Nicholas Sparks, whose book "The Lucky One" is getting the big-screen treatment in April, will be joining us for a live online chat on Thursday, Oct. 13, starting at 10 a.m. PDT.
Sparks is a popular and prolific author with more than a dozen novels to his name, the latest of which, "The Best of Me," hits shelves Oct. 11. His previous titles include "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "Dear John" and "The Last Song." The upcoming adaptation of "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron as a Marine trying to find a mystery woman who he believes was his good luck charm during the war in Iraq, is Sparks' seventh book to be made into a movie.
Warner Bros. has also bought film rights to "The Best of Me," a tear-inducing tale of former high school sweethearts who reunite 25 years later. Sparks is co-producing the movie with Denise DiNovi, who produced "The Lucky One," and filming is scheduled to start in 2012.
To schedule a reminder for the chat, just fill out the form below. And be sure to join us Thursday.
There is no shortage of young women on the big screen these days, with the "Twilight" movies in full flower and Disney Channel "it" girls like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez solidifying their move into features.
But at least one emerging actress from that demographic says that the abundance of personalities doesn't mean Hollywood accurately portrays women in their late teens and early 20s.
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Olsen, the star of Sundance hit "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (more on that film, which looks to be a breakout this fall, in the weeks to come), says she feels frustrated by what she sees as Hollywood's binary depictions of young women.
"A lot of times with female relationships and young women [in the movies], it's either 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' or catty b--," Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, said this week over lunch in New York, where she lives and attends college. "I just have a problem with that. They're supposed to be either as perfect as how they're portrayed on Disney or as mean as they're portrayed in high school movies. And in real life it's neither of those."
Her own solution, she said, has been to take on a new role, in a movie called "Very Good Girls," that she believes avoids both cliches. A dramatic comedy from Naomi Foner (mother of Maggie Gyllenhaal and screenwriter of "Running on Empty"), "Girls" will star Olsen and Dakota Fanning as teenagers the summer after they graduate from high school.
"This is a very real story of two best friends, about a real and very raw relationship, and the healthy way that young women interact with each other," Olsen said. (She dismissed the early log line, which had the two lead characters each seeking to lose her virginity, as being unrepresentative of Foner's script. "That happens in the movie, and that's fine for a log line, but that's not really what it's about," Olsen said.)
The Sean Durkin-directed "Martha Marcy," which follows a young girl in the weeks after she escapes from a cult, opens Oct. 21, and the Fox Searchlight film is likely to garner its young star some Oscar buzz. While the films marks Olsen's screen debut and is certainly the most anticipated of her upcoming features, it's hardly the only place she'll appear: The 22-year-old has already shot four other films, including the dramatic comedy "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" opposite Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener, and she plays Josh Radnor's younger friend and love interest in the college-set "Liberal Arts."
"Good Girls" was scheduled for an early fall shoot, working around Olsen's class schedule as a senior at New York University, but now may not happen right away, conceded Olsen. In part, she intimated, that's because of the same frustrations that prompted her to take the role in the first place. "It's difficult," Olsen said. "A lot of people don't want to finance movies like that. Unless, of course, there are vampires or something weird that can animorph."
When Miley Cyrus' long-running Disney Channel show "Hannah Montana" came to a close in January, the actress immediately made it clear she was keen on becoming a movie star. She recently wrapped two new films -- "LOL" with Demi Moore and "So Undercover," set in a college sorority -- which should hit theaters later this year.
But breaking free of the Mouse House has been a struggle, Cyrus admitted at the Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday, where the singer-actress was nominated for three awards.
"It's challenging, because it's hard to keep everyone happy when you're doing that," she said, referring to being mindful of her Disney reputation. "But you just have to choose projects that inspire you that you really like. You do a lot of press when you do a movie, so something that you enjoy talking about more than something that you're not inspired by."
Asked what she weighs when deciding which film parts to go out for, Cyrus said she was eager to take on "a challenge."
"Something that I know will be good for me to play that I can find within myself," the 18-year-old said. "Because that's what I think acting is all about--is finding something in yourself that you haven't discovered yet and bringing that to life."
Miley Cyrus has been going through some real growing pains of late. The 18-year-old has been criticized for her bad fashion choices at various award shows, including the recent Grammys. And the viral video of her reportedly smoking the herb salvia in December had some of her young fans -- and their parents -- raising their eyebrows.
Cyrus will again be presented to the public in a new way when her new action comedy hits theaters.
The Weinstein Co. announced Wednesday that it acquired the U.S. distribution rights to "So Undercover," another movie in which the star breaks away from her wholesome image, and will release it in October ("when schools are back in session," a company statement said). Cyrus plays a street-smart private eye hired by the FBI to go undercover at a college sorority, where sorority-like hijinks no doubt ensue.
Directed by Tom Vaughn ("What Happens in Vegas"), the movie also stars Jeremy Piven, Mike O'Malley and Kelly Osbourne.
"We're excited to be working with Miley Cyrus as she transitions from child phenomenon to grown-up star," said the Weinstein Co.'s David Glasser in a statement. "She's got charisma and talent to burn, and 'So Undercover' shows her to be a deft comedic actress."
Cyrus most recently starred in "The Last Song," a romantic drama that grossed $89 million at the global box office.
Thousands of girls, decked out in glittery tops and toting camera phones, made the pilgrimage to L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night in hopes of spotting their pint-sized teen idol: Justin Bieber.
Hours before the premiere of "Never Say Never," the new documentary that follows the pop star on his recent concert tour, the hordes were already waiting outside the Nokia Theatre. Many didn't even have tickets. Some said they wanted to catch a glimpse of the singer with the infamous hairdo; others simply seemed to be enjoying the idea of indulging in Bieber Fever alongside fellow "Beliebers."
This Justin Bieber movie premiere was not -- could not -- be like any other movie premiere.
The carpet was purple, not red, in honor of the teen icon's favorite color. Bleachers were erected so more fans could get a glimpse of the action. Tween-friendly music from artists including Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith and, of course, Bieber himself blasted over the stereo system. And a team of cameramen was dispatched to follow Bieber's every move, so that fans at home could watch him throughout the night via Livestream.
The event was a family affair for many of the celebrities in Hollywood -- "Glee's" Jane Lynch brought her children to the movie, as did rapper Diddy and Bieber's mentor Usher. It was also populated by a slew of kid actors, all dressed like they were heading to prom.
Bieber was constantly surrounded by a mass of humanity, all shoving their way into his line of vision. But he never lost his cool, smiling nonchalantly and keeping an even pace as he made his way down the carpet, where he was barraged with a slew of questions about his rumored girlfriend, Disney star Selena Gomez. [More from Bieber below, after our video interview.]
Bieber told us he's interested in acting in a feature.
"I'm gonna start doing more movies -- start getting more scripts and start finding some things that I really wanna do," the 16-year-old said.
And what would that be, exactly? Manager Scooter Braun elaborated, saying the singer had been itching to team up with Will Ferrell.
"He knows every line from every Will Ferrell skit on 'SNL' and every movie. In fact, he did a whole interview once just quoting Will Ferrell," Braun said.
It's no surprise that Bieber wants to take on a character outside of himself. In "Never Say Never," audiences quickly learn that Bieber would rather do just about anything than talk about or examine himself. (We witnessed this first-hand last spring when we spent the day with the teen, who seemed less than interested in sitting down for an in-depth interview: "Justin Bieber & Co.")
Producers this afternoon announced that Cyrus has been cast as the lead in a new action comedy called “So Undercover.” What will the tween queen play? “A tough, street-smart private investigator hired by the FBI to go undercover in the one place they’re unable to infiltrate.”
Lest you think that sounds dark and mysterious, it’s not. The place in question is a sorority, which makes the movie something of a cross between “The House Bunny” and “21 Jump Street.” And it’s going to be directed by Tom “What Happens in Vegas” Vaughan.
Still, all is not lost for those who want to see, for cultural or schadenfreude reasons, Cyrus grow out of her chirpy Disney Channel incarnation. She is taking on an action movie here. And the actress will next be seen in “LOL,” a coming-of-age film that, according to the online scuttlebutt, has less of a Disney Channel vibe: there are scenes of pot smoking and lesbianism.
She may have had a modest box-office success in the spring with "The Last Song," but Miley Cyrus has returned to doing what she lately seems to do best: getting people to argue over the appropriateness of her behavior.
The actress-singer's new video for the song "Who Owns My Heart," which you can see below, has both restarted the conversation and taken it up a notch: More than past magazine spreads and music videos, it has people wringing their hands over whether the 17-year-old finally has gone too far with her sexual suggestiveness.
To be fair, there are many people out there willing to pile on at the first sign of Miley maturation. On the other hand, for an entertainment personality whose every move is so calibrated, it's hard to imagine that she and father Billy Ray weren't at least partly aware of what a video of bed-side vamping and dancefloor grinding would cause, especially given that so many of Cyrus' fans have yet to hit puberty. (Billy Ray certainly had to realize what reaction it would provoke from the Parents Television Council — a group for which he, whoops, serves on the advisory board.)
But maybe more interesting than the Cyruses' intent is whether this is a good career move for the young star. As a host of former teenybopper icons prove, too much time in the headlines can derail the most felicitous career, something both Britney Spears and the Olsen twins could tell you about firsthand. By becoming known for one more flash-in-the-pan controversy, has Miley risked becoming a flash in the pan herself?
It's a reasonable concern, but I have a feeling that not only will this not hurt her, it will achieve its not-exactly-hidden goal of putting some separation between Cyrus and what made her famous. Cyrus has already made clear with some of her recent choices that she wants to move out of the Disney incubator that hatched her. Her presence in "Last Song" showed that she could wade into darker, or at least more tearjerky, territory and fans will pretty much accept her. She'll next star in a comedy called "LOL" that, like Cyrus herself, straddles the line between the tween and grown-up, and after that I suspect we'll see her going even more adult, a move whose waters this video is meant both to tease and test.
We woke up this morning to hear one of our favorite sounds reverberating across the Internet -- the soothing opening notes of the "Sex and the City" theme song. That's right, ladies, a new trailer for "Sex and the City 2" has landed, and we have a lot to say about it.
In the sequel to the 2008 hit film, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) are back to answer the question of what happens after you tie the knot. Carrie isn't finding herself in marital bliss with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), Miranda and Charlotte are trying to navigate motherhood and Samantha is, unsurprisingly, trying to slow down the aging process.
First things first: from the trailer, it seems like a majority of the sequel is going to take place in Abu Dhabi, where the girls decide to go on an exotic trip.
"We need some glamour!" Carrie coos.
"One week in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid, just the four of us!" suggests Samantha.
This seems to be a real question mark (when did the Middle East become the go-to region for a group of sophisticated ladies in need of some R&R?). Plus, the idea that Carrie would really have her own couture turban to wear while riding a camel is a little bit ridiculous.
Sure, the first film had that jaunt to Mexico, (we're still fantasizing about that amazing villa with the infinity pool) but it was brief. Let's not forget that these films stemmed from a popular television series in which New York City played a key role. And the central parts of the first film -- like the disastrous wedding to Big -- all took place in beautiful, sweeping New York landscapes. We liked that the trailer gives us a glimpse at some of our favorite "Sex and the City" landmarks, like the diner where the girls always congregate, but we want more Big Apple.
Also: Um, Aidan (John Corbett) is back?!?!? And Carrie runs into him on the streets of Abu Dhabi? As preposterous as that plot line is, we're happy to see everyone's favorite nice guy back to compete for Carrie's affections. It doesn't hurt that he looks like he's aging well.
There are also some interesting cameos -- Penelope Cruz as a sexy Latin temptress trying to lure Mr. Big away, the campy Liza Minnelli as the star performer at Stanford's white wedding, and Miley Cyrus as...well, who knows.
Truthfully, from this early and admittedly limited glimpse, we don't think this film looks as good as the first one. And there should have been more of a gap between the first film and the second -- it doesn't seem like enough has changed in the women's lives to warrant such a quick update. Nevertheless, we're still going to be lining up to see the film come May. We can't deny the nostalgia we feel when we see the foursome start stomping down a sidewalk next to one another, decked out in fabulous fashions. Even when the clothing and the story lines get out of hand, it's the ladies' real friendship that keeps us coming back for more.
What do you think? Are you clamoring for more "Sex and the City," or are the girls past their prime? Vote in our poll.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: The ladies are back in "Sex and the City 2." Credit: HBO Films.
With “The Last Song” performing respectably at the box office this weekend, earning $25.6 million over five days, it’s fair to wonder whether Miley Cyrus isn't entirely delusional in thinking a serious, or at least a commercial, acting career lies ahead of her.
The tween pin-up has said repeatedly that over the coming years she wants to eschew singing in favor of acting. ("I'm really good at comedy," she recently told my colleague Amy Kaufman.) Producers, their hearts a-twitter at the fan following Cyrus comes with (if not exactly her Angela Lansbury-esque acting skills) have done their part; in recent months, they’ve attached Cyrus to projects ranging from an action-comedy called “Family Bond” to a remake of the Sarah Jessica Parker '80s dance movie “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
“Miley is coming of age as an actress, and you’re seeing her fans follow her even when she’s doing something that has nothing to do with 'Hanna Montana,' ” Disney executive Chuck Viane told us ahead of "The Last Song's” opening.
Of course, if you're trying to make this kind of transition, talent helps too. Like that of other emerging tween stars, Cyrus’ acting isn’t without promise, but it’s not without shortcomings either. In “The Last Song,” she’s perfectly fine playing to type as a pouty, lovelorn teenager, but runs into trouble when she’s trying something more substantial.
Cyrus may also want to keep in mind that the path has been rocky for the many Disney Channel stars who’ve tried to walk it before. Zac Efron (and before him, in a slightly different way, Shia LaBeouf) parlayed their exposure and fan base into a significant film career. But most of the others to come from the network’s crop of shows and movies this past decade have thus far failed -- personalities like Vanessa Hudgens, Hilary Duff and Ashley Tisdale (whose careers have given us the combined cinematic output of “Bandslam,” “Material Girls” and “Aliens in the Attic”).
There’s an issue for Disney Channel stars trying to make the jump to movies, even frilly ones. The network's shows give their actors plenty of exposure, but they don’t exactly showcase their best acting. Even good acting gets lost there.
So it’s almost impossible for anyone casting these movies to know what an actor can or can’t do. And it may be unreasonable for the rest of us to expect that because someone is a star there they’ll be a star anywhere else.
With this weekend's box office performance, Cyrus will get at least one or two more cracks at big film roles; look for at least one of the 17-year-old's development projects to gain some new elements and momentum. But it's a long road from life as a stadium pop star to life as a film celebrity. Cyrus could well wind up being good at comedy. Let's just hope it's not the unintentional kind.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Miley Cyrus at "The Last Song" premiere. Credit:
Chris Pizzello / Associated Press
Many tweens across the nation eagerly await Miley Cyrus' every move, twittering about the starlet's latest song or boyfriend. But Julie Anne Robinson, who directed Cyrus' first dramatic role in "The Last Song," barely knew who the young actress was before the two met on set.
"I was sort of dimly aware of her," admitted Robinson, who used to live in England, where Cyrus is not as popular as she is stateside.
These days, however, Robinson is acutely aware of Cyrus' star power: The director's feature debut, which was written specifically for Cyrus by modern romance master Nicholas Sparks, is likely to make $10 million at the box office on its opening day alone.
"The Last Song," which hits theaters Wednesday, stars Cyrus as a rebellious teenage girl who falls in love with a hunky local (Liam Hemsworth) while spending the summer at the beach house of her father (Greg Kinnear).
The story is a far cry from some of the projects on Robinson's resume, which include work on productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and the Royal National Theatre in London. She later went on to work alongside directors Stephen Daldry and Sam Mendes before landing a spot in the BBC director's training course. But it was her work on the BBC miniseries "Coming Down the Mountain" -- a 90-minute film about two teenage boys, one of whom has Down syndrome -- that got her noticed by Disney.
Before the film's release, Robinson took a few minutes to chat about how to avoid making a Nicholas Sparks story trite and what it's really like to work with Miley Cyrus.