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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Hilary Swank

Garry Marshall: 'New Year's Eve' more than a money grab [Video]

December 6, 2011 |  2:11 pm

Lea Michele Katherine Heigl Garry Marshall and Sofia Vergara at the New Year's Eve premiere

Let's be real: There aren't many people in town who view "Valentine's Day" and the upcoming "New Year's Eve" as much more than a studio throwing together a bunch of celebrities in an easy ploy to make big bucks at the box office.

The films, both directed by Hollywood stalwart Garry Marshall, are set up in a similar fashion. Neither revolves around a particular character; instead, the films feature various vignettes of numerous players, all of whose story lines are vaguely connected to a popular holiday. Big-name celebrities agree to take part in the movies for a reduced fee in return for a shorter shooting schedule -- and, of course, the chance to rub elbows with some of the industry's A-listers.

2010's "Valentine's Day," with a lineup of stars that included Julia Roberts and Ashton Kutcher, received a lowly 18% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but ultimately grossed about $110 million at the box office. "New Year's Eve," which opens Friday, seems poised to follow a similar trajectory. But the argument that the film is nothing more than a money grab bothers Marshall.

"It annoys me, because the stars come to act and people say, 'Oh, it's all those stars, they'll be cameos.' There's no cameos," the 77-year-old filmmaker said at the film's premiere in Hollywood on Monday night. "Most critics would rather see a film by a man from Tanzania -- a convict who's mute, Woody Harrelson in the woods. A snake bites him. That's a different kind of movie than I make. I make a joyous movie for the holiday so you come to have a good time."

Hilary Swank, who stars in the new film, echoed that sentiment.

"I didn't know people were cynical about it, but thanks for letting me know," she kidded. "I find it really hard to find a great supporting role. So to not only have one great supporting role, but all the supporting roles to be so fleshed out and human -- I think it's fun."


The making of 'Valentine's Day' is a real love story

Hilary Swank 'deeply regrets' attending Chechen gala

'New Year's Eve' premiere: Swank sees every day as a new start

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Lea Michele, left, Katherine Heigl, Garry Marshall and Sofia Vergara at the premiere of "New Year's Eve." Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

'Conviction' and Hilary Swank draw fire from slain woman's family

October 14, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Getprev Hilary Swank has called "Conviction," the Fox Searchlight film she stars in, a "feel-good" story.

But apparently, there's nothing about the movie, which hits theaters Friday, that makes Melrose and Charles Brow feel good. They're the children of Katharina Brow, a diner waitress who was found stabbed to death in her trailer home in 1980. A local troublemaker named Kenny Waters was charged with her murder, and spent 18 years in prison. But he was released after his sister, Betty Anne Waters, brought to light DNA evidence that proved his innocence. Subsequently, no one has been charged with Katharina Brow's murder.

That's the real-life story that's told in "Conviction," in which Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a single mother who put herself through law school to help her brother.

On Thursday, Brow's children held a news conference with their lawyer, Gloria Allred, to express their disappointment that they had not been contacted by the "Conviction" filmmakers or by Swank, who executive produced the film.

"We are angry and disappointed that in the making of the film, neither executive producer Hilary Swank nor anyone else connected to the film ever contacted us to see how we would feel about the fact that our mother’s murder is the basis for events which transpired as a result of her tragedy," Melrose Brow said.

She and her brother have requested a meeting with Swank, during which Brow says she would like to ask the actress a number of questions, including why the movie was made and how the film's profits will be used.

“I want to find out what the movie’s made and, as the profits come in, if they’ll use those profits to help us with trying to find out who the perpetrator is,” Brow said in an interview after the news conference. She and her family are not seeking compensation, but would like money to go toward a search for the killer, she said.

Fox Searchlight did not respond to an immediate request for comment. Swank's representative said the actress had no comment.

The Brow family has not had the opportunity to see "Conviction" yet because they have not been invited to any private screenings before its release, Allred said. Katharina Brow's murder, although the impetus for the film's plot, does not occupy much of the movie itself. In the film, after she is slain, Brow is shown in a mildly graphic scene, bloodied and sprawled across a floor. But little else is revealed about her in the movie.

In a recent interview, Swank said she had prepared diligently for "Conviction." She traveled to the East Coast to visit Waters, who drove Swank through her hometown of Ayer, Mass., pointing out "where she lived, where her trailer was, where she used to eat, the candy store she used to steal from," the actress recalled.

Swank said she took the responsibility of portraying the Waters family accurately on screen seriously. 

"I wouldn’t be able to live with myself [if] I somehow didn’t portray the story in a way that [Betty Anne] felt reflected her story," Swank said. "I was at the premiere with her in Toronto, and I don’t want the credits to roll and have her look at me and go, 'What are you thinking? That’s not how it happened at all.' So it’s an enormous responsibility. You can't take a lot of liberty with the storytelling."

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Hilary Swank. Credit: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


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