Archive for February, 2008

Miley Cyrus Seat Belt Flap Debated

When Consumer Reports posted a blog last week criticizing Miley Cyrus for not wearing her seat belt in a new film, Hannah Montana Nation rallied in her defense. Before long, the posting had received nearly 200 comments (far more than the typical one or two) and made national news.

“Absolutely we were caught off-guard,” said Don Mays, who wrote the post. “Whether people agree or not with our analysis, at the very least, I would like them to understand the risk.”

But anyone looking for car safety tips from Hollywood would be advised to avoid most movies. Immediately, one might write off the work of Bruce Willis, Steve McQueen and Burt Reynolds not to mention avoid “Thelma & Louise” entirely.

Even aside from Hollywood’s propensity for road rage, movies generally don’t portray seat-belt usage. A study in 2001 found that only 30 percent of movies showed seat belts buckled.

Was Cyrus singled out?

“Absolutely,” said Heather A. Jacobsen, a professor at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and lead investigator of the 2001 study. “It is the norm for characters in movies to not wear a seat belt.”

In her new 3-D Disney concert film “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert,” the actress and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, are seen riding, not bucked up, in the back seat of a Range Rover.

Mays’ post criticized Cyrus for not buckling up and thereby influencing her legion of young followers. It had a snarky title, too: “Note to Hannah Montana: Seat belts are necessary not an accessory.”

Billy Ray Cyrus subsequently apologized: “We made a mistake and forgot to buckle our seat belts.”

Mays said that Cyrus has a greater responsibility to her impressionable fans. To explain the issue’s seriousness, he cited statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that people were not wearing their belts in 55 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities in 2006.

The effects of sex and violence in films, of course, have been an issue of debate for decades. The closer parallel, though, might be smoking.

Smoking on television and in movies has declined over the years, partly thanks to campaigns to drive it off screen. Just this week, the New York state Health Department took out full page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal encouraging the movie industry to give movies with smoking an R-rating.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America rating board, the percentage of films that included smoking dropped from 60 percent to 52 percent from July 2004 to July 2006.

But the romantic portrayals of smoking (think Humphrey Bogart lighting Lauren Bacall’s cigarette) don’t exactly compare to the more utilitarian buckling up. No protagonist ever got the girl by flaunting state seat belt laws.

“It’s not so much that people mimicked the behavior, but because films established that behavior as very normal and something everybody did,” said Jacobsen.

That is out of line with the pattern of seat-belt usage by the public, which Jacobsen’s study counted as about 70 percent. (In many states, it’s the law to buckle up.) The reason for the discrepancy may be suggested in Billy Ray Cyrus’ explanation.

“We got caught up in the moment of filming,” said the country music star.

Family films typically give seat belts more attention. In 1995’s “Toy Story,” for example, even Buzz Lightyear buckles up with a belt nearly as big as he is. A 1997 study by Michigan State University found that one of the most seat belt-friendly movies was “Dead Man Walking” (1995), which depicts buckled-up drivers in five of the film’s six driving scenes.

So how far should movies go in putting forth images of health and safety?

“People may want to see more vegetables in film and less fast food. Less soda, and more milk or juice,” said Jacobsen. “There are any number of health issues whose agendas can be set forth through movies.”

Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, believes safety and health advocates have every right to raise awareness for an issue by criticizing films or TV shows. But he thinks concerns over seat belt use should stick to reality and keep out of fiction.

“If you’re going to start strapping any storyteller, whether it be a movie or a television show or a novel with only behavior that’s good and healthy role-modeling behavior,” said Thompson, “then we’re in really big trouble.”


February 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

Report: Lopez Gives Birth to Twins in NY

Jennifer Lopez gave birth to twins early Friday, making the singer and husband Marc Anthony the parents of a boy and a girl after one of pop music’s most closely watched pregnancies.

Lopez representative Simon Fields told People magazine the babies were born shortly after midnight on New York’s Long Island, with the 5-pound, 7-ounce girl arriving first, followed by her 6-pound brother minutes later. The location was not identified.

“Jennifer and Marc are delighted, thrilled and over the moon,” Fields told the magazine.

Lopez’ publicists and agent did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press early Friday.

Ending months of speculation, Lopez confirmed her pregnancy at a Miami concert in November. Her father, David Lopez, told Telefutura’s “Escandalo TV” earlier this month that the 39-year-old singer was expecting twins.

Lopez and Anthony, 38, married in 2004. The twins are her first children, and his third and fourth.

February 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

Witherspoon As Producer in ‘Penelope’

LOS ANGELES (AP) She might be a tad shy about cracking the whip on set, but Reese Witherspoon is every bit the shot-caller. “I hate being in charge, so I’d say I’m more of a collaborator,” laughs the producer and co-star of the independent film “Penelope,” opening February 29. “I don’t want to be the one to tell (the crew) that they have to stay for two extra hours or come in at 6 o’clock in the morning.”

Witherspoon’s production company, Type A Films, grossed $125 million worldwide five years ago with its first project, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.” Now Witherspoon, 31, is back in the producer’s chair with the magical love story “Penelope.” “When my producing partner, Jennifer Simpson, brought me the script, I just loved the idea,” she remembers. “There’s a great girl at the center of the story who’s sassy and funny and smart and opinionated, yet she has obstacles to overcome.”

Witherspoon starred in “Legally Blonde 2,” but this time she handed the title role to Christina Ricci in exchange for a smaller role as Annie, “the friend.” That allowed her to focus on working behind the camera with her first-time feature team, including television-turned-movie scribe Leslie Caveny and director Mark Palansky.

“Since I didn’t have to be in every scene, I was able to spend a lot of time planning shots,” she said. “One day, we were trying to shoot 20 close-ups before the sun went down and I thought, ‘Oh, we can use the dolly and shoot from this side.’ That’s when I realized how much I’ve absorbed from just being on the set for so many years.”

Witherspoon commands $15 to $20 million per picture after winning a best-actress Oscar for her performance in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” So what’s it like to have that golden statue on the mantel?

“It’s a great feeling,” beams Witherspoon, who’s already on to her third production, “Four Christmases,” in which she’ll co-star alongside Vince Vaughn. “For me, going to the movies is about laughing, having fun and seeing the guy kiss the girl. Life is hard for people and I try to make movies that are a reprieve. I want to put positive things into the world.”

February 22, 2008 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Wiretapping Trial Delayed One Week

A judge on Thursday postponed the start of the wiretapping trial of private investigator Anthony Pellicano and four co-defendants.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer ordered a weeklong delay, until March 5, after lawyers for some of the defendants requested more time to prepare.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts.

Pellicano is accused of tapping phones and bribing police to get dirt on celebrities including Sylvester Stallone and Garry Shandling.

February 22, 2008 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

Diddy Wants to Move to Hollywood and Act

Sean “Diddy” Combs says he wants to move to Hollywood and become a full-time movie star.

The East Coast-based entertainment mogul aims to get top billing on the big screen.

“Yeah, leading man kind of stuff; you know, jumping off of buildings,” Combs says in an appearance scheduled to air Friday on CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman.”

Besides action-packed adventure, the rapper-producer’s ideal film roles would also include “making love to beautiful women” and “very emotional, heart-wrenching scenes.”

Letterman advises Combs to start out doing a smaller, independent movie rather than a big-budget picture that could bomb at the box office.

“Oh, no, no, no, I’m going to take my time with it,” said Combs, who has a clothing line, Sean John, and heads Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment and its record label.

Combs, 38, has had small roles in “Monster’s Ball” and “Made.” He headlined a Broadway revival of “Raisin in the Sun” in 2004, and co-stars with Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald in an ABC film version, which airs Feb. 25.

February 22, 2008 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

Peter Fonda to Get Film Fest Award

Peter Fonda, the king of cool in “Easy Rider,” will receive the 2008 King Vidor Career Achievement Award at next month’s San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. He will appear at the festival March 15 to accept the honor, Executive Director Wendy Eidson said Wednesday.

The King Vidor award, named after the director of the 1956 movie “War and Peace,” honors career achievement in filmmaking.

Fonda, who will turn 68 on Saturday, is best known for his role in the 1969 film “Easy Rider.” He has received two Oscar nominations, one for acting (“Ulee’s Gold”) and one for screenwriting (“Easy Rider”).

His screen credits also include “Race With the Devil” and “3:10 to Yuma.”

The festival runs March 7-16.

February 22, 2008 at 9:36 pm Leave a comment

Review: Over Her Dead Body Has Some Good Laughs

Over Her Dead Body Movie Online

Over Her Dead Body

All hail Paul Rudd! You give him something lukewarm like Over Her Dead Body and he’ll enliven it with charming sarcasm and impeccable comedic instincts. Of course, he has Eva Longoria working hard to undermine everything he does, flopping around frantically while he delights in understatement, but I think he eventually outweighs her.Rudd plays Henry, a veterinarian whose bridezilla fiancee, Kate (Longoria), is killed on their wedding day. Why he loved such a b-word in the first place is a mystery, and so is his moping that continues for a year afterward. His layabout sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) is concerned.

“You don’t smile, and you never leave your apartment,” she says.

“I like my apartment,” he replies. “Nobody hassles me when I don’t smile there.”

At last Chloe drags him to a psychic to see if they can contact Kate and get some closure. The psychic is Ashley (Lake Bell), a pretty young thing who is also a part-time caterer. (The film very awkwardly presents this information by showing her kitchen full of food and an assistant helping to cook it, not telling us until much later WHY all that food is there.) Henry is sarcastic about the whole psychic thing, but he goes along with it for his sister’s sake — plus, he kind of likes Ashley.

When the seance is ineffective, Chloe conspires with Ashley to trick Henry into moving on with his life. She gives Ashley Kate’s diary, with instructions to use the information in it to pretend she has contacted the dead woman. This turns out to be unnecessary, though: Kate’s spirit actually shows up and starts harassing Ashley, whom she correctly believes has a crush on Henry.

Read the entire article at:

February 5, 2008 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment

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