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Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are Two ‘Funny People’

 Universal Pictures’ Funny People finds Adam Sandler, a funny guy, playing a successful actor/comedian named George Simmons who’s diagnosed with a form of leukemia. The devastating news is that much harder to take when George realizes there’s really no one in his life he can share it with. An impromptu visit to a local comedy club introduces him to Ira (Seth Rogen), a struggling – and not all that funny – guy who wants to leave work at the deli behind for a full time career as a comedian. Seeking company, and some new jokes for his stand-up act, George hires Ira to be his assistant. Although they’ve just met, George lets Ira in on his big secret. And as his relationship with Ira evolves, so does George’s grasp of what it takes to be a friend.

Funny People writer/director Judd Apatow and Sandler were college roommates and both did stand-up – one with much more success than the other. Sandler went on to gain fame on Saturday Night Live and in feature films, and with his Happy Madison production company. Apatow dropped out of stand-up and opted to seek out work as a writer before ultimately becoming one of the most popular comedy directors at work today. They took different paths, but remained close friends. And with Funny People, they’re able to combine their talents in a feature film for the very first time.

At the Los Angeles press day for Funny People, the two were asked how much of the onscreen relationship between Seth Rogen and his struggling actor/comedian roommates was autobiographical. “Some of the texture about how people communicate, some of it’s based on how we were like as roommates, how we were like with other roommates that we had and also with Seth and his friends, what their friendships are like,” answered Apatow. “When you’re first starting out and everyone’s friends but you’re also mad when they start moving ahead of you, so there’s that subtle competition. Like, ‘How come they’ve [got] better spots at the Improv? How did you get that TV commercial?’ When I lived with Adam, I remember he got a commercial for Visa.”

“Mastercard,” corrected Sandler.

“Oh, Mastercard, and it was this big, very expensive commercial where Adam was shopping and it was funny,” recalled Apatow. “I can’t say I didn’t think, ‘How come I’m not the Visa guy? Or the Mastercard guy. Or I could be the Visa guy. Discover Card, something.'”

“And you stole an audition away from me with Jim Henson,” said Sandler.

“That’s right. We all auditioned for Jim Henson was doing a reality show where you would drive around the country with your own video cameras.”

“At this time, you said you don’t even want to be on camera anymore,” said Sandler. “Judd was slowly starting to say, ‘Maybe I just want to be a writer or something like that.’ I didn’t even know what he was talking about. I was like, ‘What’s a writer?’ Then we auditioned for Jim Henson and I was so cocky. I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait for that callback.’ Then Judd’s like, ‘Yeah, they called, they were interested in me.'”

But things didn’t work out. “I didn’t get it ultimately because Jim Henson said I lacked warmth,” confessed Apatow. “When the guy who taught you how to read tells you you lack warmth, I was devastated.”

Sandler, Rogen, Jonah Hill and big screen newcomer Aubrey Plaza (who plays the girl Rogen’s got his eyes on) all do stand-up in the film, and they all practiced their routines in various clubs leading up to the film’s shoot. “I’ll tell you what, doing standup when you’re 42 years old is a lot more pressure than it was. When I was in my 20s, I had a goal and that was to become a movie star. I was pretty crazy. I don’t know why I was like that but I was just… So I would go on stage, if I did great, I was like, ‘All right, we’re getting closer to me getting what I need.’ When I did bad, I would just hit my head and go, ‘Wow, those people didn’t understand how great I am.’ When you’re 42 years old and you go on stage and you say a joke and no one laughs, you’re just like, ‘Wow, why am I here right now? This is very humiliating.’ I was too dumb when I was young to even notice good or bad,” laughed Sandler.

“And you also think, ‘Wow, it’s 10:30 at night and my kids are going to wake up at six. I’m going to be tired,'” added Apatow.

“That’s right. I would tell Judd after every set I would do, this was stuff I haven’t done in a long time. I haven’t talked that filthy in front of people. People recognize me. I’ve been around a long time. I go on stage, these nice people who know me as a certain type of person, and then I’m on stage and I’m as filthy as can be. I’m watching, some people are into it, some people are going, ‘No, don’t ruin it for us.’ Then I would drive home and I’d be in my driveway alone and I have my two little kids sleeping and I just felt like the biggest, dirtiest human being. I was mad at Apatow,” confessed Sandler. “Why am I doing this movie?”

“We both have two daughters so there’s more shame when you do dirty jokes. The idea behind how the standup would work was that this man, he’s ill and how he avoids dealing with it is he goes on stage and tells really filthy jokes. So I pushed Adam much harder into the dirty area because I thought it would be interesting that he doesn’t go on stage and talk about being sick and do the Richard Pryor act,” said Apatow. “He just stays hard and true to his filthy Rodney Dangerfield-esque act as a way of letting the audience know he’s not facing what’s happening.”

The film deals with a very serious issue, though it approaches it in a funny way. But playing a guy who’s dying was a heavy concept to deal with. “If I, God forbid, got sick like this guy, I don’t think I’d handle it the same way. But I did identify or I did realize that this was a way to go for a guy in this situation who’s insanely famous, been around a long time, doesn’t have any close friends and finds himself in a very heavy situation and doesn’t have anyone to talk to. In my real life, I have a lot of people to talk to so I’m not going to have to go through this. But I know guys, I do know people like that who might have to go through it like this. It’s lonely, but they find a way to be funny about it,” said Sandler.

Adam Sandler’s character, George Simmons, isn’t just sick, he’s also very bitter and he takes it out on his audience. “I think because how I saw it was you have this person that traded in everything to be famous,” explained Apatow when asked where that bitterness came from. “He put more energy into pleasing huge crowds than figuring out how to connect with people one on one. So when he gets sick, he starts thinking, ‘Was it worth it?’ He literally has no one to call when he gets sick. On one level, he starts getting mad at the audience because he sacrificed everything for them – and it was a ridiculous sacrifice. And it’s not fair to be mad at the audience but in some moments, that’s how it comes out. ‘I want you to like me so bad, and I didn’t even have children or get married because I was obsessed with you. And who are you? What was the point of that?'”

Sandler can understand that reaction, although he’s never felt that way about his audience before. “In real life, with my audiences I’m very thankful. I understand what the character’s going through, like what Judd said. He dedicated his life to them and then all of a sudden he finds himself alone. He’s lashing out. But no, I’m very thankful.”

Because the character is physically ill and emotionally tormented, getting into that dark place was a challenge for Sandler. “Certain scenes were heavy. I knew Judd just went through stuff with his mom and I went through stuff with my dad. We saw firsthand what goes on with people who are incredibly sick, so I wasn’t excited about diving into that. But I knew it had to be done and I just did it.”

Asked if Apatow knows what buttons to push after these years of friendship, Sandler replied, “Yeah, he knows everything. He knows a lot about me. Yes, that did help. He knows just stories that only Judd and I know, so he could bring those up and definitely bring me to different places.”

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July 31, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Female Salsa Singers – Who Will Be The Next Queen of Salsa?

 

Salsa has always been pretty much a man’s musical genre. When Celia Cruz started performing with Sonora Matancera, musical producers were sure that the red hot music, sung by a woman, would not sell.

Celia proved them wrong and, over the next 4 decades, went on to claim the title of the ‘Queen of Salsa.’ But with her death in 2003, no other woman has come forward to claim the crown.

While there are female artists who have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to the genre, not one of them stands out as #1.

So here’s a list of the obvious and not so obvious salsa divas on the scene today.

 

1. Gloria Estefan

Gloria EstefanFrank Micelotta/Getty Images

There was a time that Gloria Estefan seemed a likely successor to Celia Cruz. She has the music, the moves and the same type of popularity. But Estefan spends a lot of time on Latin pop and much of the world identifies her with both Spanish and English pop tunes rather than salsa.

Even though she continues to record brilliant tropical albums like 2007’s 90 Millas, she has basically announced that she has retired from touring and concertizing, if not totally from recording.

 

2. La India

La IndiaPaul Hawthorne /Getty Images

La India (Linda Viera Caballero) has been called the ‘Princess of Salsa’ but will she ever move on to become the queen?

Although born in Puerto Rico, India grew up in New York City, the birthplace of salsa. She started out singing house music and hip hop until she met Eddie Palmieri and turned to salsa at a time when the music seemed to be making a comeback. Her first salsa album was Llego la India in 1992 and she soon gained both a name and a following.

But we haven’t heard much from her since her last studio album Soy Diferente in 2006. She is due to release a new album in 2009. But will it be salsa?

And will it be too little, too late for the title?

 

3. Olga Tanon

Olga TanonPaul Hawthorne /Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s Olga Tanon is a dynamo; there’s a reason they call her a ‘woman on fire.’ She has the style, the voice, the energy to be queen of just about any musical genre she chooses.

But, although she does perform salsa, the music she chooses is generally merengue and is commonly considered to hold the crown to that genre.

So, there’s just not enough salsa in her repetoire to warrant any sort of title. Plus, with all the talented female performers out there, two titles just seems greedy.

 

4. Brenda K. Starr

Brenda K. StarrDavid Friedman /Getty Images

For awhile, Brenda K. Starr seemed to be on track to become a salsa diva. Born in New York, she’s half-Puerto Rican and started out singing dancehall and pop music in the 1980s. When her popularity started to pale in the 1990s, Starr turned to tropical music which gave her quite a name in salsa in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

But whether it’s because she had to learn Spanish in order to perform in the genre or because her heart is really in other types of music, she just doesn’t have enough going for her to reach for the crown.

 

5. Albita

Cuban-born Albita really should have a shot at being salsa royalty. Both her music, her voice and her outrageous onstage performances are highly reminiscent of the style that made Cruz so popular. She keeps making teriffic tropical albums and performs on stage with, if not frequent regularity, then often enough to keep her in the public eye.

Somehow, though, Albita does not seem to have captured the public imagination in any significant manner. So, even if Albita has all the ingredients to become the queen, she doesn’t seem to have the popularity of a Cruz, a necessary component for the title.

 

6. Choco Orta

Choco OrtaMusical Productions

Choco Orta may come from the home of reggaeton, Santurce, Puerto Rico, but she is a sonera devoted to salsa. With a style similar to that of Cruz, she has recorded with some of the greats: Salsa Fever, Willie Rosario, Andy Montanez, La India and many others.

Right now, the biggest obstacle for Choco Orta is name recognition. Although she’s known in tight salsa circles, she’s going to need to garner a larger audience before she can step up to the throne.

Her latest album, 2009’s Ahora Mismo..Choco Orta was produced by Gilberto Santa Rosa, so she certainly has the backing of the right people. Perhaps this latest album will give her the visibility she’s lacking.

We’ll have to wait and see.

 

7. Cecilia Noel

A salsa singer with Peruvian roots? Well, why not when salsa is popular in almost all of Latin America. Cecilia Noel now makes her home in Los Angeles and her 2009 album A Gozar! really caught my attention. There’s lots of talent there and some serious salsa, although Noel calls her sound ‘Salsoul’ and mixes it up with a little soul, jazz, funk.

Still, it will be interesting to see where Noel goes with this music and whether she can gain well-deserved popularity outside of the West Coast.

 

8. Carolina La O

Carolina La OWarner Music Latina

One of the best places for salsa in the world is Colombia, and Carolina La O (Carolina Arango) immediately grabs a salsa fan with her stage name, which must be a play on the classic salsa song performed by Pete ‘El Conde’ Rodriguez, “Catalina La O.”

Carolina has impeccable salsa credentials, performing with Alquimia until 1999 when she went solo. Her 2009 album, Reencuentro Con Los Gemelos is already a hit in Latin America.

But, even though she has enough talent to be a contender, both Carolina and Colombian salsa need to become better known globally before there’s a chance at a crown.

 

9. Xiomara Laugart

Xiomara LourgartCourtesy Augusto Salinas

New York-based Cuban artist Xiomara Laugart should be a contender for the crown for a couple of reasons. First, she has a fantastic voice and great stage presence. Second, she was chosen to play Celia Cruz in the off-Broadway musical, Celia, The Musical so I’m not the only one that thinks she’s got something special going.

But – the ex-Yerba Buena artist started out singing in Cuba in the Nueva Trova movement, Yerba Buena’s music was Latin funk and her first solo album, Xiomara was a jazz album.

It seems to me the lady is just not that interested in salsa once off the stage.

 

10. Yoko

Yoko

I have to admit that I’ve added Yoko more as a novelty and to round out the list to a neat ten entries.

Yoko has been gaining the attention of salsa fans lately but I have to believe that the reason is because she’s a novelty: a salsa singer from Osaka, Japan.

Yoko released her 2009 album La Japonesa Salsera and has been singing with Chico Nunez and Friends since she moved to the U.S. in 1997. And while it’s exciting to see that the popularity of salsa is global, I don’t really believe that Yoko will be any threat to the other artists on this list.

But then, you never know.

 

July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

HIV/AIDS Update – Approval of zidovudine 60 mg tablets for pediatric dosing

On July 23, 2009, FDA granted approval for zidovudine 60 mg scored tablets for pediatric use, manufactured by Aurobindo Pharma Limited of Hyderabad, India. The application was reviewed under expedited review provisions for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). 

This 60 mg tablet is an alternate formulation to oral syrup for pediatric use, and facilitates distribution and storage in settings where weight can negatively affect shipping/distribution, and high temperatures can shorten product shelf life

This product will not be marketed in the United States, where the oral syrup formulation serves pediatric dosing needs.

Zidovudine is a Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NRTI) anti-viral drug indicated for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.

Richard Klein
Office
of Special Health Issues
Food and Drug Administration

Kimberly Struble
Division of Antiviral Drug Products
Food and Drug Administration

July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

The Ugly Truth Cast Interviews from The Ugly Truth Premiere

The stars of The Ugly TruthGerard Butler and Katherine Heigl – heated up the red carpet, but they weren’t the only things making The Ugly Truth premiere one hot ticket. No, the film’s premiere took place on a blazing hot afternoon and fans of the cast – in particular fans of Gerard Butler – lined up for hours in the heat just for a chance to grab a photo, an autograph, or scream at their favorite actor. For one unfortunate fan, the heat proved to be too much. A Butler admirer who traveled all the way from Scotland for the premiere passed out from the heat and had to be taken away by ambulance before Butler, Heigl and the rest of the cast took their first steps onto the red carpet. Can you imagine making that trip and then missing the event completely? Wow, poor woman!

Anyway, for those of us who handled the heat, The Ugly Truth premiere turned out to be a great place to catch the stars talking about their new romantic comedy:

Exclusive The Ugly Truth Premiere Coverage

  • Gerard Butler on Improv and The Ugly Truth
  • Interviews with Katherine Heigl, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins and The Ugly Truth Writers
  • Bree Turner, Nick Searcy and Composer Aaron Zigman on The Ugly Truth
  • And Exclusive The Ugly Truth Premiere Photos
  • July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

    Behind the Scenes of ‘G-Force’ with Nicolas Cage, Bill Nighy & Zach Galifianakis

     Nicolas Cage and Speckles in G-Force

    ‘Nicolas Cage and his character, Speckles, in ‘G-Force.’

    © Walt Disney Pictures

    feature film directorial debut with Walt Disney Pictures’ G-Force, a 3D family-friendly comedy mixing

    live-action and animation. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and featuring the voice of Nicolas Cage as a mole named Speckles, G-Force follows the adventures of a top secret team of animals trained to be spies. Bill Nighy and Zach Galifianakis are part of the live-action cast of G-Force, with Nighy playing a sinister industrialist named Leonard Saber and Galifianakis playing the creator of the G-Force covert ops team.

     

    Hoyt Yeatman, Bill Nighy, Bill Aikin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicolas Cage, and Zach Galifianakis G-Force Press Conference

    Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges of directing your first feature film?

    Hoyt Yeatman: “I think, for me, it’s an amazing adventure to go from literally a conversation I had with my son around the dining room table to seeing a feature motion picture Hollywood film. You know, so, for me, doing digital effects is what I’ve done for many years, and I feel comfortable in that. And so my challenge was being a director and being able to tell a good story and to have good characters that have emotional reactions. And so, that, to me was what I was trying to focus on. I have tremendous support from Jerry and his group creatively in the studio at Disney, and also tremendous visual effect support from Sony Imageworks. So I did have the opportunity to kind of put the hat on in doing it.”

    “And because it’s a film that is quite complex technically, I was able to speak, I think, effectively to all the different departments and work creatively with them because we had a tremendous group throughout, working. So it was a very difficult task and probably the hardest thing in the world to do, to direct. It’s a lot of responsibility, but at the end of the day, it turned out well. I’m very excited about the end product.”

    If you could talk to the animals, which animal would you like to talk to? And then, can you talk a little bit about the communication you would like to have?

    Hoyt Yeatman: “I don’t know. I mean for me, I enjoyed the mice, actually a little bit like that. Because they’re the ones that kind of are stepped on all the time and run around. But I think probably the mouse would be interesting to see what his life’s like, you know, something like that.”

    Jerry Bruckheimer: “I think I’m a dog person, so I think I’d like to talk to one of my dogs. See what their world is like.”

    Bill Nighy: “Yeah, me too. I have a dog. I have regular conversations with my dog. In fact he was the only person I spoke with for about five or six years while I was hormonally insane, during my teenage years. I asked him just about everything, and I couldn’t possibly tell you.”

    Why are you fascinated with animation?

    Nicolas Cage: “Listen, I’m fascinated with all kinds of filmmaking. I try to keep it eclectic. I like to explore different characters in the different genres. But right now, I feel there’s a need to keep our children – and when I say our children, I mean children all over the world – smiling. And there’s nothing more sacred than the magical world of children. And with what’s going on in the economy and different elements, families are tense, people are losing their jobs. And I want to make movies that give families something to look forward to, to share with their children. So G-Force is a perfect example of that. The National Treasure movies I’ve done with Jerry, all of that, I think, is, I feel like I’m doing something on the right side of the line.”

    How did you come up with the voice of Speckles?

    Nicolas Cage: “Well see I’m a fan of Mel Blanc and I grew up watching all the Looney Tunes characters, and to think that one man did the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, is marvelous. And so I thought, when Jerry came to me about this, I said, ‘Well, would you let me change my voice?,’ because I wanted to channel that in some way. I thought this is an opportunity to break ground and do something new for me, to get me excited and hopefully entertain the kids with it.”

    Hoyt, how is it to entertain both kids and adults in the same movie? What do you have to do?

    Hoyt Yeatman: “Well I think animation is a perfect candidate for that because kids, I think, respond very much to the characters and the physical action that goes on. And then I think the dialogue and how they say it and what they say, can be attributed more toward the adult, you know, toward the parent. And that’s a good way to work in kind of dual storytelling, you know, so it’ll entertain both the parents and also for the kids, which is what we tried to do.”

    You mentioned that you wanted to change your voice, but what kind of image does it make for you creating that voice?

    Nicolas Cage: “Well Jerry showed me the pictures, and with all due respect, there was no way I was going to be a guinea pig. Guinea pigs just don’t do it for me. I personally think they’re obnoxious. They’re so cute and cuddly and furry, and there’s [nothing] about them I want to be. I need an animal that has a long tail and an attitude that says, ‘Don’t you dare pick me up,’ you know? So when I saw Speckles, I thought, ‘You know, there’s a character I can play. That character has an opinion and a purpose and just tons of personality.’ And so I started to look at his shape and his goggles and his little eyes, and I thought, ‘Well, if I try this voice…,’ and it would match the way he looked.”

    Do you still have your pet snake, and how does that work with your little boy at home?

    Nicolas Cage: “No, I don’t. I don’t have any pets currently. I moved to New York City and I live in an apartment, and they don’t allow it. So, we had to find new homes for all the animals. And they’re being well taken care of

    Zach Galifianakis and Kelli Garner G-Force

     

    Hoyt Yeatman, Bill Nighy, Bill Aikin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicolas Cage, and Zach

    Galifianakis G-Force Press Conference

    Jerry, what’s your criteria to choosing a project?

    Jerry Bruckheimer: “I just do, ‘Do I like it? Do I want to see it? I don’t know whether anybody else likes it, but I like it.’ That’s the key for me. Is that something I want to sit and watch and have fun with? And this is one of those projects. The characters are so cute. I thought it was a clever idea, and, you know, kids will love it, and adults will get a kick out of it.”

    This is for Mr. Cage and Mr. Bruckheimer. This is your sixth collaboration, but your first in an animated project. How different was that? Can you talk a little bit about the process?

    Nicolas Cage: “Well, the process is a bit different because you really have to rely entirely on your imagination. There is no camera. There’s no pressure of the camera, and you’re not really interacting with other actors. So, I would go into like a little cubicle, really, like an aquarium with a microphone, and then Hoyt would sometimes be there, or depending upon where each of us were in the world, we could be on a radio. And I would just start riffing, you know. And I would say, ‘Let’s try it five or six different ways,’ and we would just go and try to find some electricity, some spark. And he would select [what worked] and Jerry said what he thought worked. And then we would fine tune it, and we’d go again.”

    Jerry Bruckheimer: “Well I think that’s the nature of animation. I just fell in love with the characters that Hoyt created inside of him, and that’s what excited me.”

    Jerry, why did you decide to make a 3D now? Why did you wait this long to make 3D?

    Jerry Bruckheimer: “Well I think it’s because of the technology. It’s in the theaters. I mean what’s really holding you back is the number of theaters that can project digital production projection. And I think we’re…you know, the studios are working with theaters around the world to try to advance more and more theaters to having digital projection. It’s much better for all of us because the film disintegrates, as we know, and you see all those marks after it’s been run 50 times. And digitally you don’t have any so it’s pristine every time you see it.”

    Hoyt, do you have any other interesting ideas you’d like to do?

    Hoyt Yeatman: “Yes, I think it’s amazing to hear the imagination of a child, you know, because it’s pure. And in fact, you can get right to it. And as a little boy, obviously he was going through all the phases from liking robots and dinosaurs and, you know, guinea pigs. And so yes, he has lots of ideas. And I have ideas too. So, it’s really melding those together in a commercial form that you can do it. I think what worked well for me from his idea is taking something, like I say, that was very cute as a guinea pig, and I didn’t see that many characters as guinea pigs at that time, and knowing that if I added the proper amount of technology to him, I could make him cool. And those two factors – cool and cute – I think are the strength of the character. And so that is where I thought it was a perfect medium to take into a movie.”

    Bill, have you seen yourself in 3D in the movie? How did you like it?

    Bill Nighy: “I haven’t yet. I’m going to go on Sunday to the premiere, and I think, you know, like the total experience. I’ve had people England have been texting me saying they have seen me in 3D, and I think I look marginally better in 3D. That’s what early reports suggest.”

    How about you, Zach?

    Zach Galifianakis: “I have not seen it yet, but I look forward to seeing my beard.”

    Hoyt, you actually made two movies, didn’t you?

    Hoyt Yeatman: “Yes. […]You have to produce a 2D theatrical release on film, and then you also have to produce a 3D. So, when you’re evaluating the shots, you have to figure out how to so you can plan both. And in 3D it’s actually pretty difficult because of the number of cuts. We have like just shy of 2,000 cuts in the film, in an 85-minute movie, compared to a Pixar movie that is only maybe 1,100 or 1,200. So the speed at which things are moving to support a 2D film, makes it difficult in 3D to make it a pleasurable viewing experience.”

    “And so by putting the technology as we did into the post-production process, it’s like anything else. Whether you’re doing color, editing, sound, it’s always at the end, as opposed to traditional stereo photography which is at the head end, and you’re embedding that decision-making into the photography. This allows for a lot of creative freedom in many aspects. So, there’s a lot of choices that you have to make when you’re making two movies.”

    Bill, did you change your voice in the film? You sound a bit like Alan Sugar…

    Bill Nighy: “Alan Sugar, my God. No, I didn’t base him on Alan Sugar. And even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you because I’m scared of Alan Sugar. Alan Sugar is a big industrialist back home, and he scares everybody. No, it wasn’t really based on anyone. I just went to that department in my head where, you know, I’m not the only one. But there is a part of me that wants to control the world and have everybody behave as they should and as I would wish them to. So, I accessed the inner fascist. But no, nobody specific. And again, I wouldn’t tell you because I’m scared.”

    Nicolas, being the movie buff you are, are you a big fan of the new 3D technology?

    Nicolas Cage: “The 3D that I grew up with was, it always resulted in a headache. I could see the edge, the line, and you had to wear these uncomfortable glasses that were red and blue. But today, the 3D feels effortless, and I know the work that went into it to make it that way. Where you’re not thinking so much about the 3D coming out at you, but more that you’re falling into the movie. I felt like I was surrounded by the movie, and I didn’t have a headache. So, I think it’s progressed quite a bit.”

     

    G-Force

    Hoyt Yeatman, Bill Nighy, Bill Aikin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Nicolas Cage, and Zach Galifianakis G-Force Press Conference

    What research did you do to play a mole?

    Nicolas Cage: “You know, the voice was kind of a voice that I would go into when I was – after like weeks of night shooting and I was stressed out or exhausted, or whatever it may be. Rather than using profanity or yelling, I would start talking in a higher octave. And then I would start laughing because of how ridiculous it sounded. And so then everything – I couldn’t take anything seriously anymore. I would start laughing. So when Jerry asked me if I would be interested in doing G-Force, it was the last day of National Treasure 2. And I just went into the voice and said, ‘Well, can I talk like that?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ So, that was all the research I needed for the mole.”

    How about your research, Bill?

    Bill Nighy: “The script was so kind of beautiful and perfect, and all the information I needed was pretty much in there. And anything else is kind of an amalgam of figures that you may have come across. And also I was dressed very expensively from Savile Row in London. It makes you feel rich.”

    And Zach – your research?

    Zach Galifianakis: “I just would find other actors to rehearse with and put guinea pig masks on. And that’s how I got into it.”

    Bill, you said recently you’re too scared to turn down jobs. Was that the case with G-Force?

    Bill Nighy: “Did I say that? I turn down work. No, but it always makes me nervous when I turn down a job. You know, I’ve been around for a while and there was a time when I didn’t turn down anything. It’s a luxury, really, to turn down anything, and I’ve never quite got used to it.”

    “The last part of your question, if Jerry Bruckheimer calls, I don’t really need to hear anything else except the words Jerry and Bruckheimer. Because you have an assurance of a high degree of quality. And as Nic was saying, to be in films that no one’s excluded either by age or background, everyone kind of gets [to] enjoy, it’s a thrill.”

    Even though it’s a fun movie, there is also a little moral to the story. What would like the kids to take home when they leave the theater?

    Nicolas Cage: “Well first of all, I want them to have a great time. I want them to laugh. I want them to be smiling. But also there is a bit of a message in the movie that I think is a good one, especially as it involves my character, Speckles, who, without giving too much away, goes through this kind of arc. He has a real epiphany at the end about family and where he belongs. And Jerry said in another interview which I like was that your friends can be your family, too. I think that’s a nice message.”

    Zach, we expect to see you as more of a comic character. Were you expecting that also?

    Zach Galifianakis: “This was my platform to be considered a very serious actor. That’s what I wanted to use it for. No, to me it was more the comedy was coming from more of the animation than perhaps what I was to do. I was more interested in playing him straight and nervous, rather than over the top crazy. I’ve seen that before and I’ve done that before in things. So, I like to change it up a little bit. So, I think that’s why I did it like that.”

    Nicolas, what was it like working with Werner Herzog and when can we expect to see Bad Lieutenant?

    Nicolas Cage: “Well I’m happy to say that Bad Lieutenant was accepted in competition at Venice Film Festival, and it will be also at Telluride and Toronto, so that’s exciting for Werner, and for myself. I’m not entirely sure when it will be released. I think it’s December 1st. But my experience with Werner was everything I hoped it would be. He’s not like any other director I’ve worked with. By way of example, he does his own slate. He’s in the middle of the whole thing, he’s making eye contact with everybody, the actor, the cameraman, the sound department. And then like a conductor, he says, ‘Okay, go, action.’ I thought that was interesting. He’s got a real eye. He’s a visionary genius. He’s really something special.”

    Nicolas, how do you deal psychologically with changing the mood from having a dark part in Bad Lieutenant and at the same time having this comedy part in this movie?

    Nicolas Cage: “You know, I try not to think too much about that. For example, with G-Force I think the best work came out of more like a jazz approach where we just had the microphone, and I would start riffing on Speckles. And some improvisation would come in, or just trying to find the right sound and not think about it. Bad Lieutenant is a whole other matter. I haven’t really got my head in that place right now. I’m thinking about Speckles. But it was more of a, ‘How do I want to approach that character and what did Werner want?'”

    “The first Bad Lieutenant was very much a Judeo-Christian program where there is guilt and repentance and things like that. And in the second, our Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, was more about existentialist. You know, chaos happens. There isn’t always guilt. There isn’t always repentance. And so it was more of a philosophical debate. With Speckles, I was just trying to hear the voice and feel the music. You know, I didn’t want to think about it too much

    July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

    Interview with ‘Bruno’

     
    So the timing might not have been the best – the Bruno premiere took place just hours after Michael Jackson’s death and covered the pop singer’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with its special ‘Bruno’-inspired black carpet – but the points it lost for timing, it made up for in pure entertainment value. Sacha Baron Cohen never broke character as he arrived on the carpet astride a silver, jeweled tank followed by some very hot women dressed in cleavage-enhancing camo. Bruno addressed the crowd and then did professional runaway models proud by posing his way down the long line of photographers. Snapshots taken, Bruno then worked the press line, chatting up his “important documentary film.”

    Check out my interview with Bruno and his antics on the black carpet: Exclusive Bruno Premiere Coverage

    Also of Interest:

  • Bruno Premiere Photos
  • Trailer and Clips from Bruno
  • Michael Jackson Tribute at Universal’s CityWalk

    Tuesday July 7, 2009
    Universal CityWalk is hosting what they describe as “Southern California’s largest outdoor public celebration of Michael Jackson’s life” on Thursday, July 9th at 7pm PST. The free event will include a screening of Michael Jackson’s movie The Wiz as well as a dance retrospective of Jackson’s musical history and a screening of Jackson’s 14 minute Thriller video (directed by John Landis).

    For those who aren’t familiar with Jackson’s foray into movies, the updated musical version of The Wizard of Oz had Diana Ross in the role of Dorothy, comedian Nipsey Russell as Tinman, Lena Horne as Glinda the Good and Richard Pryor as The Wiz. The King of Pop played Scarecrow in the 1978 film directed by five-time Oscar nominee Sidney Lumet. The Wiz never caught on in theaters, grossing just $13 million. Budgeted at around $25 million, The Wiz earned Oscar nominations in the costume, cinematography, original score and art direction categories.

    For more information on the free event, visit CityWalkHollywood.com

  • Hitting Theaters This Week

    Wednesday July 8, 2009
    Two vastly different comedies open in theaters this weekend. One features Sacha Baron Cohen as a gay fashionista who pretty much pisses off everyone he encounters. The other has TV’s favorite cheerleader, Hayden Panettiere, back in high school as a popular student lusted after by a nerdy valedictorian:
  • Bruno starring Sacha Baron Cohen
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper with Hayden Panettiere and Lauren London
    New Movie Photos for Your Viewing Pleasure:
  • Gamer Photos – Gerard Butler/Michael C Hall
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Photos – Daniel Radcliffe/Emma Watson
  • The Informant Photo – Matt Damon
  • Jennifer’s Body Photos – Megan Fox
  • Orphan Photos – Peter Sarsgaard/Vera Farmiga
  • Sherlock Holmes Photos – Robert Downey Jr/Jude Law
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife Photos – Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams
  • The Ugly Truth Photos – Gerard Butler/Katherine Heigl
  • Whiteout Photos – Kate Beckinsale/Gabriel Macht
  • July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

    HI V/AIDS Update – Isentress (raltegravir) indication extended for the treatment of HIV-1 infection i

    On July 8, 2009, FDA granted approval to Isentress (raltegravir), for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in treatment-naïve patients. The recommended dose for treatment-naïve adult patients is Isentress 400 mg twice daily, with or without food.

    The use of Isentress in treatment-naïve patients is based on a 48-week randomized, double-blind, active control trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Isentress 400 mg twice daily + emtricitabine + tenofovir versus Sustiva (efavirenz) 600 mg + emtricitabine + tenofovir. The proportion of patients with HIV RNA < 50 copies/mL was 87% for the Isentress group compared to 82% for the Sustiva group. The difference between Isentress and Sustiva with respect to HIV RNA < 50 copies/mL and the 95% confidence intervals is 4.7% (-1.3%, 10.6%).

    Several other changes were made to the package insert and include the following major revisions –

    Highlights Section:

    • DRUG INTERACTIONS heading was included along with a warning about use with UGT (UDP-glucuronosyltransferases) inducers other than rifampin, specifically, “Coadministration of ISENTRESS with drugs that are strong inducers of UGT1A1 may result in reduced plasma concentrations of raltegravir”

    Full Prescribing Information Section:

    • Section 1: INDICATIONS AND USAGE was changed to incorporate use in treatment-naïve patients: “ISENTRESS is indicated in combination with other anti-retroviral agents for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection in adult patients. This indication is based on analyses of plasma HIV-1 RNA levels up through 48 weeks in three double-blind controlled studies of ISENTRESS. Two of these studies were conducted in clinically advanced, 3-class antiretroviral (NNRTI, NRTI, PI) treatment-experienced adults and one was conducted in treatment-naïve adults. The use of other active agents with ISENTRESS is associated with a greater likelihood of treatment response.”
    • Section 5.2: WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions: this section removed because the information is sufficiently included in Section 7: DRUG INTERACTIONS
    • Section 6.1: Clinical Trials Experience, Treatment-Naïve Studies: This section now includes 48 week safety and laboratory data from Protocol 021.
    • Section 6.2: Postmarketing Experience: addition of paranoia and anxiety.
    • Section 7.1 Effect of Raltegravir on the Pharmacokinetics of Other Agents adds information for CYP1A2, CYP2B6 and methadone.
    • Section 12.4 Microbiology was updated to include the following headings and information:
      Antiviral Activity in Cell Culture
    •  
      • In addition, 5 clinical isolates of HIV-1 subtype B had EC95 values ranging from 9 to 19 nM in cultures of mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells
    • Resistance

      Treatment-Naïve Subjects: By Week 48 in the STARTMRK trial, the primary raltegravir resistance-associated substitutions were observed in 3 (1 with Y143R and 2 with Q148H/R) of the 6 virologic failure subjects with evaluable paired genotypic data.

      Section 14 CLINICAL STUDIES includes 48 week efficacy data from Protocol 02.

      Minor editorial changes were made to the patient package insert for consistency with other antiretrovirals.

      The revised label will be available soon on the FDA web site at Drugs@FDA or through the National Library of Medicine’s DailyMed site.

      Issentress (raltegravir) is an integrase inhibitor made by Merck & Co.

      Richard Klein
      Office
      of Special Health Issues
      Food and Drug Administration

      Kimberly Struble
      Division of Antiviral Drug Products
      Food and Drug Administration

    July 30, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

    ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ Movie Review

    Megan Fox in Transformers 2
    More so than the first film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is all about the robots. Yes, there are lots of scenes with flesh and blood actors, but really, who cares about them when you’ve got cars and trucks and planes and kitchen appliances changing into machines whose sole purpose appears to be to fight with other metallic objects? Even Megan Fox in all of her pouting, posing glory is no match for Megatron and Optimus Prime doing battle. 
    And oh yes, Michael Bay does put Megan Fox’s physical assets to use in this Transformers film. Clad in leather biker gear or shorts and skimpy tops, Bay must have given Fox just one simple direction: “Don’t bother acting, just look sexy.” And if that’s what sets your engine revving, then fine. Bay fulfills fanboys’ fantasies by making Fox’s Mikaela into a pin-up girl who talks but doesn’t say anything interesting. Her character’s only purpose in the film – aside from providing eye candy – is to try and get Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky to say he loves her. Even one of the lessor Transformers points out Mikaela’s lack of intellect, saying, “You’re hot, but you’re not too bright.”Nice work there, Bay. As if most of your female audience wasn’t already offended by your film’s only female character’s (outside of the supporting performance by Julie White as Sam Witwicky’s pot brownie-eating mom) one-dimensional personality. Personally, I could have done with less Fox and more robots. I’d have even settled for more John Turturro or the tag team of Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson over the silly ‘romantic’ scenes in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen between Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

     

    Bumblebee in Transformers 2
    Bumblebee in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.’
    © DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures

    The Story

    2007’s Transformers set up the story of the Autobots versus Decepticons for Transformers newbies like myself, and then served up a semi-decent plot along with a whole lot of action. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t even really attempt to follow more than the most threadbare of storylines. The Decepticons want to blow up our sun, the Autobots want to protect us, the Army guys are fully behind the Autobots, Sam Witwicky is at the heart of the problem/solution, and there’s a government idiot who tries to block the good guys from helping us fight the bad guys. Nutshell, meet Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

    The Bottom Line

    Michael Bay ups the ante this time, bringing in bigger robots, bigger explosions, and longer fight scenes taking place in more exotic locations. It’s Transformers on steroids. Even the humor of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is bigger, with Sam Witwicky’s parents doing an empty nest syndrome display of emotions taken to the nth degree. Bay even throws in ‘twin’ transformers with personalities lifted straight from badly written urban sitcoms. You’ll either find these two characters offensive or flat-out funny; there will be no middle of the road reaction to Skids and Mudflap. And, of course, Turturro can be counted on for a laugh or two or three or four. Remember, everything is bigger in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – even Turturro. 

    Transformers 2
    A scene from ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.’
    © DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is what it is: a big-budget spectacle with an incredible amount of action, a frivolous plot, and one hot chick. The robot on robot fight scenes are fantastic (even if you can’t tell who is who), the visual effects are absolutely terrific, and the sound effects will nearly have you bouncing out of your seat.Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen goes on too long (at least a half an hour too long), but it never attempts to be anything other than what it is – a big, bombastic, brainless summer action movie. If it’s wit and depth and gritty performances you’re looking for, then you’re looking in the wrong place. But if all you want is to spend a few hours in a theater getting your ears pummeled and feasting your eyes on over-the-top but totally entertaining fight scenes, then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is like Christmas or Hanukkah (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate) in June.

    GRADE: C

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was directed by Michael Bay and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.

    July 2, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment