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Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock: Will they tour?

By Contributor / 03.15.13

Rumors have started to spring up about a Chris Rock/Dave Chappelle comedy tour, and it's all because of some comments made during a rare appearance by Chappelle onstage with fellow comedians Rock, Kevin Hart, Marlon Wayans, and Paul Mooney on a three-night stint at New York's Comedy Cellar.

During the show, Chappelle jested about himself and Rock going on tour, and Rock invited Chappelle down to Palm Springs, Fla., to which Chappelle replied, "After next Tuesday, I’m free for like 11 years," according to the Los Angeles Times. He went on to suggest that the show could be "Fireside Chats with Chris Rock."

In 2005, Chappelle left his extremely popular "Chappelle's Show" mid-production to spend time in Africa. Chappelle later returned to the US and told Oprah Winfrey during an appearance that doing the show was "incredibly stressful."

"When you're a guy who generates money, people have a vested interest in controlling you," he said.

For the past seven years, since Chappelle left the limelight, every time the slightest rumor of a return comes surfaces on the Web, the whole Internet seems abuzz with hope. However, if his previous comments are anything to go by, a complete return to show business may not be in the cards for Chappelle. During an "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview in 2006, he seemed disillusioned.

Chappelle told the crowd of students from Pace University in New York, "You guys are students now, so you're idealists. You don't know about where art and corporate interests meet yet. Just prepare to have your heart broken... get your Africa tickets ready, baby. Because you have no idea!"

If you've never heard a Dave Chappelle stand-up set, be prepared for a lot of expletives, drug references, and racially charged language. However, much of the comedian's work is devoted to seriously questioning race relations in contemporary America. Fans will probably always hope that rumors of a return are true – but don't count your chickens quite yet.

The action movies 'Olympus Has Fallen' and 'White House Down' will both center on the White House being taken over, putting the president in danger. (AP)

'Olympus Has Fallen' and 'White House Down': Two action movies put the White House in peril

By Staff Writer / 03.14.13

Two similar movies that have the misfortune to be coming out within several months of one another are nothing new in Hollywood.

One of the most famous instances occurred in the summer of 1996 when two dueling disaster movies, “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” arrived on the movie scene within two months of one another. “Impact,” which was released on May 8, saw Earth under attack from a giant comet, while “Armageddon,” coming out on July 1, found the planet threatened by an asteroid. “Armageddon” grossed $201 million domestically, coming in ahead of “Impact”'s $140 million, and “Armageddon” was better received by critics, scoring 42 to “Impact"'s score of 40 on the website Metacritic.

Last year saw another instance of dueling ideas when two movies based on the Brothers Grimm princess tale "Snow White" were released, though the takes on the legend were markedly different from one another. “Mirror Mirror,” a comedic take on the heroine and her rivalry with her stepmother, came out March 30, while “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a fantasy battle epic that saw Snow don armor and lead an army against the wicked queen, hit theaters June 1. “Huntsman” won the box office battle with a domestic total of $155 million to “Mirror Mirror's" $64 million, and the critics liked it better, too – “Huntsman” garnered a score of 57 on Metacritic, while “Mirror Mirror” averaged a 46.

So what similar concepts are facing off this year? Seventeen years after the alien invasion movie “Independence Day” famously destroyed the White House, the home of the Commander-in-Chief is under threat again. The movies “Olympus Has Fallen” and “White House Down” will find a group of enemies taking over the venerable residence, putting the president in peril. “Olympus” is coming to theaters March 30 and stars Gerard Butler as a former Secret Service Agent who is inside the building and helps outside forces with the crisis, while “Down” will star Channing Tatum as – wait for it – a Secret Service Agent.

Actor Rick Yune of “The Man with the Iron Fists” will play a North Korean terrorist in “Olympus,” while “Zero Dark Thirty” actor Jason Clarke will play the head of the invading group in “Down.” President duties are taken on by Aaron Eckhart in “Olympus” (he plays President Benjamin Asher), while Jamie Foxx of “Django Unchained” is our leader in “Down” as President James Sawyer.

Roland Emmerich, who directed “Independence Day,” the movie that destroyed the White House, is helming “White House Down.” Director Antoine Fuqua will be behind “Olympus Has Fallen.”

Which will triumph? First doesn’t always mean better in terms of release dates (both the disaster movies and Snow White films battles above prove that), but there’s always the danger that audiences will view a second similar movie as a copycat. (Both movies moved up their release date – “Olympus” was originally scheduled to come out in April, while “Down” was slated first for November.)

And maybe after this, Emmerich will leave the White House alone for a little while.

'Downton Abbey' stars Hugh Bonneville (l.) as Lord Robert Grantham and Jim Carter as butler Charles Carson (r.). (Joss Barratt/PBS/AP)

'Downton Abbey' season 4: Creator and cast talk what's ahead

By Staff Writer / 03.13.13

The popular British drama "Downton Abbey" aired its season three finale only a little more than two weeks ago in the US, leaving viewers distraught over a last-minute twist and eager to know more about what would be coming up on the show, which would surely be going through many changes in light of recent plot twists.

Before we proceed farther, anyone that hasn't seen all three seasons of "Downton," stop reading now, or you're going to be angrier than when Thomas found out he was selling black market goods and started throwing fake flour all over the place. Ready? We've all seen it? Okay.

“Downton” will pick up in season four with oldest Crawley daughter Mary a new mother and even newer widow, with her husband Matthew having been killed in a car crash on his way back from seeing his newborn son. Widower Tom Branson, the husband of youngest Crawley Sybil before she died in childbirth, is living at Downton with his baby daughter, named for his wife, and working as manager of the estate. Lord Robert and Lady Cora Grantham are back on good terms after Cora, who initially blamed Robert for Sybil’s death, conceded that nothing could have been done to save her. Middle daughter Edith was embarking on a scandalous path by possibly deciding to have an affair with her married newspaper editor. Meanwhile, rebellious Cousin Rose is coming to stay at the Downton estate while her parents are away in India.

In the servants’ world, former valet Bates was freed from prison, and he and wife Anna are now free to embark on married life together.

When is the US getting new episodes? Twists like Sybil and Matthew’s deaths were being discussed online before Americans saw the episodes, leaving some fans steamed, and the question arose anew over why the episodes couldn’t air simultaneously in the US and UK. But according to the New York Daily News and others, the fourth season of the show will be airing in America on Jan. 5, 2014 – that’ll be after the 2013 Christmas special, which is traditionally the “Downton” finale for that season, airs in the UK. 

Who’s out? Actor Dan Stevens, who played Matthew, and actress Jessica Brown Findlay, who portrayed Sybil, are obviously not returning, and Siobhan Finneran, who plays poisonous maid O’Brien, recently announced that she also won’t be coming back to the show for the new season.

“I'm not doing any more,” the actress told the UK newspaper the Mirror. “O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being -- that was great to play.”

It’s unknown whether Finneran might return to the series for a brief visit in the future.

What else is ahead for the “Downton” crew? The first episode will pick up six months after the last episode, according to "Downton" creator Julian Fellowes, and a photo of Mary and her new son, named George, recently surfaced online. There will be some new faces around as well – casting calls were put out for a black singer who performs at a club as well as a new love interest for Mary, her childhood friend Lord Gillingham, who PBS announced will be played by Tom Cullen.

"One of the main themes is the rebuilding of Mary, that Mary has to rebuild her life in a society which is changing," Fellowes told the New York Times.

In addition, as we discussed previously, "The Young Victoria" actress Dame Harriet Walter has reportedly been cast as a friend of the Dowager Countess's named Lady Shackleton and Shirley MacLaine will reprise her role as Cora's mother for the 2013 Christmas episode. Other "Downton" newbies include "Foyle's War" actor Julian Ovenden as a high-born man named Charles Blake, well known opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa as a woman who performs at the "Downton" house, and actor Nigel Harman of "Hotel Babylon" as a valet who, like many of the house staff, goes by his last name, Green.

Actress Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, stayed mum on where the middle sister's possible romance with her editor is headed but told the Huffington Post UK that Edith's done with society's expectations.

"She's coming into her own a little bit, I think," she said. "It's all been ups and downs. But I think after being jilted I think she's thrown it all out the window, any ideas she did have in the first place, and I think that's been good for her."

Meanwhile, Joanna Froggatt, who plays maid Anna, says that while there are some ups and downs, better days are finally ahead for her and her husband Bates.

"You certainly see Anna and Bates in times of happiness, which I think was well needed," she told Zap2it. "...I think [season four] may be the best yet and there are certainly aspects of Anna's character that have never been seen before."

The new season is being filmed now, so doubtless more news will be coming out of Highclere Castle as the months progress. Still going through "Downton" withdrawal? The best we can suggest is grabbing some scones on the way home.

Olivia Wilde (l.) stars in 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' with Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi (r., in character as stage magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton). (L: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP R: John P. Johnson/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP)

Olivia Wilde, Steve Carell star in the magicians comedy 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone'

By Staff Writer / 03.12.13

Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, and Olivia Wilde star in the film “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” a comedy which follows a magician duo Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton (Carell and Buscemi), who are struggling to stay relevant as an up-and-coming conjurer (Carrey) wows the world with his shocking tricks.

Wilde plays magician's assistant Jane, while actor Alan Arkin co-stars as Rance Holloway, the magician who convinced Wonderstone to pursue the same career.

The movie is scheduled to come out on March 15.

“Burt” will be Carell’s first comedy since 2011’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” after starring in the 2012 dramas “Hope Springs” and “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” Buscemi comes from starring on HBO’s series “Boardwalk Empire,” which aired its season three finale in December, as well as appearing in the 2012 film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s book “On the Road.”

“Wonderstone” will be Carrey’s first film work since the 2011 movie “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” After starring on “House,” Wilde recently appeared in the 2011 action movie “Cowboys and Aliens” and the drama “People Like Us,” which starred Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine

Meanwhile, Arkin was nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actor for his role as an irascible film producer in the movie “Argo.”

Illusionist David Copperfield worked behind the scenes on "Wonderstone" and created a magic trick that is performed at the end of the film. Director Don Scardino said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that having an eye-popping finale was essential for him.

“Obviously, in a movie about magic, you can do anything with camera tricks," he said. "I wanted one big stage illusion where you go, 'Oh, wow, how'd they do that?'"

As for the onscreen talent, Carell, who is a producer on the film, told the Los Angeles Times that he thinks the unexpected combination of actors is part of what makes the film a success.

“It's a very diverse cast, not one you would imagine together," said Carell. "I think it's worked beautifully. And we've gotten everybody we wanted.”

Sarah Silverman is one of the comedians featured on the new YouTube channel Jash. Jordan Strauss/AP

Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera launch YouTube comedy channel (+video)

By Contributor / 03.11.13

Experimental comedians Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric (from Tim and Eric Awesome Show) and Reggie Watts are all teaming up on a Google-funded YouTube channel. Each of them will get their own section within the channel where they have creative control as well as access to production and editing equipment.

They've named their channel "JASH" which stands for "Just Attitude So Hey" (it's actually because the name "JOSH" was already taken."

In October, over 60 new YouTube channels were announced that will fund comedians, artists, producers and innovators as a part of the second wave of YouTube Original Channels Initiative. The Original Channels are essentially a blank check to each individual or group, funded by Google, YouTube's parent company. In the past, YouTube has had a laissez-faire relationship with the channels it funds, allowing them to sink or swim on their merit. Each channel produces all content and advertises themselves.

JASH debuted at the South by Southwest conference this year with a five-minute video jokingly explaining that the purpose of the channel is to replace all YouTube videos.

Silverman told The Hollywood Reporter:  "This [JASH] is what we think is funny. It may not be your cup of tea, but there’s no testing involved, there’s no second-guessing of what a 14-year-old boy would like. It’s just a place to do stuff and fail or not fail."

The channel is doesn't have much content yet, but as Michael Cera said, its about "quality over quantity."

'Bates Motel' stars Vera Farmiga (l.) and Freddie Highmore (r.). (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

'Bates Motel': Will it be a well-received prequel to the 'Psycho' legend?

By Staff Writer / 03.11.13

Before the movie “Psycho” was in theaters and after its release, director Alfred Hitchcock went to extreme lengths to preserve the secrecy of its twist ending, from telling stars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh not to do interviews to forbidding latecomers from going into screenings of the movie and asking for signs to be put in theater lobbies requesting that moviegoers not spoil the plot for their friends.

But sorry, Hitch, the secret’s out – Norman Bates and his best friend (his mother) are now indelible parts of pop culture. Are there any secrets left to dig up about the antihero?

Director Tucker Gates says yes. He's helming the new TV series “Bates Motel,” which will air on A&E starting March 18. The show will star “Up in the Air” actress Vera Farmiga as Mrs. Bates (her first name is Norma Louise), while “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” actor Freddie Highmore will play the young version of Hitchcock’s memorably spooky character.

Ten episodes have been ordered for the first season. Other cast members signed on for the show include Nicola Peltz as Bradley Kenner, Olivia Cooke as Emma and Max Thieriot as Dylan Massett. (Your guess is as good as ours who they are.) “Lost” actor Nestor Carbonell will appear as Sheriff Royce Romero and Mike Vogel of “The Help” will play Zach Shelby.

The show “promises to give viewers an intimate portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years,” according to A&E. “Fans will have access to the dark, twisted backstory and learn first hand just how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma, truly is and how she helped forge the most famous serial killer of them all.”

Farmiga told USA Today that when she started acting as Norma, the actress “want[ed] to defend what she does,” she said. “She's a beautiful portrait of valiant maternity... at the same time she's an absolute train wreck.”

Psycho” came out in 1960 and was remade in a critically savaged adaptation by director Gus Van Sant in 1998 in which actor Vince Vaughn starred as Norman and Anne Heche played Marion Crane. Will “Motel” be a better-received take on the Norman Bates legend?

Mark Ruffalo has signed a contract for six movies with Marvel, sparking Hulk rumors about a possible film. (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Hulk rumors dispelled by Ruffalo and Whedon

By Contributor / 03.08.13

Since "The Avengers" (2012) premiered in April last year (and even before), rumors have surfaced about the possibility of a new "Hulk" movie. Joss Whedon, the director of the movie, and Mark Ruffalo, the actor who portrayed the Hulk in his most recent incarnation, have both denied the rumors.

Much of the speculation has been caused by the fact that Ruffalo has signed a contract with Marvel for six pictures. Whether or not he'll get his own standalone film is up for debate. Most observers seem to think he'll be a supporting cast member in movies like "Thor 2" and "Captain America 2."

When asked about the possibility of doing a good Hulk movie in an interview during the Glasgow Film festival, Whedon said, "it would be very, very hard. Hulk is ... tricky. He’s the Claudio of superheroes. Because the problem is, it’s a very popular character, but it’s not a superhero. Half of it’s a superhero, half of it’s a werewolf. And you can’t structure it like a superhero movie, you can’t light it like a superhero movie. How do you develop that?

"It would be extremely difficult. The one thing you would have in your favour would be Mark Ruffalo. But right now I don’t know if they have plans to do that or not, because he works so well as part of a greater whole, but by himself, it’s tough. I don’t envy the guys who went before."

The Hulk franchise has seen modern reboots twice before, in 2003 and 2008 films, and was a popular TV show in the 1970s. The 2003 film, starring Eric Bana, received mixed critical reviews, and decent box office success. The 2008 film starring Edward Norton, did better critically and commercially. Multiple cast members from the 2008 film stated that they would be willing to reprise their roles in the event of a sequel.

For now, both Ruffalo and Whedon have confirmed that the Hulk character won't be returning to the silver screen until "The Avengers 2," and that a standalone Hulk movie is not currently in the works. Ruffalo tweeted, "A lot of folks have been asking about the Next Hulk. The next time you see my Hulk it will be in the Avengers2. No plans for stand alone." In another tweet he said tantalizingly, "One never knows what the future will bring."

'Oz the Great and Powerful' stars James Franco as the famous wizard. (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

'Oz the Great and Powerful' takes a gamble with a beloved story (+video)

By Staff Writer / 03.08.13

Kansas resident Dorothy Gale may be the main character in L. Frank Baum’s story, but the title of his novel and the now-classic 1939 movie is, after all, “The Wizard of Oz.”

And now with their new movie, “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Disney is putting the focus back on the mysterious con man whom Dorothy and her unusual friends visit to see if he can make their dreams come true.

When Dorothy’s dog Toto reveals that the frightening wizard is only a “man behind the curtain” (originally played by Frank Morgan), he tells them that he’s an old Kansas man himself and that he was performing with his balloon one day when a gale swept him into the land of Oz. (To Dorothy’s query if he was frightened, Morgan deadpans, “You are talking to a man who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe! I was petrified.”) According to the Wizard, when he arrived, he was hailed as a magician and anointed with his current title. But was that really what happened? How does he actually know Glinda? What exactly went down in the land of Oz before Dorothy arrived?

“Great and Powerful,” helmed by original “Spiderman” director Sam Raimi, aims to answer a few of these questions. The movie stars James Franco as the titular Wizard, who crashes in the land of Oz and meets three witches, Glinda (Michelle Williams), Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz). We know the part that Glinda plays in later events, but judging from the trailers, either Theodora or Evanora becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Is the other the Wicked Witch of the East whose death is inadvertently caused by Dorothy? 

Which witch becomes the cackling green lady embodied in the original “Wizard” by Margaret Hamilton? The movie’s cast and crew aren’t telling.

(Spoilers for the movie follow…)

However, some of the trailers seem to set up Evanora for the big bad, showing Weisz summoning flying monkeys to do her bidding. But now others are saying that was a false trail and Theodora eventually becomes the water-phobic villain, with some leaked images indeed showing Weisz standing next to a shorter woman in green makeup – presumably Theodora. 

It’s always dangerous to take on beloved stories, but the Broadway musical “Wicked,” which opened in 2003 and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, has shown that expanding on this story can be done if the new take is creative enough. The musical is still running on Broadway today.

Raimi said he was originally hesitant to do the film but that the new story won him over.

“The original is my favorite film of all time,” the director told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn't want it sullied. I didn't want to be involved in a production that might trade off the goodwill of that film, so I didn't even want to read the script at first. Luckily I did. And then I realized that it wasn't at all what I thought.”

Will “Great and Powerful” be a worthy successor to the classic original? Well, now we’ll know – the movie opens today.

Stern to replace Fallon? Rumors are swirling that shock jock Howard Stern (pictured) would replace late-night host Jimmy Fallon if Fallon took over for 'Tonight Show''s Jay Leno. Here, Stern chats with CBS host David Letterman. (John Paul Filo/CBS/AP)

Jimmy Fallon: Stern to replace him? An NBC late-night hosting job may be vacant

By Staff Writer / 03.07.13

Will shock jock Howard Stern replace late-night NBC host Jimmy Fallon?

Stern, currently a radio personality and judge on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent,” could take the spot currently occupied by the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member if NBC relieves "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno and replaces him with Fallon, according to the New York Post.

“Sources close to the radio man tell The Post that Stern, in turn, is being ‘groomed’ by NBC as the new Fallon,” the Post article read.

It’s not a sure thing that Fallon would replace Leno, either – the Hollywood Reporter stated that a source told them the network was planning to remove the longtime “Tonight Show” host in favor of Fallon, but so far, NBC is denying the story. 

Nevertheless, the source told the Hollywood Reporter that NBC may believe it can handily beat ABC night host Jimmy Kimmel if Fallon’s show was going head-to-head with the program instead of the close battle that always ensues between Kimmel and Leno for ratings.

“Kimmel has done extremely well," the source said. "Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it's neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution.”

Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show” since 1992 except for a brief break in 2009 when the comedian left to be the face of “The Jay Leno Show.” Leno and the new “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien became the center of controversy when it was reported that NBC wanted to move “The Jay Leno Show” to the timeslot formerly occupied by “The Tonight Show” and move “Tonight” to a midnight air time. O’Brien wrote a letter stating that he would leave the network if the move was enacted, and after he left, Leno became the host of “Tonight” again.

Stern is currently the host of his own program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and is famous for his controversial broadcasts. His original program, “The Howard Stern Show,” was fined multiple times by the FCC for indecency.

Carrie Fisher (center) starred in the original 'Star Wars' trilogy. (20th Century-Fox Film Corporation/AP)

Carrie Fisher says she'll return for a new 'Star Wars' movie

By Rob KeyesScreen Rant / 03.06.13

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in the fall, the new leadership, quarterbacked by Lucasilm’s new President Kathleen Kennedy, made their intentions very clear. Star Wars is not only going to get new movies, but it’s going to continue the story crafted by George Lucas, meaning familiar universe, familiar timeline and familiar characters.

Mark Hamill confirmed that he’s in talks to reprise his role as Luke Skywalker and Harrison Ford has already reportedly signed to return as Han Solo. And if there’s a Han Solo, there’s a Princess Leia, and that holds true when the Star Wars saga returns in 2015 with Episode VII.

In a recent interview with Palm Beach Illustrated, Carrie Fisher straight-up confirmed a multitude of rumors and reports that she will be reprising her career-defining role as Leia Organa in first of many upcoming Star Wars movies. When asked if she could confirm her return, Fisher simply replied with “yes.”

And to follow up, Fisher gave her thoughts jokingly on what Episode 7′s Leia may be like:

“Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs].

I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.”

An aged Leia and Solo would likely be embracing leadership positions in the New Republic, born of the ashes of the Empire after the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the second Death Star in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. If the films follow the multitude of the Star Wars expanded universe stories, Leia may have several children who themselves could be main characters in the series going forward: The twins Jaina & Jacen, and their youngest, Anakin, named after [Vader voice] you know who.

As for Leia specifically, she may play a similar supporting role to the Mon Mothma character of the original trilogy – with more screen time undoubtedly – but in either case, it’s pleasing to see Lucasfilm and Disney honoring the franchise roots and maintaining the continuity in the most authentic way possible.

With the main three characters all but officially confirmed by the studio to return, what about other characters like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Wedge Antilles (Dennis Lawson)? And are Fisher and co. back for the entire trilogy (Episodes 7-9) or just Episode 7?

Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.

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