‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Returns: The Haunting

A sure sign that an actor’s career is over is when they start doing sequels to movies that are almost 20 years old. Example: Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber To and Sylvester Stallone in Rambo 5 and Rocky: The Final Battle. (Stallone won the Oscar for the original and then milked it for decades.) Question for Sylvester Stallone: When will you do a sequel to Victory?

Imagine my joy today when I read that a sequel was going to be made of the Robin Williams classic Mrs. Doubtfire. Thank god — so many questions were left unanswered in the first Mrs. Doubtfire and I need closure.

The plan is to reunite the original star Robin Williams and director Chris Columbus to revisit the 1993 creepy comedy involving a man, who is essentially a stalker, going to the extreme of dressing like an old woman to further the stalking of his ex-wife and kids. (Shades of restraining order!) Mrs. Doubtfire was a battle cry for divorced dads everywhere: Don’t take “no” for an answer, even if there is a court ruling.

If you forgot how creepy the original Mrs. Doubtfire actually is, take a look at the movie trailer recut as a horror movie:

Robin Williams Needs Work So Bad That He’s Working on a CBS Comedy Show

What has Robin Williams been up to recently? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s me asking because I’m too lazy to go to IMDb. He was in RV, but that was a while ago. And then there was that Wild Hogs movie? Or Old Dogs? (Wild Dogs? Old Hogs?) I’m afraid Robin Williams has been too quiet lately, and that makes me nervous. Of course, it’s probably making him more nervous, on account of it being his career and all. Oh, well, it seems natural, then, that he sign up for a CBS pilot written by David E. Kelley, mastermind behind Ally McBeal and, uh, Boston Legal. (Was Boston Legal the name of a show? Or am I just making up another, much more specific name for The Practice? Hell, Boston Legal could have been the title of Ally McBeal, really.) Anyway, I don’t think things are too great for the city of Boston, either.

[via EW]

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Fox News Web Team Probably Michael Scott In Disguise

Over the weekend, Fox News posted a headline about some very important current events, in this case lawmakers in California and Oregon who are working to pass a law preventing health insurance companies from denying coverage to transgender people based on gender identity. Obviously this is important and denying people access to healthcare based on who they are is wrong, but distracting from the meat of the article is the image the post’s creator/producer chose to run with it: a screencap from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, featuring Robin Williams in drag and trying to put out a fire that has erupted on his chest. Get it? Because he’s a man pretending to be a woman, and being transgender is the exact same thing as Robin Williams dressing in drag in a movie! It’s hilarious!

It’s a Michael Scott move, is what it is, and in the worst ways. In the better seasons of The Office, whenever Michael Scott would try to educate his fellow Dunder Mifflin employees about matters of race or religion or culture or gender, he would, in an attempt to be both funny and informative, actually produce something cringe-worthy and offensive, e.g. his presentation about Diwali which included Apu from The Simpsons in a list of notable people from India. If The Office ever did an episode about a transgender office employee, you can pretty much guarantee a Mrs. Doubtfire/Mrs. Featherbottom/The Birdcage joke would be in Michael Scott’s repertoire, followed by someone politely explaining to him that being transgender and dressing in drag are not the same thing at all. But Michael Scott probably doesn’t get that. And, apparently, neither does the person who put this on the Internet. And it’s not as funny when it happens in real life.

What’s saddest about this is not Fox News pulling this ignorant BS in and of itself, but how unsurprising it is. It’s almost enough to make you go all preachy and Will McAvoy-esque and long-windedly bemoan the state of things as they are, which is relevant but also unfortunate because The Newsroom is a terrible show. 

In journalism school, when you take reporting classes, one of the first things they make you do is write an obituary. There are many reasons for this, but it’s a particularly important exercise because it’s a baptism-by-fire where you’re motivated to make damn sure you get everything right (because no one wants to screw up an obituary) and to learn, rather quickly, how to approach people at their darkest time with sensitivity and grace and still get the heart of the story. You learn accuracy and humanity, which are two things every reporter needs. When you portray someone’s state of being with mockery and inaccuracy by comparing it to a popular movie, you’re basically doing the opposite of that.

And I know this is all easy for me to say as part of the rebloggin’ culture headlines economy, and please forgive me Father and all that, but there’s a difference between taking an editorial stance or laziness/ignorance or “trying to be funny” and straight-up mocking someone’s humanity, and as a media-consuming public, we should demand better. We have to. If we wanted Michael Scott, we could watch reruns of The Office

Watch the Shiny New Trailer for the Oscars

The Oscars are less than two months away and after host and producer changes, ABC just released a promo to reassure everyone that it’s going to be A-Okay. The trailer, which comes via Movieline, is a highly produced narrative short about Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox’s journey to the Himalayas in order to find host Billy Crystal. 

Oh no! They aren’t saving the best stuff for the show itself!

Besides Oscar mainstays Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox, the promo also stars Vinnie Jones as the bartender and a heavily made-up Robin Williams as the Mongolian ferryman. If there were an award for Best Oscar Promo, this would definitely, without question, get a nomination.

Prediction: "You could’ve just texted" will become the catchphrase of 2012, narrowly edging out Crystal’s "You look marvelous" after it makes its inevtitable return during the Oscars broadcast,which airs February 26.

Links: Mel Gibson Cut From ‘The Hangover 2’, Robin Williams Coming to Broadway

● It turns out a cast full of women and Jews and other decent humans don’t want to work with Mel Gibson, even in a cameo role. The embattled racist, misogynist actor has been barred from appearing in The Hangover 2. [TMZ] ● And the bad news keeps coming for Mr. Gibson, as his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, has been involved intimately with her bodyguard, who is now writing a tell-all book that no one will read, but many will excerpt on the internet. [TMZ] ● Jennifer Lopez’s two-year-old twins are “spokesbabies” for Gucci. Good start! [Us Weekly]

● Robin Williams will star next year in the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, his Broadway debut. He, obviously, plays the tiger. [HuffPo] ● Though the two are supposedly friends, Russel Simmons called Courtney Love “a crackhead” for posting naked pictures to Twitter. She said she was “fairly insulted,” but couldn’t really argue. [Page Six] ● Beyonce’s mom says her daughter is not pregnant, marking the 734th time Jay-Z and his queen are not having a baby. [TMZ]

Robin Williams vs. Australia vs. Alabama

Call it a case of he said, he said. On the Letterman show the other night, guest Robin Williams told a joke in which he called Australians “basically English rednecks.” Understandably, this pissed Australia off, as evidenced by the ire of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Appearing on a radio program, he offered the following advice to the logorrheic comedian: “I think Robin Williams should go and spend a bit of time in Alabama before he frames comments about anyone being particularly redneck.” Touché. Only now somebody else is pissed off.

Turns out the denizens of the (great?) state of Alabama don’t relish being called “rednecks” any more than the Aussies, and Governor Bob Riley was quick to address the slight. “I’m not sure if Prime Minister Rudd has ever been to Alabama. If he has, he would know that Alabamians are decent, hard working, creative people.” Touché again.

Rudd has yet to issue anything in the way of an apology, but Williams has. On still another radio show (this time it was Fox), he offered to modify the joke in the future, replacing the offending term with the much clunkier “English good old boy”—this despite the fact that he’s told the joke in Australia before without incident. Who knew that “redneck” was such an incendiary term to begin with? A comedian can’t even lob it around without causing an international fracas.

Links: Rapping Kurt Cobain Raises Ire, Pamela Anderson Skips Sunblock

● Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl are reprimanding the makers of Guitar Hero for giving gamers the ability to make Kurt Cobain rap in the new version of the game; Courtney Love (of course) wants to sue. [FooFighters,GameSpot] ● It’s one thing to flaunt your rebound relationship in the tabloids, but Kate Gosselin thinks Jon Gosselin bringing his girlfriend to meet their kids is crossing the reality-show line. [Radar] ● Miley Cyrus is being approached to make a cameo in the Sex and the City 2. [MTV]

● Shocker: Pamela Anderson doesn’t wear sunscreen, which might explain why the 40-something beach babe is ageing oh-so-gracefully. [DailyMail] ● Katherine Heigl has adopted a special needs child from Korea, making it impossible to hate her for the foreseeable future. [JustJared] ● The producers of the Robin Williams and John Travolta movie Old Dogs are desperately piecing together Bradley Cooper’s cut cameo from the film in hopes of catching that lingering Hangover success. [VillageVoice]

Thomas Moffett Shrinks Hollywood Down to Size

Thomas Moffett is a new face in the game, with only Steve Clark’s recent directorial debut, The Last International Playboy, under his screenwriting belt. His second script, Shrink , is a star-studded take on individuals facing depression and emotional ruin in Los Angeles and the broken people the film industry attracts. Pretty good for a guy who’s just broken into Hollywood. The film stars big-screen heavyweights Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams, with Saffron Burrows, Mark Webber, and famed novelist Gore Vidal; it releases this Friday, July 31.

When did you start writing? I’ve always written … it’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do or been semi-good at. I grew up in Indiana, and I always wanted to live in New York ever since I read Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey and all those Salinger stories. I went to NYU and then worked as an assistant for George Plimpton, editor of the Paris Review. During that time, I started writing screenplays, and then a few of my scripts got close to being made. I started thinking, “Maybe I can do this.”

Have you spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, where the film takes place? No. When I knew I was going to write the script, I spent about two months house-sitting for the producer of the film in the Hollywood Hills. It was this amazing place to just soak everything in. I spent two months trying to get a feel for things, which helped a lot in terms of the characters the movie.

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What’s the premise of the film? The movie’s about a therapist who practices in LA and has a lot of clients who are in the movie industry. I wanted it to be about these people who happen to live and work in Hollywood, but their problems are the kind of problems that you could have anywhere. They’re just magnified because of the narcissistic nature of Hollywood. I really wanted to avoid making it like Entourage, so I think the fact that I live in New York and not in LA helped me look at things from a more objective view and not get caught up with making it about LA. I wouldn’t have been able to do that very well.

How’d the concept come about? One of my best and oldest friends is an actress named Pell James, who’s in the film. She’s married to a guy named Michael Burns, who’s the producer of the film. He approached me and said, “I have this idea and it involves these types of characters and this setting. Maybe you could find something to do with it?” So, I stared at it for three months and I couldn’t figure out how to write something that didn’t seem Entourage-y. I had a breakthrough when I started thinking about the therapist character, played by Kevin Spacey. I started thinking, what if he’s going through a breakdown that’s worse than his patients? It started organically that way, and then all the LA stuff came later. Once we got Kevin on board, the whole movie started coming to life, and the other actors started signing on. He just threw himself into the character, and the film and worked for a fraction of what he usually works for. He really lead us all by example.

Do you have a personal relationship with psychiatric help? I went to therapy for the first time five years ago. I was really depressed and just felt overwhelmed and had a lot of anxiety and panic and all these different things. I have a bit of obsessive compulsive disorder, which one of the characters also has, so it was fun to take elements of things that I’ve gone through and write about them in a way that was kind of cathartic. I think the saddest things can be really funny and the funniest things can be really sad.

How was Robin Williams involved? He came and did three days of work with us, and that was the highlight for me. The director and I were just standing there and watching Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams do a scene on the second or third day of filming. It felt like a dream come true. I was lucky as a writer to be on the set every day which was unusual. Jonas [Pate] was really generous as a director and very collaborative.

What’s Robin’s character like? Robin got involved and said he was interested in one character. I rewrote the character with him in mind. It was really cool that he was game for that because the character is dealing with some problems and going through a divorce and some things that were going on in Robin’s life. In one of the scenes between him and Kevin, Kevin got to a very vulnerable spot. It’s a very intense scene and Robin Williams has this smile, this very sad smile that breaks your heart when you see it.

How many times did you have to shoot that one? A couple of times but not because anything went wrong. Only because Robin and Kevin would play around, and Robin would improv these amazing lines. There’s this scene where he’s at a press junket. Robin plays an actor in the film, and we just let him go in terms of improv-ing. He’d make these great riffs about the fake movie. In it, he plays a Viking, and there’s a really funny poster in the background of him in a Viking beard. Robin went off making all these jokes about long axes and how he couldn’t have guns because it would have been a short film, and the women had hairy armpits. We were all in awe of him.

Did you have actors in mind while you were writing the script? I definitely had Kevin in mind, but it was very much wishful thinking. When you’re writing a script and sitting alone in a room, you have no idea if anyone will ever see it. But you get these fantasies of different actors playing the characters, and Kevin was someone who early on we all talked about.

And for the other characters? I wrote this character named Daisy for my friend Pell. In the first draft of the script, Daisy’s in her late 20s and starts dating another character in the film, but then Pell became pregnant partway through the process of pre-production. I really wanted her to be in the movie, so I rewrote the character as pregnant, which was definitely a challenge because I had to then tell the love story of her and this struggling writer. We also knew that we wanted Keke Palmer to play the young girl. She was 15 when we were shooting. She’s in Akeelah and the Bee. She has her own show on Nickelodeon, and she’s got a rap album. She makes you feel like such an underachiever.

Was it a constant comedy on and off set? Well, Kevin can do fantastic impressions of different actors. He can do an amazing Jack Lemmon, Johnny Carson, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino. He’s constantly slipping into a Marlon Brando voice to keep the crew entertained. We did one scene with the writer Gore Vidal and Kevin. Later, Gore had all of us over to his beautiful house for drinks. Gore was great friends with Johnny Carson and would go on The Tonight Show all the time back in the 70s. There was this wonderful moment in Gore’s living room where Spacey starts being Johnny Carson and pretending to interview Gore, who started doing a routine on present-day topics like Sarah Palin and talking about the election.

What was it like having this at Sundance? That was incredible. We were in the Eccles Theater, which holds 1,300 people, and we were oversold both the first night and the next morning. It was cool to see it with an audience because we were in such a hurry editing that none of us — myself, the director, Kevin — had seen it on anything other than our computers.

What’s next for you? I did an adaptation of a play that Liev Schreiber proposed to me. He and a friend had a one-act that they put on at Yale and had been trying figure out a way to expand into a film for years. It’s an amazing play, and I just fell in love with it. Liev gave me open reign to expand it from a one-act that takes place in a single kitchen to something that takes place all over New York.

What are your spots in New York? I love this vegetarian restaurant called Counter in the East Village. And I love The Mermaid Inn. I also like this cupcake place called Babycakes. It’s like the Magnolia Bakery for vegans.
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Industry Insiders: Drew Nieporent, Emperor of Eats

Drew Nieporent of Nobu, Tribeca Grill, Montrachet, and countless other iconic endeavors gives us a glimpse inside as he conquers the known world.

Point of Origin: I was born and bred in New York City, an original New Yorker. I went to Stuyvesant High School, then known as Sty Hi, before going to Cornell Hotel School in Ithaca, NY, pretty much my first time away from home, not counting sleepaway camp.

Occupations: After I graduated, I was the chef de rang (a.k.a. foodie honcho) aboard the Sagafjord and Vistafjord cruise ships, then worked at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Manhattan — La Grenouille and Le Perigord — and was the captain (in a tux!) at La Reserve, before the Plaza Athénée’s Le Regence French restaurant between 83rd and 85th streets. We earned three stars from the New York Times only seven weeks after we opened — a little like winning the lottery in those days.

Later, I was director of restaurants for Maxwell’s Plum and Tavern on the Green. But as an owner my first was Montrachet in 1985. And once you open your own restaurant, you’re the restaurateur for the rest of your life! It wasn’t long before I opened a restaurant with chef Leslie Revsin at 24 Fifth Avenue, where I was also general manager.

When Sean Penn, Bill Murray and Robert DeNiro proposed what would become the Tribeca Grill in 1988, no one knew that DeNiro had already done a little “chef casting” of his own and had quietly flown Nobu Matsuhisa into New York to meet me. It wasn’t a great casting, and we went ahead with our original choice, but I always kept Nobu in mind for something in the future. The Tribeca Grill was a big hit, instantly. With Francis Ford Coppola and Robin Williams we opened our first out-of-town adventure, Rubicon, in San Francisco. East Hampton isn’t that far out of town, and Della Famina opened in the early 1990s, followed in 1993 by the Harley Davidson Café. In 1994, we finally opened Nobu — in August. Summer failure could have meant the end of our friendships and partnership, but it was a hit! The East Hampton restaurants were pretty much the beginning of the Myriad Restaurant Group, and over the past 22 years, Myriad has opened 30 restaurants, including Centrico (the Mexican place on Broadway, with Zorella Martino’s son [Aaron Sanchez] … a very Iron Chef).

Anywhere in the world you can’t eat in one of your own joints? Like W.C. Fields: Philadelphia!

Any non-industry projects in the works? You’ve been honored by the Liver Foundation and by the Tourette Syndrome Association, and you’re about to be honored by C-CAP, and I was downtown one night when you were hosting a table full of ancient veterans. I’m also interested in autism; the numbers are startling, and the spectrum is vast. Over the years, I’ve been on the board of charities like City Meals on Wheels, the Food Allergy Initiative with Robert Kennedy Jr., City Harvest. Let’s see, non-industry? I was in a musical directed by Mark Tarlov, a singing role, and was also in Simply Irresistible with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I got a nomination for my only line — as a “Food Critic”! I opened Crush Wines & Spirits three years ago, a new wave-y wine and liquor store. But that’s about it, so far.

I’m still hung up on your singing career — when do you have time to just hang out? I’m a big sports fan and music fan, so I adore all of the New York teams and spend a lot of time at Madison Square Garden, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen, U2, or the Police the other night. The Yanks and the Mets are both priorities. And then I like to go to places like Benito’s II in Little Italy or other “simple” Italian restaurants I don’t own. And I smoke a lot of cigars!

Industry Icons: Of course, Richard Melman is one of my heroes. And certainly the late Jean-Claude Vrinat who just passed away — and, yes, I recently made the pilgrimage to Ferran Adrià.

Who are some people you’re likely to be seen with, other than your wife and kids, of course? All of my childhood friends are still friends. Other than my partners, I’m friendly with the native tribesman Stephen Schirripa from The Sopranos, the sporting goods mogul Mitchell Modell, the comedian Robert Wuhl, and some of the wine personalities like my partner Larry Stone in San Francisco. There are old, old friends like Joe Joe Bastianich, Lorraine Bracco, Hedy Marshall (at the Yankee Games), and Philippe Petit, who he came to my 50th birthday. Have you seen his new documentary Man on a Wire?

Projections: I think it’s wonderful how food has become the most important part of my life. After all: chefs are the new models. Look at Bobby Flay! I still think there are a lot of dreams and ideas I have that I’ll be able to actualize in the coming days, a lot of battling, but a lot of wins. My partners are opening the first Nobu Hotel in Herzliya, Israel. Any possible crazy thing that has ever happened to anybody in life has happened to us. Just when you think you know the business … it doesn’t get easier; it seems to be harder.

It’s your own fault. You keep raising the bar. I work hard at having fun.

What are you doing tonight? Tonight I’m doing Neil Diamond. I don’t know just why I’m going to see him perform, but he’s an interesting part of our culture, and Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons’ partner in Def Jam, is producing him … so it should be interesting to see where he’s going. I’m dining at Tribeca Grill prior to the show — you know, summertime, Fridays. My kids are at home still, so after a long week, I get to be Dad.