Liam Neeson, fresh from his gritty, tough guy performance in "Taken," is tackling a very different kind of role in the upcoming big-screen version of "The A-Team." Neeson's usual screen persona is as serious as a triple coronary bypass, and I'm not quite sure I see him as the light, devil-may-care leader of the group, "Hannibal Smith," the role made famous by the late George Peppard.
But Bradley Cooper, who plays "Face" in the film, vouches for his new on-screen boss.
"We're filming it right now, and he's fantastic. I think that people are going to love his Hannibal. He certainly raises everybody's game when you do a scene with him. He's an incredible actor."
But what exactly is the tone of this thing? Serious? Funny?
"It's everything, you know, it's like, at its best, if we succeed in this movie, it'll toe the line of being both, which I think is the goal."
So Neeson's hitting the comedy notes?
"He's hitting notes I've never even heard of. Yeah, he's that good."
I love it when a plan comes together...
The release of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" is less than a month away, but getting plot details from its director, Chris Weitz, took a little prodding when I caught up with him Monday night at the Hollywood Film Festival Awards Gala.
Sooo... what can you tell us about "New Moon?"
"Uhh... it's about a girl who likes this vampire," he quips.
"Every time I give away a secret I get in terrible trouble. So I can't really tell you anything. I'm only allowed to say boring things about it. It will not disappoint - something like that."
So it will be similar in tone to the first film?
"No. I think it will be a lot darker and also in some ways more epic because we traveled to Italy, there's a lot more action, and there are werewolves - we didn't have those in the first one. So there's a lot of grandeur to it. There's also the satisfaction of watching a young woman's heart get broken into a million pieces."
That's always fun.
"Yeah, I enjoyed that very much," he says with a grin.
If Jeffrey Jacob Abrams isn't the hardest working man in showbiz, he certainly comes close. With numerous TV shows and films on his plate, it's a miracle he can think straight, much less squeeze in some quality face time with the press. I caught up with him recently at a "Star Trek" DVD press event, and he talked about how the sequel was slowly coming together.
"We're just now starting talking about the second film. I will say that what we're discussing is all over the place because we don't want to rule anything out. The fun of taking something that is known and playing with it is undoubtedly appealing. The truth is, still, most people don't know the history of 'Star Trek', don't know the series. I didn't. I wasn't really a fan when I began working on the movie and I did my homework and I think the best version of a sequel will be a movie that won't require any knowledge whatsoever of what's come before. So it needs to work completely on its own terms. It also needs to have nods for those fans so when they see it they go 'Oh my God, how cool is that, that they referenced that, or that that's there or he's there or she's there.'"
So we might see some other characters pop up from the series that we didn't before?
"A happy byproduct of our story is that they are now in sort of a parallel existence that allows for these people to cross paths with any of the stories and characters, places, that the first series introduced. It doesn't mean that we will necessarily be doing that again, but it feels like one of the benefits that would be silly not to take advantage of to some degree. I don't want to say the sequel will be a reboot of an existing episode or series of episodes, but I think it is one of the tools in the tool box and it's something to really consider."
In addition to the slowly incubating "Star Trek" sequel, Abrams also has a new TV show to add to his frantic workload. NBC just bought the pilot for his new spy show.
"It was interesting because we didn't know if it was going to work when we were writing it, because this couple is in love and usually I have written characters that, you know, 'when will they,' 'how will they get together.' Or couples that it's like, you know, they're ripped apart by something. To write a couple that's simply in love where they adore each other, they fight, they have issues but it never rocks the foundation of who they are, we've never done that before. So it was hugely, weirdly, refreshing to write something where the main characters had a really good relationship. Like, it's so funny that, at least in my experience hasn't happened very often. So it was nice to able to write that. We're very excited about the show."
So how does he find the time to work on all these projects?
"It's certainly not just me out there. It's these people, these filmmakers, storytellers, executives who I work with. All of us together are sort of this weird little geeky army trying to entertain people."
Last night I caught up with Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx, the two big leading men of the upcoming thriller, "Law Abiding Citizen" at the red carpet premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I've been following both of their careers fairly closely and I don't think I've ever seen either in roles quite like the ones they have in this film.
Butler plays a vulnerable everyman whose life changes dramatically after his wife and child are brutally murdered. Foxx is the slick prosecutor who lets one of the suspects off on a light sentence in exchange for testifying against his partner in crime. I won't ruin it for you, but Butler's character is none too pleased about this...
I found out that there's a reason their characters are a little out of the norm for them: they pulled the old switcheroo. "We swapped roles," Butler reveals, "I was always [going to be] playing the other role and I said to Jamie, 'Do you want to play the prosecutor and I'll play the other one and he went, 'Yeah.' So the second we agreed on that, I actually went sh**, I don't know how to do this. I don't think I can pull this off. So there was that element that we were both out there a little lost."
Foxx was happy to make the switch and thinks it worked out especially well for Butler: "It gives him an opportunity to be vulnerable and also kick butt... I felt it was so right and we knew we made the right decision. When the trailer comes on, it looks like it's a romantic comedy because he's been doing those a lot, but then when that home invasion comes on, people sit up in their seats and they really get excited about it."
"Law Abiding Citizen" opens in theaters October 16th.
Trivia question of the day: What do ex-presidential candidate Ron Paul, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, a grown-up "Ralphie" from "A Christmas Story" and "Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio all have in common?
Answer: They all attended the "Couples Retreat" premiere in L.A. Monday night. Talk about your eclectic bunch of celebs. Sometimes it happens. A strange constellation of stars forms at a Hollywood event and you shake your head and say, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
Sometimes it's cool, other times it's just sad. Like the time I covered a red carpet gala that saw both a tipsy Erin Moran from "Happy Days" and Elvis' hairdresser (don't ask me what he was doing there, but he had his own publicist) working the press line. And those were the "A-listers" of the evening! We still have a good laugh about that one here in the office.
At any rate, the "Couples Retreat" cast were a good-natured bunch, and in star Vince Vaughn's case, relentlessly on message. I think before he hit the red carpet his publicist must have told him, "Okay, Vince make sure you hit hard on the fact that audiences will really relate to this film." But don't take my word for it. Count how many times below he uses the word "relatable."
"It was fun to take a bunch of relatable people who would never get a chance to go to a place like Bora Bora and have relatable issues, that go on in all relationships. And audiences have responded really well to the film which is always nice because they can see themselves within the dynamic of what's going on. So I just thought it would be fun to take relatable things in a relationship and have a really funny way of investigating those things... I think 'Swingers' is very relatable. It's about a friend helping another friend through a bad break up, and he's trying to meet girls and he's really not used to doing that sort of thing and I think in this movie what's relatable is catching a group of people at different stages of their marriages and I think it's very real and in a funny way how they deal with those issues. So I think what people are connecting to are issues that are very relatable."
Dude, I can totally relate.
As Dave would say, "My oh my!" Who saw this coming? Forget the extortion business for just one moment, and the person behind it. I think what's truly surprising to those of us who've been watching Letterman since his "Late Night" days at NBC is the following thought: "Dave had affairs with his female employees? Dave?" For years, he's awkwardly flirted with the many "fetching" leading ladies he's had on the show. Julia Roberts comes to mind. And who can forget when Drew Barrymore stood on his desk and flashed her breasts at him?? A shy-around-the-gals fella from the Midwest - at least, that's what I thought. And after his marriage and the birth of young Harry, I thought he was really out of "the game."
Has this changed your opinion of Dave? Do you think less of him - or more - due to his liaisons? Did he score any points with you for coming clean about all this? Or do you care more about the quality of his show than his extracurricular activities?
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