<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Celebrity Photos, News, and Celebrity Gossip]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/entertainment/celebrity http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:10:45 -0400 Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:10:45 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA["Ace of Cakes" Bakes the Obama Inauguration Cake]]> Sat, 19 Jan 2013 18:39:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/080409+Duff+Goldman.jpg

Baltimore celebrity baker Duff Goldman says the cake he's baking for President Barack Obama's inaugural ball is going to be more elegant than crazy, full of stars and stripes and a whole lot of glitter.

Goldman says the staff at his Charm City Cakes bakery, which had its extreme cakes featured in the Food Network show "Ace of Cakes," began Friday to decorate the details to put on the cake. They'll start baking the cake itself on Sunday, the day before the inauguration and the Commander in Chief's Ball where the cake will be served.

The finished product will stand 3 to 4 feet tall, drip with patriotic fondant bunting and sparkle with clusters of stars shooting out like fireworks.

"Glitter is going to be all over the place," Goldman said in a telephone interview.

On Saturday, four bakers were in the process of replicating in fondant and royal icing the presidential seal and the seals of the four military branches honored at the Commander in Chief's Ball. Goldman said they are focused on the details, such as making sure the eagle in the presidential seal faces the correct way and that the bird holds exactly six arrows in its talons. They also want to make sure they spell the Latin motto on the seal correctly: E pluribus unum.

"This is one you really want to spellcheck, big time," said Goldman, whose television show ran for 10 seasons before going off the air in 2011.

Goldman said the whole cake will take about 100 hours to complete. When finished, it is expected to weigh 50 pounds and serve several hundred people. Inside, guests will find Swiss buttercream frosting and layers of red velvet, lemon poppy seed, pineapple coconut, and pumpkin chocolate chip cake.

This isn't the only inauguration cake the bakery is making. Goldman says he is baking five other cakes for various inauguration events, including a 4-foot replica of the White House. Still, the Commander in Chief's Ball cake is special because the event at the Washington Convention Center is one of only two official parties the president will attend.

Goldman said he played it cool when the Presidential Inaugural Committee called about two weeks ago to ask him to make a cake.

"When you get off the phone you get to scream, 'We're making the inaugural cake,'" he said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Josh Brolin Held on Public Intoxication Charge]]> Sun, 06 Jan 2013 02:41:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/01-brolin.jpg

Actor Josh Brolin, who plays a police sergeant in the upcoming Hollywood movie, "Gangster Squad," was arrested Wednesday after police found him heavily intoxicated and unable to care for himself on a Santa Monica sidewalk, police said on Saturday.

Brolin was contacted by police in the 1600 block of Ocean Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis.

Brolin was held in custody on a misdemeanor public intoxication charged and released.

"This was a booking only to hold him until he sobered up," Lewis said. "We do not normally file any charges on persons for simple intoxication."

Police said they would only book someone on a more serious charge and request that the City Attorney's Office prosecute if that person became a "chronic drain on resources" or has multiple arrests, Lewis said.

"In this case," Lewis said, "no further action is being sought."

Brolin's profile on imdb.com said his "rugged features" and "natural charm" have worked for him.

The son of actor James Brolin, his star has risen recently. He's played roles as a policeman, a hunter, and the President of the United States.

In his most recent film, "Gangster Squad," he plays Sgt. John O'Mara on a Los Angeles Police Department unit that chases notorious mobster Mickey Cohen.

Calls and emails to Brolin's agent had not been returned Saturday evening.

]]>
<![CDATA[Snoop Lion Would Love to Show Kids How to Smoke Pot]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 14:58:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/212*120/AP100819031830.jpg

Of all the conversations Snoop Lion is awaiting to have with his three kids one day, there's one that has puffed its way ahead of all the others.

Snoop said in a recent interview with GQ magazine that he wants to have a sit down with his children about marijuana.

The legendary rapper, who changed his name in July from Snoop Dogg to Snoop Lion after a "spiritual awakening" during a trip to Jamaica, said he's looking forward to having the cannabis conversation.

"It's not that I would ever push weed on our kids," the rapper said in the January issue of GQ, "but if they wanted to, I would love to show them how, the right way, so that way they won't get nothing put in their s--- or overdose or trying some s--- that ain't clean."

His three children range in age from 12 to 18.

Last year, Lion, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was arrested when a drug-sniffing K-9 found several joints and a prescription bottle with a half-ounce of marijuana in a trash can on his tour bus at a border inspection point in Texas.

Lion was arrested, issued a citation for misdemeanor drug possession and eventually released. 

]]>
<![CDATA['Office' Star John Krasinski Heads for the 'Promised Land' With Matt Damon]]> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 14:41:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/john-krasinski-promised-land.jpg

When John Krasinski moonlights from “The Office” he doesn’t mess around.

For the film “Promised Land,” Krasinski took on more than one side gig: not only does he act in it, he also concocted the story and screenplay with author Dave Eggers and co-star Matt Damon, and served as a producer.

Centered on the environmental effects of fracking, a controversial means of extracting natural gas, “Promised Land” represents Krasinski’s latest bid to expand his Hollywood horizons as the “The Office” ends its final season. Krasinski sat down recently to talk about his new film and what the future holds.

On the how the story’s setting inspired the issue at the core:

I had the idea for the script about two years ago, and my dad grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh in Natrona Heights, which was a steel mill town, and his dad worked three jobs, and they didn't have very much. And I remember when he was telling us, when I was a little kid – I was an ignorant eight-year-old – and I said, ‘So was your childhood awful?’ And he was like, ‘No, it was amazing. We had friends and family, and there was a sense of community and the faith that tomorrow would be a better day.’ And that really stuck with me my whole life, and I think the older I got, the more I realized that the country was moving away from that sort of pure ideal of community. So that's what the idea came from, and that's where I really started. So natural gas came in as an issue later on in the project once we had started coming up with these characters and this town and these groups of people that were going to interact, and it turned out to be the best backdrop for the story because it was basically just like high-stakes poker. There was so much potentially to gain and so much potentially to lose

On the reaction of the real people of Pennsylvania grappling with fracking’s pros and cons:

The really moving part was when we actually went to shoot in the town, they were so generous and so open to have us. But at the same time, people weren't against coming up and telling you how they really felt. And there were people who came up and said, ‘You shouldn't be making this movie. This is really good for us.’ And five minutes later, someone would come up and say, ‘Thank you for making this movie.’ We never expected it to be the movie that deals with this issue. Our whole thing was at the end to start a conversation, and whether it's fracking or something else, it's like these issues are something that have communities getting together and making decisions for themselves… is really the most important thing, especially this day and age.

On attempting to depict the residents of small town America without condescending or pandering:

I think sometimes the movies just show small town America as the people who just get bowled over by anyone who has an idea and in comes innovation and creators, and they just push these people aside. That's not the truth at all. These people are very dedicated to their opinions and very proud of where they're from. And that was the thing about getting there and first of all seeing how gorgeous it was. I mean it was beautiful…The truth is that you see what these people are fighting for. And when I say what they're fighting for, I don't mean either side of the issue. What I'm saying is that they are fighting for what everybody else is fighting for: their family, their friends, what they are from and where they're going. And it's a self-protective survival mode, and that's what's so admirable about these people really digging in on these issues. And it's happening all over the country.

On writing the screenplay with Matt Damon:

I met Matt when he was doing a movie with my wife [Emily Blunt], ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ and we became friendly right away – which was really nice because being from Boston, the guy from ‘Good Will Hunting’ is pretty much the mayor of some fictitious town. One day we were on a double date, and he said, ‘I'm actually thinking of directing. Is there anything you that have in the works that you'd be willing to share with me?’ I said ‘Yeah’ and I brought him this idea, and he jumped onto it right away. We were writing within a week or two, and it worked really, really well. He actually was shooting ‘We Bought a Zoo’ in California at the time, and I was shooting my show ‘The Office,’ so we were kind of moonlighting. We worked really well together. We worked really fast. We have similar sensibilities and similar sense of humors, but at the end of the day, I think we're eternal optimists, so we wanted the same thing. We wanted this to be an uplifting kind of Frank Capra, Kazan movie. Where we were headed was always the same, so getting there was a lot quicker.

On where writing fits into his future after “The Office” ends:

I'm definitely going to cultivate it further. This was an incredible learning experience for me on every level, but I think, if I'm honest, the truth is it's a really big moment for me. This is a transition from the show that I think is meaning more to me than I think anybody knows. I think to have this show end is going to be such an incredibly emotional moment for me. Not only because of the show and the cast and the crew and that family aspect, but it's an era of my life that's going to be gone – and it is my twenties, basically. It's one of the most important decades of my life was spent with this show. And I owe it absolutely everything. No one would know my name if it wasn't for that show, and I wouldn't have any opportunity if it wasn't for this show, to sort of grow up and have that show support me. If someone asks me ‘What would you do if we gave you the keys?’ ‘This is the movie that I'd do if you gave me the keys.’ This is the kind of thing I've always been interested in. These are the characters that I've always been interested in watching or interested in playing, so I really want to do it more. And to have this team surrounding me – to write with Matt and to have Gus on board – it was so surreal and so inspiring, but also probably spoiled me because now I'm just like, ‘All I have to do is write some sort of document, then all of a sudden, Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant will sign on. How hard is this, folks?’ I don't know how the next ones are going to turn out, but also at home my wife was hugely supportive. And I'd always heard that story that the blank, white page is a scary thing. I'm like, ‘Come on – there are bigger things to be scared of.’ Then you sit down, and you realize, like, ‘Wow, that IS pretty scary.’ So she was the one who just kept saying ‘You can do it,’ and ‘Get up there and give it a couple more hours.’ And sure enough, it clicked, and I really, really loved it. So I'm going to give it a shot, and hopefully keep going as long as there's stories that I can tell well. And until then, I'll at least give it a shot.



Photo Credit: Focus Features]]>
<![CDATA[Matt Damon on Making 'Promised Land' With a Little Help From His Friends]]> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 15:48:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/damon-promised-land.jpg

Matt Damon is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, so it’s not surprising that he had issues carving out the time to write and direct his passion project “Promised Land.” Fortunately, some close friends had his back.



When it came to crafting his screenplay about a conflicted gas company rep who heads to America’s Heartland to buy up land for the controversial drilling process known as fracking, Damon, already an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, teamed with actor John Krasinski, who in turn brought in his friend, acclaimed novelist David Eggers.

Damon befriended Krasinski’s while working opposite the "Office" star's wife, Emily Blunt, in “The Adjustment Bureau.” In addition to co-writing, Krasinski took on the role of Damon’s eco-minded nemesis in the film.

And when Damon realized he needed a director, he turned to another friend, “Good Will Hunting” helmer Gus Van.



The "Promised Land" star and producer sat down recently to talk about the huge lift he got from his friends, how he recruited Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook, and whether he’s ready to re-team with another old pal, Ben Affleck, for a future film.



Has being a parent made you more environmentally conscious?



Probably, yeah. I thought a lot, before I had kids, what kind of world we're leaving them. I think it gave me pause. The world is fraught with so many challenges and perils. Kids don't ask to be here. We bring them here, and then it's like, ‘Hey – this is the fix you're in. Sorry.’ I did think about that, but ultimately, problems get fixed when people get engaged with them, so I figured why not raise some kids who are smart and conscientious and good citizens and want to pitch in and maybe they'll clean up some of these problems.



You’ve compared this process to when you write with Ben Affleck.



Yeah. I think because we're all actors, the way we write: we get up, we're walking around, we're improvising. We're playing all the different characters, and then pretty soon the characters start to talk back at you because you start to realize how they'd answer certain things, and that's when it gets really exhilarating. And that was the same with writing with both guys. We realized that for some reason I write with guys who are taller than me, funnier than me. I don't know what that is, but I guess I subconsciously seek out certain qualities in a writing partner.




What made Gus the go-to director when it turned out you wouldn’t be able to direct as originally planned?



He's such a humanist –the performances in Gus's movies, from his little movies to his bigger movies, always have that feeling of being captured. He just has a way of getting real human behavior out of the actors. There're the Hal Holbrooks, where you don't have to do much to get human behavior out of an actor of that stature and experience, but also the local folks and the people who we use in the movie who fill out the whole cast, Gus just has a way of putting everybody at ease, just filming the real world. And that's what we really wanted with this, was for it to feel like a moment in time in the country, where we are now, where we are today. John and I joke that my best contribution as a producer was firing myself(as director).



How did you land Frances McDormand?



Early on, we decided to write that part for Fran. I met Fran and worked with her in 1994, 18 years ago – she played my mom in a TNT movie that Tommy Lee Jones directed – so I kept in touch with her over the years and seen her sporadically, and I just love her. I love her work. At the same time, I was going to direct the movie, and we had an early draft of the script and I've shown it to Ben Affleck, to Cameron Crowe. John had shown it to Aaron Sorkin, and we’d gotten really positive feedback from those guys. So we said, ‘Okay. We're not crazy. She lives near me in New York, and I printed out a copy, and I walked over and left it at her apartment building. She wrote back like the next day and she said, ‘I'm in – I love it.’ That was a huge kind of milestone for us in the whole process, because not only did we get validation from a great actress and know that our script was in pretty good shape, but we also knew that we really were writing for her.

Equally huge would be bringing in Hal Holbrook.



That character's got to speak to the older America and where we've come from, and very simply and with great authority. So we just looked at a list of all the actors who were over 70 who we felt could do that, and there are a handful... Hal's 88 now and he's just the guy…The first town hall scene, we originally overwrote, because we didn't know how much of the pro- and anti-fracking arguments we were going to use, so we just literally wrote all of them and it was a 15-page scene. But we decided ‘Why don't we just shoot all of it, and then in the edit we'll cull it down.’ And so that's what we did – but Hal showed up in the first take and he just goes all the way through the dialog. I mean, he was just such a pro The guy is just a horse of a man. 



How hard is it to play a character who lies so convincingly and isn’t telegraphing it to the audience. Is that a tricky thing to wrap your head around?



He believes he's giving them the medicine they need, and that first scene sets up that idea of a guy who's seen industry leave. He's got this rage, and it’s also that kind of streak of self-loathing that you get in those great [Elia] Kazan protagonists. But he's not wrong either. So that's what we wanted. We wanted it to feel really complex, and there aren't any one-dimensional characters or easy answers. 



Do you and Ben have a project that you'd like to get around to together at some point?



We're developing a few. There's one Whitey Bulger project that we were looking at… But the big question of it is, what's your way in?  It's tough. They're the biggest batch of irredeemable...

 

"Promised Land" opens in limited release Dec. 28

]]>
<![CDATA[Jenni Rivera Memorial Date Set]]> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:45:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Jenni+Rivera.jpg

The family of Jenni Rivera announced that a private memorial service will be held for the recently deceased singer on Wednesday at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

The memorial - called a "Celestial Graduation" by her family - will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and be led by Minister Pedro Rivera Jr.

"We will celebrate the graduation into heaven, with honors, of our beloved mother, daughter and sister Jenni Rivera," the statement read. "We appreciate the privacy and discretion given to the family on the day she is laid to rest. The burial services will be privately held."

Rivera died when the private plane she was traveling on crashed in a mountainous region of Mexico on Dec. 9.

Born in Long Beach, Calif., to Mexican immigrant parents, Rivera sold more than 15 million albums worldwide throughout her career and was a household name in Mexico and to Spanish speaking communities throughout the United States.

The 43-year-old mother of five was one of the biggest stars of banda, a brass-based, percussive form of Spanish-language pop music invented in northern Mexico but played heavily throughout the American Southwest. Banda traditionally was the domain of men, and Rivera's emergence and eventual dominance in the genre was groundbreaking.

Rivera's fame was expanding prior to the crash, thanks to a stint on television as the star of her own reality series "I Love Jenni" on Telemundo's mun2 cable channel, and the recent announcement that she had signed to take the lead role in a sitcom for ABC.

The company that owns the luxury jet on which she was traveling is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the agency seized two of its planes earlier this year as part of the ongoing probe.

The Rivera family requested that in lieu of flowers at the memorial, donations be made to the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation - the charity founded by the singer which offers support services to single mothers and victims of both domestic and sexual abuse.


 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[J.J. Abrams Discusses His Vision For "Star Trek Into Darkness"]]> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:41:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/abrams_81930212.jpg Director J.J. Abrams chats with Access' Scott "Movie" Mantz about his vision for the opening sequence of "Star Trek Into Darkness." What was he trying to accomplish? Plus, what were the biggest challenges of this project? And, what qualities does he think makes for a fun "bad guy"?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Streisand and Rogen's Bond Fueled "The Guilt Trip"]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:24:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/197*120/Streisand+Rogan+Guilt+Trip.jpg

After making the comedy “The Guilt Trip” together, screen and song icon Barbra Streisand and comedy star Seth Rogen ended up with such an authentic-feeling mother/son dynamic, one practically expected Streisand to rub schmutz from his cheek and question his choice in clothing.

The two actors’ genuine, compelling chemistry fuels the road trip-style comedy which sees Rogen’s reticent young chemist trying to sell his environmentally friendly housecleaning fluid embarkson an ill-advised cross-country trek with his ceaselessly smothering mother (Streisand). And no one, it seems, was more pleased at the maternal connection than the stars.

On the beginnings of their on-screen rapport:

Barbra Streisand: Seth sussed me out. He called people from the Focker movies, right?

Seth Rogen: Yeah, I was actually working with John Schwartzman, who was the cinematographer on ‘Meet the Fockers,’ at the time this came up – I asked him what he thought of Barbra, and he said she was great. I know [‘Meet the Fockers’ director] Jay Roach a little, so I asked him. I think he said that she was awesome, too. Ben Stiller, I might have run into and asked. Yeah, everyone – this Barbra Streisand lady checked out, so I thought I'd give her a shot.

Streisand: I didn't know who to call. I don't know any of those people from his movies, so what I was going to do? I thought he was adorable, so I thought, this is interesting, unlikely which makes it interesting, and yet, we're both Jewish. I could be his mother.

Rogen: But when we met, we got along. We got along very well.

Streisand: Instantly.

Rogen: The way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie, in some ways. We were getting along.  It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times. And her trying to feed me s**t I don't want to eat.

Streisand: But he would show me things – like, yesterday he asked me if I had a Twitter account. I said ‘I don't know.’

Rogen: And I showed her that she did.

Streisand: Which I only use for political purposes. So I didn't know it was beyond that. I wouldn't know how to find it on my phone.

Rogen: I'll show you. I change her clocks during daylight savings. I do all that.

Streisand: He's very handy.

On their own parent/child relationships:

Streisand: My son doesn't see me as an icon. He sees me as his mother who touches his hair too much. He was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery, so he was in bed for a few days after. And I brought the script over and read it out loud, and it was interesting, actually. His father [Elliott Gould] was in the room, too – Isn't that funny? We were both coddling our son. So he became the audience, and Jason was reading all the parts with me. And he said, ‘I think you should do it, mom.’ And I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He has great taste in whatever he chooses to do – it's amazing. So he clinched the deal.

Rogen: I think my mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship – I see my parents a lot, but, yeah, it's a lot like in the movie. For no reason I get annoyed. I'll just find myself kind of reverting back to like a mentality of like a 14-year-old kid who just doesn't want to be around his parents. It's one of the things I related to most in the script, honestly. It was just that dynamic where your mother's trying, and the more she tries, the more she bugs you. And the more it bugs you, the more she tries. And you like see her trying to say the thing that won't annoy you, and she can't. Yeah, all that is very, at times, real to my relationship with my mother.

Streisand: Mothers develop guilt trips. When I was working a lot and I felt guilty as a parent that I couldn't pick up my son every day from school, bake him cookies, that kind of thing. So I know that feeling. I know that feeling a lot. And so you try to compensate and everything they do is great. They sense that guilt, children, and they're going through their own rebellious times or whatever. Having a famous parent is an odd thing, you know? So I thought it was interesting to investigate this trying to be my son's friend, versus being a mother. And when it comes to time to really say ‘You abused me. You disrespect me. You talk back to me. You don't honor what I say. You won't take my advice.’ That kind of thing, in terms of this movie, it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore.

On how Streisand was convinced to take on the role:

Streisand: It was time to challenge myself again, you know? Of course, I made it very difficult for them to hire me because I kept wanting an out some way. So I made it really hard. I really don't want to go – I never do this normally, right – I really don't want to schlep to Paramount. It's two hours each way. So would you rent a warehouse and build the sets in the Valley no more than 45 minutes from my house? And they said yes. And on these Focker movies, I had to get up early, and I'm not an early bird – and Seth says, ‘It's very hard to be funny at 7:30 in the morning.’ He's right. He has to have a few cups of tea. You have to feed him a little bit…

Rogen: Get my head right.

Streisand: So I said, you can't pick me up until 8:30 because that's like a normal time to get up for me, because I love the night. My husband and I stay up until 2, 3 in the morning, so we don't function that well at 6 in the morning. And they said ‘Okay.’ I said to Anne [Fletcher, the director] ‘Well, would you make the movie without me?’ And she said no. And I felt bad, guilty – another guilt trip, right? I said ‘Oh, no – she's not going to have this job, and I want her to work.’

Rogen: I was open to Shirley MacLaine.

Streisand: Is that what you said to them?

Rogen: [Laughs] No – that's not true. I only would have done it if Barbra was doing it. For me, it was funny: ‘They want you to do this movie with Barbra,and Barbra's not sure if she wants to do it.’ And I was like, ‘Well, just let me know if she says yes.’ And then I literally made like two movies during that time. And we were editing ‘50/50,’ and I got a call, like ‘Barbra said yes.’ ‘Oh, okay –
Great!’

Streisand: It's great to feel wanted.

 



Photo Credit: Sam Emerson]]>
<![CDATA["The Voice" Soars]]> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 11:05:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/edt-the-voice-coaches-ah.jpg

 The first sign that "The Voice" was poised for its strongest season yet came early on, during the blind auditions.

Unlike the usual "American Idol" initial mix of the brilliant, the bad and the borderline psychotic, the four "Voice" coaches faced – or chose not to face – singers all seemingly worth a turn of the chair.

Three months later, “The Voice” is headed for a dramatic Season 3 finale, powered by some outstanding performers with a talent quotient reminiscent of the glory days of “Idol” – but with sounds all their own.

"The Voice" isn't ending without an "Idol"-style controversy. We're among those furious that Trevin Hunte, whose stunning performance of "And I am Telling You I am Not Going" proved the season highlight, got booted Dec. 11.

Still, his unfortunate departure highlights a depth of talent that can be seen ­– and heard – in the three remaining contenders: Nicholas David, who looks and sings like a latter-day Doobie Brother; Scottish rocker Terry McDermott, who looks like a Bay City Roller and sings like Rod Stewart; and Cassadee Pope, who looks like she might very well take the top prize and exit singing a happy tune.
McDermott and Pope are on Blake Shelton’s team, while David is a protégé of Cee Lo Green, leaving fellow coaches Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera out of the grand finale mix. But that’s just a subplot: While the coaches and their rivalries are a key part of the show, the primary emphasis of “The Voice” is where it belongs – on the contestants.
 
That’s probably the biggest difference between the NBC show and Fox’s “Idol,” which has suffered in recent years from panelist shufflings that too often overshadow the music. “The X Factor,” which is set for its own season finale on Fox this week, benefited from the additions of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato this season. But the bickering – particularly former “Idol” bad guy Simon Cowell vs. Lovato, and Cowell vs. L.A. Reid – detracts from strong performers like 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar, perhaps the best bet to earn the top prize, a $5 million recording contract.
 
Sure, the banter among the coaches on “The Voice” can get heated. But Shelton, Levine, Green and Aguilera frequently encourage and praise rival acts – a stark contrast from, say, Reid’s bitter criticism of Cowell’s favorite group of the moment, Fifth Harmony.
 
The novelty of “The Voice,” of course, could fade, and the show could be risking overexposure by producing 30 one or two-hour installments over 14 weeks. Next season, Usher and Shakira are set to spell Green and Aguilera for a cycle, potentially altering the so-far winning chemistry.
 
Season 4 is expected to arrive in the spring, when “Idol,” still the big daddy of the genre, is a couple of months into its 12th outing. The new judges lineup boasts Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, whose battling already is making publicity friendly headlines, as well as Keith Urban and holdover Randy Jackson.

In the end, success – at least for the contestants – should come down to whose voice soars highest. The two-night “Voice” finale on Monday and Tuesday seems worth a spin of the chair to face the music. In the meantime, check out a promo below:

 

 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.



Photo Credit: Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Naomi Watts' "Impossible" Role]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:56:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/naomi-watts.jpg

In “The Impossible,” Naomi Watts takes on a role based on the real-life experiences of Maria Belon, the Spanish woman whose family was caught during a Christmas getaway at the center of the powerful tsumani that ravaged Thailand in 2004.

The details of what the Belons went through during the devastation that ensued is equal parts startling and disturbing.

Watts, who just earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for her portrayal and is already on many critics’ shortlists as a serious best actress contender come Academy Awards time, reflects on how she brought the terrifying true tale of survival to life.

This film hits audiences on a very basic human level. As a parent, it must have been heart-rending to enact such an experience.

When my agent called and said there's this script about the tsunami, at first I was thinking ‘No, that's not sounding like a good idea. Is it just going to be a disaster movie, lots of screaming and flailing about in the water? Is it going to become spectacular? It doesn't feel right. In fact, it feels wrong given how many lives were taken.’

But then I heard that it was Juan Antonio Bayona, a director who's a proper filmmaker. So that peaked my interest, and then I read the script – and right from the first four or five pages I knew I was going to do it. It just felt incredibly truthful, and of course, I soon learned later that it was told from Maria's perspective and her family's.

There were plenty of extreme physical challenges for you in the role.

I knew it was going to be a tough one, physically – [working with] water always is, and it lived up to its reputation – but this story inside of the important, powerful disaster that took the lives of so many and affected the lives of so many was a really beautiful piece of intimate storytelling about family. So you forget. ‘Oh, this is going to be a hard day's work for six months’ – you push all that aside. I mean, When I finished ‘King Kong’ and it being so physically taxing on my body, I remember swearing off anything active or action-driven, but I guess you forget. It's sort of like childbirth, isn't it? You just go through it again.

Was there anything borderline scary that happened with the physical aspects of shooting the tsunami?

Yeah, the underwater scene: when you throw away the oxygen, you're on your own and you release yourself from the chair. Obviously, you want them to get the best shot, so you push yourself to the edge, and I always want to give the most I can give. I got to my limit and I started trying to undo the buckle, and I couldn't get out of the chair. In fact, the chair started spinning in the other direction, and I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, is the director trying to get extra fearful emotion out of me?’ And then the chair finally stopped, and I came to the surface [gasping]. Full of panic.

I got the teeny-weeniest little glimpse of what it's like to be holding your breath beyond what you're capable of or want to. Obviously, Maria went way beyond that stage and actually gave up. She wasn't fearful anymore or panicky. She just, went, ‘Okay – I'm being taken.’ But it filled me with panic and kind of rage. And anyway, it turned out it was just a technical problem.

How was your experience with the real-life Maria?

I was really, really dying to meet her, and I was quite nervous when it finally came about. I walked into the room and we just sort of shook hands. I'd been given a half-hour time slot, and I didn't know where to begin. ‘I'm just an actor, and I'm going to ask you a silly question, I'm sure of it, and look what you lived through and went through.’ So I just sat there and thought ‘I'll wait until she talks.’

And then she started to well up, and as did I. It was like her whole story was told just in one look. Anyway, then we held each other – and I know it sounds really corny – but that's who she is. It's like she's living on a different level. If I met her today without knowing that she'd gone through the tsunami, I'd probably be intimidated by her because she has a different view on life. I'm just full of cynicism and slightly jaded. She just thinks life is extraordinary and just living every moment and without fear.

Was this one of the hardest films you’ve shot, because you had to focus on both the emotional and the physical elements at once?

That was sort of the second part of the film: the first part is all physical, and then it's lying down. I was worried about this because it's one position, and she's losing blood. She's losing energy, closer and closer to death, and how do you do a bunch of scenes where you're forced into one position? How do you make them different beats? But again, talking to Maria, she was never going to allow herself to face death until it was done. She wasn't dying until she was dead, basically. So she was still continuing to fight, and whether that came out, manifested in humor or telling her son to focus on other people. That was really important to her.

The relationship between Maria and her son was so delicate, and must have been quite a challenge to pull off.

Going back to why I wanted to do this movie was because of that relationship as well. It was such an intimate – and maybe because I'm the mother of boys, it really spoke to me. She had to go through something that no parent wants for their child, which is put herself in the responsibility, in the hands of her son. So he grew up in two days basically – yeah, an incredibly, incredibly difficult position to be in. I spoke with him. Maria was more articulate. He was very young. Maria was more open about it. Maria wrote long, long letters. A couple of times she was there, once in Spain, when we were in the water tank, and then the whole family came to Thailand. When she wasn't there, she would write endless emails about each scene. Every time we changed location she would talk in great detail about everything, so it was just incredibly helpful.

In some movies the makeup is all about enhancing your glamour, but that’s not the case here.

It's actually easier. I'm telling a story. It has to be truthful. There is no vanity. I think it's much harder with the pressure of having to look good. I remember one time someone came up while we were shooting a scene in the hospital, and I had the mask, and it was creating a double chin, and someone said ‘We should move that.’ And I was like, ‘Don't touch it!’ because I suddenly became reminded of my vanity. It aggravated me. And so what if there's a double chin? Do you think she's thinking about that at that point, or anyone else is?

Tom Holland,  is just an amazing young actor. He steps up and goes toe to toe with you in every scene.

He blows me off the screen!

What kind of rehearsal time did you have with Tom to establish that relationship of mother and son?

We worked together for about a month – and hats off to Juan Antonio, because he really set a great tone for us by creating this space and room for us to get to know each other intimately very quickly. We basically did all these weird acting exercises. Some of them were goofy and had us in fits of laughter. Some of them were very emotional and had us wiping the tears and snot from each other's faces. We would improvise scenes. We would do the real scenes as per dialogue. It took three, four weeks. The first scene, I remember vividly: he had us sit in front of each other and draw each other. And I was like, ‘What is this?’ And then it was just like, it didn't matter what it was. It was just to sit and look at each other and be okay with that and be comfortable with one another.



 

The Golden Globes, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be broadcast live on NBC Jan. 13.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Homeland" Heads For A "Heartbreaking" Finale]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 16:55:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/morena-baccarin.jpg

Morena Baccarin has a promise for the second season finale of “Homeland”: “It’s a very big finish – would you expect anything less from us?”

Baccarin, who plays Jessica Brody, the long-suffering wife of returned Marine P.O.W., Congressman and still-conflicted potential terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), says the finale episode of the acclaimed Showtime series will be the ideal culmination of a second standout season.

“It’s really surprising, really, really big and very heartbreaking,” says the actress, who kept any further teases to herself but reflected on the season’s overall arc. “It was an incredibly fast-paced season in the beginning. Towards the middle, it found a little breathing room, and then at the end it gets cranked up again and it just left me dying to know what's going to happen in season three. I keep bugging the writers to tell me. I just want something.”

Although Jessica’s storyline might have seemed at bit backburnered at the outset of Season Two compared to the debut season, her plotline heated up considerably in the last two episodes [SPOILERS ahead if you’re behind on viewing]: in the midst of an increasingly strained relationship with her still loyalty-challenged husband, she resumed her physical relationship with Brody’s best friend Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff), her lover during Brody’s missing years in captivity, and as a result finally agreed with Brody that perhaps a definitive split would be for the best.

Baccarin says the producers gave her enough of an early heads up about Jessica’s eventual arc so she wouldn’t think she was being shuffled to the side. “They're very communicative about what they have coming up,” she says. “I think that they want us all to be happy, of course, but they have a lot of stories that they need to tell, so we always get little bits of information and know what's coming up a little bit throughout the season.”

The season finale of "Homeland" will air Sunday Dec. 16 at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.
 

 



Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Sparkle in Golden Globes Promo]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:56:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/212*120/tina+fey+amy+poehler+golden+globes+hosts.jpg

On the heels of Thursday morning's announcement of the nominees for the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards, the hosts of the ceremony gave viewers a little taste of what to expect when they take the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 13.

The 40-second spot shows Tina Fey and Amy Poehler dressed to the nines in sparkling gowns and feigning faux Hollywood glamour accents. It's a performance that "will never get old!" exclaims Poehler. To the relief of both, it does.

Lucky for viewers, both were nominated in the best actress TV comedy category (Fey for "30 Rock" and Poehler for "Parks and Recreation"), which should offer up endless comedic fodder on the night. Especially after the winner is announced.

The Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be broadcast live on NBC Jan. 13.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>