You know what Broadway just doesn’t have enough of right now? Men in hoodies doing tae-bo dance moves to “Eye of the Tiger.” At least, that’s what Sylvester Stallone and the team behind the musical Rocky: Fight From The Heart are thinking after a successful early (and expensive) premiere run in the musical-friendly city of Hamburg, Germany. And the musical’s credentials are pretty strong: director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher), with music and lyrics from Schoolhouse Rock! Veteran Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island) along with Thomas Meehan on the book (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray), but it’s still difficult to shake that feeling of “Rocky? Really? I mean… Rocky?”
In a way, Rocky works as musical fodder. Broadway loves an underdog and a misfit (and the Italian Stallion was certainly both), loves elaborate depictions of working-class lives (really though, look at every musical ever) and loves a love story (Yo, Adrian!). But there are still questions about the details: What about the fighting? What about the Rocky fanboys who point out that although the show follows the plot of the first film, it includes “Eye of the Tiger,” which doesn’t appear until Rocky III? And how can Rocky Balboa, a character who can barely speak played most famously by an actor not known for his eloquence, turn into a hero of the stage?
“Moment after moment in Rocky cries out for music,” writer Thomas Meehan explains in this short documentary on the show from StageTV. “But we had to justify that Rocky, who’s kind of an inarticulate boxer, could sing.”
Ahrens says in the video she designed Rocky to have an endearing, talk-singing style, before our Rocky goes into a goofy, self-reflexive monologue about his age and his desires, declaring, “29 ain’t old… if you’re a turtle.” Poetry right there, folks. You can see for yourself whether or not the concept will work on the Great White Way with the StageTV doc below.
Sad news out of Los Angeles last night: Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage Stallone was found dead yesterday, allegedly from an overdose of pills. Sage appeared with his father in Rocky 5 and ran Grindhouse Releasing, a film restoration company that focused on Italian horror films.
Sage Moonblood Stallone, 36, was the son of Sylvester and his first wife, Sasha Czack. Sage was reportedly found around 2p.m. Friday afternoon by either a housekeeper or a girlfriend and pronounced dead by paramedics on arrival. TMZ reports paramedics found "numerous empty pill bottles" for unknown medication.
"Sylvester Stallone is devastated and grief-stricken over the sudden loss of his son Sage Stallone. His compassion and thoughts are with Sage’s mother, Sasha.Sage was a very talented and wonderful young man, his loss will be felt forever."
He appeared in the films Daylight and Promises Written In Water.
● Mary J. Blige bemoaned yesterday that her pulled "crispy chicken, fresh lettuce" Burger King commercial was not the "fun and creative campaign" she had signed up for. Burger King meanwhile apologized to Blige and her fans for airing the ad "prematurely," adding that they hope to have the final spot on air soon. [Rap-Up]
● The final autopsy report from the LA County’s Coroner’s Office adds grim details to Whitney Houston’s final moments, but upholds earlier findings that her cause of death was accidental drowning caused by heart disease and cocaine use. [TMZ]
● Rumor has it that Saturday Night Live‘s Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jason Sudeikis are jumping ship at the end of this season. [Us]
● It seems that Jake Gyllenhaal has become something of a teacher’s pet in his spin classes, often winning himself a seat on stage next to the teacher where he raps along to Jay-Z without breaking an additional sweat. [PageSix]
● Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, and, as of yesterday, Amy Ryan, 50 Cent, Snatch‘s Vinnie Jones, and Law and Order‘s Vincent D’Onofrio have all been cast in director Mikael Hafstrom’s The Tomb, a movie about — well, with that motley cast, does it even matter? [Variety]
Look, it’s not a difficult formula: guns, muscles, babes, blood, explosions, blood diamonds, evil dictators, grit and gore and dialed-in racial caricatures right down to the Jamaican guy in dreads who yells "Yeah mon!" as he whips a grenade into an orphanage. The Expendables 2 should not be difficult to make. But thanks to Chuck Norris, it’ll be a PG-13 movie, one without the cursing you’d assume is necessary for a vehicle with so much testosterone. /Film transcribes an interview with Norris in which he told a Polish website, "With The Expendables 2, you have a lot of hard language in there that means that means that young people won’t be able to see it. I said, I don’t do movies like that. I didn’t do them in the past, I didn’t do them on my TV series. I said, you have to cut out all the language, hardcore language or I can’t do it. So they did, and Expendables is now a PG-13 film so kids can see it." Oh, how unfathomably bogus.
The hypocrisy is on display: people will still be getting their heads shot off, and a few less f-bombs won’t make that wash down any easier. It’s even weirder to imagine what teenager can’t get into an R-rated movie, or why producers would so quickly accede to Norris’s quacked out request (he’s like the seventh biggest name in the movie). Speaking to Ain’t It Cool News, Sylvester Stallone confirmed the change. "The PG13 rumor is true, but before your readers pass judgement, trust me when I say this film is LARGE in every way and delivers on every level," he said. "This movie touches on many emotions which we want to share with the broadest audience possible, BUT, fear not, this Barbeque of Grand scale Ass Bashing will not leave anyone hungry." Grand scale Ass Bashing, yes. If I was still in high school I’d refuse to see this thing out of principle, because I’ve taken AP U.S. History, damn it, and I’m mature enough to know about bad words. But then you realize that language, and not violence, is the barrier for an R-rating and man, the whole system is real dumb, isn’t it. Whatever, brain goes off, money goes away, the show goes on. You can see The Expendables 2 in August, or wait for it to come to you in a fever dream.
The Expendables was basically gun porn drenched in bro sauce, a noisy, abrasive filmification of a dude named Sully punching you in the stomach while blasting Pantera. The Expendables 2? Yes, oh yes, more of the same. The one-minute trailer, released today, shows all of the stars from the first film and more shooting stuff to pieces, holding guns, looking dead serious in some seriously unflattering lighting.
There’s Sly Stallone and Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham, Jet Li and Chuck Norris and Terry Crews and Bruce Willis and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Also showing up? Arnold Schwarzenegger, because apparently he’s stopped pretending to be a graceful public figure. Isn’t it very, very strange that Ah-nold went from being governor right back to action movies? Most politicians spend their post-office careers writing memoirs, appearing on The Today Show, saluting the flag at the Super Bowl. Shooting up a lot of stuff with a big gun is technically a spiritual cousin to those activities, but it’s not very stately of him.
On the other hand who cares, guns and dudes and things that go KKKKKT-BOOOM a thousand times over. It comes out in August, so start getting pumped beyond pumped.
Rocky Balboa has fought for the heavyweight title, lasted twelve rounds with a champ at age 59, and single-handedly brought down the Soviet Union. All of those pale in comparison to the boxer’s next test: musical theater. The Telegraph reports Sylvester Stallone is teaming up with famed Broadway director Alex Timbers for Rocky: The Musical. If the idea of Rocky Balboa singing “Gonna Fly Now” while ascending the steps of a mini Philadelphia Museum of Art doesn’t sound strange enough, consider this: the play is going to be in German.
Rocky: The Musical is set for a November 2012 debut in Hamburg, Germany, and Stallone is producing it with heavyweight Russian boxing brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. Original music will be written, and the show’s production company says that both “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now” will make the cut. The latter is the theme of the original Rocky while the former is from Rocky III. It is unclear which storyline the musical will follow, or if a completely new narrative will be created.
Stallone insists that this is an old plan, saying, “I always had the idea of Rocky as a musical. At the end of the day, Rocky is a love story and he could never have reached the final bell without Adrian.” It is doubtful that Stallone himself will appear in the show, but if he changes his mind, this is the sultry baritone the people of Hamburg have to look forward to come next year’s Erntedankfest:
And now, Sylvester Stallone will become a fashion designer. WWDreports that the star known for hyper-macho films like Rocky and Rambo is developing a men’s lifestyle brand, set to hit stores next year. “I thought the time is now. I’ve lived a life where I know what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Clothing is the first step to building a character,” quoth Stallone.
With the help of veteran retail executive Michael Henry, their cleverly-named company, Sly Inc., “is looking for wholesale licensing partners to launch multiple classifications under the Stallone label next year. Among the first categories to be introduced will be jeans, shirts, outerwear, underwear and watches, That will be followed by eyewear, grooming products, fragrance, activewear and athletic shoes,” notes WWD. The target demographic will be 25- to 40-year old males. And here’s the kicker: The line’s main sources of inspiration are Stallone’s two most famous characters. “Rocky at the end of the day is a love story,” explains Henry, “while Rambo showcases the other side of masculinity, he’s a loner.” So, something like Romeo-meets-rebel? Got it.
In what has to be the weirdest celeb sex tape story yet, the rights to a “softcore erotic pic” from 1970 starring a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone have sold on eBay for $412,000. The film was originally called The Party at Kitty and Stud’s, but was later changed to Itallion Stallion in an attempt to cash in on Stallone’s newfound Rocky fame.
According to Variety, the film “has gained cult status over the years as hardcore material has been added.” Not sure what exactly that means, but it begs two questions: 1, exactly how much of the Stallion will we see in this picture? And 2, if the answer to the previous question is “not much,” then why would anyone want to spend $412,000 on the rights to this film? Also, if the answer to the original question is “unbridled, uncut,” are there people who actually want to see it? All of which leads me to believe that The Stallion is probably doing some serious bucking in the final version of this film, and that a whole cult of Sly fans will come out of the woodwork to watch their boy become a man.
Forthcoming summer action flick The Expendables is, like the umpteen Rocky and Rambo installments, yet another effort by the irrepressible Sylvester Stallone to revive (or at least marginally stave off the death of) the kind of brawny, 80’s-era staples that made him a star. Leaving nothing to chance here, he’s stocked the cast with gen action stars old and new alike for what’s being billed as “the toughest crew of the century.” Schwarzenegger, Rourke, Statham, Lundgren, Li, and even Willis are all on board, and the latest teaser trailer pushes the cast’s combined drawing power hard. What it doesn’t push is the action. In fact, there’s none whatsoever, which is more than a little odd for a movie that by all rights should be nothing but. What gives? Rumor has it that that Lionsgate and Stallone are dickering over what kind of MPAA rating to pursue.
An anonymous source told Jeffrey Wells that the studio and Stallone are “still grappling” with the R versus PG-13 question. “Obviously there would be very different tones in the campaign if it’s the former,” he said, adding, “I hope they go with the R-rated version, but apparently there’s pressure in the marketplace not to.” When isn’t there? Some studio exec will always be in a swivet about losing the kiddie demographic. Nevertheless, I agree with Wells that delivering a watered down, gore-and-violence-lite version of The Expendables is well nigh insane, and appears (from without anyway) like it would scuttle the film’s very raison d’être. Old school actioners in the Rambo-Die Hard-Commando vein were always R-rated, always graphic. Anything less will register as a disappointment to those expecting a revival of the same.