MIAMI - We've so often seen Andy Garcia performing in an Italian-American gangster guise – from “The Untouchables” to “Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead” to, of course, his Oscar-nominated breakout role in “The Godfather Part III” – that it's easy to forget the Havana-born actor's Cuban heritage.
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Check out “Gotham’s” future Catwoman and a young Bruce Wayne
Here are pics of Camren Bicondova, age 14, as Selina Kyle, joined by 13-year-old David Mazouz.
In the same week -- really, the same 24 hours -- he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "12 Years a Slave," John Ridley flew to Austin to launch into work on the pilot for ABC's "American Crime." That meant, too, he could promote "Jimi: All Is Lost," to which he referred as his "child," his baby, a film fit for the South By Southwest film conference and is creeping toward theatrical release on May.
"All Is By My Side" and "12 Years a Slave" both made their debut at the Toronto International Film Festival last year; but it's the former that he wrote, directed and executive produced. Touching on one year of rocker Jimi Hendrix's early career, Ridley also had to work-around the notoriously difficult Hendrix estate, which denied the film any usage of Hendrix's recorded work, and long timeline conversations with people producing the film.
I thought that "All Is By My Side" toyed with what really makes up "the cast of characters" in Hendrix's life, namely the women that surrounded him. He abused some, like he ultimately did his drugs, which Ridley's script also alludes to. His passions for guitar and art and music felt so light-hearted compared to his inner-struggles for acceptance, and the film knowingly complicates the story of Jimi Hendrix before he became famous to thousands -- and, ultimately, millions -- of fans at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967.
I caught up with Ridley at SXSW at the time of "All Is By My Side's" U.S. debut at the fest, to ask about women's roles in the film, Hendrix and race, films with messaging, Andre Benjamin (Outkast rapper Andre 3000) as Jimi, and how that whole winning-Academy-Awards-thing is going.
HitFix: You haven’t been able to really enjoy your Oscar win, have you?
John Ridley: I have not had time to literally sit at home with the wonderful statue, I had to jump on a plane to Austin and work on this pilot. I didn’t get to just revel in it.
I have to say there’s something nice about leaving that behind, leaving truly with my family and knowing what’s next, and knowing there were people truly supportive of me before it happened. That’s a good feeling. In some ways it was like a dream, like it didn’t happen. The reality is it all happened so fast. It takes years to get there, it takes months to get to that moment, once they start with which film is going to be [selected], who’s in, who’s in play, who’s not… it’s always gonna be over too quickly.
Do you feel like this has a long goodbye? Do you need to have some kind of closure with your films?
It’s odd because for me, the reality of “12 Years a Slave” started in 2008 so in some ways I feel like I’m being rewarded for something I did in high school. It feels great, but people ask you questions about it, want to recollect about it, and I'm like, “I think I did this?”. It was a beautiful end for everybody involved, but there is a level of “It’s done now.” I’m ready for what’s next in my life.
“All Is By My Side” also took a long time, and it just keeps going.
Like with “12 Years a Slave,” sometimes you’re just a writer -- and that’s just the way it is, you’re kinda removed, you hand it off to this amazing team.
In all actuality, we were filming “All Is By My Side” at the same time they were filming “12 Years a Slave.” You’re handing over your child to other people and they’re raising amazingly well, but there’s a cool remove. With “All Is By My Side,” that’s the kid you’re with every single day, from the moment you sit down to write it, to the moment early on when you pitch it to other people, then you meet these producers who believe in it, you meet actors like Andre and Imogen and Hayley, then you shoot it, you’re working with an editor, every step of the way.
Toronto [Film Festival] was amazing in that both of my kids were there – “12 Years” on that Friday, “All Is By My Side” was Saturday. People are talking about the film, it’s being reviewed in the right ways, but you’re not done with it yet. It hasn’t gotten its release, it does go on and on and on. It’s this dance.
I don’t want to beat the metaphor to death, but I feel like now I’m the dad and I’m having this last dance with my daughter. It grabs me different, this one. Every step of the way, every moment, every cut, I had a hand in and worked with the people who helped execute it. This is a special feeling. The ways people are responding to this film are phenomenal. The way people respond to Andre and his performance… That makes me proud.
After TIFF, what was reflected back at you? What did you take from the TIFF experience, and what are you hoping more people would “get?”
I was very happy with people how they responded in Toronto. You can’t come into things and manage how people feel. Any time you put something out into the public, you always take that risk of people loving or hating it. You can’t live or die by reviews. I want people to appreciate what we were trying to do with it, that it’s not a conventional narrative, that it is just one year out of someone’s life, that we’re not trying to be dependent on certain artifacts but get a certain emotional velocity throughout this film.
I always talk about a film that inspires me, “Sid & Nancy,” [even though] I don’t really dig punk rock music. There were bits and pieces of the Sex Pistols within it, but that’s not what the film was about. It was about these two individuals who were no good for anyone else but each other. That’s what we wanted to do; it’s about relationships and about connectivity.
When people appreciated this was not a traditional biopic, that’s what I want people to get out of it, that we were hopefully celebrating this gentleman’s life. We’re not about the tragic end of the story. It was important to me that we kind of end on a hopeful note. The last words are about being inspired and inspiring others.
I look back on my career and the early pictures I was a part of – they were kind of exuberiant and nutty – like “U Turn” and “Three Kings” and “Undercover Brother” -- and they were all great to work on. But you do get a little bit older and you have kids and you want them to have a takeaway. Whether it’s “Red Tails,” “12 Years a Slave” and even with “Jimi”… I don’t want my kids walking away from this thinking sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is all there is to be.
But Jimi inspired people. I want that to be the message of it. People responded to the style, the performances. It’s not a typical cradle-to-grave downer biopic. In a place like SXSW, where it’s about celebrating music, celebrating diversity, celebrating energy and creativity, we were trying to do that in all aspects.
Three major themes this film struck on were fame – pre-fame, really – women, and people of color. To that last one, there’s the nugget in the film where there’s an “us and them” exchange, with the black activist scene. Were you torn wanting to tell more of that side of that story, on race?
“I feel like my life is a little bit like a dream,” says Brandy Clark.
If so, she must never want to wake up.
The Nashville singer/songwriter, who co-penned such hits as Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow,” released her debut album, “12 Stories,” last fall, and she has been floating ever since.
On Nat Geo's new series, "None of the Above" (premiering Mon. March 24 at 9:00 p.m.), host Tim Shaw challenges viewers to guess the outcome of his over-the-top (and sometimes explosive) experiments. In this exclusive clip, Shaw decides he wants to cook a frozen turkey fast. So, why not drop it in a 30-gallon drum of peanut oil? That has to end well, right?
By general agreement, it wasn't a banner year for documentaries at January's Sundance Film Festival, but one of the stronger entries I saw was Ryan White and Ben Cotner's "The Case Against 8." The HBO film maps out the history of the landmark legal battle over California's Proposition 8 (that's the ban on same-sex marriage, if you're returning from a decade-long Arctic exile) is exhaustive, intelligent detail; it's not a flashy or formally daring documentary, but it's all the more moving for focusing on fundamentals. (You can read my review here.)
“American Idol” falls to another series low
Without “The Big Bang Theory,” the highest-rated network last night was ABC with “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Dan Bucatinsky will play Tim Meadows’ husband and Casey Wilson's dad on NBC’s “Marry Me” pilot
The "Scandal" star has joined the pilot revolving around Wilson's engagement to Ken Marino. Bucatinsky will play “Kevin 2,” while “SNL” alum Meadows will play “Kevin 1.”
Seth Meyers is limiting “Late Night” to 2 musical guests per week
Billboard reports that Meyers is taking a different approach to “Late Night” than Jimmy Fallon by not having a musical guest in the 3rd guest slot more than twice a week (Meyers has had two musical guests per week since Week 2). That 3rd slot has been filled by authors, comedians and, as was the case on Tuesday, the editor of the New Yorker.
Idina Menzel: John Travolta sent me flowers and a “gorgeous e-mail”
"He was really gracious and sent this gorgeous e-mail, and we're buddies and it's all cool,” she says of the Oscar flub, adding: "Please. I mean, I've only benefited from it."
Report: ABC’s “Alice in Arabia” early script confirms worries over Muslim stereotypes
Buzzfeed, which obtained a copy of a pilot script dated from last July, found the script to be filled with Muslim stereotypes. An ABC spokesperson, however, tells Buzzfeed the script could’ve gone through multiple rewrites since it was written.
“Deadwood” premiered 10 years ago today
Watch a 26-minute documentary paying tribute to the HBO series, narrated by Jim Beaver.
Jeremy Piven refers to "Sherlock" star as "Benedict Cumberb*****”
The “Entourage" star, in a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, recalls being upstaged by the “Sherlock” star in a joint PBS media session with “Sherlock” and “Mr. Selfridge."
“Bar Rescue” gets a 4th season
Spike TV has ordered 20 more episodes of the TV show starring nightlife expert Jon Taffer.
E*Trade Baby quits in March Madness ad
The brokerage recently switched ad agencies, so its baby campaign is apparently over.
Vogue puts Kim Kardashian on its cover, with Kanye West
The April cover is titled: “Kim & Kanye: Their Fashionable Life and Surreal Times.”
Why Brad Pitt should be the No. 1 choice for “True Detective” Season 2
The mega movie star would be the perfect Matthew McConaughey replacement. PLUS: What is the "Secret Occult History of the U.S. Transportation System”?, and “True Detective’s” cinematographer revisits 9 key shots.
Check out “Community’s” animated “G.I. Jeff”
The “G.I. Joe” tribute is set to air April 3.
Jon Gosselin is not happy with Kate’s return to TLC for a 1-off special
Kate says her eight children "cheered like crazy. It was like I announced that it's Christmas tomorrow” upon hearing the news, but Us Weekly says Jon “thinks it is a really bad idea for the kids.
“Game of Thrones” creators sign on for 2 more seasons
David Benioff and Dan Weiss will continue to helm the HBO series through at least Season 6. PLUS: George R.R. Martin gives away a $30K Iron Throne, and Martin rejected a cameo on this season to work on his book.
“Scandal” shooting victim speaks
"It was very, very hard," says the shooting victim, who adds that Shonda Rhimes had no idea what to do after the table read for last week's episode. PLUS: Watch the 2nd episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Escandalo,” and Jeff Perry reacts to last night’s episode.
NBC unveils “Rosemary’s Baby” poster featuring Zoe Saldana
“Fear is born,” reads the tagline.
CMT renews “Party Down South”
The Southern “Jersey Shore” is CMT’s highest-rated original series.
Mena Suvari to star in “Hysteria” on Amazon
She’ll play a Texas doctor who investigates an epidemic in her hometown. PLUS: “How to Make it in America’s” Victor Rasuk joins CBS’ Kevin Williamson drama.
Don Cheadle is tired of people confusing “House of Lies” with “House of Cards”
Cheadle jokes that he’d like to have a death match battle with the Netflix series.
Check out “Orphan Black’s” Season 2 posters
She’s “One. Of a Kind."
John Oliver parodies the GOP’s hipster ad campaign
See clips from HBO’s "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
Ellen interviews “Wheel of Fortune” guesser
Emil de Leon has been watching the game show since he was 3 or 4 years old.
Jimmy Fallon sings a doo-wop duet with Billy Joel and an iPad
Watch their performance of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
“The Bachelor’s” Renee Oteri is already married
Renee went from going on a hometown date on TV a few weeks ago to tying the knot with another man.
Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 20, 2014.
Second Round coverage from the NCAA Tournament got off to a slow start for CBS, allowing "Scandal"-driven ABC to win the night among young viewers, while "American Idol" helped FOX eke out an overall win.
For "Scandal" it was a good week, as a big cliffhanger and the lack of "Elementary" competition led to a small bump. The news was less good for "American Idol," which fell below a 2.0 rating in the key demo.
Without CBS' in the mix, both "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" made rare visits above the 3 million viewer mark, while "Parenthood" rose above 4 million.
On to the numbers...
Kelly Reichardt's cool, composed eco-thriller "Night Moves" is pretty much the definition of a slow burner: I saw the film at its Venice premiere and was aloofly impressed, only for it to have wormed its way under my skin by the time I reviewed it a few days later. Six months on, I find my mind wandering back to its snaky ambiguities -- it's one that probably should have placed on my Best of 2013 list, and certainly seals Reichardt's place in the top ranks of American independent auteurs.
After a long campaign waged by their fans, Kiss will finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame this spring.
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I come in over asking...