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Friday, March 28, 2008

Oscar-winning writer Mann dies

Abby Mann, the Oscar-winning writer of the 1961 film Judgement in Nuremberg, has died at the age of 80.

Gregg Mitchell, spokesman for the Writers Guild of America, said Mann passed away on Tuesday but did not give details of the cause of death.

Mann also won several Emmys, including one for a TV film called The Marcus-Nelson Murders which introduced a maverick detective called Theo Kojak.

The film gave birth to the long-running TV series Kojak.

'Moral compass'

Mann's career spanned more than 50 years as a writer, director and producer.

His projects also included TV biopics of the US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and the Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

"Abby was brought along by great producers like Herbert Brodkin, but his passion was his own," said Del Reisman, former president of the Writers Guild of America, West.

"From his earliest days as a writer, he was guided by a moral compass that never wavered."

Mann was born Abraham Goodman in Philadelphia in 1927, the son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant. He said he felt like an outsider growing up in a tough working class neighbourhood.

After serving in the US Army he began writing TV drama scripts.

He became interested in the war crimes tribunal which tried Nazi leaders in Nuremberg in 1946 and, after scripting a TV programme on the subject, became determined to write his first film screenplay about the trials.

"A lot of people didn't want it done," he commented in a 1994 interview. "People wanted to sweep the issue under the rug."

After receving the Oscar in 1962 he said: "I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world."

His other film credits included A Child Is Waiting, Ship of Fools and Report to the Commissioner.

Mann is survived by his wife and a son.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Harry Potter author: I Almost Committed suicide

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has revealed she thought of killing herself while penniless and suffering from depression as a single mother, according to a report in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.

At the time, Rowling had separated from her first husband and was living in a cramped apartment with her baby daughter.

She was able to afford the rent only after a friend paid the £600 ($1,189) that she needed, the newspaper quoted her as telling a student reporter at Edinburgh University.

"We're talking suicidal thoughts here, we're not talking 'I'm a little bit miserable,'" Rowling said.

"Mid-twenties life circumstances were poor and I really plummeted. The thing that made me go for help . . . was probably my daughter.

"She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn't right, this can't be right, she cannot grow up with me in this state."

Rowling said she then sought professional help.

While the 42-year-old has spoken before of her battle with depression, it was the first time she had admitted that she contemplated suicide, the newspaper said.

It was then that Rowling began writing the first Harry Potter book, which was eventually published in 1996.

Since then, more than 325 million books -- translated into 64 languages -- have been sold around the world and Rowling is now one of the world's richest women.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fiction Writer Sir Arthur C Clarke Is Dead

British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

The Somerset-born author came to fame in 1968 when short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.

His visions of space travel and computing sparked the imagination of readers and scientists alike.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse paid tribute, hailing the writer as a "great visionary".

Since 1995, the author had been largely confined to a wheelchair by post-polio syndrome.

He died at 0130 local time (2000 GMT) of respiratory complications and heart failure, according to his aide, Rohan De Silva.

Far-seeing scientist

"Sir Arthur has left written instructions that his funeral be strictly secular," his secretary, Nalaka Gunawardene, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

She said the author had requested "absolutely no religious rites of any kind".

A farmer's son, Sir Arthur was educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton before joining the civil service.

He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and foresaw the concept of communication satellites.

Sir Arthur's detailed descriptions of space shuttles, super-computers and rapid communications systems inspired millions of readers.

When asked why he never patented his idea for communication satellites, he said: "I did not get a patent because I never thought it will happen in my lifetime."

In the 1940s, he maintained man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea dismissed at the time.

He was the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books, and his writings are credited by many observers with giving science fiction a human and practical face. He collaborated on the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick.

'Great prophet'

British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore had known Sir Arthur since they met as teenagers at the British Interplanetary Society.

Sir Patrick paid tribute to his friend, remembering him as "a very sincere person" with "a strong sense of humour".

Tributes have also come from George Whitesides, the executive director of the National Space Society, where Sir Arthur served on the board of governors, and fellow science fiction writer Terry Pratchett.

The author married in 1953, and was divorced in 1964. He had no children.

He moved to the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka in 1956 after embarking on a study of the Great Barrier Reef.

There, he pursued his interest in scuba diving, even setting up a diving school at Hikkaduwa, near the capital, Colombo.

"Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered," he recalled recently.

"I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these, I would like to be remembered as a writer."

A statement from Sir Arthur's office said he had recently reviewed the final manuscript of his latest novel.

The Last Theorem, co-written with Frederik Pohl, will be published later this year, it said.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bank Job

The workmanlike title “The Bank Job” is a nice fit for this wham-bam caper flick. Efficiently directed by Roger Donaldson from a busy script by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, (The thieves squawked on the airwaves like crows.) It was headline news and, then, with a wave of the official wand, it was hush-hush. That’s one story, anyway.

The Bank Job is a good match for this wham-bam caper flick.directed by high effective Roger Donaldson,script by Dick Clement and Ian La fancifully revisits the mysterious whos and speculative hows of a 1971 London vault cleanout on Baker Street labeled the walkie-talkie robbery.The robbery was a big headline news.

True or not, the on-screen follies mostly amuse and generally divert. Smarting up from a tip, a gang of charming lowlifes of varying capabilities and intelligence make like moles, tunneling under a women’s handbag store until they hit the vault: safe-deposit boxes crammed with sparkling treasures, fistfuls of bank notes and delectable smut involving some Very Important Personages. The thieves — led by the bullet-headed looker Jason Statham as Terry — scoop up their ill-gotten goods and scram. Assorted coppers and villains give chase, as do some stiff-lip types in bespoke suits from the British security services.

The filmmakers have claimed that the British government put a kibosh on media reports about the robbery by issuing a D Notice (now called a DA Notice, for defense advisory), a form of media self-censorship jointly agreed upon by representatives of the press and the government. Though The Guardian Published an article that explained that no D Notice had been issed after the heist, but the truth is usually beside the point when it comes to this sort of breezy entertainment, so it’s hard to care. Far more important is the way Mr. Statham, a B-movie action pinup (“The Transporter”), pumps like a piston across the screen and fills out his natty leather coat, both of which he does with palpable brute force.

Blink and you may well miss the whodunit and what for, much less what does it all mean (if anything). Stuffed with personalities, the fast, fast, fast story unfolds somewhat like a three-dimensional chess game, with the pieces moving among the different levels: on the bottom are Terry and his lads, the shaggy-haired Kevin (Stephen Campbell Moore) and the snaggle-toothed Dave (Daniel Mays); in the middle are the designated villains, including a charismatic if dubious black-power gadfly, Michael X (Peter De Jersey), and the so-called Soho porn king, Lew Vogel (David Suchet); and, on the very top, pulling strings or so they believe, are the security services, represented by the well-heeled silky and sneery Tim (Richard Lintern).

Mixed in with this dodgy crowd is a question mark named Martine, a pulpy femme fatale who’s been sensitively shaded in by Saffron Burrows. A former model, this angular, melancholic beauty has, after making the usual independent rounds — Mike Figgis directed her in his screen adaptation of the Strindberg play “Miss Julie” — slowly and somewhat unexpectedly emerged as an actress to watch. Sadness clings to Ms. Burrows: it hoods her eyes, tugs at her mouth and wraps around her like a gossamer shawl. It gives her mystery and, like the hints of age edging her face, blunts the impact of her beauty, making her character more human and emotionally accessible than she might register otherwise.

Ms. Burrows is particularly welcome, given that the caper itself is pretty much a yawn. Central to the pleasure of a great heist film is the spectacle of men (rarely women) at work, men who through their hard labor, their sweat and stratagems — and, if they’re in a Jean-Pierre Melville film, their honor — defy the law and society. (There’s a reason so many of these movies seem like metaphors for moviemaking.) The walkie-talkie gang, by contrast, comes across here as more lucky than cunning. They blunder into the heist, at times comically, which amps the laughs, but helps drain what little suspense remains after Mr. Donaldson has whisked his characters through their paces, and the ruthlessly efficient editing has nipped at their heels.

Amid all the period wheeling and stealthy dealing, the story carves out a little time for a short detour involving Michael X — also known as Michael de Freitas, also known as Michael Abdul Malik — a native of Trinidad who became a radical-chic figure in London during the late 1960s and early 1970s and, years later, cannon fodder for the writer V. S. Naipaul, who saw him as a fraud. The film’s cartoonish depiction of Michael X doesn’t begin to do justice to the strangeness of his story — he partied with John Lennon and was championed by William S. Burroughs, Dick Gregory and Heinrich Böll — though it adds a nicely outré detail to this embroidered fiction. Maybe Mr. Statham can play Mr. Burroughs in the sequel.

“The Bank Job” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Some nasty, nasty blowtorch violence.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Warrior Within

Nothing has gained popularity faster the last few years as Martial Arts. The film "The Warrior Within", seeks to unlock the mystery of this art. It will show you why learning self defense is essential and may one day save your life and the life of your loved ones. Find out why millions of people around the world are learning these arts and taking it very seriously. Our exclusive film will enlighten, empower and inspire you! It's guaranteed to be a real eye opener into the world of martial arts. You will learn how it is an intelligent solution for you and your family, not only for protection but also self confidence and peace of mind! Take this invaluable and important opportunity to see "The Warrior Within" with your family.

Fifteen top practitioners...

...of Jeet Kune Do, Karate, Kung Fu, Jujitsu, Kendo, Tai Chi Chuan and Classical Oriental Weaponry pay tribute to the martial arts master of all time, Bruce Lee. Their expertise is brought to life before the probing eye of the motion picture camera, that delves into the Americanization of these arts. In addition to exhibiting their deadly skills, the masters talk honestly about themselves and about their mystical, spiritual and philosophic thoughts on the ancient art of self defense. This film is a welcome step away from the sensationalism that all too often surrounds the subject and it is considered by many to be a classic!

Be Entertained with the best!

"The Warrior Within" received the highest honor a Martial Arts film could be awarded! The "Las Americas Film Festival" presented Executive Producer Manuel Ortiz Braschi with the "Gold Medal Special Jury Award" for its content, beautiful slow motion sequences, superb technical credits and good commentary.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

27 Dresses

If you are a lover of Romantic comedy just like my self,then 27 dresses is a must watch.
The Story

27 Dresses is a story of Jane (Heigl), a perennial bridesmaid who's had the word no exorcised from her vocabulary. Jane should be getting paid as a wedding planner but instead her full-time job is working as the right-hand woman to the CEO of an environmentally-friendly clothing and outdoor equipment company. Said CEO, George (Edward Burns), is a hunk and a half who loves dogs, does lots of charity work, and is clueless to the fact Jane has a massive crush on him.

27 dresses is a story of Jane (Heigl),a bridesmaid who's had the word exorcised from her vocabulary.Jane who should be earning a living as a wedding planner but instead decided to work as a full time right hand woman to the CEO of an environmentally-friendly clothing and outdoor equipment company.Said CEO, George (Edward Burns), is a hunk and a half who loves dogs, gives lots to charity, and had no idea to the fact that Jane has a massive crush on him.

George however isn't blind to all beautiful women.George falls pretty much head over heels for the perky blonde and no time the two are engaged and Jane's left to plan their nuptials.

Kevin (James Marsden) enters the scene as a newspaper reporter who covers the wedding beat.Kevin's cynical demeanor masks the fact he writes lovely articles that have brides-to-be vying for his attention.Kevin spots Jane going from wedding to wedding and decides she’s worthy of a special column, one which he hopes will do well enough to free him forever from covering the wedding beat – a job he claims to loathe doing. Despite their opposing outlooks on life, Jane and Kevin develop an uneasy sort of friendship. And because 27 Dresses springs from the romantic comedy cookie cutter mold, that uneasy friendship is, of course, the heart of the story.

27 dresses presents Grey's Anatomy fans a chance to watch Heigl charm her way through the role of a reliable bridesmaid forced into wearing some of the most outrageous dresses ever concocted and yet somehow able to smile through the taffeta,lace,and even leather ordeals.The extire film rests on her tender shoulders and Jane's more than able to carry out the task being the lead actor.As predictable as things get, Heigl never lets up and never lets the audience down.


It's hard to imagine a set of complications more routine, but the way that this tiered cake of a farce has been staged, you can practically lick the white frosting off of the plot. Even the satire of the wedding industry plays like a backhanded endorsement of it. There is, of course, a trying-on-clothes montage, though this one has a rare dash of wit: It's Jane modeling all her bridesmaid's dresses (which, according to the film, are meant to look bad, so that they don't show up the bride), as the movie flashes back to the weddings in which she wore them. There's also an intentionally cringe-worthy (though maybe not this much) duet between Jane and Kevin, who take refuge at a bar following an auto mishap. Drunk on whiskey, the two sing along with ''Bennie and the Jets,'' getting down with their bad selves in their most impassioned, white-person fervor, which inspires the entire bar to join in. Love means never having to say you're sorry for acting like an idiot. Or for tying yourself in knots in order to tie the knot. C+

Friday, February 29, 2008

Winehouse cleared of witness tampering

Police are no longer investigating Amy Winehouse on suspicion of attempting to interfere with a court case involving her husband, her spokesman said Friday.

The 24-year-old singer is no longer required to return to a police station for further questioning, her spokesman, Chris Goodman, said in a statement.

"Amy is pleased to be discounted from the investigation and thanks the police for their professionalism in their dealings with her," the statement said.

Winehouse was arrested in December after being called to a police station. At the time, she was released on police bail and had been asked to return at a later date for further questioning.

Police said they cannot identify former suspects by name, but they did confirm that prosecutors planned to take no further action against a 24-year-old arrested in December on suspicion of trying to pervert the course of justice.

Meanwhile, Winehouse's husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, appeared in a London court Friday on charges of attacking a pub landlord and then later conspiring with him to withdraw as a witness at the trial.

Fielder-Civil spoke only to confirm his name and plead not guilty. He is due to appear again in April.

Winehouse didn't attend court because she was traveling to Paris to perform at a Louis Vuitton party, her spokesman said.

The singer won five Grammy Awards, including best record, best song and best new artist, in early February, but her musical success has been overshadowed by her tumultuous private life and public struggles with drugs and alcohol.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Coen Brothers' Film Wins 4 Oscars

They ground up Steve Buscemi in a wood-chipper. They made baby-snatchers out of Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. They turned mythic Greek wanderer Odysseus into a Depression-era roots-music minstrel with George Clooney's face.

Two of the most imaginatively twisted minds in modern film, Joel and Ethan Coen, completed their journey from the fringes to Hollywood's mainstream on Sunday as their crime saga "No Country for Old Men" won a leading four Academy Awards, including best picture.

In a year when the quirky, offbeat and just plain weird storytelling of the Coens triumphed at the biggest ceremony in show business, the oddball brothers found a lot to like in their fellow nominees.

"It sounds like a cliche, but all the movies that were nominated were really interesting to me personally, and that isn't always the case," Joel Coen said. "All of them to me personally I thought were fantastically good movies."

The Coens' brooding, bloody tale of violence in a desolate corner of west Texas was the American standard-bearer for an Oscar show that otherwise had an international flair.

All four acting prizes went to Europeans: Frenchwoman Marion Cotillard, the best-actress winner for "La Vie En Rose"; Spaniard Javier Bardem, who took supporting actor for "No Country"; and Brits Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton, he claiming his second best-actor honor for "There Will Be Blood," she winning supporting actress for "Michael Clayton."

Talking to reporters backstage, Swinton still was in disbelief, saying she initially thought "I heard someone else's name and suddenly, slowly heard my own" when she was announced as the winner for her role as a ruthless attorney.

"I'm still recovering from that moment, and I have absolutely no idea what happened after that," Swinton said. "So, you know, you can tell me my dress fell off and I'd believe you, so don't be cruel."

Day-Lewis, a previous best-actor winner for "My Left Foot," was gratified that a line he utters in "There Will Be Blood" — "I drink your milkshake," a reference to draining oil that's not yours — has found a life in the broader vernacular.

"I think it's fantastic," Day-Lewis said. "If people absorb something that you've done — for whatever your reasons are, it's not relevant — but if that gets absorbed into the culture in such a way that people make something else, somebody can make something else out of it, that's delightful to me."

By winning three Oscars — best picture as producers on the film, director and adapted screenplay — the Coens matched a feat achieved by only an elite list of filmmakers who also received three awards for a single film, including Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather Part II"), James Cameron ("Titanic") and Billy Wilder ("The Apartment").

They did miss out on a chance to become the only people to win four Oscars with one film, losing the editing prize, for which they had been nominated under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.
How did the fictitious Jaynes, whom the Coens describe as a cranky British recluse in his 80s, take the loss? "We haven't talked to him," Ethan Coen said backstage. "We know he's elderly and unhappy, so probably not well."

Crime often has paid for the Coens, a pair of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett fans who gravitate toward lawbreakers even in their comedies, such as Cage and Hunter's infant-kidnappers in "Raising Arizona," the bumbling thieves in "The Ladykillers," an abduction that leaves a trail of bodies — including Buscemi in a wood-chipper — in "Fargo," or Clooney and his fellow jailbreakers in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

"They're as talented as anybody in the game over decades now," Clooney, a best-actor nominee for "Michael Clayton," said of the Coens. "For 20 years they've made films that last."
In addition to its Oscar haul, "No Country" has delivered the Coens' biggest commercial spoils with $64 million and climbing at the domestic box office, topping the $45.5 million gross of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

The biggest commercial success among the best-picture nominees, the $100 million hit "Juno," came away with the original screenplay Oscar for first-time scriptwriter Cody Diablo, who penned wickedly smart dialogue for her cast, led by best-actress nominee Ellen Page as a pregnant teen.

"I've always been a writer, I've always been a storyteller, but I never thought about screenwriting," Diablo said backstage. "I grew up in the Midwest, you don't know any screenwriters. It didn't seem like a realistic career possibility."

Adding to the international Oscar flavor, the animation winner was a U.S. film set in a Paris restaurant, "Ratatouille." The best-song recipient was a tune written by the Irish and Czech stars of a micro-budgeted romance set in Dublin, "Once."

The globe-trotting thriller "The Bourne Ultimatum" swept all three of its categories, film editing, sound editing and sound mixing. Other winners included three films set around Britain and Europe: "Atonement" (music score), "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (costume design) and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (art direction).

Host Jon Stewart started his opening monologue with a wisecrack about the 100-day writers strike that ended just in time for the Oscars to come off as usual.

"These past three and a half months have been very tough. The town was torn apart by a bitter writer's strike, but I'm happy to say that the fight is over," Stewart said. "So tonight, welcome to the makeup sex."

As singer Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose," Cotillard became the first performer ever to win an Oscar for a French-language film. Backstage, she crooned a bit of a Piaf song in French and described the task she had in playing the singer from her fiery teens to her fragile 40s.

"My aim was to understand her, to understand her heart, her soul, and so I went as deep as I could," Cotillard said. "I tried to do my best to find her inside me. But it was not so hard because I really love her."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take That scoop Brit Award double

Take That, the Arctic Monkeys and the Foo Fighters were the big winners at this year's Brit Awards in London, scooping two prizes each.
Take That won the trophies for best British live act and British single.

The Arctic Monkeys took best British group and album - both for the second year in a row - while Foo Fighters won best international group and album.

The ceremony saw performances from Amy Winehouse and Sir Paul McCartney, who received a lifetime achievement honour.

Kate Nash won best British female and Mark Ronson was named best British male.

Producer Ronson, who performed with Winehouse and Adele at the Earl's Court show, is the first non-singer to have scooped the solo artist prize.

"I've never felt so British or male in my entire life," he told the crowd.

As well as singing with Ronson on their hit Valerie, Winehouse sang one of her own numbers, Love Is A Losing Game.

It was the first public performance from the troubled star, who recently won five Grammy Awards, since being admitted to rehab.

During her solo performance, Winehouse mouthed "I love you" into the camera - presumably at husband Blake Fielder-Civil, who is currently on remand in London's Pentonville Prison.

Addressing the crowd at the end of her song, the star said: "Make some noise for my husband, my Blake."

Another memorable moment came when host Sharon Osbourne - presenting with husband Ozzy and children, Jack and Kelly - swore at comedian Vic Reeves.

When Reeves appeared to forget which award he was presenting, she accused him of being drunk, swore at him and told him to "shut up" before trying to announce the winner of best British album herself.

The Arctic Monkeys, who did not turn up to the awards last year, attended Wednesday's show dressed as country gents.

The Sheffield band wore tweed waistcoats, breeches, flat caps, and blew a hunting horn on stage.

Public vote

As Take That accepted their award for best live act, band member Jason Orange said he had an arthritic knee and said: "We appear before you bruised and battered, but dead chuffed.

"We are so honoured. We've worked so hard over the years."

Their second award, which was presented for the single Shine, was chosen by a live public vote that continued throughout the show.

Kylie Minogue won best international female. The Australian star, who performed her single Wow, said she was "extremely grateful and thankful".

Mika, who kicked off the show with his songs Love Today and Grace Kelly, was named best British breakthrough act.

He also performed with Gossip singer Beth Ditto.

Will Young presented the critics' choice award to Adele, a graduate of the Brit School in Selhurst, south London.

Accepting the prize, the Londoner said: "My heart's beating so fast." She also thanked her "beautiful" mother.

US star Kanye West, who was unable to attend the ceremony, was named winner of the best international male prize.

"I'm sure there's someone who deserves this more than me, but I just don't know who they are," he said in his acceptance video.

Also accepting his band's best international group and album awards by video, Dave Grohl joked that the Foo Fighters - formed in 1995 - had won the award for best newcomer.

Rihanna followed with a performance of her number one single Umbrella, accompanied by Klaxons.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney performed a medley of hits, including Live and Let Die, Hey Jude and Lady Madonna after he was honoured with an outstanding contribution award.

Doctor Who star David Tennant, actor Sir Ian McKellen, Bionic Woman actress Michelle Ryan were among the guest presenters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stars To Replace Ledger In Movie

Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell will appear as Heath Ledger's character in unfinished film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the BBC has learned.

A spokeswoman for Law confirmed the three would play the role of Tony in the film "subject to negotiations".

She said she did not know how the role would be restructured.

The Terry Gilliam-directed film was halted when Ledger, 28, died from a drugs overdose in the US shortly after filming scenes for the movie in London.

It is thought that original footage of Ledger will remain while Law, Depp and Farrell will play different incarnations of his character, Tony.

The fantasy film follows a travelling theatre troupe which offers audience members the chance to pass through a magical mirror to alternate dimensions.

'Great actor'

Depp, Law, and Farrell are each expected to "become" Ledger's character in one of these new worlds.

Law's spokeswoman said the actor, who is on holiday, was unavailable for comment.
Ledger died from an accidental overdose of six different types of prescription drugs in his New York apartment.

After filming for the movie had finished in London, the $30m (£15.1m) production then moved to Vancouver, Canada for interior and bluescreen scenes before it was suspended upon news of Ledger's death.

At the time, the film's makers described Ledger as "a great actor, a great friend and a great spirit" and said Gilliam and his producers would be "assessing how best to proceed".
Last weekend, international film stars were among mourners at a memorial service for the Ledger in his home town of Perth.

Speakers at the service, which was followed by a private burial for close family only, included actress Cate Blanchett and film director Neil Armfield.

Monday, February 18, 2008

John Grisham has no illusions about writing

Some things John Grisham knows: He got 15 rejections before his first book, "A Time to Kill," was published. He made $9 million last year. He's not James Joyce or William Faulkner. He's an entertainer.

John Grisham recently published his 21st book, a legal thriller (of course) named "The Appeal."

"I'm not sure where that line goes between literature and popular fiction," the mega-selling author says. "I can assure you I don't take myself serious enough to think I'm writing literary fiction and stuff that's going to be remembered in 50 years. I'm not going to be here in 50 years; I don't care if I'm remembered or not. It's pure entertainment."

Grisham is happy to write what he hopes is "a high-quality popular fiction." But that matters not to fans, who gobble every word.

Sometimes he wraps a serious issue around a plot -- the death penalty in "The Chamber," insurance reform in "The Rainmaker," homelessness in "The Street Lawyer." Now the self-styled political junkie and former Mississippi state legislator has written a book that's more political intrigue than legal thriller.

"The Appeal" (his 21st book) tells the story of a huge chemical company that loses a $41 million lawsuit for causing cancer deaths and then essentially tries to buy an election for the state Supreme Court -- where, yes, the appeal will be heard.

"I guess every year now is a political year. ... And it just felt like it was time to write this story," Grisham says, alluding to how the run for the White House has become a marathon of sorts.

Grisham, who turned 53 on February 8 and still has the lanky look of an athlete who once chased a baseball career, is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton and says the Democrats have been outmaneuvered by the Republicans.

"I think what the Republicans have done in past elections is brilliant. Because, they've convinced a lot of people to vote for them against their own economic self-interest, and they've done that by skillfully manipulating a handful of social issues, primarily abortion and gay rights and sometimes gun control," he says. "And the Republicans have used those to scare a lot of people into voting for Republican candidates. It's skillful manipulation."

Grisham, who lives in the Charlottesville, Virginia, area, is so addicted to following the presidential race that he jokes he might need rehab.

"My wife and I went out to dinner a couple of weeks ago, and we actually called somebody to find out if they had any results from the Nevada caucuses," he says, chortling almost sheepishly. "And I said this ought to tell us something: 'You know, we're in this thing way too deep.' "

Still, he's able to pull himself away from primaries and polls to indulge fans and tour his new book, already at the top of some best-seller lists.

Grisham's books have sold 235 million copies worldwide, according to publisher Doubleday. Some, of course, have been adapted into blockbuster movies, starring such heavyweights as Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Cruise and Matt Damon.

Reviews of "The Appeal" have been generally positive, though some can be reduced to previous assessments of Grisham: fine storyteller but not a particularly good writer.

"When I start getting good reviews, I worry about sales," jokes Grisham, who says he's learned to ignore reviews.

"It's a better day if I don't read any reviews," he says. "It's the only form of entertainment where you're reviewed by other writers. You don't see rock stars reviewing each other's albums, and you don't see directors reviewing each other's movies."

An enduring influence on Grisham's work is John le Carre, author of such celebrated thrillers as "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold," "The Honourable Schoolboy" and "A Small Town in Germany."

"He's still my hero," Grisham says.

But he doesn't read a lot when he's writing. "We all want to read good books, and so you read a good book by a really good writer, and I catch myself inadvertently imitating him or her. And so you think, 'Well, I wouldn't use that word, I wouldn't do that sentence that way.' I read a lot when I'm not writing."

He started this year with the goal of reading everything by John Steinbeck ("The Grapes of Wrath," "Cannery Row," "The Pearl"), who was one of Grisham's favorite authors growing up. And he just finished a "Mark Twain binge."

"I keep up with the other lawyers [who write] -- Scott Turow. I read all Scott's stuff. And I think Scott is really underestimated as a writer. He's really, really good," Grisham says.

Turow recently told The Associated Press that the feelings were mutual: "I am an enormous admirer of John Grisham at every level -- as a person, as a citizen of both the literary and legal worlds and, most relevantly, as a writer. John is one of the pre-eminent storytellers of our time, and the grace and seamlessness with which his stories come together to grip us all is a wonder."

Among other writers Grisham likes: David Baldacci, Steve Martini, Pat Conroy and Stephen King.

"I'll start two, three books a week, rarely finish one. But I'm always looking," Grisham says. "Love to buy books. Love to stack 'em up in the house. We've got a million books in the house."

When he first started writing, Grisham says, he had "these little rituals that were silly and brutal but very important."

"The alarm clock would go off at 5, and I'd jump in the shower. My office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office, with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at 5:30, five days a week."

His goal: to write a page every day. Sometimes that would take 10 minutes, sometimes an hour; ofttimes he would write for two hours before he had to turn to his job as a lawyer, which he never especially enjoyed. In the Mississippi Legislature, there were "enormous amounts of wasted time" that would give him the opportunity to write.

"So I was very disciplined about it," he says, then quickly concedes he doesn't have such discipline now: "I don't have to."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Golden Bear for 'corruption' film

The Elite Squad, a violent tale of corrupt drug-squad officers in Brazil, has won the Golden Bear, the top prize at the annual Berlin Film Festival.

It had created unprecedented interest upon its release in Brazil, because of its portrayal of a police force willing to torture and kill unarmed suspects.

Producer Marcos Prado said the award "gives us the strength to go forward".

The UK's Sally Hawkins was best actress for Happy-Go-Lucky and Iran's Reza Naji won best actor on The Song of Sparrows.

Born in London, 31-year-old Hawkins has also appeared in Mike Leigh's abortion drama Vera Drake and has had an extensive television career.

The Rada-trained performer's TV appearances include several Little Britain episodes and the controversial lesbian drama Tipping the Velvet.

US filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson took the prize for best director for There Will Be Blood.

This epic story of an oil prospector is already nominated in eight categories at the Oscars, which are being held on 24 February.

Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai received the prize for best for In Love We Trust, while Lake Tahoe, directed by Fernando Eimbcke of Mexico, was named most innovative film.

A total of 21 pictures were screened in competition in the German capital for the 58th festival.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

With strike over, glamour back for Oscars

The end of the Hollywood writers strike means the Oscar show will be the usual star-studded, fashion-filled extravaganza, organizers promised.

"The strike, the bad news, is past us," Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said Thursday.

The 80th annual awards show will be held February 24 at the Kodak Theatre and will feature a host of A-list stars. Forest Whitaker, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, George Clooney and Nicole Kidman will be among the presenters. Others include Denzel Washington, Martin Scorsese, Cate Blanchett, Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks.

Had the three-month writers strike not ended Tuesday, the Academy still would have put on a "B" show -- one without the glitter of the nominated actors, virtually all of whom said they would not cross a picket line.

"The 'B Show' was going to have the musical numbers, and there was going to be a lot of energy to that," telecast producer Gil Cates told AP Television. "But it was going to rely mostly on film clips, mostly on historical clips, because it is the 80th year of the Oscars."

The "A" show will feature performances of the year's five nominated songs. "Enchanted" star Amy Adams will sing "Happy Working Song," one of the film's three nominated tunes.

Kristin Chenoweth and Marlon Saunders will perform "That's How You Know" and Jon McLaughlin will sing "So Close," also from "Enchanted."

Second Week For McCartney Hearing

Sir Paul McCartney's divorce hearing has been extended into next week after he and estranged wife Heather Mills failed to reach an agreement.

Court 34 at London's High Court has been booked for Monday, when the case will continue, even though it was originally scheduled to end on Friday.

The financial settlement could break records, it has been suggested.

The hearing has been taking place in private. Any settlement will not be made public unless it goes to appeal.

Sir Paul has a fortune estimated at £825m. Based on recent cases, divorce experts have suggested that Ms Mills could walk away with £60m.

The record currently rests with the £48m businessman John Charman was told to pay his former wife last year.

Ms Mills, who lost part of a leg in a road accident in 1993, married Sir Paul in June 2002, four years after his first wife, Linda, died of breast cancer.

The couple have a four-year-old daughter Beatrice. They announced the end of their marriage in 2006.

Several press reports suggest High Court judge Mr Justice Bennett has warned the couple that leaking details of the case to the media could be in contempt of court and punishable with heavy fines.

The judge is likely to decide next week if he has heard enough to give a ruling on the division of wealth and will impose his conditions on the couple, although the actual judgement will follow in a few weeks.

The media have speculated that a sticking point could be a confidentiality clause - the former Beatle is said to be anxious to keep details of his marriage to Ms Mills secret.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Director And Editor Chemistry Key To A Film's Success

When Tony Gilroy's mother heard that he was going to have his younger brother John edit his directorial debut, "Michael Clayton," she was worried her boys would clash.

It wasn't an unreasonable fear. Any two people locked in a small space for weeks on end struggling to transform hours and hours of raw footage into a concise, entertaining work of art are bound to have conflicts. When those two people are brothers with a history of sibling rivalry ("Tony is taller," John says; "But Johnny can kick my ass," Tony admits), the potential for disagreement is exponentially higher.

But Tony, who received Oscar nominations for writing and directing the George Clooney legal thriller, found that their differences produced not violence but a better film.

"It took about three days to figure out that there'd be a kind of push-me, pull-you (dynamic)," he says.

"I would always be pulling to not explain things and turning the thermostat down, and Johnny would always be pushing to turn it up, and the by-product of that would be room temperature. And we were both really happy with where we were going to land."

"It's very good to see different perspectives," concurs director Marc Forster, who has worked with editor Matt Chesse on six films, including 2007's "The Kite Runner," 2004's "Finding Neverland" (which earned Chesse an Oscar nod) and 2001's "Monster's Ball." "Matt and I have a very strong connection and love for cinema and a love for similar movies, but he sometimes sees things differently than I do. My attention span is a little shorter than his. Sometimes he likes to let it breathe a little more than I do."

They are reteaming a seventh time for MGM/Sony's upcoming James Bond film.

Long-standing editor-director relationships like the one between Forster and Chesse are not uncommon: Editor Joel Cox has worked with Clint Eastwood for more than 30 years, and Thelma Schoonmaker has been Martin Scorsese's go-to editor since 1980's "Raging Bull." And brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have been collaborating for decades under the moniker "Roderick Jaynes," an Oscar nominee for "No Country For Old Men."

"I think it's a trust-based relationship," says Chesse of the editor-director union. "You see all the warts and all the stuff that nobody gets to see, and you shape it into something that hopefully leaves people without any doubt of the director's vision."

Director David Cronenberg and editor Ronald Sanders have worked together since 1979's "Fast Company." On their latest film, "Eastern Promises," they followed the same pattern they have developed working on such films as 1986's "The Fly" and 2005's "A History of Violence."

During the shoot in London, Cronenberg did not look at any footage, except for the occasional dailies, which he finds less necessary today with instant on-set video playback. In the meantime, Sanders cut together an assembly of the film in proper narrative order that he screened for Cronenberg two weeks after principal photography wrapped. Cronenberg then joined Sanders in the cutting room to polish the edit.

"I feel that the only shot I've got at being fairly objective is to be surprised by my own movie," says Cronenberg of his willful ignorance of the first edit.

"It comes from my first movie -- (1975's) 'Shivers' -- that Ivan Reitman produced. I was basically sitting in the editing room as we were shooting, editing it with the editor. We had a screening, and nothing worked. But Ivan said, 'It's not so bad. You just do a little of this, you take a little of that and do that.' I thought, 'I want to be where he is, in his objectivity, rather than so intimately involved with every cut and every shot that I can't see the forest for the trees."'

On "Promises," he and Cronenberg were "in the zone," according to Sanders. "We weren't trying to force anything or fix anything." Easiest of all was the film's infamous bathhouse scene, in which a naked Nikolai (Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen) fights two Russian thugs to the death.

"I did it in a few hours one afternoon," Sanders says. "I put all the masters together -- end to end -- so I could see where it was all going, and I used that as a template. It had the stuff that it needed, so it told me what to do."

"He nailed it so perfectly that I couldn't improve it by one frame," Cronenberg says.

Review: 'Spiderwick' is worthwhile journey

A dozen producers share the bragging rights for bringing the popular Holly Black-Tony DiTerlizzi "Spiderwick" children's fantasy books to the screen. That wouldn't necessarily be grounds for optimism, so it's a relief to report that "The Spiderwick Chronicles" is free of the elephantine designs that bogged down "The Golden Compass."

Unlike "Compass," New Line's luxurious, sporadically entertaining misadventure, Mark Waters' crisp little movie is modestly scaled and keeps the story front and center. Heck, it even comes supplied with something called an ending: The narrative is tied up, characters work through their problems, tears are shed, all that stuff. The makers of "Compass" might want to check it out.

Like "Golden Compass," "Spiderwick" is imprinted with the influence of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books. The Grace children -- angry, troubled Jared; his sweeter twin brother, Simon (both played by Freddie Highmore); and older sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) -- move into a ramshackle country house with their newly divorced mom (Mary-Louise Parker). The estate once belonged to their great-great-uncle, Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn), a naturalist whose field research revealed some unexpected new species: fairies, goblins and the like.

Uncle Arthur has long since vanished -- and his daughter Lucinda is now an old lady in the local asylum -- but Jared's discovery of his loosely bound notes reawakens the interest of the terrible ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte), who will stop at nothing to get his claws on them, if only he and his toadies can break the protective circle that surrounds the house.

Mulgarath isn't the only monster in this movie. Jared does a good impersonation of one in the early scenes, railing against his mom and taking a switch to the SUV. His home is broken, and he's all upset about it. When his sister wakes up to find her hair tied to the bedstead, everyone assumes Jared is the culprit.

In fact, it's Thimbletack, a "house brownie" whose job is to protect Spiderwick's book. A midget-sized hulk voiced by Martin Short, Thimbletack can work himself into a green fury unless you sweeten his disposition with generous helpings of honey.

Jared also gets some help from Hogsqueal, a bird-eating hobgoblin (voiced by Seth Rogen) who has sworn vengeance on Mulgarath and who'll spit in your eye to expose the ogre's invisible minions.

Waters ("Mean Girls") hasn't done an effects movie before, unless you count "Freaky Friday," but he's kept a firm grip on the material and gets impressive performances out of Bolger and Highmore (though it's questionable whether it was worth twinning him; Simon -- "I don't do conflict" -- is mostly on the sidelines).

The storytelling is economical and brisk. In some ways, Waters approaches it more as a pre-teen horror movie. The domestic squabbles within the ruptured family are realistic and raw, and the climax is like something out of a home-invasion thriller (but with more goo).

That said, these intense sequences are offset by moments of whimsy and humor, by Caleb Deschanel's beautiful cinematography, James Horner's warm score and the benign presence of old pros like Strathairn and Joan Plowright. Incidentally, Strathairn's regular collaborator, indie filmmaker John Sayles, is one of three credited screenwriters.

Parents of younger children should proceed with caution; this walk in the woods is no picnic. But "The Spiderwick Chronicles" is animated by its anger issues; edgy and brittle, it's at least a cut above average.

Actress Bai Ling Accused Of Shoplifting

Bai Ling's good looks and eccentric outfits have frequently put her picture in celebrity magazines, but that doesn't mean she can take the magazines for free.

The Chinese actress was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of shoplifting two celebrity magazines and two packets of batteries at Los Angeles International Airport. The items had a total value of $16, said Sgt. Jim Holcomb of the airport's police department.

The 41-year-old actress was detained by a store employee who summoned police, Holcomb said. She was booked for investigation of misdemeanor shoplifting and released after agreeing to appear in court on March 5.

An e-mail message seeking comment sent to Ling's agent on Thursday was not immediately returned.

Ling has appeared in such films as "The Crow" and "Anna and the King" and in the TV series "Lost."

The day of her arrest, she posted a message on her blog with a photo of herself at the airport waiting for a delayed flight. She made no mention of her arrest, instead wondering whether people were "rushing in the cold wind to work" after the Chinese New Year.

"Life is a sad song sometime but still sings the beauty for their loved ones," she wrote.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Review: Definitely, Maybe

In the saga of his love life that he weaves as a bedtime story for his preteen daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin), in "Definitely, Maybe," Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) sounds like a man from Hope as he recounts the good old days of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign

Back then, Will was an idealistic campaign worker straight out of college in Wisconsin; today he's a Manhattan ad guy about to finalize his divorce from Maya's mother. The Clinton name-check (along with a trip down memory lane to the testimony of former Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers) gives this value-enhanced romantic semi-comedy a gentle zing of timeliness, especially as the wife who stood by her man 16 years ago is now the Clinton seeking the presidency herself.

And the pointed reference to the curious case of the Clinton relationship announces that "Definitely, Maybe" is absolutely, probably more comfortable with human romantic complication than the usual stuff released on Valentine's Day.

If only Will the character weren't such a generic, pizzazz-less Ken doll of a Gen-X adult male! If only Reynolds the actor didn't vanish before our eyes even as he walks and talks!

Will describes three uncommon women who have moved him from mild to warm over the years, disguising the names so his daughter can guess, in the end, which lady became her mommy. (That's an odd form of father-daughter bonding, true, but the big-city girl has just had her first sex-ed class.)

There's Emily (Elizabeth Banks), the wholesome Midwesterner who feared that the bright lights of New York would change her beau; there's Summer (Rachel Weisz), the glamorous belles-lettres adventurer, whose involvement with an older literary lion (Kevin Kline) didn't diminish her appreciation for Will's boyish good looks; and there's April (Isla Fisher), the free spirit, who, although winsomely kooky enough to serve as a dream girl for "Daily Show" boys, is nevertheless receptive to Will's white-bread-and-mayo appeal.

No reason is adequately given why Will and his wife have chosen to split up and share custody, but I assume an inability to distinguish husband from hat rack is grounds for divorce.

And so Will advances the narrative, year by year, interrupted by Maya's perceptive present-day questions and commentary, delivered with the kind of therapeutic Wise Child tolerance we have come to expect from the star of "Little Miss Sunshine." The thing is, each lady under discussion would not only make a reasonable mommy but also a really attractive, realistic woman. No one's a cartoon villain, and no one's beyond reproach, either. Everyone speaks like a grown-up (er, including Maya).

But in a bounty of candidates, keep your eye on Banks. In a performance of invigorating complexity (and typically sunny equanimity), her Emily is a breakthrough non-neurotic beauty, perfectly built for an election year unimaginable back when Gennifer Flowers was acting out a much older female role.

Actors To Stop Strike

Four of Hollywood's biggest stars have taken out adverts in US trade papers urging their leaders to start contract talks in a bid to avert a strike.

Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro want the Screen Actors Guild to negotiate with studios over a contract which ends on 30 June.

Their call comes as US writers begin to return to work after they voted to end a three-month strike.

Networks have started to announce the return of shows halted by the strike.

Strong support

The adverts, placed in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, appeal with leaders of the 120,000-strong Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to begin talks over a new contract.

On Wednesday, SAG national executive director Doug Allen said the union would open negotiations over pay and conditions "at a time that will most benefit our members".

Last week, Clooney warned SAG leaders their negotiating power would diminish if they waited before starting talks with producers, because of "a lot of strike fatigue".

The actors' union offered strong support to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in its strike over work distributed on DVD or over the internet.

TV and film writers are now returning to work after the WGA's back-to-work order was approved by 92.5% of the 3,775 members who voted on the deal struck by leaders at the weekend.

But it will take weeks for the TV industry, in particular, to mobilise while new material is prepared.

Network CBS has announced that a number of its most popular dramas, including Cold Case, Criminal Minds and Without a Trace, will be back on air by early April.

And ABC's courtroom drama Boston Legal will be back in front of cameras as soon as next week because the script was already half-finished when the strike began in November.

Long wait

The current US TV season runs out in late May.

Viewers will have to wait longer for shows with continuing storylines than those with self-contained episodes with many networks choosing to wait until they can show seasons in their entirety.

NBC's superhero series Heroes is expected to stay off air in the US until autumn for that reason.

Fox thriller 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland as agent Jack Bauer, is now scheduled to begin in January 2009 so that all 24 episodes can be shown in full.

Films have not been as severely affected because they have longer production times.

Some 10,500 writers stopped work on 5 November, a few days after their old contract with studios ended.

Sunday's deal gives them a greater share in money made from TV programmes and films offered over the internet and other new media.

TV and film production was crippled by the strike and it led to the cancellation of the Golden Globes ceremony.

The Academy Awards, which were also threatened, will now go ahead.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strange Wilderness

Since the studio decided not to screen Strange Wilderness for the press, I was forced to head out on my own (albeit tax deductible) dime to my local Movie Tavern to see the flick on opening night. Now, if you aren’t familiar with the Movie Tavern phenomenon, let me say that it is certainly something to behold. It is the curiously hot transvestite of the movie theater and fine dining industries, mixing good food (think Applebee’s) with movies. In this particular case, I was thankful that the Tavern is a purveyor of alcoholic beverages, as I knew I would need something to take the sting off of another Happy Madison produced comedy.

Little did I know that there is no amount of alcohol that could possibly take the sting out of having to sit through the nails on a chalkboard-esque annoyance that is Strange Wilderness. Happy Madison’s last flick Grandma’s Boy may have been both stupid and funny, but Strange Wilderness is just stupid. In fact, the film reaches such a tragically unfunny level that I found myself scrolling through the address book in my Blackberry, searching for the numbers of people with whom I no longer want to be associated and deleting them.

The story centers around Peter (Steve Zahn), a second generation wildlife show host who has successfully driven his father’s once great show into the ground thanks to heavy doses of pot and a crew of nitwits. And even though said crew of nitwits (which includes Grandma’s Boy’s Allen Covert, Superbad’s Jonah Hill, Accepted’s Justin Long, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’s Peter Dante, Super Troopers‘ Kevin Heffernan and Jericho’s Ashley Scott) are loyal, they are not in any way cut out for the television business. So when the head of the television studio that runs the show (played by Jeff Garlin) threatens to cancel them, this rag-tag team of imbeciles sets out on a journey to find and capture for the first time on film, the legend that is Big Foot.

From there, the results are absolutely disastrous. It is mind-numbing to me to think that a film with a premise like that could end up with zero story arc. Despite the fact that we are given a conflict and a resolution, the film yields no notable climax — for the laymen among us, nothing ever really happens.

In addition, the film’s comedic pace is completely incoherent, playing out less like a funny movie and more like an incoherent jumbling of bad Saturday Night Live skits that should have died on the floor in the writer’s room at Rockafeller Center. The performances were disappointingly sub-par as well. Steve Zahn, who has shown us bits of greatness in films like 2007’s Rescue Dawn, just flails around like a hyper kid just off his Ridalin. He should have been giving the audience someone to root for, instead we just feel sad for his character. Jonah Hill also stands out as being completely out of place. It defies all logic how he can go from something so rock solid and hysterical like Superbad to something as blatantly moronic as this.

If you combine the unnervingly bad script (penned by director Fred Wolf and co-producer Peter Gaulke) with the wasted talent in the cast, you get a film that is a pointless, humorless mess. To be quite honest, Strange Wilderness is a modern day comedic tragedy. The only redeeming value of the experience was that I discovered the wonders of the Movie Tavern and its giant-sized beer mugs. Oh, and the nachos were pretty damn good, as well.

Review By Neil Miller

Fool's Gold

Hello, I’m Abayomi, and I can’t go a month without needing a romantic comedy fix. There, I said it. Call me a fool for loving romantic comedies, but I’m drawn to them like a duck to water. The rom com world is filled with fluffy, feel-good films that have little or no lasting impact on our lives and serve only as temporary escapism into a fantasy

land of pleasant people falling in love. It’s a given the ending will be a happy one with the leads waltzing off into the sunset holding hands and making goo-goo eyes at one another. What’s not to like? They’re sappy, silly, time-wasters, but they’re also strangely addictive.

Occasionally the genre will even sneak in a movie that’s above and beyond the norm – Love Actually, Knocked Up, and When Harry Met Sally come to mind – but for the most part the genre’s loaded with fun but forgettable fare. Unfortunately, the romantic comedy world also has more than its share of real stinkers. A brand new one of those was just added to the pot with Fool’s Gold.
The Story

Ben ‘Finn’ Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) loves treasure hunting. In fact, he loves treasure hunting so much he risks everything he owns in order to seek out long-lost gold buried under the sea. He once had a wife, Tess (Kate Hudson), who loved searching for riches with him, but she lost both the desire to find sunken treasure and the desire to wake up next to Finn’s golden, ripped abs. No matter, Finn forges on despite being in debt up to his earlobes to rapper-loan shark-all around bad guy Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart).

Finn, equally as unlucky at searching for gold as he is in love, can’t come up with the money to pay off the Bunny Man. Yet that doesn’t stop him from trying to hunt down what’s been lost for centuries. When a piece of The Queen’s Dowry (the ultimate pot of gold for fortune hunters) literally floats into his hands, Finn knows he’s onto something. All he needs to finally discover the whereabouts of the treasure is his ex-wife’s help and her millionaire boss’ big boat and bankroll. Of course Tess and millionaire Nigel (Donald Sutherland) will just have to sign on to his plan after he flashes those pearly whites and turns on the charm. And showing lots of skin also helps sell his case - or maybe not. That’s probably just for the benefit of the audience.

But Finn, his best buddy and diving partner Alfonz (Ewen Bremner), and the rest of the motley crew aren’t the only ones out for gold. Finn’s mentor, Moe (Ray Winstone), wants it for his own as does Bigg Bunny. And word apparently doesn’t reach Bunny and his thugs that they’re in a romantic comedy because they actually try to kill people!

The Cast

Matthew McConaughey gets his butt kicked multiple times in Fool’s Gold, with the worst beating delivered by the script and not his onscreen enemies. The plot is convoluted and confusing, and McConaughey’s left to try and pick up the pieces by gamely taking some lumps and – as mentioned before – showing off his tanned and handsome body.

Kate Hudson doesn’t get that much to do, other than look cute. Tess isn’t much of a character but rather a female love interest grabbed not fully formed from Column B of the romantic comedy handbook.
The Bottom Line

The bad guys repeatedly try to kill our heroes but it’s all for laughs, right? One murder attempt might be okay in a romantic comedy world, but Fool’s Gold really pushes the violence level way out of proportion. It also pushes our level of tolerance for exposition. Fool’s Gold comes to a complete stop as the characters plop themselves down for a lengthy discourse on where the treasure came from, who sent it out to sea, whose ship it was on, why it was there, where it was going, the weather conditions during the voyage, the geography of the land, and the color of the captain’s underwear. That last bit of info wasn’t actually included but might as well have been for all the good the rest of the explanation did in clueing the audience in on the location of the treasure. It feels like hours, even days, have passed by the time this information dump concludes.

For those who do succeed in following at least some of the history of The Queen’s Dowry, it’s quickly evident that the aforementioned explanation leads to major plot problems having to do with continuity. The location where Finn found the plate that set him off on this grand adventure doesn’t make sense, and that’s just one of the film’s many problems. And, seriously, the ultimate location of the treasure is just ridiculous. Someone over the course of 300-odd years would have stumbled across this buried loot long, long before Finn and Tess seek out their fortune.
The underwater scenes are done well, but don’t sell that sense of adventure you'd expect the characters to feel while chasing down millions – maybe even billions – in treasure. The time spent on land also lacks the thrill of the hunt. Combine that with the absence of any truly funny scenes and Fool’s Gold is one 'treasure' better left buried.

Grade: D+

Fool's Gold was directed by Andy Tennant and is rated PG-13 for action violence, some sexual material, brief nudity and language.

Theatrical Release Date: February 8, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grammy Awards : Know The Winners

The 50th annual Grammy Awards have been handed out in Los Angeles. Here is a selection of the key winners.
Record of the year
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
Also nominated:
Beyonce - Irreplaceable
Foo Fighters - The Pretender
Rihanna - Umbrella
Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around... Comes Around

Album of the year
Herbie Hancock - River: The Joni Letters
Also nominated:
Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Vince Gill - These Days
Kanye West - Graduation
Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

Song of the year
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
Also nominated:
Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats
Plain White Ts - Hey There Delilah
Corrine Bailey Rae - Like a Star
Rihanna - Umbrella

Best new artist
Amy Winehouse
Also nominated:
Taylor Swift

Best female pop vocal performance
Rehab - Amy Winehouse
Also nominated:
Candyman - Christina Aguilera
1234 - Feist
Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie
Say It Right - Nelly Furtado

Best male pop vocal performance
What Goes Around...Comes Around - Justin Timberlake
Also nominated:
Everything - Michael Buble
Belief - John Mayer
Dance Tonight - Paul McCartney
Amazing - Seal

Best pop performance by a duo or group with vocals
Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5
Also nominated:
(You Want To) Make A Memory - Bon Jovi
Home - Daughtry
Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's
Window In The Skies - U2

Best pop vocal album
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Also nominated:
Bon Jovi - Lost Highway
Feist - The Reminder
Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full

Best dance recording
LoveStoned/I Think She Knows - Justin Timberlake
Also nominated:
Do It Again - The Chemical Brothers
D.A.N.C.E. - Justice
Love Today - Mika
Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna

Best rock song
Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen
Also nominated:
Come On - Lucinda Williams
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
It's Not Over - Daughtry
The Pretender - Foo Fighters

Best rock album
Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Also nominated:
Daughtry - Daughtry
John Fogerty - Revival
Bruce Springsteen - Magic
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Best solo rock vocal performance
Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen
Also nominated:
Timebomb - Beck
Only Mama Knows - Paul McCartney
Our Country - John Mellencamp
Come On - Lucinda Williams

Best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
Also nominated:
It's Not Over - Daughtry
Working Class Hero - Green Day
If Everyone Cared - Nickelback
Instant Karma - U2

Best alternative music album
Icky Thump - The White Stripes
Also nominated:
Alright, Still... - Lily Allen
Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
Volta - Bjork
Wincing The Night Away - The Shins

Best female R&B vocal performance
No One - Alicia Keys
Also nominated:
Just Fine - Mary J Blige
When I See You - Fantasia
If I Have My Way - Chrisette Michele
Hate On Me - Jill Scott

Best male R&B vocal performance
Future Baby Mama - Prince
Also nominated:
Woman - Raheem DeVaughn
B.U.D.D.Y. - Musiq Soulchild
Because Of You - Ne-Yo
Please Don't Go - Tank

Best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals
Disrespectful - Chaka Khan Featuring Mary J Blige
Also nominated:
Same Girl - R Kelly Featuring Usher
Hate That I Love You - Rihanna Featuring Ne-Yo
Baby - Angie Stone Featuring Betty Wright
Bartender - T-Pain Featuring Akon

Best R&B song
No One - Alicia Keys
Also nominated:
Beautiful Flower - India.Arie
Hate That I Love You - Rihanna Featuring Ne-Yo
Teachme - Musiq Soulchild
When I See U - Fantasia

Best R&B album
Chaka Khan - Funk This
Also nominated:
Ledisi - Lost & Found
Musiq Soulchild - Luvanmusiq
Jill Scott - The Real Thing
Tank - Sex, Love & Pain

Best contemporary R&B album
Ne-Yo - Because Of You
Also nominated:
Akon - Konvicted
Keyshia Cole - Just Like You
Fantasia - Fantasia
Emily King - East Side Story

Best rap solo performance
Stronger - Kanye West
Also nominated:
The People - Common
I Get Money - 50 Cent
Show Me What You Got - Jay-Z
Big Things Poppin' (Do It) - TI

Best rap performance by a duo or group
Southside - Common Featuring Kanye West
Also nominated:
Make It Rain - Fat Joe Featuring Lil Wayne
Party Like A Rockstar - Shop Boyz
Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You) - UGK Featuring OutKast
Better Than I've Ever Been - Kanye West, Nas & KRS-One

Best rap song
Good Life - Kanye West Featuring T-Pain
Also nominated:
Ayo Technology - 50 Cent Featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland
Big Things Poppin' (Do It) - TI
Can't Tell Me Nothing - Kanye West
Crank That - Soulja Boy Tell'Em

Best rap album
Kanye West - Graduation
Also nominated:
Common - Finding Forever
Jay-Z - Kingdom Come
Nas - Hip Hop Is Dead
TI - TI vs TIP

Best female country vocal performance
Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
Also nominated:
Simple Love - Alison Krauss
Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert
Nothin' Better To Do - LeAnn Rimes
Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love - Trisha Yearwood

Best male country vocal performance
Stupid Boy - Keith Urban
Also nominated:
Long Trip Alone - Dierks Bentley
A Woman's Love - Alan Jackson
If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw
Give It Away - George Strait

Best country performance by a duo or group with vocals
How Long - Eagles
Also nominated:
Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn
Moments - Emerson Drive
Lucky Man - Montgomery Gentry
Sweet Memories - The Time Jumpers

Best country song
Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
Also nominated:
Give It Away - George Strait
I Need You - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw
Long Trip Alone - Dierks Bentley

Best country album
Vince Gill - These Days
Also nominated:
Dierks Bentley - Long Trip Alone
Tim McGraw - Let It Go
Brad Paisley - 5th Gear
George Strait - It Just Comes Natural

Best electronic/dance album
The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night
Also nominated:
Justice - Cross
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
Shiny Toy Guns - We Are Pilots
Tiesto - Elements Of Life

Producer of the year, non-classical
Mark Ronson
Also nominated:
Howard Benson
Joe Chiccarelli
Mike Elizondo

Best short form music video
Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down
Feist - 1234
Gnarls Barkley - Gone Daddy Gone
Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
Mute Math - Typical

Five For Winehouse

Troubled singer Amy Winehouse has been showered with glory by the prestigious Grammy Awards, winning five prizes - despite being absent from the ceremony.
Her awards included song of the year and record of the year, both for her single Rehab, and best new artist.

But she was not at the Los Angeles ceremony to collect them due to visa problems. Instead, she performed and made an acceptance speech by satellite.

Kanye West scooped four Grammy Awards, while Bruce Springsteen won three.

The White Stripes, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood and Mary J Blige were among the acts who picked up two awards.

'My Blake incarcerated'

But the night belonged to Winehouse, whose stunned reaction to winning record of the year, was beamed into the ceremony from a London studio.

The 24-year-old singer was seen hugging her mother as the crowd in Los Angeles chanted her name.

She paid tribute to her husband, "my Blake incarcerated", who is in custody awaiting trial on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and grievous bodily harm.

She also dedicated the win to London, "because Camden Town ain't burning down", a reference to a huge fire in the capital this weekend.

Winehouse, the first Briton to win the Grammy for best new artist since soul singer Sade in 1986, also performed You Know I'm No Good and Rehab.

In the song of the year category, Rehab saw off competition from singles by Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, the Plain White Ts and Corinne Bailey Rae.

Rehab was also named record of the year, beating efforts by Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and the Foo Fighters.

Her other accolades were best pop vocal album for Back To Black and best female pop vocal performance for Rehab.

Winehouse will now return to the Capio Nightingale clinic, where she has been treated for the past two weeks to overcome her high-profile drug problems.

The US embassy initially refused her a visa, then reversed their decision - but it was too late to allow her to travel to the ceremony.

She had been nominated for six awards, but lost out on the prize for album of the year.

Jazz upset

In a major upset, that went to jazz legend Herbie Hancock for River: The Joni Letters, his tribute to singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell - only the second time a jazz album has triumphed in the 50-year history of the Grammys.

"I'd like to thank the academy for courageously breaking the mould this time," Hancock said.

Kanye West led the nominations with eight, and came away with four trophies - for best rap song, best rap album, best rap solo performance and best rap performance by a duo or group.

The hip-hop star used his acceptance speech for best rap album to pay tribute to his mother Donda, who died in November.

But when the band struck up to try to cut short his speech, he said: "It would be in good taste to stop the music," and the music stopped.

"I know you're really proud of me right now and I know you want me to be the number one artist in the world," he said. "And mama, all I'm going to do is keep making you proud. We run this."

The show opened with a duet between Alicia Keys and footage of the late Frank Sinatra singing Learnin' the Blues.

Tina Turner returned to the stage for the first time in seven years to perform with Beyonce.

Songwriter Burt Bacharach received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement at a separate ceremony on Saturday.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amy Winehouse may be key Grammy moment

Kanye West is nominated for a leading eight Grammy awards and has a history, good or bad, of creating memorable awards show moments. But the superstar rapper and producer may be upstaged on Grammy night by another nominee who's not even able to attend Sunday's ceremony.

Troubled British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, up for six awards including album of the year for her "Back to Black" album, is due to perform via satellite from her home country, where she is currently being treated in a rehabilitation center for substance abuse.

In the days leading up to the ceremony, suspense was building whether the 24-year-old, whose personal life has fallen apart over the past year as her career blossomed, would be at the ceremony in any form. It was unclear whether she'd be well enough to take a break from rehab to attend; then, it was unclear whether the United States would grant her a work visa to appear.

After she was initially rejected for the visa this week, Grammy producers arranged for her to perform via telecast. Soon afterward, the U.S. government reversed itself and approved Winehouse, but it was too late in the week at that point to make the cross-continental trek.

Winehouse is only behind West for the most nominations on the night. The retro-soul singer's top-selling American debut is not only up for album of the year, but song and record of the year for her autobiographical, sassy hit "Rehab," about her refusal to undergo treatment. Though the album was a critical and commercial breakthrough for her, her personal troubles, which made regular tabloid headlines, threatened to overshadow her music.

In any other year, it would likely be West who would be the main story line going into Grammy week. He too is up for album of the year for "Graduation," which had the best-selling debut of last year with almost one million copies sold in the first week alone. This is West's third album and the third time he has been nominated for album of the year.

While he has won a handful of Grammys, they have been in the rap categories, where the bulk of his nominations are this year as well. West has provided stirring awards show performances, but has also been known to go on a tirade when he has not won what he thought he deserved, perhaps most notably at last year's MTV Video Music Awards.

Late last year, he suffered a traumatic loss when his mother and manager Donda West died after complications of plastic surgery. West, whose mother was often with him at awards ceremonies, is due to perform on Sunday's broadcast.

Besides West and Winehouse, the other album of the year contenders were the Foo Fighters' "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace," Vince Gill's "These Days," and Herbie Hancock's "The River."

For record of the year, Winehouse's "Rehab" is competing against Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," Rihanna's "Umbrella," "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around ... Comes Around."

Among the broadcast's scheduled performances were Beyonce with rock goddess Tina Turner; Rihanna with The Time; Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Alicia Keys with John Mayer and Carrie Underwood.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grammys. But the Hollywood writer's strike had threatened disrupt the telecast when the Writers Guild of America indicated they might not grant the show a waiver to use writers, leaving the potential of a boycott. But an interim agreement was reached.

The show will be broadcast live on CBS. The bulk of the 100-plus trophies will be given out in a pre-telecast ceremon

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Adieu Heath Ledger

International film stars and close relatives were among the mourners at a memorial service for Australian actor Heath Ledger in his home town of Perth.
The service was to be followed by a private burial for close family only.

The 28-year-old star of Brokeback Mountain died of an accidental drugs overdose last month in New York.

Hollywood star Cate Blanchett was a speaker at the service, along with Neil Armfield, who directed Ledger in his last Australian film, Candy.

Ledger's former fiancee, Michelle Williams, attended the service along with Australian actors Bryan Brown and Joel Edgerton.

'Difficult to cope'

Local musician Levi Islam told reporters outside that he opened the service by playing an ancient Aboriginal tune on a didgeridoo.

His father, Kim Ledger, told reporters the family wanted to be allowed to grieve alone.

"We're finding it pretty difficult to cope by ourselves, let alone with everyone else around the world," he said.

"Having said that, we do really appreciate the outpouring and the emotional support from all over the globe."

About 500 people attended the memorial service at Penrhos College, in the Perth suburb of Como.

Mourners then went to a wake at the city's Cottesloe Beach, which was one of Ledger's favourite places.

Lethal combination

A memorial service was held in Los Angeles last weekend.

On Wednesday, the New York City medical examiner ruled that Ledger died from the combined effect of six different prescription drugs.

They included painkiller Oxycontin and anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax.

Traces of painkiller Ibuprofen and the sleeping pills Restoril and Unisom were also found in Ledger's blood.

Kim Ledger said: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy."

Local media reported that Ledger would be buried in a family plot, next to his grandparents, in a Perth ceremony.

Colin Farrell Discusses 'In Bruges'

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play hit men sent to Bruges to lay low for a couple of weeks in the twisted comedy, In Bruges. After a hit goes bad, boss man Harry (Ralph Fiennes) sends Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) away for what's supposed to be a brief, relaxing vacation. The problem is, Ray doesn't want to spend even one night in Bruges after taking an immediate disliking to the city. Instead of enjoying the scenery in the most well-preserved medieval city in Belgium, Ray hates the idea of staying put in Bruges and that leads to arguments and, of course, big trouble.

Farrell says the script for In Bruges was the best he’d ever read. That’s high praise coming from a man who worked his way onto the A-list over the past decade with starring roles in Tigerland, Alexander, Miami Vice and The New World.

“It's just my favorite thing I've ever read,” said Farrell of the In Bruges screenplay. “On one hand, I understood the characters. I felt that I understood them and I understood their way of communicating. On another hand, I couldn't figure out how an actor could say any of these words because some of it's quite outlandish. Thank God we had the three weeks rehearsal, but it was just beautiful language, really beautiful language, beautiful descriptions. It was a lot more expressive of a certain kind of truth that was inherently existing within all the characters than it seemed on the page. There is a melancholy to the piece that is completely lacking in indulgence. It was beautiful. I found reading it, yes, it was very poignant and all that, but it was also very painful and very emotional. But it just wasn't crescendoing to any particular moments. So it was just a beautiful script.”
Farrell doesn’t think his past directors Michael Mann or Oliver Stone would feel slighted by his insistence In Bruges is the best thing he’s gotten his hands on. “How do I think they'd feel? They'll feel fine, I'm sure,” said Farrell. “They have an idea of who they are and how good they are and how strong they are as artists. They'd be fine with it.”

Farrell can point to a couple of lines in particular in writer/director Martin McDonagh's script that absolutely blew him away. “There was two lines that just I actually had to put the script down. When he says, ‘Amsterdam, that's just full of bloody prostitutes.’ And so she says, ‘Yes, that's why I came to Bruges. I thought I'd get a better price for my p---sy...’”

Farrell's other favorite bit of dialogue didn't make the final cut but will be included on the DVD. “There's a great line where Harry is on the train, the channel tunnel, going to Bruges to do the deed. He sits down in front of a businessman and the businessman says something to him like, ‘You going to Bruges on business or something?’ Harry looks at him and says, ‘If I wanted to talk to a c--t, I would have gone to the Talk to a C--t shop.’ So those were two I remember - I couldn't believe it.”

But it wasn't just the script that got Farrell enthused. The whole process of working on the film was a revelation to Farrell who credits McDonagh with making In Bruges a real learning experience as well as a pleasure to work on. “The whole thing was, apart form the singularity of Martin's vision manifesting in this script, after that fact the whole thing became such a collaboration. The three weeks of rehearsal we had was just such playtime for us, really. It's a luxury that you don't really get on films that much. I think the only other time I rehearsed as intensely was for Phone Booth because that was a 10 day shoot and we had to really block it and stuff. But no, it was a great time just to sit in there and just talk about it. I thought we'd run out of steam about halfway through the second week, we'd be going, ‘Can we shoot it already?’ But every time we asked one question of the script and thought we came to a conclusion, then 10 other questions would pop up. It was that good.”

“I thought it existed on the surface, as I said before to a certain degree, but there was just so much subtext going on that I didn't even comprehend the first time I read it,” explained Farrell. “And the facial expressions and all that, I don't know... He's just a very honest guy and was so raw. So raw, I mean, by the time we meet him he's been through this terrible ordeal, this tragic event that takes place that he brings into being, this atrocious act that he commits so he's just incredibly raw and agitated and despairing. Knowing the reason why they're going to Bruges is because of what he's done, so Bruges in itself all around him is a reminder.”

Farrell’s character, Ray, has more than his fair share of inner demons to battle and is extremely conflicted. But Farrell thinks his character’s inner conflicts reflect the reality of being alive. We each have our own issues to deal with, though it's likely most people will never have to go through the turmoil Ray does after a hit goes bad. “I think the majority of us do really, to be honest,” said Farrell. “I mean, maybe good old Deepak [Chopra] doesn't. God bless him if he doesn't, but I've met some very peaceful Buddhists in my time. But I think the majority of us as human beings have a certain amount of conflicts that resonate within us to varying degrees.”

“Ray certainly has a load of conflict. In a way, he's not fully formed. He's still like a big lump of plasticine that is just very pliable. He's trying to figure out what shape he's going to take and how much of that will be based on the actions that he's put into play and how much of that can possibly be as a result of the universe. How much that does affect our existence is another matter. I think he's asking questions and searching more than he ever did before, based on what he's been through.

Grammy Award Nominations 2008

Presented February 10, 2008

Thursday December 6, 2007 the nominations for the 2008 Grammy Awards were announced. The awards will be presented February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The nominees are voted on and winners selected by members of the Recording Academy.

The Grammy Awards give out over 100 different trophies. I have listed only the nominations in the General, Pop, and Rock categories. The nominees are:

Record of the Year

Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
Foo Fighters - "The Pretender"
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella"
Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around...Comes Around"
Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Album of the Year

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Vince Gill - These Days
Herbie Hancock - River: The Joni Letters
Kanye West - Graduation
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Song of the Year

Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah"
Corinne Bailey Rae - "Like a Star"
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella"
Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"
Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Best New Artist

Taylor Swift
Amy Winehouse

Best Female Pop Vocal

Chrisina Aguilera - "Candyman"
Feist - "1,2,3,4"
Fergie - "Big Girls Don't Cry"
Nelly Furtado - "Say It Right"
Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Best Male Pop Vocal

Michael Buble - "Everything"
John Mayer - "Belief"
Paul McCartney - "Dance Tonight"
Seal - "Amazing"
Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around...Comes Around"

Best Pop Duo or Group With Vocal

Bon Jovi - "(You Want to) Make A Memory"
Daughtry - "Home"
Maroon 5 - "Makes Me Wonder"
Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah"
U2 - "Window in the Skies"

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals

Tony Bennett & Christina Aguilera - "Steppin' Out"
Beyonce & Shakira - "Beautiful Liar"
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)"
Gwen Stefani & Akon - "The Sweet Escape"
Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake - "Give It To Me"

Best Pop Instrumental

Beastie Boys - "Off the Grid"
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals - "Paris Sunrise #7"
Dave Koz - "Over the Rainbow"
Joni Mitchell - "One Week Last Summer"
Spyro Gyra - "Simple Pleasures"

Best Pop Instrumental Album

Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up
Chris Botti - Italia
Dave Koz - At the Movies
Spyro Gyra - Good to Go-Go
Kirk Whalum - Round Trip

Best Pop Vocal Album

Bon Jovi - Lost Highway
Feist - The Reminder
Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

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