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Very sad news, RIP Jonathan Demme.

Inside the award-winning film career of Jonathan Demme

The film world lost one of its greats Wednesday with the death of Jonathan Demme, the eclectic director of Oscar winners “Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,” who also helmed the groundbreaking Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense.” He was 73.

The Baldwin, LI-born director died in his New York apartment of complications from esophageal cancer, his publicist said.

While 1991’s “Lambs” seemed an unlikely film to win the “Big 5” at the Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) — being about a Chianti-drinking cannibal and the fledgling FBI agent who needs his help — it did, one of three films ever to complete the sweep.

“I was madly in love with close-ups because I’m madly in love with actors,” Demme said. “And a basic premise of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ is the story about two people, fighting their way into each others’ heads.”

His early comedies delved deeply into the humanity the director would come to make the central focus of everything he did.

“Melvin and Howard,” with Jason Robards as Howard Hughes, did double duty as comedy and portrait of a particular brand of all-American striver.

“Swing Shift,” ostensibly a rom-com with a real-life couple, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, “may be the first buddy movie about women,” Roger Ebert wrote in his 1984 review, noting the dynamic between Hawn and co-star Christine Lahti.

Demme honed his close-up work with 1986’s “Something Wild,” a sexy romp that introduced the world to Ray Liotta, in a breakout role as Melanie Griffith’s psychotic ex-husband.

Meanwhile, he was developing another arm of his career as a music documentarian. His 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense,” captures the Talking Heads at their creative apex and is regarded as perhaps the genre’s finest work.

Demme trained his lens on a sprawling range of American stories throughout his career, from the 1993 AIDS drama “Philadelphia” to monologue genius Spalding Gray in 1987’s “Swimming to Cambodia.” He poked at Mafia wives in the 1988 comedy “Married to the Mob,” adapted Toni Morrison’s post-slavery ghost story, “Beloved,” in 1998 and captured intricate family politics in 2008’s “Rachel Getting Married.”

A longtime resident of Upper Nyack, Demme was an active film-community member in Manhattan and at Pleasantville’s Jacob Burns Arts Center.

He is survived by his wife Joanne Howard and their three children.

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Please be good, please be good, please be good, please be good, please be good, please be good, please be good, please be good!!!

Star Wars: Episode 9 gets release date, Indiana Jones 5 gets pushed back

The Star Wars saga is moving from December to May, and the fifth Indiana Jones movie will be pushed back a year from July 2019 to 2020, according to a new rundown of release dates from Walt Disney Studios.

The young Han Solo movie, starring Alden Ehrenreich, is already breaking the winter cycle for the Star Wars stand-alones, with its release of May 25, 2018, but now we see the saga films will shift back to that traditional springtime berth with Episode 9. That follow-up to this December’s The Last Jedi will be in theaters on May 24, 2019.

The other major move in the announcement was the untitled fifth Indiana Jones movie, which director Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have promised fans. Instead of July 19, 2019, it will be in theaters July 10, 2020.

Part of the reason for that is Spielberg keeps letting other new projects cut in line. In addition to Summer 2018’s Ready Player One, which he has already shot and is currently in postproduction, he’ll be starting the Pentagon Papers movie with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in a few weeks, with plans to have it in theaters by the end of the year.

He’s also planning The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, about the Vatican baptism of a young Jewish boy in the 1850s, before returning to his bullwhip-cracking archaeologist.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out Dec. 15.

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Very cool!!

Jeff Goldblum Joins ‘Jurassic World’ Sequel

Jeff Goldblum is returning to the land of dinosaurs.

The actor, who co-starred in 1993’s Jurassic Park and 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, will appear in Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s next Jurassic World film.

J. A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) is directing the next installment in the studio’s hit franchise. Jurassic World earned $1.67 billion worldwide in 2015 and is the fourth-highest-grossing film in history.

Stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are returning for the sequel, which also stars Justice Smith, James Cromwell and Toby Jones. Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World, wrote the script for the sequel with Derek Connolly.

Producers Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley once again join executive producers Steven Spielberg and Trevorrow in the next chapter of the franchise. Belén Atienza is also producing. Vice president of production Sara Scott is overseeing production on behalf of the studio.

In 1993’s Jurassic Park, Goldblum first played Dr. Ian Malcolm, a know-it-all mathematician who came to Jurassic Park as an insurance consultant — and somehow survived both the original film and the sequel.

Goldblum will next be seen in Disney and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, hitting theaters Nov. 3. His other recent credits include Independence Day: Resurgence and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Plus, he’s reuniting with director Wes Anderson on his upcoming film Isle of Dogs. He is represented by ICM, Industry Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson.

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Good luck to her and I hope her fans love it!!

Shania Twain Announces New Single ‘Life’s About to Get Good,’ First Album in 15 Years

Shania Twain has announced plans to release her first album in 15 years, led by the single “Life’s About to Get Good” that’s scheduled to arrive in June.

The title for the new set has not yet been revealed; it is due out in September.

Twain made the announcement during her appearance on The Voice Monday night, where she appeared as the first-time-ever fifth judge on the show and a key adviser to the contestants.

When writing “Life’s About to Get Good,” Twain explained in a statement, “I was at home looking out at the ocean and I said to myself, ‘Here I am stuck in this past of negativity, but it’s so beautiful out. I’m not in the mood to write a ‘feeling-sorry-for-myself’ song…. You can’t have the good without the bad. And that’s what the song ended up being about.”

Twain’s last album, Up!, was released Nov. 18, 2002 and topped the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Guests at Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, will be the first to hear Twain’s new material, as she headlines the country music extravaganza this weekend.

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It’s my hope to see BEAUTY & THE BEAST and THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS this week. We’ll see if that happens.

Box office report: Fate of the Furious finishes at No. 1, shatters worldwide opening record

The fate of the storied Furious franchise is to break a few box office records.

The eighth film in Universal’s car-based action series speeds its way to the largest worldwide debut weekend of all time with an estimated $532.5 million, breaking the record previously held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($529 million).

But this isn’t the only notable number the ensemble flick (which stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ludacris, and Charlize Theron, among others) has racked up this weekend. Not only has F8 pulled in an estimated $100.2 million domestically — becoming 2017’s ninth picture to do so — but it’s also earned an estimated $432.3 million internationally, beating the record set by Jurassic World ($316.7 million) among top foreign openers.

While the debut was a large one, it marks a significant decrease from the gross of its forerunner, Furious 7, which made $147 million in 2015 after opening in 4,004 theaters in North America, compared to F8‘s 4,310-screen domestic release.

This weekend also sees Boss Baby slip down to No. 2 after two straight weekends at the top. However, the Alec Baldwin-starring animated feature continues to perform well, crossing the $100 million mark domestically with an estimated weekend earning of $15.5 million.

Meanwhile, Beauty and the Beast‘s long legs continue carrying the film past the $1 billion mark at the global box office. The live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated fantasy came in third on the North American chart this weekend, adding an estimated $13.6 million to its $454 million U.S. and Canadian total while making it the 12th highest grossing film of all time (unadjusted for inflation) domestically.

Elsewhere, Smurfs: The Lost Village earned an estimated $6.5 million domestically this weekend. The animated blue creature feature — which earned an A on CinemaScore — continues to post fair numbers overseas, having earned $70 million to date. Premiere dates are still on deck for traditionally lucrative territories, including China and South Korea.

Rounding out the top five is Going In Style, which continues to be a steady performer among its older audience base. The Zach Braff-directed comedic caper film — starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin as a trio planning a heist — earned an estimated $6.3 million, which in turn makes for an estimated $23 million domestic gross for the film. The film seems to be following the trajectory of similarly aimed The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which also earned a B+ on CinemaScore and eventually pulled in a domestic total gross of $33 million.

Outside the top 10, James Gray’s newly released The Lost City of Z pulled in an estimated $112,633. The film, which tells the story of a real-life explorer who went missing on an expedition with his son and features an all-star cast of Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, and Angus Macfadyen, earned the highest per-screen average of the week ($28,158).

On the other end of the scale, the animated Spark managed to bring in an estimated $112,352 in its first opening weekend, however despite boasting a 365-theater release and an impressive voice cast that featured Hilary Swank, Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, and Jessica Biel, the monkey-focused flick earned an estimated per-screen average of $308.

Per comScore, overall box office is up roughly 6.1 percent from the same frame last year. Check out the April 14-16 estimates below.

1 – The Fate of the Furious – $100.2 million
2 – The Boss Baby – $ 15.5 million
3 – Beauty and the Beast – $13.6 million
4 – Smurfs: The Lost Village – $6.5 million
5 – Going In Style – $6.3 million
6 – Gifted – $3 million
7 – Get Out – $2.9 million
8 – Power Rangers – $2.8 million
9 – The Case For Christ – $ 2.7 million
10 – Kong: Skull Island – $2.6 million

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Hurry up, Summer Movie Season! My friends and I miss going to the movies!!

Box office report: Audiences rehire The Boss Baby, Colossal has monster debut

The Boss Baby is putting in the work.

Across a relatively tame weekend, Fox’s animated comedy extends its winning streak over a weak crop of newcomers, pulling in a decent $26.3 million between Friday and Sunday. With $89.4 million already under its belt, The Boss Baby should cross the $100 million mark in the days ahead, in the process becoming 2017’s eighth picture to do so.

For the second week in a row, Disney’s live-action adaption of Beauty and the Beast again trails The Boss Baby by a small margin as it posts around $25 million after its fourth go-round with domestic audiences. The $160 million blockbuster broke March opening records last month and has gone on to become 2017’s top-earning movie worldwide, tallying an astonishing $977.4 million globally after just 24 days in theaters.

Beauty and the Beast‘s North American total sits at $432.3 million (No. 15 on the all-time U.S. and Canada chart), registering career-high grosses (unadjusted for inflation) for its director and most of its principal cast, including Emma Thompson, Dan Stevens, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Watson, who previously appeared in eight high-profile Harry Potter flicks.

Further down the top five are a pair of new releases: Smurfs: The Lost Village ($14 million) and the Zach Braff-directed heist comedy Going in Style ($12.5 million). The former’s gross likely signals an end to Sony/Columbia’s current Smurfs revival series, which has waned in popularity since the release of 2011’s The Smurfs, a worldwide hit that went on to make $563 million after a $35.6 million North American bow. Lukewarm critical reviews didn’t sway audience opinion, however, as polled moviegoers gave the film an A on CinemaScore, which could signal longer-than-usual legs, as The Lost Village is the last major studio animated title to hit wide release until Pixar’s Cars 3 drives into theaters this summer.

As expected, Going in Style likely captured the interest of the mature set on Friday, a demographic with taste that’s consistently difficult to predict, as industry prognosticators had initially pegged the film (which stars Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine) for a weekend in the $8-$10 million range.

Rounding out the top five is the Scarlett Johansson actioner Ghost in the Shell ($7.4 million), which takes a nasty tumble to the tune of 60.6 percent over its second weekend. Though its international grosses are still slightly padding its domestic underperformance (it has made $124.4 million worldwide on a $110 million budget), the film has a lot of ground to make up as it continues its global rollout.

Outside the top 10, Anne Hathaway’s brilliant kaiju comedy/addiction drama hybrid Colossal averages the highest per-theater number ($31,452) of the week, pulling in $125,809 from four domestic locations after sustaining glowing critical reviews dating back to its September 2016 world premiere at TIFF. The film marks Neon’s debut theatrical release, allowing the fledgling distributor to notch a specialty win over its freshman outing in North America.

Elsewhere, the Chris Evans-fronted drama Gifted — about a protective uncle fighting for a “normal” childhood experience for his niece, a mathematical child prodigy — opens to a solid $476,000 at 56 sites, averaging $8,500 per theater. The Japanese animated flick Your Name — which has amassed a staggering $328.7 million worldwide to date as one of Japan’s best-performing movies of all time — adds roughly $1.6 million to its ballooning total after opening Friday at 303 domestic locations.

Per comScore, overall box office is up roughly 5.5 percent from the same frame last year. Check out the April 7-9 weekend estimates below.

1 – The Boss Baby – $26.3 million
2 – Beauty and the Beast – $25 million
3 – Smurfs: The Lost Village – $14 million
4 – Going in Style – $12.5 million
5 – Ghost in the Shell – $7.4 million
6 – Power Rangers – $6.2 million
7 – Kong: Skull Island – $5.8 million
8 – Logan – $4.1 million
9 – Get Out – $4 million
10 – The Case for Christ – $3.9 million

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Get well soon, Neil…and this is awesome for Dave!!

David Letterman to Replace Neil Young for Pearl Jam Rock Hall Induction

David Letterman will induct Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Brooklyn induction ceremony Friday, with the retired Late Show host filling in for Neil Young.

“Due to illness, Neil Young is regrettably no longer able to induct Pearl Jam at this Year’s Induction Ceremony,” the Rock Hall said in a statement Wednesday. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is thrilled that David Letterman has agreed to induct Pearl Jam this Friday night at the 32nd Annual Induction Ceremony.”

Letterman’s Late Show was a favorite late-night venue for Pearl Jam, who performed at the Ed Sullivan Theatre seven times – compared to the zero appearances they made on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show – with Eddie Vedder also performing as a solo artist on Late Show. In 2006, the band played a 10-song set for the Late Show audience.

The band’s first Late Show visit occurred in September 1996 with a run-through of No Code’s “Hail Hail.” “This is a big thrill for me,” Letterman told the band after finally recruiting them to appear on the show.

Letterman joins a Rock Hall induction roster that includes Snoop Dogg (inducting Tupac Shakur), Jackson Browne (Joan Baez), Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson (Yes), Dhani Harrison (ELO) and Train’s Pat Monahan (Journey). Lenny Kravitz will also pay tribute to Prince at Friday’s induction ceremony, while Pharrell will honor lifetime achievement recipient Nile Rodgers.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will air on HBO April 29th at 8 p.m. ET/PT. A special exhibit dedicated to the 2017 class will open at the Rock Hall in Cleveland March 31st.

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No matter who’s coming or going I just want this new season to be great!!

New ‘Doctor Who’ companion Pearl Mackie to get the boot after one season: Report

Pearl Mackie is reportedly set to be axed from Doctor Who after just one series of playing the Time Lord’s assistant.

The 29-year-old actress joined the cast of the BBC show in April, 2016, starring alongside Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. But after the actor announced he had quit the show, with his last episode coming at the end of the year, The U.K. Sun now claims that Mackie’s days on the show are “numbered.”

“Bosses have decided to have a completely fresh start,” a source told the newspaper. “Peter has already confirmed his exit and the rest of the team’s days are numbered too.

“It’s yet to be formally decided but it makes sense to give Chris (new Doctor Who boss, Chris Chibnall) his own choice of actor to play the Doctor and his companion.”

The report comes just weeks after Mackie revealed that her character Bill Potts will make Doctor Who history by becoming the first openly gay character in the show, with her sexuality revealed at the beginning of the first new episode when the BBC sci-fi series returns to Space here in Canada on April 15.

“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st Century,” Mackie told the BBC. “It’s about time, isn’t it? That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show.

“It’s important to say people are gay, people are black – there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them.

“I remember watching TV as a young mixed race girl not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognize yourself on screen is important.”

It remains to be seen who replaces Capaldi as the next Time Lord and, if The Sun’s claims are true, as his new assistant. There has been speculation that bosses are hoping to break another boundary by having a female actress play the Doctor – with Tilda Swinton and Olivia Colman among the names apparently being considered for the part.

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He’s always been unfunny and inappropriate. The Juno Awards has gotten away with his “jokes” in the past, but this time he did go too far.

Juno co-host Russell Peters’ comments ‘inappropriate’: Mélanie Joly

Comedian Russell Peters’s performance as host of the Junos on Sunday night is getting a bad review from Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

Peters, who hosted the music awards ceremony in Ottawa along with musician Bryan Adams, introduced the minister before she presented an award alongside artist Coleman Hell.

“With him is the minister of heritage, Melanie Joly,” Adams said.

“I don’t know why, but she’s hot, so who cares?” Peters replied.

Peters also commented on the number of young women in the audience, suggesting it was a “felony waiting to happen.”

Speaking outside the House of Commons on Monday, Joly said Peters’ comments were inappropriate, adding this type of humour does not have a place at the Junos.

The minister said she is proud to represent an industry worth $53 billion, noting Canada is the third largest exporter of music in the world.

“We need to make sure that all our role models are supporting the importance of gender parity,” Joly said. “I really hope that he takes that into consideration and understands … the importance of what he said.”

Peters was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

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No matter what else did or didn’t happen, The Tragically Hip and their heartbreaking story was THE Canadian music story of the last year and CTV played them off and didn’t let them finish their speech on these Juno Awards. That was and is unforgivable!!!

Leonard Cohen, Gord Downie and Sarah McLachlan dominate 2017 Juno Awards

OTTAWA – Even from the afterlife, Leonard Cohen is still dominating the Canadian music scene, with his swan song You Want it Darker taking home Album of the Year honours at the Juno Awards in Ottawa Sunday.

The record, the 14th and final album from the legendary Montreal-born songwriter, was released on Oct. 21, just three weeks before Cohen passed away at age 82.

Cohen was also posthumously awarded Artist of the Year at Saturday night’s gala, and his legacy was honoured in an emotional tribute Sunday courtesy of Feist, who performed Cohen’s Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, following an introduction from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

Trudeau called Cohen “one of the greatest artists Canada has ever produced,” and recalled the friendship the Montrealer enjoyed with his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

“We recognized ourselves in what he wrote,” said Grégoire Trudeau.

Cohen was also nominated for Songwriter of the Year, an award that went to Gord Downie, who also won three Juno awards the previous night, including Rock Album of the Year for The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem, and for Adult Alternative Album of the Year for his own Secret Path, the story of Chanie Wenjack.

In a pre-recorded message, Downie thanked Canadians for their support of Secret Path, saying he hoped the album would be used to teach younger generations about truth and reconciliation.

“Thank you for following the sound you’ve sort of been hearing your entire life, for recognizing that we aren’t completely Canada yet,” Downie said. “My dream would be that this record might help people.”

The Tragically Hip were also named Group of the Year on the biggest night in Canadian music, with bandmates Rob Baker and Paul Langlois thanking just about everyone ever associated with the band, including Downie, before they were ushered off stage to the sound of their own music on the house speakers.

Shawn Mendes was awarded the Fan Choice award in the show’s finale.

Russell Peters and Bryan Adams showed off some early comic hijinks in an introductory skit featuring a cameo from the Prime Minister, who made a special request – an unnecessary one, as it turned out — for Adams’ iconic Summer of ’69, which was later performed with an all-star cast.

Peters and Adams stepped in to host after crooner Michael Bublé cancelled to care for his young son, who was diagnosed with liver cancer last fall.

The show kicked off earnestly with Buffy Sainte-Marie recognizing the “enduring presence of all First Nations, Inuit and Metis,” amid traditional indigenous dancers and the thundering beats of Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Red, featuring Tanya Tagaq.

Breakthrough Artist of Year winner, Edmonton singer-songwriter Ruth B., was elated as she took the stage. “The one thing I always wanted to hear on this stage — it doesn’t matter where you come from, no matter what you do, if you have a passion, follow it,” she said.

Jess Moskaluke won for Country Album of the Year for her sophomore album Kiss Me Quiet. “This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done – I didn’t even put shoes on,” she laughed.

Rap superstar Drake, who was honoured Saturday with an award for international achievement, was shut out of six other nominations — for the year’s best single, album, artist, rap recording and producer.

Drake also lost out on the Juno Fan Choice award to Shawn Mendes, who was nominated along with Hedley, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Belly, Ruth B., The Weeknd, Tory Lanez and The Strumbellas.

Alessia Cara, with a shout-out to her Brampton hometown, took the award for Pop Album of the Year.

Sarah McLachlan was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. “I have the best job in the world,” said McLachlan. “Music is my church. It’s my comfort and salvation. Because of music my life has deeper meaning and a powerful sense of purpose.”

McLachlan performed World On Fire in a broadcast that also featured songs from Dallas Smith, Shawn Mendes, July Talk, The Strumbellas, Ruth B., Arkells, Alessia Cara and Billy Talent.

But they saved the best for last, with Adams rocking out Summer of ’69, joined by an all-star cast of the evening’s winners and nominees.

ahelmer@postmedia.com
twitter.com/helmera

TOP JUNO AWARDS, 2017

Album of the Year:
You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen

Artist of the Year:
Leonard Cohen

Group of the Year:
The Tragically Hip

Rock Album:
Man Machine Poem, The Tragically Hip

Songwriter:
Gord Downie

Adult Alternative Album:
Secret Path, Gord Downie

Pop Album:
Know-It-All, Alessia Cara

Single:
Spirits, The Strumbellas

Country Album:
Kiss Me Quiet, Jess Moskaluke

Rap Recording:
Hotel Paranoia, Jazz Cartier

R&B/Soul Recording:
Starboy, The Weeknd

Breakthrough Artist:
Ruth B.