 wood saws 35 umbrellas and 1000 medical masks all out of money now, headed to tacloban to distribute."
"Part 2 of the Tacloban relief project. we put the buses filled with aid on a boat."
"It's worse than it looks."
"Tacloban relief project; I assembled this small army of locals to help pack over a thousand relief bags for distribution."
"In total we delivered over 10,000 meals to the people of Tacloban. this little girl was particularly excited about her package."
"The people of Tacloban are not complainers. hungry and desperate but not complainers. most resilient group I've ever been lucky enough to encounter."
Space flicks, superheroes, and sequels made it a big year at the box office.
We've compiled the 15 highest-grossing movies of the year worldwide, which made a combined $9.7 billion at theaters.
We're aware there are still a few films coming out Christmas day, but we'll be surprised if "The Wolf of Wall Street" takes in $400 million+ by the end of the year.
"The Hobbit" sequel "The Desolation of Smaug" will definitely make more money before the year's end, so we'll adjust accordingly.
We know "Iron Man" tops the list. Let's see who else joins Robert Downey Jr.'s Marvel man.
15. "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug": $403.8 million
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release date: December 13
Estimated budget: $225 million
Domestic gross: $127.5 million
The sequel to last year's "An Unexpected Journey" may be bringing in plenty of box-office dollars, but it's off to a slower than the first film in the three-part trilogy ($127.5 million vs. $150 million domestically).
(Source: Box Office Mojo)
14. "Pacific Rim": $407.6 million
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release date: July 12
Estimated budget: $190 million
Domestic gross: $101.8 million
The monsters vs. robots movie from Guillermo del Toro may have underperformed in the states, but it made up for that overseas. A sequel is already in works for the film which ended up being the costliest sci-fi flick of the year.
(Source: Box Office Mojo)
13. "The Wolverine": $414.8 million
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release date: July 26
Estimated budget: $120 million
Domestic gross: $132.6 million
Forget Iron Man. Collective reviews even went so far as to call it the best superhero film of the summer. Still, Hugh Jackman's return as the Marvel slasher didn't perform nearly as well as the Wolverine Origins film from 2009 opening weekend. Instead, "The Wolverine" became another example of a film that took off abroad at theaters.
(Source: Box Office Mojo)
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Jutsin Bieber dropped a bombshell on Christmas Eve.
The 19-year-old singer announced to his nearly 50 million Twitter followers that he is retiring -- with little explanation.
My beloved beliebers I'm officially retiring— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 25, 2013
The media talks a lot about me.They make a up a lot of lies and want me to fail but I'm never leaving you, being a belieber is a lifestyle.— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 25, 2013
Be kind loving to each other, forgive each other as god forgave us through Christ Merry Christmas IM HERE FOREVER— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 25, 2013
The singer pulled a similar stunt last week, joking in a radio interview that he would call it quits after the release of his "Complete My Journals " album on Monday.
Bieber’s new documentary movie "Believe" opens Christmas Day.
Despite tonight's announcement, we have a feeling Bieber will come out of retirement and get back into the studio very soon.
The year was 1996.
And the hottest holiday gift was Nintendo's new video game console at the time, the Nintendo 64.
It's a tradition here at BI: Tech to post one of the best viral Christmas videos of all time, a lucky lad completely losing his mind when he gets one of the coveted new systems. They were really hard to come by that year. Most retailers were sold out well past Christmas.
The money quote: "Now we can play games from Blockbuster!" Oh, how times have changed.
Chuck Norris parodied Jean Claude Van Damme's now famous "Epic Split" Volvo truck commercial by re-creating the stunt with two airplanes and nearly a dozen men balanced on his head in the shape of a Christmas tree.
The new video was created as a holiday greeting from Hungarian animation firm, Delov Digital.
While Van Damme's initial stunt was real, Norris' is a CGI parody. Watch below:
Now watch the original:
The man turned out to be Marcus "The Magnificent" Malone, a percussionist for Carlos Santana's Santana Blues Band in the '60s.
But a stint in prison forced Marcus to leave the band shortly before they hit it big and he eventually lost touch with his former bandmates, drifting from gig to gig and becoming homeless as Santana made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The news piece eventually made it to Carlos Santana himself, who recently tracked down Marcus and reunited with him on the streets of Oakland.
Despite the many years apart, the men embraced warmly as the legendary guitarist promised to help his "brother" find a place to live, as well as record an album with the original members of the Santana Blues Band.
"That's Magnificent Marcus Malone, alright," Santana says as he sees his old pal for the first time in decades.
Watch the original report below:
Santana later explained to CNN: "We knew he got in trouble when the band was just about to explode with Woodstock and he wound up in jail and we've been trying to look for him all these years because we have royalties, he co-wrote some of the songs in the beginning. Those royalties right now go to his family and sister because someone is in charge of all of that financial stuff for him."
Now watch Santana and reporter Stanley Roberts, who found Marcus and broke the story, being interviewed on CNN.
Chris Brown has listed his three-bedroom, four-story Hollywood Hills home for $1.92 million, according to Zillow.
It's a fairly typical bachelor pad, with black floors and countertops, plus blue neon exterior lights that gives it a distinct nightclub feel.
The house used to have some more distinguishing features, however. After neighbors complained that graffiti creatures on the house's walls were just too scary, Brown was ordered to repaint the front of his home.
"There are lots of babies, lots of children, and they're literally frightened. It's like devils on the wall — big scary eyes and big scary teeth, and just the whole vibe is not what we're used to," a neighbor said to the Los Angeles Times in May.
The murals were painted over in July, though Brown claims that it was only because he is trying to sell the house.
The house is more than four stories and has eerie blue lighting at night.
The living room has some more of those creepy graffiti monsters the neighbors were complaining about.
The kitchen's design plays it safe with black floors and countertops.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
December is a BIG movie month.
For those heading out to theaters on Christmas, there are eight movies coming out. Of those, four are big wide releases.
Not sure what to see? We've broken down which films are worth watching for everyone.
1. Skip: "47 Ronin"
What it's about: Reeves swings around a sword as a samurai as he leads an army of 47 warriors to avenge the death of their master.
The only reason to see it: Keanu Reeves.
It's the actor's return front and center in a big-budget film for the first time in 10 years.
Why you should pass:
We love Reeves, but after some thought, we're not convinced from the trailers this looks like a great film. Maybe it's the monstrous woman turning into a cheesy-looking CGI dragon, maybe it's the fact the film has a tumultuous production story — it's been pushed back since November 2012 with a budget estimated at $225 million— either way, both leave us hesitant.
At the least, you should check out the graphic novel.
The once-Matrix actor really resonates with fans and no matter how bad this movie may be it may very well end up surprising at the box office despite all the competition.
2. Run out and see: "The Wolf of Wall Street"
What it's about: Leonardo DiCaprio is back as another wealthy socialite, this time as crooked stockbroker Jordan Belfort.
Why this is a must-see:
Other than the sex, drugs, and over-the-top wild parties on screen?
1. This "Anything for the Oscar" GIF of Leonardo DiCaprio
This is DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese's fifth time working together on a film. Despite DiCaprio's two Oscar nominations for Best Actor, he has yet to win an Academy Award.
3. If that isn't enough, our own Linette Lopez got her hands on the script for the film last year and picked out the 15 scenes she can't wait to see.
3. Overrated: "Grudge Match"
What it's about: Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone are returning to the boxing ring to go a few rounds for the title of top boxer.
Why to watch: The addition of Kevin Hart for comic relief may be the only saving grace to an otherwise campy film that seems outdated and unnecessary.
Why to pass: Do you really want to watch "Rocky" vs. "Raging Bull"? We're not sure how many crowds of audiences have been saying they want to see this "epic" fight onscreen.
How many other films with two older actors trying to recapture the spotlight have you seen do well this year? ("The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" with Jim Carrey and "Escape Plan" with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two examples that come to mind.)
This isn't something like "The Avengers" vs. "The Justice League" that may get fans all riled up.
4. Steer clear: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
What it's about: Based on the James Thurber book, Ben Stiller stars as a shy guy constantly lost in a daydream who finally goes on a big life adventure.
Who should see it: Fans of the book. Kristen Wiig/Stiller fans.
Why you should pass:
Collective early reviews for the film agree Mitty's dead on arrival with the adaptation lost in its own fantasy.
If we're being serious, between "American Hustle," "The Wolf of Wall Street," and this pick, we'd go with either of the former choices.
The four other movies out Christmas Day:
5. "August: Osage County": How can you go wrong with Meryl Streep AND Julia Roberts?A group of women come together for a family crisis. Ewan McGregor also stars in the film produced in part by George Clooney. Worth a watch.
6."Labor Day": Kate Winslet plays a mom who unknowingly gives a ride to an escaped convict (Josh Brolin). See it.
7. "Justin Bieber's Believe": A follow-up documentary to the singer's 2011 "Never Say Never" movie that teenage girls and "Beliebers" may want to check out, but that will probably get lost among all the other big releases. Skip.
8. "Walking With Dinosaurs 3D": Stick with Disney's animated flick, "Frozen." The title sounds like the film is geared toward one demographic, but upon viewing the trailer it feels like a kid's film (a la "The Land Before Time"). Having 3D in the title doesn't do the film any favors as audiences often assume that means you must see the movie in that format. Skip.
Other films you'll want to check out:
Maybe you don't want to see any of those movies.
There are a few other movies coming out RIGHT before the holidays you should consider:
Must-See: "American Hustle"
Release date: Dec. 13 (limited) wide release Dec. 20
After last year's Oscar winner, "Silver Linings Playbook," director David O. Russell is back with actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. This time Amy Adams and Christian Bale join as two con artists trying to take down corrupt politicians.
Early reviews for the film are saying this could very well be O. Russell's next big Oscar win.
For the diehard film fan: "Her"
Initial release date: Dec. 18
Need something a little more quirky? Look no further than Spike Jones' romantic dramedy about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with an operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson).
For the Peter Jackson fan: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
Release date: Dec. 13
Weren't a fan of the first film? The second of the trilogy should be the movie where the majority of the high-action takes place.
Don't take our word for it, the majority of early reviews say the second installment is better than the first.
Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock") will appreciate him voicing the menacing dragon Smaug. "Lord of the Rings" fans will welcome back the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
And yes, it looks like it will be in that high 48 frames per second frame rate.
For the Disney fan: "Saving Mr. Banks"
Release date: Dec. 13
Love "Mary Poppins" or Walt Disney? This film will tell you how the legend himself brought the film to the big screen. If you thought you were signing up for a film about Disney himself, look elsewhere. You may not get the full (true) story of the adaptation but you will get strong performances from Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Must-watch comedy: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
Release date: Dec. 18
The news team reassembles!
Even if the movie's bad — and with all of the marketing oversaturation lately it very well could be — it won't matter. Fans have been waiting for nearly a decade to see Ron Burgundy reunite with the Channel 4 News team. And great Odin's raven are there a number of cameos — Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, Harrison Ford, and more. If it's the last thing we do, we'll be seeing this sequel — for better or worse.
SEE ALSO: The highest-grossing movies of the year
In June of 1983, “Trading Places” was released in theaters. It remains the greatest Wall Street movie ever made.
Thirty years later, most regard it as part of the canon of American comedies, having launched, revived, or defined the careers of many of its cast and crew.
We also argue it's the great Christmas movie ever made.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should probably repent to your local pastor, then log into your nearest Netflix account.
But as a courtesy, we’ll summarize the plot: Two septuagenarian brothers who run a successful commodities brokerage in Philadelphia get into an argument about whether a person’s character is shaped by nature or nurture. They decide to make a bet: They will frame a top executive (Dan Aykroyd) with drug possession and soliciting a prostitute (Jamie Lee Curtis). Meanwhile, they will promote a street beggar (Eddie Murphy) to the executive’s former role. They will then observe whether the beggar and executive still act like their old selves.
To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of this film, we reached out to some key principals behind the film — sadly, many are no longer with us, though their collective experience at the time of the shooting helped make the movie as good as it was — to talk to us about how it got made and what it means today.
JOHN LANDIS, director: I got a call from Jeff Katzenberg, the executive at Paramount at that time, asking if I would read a script called ‘Black And White,’ which I thought was a lousy title — ironically black or white was something I did with Michael Jackson several years later.
It was very old fashioned, a social comedy very much like the screwball stuff done in the '30s. Hollywood made a series of movies — Preston Sturges, Frank Capra — these comedies that really were about society at the time, and were fairly political, but wonderfully funny and with strong characters.
TIM HARRIS, co-writer: There were these two brothers who were both doctors who I would play tennis with on a fairly regular basis, and they were incredibly irritating to play with because they had a major sibling rivalry going, all the time about everything.
There were these two brothers who were both doctors who I would play tennis with on a fairly regular basis, and they were incredibly irritating to play with because they had a major sibling rivalry going, all the time about everything. — Tim Harris, co-writer
So they always had to be separated, you know, play on the other team.
And they were very wealthy but also incredibly cheap — we would play on public courts where it was like a couple of bucks for four guys for an hour.
And they’d have arguments about who was coming up with 50 cents, and I think one very hot day I played with them, and I just came home and was fed up with it, and I just thought, ‘God, I just don’t want to play with these people, they’re awful.’
And I had the idea of them betting on a nature/nurture situation with somebody in their company, and I’d pretty much worked out the whole thing, and went over to Herschel’s and told it to him and he thought it was fabulous.
At the time I was living in what was a fairly run-down part of L.A. near Fairfax Avenue that was completely crime ridden. I lived in an apartment complex where everybody either had a gun held to their head or been raped or whatever — just a very criminal environment — that was part of it I suppose as well.
HERSCHEL WEINGROD, co-writer: The truth is that the only way that a screenplay can really be judged, by definition, isn't on the page, it's by watching the film that was made from it. It can certainly be read and enjoyed, but the inescapable fact is that it was written in order to be seen.
LANDIS: The script was developed for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. And when I was sent the script, Richard Pryor, unfortunately, had his accident where he burnt himself rather badly, and they sent it to me and said, ‘What do you think?’
‘48 Hours’ hadn't come out yet, but they’d previewed it, and Eddie Murphy had previewed very well, and they thought, ‘Ah this kid's going to be a star,’ So they said, ‘What do you think about Eddie Murphy playing the Billy Ray Valentine part?’ And I of course said, ‘Who’s Eddie Murphy?’
So they said, ‘What do you think about Eddie Murphy playing the Billy Ray Valentine part?’ And I of course said, ‘Who’s Eddie Murphy?’ — John Landis, director
Because I didn’t watch Saturday Night Live since John [Belushi] had died.
So I read the script, and I saw Eddie's tapes, and went to New York and met with Eddie. And they wanted — I won't tell you who they wanted me to cast — but the studio was very unhappy with almost everybody they wanted me to cast.
John Belushi had died, and [Dan Aykroyd’s] movie without John was called ‘Dr. Detroit,’ which was a failure, so conventional wisdom was that Aykroyd without Belushi was like Abbott without Costello, and that his career was over.
Now I knew Danny well, having worked with him, and I knew Danny was a fine actor, and he could easily play this guy. Danny, he's an actor: You tell him what you want, and he delivers. And I thought he'd be wonderful. So he reduced his price quite a bit, and I got him, so I had Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, and they were upset because Danny hadn't — his last couple of pictures hadn't done well, and Eddie was still an unknown really. ‘48 Hours’ came out while we were shooting...
The only character in the script I had a problem with, because she's such a fantasy, is Ophelia. The classic ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ — she's such a fantasy that I thought how the fuck am I going to get away with this?’ I had met Jamie Lee Curtis — I shot a documentary on horror stuff, and she was host of it — she was a ‘scream queen.’ And I met her and she was so funny and smart and sexy, and I thought, ‘Oh she'd be terrific.’
She had just made ‘Halloween 2,’ for which she'd been paid I think a $1 million, and we paid her probably $70,000. When I cast her the studio went nuts. I was called into the head of the studio’s office and he said, ‘This woman's a B-movie actress,’ and I said, ‘Not after this movie!’ But boy they really didn't like the fact that I cast Danny and Jamie.
JAMIE LEE CURTIS, ‘Ophelia’: I had made a conscious effort to actually stop doing [horror movies]. I knew that that would not allow me a full career — that at a certain point it would get limiting. And I met John when he was doing a short — a documentary about horror movie trailers from the '50s called ‘Coming Soon.’ He needed somebody to narrate, so he hired me for that; that's when I first met him. And during the course of that, he must have had some sense that I would be good. So he handed me that part.
He clearly went against every one of the studios. The casting people all thought he was crazy, and he single-handedly changed the course of my life by giving me that part.
He single-handedly changed the course of my life by giving me that part. — Jamie Lee Curtis
HARRIS: The casting is very much to John’s credit, he just cast the movie brilliantly, and all the minor parts really shine. It’s actually one of those movies, where it changes a lot of the participants’ careers forever. It got Jamie Lee Curtis out of horror movies. It got Herschel and I to a much more prominent level. The two old guys — it completely revived their careers. It catapulted everybody’s careers in a positive way.
LANDIS: The most remarkable story, casting wise: I thought, ‘Well, I need someone who was a movie star in the ‘40s, who never has never really played a villain, and I was thinking, ‘Hey, what about Don Ameche?’ And the casting woman said, ‘Don Ameche’s dead.’ And I said, ‘I don't think so, I would know if Don Ameche is dead.’
And so we called the Screen Actor’s Guild, and his residuals were being sent to his son in Phoenix, Arizona. And I thought, ‘Well that's not a good sign.’ And he didn't have an agent, and I thought, ‘Shit, goddamm, who else could we get?’ when one of the secretaries said, ‘I heard you're looking for Don Ameche.’ We said ‘Ya.’ She said, ‘I see him all the time walking on San Vicente in Santa Monica.’
So I called information, and I said, ‘I there a Don or D Ameche on San Vicente in Santa Monica?’ And there was! So I called him. And you know he has that unmistakable voice, and you realize, Don was a huge star, in the late ’30s, definitely a big star in the ’40s — I mean he was Alexander Graham Bell for chrissakes! — a major star in the ’50s, Broadway star, radio star, movie star, television star.
And I said, ‘Mr. Ameche?’ ‘Yeeessss...?’ ‘My name is John Landis, I’m with Paramount Studios, and I'm making a film and I’d like you to consider a part.’ So I had a script sent over. ‘And could you please read this and can you come in tomorrow?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ Would you like us to send a car?’ He said, ‘No no, I can drive.’ I said, ‘Great.’
And he came in and was prepared to read for me. I was so shocked. I said ‘You don't have to read for me.’
He hadn't made a movie in 14 years, he'd been doing dinner theater.
While we were shooting later in Philadelphia — he was so wonderful — I said, ‘Don, may I ask a question? How come you haven't worked in 14 years?’ And he said, ‘Well, nobody called!’
The great upshot of this is after Trading Places came out, the next movie he was in was ‘Cocoon,’ which he won an Oscar for. He never stopped working the rest of his life — he made like 10 more movies — I worked with him twice more.
HARRIS: [Philadelphia] has a connection with the founding of the country, the constitution, everybody being entitled to the pursuit of happiness, all the idealism that’s built into America. I thought it was a good way to highlight that, especially in the opening scene when you see the legless black guy.
LANDIS: A lot of the interiors that are supposed to be in Philadelphia are actually New York. The exterior and interior of Duke Brothers, the big floor, was Philadelphia. But the offices were upstairs at the Park Avenue Armory, they had these beautiful Stanford White interiors. In fact, there was a real Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington — I said ‘Can I use that?’
SCAMMING THE SCAMMERS
LANDIS: It took me a long time just to understand the con, what was going on. It's just so funny, it's so long ago now, the chicanery is so much more arcane now. At least in ‘Trading Places,’ at the end of the day, there was the commodity.
HARRIS: I asked some people who were in that business to kind of walk me me through it, and when I was writing it — it was like studying for an exam, you know, you kind of understand it the day of, and then 24 hours later you can’t remember how anything works.
LANDIS: It was actually in the script that the final scenes were in Chicago at the commodities exchange, but they would not let us shoot there. We really had tried every which way to get permission to shoot there, and I think truthfully once they saw we had a clear understanding of how it worked, it was like, ‘No!’
So we ended up at the commodities exchange in New York which was at the World Trade Center at the time.
About 90% [of the floor traders in the movie] were actual traders, and a great deal of it I shot during actual trading hours. They were into it — if anything they were less rough. I was quite taken aback at how physically rough it was — they really elbowed one another ... It was like a contact sport.
I was quite taken aback at how physically rough it was. It was like a contact sport. — John Landis
They were basically trading like 8 or 9 hours a day, so we were in there for 3 to 4 hours on two days between opening and closing, and we got a lot done. I actually shot some ‘guerrilla’ stuff there that I used in the movie.
I also remember that the commodities market, it was in one of the towers at the World Trade Center on the 50th or 60th floor — no windows, and 3 to 4 stories high. That was very strange, to take an elevator up 50 or 60 floors, and then you thought you were underground.
AN INSTANT CLASSIC?
WEINGROD: The film got extremely good reviews from the major film critics at the time - Vincent Canby at the New York Times; Siskel & Ebert, both on their TV show and in the Chicago Sun-Times; Richard Schicikel in Time Magazine; Sheila Benson in the L.A. Times; even People magazine. There were some negative reviews as well, but we were hopeful that the good ones would help audiences go and see the film. They did and, fortunately, they liked it a lot. I just looked it up, and it was the fourth highest grossing film in a year where ‘Return Of The Jedi’ and ‘Tootsie’ were first and second.
HARRIS: It didn’t have a huge opening, but it just kept going and going and going. I had a call from an agent saying he was getting calls asking if it was true that the whole film had actually been the producer Aaron Russo’s idea, and that he’d just paid us to write it. Then I got another call saying Jeffrey Katzenberg at Paramount was going around saying it had all been his idea. Being by then already a Hollywood cynic, I knew it was a hit, because people were trying to steal credit for it already.
CURTIS: Some people will pretend they knew it. Paramount maybe felt like it had something. In the middle of the process, you never anticipate that it’s going to be off the charts. ... It's just a really funny movie. ‘Motherfucker? Moi?’
WEINGROD: If you write an original screenplay that becomes a commercial and critical success, you suddenly have a certain amount of legitimacy. No one's risking their job hiring you to do a writing assignment or even making another of your original scripts because you've already made money for a studio; you're in the club, as it were. ... Hiring writers whose films have been successful helps mitigate this essential absurdity of the screenwriting process for the buyer.
LANDIS: Movies have a life of their own.
AN “INSPIRATIONAL” FILM
HARRIS: It was probably just on the cusp of it becoming incredibly trendy to be absolutely rich. We played into that at the end of film: Tdream is achieved because these two guys, a black guy and white guy, both got filthy rich. I think that’s why the film is successful — it’s a satire on greed and social conventions, but it had a satisfying happy ending. They both got what they wanted.
CURTIS: Old money still has the power — nothing has changed. It’s shocking to me, but it’s not surprising. It’s shocking that you would think people would be held accountable, but I just don't think that's reality today.
LANDIS: The sheer enormity of the dishonesty that's rampant in the banking industry and securities business ... This all extends from deregulation — just the cowardice and corruption of the Senate, it's just ... you can't exaggerate this stuff. You really can't.
HARRIS: Somebody came up to me recently and said it was because of ‘Trading Places’ that he’d gone into the world of finance, which is like a huge paradigm turn — that a film written as satire of that world ends up inspiring somebody to go into that world and make a lot of money. But it just shows how times change since that film was made.
WEINGROD: Bernard Madoff, former chairman of NASDAQ, had been investigated by the SEC since 1999, but the scandal didn't break until 2008. 'Nuff said.
WHITHER WALL STREET COMEDIES?
HARRIS: The movies that have come out about Wall Street, none of them are funny. They’re all melodramas, they take themselves very seriously. I think they’re constrained, they have to be automatically liberal in their disapproval of it.
I was sort of disappointed with that. ‘Trading Places’ is a sort of backward-looking film, that owed more to the films of the ’40s and ’50s than it does to anything that was going on at the time it was made.
‘Brewster’s Millions’ was a social comedy about money and greed and what it does to people, but after that, there were no films like that being made anymore.
There were no films like that being made anymore. — Tim Harris
Comedies were being directed at a specific groups of kids — teenagers — and that seemed to take over a great deal.
I think it’s probably an American thing — they’re not interested in looking at that stuff particularly. I don’t think Hollywood is either — it’s awkward for them. The important people in Hollywood are really, really, filthy rich. They don’t want to see that made fun of particularly, I don’t think.
CURTIS: Comedy is all about character and conflict. There’s certainly enough conflict in banking, and there are certainly enough characters. Someone who's clever could come up with a good hook.
SEE ALSO: The Most Important Charts In The World
Anyone capable of croaking out a note these days now puts out Christmas records. We are oversaturated with them, and they come and go with barely a whimper.
You can think of some the reasons why — banalization, cannibalization — but it may simply be because every year for the past 19 years, a juggernaut has blown them all away: “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” by Mariah Carey.
We wanted to learn more about what went into creating something so utterly dominant, so we called up Walter Afanasieff, who co-wrote the song.
Carey is obviously the star of “Want,” but Afanasieff composed all the music. By the time the song came around, Afanasieff had already been Carey’s main songwriting partner for five years. He was also a driving force behind the two hit singles immediately preceding “Want”: “Hero” and “Without You.”
Recording a Christmas album was basically unheard of in 1994, Afanasieff says, and a bit of a risk. Back then, top 40 Christmas songs in the U.S. had practically died out, having been deemed too sleepy for Gen-Xers.
But Carey had entered the height of her powers, and things were going so well that they figured they could get away with it. Plus, Afanasieff says, Carey just loves Christmas, both for its festive and religious trappings.
So in June 1994,they started writing songs for a Christmas album. Carey had Christmas lights and decorations strung up to set the mood. There would be three singles, and thanks to some nudging from Tommy Mottola, Carey’s Bronx-born husband and impresario at that time, one of them was going to be a more upbeat, propulsive number in the mode of Phil Spector’s ’60s Brill Building pop sound. Indeed, the song in many ways resembles the Spector/Darlene Love hit “Baby Please Come Home.”
With that directive in mind, Afanasieff says he’d come up with a basic chord structure when he and Carey sat down at a piano to write the tune at the house she was renting with Mottola in the Hamptons.
Initially, Afanasieff admits, he blanched at where Carey took the vocal melody.
“My first reaction was, ‘That sounds like someone doing voice scales … Are you sure that’s what you want?’”
But Carey was adamant, and after a few hours, they had the main elements of the song.
“She would sing a melody and I would do a chord change … it was almost like a game of ping-pong, back and forth, until we had it.”
He flew back to California to have the song recorded by a live band in a studio, but he said they failed to capture its essence, so he ended up using his first, personal arrangement. With the exception of the background vocals, everything you hear on “Want,” — the piano, the effects, the drums, the triangle — were played or programmed by Afanasieff.
Five months later, the song was out. Afanasieff claims he had no clue he’d come up with a smash, and that he’s not even sure if he recalls the day it was released. “My reaction was ‘Oh cool, I got another song on the radio.’”
But the track soon became ubiquitous as Christmas 1994 approached.
The next year, it did so again. And again and again. It’s since sold at least 14 million copies, and this year will again sell one million copies in the U.K. alone.
It’s gotten to the point, Afanasieff says, where he has an informal competition every year with Jem Finer, the Pogues member who co-wrote their Christmas smash “Fairytale of New York,” to see which song does better over the holidays.
So why does he think the song has become so huge?
“It’s not about the song structure, it’s not about the production, it’s not about the rhythm … there’s no secret formula,” he says, although he says having Mariah Carey’s voice helped.
But, he says, it contains several novel elements that have sustained its success. There are almost no other uptempo songs in the American Christmas canon, he notes, let alone ones packed with something approaching Carey’s vocal fireworks. It also helped that, although it was a Christmas song, it didn’t focus on any of the typical, children-oriented Christmastime iconography like Santa or Rudolph. “It’s more adult,” he said. More than anything, according to what people tell him, it’s really a song about love and romance that also happens to be about Christmas .
Combine those elements, and you get a monster hit.
But while the entertainment industry will notoriously throw money to clone any successful product, Afanasieff says they’re barking up the wrong tree with Christmas.
“The last thing I would tell a record company is to make another ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You.’”
“Want” is definitively the most successful song he’s ever been involved with — though he also produced “My Heart Will Go On,” whose sales come close. He gets hundreds of requests to license the track for covers or other material. But while he’s enjoyed the financial rewards from the song, he gets uncomfortable when people call the song a cash cow.
“I hate that,” he says. “The commercial part was not the point in any way.”
The reward, he says, is humble appreciation that he gets to be associated with a song the rest of the world has added to the Christmas canon.
And here’s the video:
Sanjay Bakshi has spent a lot of time with monsters. He knows precisely how their hair moves as they terrorise humans, how their eyeballs swivel when they sight their prey, and how their fangs gnash when they eat.
As technical director for Disney's Monsters University he led a team responsible for visualising a population of suitably monstrous students, and then animating them.
"The directors gave us some loose drawings to go by, and we had to build them into characters," he says. "There were hundreds so, to distinguish them, we had to give them each a name – so we used the names of the crew. Each crew member therefore has their own monster."
Once, special effects work involved substituting chocolate syrup for blood and experimenting with ladies' hosiery to create the illusion of a tornado; now most of the wizardry on screen is created with computer graphics. It's Bakshi's job to manipulate software to make fantasies look real, and even the most trivial details can require weeks of plotting. "In Finding Nemo there is a scene where a fish tank gets silted up," he says. "It was my job to figure out how to make Nemo's body look gradually dirtier and, although it sounds simple, it was quite a technical exercise."
Bakshi, 42, acquired a passion for computer algorithms as a schoolboy when the science was still in its infancy. "I loved the spectacle and impressing people with images," he says. "My school only had three computers, all Apple 2s, so I would stay in after classes to experiment."
He completed a bachelor degree in computer science and a masters in computer graphics at the University of Saskatchewan and started work at Alias, the company which built the 3D animation software programme Maya used to create special effects in films and video games.
"It was hearing Darwyn Peachey talking about the challenges of producing Toy Story that inspired me to pursue a career in this field, but it took me a couple of years to get the courage to leave a successful company and start again."
In 2002 Bakshi made the leap, moving to California as a special effects technician for Pixar Animation Studios, the creators of Toy Story, which is now owned by Disney. One of his early assignments was to spend three-and-a-half years studying rat hair for the film Ratatouille. Using artist's sketches as a model, he had to develop the software to create the style and texture of hair for each rodent.
"There were obstacles that would baffle me for weeks – like the fur was in the characters eyes every time they made a certain expression and I couldn't work out where it was coming from. Once you've installed the software the computer takes over details like this and you have to work out how to override it."
However fantastical the animations, enormous care is taken to make sure they obey the laws of science. Technicians labour over the effects of light reflecting off a character's fur, or how gravity would effect the flow of a particular river. Sometimes, though, scientifically accurate film has to be adapted for artistic effect.
"We cheat all the time with physics," Bakshi says. "One of the main characters in Monsters University is eight foot tall with long hair, and if we let the hair blow about as much as it would naturally do during action scenes it would look distracting on screen, so we might tone effects down or up after filming."
His latest project is The Good Dinosaur, and he has been recruited to work out how the dinosaurs' skin responds to their movement. "I am studying elephants to get an idea," he says.
Although no specific qualifications are required for a career in special effects, an understanding of art and computer programming is essential. "I picked my knowledge of art up while working at Pixar, and there are others who came from an arts background who mastered computer software on the job," he says.
Equally important is imagination, for it is the job of special effects technicians to interpret the concepts outlined by film directors and develop them. Often, numerous different specialists will each work on one aspect of the same scene in order to create one seamless image, and it is this team work that Bakshi relishes.
"It's the collaborative spirit that makes the job and stops years being spent on one tiny detail getting too tedious," he says. "I was getting sick of rat hair on Ratatouille, but when I started to see all the different components of the movie coming together, and understood my part in it, it was a thrill."
• Disney-Pixar, Monsters University out now on Blu-ray and DVD.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
Try not to cry during this one.
This is Taylon Davis. She's 12 years old, and has an inoperable brain tumor.
Taylon's dying wish?
To dance with Beyonce.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation, Davis and her mother traveled to Las Vegas to the Mrs. Carter World Tour.
Taylon got the star treatment, and sat in her own special area of the venue.
Then Beyonce flew in!
The two then sang and danced to Beyonce's hits "Love On Top" and "Survivor."
You can watch the touching video below:
Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" was released in theaters Wednesday.
The 180-minute drug- and sex-fueled romp based on the life of Jordan Belfort, founder of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, who pumped and dumped his way to millions is entertaining, but a bit flawed.
In case you hadn't had enough of the movie, and wanted to know what it was like to play the debaucherous stock peddler, here are 11 glorious minutes of behind-the-scenes action.
This includes scenes at the Stratton Oakmont office, Belfort's party, his wedding, and loads of great shots of Scorsese laughing.
It's not a revelation that nowadays, musicians make almost all of their money through concert ticket sales.
Ever since the rise of high-speed Internet made it easy to pirate music about a decade ago, the industry and critics have been arguing back and forth on how to deal with the issue.
The argument has only grown more complicated with the introduction of legal streaming services like Spotify, and no one really seems to agree on how healthy the music industry is. But while the debate over piracy continues, classic heavy metal band Iron Maiden has figured out a way to make millions from it.
The band's holding company, Iron Maiden LLP, was one of the six music firms that outperformed the music sector according to a report from the London Stock Exchange.
British analytics company Musicmetric saw this report and ran an analysis of the band. It compiled data regarding things like social media fans and top streaming songs. Most importantly, it tracked illegal torrent downloads, and where they were most popular.
It turned out that the band had surging popularity in South America, especially Brazil.
As CITEworld put it:
Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary 'Flight 666.' After all, fans can't download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.
And after its "Maiden England" tour that ended this past October, the band added five million online fans, with a concentration in South America.
"If you engage with fans, there is a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers," Gregory Mead, CEO of Musicmetric, told CITEworld.
So while this might mean bands like Metallica could benefit from online analytics instead of waging an all-out war on illegal downloads, not every band can be Iron Maiden. The average musician does not have the opportunities that come with 30 years of hits and die-hard fans.
According to Pollstar, concert ticket revenues more than doubled between 2001 and 2012, going from $1.8 billion to $4.2 billion. But the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) contended that due to losses from the sales of music, the industry has been on a continual decline, with combined revenues of music sales and concert tickets down 27 percent over that same period.
Some critics think that people will begin purchasing music en masse again when album releases once again become events worth the price. They point to the huge success of Beyoncé's new self-titled "visual album," which had a surprise premiere and offered iTunes customers a music video for each track.
We first heard of the Iron Maiden story on Gawker, and the commenter "jjjschmidt" brought this to our attention — in addition to being legends, the band has the luxury of having its own huge private jet. And singer Bruce Dickinson is the pilot! Check it out at 3:30:
Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is giving moviegoers around the world a stylized glimpse into the corruption and opulence that can plague the finance world.
Its loads of sex, drugs, and money have critics wondering if Wolf's attempt at a morality tale is just one loud cheer for gonzo greed.
It isn't the first time audiences have had this debate either. From "Trading Places" to "American Psycho," Hollywood loves examining what goes on behind the scenes on Wall Street.
But there are some "based-on-a-true-story" tales that have yet to become blockbusters.
So here are the 10 true Wall Street sagas — and the corresponding must-cast actors — that should be movies.
10. 'The Rise and Fall of Jon Corzine.' Corzine went from top dog at Goldman Sachs to a senator and governor to seeing his firm MF Global collapse in spectacular fashion.
Starring Charles Dance (AKA Tywin Lannister)
9. 'The Collapse of Bear Stearns.' The top brass at Bear were known for their wild boys club, but it all came crashing down when JP Morgan almost bought the bank for $2 a share as the market crashed.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
In July, the rapper and business mogul Jay Z partnered with Samsung to release a new album, "Magna Carta Holy Grail," by giving away 1 million copies to the first Samsung mobile users to download a free app.
The deal netted Jay a cool $5 million in sales and a platinum album the moment it was released, and it burnished his image as an innovative businessman. But it's not clear that the $20 million partnership — or other recent Jaz Z ventures — have actually helped Jay Z's image.
According to research from celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev, Jay Z's partnership with Samsung was the second least popular celebrity marketing deal of 2013 among consumers aged 13-31 (Justin Bieber's partnership with OPI was the most hated).
In fact, the 1,000 millennials surveyed said the rapper himself was among the people least influential to their purchase decisions among the 80 celebrities Sehdev asked about, a group that included a range of personalities spanning from Tom Brady to Hillary Clinton.
Sehdev said that while Jay Z remains popular with Americans of all ages, his brand is missing one crucial piece needed to persuade them to spend hard-earned money on the products he touts: authenticity.
As a group, millennials consumers place a high premium on buying products from brands they see as being honest and having social goals that go beyond those published in their quarterly earnings reports. And despite Jay Z's promise to "Never Change," these consumers say they don't know what he stands for anymore.
The survey found that Jay Z scored 70% lower in the categories of trustworthiness and honesty than did celebrities like Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lawrence, an issue Sehdev chalks up to Jay's intense focus on making money seemingly however he can.
For instance, Sehdev said consumers praise Jay Z's intelligence, but question his integrity as an artist, noting that he has collaborated with a variety of musicians from Justin Timberlake to Kanye West, and dabbled in various genres like hip-hop, pop, and R&B.
Perhaps more damaging to Jay Z's ability to persuade consumers through branded partnerships are his constant references to other products in his music. Sehdev said that on "Magna Carta Holy Grail" alone, Jay Z referenced eight different luxury brands more than 20 times.
Despite the album's strong sales, critics condemned it for being an uncreative endeavor motivated by commerce rather than artistic expression.
"Millennials question the exact nature of Jay Z’s role in the artistic process," Sehdev said. "Does he really write his own songs? Is he choosing the artists to collaborate with, or is he just the face of a money-making empire?"
Further, Jay Z's recent business decisions outside music are seen as lacking cohesion with the person he claims to be.
After purchasing a stake in the NBA's New Jersey Nets and serving as the public face of a contentious campaign to move the team to his home borough of Brooklyn, Jay sold his interests in the team less than a year after.
The sale allowed him to pursue a new venture as a sports agent, while his beloved Brooklyn has yet to receive the affordable housing the Nets promised when they purchased public land to build their new stadium.
"Millennials questions his approach to loyalty, whether it be to a business deal or his fans," Sehdev said. "His motivations to just make money can be viewed by this audience as self-centered, even if they may be business savvy."
Sehdev praised Jay Z's participation in a revealing Vanity Fair cover story last month as a positive step toward regaining the trust of millennial consumers by shedding light on his social views and the family life he shares with his wife, Beyoncé, and their baby daughter Blue Ivy.
To continue this progress, Sehdev said Jay will have to continue to feed the public's thirst for knowledge about his relationship with his superstar wife and be mindful of only taking on partnerships that mesh with the Jay Z brand.
"We rarely see this true side of him," Sehdev said. "I believe Jay Z is going to need more exposure of his true self, meaningful partnerships, and true philanthropic efforts to get back into the good books of Millennials."
"Sherlock" doesn't return to TV until next year, but Christmas Eve fans were in for a treat.
BBC released a 7-minute prequel hinting at Sherlock's return.
The series returns overseas on BBC One January 1. We'll have to wait until January 19 for new episodes to run on PBS in the states.
Three major factors combined to make 2013 for a great year for gamers.
First off, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 received a final flurry of exclusive games before the arrival of their successors. That final wave contained a solid mix of experimental titles like "Beyond: Two Souls" and blockbusters like "Grand Theft Auto V."
Next up, Nintendo released a number of exciting games on its 3DS and Wii U platforms, including critical and user favorites "Pokemon X and Y" and "Super Mario 3D World."
Finally, there was huge growth in support for independently made games with a focus on narrative over gameplay mechanics. With the help of Steam and the Humble Store, these indie titles were able to achieve far more exposure than they would have in years past.
Bioshock Infinite combined exciting gameplay with an engrossing story that looks at issues like nationalism and racism in early 1900s America.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Grand Theft Auto V's multiple characters and ways of tackling heists brought an unprecedented amount of freedom and choice to a series known for its open and interactive worlds.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag took a massive departure from its predecessors by changing its focus from cities in Europe and the Middle East to the islands of the Caribbean.
Critics couldn't get enough of the game's naval travel and combat.
Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U
See the rest of the story at Business Insider