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Category: Music (11-20 of 160)

Video: How Chadwick Boseman went from playing Jackie Robinson to James Brown

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How do you play James Brown? I mean, how does one pretend to be the Godfather of Soul? After all, what made him James Brown was the very fact that nobody else could be James Brown. Inimitable. Nonpareil. An electric performer, dynamic personality, and a true American original.

Fortunately for the filmmakers behind Get On Up, the Brown biopic that open in theaters on Aug. 1, Chadwick Boseman knows a little something about playing an American legend. Boseman starred as Jackie Robinson in 42, and successfully captured the athlete’s grit and composure, his fire and ice. “He has such nobility, and he brings that to James Brown,” said producer Brian Grazer.

In the new film, directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), Boseman not only has to convincingly deliver the show-stopping routines that Brown was famous for, but he has to play the Godfather from the age of 17 all the way up to 60. It’s a tall order… that Taylor knew Boseman could handle after just 20 seconds in his presence. In an exclusive production featurette, the filmmakers and Boseman’s co-stars—Viola Davis, Dan Aykroyd, Octavia Spencer—talk about the work that went to playing the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. READ FULL STORY

Weinstein Co. and Yahoo will debut Paul Potts movie online for free

The Weinstein Company’s experimental strategy behind Snowpiercer—which debuted VOD two weeks after opening in U.S. theaters—is still being debated, but TWC is quickly revisiting unconventional release models for One Chance, director David Frankel’s movie about Britain’s Got Talent‘s unlikely opera singer Paul Potts.

The film, which stars James Corden (Begin Again) as the unassuming young man who became a YouTube sensation when he wowed Simon Cowell on British television, is scheduled to arrive in theaters on Oct. 10. But beginning on Sept. 30, it will be available exclusively for free on Yahoo Screen. READ FULL STORY

Why is it so difficult to make a biopic?

UPDATE: On June 29, Lifetime announced Zendaya Coleman would no longer play Aaliyah in the biopic referenced in the article below, and that the production was on hold.

ORIGINAL POST: The recipe for a music biopic should go something like this: Start with a beloved musician; add a string of crowd-pleasing hits; mix in a good dose of backstage drama; hit them with a triumphant and/or fatal finale; roll credits. But actually getting a film into theaters? It’s never been that simple—and as several pending biopics have learned lately, it’s not getting any easier.

For every movie that finds its ideal match (see: Sissy Spacek as country legend Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter or Jennifer Lopez as Tejano music star Selena) there are countless others kneecapped by casting before the first scene is shot. The need for star power, performance chops, and physical resemblance leaves filmmakers with “a lot of boxes to check,” says Debra Marin Chase, exec producer of the upcoming Lifetime biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. (That’s a working title.) Disney starlet Zendaya Coleman, 17, won the role of the beloved R&B singer, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22. “It wasn’t a situation where we cast her because she’s hot,” adds Chase. “She has Aaliyah’s spirit.”

But that decision generated harsh blowback from fans who felt that the biracial teen was too light-skinned for the part—a critique that actress Zoe Saldana has also faced for her titular role in an upcoming, much-delayed Nina Simone biopic. (That casting choice inspired the sarcastic Twitter hashtag #blackbiopics, with users suggesting their own pairings, such as “Robin Thicke as Marvin Gaye.”)

There’s also the question, of course, of the actual songs. Reese Witherspoon might not have won an Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line if filmmakers hadn’t gotten the rights to her and her husband Johnny Cash’s famous catalogs. Securing the music rights is often a lengthy and costly endeavor, and may even stop or halt production—as it nearly did for Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is by My Side, due out this year. Experience Hendrix LLC (headed by the late rock icon’s sister, Janie) declined to license any of his music, leading writer-director John Ridley to frame his movie as an impressionistic art-house drama focusing on the brief period Hendrix (played by OutKast’s André Benjamin) spent in London—and ending just before his breakout moment at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. “This is a story about relationships,” Ridley told EW earlier this year. “If there are folks who just want the music, there are record stores for that.”

Focusing on a particular time is one way filmmakers work around the myriad biopic obstacles. Angela Bassett will make her directorial debut with an upcoming Lifetime movie about Whitney Houston, and she’s limiting it to the singer’s early years and her relationship with singer Bobby Brown. There will be no depiction of Houston’s later downward spiral or her death at 48. “I really just want to tell a story about a boy and a girl who fell in love,” Bassett, who recently began filming with lead actress (and America’s Next Top Model alum) Yaya DaCosta, tells EW. “We’re not interested in dragging her life again through the muck.”

That’s not to say that drugs will be completely absent in Whitney Houston: ”We can’t tell their story without it,” says Bassett. The traits that so often accompany great talents—depression, drug abuse, the general danger of a life lived at full throttle—also make for good drama. But an unflinching, warts-and-all portrayal can alienate the subject’s family; that’s one of the rumored reasons that long-awaited films on Gaye and Janis Joplin have yet to emerge from seemingly endless turnaround. (A rep for Lee Daniels, the latest in a long line of directors who have attempted to transfer Joplin’s life to the big screen, declined to comment for this story.)

With major studio financing increasingly difficult to secure, some filmmakers are taking matters in their own hands. Don Cheadle launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funding for a film on jazz legend Miles Davis, which he plans to direct and star in. “If we weren’t crowdfunding, we would have to cut out scenes or characters that we feel really need to be in the movie,” Cheadle has said of the project. A biopic on Hank Williams starring Thor’s Tom Hiddleston is still in the works, though his grandson Hank Williams III has reportedly expressed displeasure at having a Brit play the role. Midnight Rider, the story of rocker Gregg Allman, is on hold following a tragic train crash that killed 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones in February. (The film’s lead, William Hurt, dropped out of in April.)

And yet filmmakers aren’t giving up. Universal has the James Brown biopic Get On Up (out Aug. 1) and it just slated Straight Outta Compton, about N.W.A. rappers Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and the late Easy-E, for release next year. There are also reportedly projects in development about Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury. After all, there are lots of great true stories to tell—if only Hollywood can figure out how to tell them.

'Argo' composer Alexandre Desplat will lead the jury at the Venice Film Festival

French film composer Alexandre Desplat, most famous for scoring The King’s Speech, Argo, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, will preside over the jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival. He becomes the first musician to serve in that capacity.

“It is a great honour and an arduous responsibility to be the president of the jury of such a prestigious festival,” said Desplat, in a statement. “Italian cinema has influenced both my taste and my music more than any other, and I am proud to be coming to the Venice Film Festival the year after Mr. Bernardo Bertolucci.”

The 71st Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 27 through Sept. 6. Last year, Gravity and Philomena—which Desplat scored—premiered at the Venice festival. This year’s slate of films has yet to be announced.

 

'Once' director joins with Bono and The Edge for Dublin-set 'Sing Street'

Once director John Carney will collaborate with U2’s Bono and The Edge on a Dublin-based musical titled Sing Street, The Weinstein Company announced today.

Carney wrote and will direct the film, based on his own rough-and-tumble childhood. “It’s kind of a memoir of my days in school and a school-band back in the ’80s in Dublin,” Carney told EW earlier this year. “A very rough, yellowing, coming-of-age diary entry of what my life was as a kid in the band.”

Bono and The Edge will write songs and contribute to other musical elements of the film, which is about a kid named Cosmo who is forced by the depressed economy to leave his posh private school. After moving to a tough inner-city public school, music becomes his outlet and salvation as he forms a band, shoots music videos, and falls in love with a beautiful girl.

Carney was an early member of The Frames, an Irish band founded by Once star Glen Hansard in 1990. Carney’s most recent film, Begin Again, which stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, opens on June 27.

Trent Reznor on 'Gone Girl': 'It's a nasty film'

Trent Reznor is currently on the road in Europe promoting Nine Inch Nails’ latest album Hesitation Marks, and he’ll be spending the bulk of his summer crossing North America with fellow ’94 survivors Soundgarden. But in between those gigs, he’s going to be wrapping up his biggest project of the year: the score for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which hits theaters this fall.  READ FULL STORY

Hear Lea Michele, Megan Hilty, and more in the 'Legends of Oz' soundtrack -- EXCLUSIVE

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The worlds of Smash and Glee collide — finally! — in Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, a new, 3D animated feature coming to theaters this month.

The film stars Broadway vet Rachel Berry Lea Michele as its title character, who travels from Kansas back to the land of Oz for another adventure. This time around, she’s joined not only by her old pals the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion — played by the august comic trio of Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, and Jim Belushi — but also by a marshmallow man named (wait for it) Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), a kindly owl called Wiser (Oliver Platt), and, perhaps most excitingly, a delicate china doll played by ex-Smash star Megan Hilty. The whole gang must band together to fight a new foe: the wicked Jester, voiced by beloved actor/comedian Martin Short.

With all that vocal talent in play, it’s only natural that Legends of Oz would be a musical — and we’ve got an exclusive first listen at the film’s eight original songs, plus five instrumental tracks. Click your heels together,  and click “play” below:

READ FULL STORY

Pharrell gets animated by artist Takashi Murakami -- FIRST LOOK

Pharrell Williams has been animated by contemporary artist Takashi Murakami as part of a musical collaboration between the two, timed to the upcoming U.S. release of Murakami’s live-action feature film Jellyfish Eyes.

EW has an exclusive first look at the Happy singer as a cute cartoon, complete with his signature Vivienne Westwood hat. READ FULL STORY

Alice Cooper is 'Super Duper' in new Tribeca documentary -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Before Alice Cooper the shock-rocker of the 1970s, there was Alice Cooper the band. And before Alice Cooper the band, there was Vincent Furnier. The son and grandson of Christian ministers, Furnier was an aspiring artist who idolized Salvador Dalí. But once the Beatles showed him that rock and roll was an even greater canvas, he embarked on a long, strange trip of a career that would make him loved and loathed, but impossible to ignore. “We were all art majors, and the Beatles came along and gave us a vehicle, and the vehicle was rock and roll,” says Cooper, who officially adopted that stage name for himself in the mid 1970s. “All of a sudden, we went, ‘Wow, look at this. What if we did this live? What if the theatrics was actually a living thing, with rock and roll behind it?'”

Preceding Kiss and Motley Crue, and eons before Marilyn Manson, Cooper cultivated a hellion stage persona that would seduce young audiences, while shocking their conservative parents. Macabre face-paint, giant serpents, and live chickens that may or may not have been mutilated on stage became part of the operatic hard-rock legend that’s the backdrop of Super Duper Alice Cooper, a rock-doc that premiered April 17 at the Tribeca Film Festival. READ FULL STORY

'Stage Fright' filmmakers talk Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver, and musical mayhem -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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How gory is the new slasher movie Stage Fright? This gory: During her post-shoot ADR recording session, actress Minnie Driver wouldn’t even watch her own, very early demise. “It was too gruesome for her,” says director Jerome Sable.

So why did Driver agree to appear in the film in the first place? “She had been in The Phantom of the Opera, the film version [of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway show],” explains Sable. “So I appealed to her on that level.”

Oh, right. There’s something we forgot to mention about Stage Fright. In addition to being a full-on, blood-soaked horror flick, the film is also a full-fledged, song-packed, musical.

READ FULL STORY

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