Events

Let the parties begin

Feb 19, 2007 12:55 UTC

607.jpgHollywood is busily prepping for its biggest night of the year, the Oscars, on Sunday, Feb. 25. Over at the Kodak Theater in downtown Tinseltown, bleachers are now set up for thousands of fans who will turn out to see stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett and Penelope Cruz parade up the red carpet in their glitziest gowns and finest tuxedos.
    But before that BIG PARTY gets underway, many smaller ones have already started and it will continue through Sunday’s ceremony. At the Kodak, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, celebrated writers of past Oscar-winning movies and famous lines like “Here’s looking at you kid” from “Casablanca.”
    Dialogue like that and the famous “I wish I knew how to quit you,” from last year’s gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” are featured prominently on the poster promoting this year’s telecast. Diana Ossana, who co-wrote “Brokeback” with Larry McMurtry, told Reuters “it’s a testament to the power of films and the power of words,” that movie dialogue can have a life longer than just one movie find a place in cultural history.
    The Academy also will fete the makers of short movies and foreign films and feature a “food and wine” preview ahead of it’s swanky Governor’s Ball on Oscar night.
    Corporations come to Hollywood and use the Oscars as a backdrop to promote products. Watchmaker Omega held a viewing of antique watches to be sold at an April auction in Geneva, Switzerland. On display were a range of time pieces including one worn by actor Daniel Craig in James Bond movie “Casino Royale” that still has mud on it. “Dirt, dust and DNA,” joked one Omega official.
    The estimated price on another watch is $100,000 to $150,000 — a cost only a Hollywood star, big-budget producer or fat cat Beverly Hills businessman can afford.
    The likes of Kwiat diamonds and L’Oreal cosmetics have set up suites to show off their wares. General Motors is hosting a party where singer Beck will perform and stars such as Teri Hatcher and Mary J. Blige are scheduled to attend.
    All is not corporate, however. Hollywood studios will host parties for Oscar nominees, big-time talent agents will do the same, and well-known stars will fete other well-known stars. Jamie Foxx is hosting a Beverly Hills bash for “Dreamgirls” co-star and Oscar nominee Jennifer Hudson.

 

Best film is wide open – will it lift viewship?

Feb 15, 2007 20:00 UTC

    The Hollywood pundits say the Oscar race for best film is wide open, but what does that mean for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will give out the world’s most coveted movie awards on Sunday, Feb. 25. It’s an opening for one of the more exciting shows in recent years. For the movie industry, it means a more competitive environment, and that could translate into better movies to come, the experts say.
    Oscar viewership has dropped in recent years, except for a few spikes when box office blockbusters were also critical hits. Last year when little seen “Crash” won best picture, the audience size was about 38.8 million viewers, which was off by more than 3 million from the year before. When 2003′s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” ($377 million U.S.) swept to victory in 11 categories, more than 43 million viewers tuned in.
    But a close Oscar race like this year’s means tension in the air on Hollywood’s biggest night and if there is anything movie lovers love, it’s tension. Moreover, Oscars are expected to be spread among a variety of films including “Dreamgirls,” “Little Miss Sunshine” (cast pictured right), ”The Departed,” “The Last King of Scotland,” “The Queen” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.” That means fans of each of those movies will likely see their favorites claim some sort of victory, giving those fans reason to cheer.
    “There will be two or three surprises the entire night, and who knows what they’ll be,” said David Poland of Moviecitynews.com.
    That is true even in the acting categories where Helen Mirren in “The Queen” is the only true shoo-in.
    Best actor favorite Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” faces veteran Peter O’Toole (left), who has been nominated for best actor seven times, but only once in 2002 was given an “honorary award.” No actor has ever lost on all eight actor nominations, said Tom O’Neil of TheEnvelope.com. Will Smith is well-liked in Hollywood, and he starred in a box office blockbuster hit, “The Pursuit of Happyness” ($161 million U.S.). Don’t count out either O’Toole or Smith.
    Best supporting actor nominee Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls” goes against veteran Alan Arkin in well-liked “Miss Sunshine” and comeback kid Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children.” Oscar likes veterans and comeback stories, so don’t count them out.
    “Dreamgirls’” Jennifer Hudson has as a rival the adorable 10-year-old Abigail Breslin for “Miss Sunshine,” and Oscars love adorable little girls. Some experts believe may be the big surprise may be Adriana Barraza for supporting actress in another well-liked movie “Babel.” Don’t count them out.
    Tight races and surprise winners are a good thing for the movie industry overall, too, said Oscar historian Robert Osborne, who has authored a series of dubbed “The Official History of the Academy Awards.”
    “I think it’s great in an Oscar year when you got really good movies…and they don’t make it for (nominations),” Osborne said. “When you got good movies that don’t make it, then when you win an Oscar, it really means something.”

Sundance — why it matters

Jan 30, 2007 01:10 UTC

A few days ago, someone commented to a post I wrote on the parties at Sundance, questioning whether anybody saw or cared about Sundance movies. It was the middle of the festival, and I didn’t have a chance to answer. Another responder did, however, point out this year’s best Oscar nominee “Little Miss Sunshine” was a Sundance 2005 film.

The domestic box office for “Sunshine” was nearly $60 million, so a lot of people did see that one. There are many other recent examples, too, including ”Napoleon Dynamite” ($44 million domestic box office in 2004) “Garden State” ($27 million domestic in 2004).

Those are not big Hollywood numbers; they are not $100 million plus. But for independent films that cost less than $5 million, it’s a great return on investment. With the average ticket just over $6.00, “Little Miss Sunshine” probably attracted about 10 million people to the theaters. Thousands, perhaps millions, more will see it on DVD, pay-per-view television, in airplanes and at other specialty venues.

Whoa everybody! Best film race is wide open

Jan 29, 2007 20:28 UTC

 The sun shone brightly on “Little Miss Sunshine” in Hollywood’s Oscar race on Monday after the film’s cast won the Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble. If last year’s SAG win by the cast of “Crash” is any indication, then “Sunshine,” takes the front runner position in the Oscar sweepstakes.

Popular Oscar punditry last year had it that “Crash” won the best film Oscar because actors loved it, and they make up the largest block of voters of the nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But this horse race is far from over.

Hollywood seems to want to honor director Martin Scorsese for “The Departed” regardless of whether people think it’s the year’s best movie, and Clint Eastwood “Letters of Iwo Jima” is being helped by at least two factors. Eastwood is well-liked by Academy voters, and combined with “Flags of Our Fathers,” directing two movies about the same subject from two different points-of-view is a directorial feat that is hard to ignore.

Last thoughts on Davos

Jan 27, 2007 20:00 UTC

I began this blog on Tuesday by saying that it had started snowing. The big issue for many of the less well-heeled among us — those without heavy duty limos and helicopters — is whether the snow that has built up all day will let us get home now that the World Economic Forum’s meeting is essentially over.IMG_2306.jpg

Let’s hope that the Swiss train system handles snow better than the British one handles leaves. (For those of you not familiar with British trains, they get disrupted easily.)

The Davos meeting has had one big achievement, being the locale for the agreement to restart global trade talks. It has also confirmed that climate change is now one of the top items on the world agenda. Africa, we are told, is getting a bit better. But it is still far, far away from being an Asian Tiger economy, or should that be African Lion economy?

Food for thought at Davos

Jan 27, 2007 16:31 UTC

davos1.jpgDavos is nothing if not international. So it seemed no big deal when lunch on Friday turned out to be a Saudi Arabian buffet. It was brought to us by people “proudly investing in the future of Saudia Arabia”. And very nice it was too.

Some ravenous attendees — including journalists, I’m sorry to report — rushed to get fed (pictured). Two queues formed, one from each end, causing something of a confusion at the meat and rice in the middle of the table. The spirit of Davos triumphed, however, and jostling was at a minimum and no one I heard tried to say where the queue should have started.

One of the young women serving us, wearing a Gulf-style costume but clearly from a more Germanic part of the world, did have a bit of a problem. People kept asking her what one of the dishes was. “I don’t know. It looks like porridge,” was her reply.

Trading up at Davos

Jan 27, 2007 15:39 UTC

davos_formin.jpgWhat business wants business (often) gets. Many of the executives popping in and out of panel discussions in Davos this week have been pushing harder than usual for a resumption of the stalled Doha round of world trade talks. Abracadabra! A meeting of government ministers on the sidelines, to use the jargon, agreed to get the ball rolling again.

Some, like Brazil’s foreign minister Chelso Amorim even reckon a trade deal of some sort can be hashed out by the end of March or early April. That would be earlier than the six months demanded earlier this week in a Davos-related statement from top chairmen and chief executive officers.

It all remains to be seen, of course, but the World Economic Forum will see the agreement to restart talks as a success for its annual meeting. On which point, I would add something to my earlier blog about why people come here.

Seen and not heard at Davos?

Jan 27, 2007 14:13 UTC

My colleague Alex Smith writes: The WEF invites spouses of the great and the good to its annual meeting in Davos but they don’t usually get stuck into the nitty gritty of the sessions.

Not so Judy Moody-Stuart, who has been married to Anglo-American Plc Chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart for the past 44 years and whose current projects include setting up a university for Asian women in Bangladesh.

Modestly introducing herself as “the wife of a businessman”, Lady Moody-Stuart — a self-styled activist Quaker — asked a panel on the future of the Middle East if they thought it would help create peace if the United Nations moved from New York to Jerusalem. Her question got short-shrift from the moderator who asked for a show of hands on the idea and then dismissed it as a non-starter based on the audience’s response.

SAG awards: Mirren has odds on

Jan 27, 2007 12:33 UTC

On Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild presents its annual awards. Usually, the winners of the SAG awards go on to win Academy Awards. With this year’s Oscar nominations thrown into chaos after presumed front-runner “Dreamgirls” was left out of a Best Picture nomination, the SAGs gain special importance. 

Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson were the presumed front runners heading into the Oscar nominations. But after “Dreamgirls” lost out in the Best Picture race when nominations were announced on Tuesday, Hudson and Murphy may be vulnerable.

Tvguide.com predicts that Alan Arkin’s portrayal of a cantankerous grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine” will beat Murphy’s turn as a tragic r&b singer in “Dreamgirls” for Best Supporting Actor. 

Non, non, a thousand times, non

Jan 27, 2007 11:53 UTC

Royal-watchers could have had a pretty good time in Davos. The king and queen of Jordan, who host a Middle East Davos most years on the banks of the Dead Sea, have been speaking. Britain’s Duke of York has been wandering about. So has Belgium’s Prince Philippe.
 
But one Royal that has not been here is Segolene, presidential candidate for France’s Socialists. Nor for that matter have many French officials, candidates or otherwise, been around. Germany, Britain, the United States, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa have been most evident. La France, non.
 
The reason, French journalists say, is that Davos is altogether too into globalisation for gallic taste. Irony of ironies, then, that one of the top Frenchmen here is Pascal Lamy, secretary general of the World Trade Organisation.
 
France’s Davosophobia has triggered the ire of at least one of the country’s columnists — Nicolas Barre in Le Figaro. His gist is that France is hurting itself by snubbing Davos. That France is angry about globalisation is nothing new, he says, but that is no reason to shout it from the rooftop of the world.

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