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Down the Road Show » The Academy Awards We Love Entertainment Mon, 10 Nov 2014 23:02:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interstellar rockets Nolan and McConaughey to the award season by Josh Calvert Wed, 05 Nov 2014 21:25:13 +0000 interstellarInterstellar is Chris Nolan’s biggest film. It is also his smallest film. The topic is a wide ranging, big, high concept idea.  However the story is a small interpersonal one between a father that’s trying desperately not to let go and his daughter that doesn’t want him to.

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a pilot that’s been entrusted to go to outer space and search for the next habitable planet.  His sidekick on this journey is Amelia, played by Anne Hathaway.  She is the daughter of the scientist heading the project to find these cosmic hotbeds for our species to thrive.
The science of Interstellar may or may not be correct. I can’t be sure, what I am sure of is the “big” scenes are not the reason to go to this film. The reason for going to see this is the story of a father and a daughter who you want to be inseparable but can’t be.
If this is to be Nolan’s first Academy Award it will not be because of the spectacle that is Interstellar. It will be because of the way he deftly handles the interplay between father and daughter. Matthew McConaughey will be in the running for a Golden Globe if not an Oscar and Anne Hathaway should be mentioned in the nominees for best Supporting Actress.  The odds no one picks up the best picture Oscar are as good if not better than the odds he picks one up for Best Direction.
This movie is well worth seeing and if only one thing is to be said about it, it’s that it held me captive for the entire three hour duration.
Review by Josh Calvert
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Why Wolverine won’t win an Oscar! Hugh Jackman won’t get Jack! Sun, 24 Feb 2013 21:22:20 +0000 Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean iMDbSo who knew that Wolverine could sing? Well guess what? He can and rather well too. Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, shows off his acting skills in Les Miserables with an impressive performance, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role 2013, that he lost a lot of weight for his part; and the vocal coaching paid off too.

I’ll be honest here. I wasn’t going into this movie not expecting a lot from the cast, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the time Les Miserables came to a close…..I was fully invested in each character. Jackman’s performance took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and at the end (SPOILER) when he dies….I shed a tear for him. I honestly would love to see him win an Oscar tonight and see Les Miserables take one home from every category……

But that won’t be enough to win him an Oscar. He may have won a Golden Globe (video above) which is one thing, but it’s not an Oscar.

Only 9 musicals have won for Best Picture:

The Broadway Melody (1929)
Going My Way (1944)
An American in Paris (1951)
Gigi (1958)
West Side Story (1961)
My Fair Lady (1964)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Oliver! (1968)
Chicago (2002)

And with many different searches I could not find 1 Lead Actor from a Musical to win an Oscar. So that’s what Hugh is up against. The history of The Academy. They have kind of turned their backs to the musical productions in the past. Les Miserables is a piece of history told on a grand scale with a story of love and triumph that is celebrated through every musical piece. I felt like the acting through out the entire project was superb. Anne Hathaway blew me away with her performance and wowed me with her singing; but Hugh Jackman really carried this movie on his shoulders from the opening scene to the rolling credits. I think he does deserve all the accolades that has come his way and think he should get his Oscar too……

But he won’t! Because he is Wolverine!

Conspiracy Hollywood theory: He is under the Marvel thumb right now and they need him to pull their franchise back out of the gutter. If the X-Men are going to re-establish themselves to compete with The Avengers; then they will need Hugh Jackman to do it and legitimize it. They can not afford for him to win this Oscar tonight.

So they will give it to Abraham Lincoln, because Hollywood has a stiffy for Daniel Day-Lewis.


K.C. Murdock

Executive Producer

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OSCAR Handicapping by an Industry Insider Sun, 28 Oct 2012 00:57:45 +0000

The Oscars.

The phrase alone conjures up visions of the movie stars and the films that made those movie stars household names.  It is one night where the playing field is even.  Where big budget films earn their keep and the people behind the indie films we all adore make their name.  Its a night where anything can happen (Marissa Tomei, anyone?) and anything surely will (Seth McFarlane is hosting).  It is the one night, where there is no argument about where the center of the Hollywood industry lies.

As an aspiring screenwriter, Ive been fortunate enough to make friends with the people behind the big names in the industry, those that actually make Hollywood go.  It has been a remarkably sobering experience; continually throwing out what I thought I knew only to relearn things that I thought were taboo.  It is with this mix of technical knowledge of the Hollywood scene, my years of humbling screenwriting, and my adoration of the medium that I will handicap the major Oscar categories.  Lets begin, shall we?




Lincoln – Since ’02 Spielberg’s name has been synonymous with “sub par”.  He hasnt lived up to his potential since (arguably) Catch Me If You Can.  Functioning as a producer, his knack for picking scripts has come into greater question. Under his banner Dreamworks and Amblin Entertainment Spielberg has given us a slew of almost laughable titles, specifically on the small screen.   Steven makes a dramatic statement with Lincoln.  That statement is “Im still Spielberg and all that criticism stops HERE.”

Tony Kushner (writer; Munich) started this project after wrapping Munich.  After more than 500 written pages he and Spielberg narrowed the scope of the script to the pivotal period of Lincolns presidency, the months leading up to the Civil War.  Sally Field flawless, Tommy Lee Jones is exceptional, but the real surprise here is Daniel Day Lewis.  I have seen every film DDL has done, and I can say that this, this…is his best film yet.  He is as the whole film is, flawless.  This is your winner.

Argo – Out of nowhere comes Argo.  A story, recently declassified, about a man going into hostile territory to pull out innocent bystanders. It proves that this is a two horse race.  Phenomenally acted by almost everyone (Affleck is unfortunately one note), and amazingly directed, this film will stay in the hearts and minds of the voters due in very large part to Affleck’s work behind the camera where he proves that his past success (Gone Baby, Gone, and The Town) were anything but flukes and he should be considered his generations’ Clint Eastwood.  That’s right…I said it.

The Sessions – The ubiquitous Indie consideration.  As well crafted as this movie is, it will not take home a little golden man.  Not for lack of effort.  In previous years it would have had a pretty good shot.  This year, with the movies it’s up against, it’s lucky to make the field.

Life of Pi –  As a filmmaker youre hard pressed to come up with someone better than Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger…, Brokeback Mountain) but this film proves that direction alone wont get you to the promised land.  The acting is average and thats what will be the downfall of this amazing story.

The Master – There are two sure things about modern day Hollywood. 1) It doesnt matter how many times Christopher Nolan gets nominated, he wont win and 2) MPAAS has a love affair with Paul Thomas (P.T. Anderson).  Can’t say that I blame them for the latter. Anderson has been transcendent since he penned Boogie Nights.  The love affair continues with his nomination and dark horse position here as well.  The movie is a fantastic character study (not) about Scientology.  Deftly written and tremendously acted by all involved, the direction is somewhat lacking, not by much, but by just enough…

Cloud Atlas – As beautiful as it is, and believe me, it is…it will not win.  It is everything The Academy loves about movies, Grandiose, timeless, beautiful to look at, and has a love story to boot.  That said, this film doesnt quite execute David Mitchell’s intentions with the characters in the novel.  Tom Tykwer is brilliant as always.



Ben Affleck (Argo) – Often times its the little things that take movies from “good” to “great”.  That is what Affleck does so well in this movie.  making funny moments in a film like this can be difficult, but Affleck manages to pull it off exceptionally well.

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) – Often times its the concept in general that makes a movie great.  This is one such film.  Take away the name behind the film and you still have a masterpiece.  From frame one, this film is visually stunning and the way Spielberg worked with Day Lewis is well Spielbergian; that is to say, we have our Steven back.

Ang Lee (Life of Pi) – If this award was given for pure visual accuity, Ang Lee would win every single time.  His movies are always so perfect to look at.  His style is one of no style at all.  He lets the frame tell the story and brings out the best in each shot.  With that said, the acting isnt good enough to get him over this time.

Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) – You want style?  You go to Wes Anderson.  It’s not hard to pick out the films he directs.  (While I dont care for him much because he always uses the same muted tones and principle characters) it works to great effect here in a touching story that fits his odd characteristic style.

Robert Zemeckis (Flight) – When your name is on the side of one of the oldest builidings at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, you get automatic credence with whatever project you pursue.  Credence is out of respect, adoration is out of love.  The way Zemeckis manuevers through this drama is simply breathtaking.  Handling all the storylines with care, the way youd expect a seasoned veteran to, and yet taking enough time with the actors illicit a powerhouse performance from each.  It wont win, but its very close.



Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln) – This year, no one is even close.  DDL, who should always be considered for this award every time out, has out done himself here.  Give him the award and we can all go home.



Sally Field (Lincoln)- Depending on which category the studio chooses to put her in; Lead or Supporting (which is more suited), she should be the heavy favorite.

Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) – There are very few moments in my life when I can remember reading a script and thinking “whomever gets this role will be up for an academy award.”  The role is simply that good.  Mirren gives a contrite nuanced performance here and The Academy will take notice.

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) – Normally, Im privy to a script before I make my thoughts known about a movie.  Admittedly, Ive not seen nor read this film.  With that said, Jennifer Lawrence is playing her career just right.  A fine mix of indie darlings (the Lovely Bones), critically acclaimed blockbusters (X-Men: First class) and all out juggernauts (no pun intended) (The Hunger Games).  Sources tell me she shines.  Cant wait to see how right those sources are.

Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) – Wait, Marion Cotillard acted in a movie released this year?  She did, huh?…  Duh.  Of course she gets a nomination.  Not her first wont be her last.

Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of The Southern Wild) – This is not a young girl.  This is an old soul in a girls body.  This toure de force performance may be her making and her undoing as she will gain work because of it but may not ever live up to that bar she has set so high.  See this movie for her performance, because The Academy will give her a statue.



Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) –  His best acting job since The Fugitive.  He deserves a nod, but it will have to be an honor just to be nominated…

Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe) – He does his best to drive this movie that no one saw but everyone should have.  Its his most pinpoint performance to date

Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike) – Say what you will.  He out acted everyone in a movie that was not very good.  Given this performance, he woulda out acted anyone in the race, P.S.H. included.  Unfortunately it will not be recognized as such because the movie was Soderbergh’s worst.

Leonardo DiCaprio – (Django Unchained) – To win you need to help the words come alive in a way no one else can and no one has done it better for the past two decades than DiCaprio.  Unfortunately, as Quentin is notoriously shy about giving scripts out, I only have hearsay to go on.  Thats good enough for me to give him a preemptive nod.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) – You know what I said about making the words come alive to win.  The Master will hurt him in this regard because the script is so good that anyone could have played this role.  So good that we forget how absolutely breathtaking P.S.H. every time out.  You get his best here and because of the fantastic writing, it goes unrecognized.

Robert DeNiro (Silver lingings Playbook) – Simply put…WOW.  Rare are these performances out of actors (not so much with DeNiro, but nevertheless) this is your winner.  Period.



Sally Field (Lincoln) – She runs away with this thing.

Helen Hunt (The Sessions) – A beautiful performance in a great movie.  The only problem here is that no one saw the film.

Amy Adams (The Master) – She is stunning in a role that personally I didnt think she could pull off (I will gladly eat my crow).  This performance makes me a believer.

Scarlett Johansson (Hitchcock) – There is great pressure in playing an icon of cinema in a film about a film icon.  Scarlett pulls from somewhere outerworldly in this turn as Janet Leigh.  You wont see her better than this.  Its a shame Sally is in the field.

Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) –  She, simply put, does everything well.

As a writer, there is one more award that may not be considered “Major” to you but it is to me, so Im also giving you my take on…



Seven Psychopaths – One of the most off-beat, funny and ludicrous scripts I can remember reading.  The plot is simple but its the actors that bring to life such wonderful characters that make this a joy to watch

Moonrise Kingdom – This is a filmmakers movie.  Stylistically on point, functionally perfect, and a very good story.  It has the makings of a winner

Looper – In film school youre taught never make a movie about time travel for two reasons: 1) you’ll never make one as good as Back To The Future and 2) you have a built in “out”.  Your hero/heroine can always travel further back in time to have them fix the problem.  It’s jut a very big no-no.  Rian Johnson gets around the ready made savior and creates an incredibly inventive concept.

The Master – This wont win, but it should.  Paul Thomas Anderson at his absolute best.

Promised Land – Matt Damon is back at it.  With this timely piece on the experiences of a natural gas salesman.  Absolutely brilliant and my pick to win.

Opinions by @DTRShowInsider


These are the opinions of an Entertainment Professional that wishes to remain anonymous.

Feel free to leave us your comments and follow our special Twitter for Industry Insider for future secret bloggers from the world of Hollywood.

Thank you to our secret guest blogger for their opinion on the 85th OSCARS.

K.C. Murdock

Executive Producer



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Cloud Atlas has the Past and Present but what does the Future hold? Sat, 27 Oct 2012 08:35:02 +0000 Oscars! and more Oscars is my prediction for Cloud Atlas’s future.

This tale is older than humanity it’s self. The tale of time vs love. Or is it Love vs Time?

Poster from iMDb

If you are looking for a nice happy ending then this may not be the movie or love story you want to go see. Love is tragic and unpredictable. Or maybe it is what you want to see. Nothing is every clear or easy in life and the most important things are always worth the wait…….more importantly worth the fight. Yes….Hollywood delivers a happy ending in many different ways…..kind of.

In a recent interview I watched with Tom Hanks, on the Cloud Atlas Facebook, he talked about the roles of a lifetime and being able to do them in one movie. It’s every actors dream to play multiple parts to one story like this, but he also talks about what hard work it is. Well it was worth the hard work on this end. All the actors did a superb job changing their roles through out the different time periods that the movie is placed in. The difference between time periods are palpable and has a lot to do with the three directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski…..and labeling them as directors is cutting them short. (Click on them for iMDb)

Cloud Atlas is based on a novel by David Mitchell and I have not read it, but after seeing the movie I imagine it is an interesting read.

The chemistry between Halle Berry and Tom Hanks is tear jerking. Jim Broadbent delivers one stellar performance after another. Hugo Weaving shows the depth of the ocean. The score was a cast of it’s own by Johnny Klimek and Hugh Bateuptoll. Which makes the musician in me happy. Plus the connection between music and the threads of time, but I digress.

As far as OSCARS go from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are concerned…..get ready for a record breaking year. I know that my good buddy Lem just made a case, that I happen to agree with, for The Avengers as a candidate for Best Picture. Well let’s just say that all roads lead to “Cloud Atlas”. From the cinematography to the score. From the production to the effects. From the writing to the directing. You pick…..cause I can’t. From what I just saw today they could break the record for nominations from one movie. Which will make the The Academy Awards very interesting.

Forget the amount of $ that this movie might make. This movie has it all. It has one hell of an amazing cast and if I hadn’t sat & watched the end credits…… I would have missed a number of the connections. In fact I didn’t even recognize a few of them in their other roles. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

This not just entertainment, but a look into the depths of the human condition and the souls that we are inevitably bound to through out time. This movie doesn’t need Leeloo and Korben Dallas to prove that LOVE can save the Universe.


K.C. Murdock

Executive Producer

Oh yeah and Tom Hanks is getting an Oscar for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor and maybe even Best Supporting Supporting a Supporting Actor……..They may have to create a few new category this year for the man.


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The Oscars: Best Picture 2012? “The Avengers”…Yeah, I Said It. Fri, 26 Oct 2012 07:23:48 +0000

“The Avengers” features larger-than-life characters doing incredible things and actors playing comic book roles with a knowing wink and respectful gravitas. Joss Whedon bringing the four-color world of comics to the screen as living breathing people (or gods and monsters) is no less an achievement than “Gladiator” was in 2000 when Ridley Scott won his little gold statue. In 1997,”Titanic” was a ridiculous mess that defied logic and science (the Mythbusters proved there was room for Jack on the floating debris and he and Rose could have survived. Cameron dismissed the findings with “the script said Jack dies, so he has to die.”) but the Academy gave it a truckload of Oscars anyway because they’re Celine Dion fans or Cameron knows where the bodies are buried.

Titanic aside, typically, a massive commercial hit like “The Avengers” rarely even gets a sniff of Oscar’s little gold toes. But with it’s overwhelmingly excellent reviews, “The Avengers” can’t be simply be dismissed as summer movie fodder unworthy of Academy consideration. That’s still Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark and he’s even more RDJ now than he was when he got his “Chaplin” nomination in 1992. Great acting is great acting and the true testament is whether you can see someone else playing the role. Iron Man will be someone else’s role someday but for now, can you imagine anyone other than RDJ playing Tony Stark? Me neither.

From Chris Evans earnest Captain America to the smoldering Hulk beneath Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, the actors play it straight and bring the characters to life instead of just putting on a costume or mo-cap suit and running around playing dress-up. Samuel L. Jackson was the model for Marvel’s latest take on Nick Fury and went out of his way to secure the role when rumors of making “The Avengers” started getting around town. Jackson was a huge improvement over Marvel’s first attempt at putting Fury on screen. That’s a lot of acting muscle and star power for a summer popcorn movie. Tom Hiddleston is a revelation as Loki and I believe we will see much more of Mr. Hiddleston in a wide variety of projects. The man has skills.

Of course, “The Avengers” has zero, zip, nein, nada chance at even getting a nomination much less winning a Best Picture award. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve serious consideration. Dismissing “The Avengers” as merely a childish endeavor meant for the lowest common societal denominator is doing a great disservice to Joss Whedon and his mega-talented cast and crew for a simply wonderful cinematic experience. And pretty insulting to the millions of ticket and DVD buyers of all things Avengers. I still and will always think, “Titanic” sucked. If “Titanic” deserved an Oscar, then “The Avengers” should at least be in the conversation for Best Picture.

Lem Utu

Associate Producer

follow me on Twitter @Lemzilla


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“Ted” hosts 85th Oscars – Seth MacFarlane Sun, 14 Oct 2012 00:16:16 +0000


Seth MacFarlane will host the 85th Academy Awards®, telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. This will be MacFarlane’s first appearance on Oscar’s stage. The 85th Academy Awards will be broadcast live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, on the ABC Television Network.

“It’s truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars,” said MacFarlane. “My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don’t find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast.”

Since Bob Hope took over as the Oscars Host in 1939 the Academy has filled that yearly honor with comedians more than any other type of actor. That list has some legendary comedians on it: Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Carol Burnett, Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and now Seth MacFarlane……..hint of sarcasm implied.

The Golden Globes used Ricky Gervais for a third year in a row and it did not live up to all the hype. The people wanted the mean and nasty Ricky that we have grown to love. The one that doesn’t care about Hollywood and pulls no punches with the high powered celebrities……We did not get that this time and it was disappointing. The Hollywood Reporter agrees with me.

The Emmy’s used Jimmy Fallon for a first time as their host this year. Jimmy has that lovable goofy kid in your classroom likeableness about him. He received many good review, E Online, for his hosting of this years Emmy’s, but some of the jokes still fell flat. I hope he gets a second shot at that next year.

Seth MacFarlane reminds me of something in between Ricky Gervais and Jimmy Fallon. He can be crass and down right nasty, but still has that like ability factor. This could be a very good fit for the Academy or could really tank. Seth has shown he knows funny and knows the business. TED made a huge splash in the theaters and was Number 1 for a few weeks. I have friends that quote it regularly. We wish him luck in this daunting task. We will be watching.


K.C. Murdock
Executive Producer

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Michael Clarke Duncan 1957 – 2012 Tue, 04 Sep 2012 17:22:00 +0000  

Michael Clarke Duncan burst on to the movie scene with his Academy Award nominated performance as John Coffey in “The Green Mile“. Steven King could not have created a better personification of John Coffey than Michael Clarke Duncan. He was the perfect blend of innocence and massive humanity the story called for. Michael Clarke Duncan died yesterday, from complications of a heart attack he suffered July 13 of this year. Someone has huge shoes to fill as Hollywood’s next go-to Big Guy with a Heart of Gold. In addition to his enormous (6′ 5″ 300lbs) frame, MCD had a distinctive James Earl Jones tinged voice that was also in high demand for animated work. Credits from “Kung-Fu Panda“, “Spiderman” and “King of the Hill” testify to this.

Bringing the Kingpin to life in an otherwise sad “Daredevil” movie and angry General Attar in 2001’s “Planet of the Apes” were rare examples of MCD playing outright villains. Mostly he was utilized as the Gentle Giant and Comedy Relief. One of my favorite MCD turns came in “The Whole Nine Yards“. Frankie Figs was a pleasant revelation as MCD ranged from contract killer to over-sensitive human being easily to wonderful comic effect. As a large man myself (6′ 6″ 330) I can tell you a sense of humor is vital in order to keep from killing smaller human being sometimes. You have to have a thick skin when a lot of people assume you’re stupid because you happen to be twice their size.

MCD was clearly an intelligent and sensitive person. He conducted interviews, whether staged or being jumped by TMZ at the airport, as a man incredibly comfortable in his humongous skin. You’d get an eyeroll for asking obvious questions about his size but it would be patiently answered, as a parent would a child and he’d move them past it and back to the project he was promoting. I absolutely related to MCD in these instances. You get a lot of silly questions if you’re a Big Guy that really leave you shaking your head at humanity some times. I feel a little bad that I reviewed his last TV project so poorly. But I never said anything bad about him, mostly because there was nothing bad to say about him.

Testimonials from co-stars and friends all point to a decent and generous person who will be greatly missed by all. I know as a fan, there is no one in the Hollywood bullpen ready to take the mound and be the next Michael Clarke Duncan. Kevin Nash is probably the most logical choice and he is another underrated talent wrapped up in a very large person. But with his booming voice, imposing muscularity and sensitive demeanor, Michael Clarke Duncan stamped a mark on Hollywood and the entertainment industry that will be difficult if not impossible to match. Rest in Peace, Big Guy. You will be missed.

Lem Utu

Associate Producer

follow Lem Utu on Twitter @Lemzilla





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Marvin Hamlisch 1944 -2012 Wed, 08 Aug 2012 01:14:16 +0000

Marvin Hamlisch 1944 – 2012


Marvin Hamlisch, multi-award winning composer (one of 12 people with an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Grand Slam) passed away August 6, 2012 after a brief illness. He had most recently conducted the Pasadena Pops at the Los Angeles Arboretum, July 21 with Michael Feinstein. There was no indication that Hamlisch was ill at the time. The lights will dim on Broadway tonight in honor of the man who brought “A Chorus Line” to life with songs like “What I Did for Love“, “Hope I Get It” and the showstopping “One“. He also shared the Pulitzer Prize “A Chorus Line” won in 1976 for Drama, joining the legendary Richard Rogers as the only people to hit for the Grand Slam and a Pulitzer. Rare air, indeed.

Hamlisch was admitted to the Juillard School of Music at age 7 and got his first professional gig as a rehearsal pianist for the 1964 Broadway production of “Funny Girl” starring Barbra Streisand. This began a long relationship with la Streisand that would include her signature hit, “The Way We Were” in 1973. Hamlisch has always said he had to beg her to sing a song she thought “too simple”. His career in movies was no less triumphant than his time on Broadway.

“The Way We Were”, “The Sting”, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Ordinary People” dot his resume among others. But Hamlisch spent a great deal of his time in the last years of his life, campaigning relentlessly for School Music programs.

From the New York Times:

“I don’t think the American government gets it,” he said during an interview at the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif. “I don’t think they understand it’s as important as math and science. It rounds you out as a person. I think it gives you a love of certain things. You don’t have to become the next great composer. It’s just nice to have heard certain things or to have seen certain things. It’s part of being a human being.”

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch was one of the greatest composers the American theater has ever seen. His impact on TV and movies is undeniable as was his obvious talents as a pianist. A New Yorker to the bone, he once said of NY, “It’s the only place left where you’re allowed to wear a tie.” A loss of talent this huge will leave a void we can only fill by playing his music and remembering his undying love and wish to share that music with the world. Rest in peace, Marvin.

Lem Utu

Associate Producer

follow Lem Utu on Twitter @Lemzilla


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“Brave” from Pixar in Disney Real 3D Thu, 02 Aug 2012 17:37:24 +0000

A princess in a Disney movie is pretty standard fare. Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt.  But Pixar (The House That “Toys” Built), shakes up the formula and injects its latest offering, “Brave” with an energy and sass every Pastel Princess in the stable is going to need to step up to. The princess in this story is Merida, a flame-haired whirlwind of a tomboy and the first born of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. As a wee lass (I love hearing Billy Connolly speak anything out loud), Fergus gives the young Merida a bow for her birthday much to the Queen’s chagrin.

While practicing with the bow, Merida goes to retrieve an errant shot when she’s distracted by a Will o’ the Wisp. When she follows it deeper into the woods, she encounters Mor’du, a ferocious rogue bear and scrambles back toward safety. She’s rescued by her father but at the cost of one of his legs. Fast forward to her teen age years and Merida is a formidable horsewoman and archer and exactly what the Queen doesn’t want from her princess. They butt heads like mothers and daughters do. I’ve seen this behavior in the wild. It’s not always pretty.

Merida also has triplet little brothers that serve as gremlins and comedy relief. They never speak and are only referred to as “The Boys” and they perform their duties well. When she is informed that she is expected to marry whichever clansman’s son can win a contest of skill, Merida is distraught but sees an opening. As the firstborn of a clan leader, she technically has the right to compete for her own hand and wins it spectacularly. With the Queen now enraged, the two clash like titans until Merida explodes and lashes out at her mother by slashing the family tapestry with her sword. This prompts Elinor to throw her daughter’s bow into the fiery hearth and the rift is set. Furious, Merida storms out of the keep on her trusty Clydesdale, Angus.

She’s thrown from Angus when he refuses to cross into a “Stonehenge”-like formation of rocks and she encounters another Will o’ the Wisp. This time it leads her to the cabin of a bear-obsessed witch (“WOOD CARVER!” she protests too much) and deal for a potion that will change her mother. Now if that sounds a little vague and not well thought out, it is. But Merida is an angry teenage girl and angry teenage girls make irrational decisions like not getting details from witches about spells that will “change” their mother.

There’s a big spoiler here that informs the rest of the movie and I’m not going to say what it is. What I will say is that while there is action and comedy enough for your preteen boys, this film lands squarely in a feminine zone of understanding. My ex-wife has two kids, Steven and Shawna. We got together when they were 9 and 7 respectively. We were married for 10 years so I had a front row seat to the evolution of their mother/daughter dynamic from grade school through high school. Steven was easy. I was a boy once. His issues were familiar and with some adjustments made for the Information age, I was prepared for him. Seriously, ladies, we are not that complicated. I still don’t get women.

“Brave” hits every note I heard play out in the emotional tug-of-war between mother and daughter for 10 years running. The drama and the opera of wailing indignation against suffocating Totalitarian Step-Dad Rule and Mother’s choice of school clothes was easily transferable to scenes between Elinor and Merida. Shawna’s 21 now and I’ve advised the ex that it’s worth a matinee for some afternoon girl time.

If you have a young daughter, I highly recommend “Brave”. It’s a princess story on it’s head and Merida is a formidable and confidant model for any child but especially a little girl. Single Dad’s? This means you too. Absolutely a good one for you to see together. Disney’s Real 3D adds the same subtle effects seen in “UP” but with a richer, Earthy palette. The Highlands of Scotland are rendered beautifully by the minions (I just see them this way, not a comment on their working conditions) at Pixar and what they are able to make water do and look like on screen is freakishly good.

“Brave” is a solidly entertaining movie but not groundbreaking in the way we’ve come to expect from Pixar. And that’s really not fair to the movie but it’s an unfortunate reality of our time. I hope the fact that it wasn’t a gazillion dollar cash cow doesn’t scare Pixar off of stories like this in the future. Because if they can take this formula and improve on it, future Disney Princesses will be more than just pretty. They’ll be pretty bad ass. And that’s a good thing.


Lem Utu

Associate Producer

follow Lem Utu on Twitter @Lemzilla


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Disney and the Academy strike extension deal Wed, 04 Jul 2012 02:38:39 +0000


Disney Distribution has come to terms with The Academy of Motion Pictures and Science to extended their television international  distribution until the year 2020. The previous deal was set to expire in 2014, but both Disney and the Academy extended it an extra 6 years, leading to the Academy Awards being aired on ABC for a great while.

ABC has been the home of the Academy Awards off and on since 1970 when it took over the broadcast from NBC. ABC has aired the program non-stop since 1976. So you can say that ABC is the jelly to The Academy Awards peanut-butter.

In a press released given to the Down the Road Show, Tom Sherak, President of the Academy gave the following quote:

“Disney Media Distribution has been successful in securing distribution around the world for the Academy Awards and we’re thrilled to extend this partnership,” said Sherak. “The Oscars are an international event beloved by a global audience. It’s a testament to the magic of Hollywood.”

In 2011, the Academy signed a deal for ABC to be the home of the Academy Awards here in the states until 2012, now they are guaranteed international distribution until 2020. Which, if you think about it, is a good move. You might as well have the same company distributing your program world wide as the company airing your program domestically. It keeps it all in the same family.

President Anne Sweeney commented with the following:

 “We are excited to be able to extend our agreement to deliver the world’s biggest celebration of entertainment to audiences around the globe,” said Sweeney. “We look forward to building on the foundation of our relationship with the Academy, and working together to reach new audiences on new platforms in the years ahead.”

This is great news for Disney Distribution and for those all over the world seeking the Academy Awards. And if the Oscars create more moments like this, we will be just okay.

Make sure you tune into the 2013 Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Please be sure to Like me on and follow me on Twitter @TheRubenJay, and if you are cool like me, Instagram @TheRubenJay…Until next time.


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Academy Rescues Past Films Fri, 11 May 2012 03:50:59 +0000 Academy’s Film-To-Film

Rescues Cinematic Past

Films Include “The Lady Eve,”

“The Princess Bride,” “Airplane!”

Beverly Hills, CA (May 7, 2012) – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has undertaken a unique expansion in film preservation. As the rise of digital technology drastically reduces the availability of film stock, the project accelerates the work of the Academy Film Archive to acquire and create new archival film masters and prints from at-risk elements. Under the banner “Film-to-Film,” the $2 million initiative, approved by the Academy’s Board of Governors, focuses largely on Academy Award®-winning and nominated films from across motion picture history, including works made as recently as the 1990s.

“This is a moment of great transition for our industry, and we are responding to the urgency of that moment,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO. “By increasing our preservation efforts now, we are building a vital pipeline of films and film elements that we will not only safeguard, but also make available for audiences well into the future.”

Until recently, the mass production of film stock required for theatrical exhibition made this resource widely available and affordable for preservation work. However, as the industry continues its rapid transition to digital technology, film prints and the film stock required to create them are becoming increasingly scarce. The Academy’s Film-to-Film project is intended to take advantage of the remaining availability of celluloid stock to preserve a diverse slate of important works on film. At the same time, the initiative also ensures that high quality film elements will exist for easier, more cost-effective digitization in the future.

“Film-to-Film represents an extraordinary commitment to preserving our film heritage on film, but it’s also a part of our digital future,” noted Academy Film Archive director Mike Pogorzelski. “Once the industry has resolved the challenges still posed by digital preservation, including the lack of standard file formats and continuous technology migration, we will be able to scan these films without relying on brittle, fragile, or deteriorated elements.”

Between 1992 and the launch of the Film-to-Film project, the Academy Film Archive had preserved approximately 1,000 titles. Under Film-to-Film initiative, which began in 2011, the Archive has preserved or acquired about 300 more, including feature films, documentaries, experimental works, shorts and the home movies of Hollywood luminaries. A number of the initiative’s preservation projects are being conducted in partnership with other institutions, including the UCLA Film &Television Archive and the British Film Institute, as well as other archives in countries including Hungary, Norway, Sweden and Japan.

The initiative’s most significant feature film preservation efforts include “Sleuth” (1972), which earned four Academy Award nominations; “The Cardinal” (1963), which earned six nominations including Best Director and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Otto Preminger and John Huston, respectively; and “Cock of the Air” (1932), a comedy produced by Howard Hughes prior to the advent of the Production Code Administration.

Academy Award-nominated shorts under-going preservation includes Saul Bass’s landmark “Notes on the Popular Arts” (1977) and four short subject comedies from 1933 and 1935 currently on loan from the Library of Congress. Notable silent films include “The Mark of Zorro” (1920), featuring Douglas Fairbanks; “The Blazing Trail” (1921), which marked the screen debut of silent star Mary Philbin; and “A Famous Duel” (1911), a short directed by industry pioneer Edwin S. Porter.

Efforts are also underway to preserve a number of Academy Award-nominated documentary shorts including “The Odds Against” (1966) and “Naked Yoga” (1975), and the Oscar®-winning “Young at Heart” (1987), which chronicles two octogenarians’ romance.

The project is preserving a host of experimental and avant-garde works by such filmmakers as Stan Brakhage, Will Hindle, Nina Menkes, Penelope Spheeris and others; and reels of home movies from the collections of Steve McQueen, Esther Williams, William Wyler, Sam Fuller and James Wong Howe. Other reels being preserved document a range of subjects that includes Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1926, Japanese-American life in Southern California prior to World War II, and behind-the-scenes footage from “My Blue Heaven” (1950), “The Prisoner of Zenda” (1937) and “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968).

As part of the Film-to-Film project, the Academy has acquired a diverse slate of 35mm prints including “42nd Street” (1933), “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), “Barry Lyndon” (1975), “Grease” (1978), “The Princess Bride” (1987) and others.

Dedicated to the preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition and study of motion pictures, the Academy Film Archive is home to one of the most diverse and extensive motion picture collections in the world, including the personal collections of such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, Cecil B. DeMille, George Stevens, Fred Zinnemann, Sam Peckinpah and Jim Jarmusch.

For more information about the Academy Film Archive,

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Academy’s All New Venue Fri, 11 May 2012 03:29:37 +0000 Academy Unveils Oscars® Outdoors Venue

Announces Slate of Summer, Fall Programming

The Academy’s Outdoor Venue during the day. Photo provided by The Academy.

Beverly Hills, CA (May 7, 2012) – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak today unveiled the Academy’s new screening venue and announced its summer series, “Oscars Outdoors,” which will kick off on Friday, June 15 and run through Saturday, August 18. The open-air theater is part of the organization’s nearly 7.5 acre Academy Hollywood campus, which is also the site of the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, home to the Academy Film Archive, the Science and Technology Council and the Linwood Dunn Theater.

Concurrently, the Academy announced a slate of summer and fall 2012 public programs at its other theaters, including 50th anniversary celebrations of the James Bond franchise and the Oscar®-winning epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”

The “Oscars Outdoors” series will devote every Friday night to classics and contemporary favorites aimed at adult audiences, and every Saturday night to family-friendly fare. The final Friday night presentation, on August 17, will be an “Audience Choice” selection, determined by fans who cast votes on Most features will be preceded by surprise animated or live-action short subjects.

“We are very excited to expand on our innovative programming and provide the community with a new venue that will deepen our ties to Hollywood,” said Sherak. “The events we are planning for the rest of the year are an ideal way to share our love of movies with a wider audience.”

Academy’s Outdoor Venue at night. Photo provided by The Academy.

On Saturday, May 19, the Academy will inaugurate its new open-air venue with an invitation-only screening of 1989 Best Picture nominee “Field of Dreams.”

Demolition at the site began in July 2011. The space now features an expansive lawn and an adjacent 10,000-square foot plaza, and will include a permanent 40×20 foot screen. In addition to hosting the “Oscars Outdoors” screening series, the venue is expected to serve the Academy and the community as an event space for special screenings, educational programs and other functions.

The Academy will also host a busy schedule of events at its theaters in Los Angeles and New York as well as programs at venues in London, the San Francisco Bay area and Washington D.C. Summer-fall highlights include a centennial celebration of Universal Pictures, featuring a slate of the studio’s landmark horror films; “The Science of Superheroes;” and “The Last 70mm Film Festival,” which will span six genres over six weeks. An expanded summer and fall programming calendar is available

“These are not just screenings, but events,” noted Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director, Programming, Education, and Preservation. “We’re bringing a diverse range of programs and experiences to audiences as only the Academy can.”

The 2012 “Oscars Outdoors” screening schedule is as follows:

Friday, June 15: CASABLANCA

Friday, June 22: RAISING ARIZONA

Friday, June 29: A STAR IS BORN (1937)
Saturday, June 30: THE GOONIES

Friday, July 6: SHANE
Saturday, July 7: THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1996)

Friday, July 13: TO BE ANNOUNCED
Saturday, July 14: THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Friday, July 20: PILLOW TALK
Saturday, July 21: THE KARATE KID (1984)

Friday, July 27: DREAMGIRLS
Saturday, July 28: THE DARK CRYSTAL

Young Frankenstein. Photo provided by The Academy

Friday, August 3: NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Saturday, August 4: STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.

Saturday, August 11: BACK TO THE FUTURE

Friday, August 17: Audience Choice (vote on
Saturday, August 18: THE WIZARD OF OZ (Sing-Along)

Wizard of OZ. Photo provided by The Academy.

Tickets to each “Oscars Outdoors” screening are $5 for the public; free for children 10 years and younger; and $3 for Academy members and students with ID. Seating is unreserved. Tickets are available at Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Screenings begin at sunset.

Attendees are encouraged to bring low lawn chairs, blankets, warm clothing. Popular food trucks will be on site during each screening.

The Academy Hollywood campus is located 1341 Vine Street in Hollywood (between De Longpre Avenue and Fountain Avenue, and between Vine Street and Ivar Avenue). The campus is accessible via the Metro Red Line train and the 210 Metro Local bus. Free parking will be available.

For more information about the Academy’s public events, visit

What a great line up of classic movies……Go see them again.
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