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News Archive: September 1998 - January 1999
Lots of interesting stuff; try to hang on 'til the end, I saved the best (hint: it's a note from Ken! :) for last...and sorry 'bout the website server being down over the weekend (as if it was my bloody fault ;)--don't school sites suck?:
- Love's Labour's Lost casting: The Hollywood Reporter says that Alessandro Nivola (Nicolas Cage's dweebie brother in the awesome Face/Off) is in final talks to play the King of Navarre, while Natasha McElhone (the girl Jim Carrey pines for in the excellent The Truman Show) has also joined the cast.
- Check out new photos of Ken and Helena at the Theory of Flight premiere in New York, as Richard and Jane in a publicity shot, and a super-cute photo from the film. Other new photos include Ken and Em in Peter's Friends; Ken as Iago and with Michael Maloney (playing Roderigo) and Nathaniel Parker (Cassio) in Othello; at work as director: behind the camera of Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet, directing Andy Garcia in Dead Again, Lord Richard Attenborough, Sir John Gielgud, and Kate Winslet and Michael Maloney in Hamlet.
- AMC Theatres is teaming up with Fine Line to host ALS benefit screenings of The Theory of Flight in the following cities: Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Denver, and Phoenix; read the press release or contact your local AMC theater for details if you're interested.
- Melanie Griffith was on the Charlie Rose Show last week and talked a bit about working on Celebrity with Ken and Woody Allen -- mostly about how Woody basically kept telling Ken how much he sucked. Bummer. :) So much for Woody's claim that he didn't feel worthy enough to give Ken acting notes...anyway, read a rough transcript of the KB-related bits of the interview. Also for your reading pleasure, two new excellent Shakespeare-heavy interviews in the article archive: Creative Screenwriting 1998 and another from late 1996, in which he mentions envisioning the Love's Labour's Lost blokes on skateboards skating around a big circular library in his film...
- From this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly, which highlights the major entertainment events of 1999:
'WILD WILD WEST
Blockbuster king WILL SMITH saddles up with KEVIN KLINE for a showdown with KENNETH BRANAGH. Think 'Men in Black Hats.'
PROJECT: "Wild, Wild West," Barry Sonnenfeld's big-screen remake of the late-'60s, gadget-heavy TV staple starring guy's guy Robert Conrad.
THE DETAILS: U.S. special government agents James West (Will Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) team up to stop the evil Dr. Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) from assassinating President Grant circa 1869.
AT STAKE After scoring in the biggest summer blockbusters of 1996 ("Independence Day") and 1997 ("Men in Black"), Smith goes for the hat trick.
THE BUZZ: Despite Smith being on the bench last summer, Sonnenfeld swears Will is back in game condition: "Will is everything you've seen before, plus he's James Bond."
JUST DON'T CALL IT A WESTERN: Since cowboy pics aren't exactly magic at the box office these days (who remembers 1998's "The Newton Boys?"), expect to see limited use of the W-word. "This feels more like "Men in Black" than a John Ford movie," explains Sonnenfeld. And it's certainly got the sci-fi gizmos: Dr. Loveless' arsenal will include an 80-foot-tall walking tarantula. "It's mostly done on the computer," says Sonnenfeld, "but we did build one leg of it and it weighed 16,000 pounds. It's badass." '
- Finally, Ken was kind enough to send the loveliest of thank-you notes in response to the Ken-Friends birthday gift,
read it here. (January 19, thanks to Mercedes, Marilyn, Samantha; photos thanks to Isabel)
There's gonna be a special Theory of Flight premiere in Detroit on January 20th to benefit ALS of Michigan, read more about it . . . The newest issue of Movieline reports that Ken is in the running for a major role in the high-profile film trilogy of J.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the blurb is reprinted below. I'm not really into the whole wizards and dragons thing myself, but I've always thought that Ken would make a pretty damn cool elf. (January 15, thanks to Jennifer)
RING LEADERS (Movieline)
Since Heavenly Creatures director Peter Jackson got the go-ahead from New Line Cinema to direct back-to-back all three films of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical The Lord of the Rings trilogy for $130 million, some of the biggest names in the biz have been touted front-runners to play the various wizards and scary monsters. Sean Connery's name keeps coming up for the role of Gandalf, but rumor is that the sexy Scot has so abused his icon status with the ludicrous Dragonheart, the silly First Knight and--this apparently was the final straw--the bombastic The Avengers, that he's no longer a consideration. Other actors who are said to be waiting in the wings include Sam Niell (who won points as TV's Merlin), Patrick Stewart, and Kenneth Branagh. As far as the pint-sized, aging ringbearer Bilbo Baggins, Murg hears Danny DeVito may snag the role.
New York Post columnist Mitchell Fink wrote about speaking to Alicia Silverstone about Love's Labour's Lost in yesterday's column; Alicia will also be on Letterman (Jan 26) and Conan O'Brien a few days before flying to London for her big adventure with Ken and Co. CNN film critic Paul Clinton put Theory of Flight on his 1998 top ten list, VERY cool. The movie's groovy soundtrack is also out, you can get a copy for $13.97 by going to this link at CD Universe. Or just go there to check out the names of the track titles, "Looking For A Gigolo" being my favorite...;) (January 14, thanks to Paula B, Sarah)
Entertainment Weekly Online posted a short article over the weekend in which Helena talks about her and Ken's apprehension approaching The Theory of Flight because of the nasty British press, who've been pretty mean to the couple since...forever. A running theme of Hel's American Theory interviews has centered around how much the UK press sucks, as a matter of fact. "They're hideous," she says. Expect British press coverage of the couple to be MUCH more favorable from now on...;) Speaking of Ken and _____ press coverage, the latest issue of Forbes magazine has a "doesn't-it-TOTALLY-SUCK-that-Ken-and-Em-broke-up"-themed retrospective on Dead Again. (Jan 12, thanks to Uyen)
BITS AND PIECES: Shooting for Love's Labour's Lost will begin on JANUARY 29th at Shepperton Studios near London. Still on the LLL front, Nathan Lane mentioned on the Rosie O'Donnell Show that he'll be singing "There's No Show Business Like Show Business" to open a play-within-a-play scene . . . Check out the Vote Yes website to see a pic of Ken giving his thumbs-up to the peace referendum in Northern Ireland . . . The Gingerbread Man was mentioned on several lists of notable films of 1998, including those of New York Times critic Janet Maslin and Mr Showbiz; according to Entertainment Weekly, so far on video the movie has made 10 times (roughly $10 mill total) what it made during its entire stunted theatrical run (bite me, PolyGram!) . . . There's a great, lengthy (8 pages) interview with Ken in the Shakespeare supplement to the newest issue of film mag CINEASTE (vol. XXIV, no 1). Also mentioned in the issue is a forthcoming book from Samuel Crowl called The Branagh Renaissance: Reimagining Shakespeare in the Age of Film. Hmmm. The Branagh Renaissance. Good title. ;) . . . Will Smith talks about his Wild Wild West buddies in the current issue of the UK's Film Review: "The team is Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh! And that's the thing about making films - it's all about the people you work with. I feel like I'm working with Michael Jordan. If you're in a basketball game playing with or against Michael Jordan, you're going to be better because he's there. That's how I feel about Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh. They inspire the scenes . . . And Kenneth Branagh, who is just brilliant, top ten in the world as a Shakespearean actor." Only top TEN? ;) C'mon, Will, get jiggy with it. (January 8, thanks to Jane, Virginia, Sarah, Julie, Fiona)
Some release dates: US - Gingerbread Man at purchase price on February 23rd (Amazon is taking pre-orders now at a $16.99 price); UK - Celebrity on June 18th, The Gingerbread Man on video on January 25th; Australia - Wild Wild West on September 9th, Hamlet video on sale in February . . . So I was at a bar last night and a friend goes, "Hey, I think that video game thingie over there is flashing the name 'Kenneth Branagh'." At first I thought it was the alcohol talking, but we went over to take a closer look and, holy pectorals, it turned out to be the one and only FRANKENSTEIN PINBALL MACHINE!!!! Damn cool. The guy playing it was setting a new high score record, undoubtedly inspired by the numerous cartoon drawings of Ken's head stuck on Jean-Claude van Damme's body. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder to say, "Hi there...do you realize that the shaggy-haired shirtless guy featured prominently all over this game happens to be a noted actor/director/auteur/thespian/Shakespeare-reincarnate who at this very moment is rehearsing major Bob Fosse dance moves for his new musical adapation of Love's Labour's Lost--which, by the way, is gonna eff-ing ROCK?!?!!?" Uhm, but I restrained myself . . . and I can't end without giving props and kudos to my beloved San Francisco 49ers for their thrilling last-second playoff victory over their arch-rival, the Green Bay Cheeseheads. If Ken were familiar with American football, he'd be a Niner fan, I'm sure of it...;) (January 6, thanks to Sandra, Catherine, Toni, Paula)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It'd be a lot happier if Theory weren't getting lost in the big holiday crush of films--it's a small movie that happens to be quite good and deserves much better; read some reviews of the movie from more objective sources if ya don't believe me. :) Here's a brief snippet from Time Out New York:
FLIGHT FLICK: BRANAGH AND BONHAM CARTER TEST THEIR THEORY
Later in the week, Tony chatted with real-life sweethearts Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter after the December 10 benefit premiere of the duo's film The Theory of Flight, in which the actress, wheel-chair bound and dying is racing around London with Branagh's character in a quest to lose her virginity. Naturally we asked Bonham Carter, seated beside her beau in the Plaza's Grand Ballroom, to reveal her own unfulfilled desires -- and her answer was almost as unexpected as the film's wacky premise. "I'd love to tap dance," she revealed. Noting that she's had a total of four lessons, the actress continued, "I'm really good at starting things and terrible at finishing them." Branagh attributed the couple's pleasant working relationship to the fact that both are "disciplined and lunatic." Added Bonham Carter, "I find (working with Branagh) remarkably unproblematic, and I'd forgotten what terrific fun he is." Maybe the Celebrity lead passed time on the set by doing his ace Woody Allen impersonation. (January 2, thanks to Virginia)
Check out the first photo from Alien Love Triangle, it's Ken in bed with a green person. A bit disturbing, eh? But yum anyway. I'm, uh, green with envy. (December 29, thanks to Estela and Isabel **Hey, guys, go see Theory of Flight if you live within 500 miles of LA or New York. The opening weekend box office numbers are frigging depressing.)
All this stuff is noted under Headlines, but just in case you missed 'em: our hyperactive workaholic has signed on to direct and star in The Betty Schimmel Story for DreamWorks (which I assume he'll do after directing and starring in Love's Labour's Lost in February), read details from Variety; check out presskit notes from the Shakespeare Film Company, in which Ken outlines plans for the upcoming Shax films and Jude's account of giving Ken the list birthday gift (including photos); if you're in New York (Regency Theatre, Beekman, Village East in the city) or Los Angeles (Showcase Theatre in Hollywood, Edw Town Center 4 in Costa Mesa), see The Theory of Flight, which opens today; Helena will plug the movie on The View Thursday and on Charlie Rose sometime this week or next; check out new articles; and finally, MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!!! Safe holidays to all...and try not to overdose on the eggnog. :) (December 23, thanks to Jude)
S'more photos for your enjoyment: Ken and Em circa 1991 (kinda looks like she's flipping him off. Heh. :), Ken in
Swing Kids, directing A Midwinter's Tale and Peter's Friends, a cool silhouette of Dead Again's Roman Strauss conducting, a smiley Iago from Othello, and two shots from Celebrity: the Elaine's scene and a bigger version of the Ken and Winona shot. Tomorrow I'm gonna put up Jude's giving-Ken-his-birthday-present story and photos, as well as some info on Ken's upcoming Shakespeare films...(December 22, pics thanks to Estela)
On commenting on Helena saying it was "a shame" she doesn't get to kiss Brad Pitt in her new movie, Ken said on Monday that if he were a woman, he'd probably want to kiss Brad too. Hmmm. Previously in a gay magazine he said that Ralph Fiennes, Rufus Sewell, and Pierce Brosnan were also on his kiss list. My verdict: Brad, Rufus - thumbs down; Pierce - thumbs waaay up; Rafey - thumbs up if he manages to crack a smile; thumbs down if he comes into the room and comments, "It's fucking freezing." (That's a line from Schindler's List, just in case you think I'm just being gratutiously vulgar. :) Anyway, a bunch of random stuff:
- Another off-site photo of Ken and Helena at the Los Angeles premiere of Theory of Flight, courtesy of Mr Showbiz.
- NEW PHOTOS: From Theory, Ken as cutie Richard, Ken and Helena in bed (from the movie, of course! :); from the Theory premiere in New York, Ken and Helena, just Ken, Ken #2, and Ken #3; from the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, A Midwinter's Tale's John Sessions, director Ken, Michael Maloney and Nicholas Farrell (yum, hawt, haut, and hot, as a friend and I like to say -- er, all describing Ken of course. Not that the other lads aren't easy on the eyes, but, uh...;); from the New York premiere of Celebrity, Ken, Helena and Winona Ryder; from the Venice Film Festival party for Celebrity, Ken and Melanie Griffith, talking with Chazz Palminteri and Rob Morrow, sharing a drink with Intermedia Film's Guy East, posing with two babes (one's an actress, the other's from fashion store JP Tod's); from Celebrity the movie, Ken's character in bed with sweet Bonnie and wooing skanky Nola; from a Frankenstein publicity shoot, Ken in a garden and a medium shot; finally, behind the camera for Peter's Friends and a Hamlet autograph.
- BRANAGH'S FLIGHT OF FANCY (by Mitchell Fink, New York Daily News)
Some movie stars like to keep mementos from a film project, usually small props like a necklace or a jacket. Kenneth Branagh's sentimental attachments run a little larger. It seems The Theory of Flight co-star liked the plane his character, Richard, built and wanted to fly in the film, which opens a week from Wednesday. In fact, he liked it so much he has kept it in his London backyard for more than a year. "I'm just so damn attached to it . . . because it represented my character's freedom," Branagh told me. "It's oddly beautiful. It's practically made of canvas. And even though I can't fly it anywhere, I'm loath to get rid of it. The neighbors are not too thrilled, but the kids love it."
- SHAKESPEARE? SUITS YOU SIR! (from the BBC; Brit Ken-Friends say it's inspired casting, if true, so don't anybody freak :)
'The Fast Show's Paul Whitehouse is set to become a luvie! He's been offered a part in Kenneth Branagh's forthcoming film of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost which also stars Alicia Silverstone. Branagh, who's already adapted 'Hamlet' and 'Much Ado About Nothing' for film - intends to turn the play into a thirties style musical. Paul told The Net he's got an interesting part: "Don Armado. It's a great part, it's really funny, it'll be an interesting departure. He's Spanish as well, so that'll be interesting! But because it was Kenneth Branagh, I thought I'd go and see what it was about, and it was slightly beyond me! At least I don't have to wear tights - that wouldn't be a pretty sight, I can tell you!"
Before that Paul can be seen in the new Fast Show Video, which conveniently hits the shops for Christmas. It features the stage show they performed when they teamed up with Shooting Stars for a tour. But you won't see the moment when Paul was the victim of a one man stage invasion: "Little feller popped up from under the stage when I was in the middle of Arthur Atkinson. I'd just gone into the spirit world, and I thought 'oh my god, I've summoned up Arthur's mum from the spirit world! He stayed on stage for a little while and I referred to him later - 'small boys, on drugs! Marvellous!"' (December 18, thanks to Paula, Isabel, Estela, Catherine, Bonnie, Nancy, Theresa)
Tons of Theory of Flight-related stuff (with tons more to come in the following days), heeeeeeeeere we go (to quote my favorite late night talk show host):
- Check out a photo of Ken and Helena at the (windy) L.A. Theory premiere.
- New York Theory premiere: Read Jane's wonderfully DETAILED account of the terrific night -- Ken told her (and other Ken-Friends) a bit about his preparation plans for Love's Labour's Lost, including a CD he just made of the movie's songs (Tee hee! Ahem. Actually, he did a bit of song-and-dance for Emma's TV show Thompson a while ago, and he was actually quite...uhm, well, anyway, that was a looooong time ago. ;) Photos from the premiere taken by Jane include: Ken, Ken again, Ken and Hel talking to the press, another shot of Ken, and Ken and Hel again. Coming soon: more photos from the premiere, as well as Jude's story and her photos (you know, she's the one who spent 45 minutes in the private company of King Ken delivering the Ken-Friends birthday gift to him. Speaking of which, some of you are probably wondering what the heck we gave the guy. Well, basically just our 1998 list t-shirt and a few thousand dollars to the organization of which he is patron, the Ulster Youth Theatre in his native Northern Ireland. Pretty cool, eh?
- BRANAGH TAKES 'FLIGHT' FROM QUESTION (by Liz Smith)
"I don't have to answer that, and I won't!"
So said Kenneth Branagh - cheerfully - at the premiere of his movie The Theory of Flight.
He was avoiding a question about his relationship with his "Theory" co-star, the ravishing Helena Bonham Carter. Kenneth and Helena looked lovey together, and indeed it is the first time they have really "shown off" their relationship, but both demurred when it came to specifics. Shrugging her creamy shoulders, Helena whispered, "We don't want to overshadow the film."
Branagh, who plays the Woody Allen-esque journalist in "Celebrity," did reveal that he'll next direct a musical version of "Love's Labour's Lost" with a cast that includes Alicia Silverstone and Nathan Lane, crooning the classics of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and the Gershwins.
Can Alicia sing? "She can carry a tune as well as any of us," said Kenneth.
Now we know.
- OSCAR RACE AMONG COUPLE (World Entertainment News Network)
Kenneth Branagh is making room for an Oscar on his mantlepiece - not for himself but for real-life lover Helena Bonham Carter The Much Ado About Nothing star was bought to tears of laughter and sadness watching Carter's critically acclaimed performance as a wheel-chair bound motor-neurone sufferer in The Theory of Flight. And while he has been tipped for Oscar success, he believes the Academy gratitude should go to his other half. He says, "I don't really understand this Oscar buzz. The main thing is that people go to see the movie. If it earns her a trinket then even better as I think she deserves one." The couple braved the cameras and unseasonably bitterly cold winds to showcase their movie in Los Angeles last night. (December 16, thanks to Jane, Theresa)
The L.A. premiere of Theory of Flight takes place on Monday, read the press release -- I had to pass up a free chance to attend 'cause of final exams, whatta bummer. This is the THIRD time I've missed an opportunity to see Ken in the flesh because of school...crikey, it's like a Greek tragedy. (Aherm, not really, in the grand scheme of things :). But Ken-Friends list member Lisa will get to interview him (and Helena as well) while he's in L.A., woo hoo! Meanwhile, our little mailing list is still REELING from the events of this past Thursday, which happened to be Ken's birthday. Jude was granted a 45-minute private meeting with Ken in New York to present him with our awesome kick-ass birthday gift, and afterward joined fellow Ken-Friends Jane and Paula at the NY benefit premiere of Theory. Blow-by-blow details of the event, tons of photos, new info on Love's Labour's Lost, and more evidence that Ken is just about the coolest guy on the planet coming soon...after my last exam on Tuesday. :) By the way, "Entertainment Tonight" showed a brief clip of Ken (wearing the same suit he wore to the London premiere of Hamlet, I believe. It's kinda frightening how I remember stuff like this but can't recall last week's Revolutionary Fascism lecture. Hmmm.) and Helena from the premiere, and they looked pretty gosh-darned cute--especially Ken, who's shaved that, uhm, interesting moustache he sported a few weeks ago. Anyway, I know lots of you aren't keen on Ms Bonham Carter or hold some kind of grudge against her, but I have a feeling seeing the terrific Theory of Flight will change your minds....(December 13)
Just found out that a re-run of one of Ken's Shakespeare-related interviews will be shown TONIGHT on Charlie Rose as part of a "Shakespeare in Literature" discussion. Also interviewed is Harold Bloom, Yale professor and author of "The Invention of the Human". He dismisses all of Ken's Shakespeare work as "terrible" (or some adjective to that effect), but I'm told he believes that Shakespeare in its truest form comes off the page and not in performance, soooo....yup, he's a crack-smoker too. ;) And since I'll be off at school for final exams the next few days, let me wish Ken an early happy 38th birthday now (I was late last year, so I suppose it all evens out). The KB list has another birthday doozie up its sleeve, stay tuned for all the mind-blowing details...:) And if anybody wants to hear Helena talk about Theory of Flight and her fabulous leading man (I assume she'll be able to utter the "K" word these days :), she's scheduled to promote the film on Charlie Rose (Thursday, December 10), Jay Leno (Monday Dec 14th) and the Today Show (Wednesday, Dec 16th). (December 8)
LET THE LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST MANIA BEGIN!!!! (Ok, so it ain't exactly the Star Wars prequel...;) Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye reported yesterday that Alicia Silverstone (Clueless, Batman and Robin), Adrian Lester (so brilliant in Primary Colors), Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) and Matthew Lillard (Scream) will be singing and dancing with our Ken in LLL, which is scheduled to begin production in February. Silverstone plays the French princess, Costard the Clown is played by Lane, and I assume Ken will be bachelor #1 Berowne. Lester and Lillard play the other two lords. Who'll be Ken's leading lady? Probably not Helena Bonham Carter, whose next project shoots around the same time...whatta bummer. Anyway, you can read the entire article here. More noteworthy stuff:
- Ken's cameo: (From the Irish Times) "How's about this for the cast of a new Irish movie: George Clooney, Kenneth Branagh, Melanie Griffith, Chazz Palminteri and director Bryan Singer. Well, not strictly the cast list, but they all make cameo appearances in The Book That Wrote Itself, a low-budget road movie written and directed by Liam Ó Mochain, who also takes the central role of Vincent Macken, a young Irish writer convinced he has written the best postmodern novel ever, a Celtic saga titled The Daughter Of Conn, which he believes has the potential for a hit movie. The film was shot in Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Cork, Clare, Galway, and Venice - where Ó Mochain secured a press card for this year's film festival and went to press conferences, where he tried to persuade the aforementioned celebs to take part in his character's proposed film of The Daughter Of Conn."
- Sir John Mills on how acting has changed (from the Dec 12 Radio Times): "The training ground of theatre has changed. During the Quaints tour I was in 33 plays. Television is a disaster so far as the theatre is concerned - they walk around with microphones up their noses and there's no projection. There must be other good ones like Kenneth Branagh. He's like watching one of the greats. I saw his Hamlet at Stratford, sitting in row G, and heard every syllable. Brilliant."
- From the World Entertainment News Network:
"BRANAGH'S GOT THE GOLDEN TOUCH WITH ACTRESSES
Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter have been named among the 25 greatest actresses of the 1990s. Thompson - the ex-wife of actor/director Kenneth Branagh - and Carter, Branagh's current girlfriend, are joined by Vanessa Redgrave in a list compiled by influential American magazine Entertainment Weekly. Carter, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for The Wings of the Dove is described as "a Swiss watch - a model of flow and precision". Thompson is the only woman on the list to have won Oscars for both acting -in Howards End - and writing - for her screen adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensiblity. The magazine chose her because "even when she's playing Americans, she oozes integrity and gentleness". Others on the list include Sharon Stone, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Clos, Susan Sarandon and Sigourney Weaver."
- From a Los Angeles Times article about why geeky guys are getting the girls: "Once upon a time, intelligence was the great galvanizing sexual force in Woody Allen films. However, in Allen's latest, Celebrity, the mentor may be taking a clue from his proteges, as we are given no explanation why Melanie Griffith, Winona Ryder, Famke Janssen and Charlize Theron would be throwing themselves at Kenneth Branagh, who offers us a dead-on impersonation of Allen, tics, stutter and all. The usually presentable Branagh is photographed pudgy and decked out in signature Woody Allen plaids and corduroy and, arguably, the very worst haircut of his career.
"And, as with all dweebs, he seems to inhabit another decade entirely: When out of revenge his jilted girlfriend (Janssen) destroys the only copy of his just-finished novel, we have to wonder, did the Branagh-Allen character not save it on hard-drive, or is he completely unfamiliar with that new invention called the computer?" (Er, he used a typewriter. Tom Wolfe uses one too, why can't Lee Simon?) (December 5, thanks to Catherine, Uyen)
Ken's birthday (along with the huge excitement that goes with that ;), Theory of Flight mania, and final exams coming up all at once...perfect timing. Sigh. Here's the news (and don't forget to check out the new photos just added):
- The official website for Theory of Flight is up and running. Relatively snazzy, with a superb "Production Notes" article on the making of the film, but hit the feedback link (the little F) and tell 'em you want more photos. :)
- Two more examples of how much the UK press sucks: this lame Guardian article analyzing the New York Times article on Ken (the Guardian arts editor must be desperate for material these days); and worthless Branagh-bashing rag The London Times prints the silly (though amusing :) Ken wallet story not once, but twice (they're obviously quite fascinated by it), in the past year, until it finally circulates down to The Sleaze column (3/4 of the way down the page).
- How do you know you're envied by much of the male population in Britain? ;) When a comedy troupe out of Oxford performs a sketch about it titled, appropriately, "Kenneth Branagh", as part of its Christmas revue. It's a riot--check it out! (December 2, has everyone Stateside seen Celebrity yet?)
Celebrity doesn't rank as one of Woody's best (for me, these include Manhattan, Bullets Over Broadway, Hannah and Her Sisters...)--most of the film's jokes and gags are from the been-there, done-that school of Woody, and more of the set pieces miss than hit (the bit with the bananas is particularly tiresome). But it's all still relatively entertaining, the performances are hands-down excellent, and Ken's encounters with Charlize Theron and Leonardo DiCaprio in the film are hysterical. Ah, Ken. Our poor lad has taken quite a beating from some quarters for his sexier, studlier version of Woody, but I thought he was pretty terrific, minus the one or two semi-annoying, disconcerting moments where hyper-Woody kicks in and he goes into stutter overdrive. In any case, it's hard to blame critics for dismissing his performance as a mere impersonation when you have to look hard to get past every distinctively-Woody stammer, facial tic, hand gesture, body posture and vocal inflection in order to find the genuine performance that lurks beneath. But it's there, I swear to ya. :) Anyway, if you missed 'em on the front page, read what the worthy critics (i.e., the ones that liked Ken ;) had to say about his performance (yes, I do realize that a balanced critical representation should have probably been the way to go, but (1) this is an unapologetically biased site. All Ken haters are crack-smokers; and (2) You can read Ken-bashing statements anywhere, no need to reprint 'em here)...On to the news:
- Love's Labour's, Like, Lost: Heard that Alicia Silverstone, the cool Clueless kid, is possibly being considered for one of the female leads in the Shakespeare musical adaptation that starts shooting in February. Uhm, that would take care of the young adolescent male demographic....
- Theory of Flight premieres: The Theory premiere in New York city takes place on December 10th (Ken's birthday, yippee!) and will benefit the City Parks Foundation, tickets run at $600 a pop; call 212/360-1399 for more information. Ken is expected to attend. There's another screening on December 14th in Los Angeles, which will benefit the ALS Association and the Artists Rights Foundation. Ken and Helena are listed as event co-chairs. Tickets are $250 for the screening and reception, call 310/201-5033 (if I weren't so sure I'm gonna be jobless, broke, and wandering the streets with a useless college degree after graduating next year, I'd fork over the bucks to go to this thing. Bummer. :)
- Talk show round-up: Some of you have asked for a report on Ken's talk show blitz from a couple weeks ago, specifically what he's looking like post-Wild Wild West. Well, the icky spider beard is gone, but I can't say I was mad keen on the moustache-only look that I'm guessing he's auditioning for Love's Labour's Lost. On to the talk show interviews... DAVE LETTERMAN: Dave was in punk-ass mode, but Ken managed to get in a couple good lines (Dave: "Where does Woody get off saying this to you--you're a Shakespearean, for God's sake!" Ken: "Well, you know, 'have tights, will travel'--that's me, absolutely"). CHARLIE ROSE: Mostly talk about Celebrity. Ken does amusing Olivier impression. GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Seven-minute interview, 4 of which Ken-smitten interviewer spends giggling/grinning widely. Read the transcript. REGIS AND KATHIE LEE: Why does he do this show? THE VIEW: One-on-one interview sucked (they should get someone who knows how to pronounce his name to interview him) but when he hangs out with all the girls it's pretty amusing. He spins a "Wheel of Shakespeare" (I'm NOT joking), asks the "question of the day", which is "What is the craziest thing you've ever done for love?" (I thought his answer was gonna be something along the lines of allowing himself to be photographed with Emma's frightening wedding dress, but nope...) Tells a kinda far-fetched story about flying halfway 'round the world to wait outside the door of the girl he loves for hours in the rain. (There's always gotta be rain in these scenes, how tragic would it be if he had waited for hours in the warm basking glow of sunshine?) Finally knocks on the door, but she ain't home. The View women try slyly to pry the identity of the girl from him, he doesn't budge. Anyway, it was pretty amusing in a fluffy sort of way, and at least they didn't ask him about his thoughts concerning their last subject of discussion: "Men who are trying to reverse their circumcisions..."
- "KEN'S ROLE AT OUR THEATRE AWARDS (London Evening Standard): Kenneth Branagh, whose new film Theory of Flight featured in the recent London Film Festival, will take to the stage at the Savoy Hotel next Monday to present a special award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for 1998. Branagh, who began a stunning career on stage in London and who last year won the Special Jury Prize at the Standard's annual Film Awards for his movie Hamlet, will join 400 stars in our celebration of the capital's theatre."
- The Gingerbread Man in Australia: Australian Ken fans will be able to use the slo-mo and freeze-frame functions on their VCR (hey, Ken recommended this!) on Gingerbread next week, when the film makes its debut on video. (November 26, thanks to Nicky, Lisa, Catherine, Virginia, Sandra)
First off, let me apologize for unloading on Woody in the last news update in such a sophomoric, adolescent manner (but remember, I'm a college kid, the demographic group responsible for 95% of The Waterboy's box office. Funny flick, by the way)--venerated director Robert Altman "kicking Woody's ass"...puh-leez. He's more likely to grab a gun and--oh wait, I must be thinking of Charlton Heston (wasn't he riveting in Hamlet? I'm being serious here!). Anyway, the assault on Woody was uncalled for (actually, no, it wasn't, the little twerp deserved ALL OF IT!), and I shall endeavour to keep this site a shiny, happy one, even in the face of Ken-bashing comments by crack-smoking, corduroy-obsessed loons. Ahem. While we're on the subject of Woody, check out his latest comments about Ken and Celebrity (he's a bit nicer here); in other press notes, there's a cheery little article on Ken in today's New York Post (Ken's always nice :) . . . PHOTOS: do a search for "branagh" at this site, and see 15 awesome photos of Ken, which you can also send as postcards . . . THE PLANE! THE PLANE! So it seems the British pal who told me she saw a bi-plane in Ken's backyard (she was in his neighborhood for, uh, educational purposes) wasn't hallucinating -- Cindy Adams wrote in her column yesterday: "Kenneth Branagh, who plays someone obsessed with aerodynamics in Theory of Flight, kept one of its props. A full-sized Wright brothers plane now sits in his garden as a piece of sculpture." (November 19, thanks to Deborah, Cate)
Lots of notes (organized for your convenience :)
Media stuff: So I can't wait 'till Thursday--not because I have a constitutional law exam (ugh), but 'cause the Ken media blitz for Celebrity starts that night. His press schedule, if you missed it, is on the front page. What I anticipate to be the two best interviews will happen first--a talk with Charlie Rose is always substantive, at the very least, and Dave Letterman is...Dave. Sometimes cranky, but usually nice to Ken. :) Reviews from two major weeklies (Time and Rolling Stone) have also come in, both favorable for the film (yippee!). Time calls Ken's performance "rather daring" (I like the sound of that), Rolling Stone calls Ken's performance, uhm....other. ;) (If you got the Ken movie that line came from, you win a cookie) . . . Discovering Hamlet, previously available only to schools and libraries for triple-digit bucks, is FINALLY on sale to the public at retail price from the lovely folks at PBS. It's a one-hour documentary tracing the rehearsal process of the Renaissance Theatre Company's 1988 production of Hamlet, starring Ken (looking about 15 years old) and directed by Sir Derek Jacobi--good stuff, I definitely recommend it. Ordering information can be found at the PBS site. . . . MAGAZINE NOTES: Ken is the cover story of the December issue of the new culture/entertainment mag Madison...and Helena Bonham Carter is featured in the December/January issue of that Ken-bashing rag Movieline; she talks about Theory of Flight and her crusty elf co-star, check out excerpts from the article . . . Lastly, Miramax has finally put up a decent site for Celebrity, with pics and clips. (November 11, thanks to Renata, Sondra, CTighe)
- Fine Line's preliminary website for The Theory of Flight is up, and features a first look at the film's poster. Ken kinda looks like a muppet, with a touch of Chuck Norris, but I guess it's a pretty cute poster.
- WANTED: Backbone So while Ken was working triple-time to promote Woody Allen's latest film, the ungrateful, disloyal little twerp--apparently distressed and cowed by the controversial and mixed reviews of Ken's performance specifically and of the film generally--was telling the New York Daily News (a story picked up by the Associated Press and therefore almost every major newspaper) that he was in no way responsible for any aspect of Ken's performance, that he in no way influenced it, that what he really WOULD have preferred was to re-shoot the entire film because the portrayal of Lee Simon was so off-target, that he finally just had to "throw in the towel" and let this utter catastrophe of a lead performance continue unchecked and without offering an ounce of input. Poor Woody. To lose control over the portrayal of your central character like that...I wish I had my Rolodex handy, I'd give the Woodman Bob Altman's number, and they could have a nice long chat about how difficult, uncooperative, and unaccomodating an actor Ken is. Heh. (I'd have them meet in person, except Altman would probably kick Woody's whiny little ass back to the jazz age for letting Ken twist in the public wind like that.)
I'm a big fan of Woody's work, he's made some of my favorite films, but it's a shame he didn't recall Ken's public response to the critical bashing that Keanu Reeves and Jack Lemmon took for their performances in, respectively, Much Ado and Hamlet. He defended their performances, pointed out the positive aspects, and showed a personal and professional loyalty to his actors during a time when it would have been more advantageous to disassociate himself from their performances. In this respect, Mr Allen is a far, far inferior director to Ken, and has a long way to go before becoming the class act that our Ken is.
- I found the December issue of the culture/entertainment magazine Madison (at Borders Books and Music, it's in the people/culture section, alongside 'zines like People and Interview), with a TERRIFIC cover story on Ken. (Hey, any article that starts off with the sentence, "It's impossible not to be charmed, inspired and even moved at times by this, in turn, downright silly, deeply intelligent, immensely articulate and emotionally open man..." near the beginning has gotta be a winner. :) In this most excellent interview, Ken says he's gonna quit smoking (yippee!), saw There's Something About Mary and thought it was "hysterical", claims that "superhuman efforts in athletic events make [him] weep" (he woulda been dry as a bone watching the Niners' last football game), reveals that reading is his favorite pastime, plans on adopting a couple mutts from the local animal shelter when he's sure he'll have enough time to bond (I think he says this stuff knowing it makes girls weak at the knees ;), and discusses lots of other lovely, interesting topics. Unfortunately, the 4 full-size photos (not including the cover) make him like a total psycho. Ah well. :) While we're on the topic of articles, check out the new ones for Celebrity just added...
- From the MSNBC movie column: "...The REAL star of Celebrity though, isn't DiCaprio, but actor Kenneth Branagh who does an incredible job playing his own Woody Allen. It is not so much an imitation, but Kenneth more or less becomes Woody in a remarkable way. At the screening I attended many people won't think of Leo when it comes to this movie, but will think of Kenneth."
- From the Jeannie Williams column in USA Today: "SNEAKS: Such a surprise to hear Woody Allen's nervous ego-chatter coming out of the mouth of Kenneth Branagh in Allen's upcoming film, Celebrity. Branagh is much more attractive than Allen, but he's such a fine actor that you dislike him anyway by the end of the movie as he tosses away one woman after another." (November 17)
Random stuff: Hope you guys were able to see/download the trailer for Celebrity, it's right above the Theory of Flight one at the Sony trailer site. You can also check out a brief scene from Theory at the film.com site. The Celebrity trailer is terrific, funny and hip (although I must say that the little bit of Ken dancing to club music scared the holy bejeesus out of me. The Lord of the Dance has nothing to fear...); Miramax has started to run an abbreviated version on TV, so look for it there as well. And despite Woody distancing himself from Ken's much-criticized performance, our lad will still go on the campaign trail for the film: appearances on Dave Letterman (Nov 12, CBS), Good Morning America (Nov 13, ABC) and The View (Nov 16, ABC) have been tentatively scheduled. The fabulous and brilliant Edward Norton (God, I'd give an arm and a leg for him to be in Love's Labour's Lost) said in an interview with Charlie Rose last week that he compared working-with-Woody-Allen notes with Ken, and they both came to the same conclusion: it's Woody's script, Woody's direction, and whoever gets the Woody role is ultimately destined to end up Woody-like. Anyway, enough of this Woody-impersonation stuff, I get the feeling the critics are gonna avalanche us with it in a couple of weeks...sigh. The Los Angeles Times ran a little advertisement/article about the house that Ken leased during his six-month stay in LA to shoot Wild Wild West...Finally, read Emma Thompson's latest comments to the press about her ex...uhm, at least they're more pleasant than what she'd been saying earlier this year...:) (November 7, thanks to Nancy, Nicky, Neth, Bonnie)
I'm still in a deep funk following the Niners' loss to the Green Bay Packers (sob!), but here goes...Ken on Leno: Mr B was his usual charming, witty, cute, amusing, slightly dorky, rather dashing and sexy (despite (1) wearing one too many layers of clothing and (2) the furry golden tarantula that has attached itself to his chin...UGH. The little child actress who followed Ken did a double-take when she saw the spider beard, so it ain't just me) self. He did his usual comedy schtick -- i.e., stories about his parents (see London Times snippet below), mechanical ineptitude, etc...nothing terribly new, but amusing nonetheless. Methinks he ought to think up some new material though--even Jerry Seinfeld changes his routine every five years or so. :) Fluff topics he should consider incorporating into his late-night repertoire: sports (his favorite American football team?), pets (he seems like a dog guy), life in L.A. while filming (I'm sure it sucked). Near the end of the interview, a clip from Celebrity was shown--not one, in my humble opinion, that will have people storming the theaters in droves come opening day. It featured Ken, Leonardo DiCaprio, two scantily-clad babes, your usual "let's-have-an-orgy" dialogue, and a lot of stuttering. Anyway, if you missed this interview, Ken'll do it all over again on the Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday, November 12th. The uber-cool Dave airs on CBS at 11:30pm in most markets. Finally, here's a clipping from today's London Times re-telling one of Ken's stories on Leno--though it of course fails to note the Leno part:
'Typical parents. Kenneth Branagh takes his folks to a smart party at the White House and then his mother embarrasses him in front of the President by making a lascivious lunge at one of Bill Clinton's Hollywood cronies. Frances Branagh was overcome by the licentious atmosphere created by the current White House encumbent when she spotted Kurt Russell, the beefcake action star. Branagh was paying homage to Jack Lemmon, the guest of honour, when he realised that his mother was having a turn: "My parents were like rabbits in the headlights. I thought they were going to faint." Enter an unsuspecting Kurt: "She launched herself at him," recalls Branagh who then observed his mother planting an energetic kiss on the star. "It was so embarrassing," confesses the straight-laced Shakespearo Kenneth.
Fortunately, Goldie Hawn, Russell's eternally youthful other half, sensed that the sporty but almost septuagenarian Branagh Snr was no threat and adopted a liberal attitude. "Thankfully they both understand what my parents are like and they let them take photos. Now my mother is completely insufferable and keeps saying 'My friends Kurt and Goldie'." You old square, Ken.' (November 2, thanks to Lulia)
The Wild Wild West preview isn't ready yet, but the rather groovy trailer for The Theory of Flight is now available for download here; if Stateside fans want to see it magnified 6 billion times in size (i.e., see it on a movie screen), New Line has shipped it out with its prints of Pleasantville (which is a terrific movie, but not as terrific as the other film I saw over the weekend, Miramax's The Mighty. See this one!!) . . . Ken's been appointed to the board of directors of the Council for Integrated Education in Northern Ireland . . . the weekly syndicated TV program "The Entertainers" is scheduled to do a profile on Ken this weekend -- check local listings for times (I'd recommend doing a 'branagh' search over at the trusty TV Guide site . . . Remember to watch Ken's interview with Jay Leno tonight . . . Ken-Friends's own Sarah Hatchuel asked Robin Williams (our Hamlet's Osric) during a recent French press conference whether he'd be willing to make another KB Shax film appearance; the very cool (he lives in our Bay Area, of course he's cool ;) Mr. Willliams responded:
"Oh, I hadn't heard [about the new Shakespeare productions]. But I'd love to! I'd love to!... I would love to play anything !...If he adapts any other Shakespeare play, I'd play any part...you know, he makes us so happy about it, he makes it so enjoyable at the same time; he works with such extraordinary people, like in Hamlet, he assembles such a cast of strange happy people, and he puts them all together, somehow it would be great to find myself among them again. I would play the hump of Richard III if he asked me..." [mimes a hump] (October 28, thanks to Marie-Dominique, Sarah, Laurence)
So I turn in my last exam/paper on Thursday, after which I'll HOPEFULLY be able to fix the technical problems in the /~jyking/ portion of this site, as well as add tons more new photos. Until then, have patience and endure...on to the news: If you missed the headline, Ken will plug Celebrity on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, October 28th. Jay airs at 11:30pm on most stations, on NBC. Miramax is also trying to set up interviews with Dave Letterman and Conan O'Brien before the movie's release on November 20 . . . Ken finishes work on Wild Wild West and goes back across the pond in 2 weeks (sniff). Speaking of Wild, I'm unofficially told that Warner Brothers is planning to unveil the first trailer for its summer blockbuster this Friday with its prints of the Kurt Russell testosterone flick Soldier. I'm actually gearing up to see the lower-body count Pleasantville, but someone lemme know if the Wild trailer is indeed attached to Soldier . . . Love's Labour's Lost: Most of the technical Hamlet team will be back for LLL -- Tim Harvey (production designer), Alexandra Byrne (costume designer), David Barron (producer), Alex Thompson (director of photography) and Patrick Doyle (composer -- yay! Pat's fighting a winning battle against leukemia, and obviously has all our love and support!). There's no definite casting yet, but the usual mixture of Ken regulars and international movie superstars will headline the film, which will hopefully start production next spring at Shepperton Studios . . . Two benefit premieres for The Theory of Flight are scheduled: the first in New York to benefit the City Park Foundation on December 10 (you-know-who's birthday :) and the second in Los Angeles on Dec 14 in support of ALS and the Artists Rights Foundation. Schedule permitting, Ken will attend both events . . . FRIVOLOUS STUFF: Sheesh, I didn't know so many folks were interested in what kinda car Ken's favoring these days in his Hollywood mode; anyway, a few unconfirmed reports of him jetting around LA in a red Mustang convertible (good choice, IMO :). Someone else says a black convertible, but...whatever. :) And another unconfirmed report from entertainment source FIN that Ken has been heard/seen singing in Karaoke bars. I'll not comment on this one. (Although one might hope/pray that, if true, this is just preparation for LLL, and not the result of a pint too many. I didn't know Berlin and Porter tunes had been karaoke-tized though.) Finally, an interview snippet from the latest issue of NOW! (you can tell that's a Brit mag by the punctuation), in which our Ken seems very happy. Yay! The entire article will be available on this site...er, eventually. :)
[Re choosing to do Theory with Helena]: "We did it as we were both drawn to the script, which is quirky and different and it was good casting for the pair of us. It worked out well, we enjoyed it, and it's got great characters. Helly has an odd sensibility for material and often chooses things that are slightly askew."
"'Oh I have no idea about marriage,' he says quickly. 'I've no fixed views on that, children, you name it.' 'I love kids, I love them,' he insists. 'There are lots of friends who can't have them and so I never assume. But I haven't been actively trying, so it may or may not be on my dance card. Again it's not something that at this stage I feel I can particularly plan for. I try to think no further than dinner or tea. That keeps me happy.' Ken, who's filled out a bit in the last few years, certainly seems happier and even a bit softer these days. 'I even cry at movies,' he admits. 'I do, yes. I can start crying at the most banal things. I'm a bit of a sucker really. When I'm at home, I like getting up early and going for a walk -- the earlier the better, when the world's just waking up. Dawn, say about five-ish -- though I don't do it regularly enough, I have to say. It's very quiet then, the phone's not ringing and there aren't too many cars around. I'm a much happier guy these days.' "
(October 21, thanks to Nicolett, Tamar Thomas, Vicky S, Patrick C, Nicky)
Lotsa catching up to do... First, let me reiterate, as strongly as I know how, that school is extremely detrimental to the enjoyment of life. But since I only have one exam left, let me catch you guys up on what's been happening in Ken-land: Miramax Films has acquired North American distribution rights to all three of the upcoming Shakespeare films (Love's Labour's Lost, As You Like It, Macbeth), yay! . . . the Warner Brothers toy division is working on a major line of Wild Wild West action figures and accessories. Pretty cool, eh? Next summer, my Beanie Babies will get to engage in mortal combat with my plastic Dr. Loveless (which I hope will remotely resemble Ken). And it looks like the inevitable fast food restaurant tie-in will be with Burger King, who will doubtlessly unveil some Wild toys of its own . . . read the only
unqualified rave (so far) of Celebrity, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. Just an aside here on the film: it's irritating me that American critics thus far have been bashing Ken for doing a Woody Allen impersonation without commenting on the fact that Woody approved of -- if not outwardly encouraged -- such a performance. And if we establish that Ken's lead role in this Woody film is indeed written as a Woody-esque character (what a shocker!! Unheard of, really.), then why complain that Ken plays him as whiny, nebbishy, and a general loser? Geez. I could rant on and on about this, but I'll spare ya . . . THE RUMOR THAT JUST WON'T DIE: George Lucas not casting Ken in the upcoming Star Wars prequel wasn't enough to quell Ken-in-SW fans, who are now hoping that Lord Lucas will see the light and cast Ken in the second SW movie. Well, it appears that George's technical crew isn't helping on that front; apparently, a special-effects staffer said during an interview at a science fiction convention that because the first rumor was met with such excitement, George will ask Ken to be in the second SW prequel . . . MORE DUBIOUS STUFF: a British morning chat show reported that Ken has bought a flashy new sports car while shooting Wild in L.A. Uhm, probably not. I'm pretty sure the studio gave it to him as a loan or something. Ken does not seem the red-convertible type, he's more like the hunter green-Land Rover type. And Brit mag Hello! prematurely states in its latest issue that Ken plans on filming all 37 of Shakespeare's plays. Pity that what little text the mag actually carries is inaccurate most of the time . . . finally, some QUOTABLE KEN QUOTES:
"The part is written so much in Woody's voice and that ingratiating, anxious, neurotic energy. I just did what he told me." --Ken, during Celebrity's press conference
"I did not direct him to do that...This is his interpretation." --Woody Allen, copping out the next day.
"It's not just an impersonation, but he's great in it." --Helena Bonham Carter, standing by her guy.
"Random thoughts go through your mind. I'm thinking,`Where is my mark?' Then, `My God, I'm standing next to Kenneth Branagh!'" --Gretchen Mol, on filming Celebrity.
"The main reason, the only reason really, I did the project was because of Branagh. He's one of our best actors, certainly the best I've ever worked with, and a formidable director..." --Robert Altman, on why he did The Gingerbread Man.
"As a director, Ken has the ability to somehow put his soul into his hand, take his hand and put it into your mouth, down through your throat, grab onto your soul, hold onto it and stay there, right with you, as you are acting. It's just amazing."
--Kate Winslet, on her Hamlet experience
"Hey, I think I saw your grubby monkey on Entertainment Tonight the other day. Every time I see him I wonder why the hell you like him so much." --my best friend, during class last week. (October 17, thanks to Jude, Toni, Nicky)
Whew, what a weekend! (Too bad midterm exams start tomorrow...bummer.) First off, let me point you to two crappy pics (they were printed in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly in microscopic size) from the Celebrity premiere at the New York Film Festival: Ken and Helena at the party afterward and the entire cast (Ken's on the far left in the sharp tux). On Friday morning came the tremendous news that shortly after playing a no-legged, penis-lacking, mechanized super-freak in a summer Hollywood blockbuster, our Ken returns to what many believe is his true calling--adapting, directing and starring in Shakespeare films. A musical version set in the 1930's of Love's Labour's Lost will be the first production from his newly formed Shakespeare Film Company. Productions of As You Like It and Macbeth are also being planned. You can read more about this in the trade reports posted in Friday's news update below.
On Friday night I was lucky enough to catch an early screening of the Ken/Helena Bonham Carter film The Theory of Flight, which was shown as part of a tribute evening to Helena (the tribute reel did NOT include a clip from Frankenstein--the only major omission--DOH!! Although, come to think of it, I can't think of any scene that would have been appropriate to show...well, maybe at the end when she becomes a bleeding baseball and the object of tug-of-war betwixt Victor and the Creature) at the Mill Valley (across the bay from San Francisco) Film Festival. Back to Theory: I ***LOVED**** IT!!! I cannot emphasize too strongly how much I adore this incredibly hysterical, touching, sad, poignant, sweet, moving, adventurous, dizzying (in more ways than one :), FUNNY, well-paced, freeze-frameable ;), tender, soaring movie. There are teeny tiny script deficiencies, but they're over-compensated for by the terrific performances of HBC (good shot at an Oscar nomination) and Ken (good shot at being the boyfriend of a nominated actress.) Did I mention my theory that the Academy isn't Ken-friendly? Crack-smoking loons. Anyway, they're both phenomenal, and "Ken and Hel" fans are gonna be blown away. Look forward to this one! By the by, HBC is a very nice, funny person, most evidenced by the fact that she chose not to smack the incompetent moderator/interviewer of the evening senseless. (October 5)
I'm rushing around like mad trying to get ready for tonight's Theory of Flight film festival screening, so you're spared annoying commentary on this piece of earth-shattering, mind-blowing news extravaganza that was first reported late last night and in more detail this morning. Drumroll please...
BRANAGH BACK TO BARD (Variety)
Actor/director Kenneth Branagh has set up a film company that will make only Shakespeare films, with the first project slated to be a musical adaptation of ``Love's Labours Lost'' set in the 1930s.
Branagh will direct and star in the comedy feature, which he promised would be ``sexy, entertaining and accessible'' with music from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. Shooting will begin early next year.
Branagh has slated tragedy ``Macbeth'' and comedy ``As You Like It'' as two other potential pictures. Like ``Labours,'' he will attempt to inject each work with a fresh look and setting.
He will direct all the pictures and produce them through the Shakespeare Film Co., which he formed with his ``core team'' of producer David Barron and production designer Tim Harvey, to ``formalize our passionate commitment to producing Shakespeare on film.''
Branagh is no stranger to Shakespeare, having directed and starred in ``Henry V,'' his 1989 helming debut, ``Much Ado About Nothing'' (1993) and an unabridged version of ``Hamlet'' (1996).
The films will be financed and distributed by London-based Intermedia Films, which will jointly own the negatives with the Shakespeare Film Co. According to Intermedia co-chairman Nigel Sinclair, they will be shot in Europe to take advantage of cost-efficiencies and will be under two hours in length.
Despite the plethora of Shakespeare picture adaptations over the past few years, Intermedia said it was confident that there would be a large audience for this new spate.
``There remains an extraordinary level of interest in Shakespearean (material) around the world,'' Sinclair said.
Read the report from The Hollywood Reporter. (October 2)
Celebrity opened the New York Film Festival Friday night (BTW, it was my 21st birthday over the weekend, and I'm sad to report that Ken didn't even bother to drop by for a visit, the insolent munchkin. Hmmph. See if anything special is planned for his birthday! ;) Anyway, check out New York critic reviews of the film, and if those depress you, read a brief review of Cold War, which started airing on CNN last night. Back to Celebrity in New York (sorry, alcohol causes my train of thought to jump around a bit): notes from the festivities included lengthy green room conversation betwixt Uma Thurman/Ethan Hawke and Ken, and Helena Bonham Carter joining her dashing boyfriend (that makes up for the munchkin comment, no?) at the post-screening party. Some other random snippets from the New York Daily News:
[SNIP...you don't wanna read Leo-mania junk, do ya? :)]
That was just the sort of real-life performance that made DiCaprio's co-star, Kenneth Branagh, think will help the young actor "survive this storm of adulation." Branagh, who caught up with DiCaprio at the post-premiere party at Tavern on the Green, told us: "It's inevitable that there's a transient sadness to this kind of fame the need for security and all . . . But I find him very together, able to be funny about what's happened to him."
Friday's audience found that the next best thing to director Woody Allen in "Celebrity," which opens theatrically Nov. 13, may be Branagh. The British actor, who cut such a heroic figure in "Hamlet" and "Henry V," does nothing short of an Allen impersonation as a self-sabotaging writer who's always trying to trade up to a more alluring woman. Branagh's performance mimics all of Allen's signature stammers and squeaks. "The part was written in a voice that, undeniably, has a sort of Woody resonance," Branagh said. "But there was no attempt to try to mimic him. I guess that's how it came out. And I think that's what Woody wanted. But I promise you it wasn't conscious."
"Good Will Hunting" star Ben Affleck was among those who found Branagh's nebbishy Lothario implausible. "I couldn't believe how many beautiful women he ends up with," Affleck said. "That was ridiculous." [Not as ridiculous as 95% of Armageddon, ya little goober. -Nock]
Branagh argues that "Celebrity" is partly farce. What's more, he adds, Allen's nerdy lovers always have enough "comic charm that the audience will accept them, given the fact that they're never going to get the girl in the end." (September 28)
Check out these really cool photos taken by Myriam Ferrus just as the 1997 Cannes Film Festival Hamlet screening had concluded and the audience was giving Ken, Kate Winslet and Charlton Heston a standing ovation as the credits rolled:
Ken and Kate hugging, Ken acknowleding the crowd with a bit of tummy :), in his classic hand in hair pose, in profile with Chuck on the right, with his eyes closed, with his hands folded, next to Kate waving, and a shot of all three thesps.
(September 23, thanks to Sarah H)
CNN starts airing its massive documentary on the Cold War this Sunday, September 27, at 8 pm. Ken provides the narration for this weekly series, and has also shot a couple of brief promo spots (currently airing on various Ted Turner-owned stations) for it. You can also see a longer preview for it on the Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan City of Angels video. Ken also narrates Universal Horror, which will air on the Turner Classic Movies channel (TCM) on Friday, October 9th. In movie news, Theory of Flight is set to screen on the second day of the London Film Festival on November something. More details can be found via the link. On the photo front, check out a little promo shot for Francis (a play he did in the mid-80s, which explains why he looks about 15 in the pic), his RSC Hamlet hugging Ophelia, a bunch of photos from rehearsals of
Public Enemy (this'll take a while to load, but the cool pics are worth it. Look at our cute little impresario!) and lastly, everybody's favorite mad scientist in a Fabio-like shirt (did they not believe in using buttons back then?).
(September 21, thanks to Sandra, Les, Annie)
Weekend round-up: Ken spent Friday night representing Celebrity at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Still sporting that freakish Loveless beard from Wild Wild West, he nonetheless looked quite cool with Melanie Griffith and
in black. The film itself was generally well-received by European critics (read UK reviews here, but the chief critic of Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety trashed it mercilessly. He called Ken's performance (which is basically a 2-hour impersonation of Woody Allen, judging by comments from Ken himself) "simply embarassing", while his paper noted that "many [critics] were irritated by Kenneth Branagh's central performance." The first clips I've seen of Ken in Celebrity weren't too promising, but hey, I'm pretty sure I'll end up enjoying seeing him play a neurotic New Yorker. I hope. Anyhow, check out two new pics from Celebrity (which is scheduled to be released in the U.S. starting November 13th):
Ken putting the moves on Melanie Griffith and Ken talking to a really tall guy and Charlize Theron.
Meanwhile, across the pond and over the hills at the Toronto Film Festival, The Theory of Flight was having its world premiere. The only review I've seen, from the Toronto Sun's website, was extremely favorable and promised good things. If the gods are with me, I'll be able to get a sneak peak of it at The Mill Valley Film Festival here in northern California. The October 2nd screening of Theory will be part of a tribute to Helena Bonham Carter, who will appear for an on-stage interview before the screening and a swank dinner reception following. (Don't worry, I don't plan on lobbing little chunks of kalimari at her or anything. I hear sauteed lobster legs are much more effective.) Theory opens in New York and LA on Christmas Day, with staggered openings in other areas of the country in early 1999.
To end on a romantic and kinda cute note, Helena says in the October cover story of the UK's Tatler, "I am definitely happy and definitely in love. I have had other loves in the past, but this is the most long-lasting, grown up one." Awww. Ain't life grand? (September 14, pics thanks to Isabel)
The eagerly-awaited CNN series documentary The Cold War, narrated by Ken, premieres September 19th in the UK on BBC2. Here's a publicity photo of a rather dashing Ken with producer Jeremy Isaacs. The series begins airing in America on CNN in...er, sometime in the near future. I'm reading September 13th from a press release, but that's not right. I'll get back to ya on this one...(September 14, thanks to Catherine K.)
Some cool new movie photos: Mike and Grace get romantic in the rain and in a cut scene (CUTE! Pity t'was cut.) in Dead Again, a look at Roman at the masquerade, Mike again, and Richard and Jane in Theory of Flight. Also new here is an autographed photo behind the camera of Peter's Friends and a shot from the 1983/4 RSC production of Henry V. (September 10, photos thanks to Sandra, Cyn)
Ok, just a re-cap of what we've known so far about our good pal Dr. Arliss Loveless, arch-nemesis of James T. West (Will Smith) and Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) and mastermind behind evil schemes in the Wild Wild West: he doesn't have legs, he's also missing a penis, he's half-bionic, he's got a fetish for all things arachnid, he's surrounded by a lot of scantily-clad babes, and he's a bit on the kinky side. Intriguing, no? UK glossy OK! gives us our first look at the good doctor, printing a slightly fuzzy image of Ken in character as Loveless and another kinda crappy pic of Ken taking a break on the set. So now we also know he's got serious facial hair problems and his eyebrows resemble the Cookie Monster's. The long, shaggy, Renaissance-y black hair doesn't do it for me either, but I'll cope. Also included is a pic of a carriage-type thingie that OK! reports to be Loveless's weapon of destruction, the Tarantula, but...I don't think so. Does it bear ANY resemblance to an earlier drawing of the mechanical beast depicted on a production plate? The text accompanying the photos is below. And lastly on the Wild front, here's a brief report sent in from an extra on the New Mexico set detailing the special-effects scenes shot on location. ***Spoiler warning*** Details of the climactic scene are included. Click here to read.
"KENNETH BRANAGH TAKES ON A VERY DIFFERENT CHARACTER
"Long hours spent in a wheelchair are telling on Ken Branagh, who's having to regularly call time out from filming his latest movie Wild Wild West. Branagh plays a 19th-century madman out to destroy the USA, in a remake of the popular TV series. Now filming in New Mexico, the adventure is set for release on July 4 1999 and also stars Will Smith and Kevin Kline." (September 6, pics thanks to Estela, text thanks to Catherine)
Buzz, buzz! Advance word on Ken's upcoming fall films is very good, as early reports on Celebrity and Theory of Flight have touted, respectively, the first as one of Woody Allen's best and the latter as an early Oscar contender. That hard-hitting piece of entertainment journalism known as "Entertainment Tonight" even gave Theory one of its precious quarter-of-a-second clip slots, normally reserved for updates on Leonardo DiCaprio or swimsuit calendar photo shoots (man, if Ken jumped into a bikini every once in while to pose for pics in exotic locales, he'd get all kinds of coverage on ET. I need to talk to his publicist...) You could've even blinked twice and (barely) not have missed the clip! For those who did, the clip was part of ET's "Fall Movie Preview", the sub-category was "real life couples in movies together", and involved Ken saying, "Jane here essentially, er, wants to, uh, to lose her, er to lose her virginity." It was cute! I smell Oscar. (Of course, I smelled a crapload of Oscars this time 4 years ago before Frankenstein opened, so, uhm...knock on wood. Ahem. :)
Ok, don't believe ME, read it from a more reputable source, a UK paper (hah! As if.) called The Express; never mind that most of its facts are wrong: the movie was acquired by Fine Line 'sight unseen' ages ago, which means they bought it without seeing the finished product, and of course the BBC knew about it back then too. So disregard all that "..until we broke the good news" nonsense. WhatEVER! The world of journalism is filled with crack-smokers. Speaking of crack-smokers, the entertainment weekly called...uhm, Entertainment Weekly, stopped smoking this week long enough to print my entire e-mail (all 2 sentences!) complaining about their omission of Ken from their "25 Best Actors of the Decade" story a few weeks ago. Woo hoo! Major excitement. Okey dokey, on to the article:
"HELENA FLIES TOWARD HER OSCAR [No cracks about the broomstick she's using, please. ;) I'm joking, of course. You know how much I adore HBC. :)]
The romance between Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Branagh has been crowned by an unexpected celluloid triumph. The pair both star in a BBC-backed television film which is considered so good that it will receive a worldwide mainstream cinema release. What is more, the film is being tipped as such a strong Oscar contender -- especially for Bonham Carter's performance -- that American distributor Fine Line Features is timing the release to give it the best possible chance at next year's ceremony. The Theory of Flight stars Bonham Carter as a wheelchair-bound victim of motor-neurone disease, who is determined to have sex once more before she dies. Branagh plays her ex-criminal carer. The film was made on a paltry budget of 1.7 million pounds by the BBC, in partnership with Distant Horizon, a South African production company. Distant Horizon was responsible for clinching the deal with Fine Line Features, which happened so recently that the BBC was unaware of it -- until we broke the good news. 'This is a fantastic result for us,' says a joyful spokesman for the Corporation, 'and great news for the British film industry.' A spokeswoman for Fine Line in New York tells us: 'We are going to roll the film out in December, so that it will qualify for the Oscars. This could definitely by Helena's turn after she missed out with Wings of A Dove.'" (September 3, news clipping thanks to Linda P.)
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