Honoring Famed Dracula Bela Lugosi & ‘Limelight’

Famed Dracula actor Bela Lugosi died on this day in 1956. So far he hasn’t returned my attempts for comment. I try to work in the brilliant Bauhaus song "Bela Lugosi’s Dead" into my set as it has a way of taking the dance floor to a surreal almost hypnotic state. It’s nine-and-a-half minutes long and is often remembered from the opening sequence of the terminally hip 1983, Tony Scott flick The Hunger. That film stared Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and an absolutely brilliant David Bowie. As “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” blared, lead singer Peter Murphy climbed a chain-link fence that separated him from his crowd at a nightclub. Vampires Bowie and Deneuve pick up a couple of victims, including club performer- turned-actress Ann Magnuson. They lure them to a lavish home on the pretext of sex and then rip them to shreds. When I play the track on club nights it’s like a cigarette break. I can close my eyes and ponder things like how songs from this era are still relevant to fast crowds. YouTube this scene right now and toast to Bela Lugosi.

The Limelight flick is scheduled to start airing on Showtime starting today. I figure anybody relevant has already seen this film which has me chatting away in a few scenes. Now, the film which has been seen in the major markets will get to play in Peoria and places like that. For me it’s sort of like a vampire flick with a time and place that has been dead a long time, rising from its grave and into my bedroom and millions of others. Limelight is enjoying its limelight and return to the party with the opening of Daniel and Derek Koch’s Château Cherbuliez restaurant in the hallowed halls. 

Four Legs Good: 10 Celebs and Their Famous Pooches

 

President Obama recently took some time out of his busy schedule to tell CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the latest addition to the First Family: a puppy named Sunny, who is Bo’s new playmate. It seems that if anything can distract us from the task at hand, it’s our canine companions. But often they are central to the task at hand, like Andy Warhol’s dachsunds, who were depicted in his paintings and were also regular subjects in his diaries. Here’s a look at ten famous Fidos—some of which have stolen the show from their celebrity guardians.

Alan Cumming, Honey and Leon

Actor Alan Cumming, who has two dogs—Honey, a Collie-Shepherd mix, and Leon, a shorthaired Chihuahua—claims his friends don’t think he’s a crazy dog person, although he admits, "My day is kind of focused around them." He may not be crazy, but his melodramatic Masterpiece Mystery! introductions—usually featuring arrestingly effective eyebrow raises, sideways glances and duck faces—hint at a wild and crazy guy within.

Rachael Ray and Isaboo

Rachael Ray brought her beloved dog Isaboo on her talk show to get microchipped in front of a live studio audience, urging all dog guardians to do the same with their precious pups. I honestly never gave much thought to Ray until I saw this segment and found out more about her work helping shelter dogs. I’ll have to try whipping up her Marsala Mushroom Ragout after all.

 

Picasso and Lump

This cute little animation by Raza Shah features Pablo Picasso’s famous line drawing of a dachshund (thought to be the artist’s own beloved dog Lump). In 2006, photographer David Douglas Duncan published the book Picasso and Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey, which revealed the duo’s close relationship through photographs taken in 1957 at the artist’s mansion in Cannes. Apparently, Lump was in charge.

Louis C.K.: An Old Woman and Her Dog

OK, so this clip isn’t about a celebrity and their dog. But it’s a celebrity talking about a dog; specifically it’s a bit about an old lady and her dog that comedian Louis C.K. performed in Phoenix in February that is pretty damn funny. Not sure if Louie is lucky enough to have a dog. I’ve seen him walking with his daughters, though. He was in a rush and all sweaty, kind of like his character in his awesome FX television series, Louie.

In the excellent heist film High Sierra (1941), Humphrey Bogart’s character Roy is befriended by a homeless mutt named Pard, played by the actor’s own dog, Zero.

Parker Posey and Gracie

The fact that I’ve seen Parker Posey and her dog Gracie walking around my neighborhood on several occasions isn’t surprising. According to Gawker, "everyone’s had a run-in with Parker Posey’s devil-dog"—though I’ve never seen anything other than a cute little canine behaving very well. But I’d hate to see what happens if Gracie ever lost her squeaky toy.

Ryan Gosling and George

Note to celebrities who don’t like talking about themselves on talk shows: Bring your dog. In 2011, when Ryan Gosling was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the actor brought along his dog George. "He’s more interesting than I am," said Gosling, "so I thought it would be helpful."

Susan Sarandon, Penny and Rigby

When she stopped by The View, Susan Sarandon brought her two dogs, Penny, who was in at least two of the Academy Award winner’s films: Arbitrage and Cloud Atlas, and Rigby, "who just got out of rehab."

Kevin Spacey and Boston

In May, actor Kevin Spacey adopted a shelter dog from the Surry County Animal Shelter in North Carolina. The two-time Academy Award winner named her Boston in honor of the city. Two more reasons to love this guy.

The Obamas, Bo and Sunny

The White House recently unveiled the newest member to the First Family, Sunny, who seems to enjoy the first First Dog, Bo. Both of them are Portuguese Water Dogs, chosen partly because they are hypoallergenic, as Malia’s allergies require a breed that doesn’t shed. "Bo was starting to look a little down in the dumps inside the house," the pack leader-in-chief told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. "And Sunny, the new dog. she’s only a year old, and the truth is, she’s faster than he is. She jumps higher, she’s friskier…[Bo] is trying to keep up. But I think that ultimately, he’s loving it. I think that ultimately, it’s going to be great for him in the long term."

Confirmed: About 450 People Want Meryl Streep to Play Hillary Clinton in a Movie

Sometimes I am sad that strangers do not call me on the phone to ask me who I think should play Hillary Clinton in a movie. I am an expert on dream-casting! But let’s be serious: I would never answer my phone, and I bet pollsters don’t leave voicemails. Anyway, it’s clear that I was not one of the 1,179 adults who were asked to pick an actress to play Hillary Clinton in a possible movie about her life. Forty percent of those people said Meryl Streep, duh. But let’s look at the other options: Glenn Close? Ha! Nice try. Susan Sarandon? Do you people have eyeballs that work? Helen Mirren? Yeah, maybe a movie about Hillary on her death bed? Kirsten Dunst? Connie Britton? Who are you people?! [via Politico]

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Susan Sarandon Opens Up About Casting Couch Sexual Assault

In a new issue of Elle, Susan Sarandon opens up about a sexual assault she suffered on the casting couch early in her career. "It was not successful — for either of us," she explained.

The magazine asked Sarandon if she ever had someone try to take advantage of her early in her career and the 66-year-old actress indeed had an incident. 

“I just went into a room, and a guy practically threw me on the desk. It was my early days in New York, and it was really disgusting," Sarandon said. "It wasn’t like I gave it a second thought, it was so badly done.”

The Dead Man Walking star isn’t the only actress who has came forward about sexual exploitation in the entertainment biz. Goldie Hawn opened up to Oprah earlier this year about being propositioned by TV writer Al Capp, who told her she was never going to get anywhere in the business if she didn’t sleep around. And Tippi Hedren has gone public with the sexual harrassment she suffered by Alfred Hitchcock, who cast her in The Birds. Hedren’s story is being told next week in an HBO film called The Girl, which is airing Saturday October 20. 

As time goes on, I suspect there will be more aging actresses with nothing left to lose who will come forward about sexual abuse. And I hope they do, so we have the stories that this actually happened.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

The Creators of ‘Robot & Frank’ Talk About the Sleeper Hit of the Summer

What’s most unique about Robot & Frank isn’t the stellar cast of Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, and James Marsden, or that the emotionally adept and layered story is the first feature from the Brooklyn-based Waverley Films founders Jake Schreier and Christopher Ford—it’s that the tale of an old, senile crook and his robot helper takes place in the near-future. With the speed of technological advancement picking up at what feels like a quarterly rate these days, the “near-future” sub-genre is on the verge of a quiet boom in popularity, like sci-fi literature over the late 1950s and early 1960s or the wide variety of sci-fi films throughout the 1980s. It should be noted that the SyFy (it’s like Sci-Fi, only easier to Tweet!) Network ordered more pilots this year than any other television network and a number of other new television series are tackling “near-future” themes—in short, a number of top media players are banking on down-to-earth storylines colored with futuristic elements.

However, the “near-future” is rarely pulled-off when it comes to film—though when it is successful, it is rarely short of spectacular, epic or worth watching for years in the future. The remarkable Children of Men first comes to mind, or the slightly-dated but nevertheless classic Gattaca or Blade Runner of decades past. Robot & Frank is one of these types of films but on a stripped-down, indie budget, serving to make the story, direction and performances well thought-out and executed.

Schreier and Ford took a moment to talk to me about what could be this year’s indie sleeper and their thoughts on the near-future.

Where did the idea for Robot & Frank come from?
Christopher Ford: I combined some of the stories I had heard about how they were building robots to help elderly people with what I was observing with my parents trying to take care of my grandparents. My dad was having to drive many hours every week to take care of his Mom who lived way out in the boonies. She didn’t want to move to a home or have anyone take care of her, she wanted to be on her own. Then on the other side of my family there was some Alzheimers, so I saw my Mom dealing with that as well. It was on my mind and thought it would make a great science fiction film.

Where does the robot technology stand right now?
CF: Well, there are a lot of different opinions. Ray Kurzweil is the most positive, who thinks we’ll see some of this technology as soon as 2025, where we’ll see a human level of intelligence in computers. There are other people who think it will never happen. I think in the movie we say the “near-future” because we didn’t really want to pin it down. However, both myself and Jake [Shreier] think this type of technology isn’t possible for something like this to happen.

Really? Dammit, I’m a little disappointed now.
CF: Well, at least not in our lifetimes.

The near-future world is a fascinating, since it seems like we’re almost living in it already. Do you think there will be more films set in this time period?
Jake Schreier: Maybe it’s because other films have enough money to not be the near-future, so they don’t.
CD: We kept production in-mind to a certain extent.
JS: It was certainly written to be something that was achievable. But I love thematically the image of a rural setting with this older man and this one piece of technology encroaching on his lifestyle was great. There’s a real justification for keeping it grounded in something we could connect with. This only brings some of the themes in the film home. If you go up to the towns in upstate New York, where we shot this, they will have items from all different eras sort of sewn together in this wonderful fabric. There will be a bunch of layers of technology, from cars that were made 50 years ago to a lunch counter that is now a tchotchke shop to a flat screen television or two hanging on a few walls. I think these layers exist everywhere, we just don’t always notice them.

How did the cast come together? You guys are first time writers and directors. A cast like this doesn’t usually come together for first-timers.
JS: Park Pictures and [producer] Galt Niederhoffer made that happen. Galt really took it on and brought the cast together.

Did everyone in the cast spark to it when they first read it?
JS: Everyone who was in the film certainly fell for it on first read. But it’s not just that. Everyone wants to meet with you to make sure you really see what they see or just to see what you see in the project. Like Frank Langella met with both Ford and I to make sure we were taking the more emotional parts of the script seriously, that it wasn’t going to be light-hearted and comedic throughout. Which was great, because what he wanted was what we were going for as well.

Tell me about the robot. Clearly it was an actor in a robot costume, unless you actually built a robot, which means you should probably be selling that.
JS: What’s funny is that the South Korean distributor asked us if we could put on a live demonstration with the actual robot, timed with the release of the film.
CD: No, it’s a girl in a suit. We’d be rich otherwise.
JS: The actress is named Rachael Ma, who suffered through 100 plus degree heat in upstate New York. She’s 4’11 and a dancer but the physical skill she had was incredible—she had to buckle her knees the whole time to stand like the robot. I don’t know many actors who would go through what she went through. She was hot, sweaty and tired on set but she kept going, kind of like a robot, you could say.

Tony Scott Directed the Two Gayest Movies of the ’80s

Tony Scott, who is responsible for some of the biggest American movies in the last thirty years (including Bevery Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, Enemy of the State, True Romance, Man on Fire, and Spy Game), passed away yesterday after jumping off Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. It was certainly a shock to many, who took to Twitter (where else?) last night to express their grief. This is, of course, where I learned the news. While I can’t say that I’ve seen a ton of his movies (of the six I mentioned just now, I’ve only seen two), he was, surprisingly, the director of two of the gayest moves of the 1980s. I can’t offer any condolences via a social networking site, but I can add my own personal take on his career right here. YOU’RE WELCOME.

The first is Scott’s directorial debut: The Hunger. It’s the most obvious choice, as it’s got a lesbian love scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. But let’s look deeper at the other total gayballs stuff in this movie. First, the cast. Catherine Deneuve? She’s the most beautiful person on the planet, even now at 68 years old. The woman knows how to pick a surgeon, is what I’m saying. Pretty gay! Then there’s Susan Sarandon. It doesn’t get any homo than mid-eighties Susan Sarandon. And David Bowie? Even straight dudes would go gay for Bowie. And it’s about vampires. Are there any monsters more homoerotic than vampires? Nope. Case closed.

What’s the other gay flick? Well, duh: Top Gun. To wit:

Yes, I think homosexuality is genetic and not a choice, but, then again, there is the existence of the rampant homoeroticism in Top Gun. (It surprisingly gets gayer when dubbed in Spanish, FYI.) I am pretty sure there’s a whole generation of gay men whose parents’ early ’90s basic-cable subscriptions have left them with the inability to control an erection whenever they spot a volleyball net. 

Some Thoughts on ‘That’s My Boy’ and Andy Samberg’s Career

What’s in store for Andy Samberg now that he’s officially left Saturday Night Live? Will there be more joke-rap in the comedian’s future? Will his serious turn in the upcoming Celeste and Jesse Forever (co-starring—and co-written by—Rashida Jones) bring in critical accolades? Most importantly, will his career survive the pile of stinking garbage that is his upcoming flick That’s My Boy, in which he plays the son of an immature Adam Sandler (redundant, I know) who is just 13 years his senior? 

Granted, I have not seen That’s My Boy, which hits theaters next Friday. But, ya know, I have seen the trailer. And I’m not a total idiot. Here’s a reminder in case you want a reason to rip out your eyeballs today. Oh, and it’s NSFW:

Woof! No thanks! I recognize I’m not the key demographic for your typical Adam Sandler movie, as I’m generally not into the concept of any of the voices that Sandler makes, nor am I particularly interested to see if Vanilla Ice can pull off the complicated role of "Himself" (nope, still haven’t gotten around to watching Cool as Ice). But I can’t help but think critically about the movie and Andy Samberg’s role in it. It is, after all, his first post-SNL film, which was perhaps poor timing. 

Of course, the advertising campaigns aren’t doing the movie any favors. Beyond the terrible trailer above, there’s also the ridiculous poster, to which I would like to draw your attention:

First of all, I spent some time staring at this mess as it was directly above the urinal in the bar I went to last night, which seems about right. Every time I returnd to take care of business and whatnot, I came face-to-face with this Photoshop of Horrors. First of all, if Sandler and Samberg are just hanging out on the lawn of some fancy water-front home, why did Sandler leave a trail of empties in his path? Is that how he knows which way to get back to the bathroom to barf? Do you think we’re supposed to assume that he drank those beers en route, or that he was carrying those cans in his arms, dropping each one after the other? And speaking of beer, what kind of lens did the photog use to get that spectacular action shot of the beer seemingly floating out of that can only Samberg’s tux? 

I dunno, guys, something isn’t adding up! You know, Samberg is supposed to be the daughter of Sandler and Eva Amurri, Susan Sarandon’s daughter. I’d point out that Samberg doesn’t look like either of them, much less someone who could possibly be Susan Sarandon’s grandson, but I should mention that Sarandon shows up later in the film (according to IMDb, anyway) as the older version of her daughter’s character. How’s that mind-fuck for you? 

Is Andy Samberg hoping his post-SNL life will be anything like Adam Sandler’s? Sure, Sandler had all of those early hits, but he’s also a massive joke, right? Like, no one still thinks, "Man, that Billy Madison really changed the game when it came to idiot buffoons talking like babies and banging hot chicks." Right?

Jason Segel is ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’

The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man — Jason Segel is kind of the standard bearer for mopey, paunchy dudes who are bad at growing up, isn’t he? The first trailer for Jeff, Who Lives at Home definitely reinforces that: Segel plays Jeff, who lives at home with his mom (Susan Sarandon!) and is having a hard time figuring his life out. After a chance run-in reunites him with his brother (played by Ed Helms), they start hanging out again while trying to deal with their life issues in tandem.  (Sample dialogue: "Why do you want to live like this, drifting through this life with no awareness!?") Arrested Development alum Judy Greer shows up as Helms’ maybe-cheating wife and, you know, hijnks and emotional maturation ensue.

It seems winsome and charming in a cheesy way, pretty much par for the course when it comes to Jason Segel vehicles. I’ll be honest — it’s extremely hard for me to see Helms as anyone else but Andy Dwyer from The Office, and his reasonable attempt at being serious is just so… off. It’s like a bear riding a ferris wheel: cute, but get out of there, silly! (It sure is Friday, y’all.) If you liked the trailer, Jeff, Who Lives at Home comes out on March 2.

Susan Sarandon Calls the Pope a Nazi, Controversy Ensues

Last night, Susan Sarandon appeared at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor for an interview with Bob Balaban. When discussing Dead Man Walking, Sarandon said she sent a copy of the book it was based on to the Pope, then added, “The last one, not this Nazi one we have now.” Newsday reports that Balaban “gently tut-tutted” the comment, but Sarandon said it again. In the wardrobe of controversial things celebrities say, calling the Pope a Nazi is the sequined tube top: rarely worn but sure to invite more attention then desired.

As Sinead O’Conner and Hank Williams Jr. can attest, the Pope and Nazis are topics that can cause enough controversy to alter entire careers. Using them together in one compact, super-controversial sound bite is bound to cause outrage. Sarandon is known for being politically outspoken, and it will be interesting to see if the inevitable backlash will roll off her back.

If not, she will be expected to follow the celebrity apology guide:

1) If on Twitter, tweet that you never meant to offend anyone. 2) Release a statement on your website written by a publicist. 3) Appear at a charity event and briefly mention your regrets before moving on to “more important” matters. 4) Stay away until you have something to promote. 5) A year ago, this step would have been “Go on Larry King Live.” Now you have a couple options for your final grand apology, most likely The View or King’s replacement, Piers Morgan.