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No need to save me the aisle seat

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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chewbaccaandsoloI lived through the end of “Star Wars” and the triumphant resurrection of “Star Wars.”

The death of the best Superman there was – Christopher Reeve – and introduction of his successors.

The reboot of Batman, the recognition that Pittsburgh is a perfect place to shoot a movie (or TV series), the creation of a bumper crop of film festivals tumbling one after the other, and much more.

spotlight-movie-keatonBut I have taken a buyout from the Post-Gazette and left the paper after 32 wonderful years and the sorts of assignments I never dreamed of:  Covering the Oscars from the press room and red carpet (above, 2007), interviewing Christian Bale at the Beverly Hilton for “The Dark Knight Rises,” being among a handful of writers talking with the stars of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” at Peters Township High School, settling into a faux living room in Downtown Pittsburgh with Vin Diesel and Michael Caine, chatting with Michael Keaton about “Spotlight” at the SouthSide Works Cinema, sitting in a fancy Toronto hotel bar in September 2015 and interviewing Pittsburgh native Jesse Shapira about a little movie called “Room” rocketing toward Oscar night. And the list goes on and on.

Some of my most memorable assignments had nothing to do with movies. A photographer and I spent a year tracking a little boy who sustained a head injury on his first day of kindergarten, and another photographer and I followed two brothers badly burned in a fire and recovering at Mercy Hospital. I have no idea what happened to those boys but I would like to think they grew up happy and healthy, with their physical, emotional or developmental scars faded or forgotten. 

concussionblog0410I have a book review still in the pipeline and may or may not contribute some movie reviews down the road. It was an exhausting fall and early winter with Oscar contenders, the opening of locally made movies (“The Last Witch Hunter,” “Love the Coopers,” “Concussion”), a steady stream of movie reviews and interviews, and other assignments.

As a colleague helped me load boxes into my car trunk just before midnight one recent day, I felt a bit like Cinderella. I looked nothing like Lily James in that divine blue ball gown from 2015’s “Cinderella” (still rankles me that the movie didn’t win the Oscar for best costumes) but felt as if I were leaving the wonder of a magical world and returning to workaday life.

mtmgroupshot410I do not consider myself retired and plan to look for a part-time job. I think I’m young but know that -- compared with some colleagues who were not born when I joined the PG Magazine staff -- I am not.  It’s like that episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” called “Today I Am a Ma’am” where Mary Richards was stunned to be addressed that way.  

I felt a twinge of regret when I went to see “Eye in the Sky” recently and watched the previews for movies such as “Money Monster” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The beauty of being a film critic is that you can still go to the movies – not as early and not for free – and watch them, without taking notes in the dark or thinking 2.5 or 3 stars?

I’m going to give young adult dystopian novels a rest, unless I get back in the game. And I may. After all, everyone loves a reboot, a reinvention or a return, as “Star Wars” proved. 

lilyjamescinderella

 

Photo of Michael Keaton and Walter "Robby" Robinson by Rebecca Droke/PG.

 

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Batman v Superman soars to $424 million worldwide in first weekend

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

batman-superman-mag-3-6“Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice” was No. 1 by a mile – and many millions – for the Easter weekend with an estimated $170,100,000.

Its worldwide take was $424.1 million, the top superhero opening of all time and fourth biggest industry opener, Warner Bros. reports.  

“Zootopia” held onto the second spot with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” in third. Here are the weekend estimates from comScore:

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” -- $170,100,000.

“Zootopia” -- $23,138,000, for $240,548,000 to date in North America.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” -- $18,116,075.

“The Divergent Series: Allegiant”-- $9,500,000, for $46,605,496.

“Miracles From Heaven” -- $9,500,000, for $34,127,249.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” -- $6,000,000, for $56,010,797 since release.

“Deadpool” -- $5,000,000, for $349,472,050.

“London Has Fallen” -- $2,926,000, for $55,614,857.

“Hello, My Name Is Doris” -- $1,700,925, for $3,268,689.

“Eye in the Sky” -- $1,001,202 in very limited release, for $1,723,309.

“Batman v Superman” was the biggest March debut and helped to set a new record for the overall Easter weekend, with a combined gross of all films in the marketplace around $254 million, topping Easter 2015’s $224 million, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore.

Easter fell a week later a year ago and was powered by “Furious 7.”

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Listen to PG podcast about Batman v Superman movie

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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SAG-AFTRA's Ken Howard dies

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

SAG-AFTRA Statement on Passing of SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard

blogkenhoward(LOS ANGELES, Mar. 23) -- The following statement is released on behalf of SAG-AFTRA:

We are deeply saddened to announce that SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard passed away today.

Ken was an accomplished actor, author, teacher and unionist whose steady leadership as president of Screen Actors Guild positioned him to guide the union’s historic 2012 merger with American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In addition to his many professional credits, awards and other laudatory work, he led the union for nearly seven years and was devoted to the interests of its membership.

SAG-AFTRA Acting President Gabrielle Carteris said, “Ken was an inspirational leader and it is an incredible loss for SAG-AFTRA, for his family and for everyone who knew him. He was a light that never dimmed and was completely devoted to the membership. He led us through tumultuous times and set our union on a steady course of excellence. We will be forever in his debt.”

National Executive Director David White said, “Ken was a remarkable leader and his powerful vision for this union was a source of inspiration for all of us.  He was an exceptional person and we are deeply saddened by his passing.  He had a remarkable career and he never forgot what it was like to be a working performer.  The merger of SAG and AFTRA was something of a “North Star” for him and, once he fixed upon it, he never wavered from that goal.  My heart goes out to his loving wife, Linda, and to their family.  He will be deeply missed.”

Ken leaves a legacy of service, commitment and superlative success. He was an extraordinary actor whose career spanned Broadway, motion pictures and television. He was a Tony and Emmy Award winner and is best remembered for his groundbreaking network series “The White Shadow.”

Ken was elected to the national board of directors of Screen Actors Guild in 2008 and to the SAG presidency in 2009.  He served two terms and was widely viewed as the leader of the 2012 merger that created SAG-AFTRA, ensuring meaningful representation for nearly 160,000 actors, broadcasters and recording artists now and into the future. He was appointed co-president upon merger and in 2013, became the first elected president of SAG-AFTRA and was reelected in 2015.

He led numerous union committees including chairing the television and theatrical negotiating committee through several rounds of bargaining resulting in nearly $1 billion in gains for members.

He was a hands-on leader and worked closely with national executive director David White in returning the union to fiscal stability. Howard was recognized with the George Heller Memorial Gold Card in 2015 – the union’s highest service honor, and in 2013 received the Leadership Recognition Award for his work on merging the unions.

Ken was active in the International Federation of Actors and served SAG-AFTRA and the national labor movement as vice president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO.

 

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Zootopia tops weak Divergent installment at weekend box office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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New installment in the “Divergent” series?
 
No problem for “Zootopia” which remains No. 1 at the weekend box office, according to early estimates. Its global tally so far is $591.707 million.  
 
Here are the numbers courtesy of comScore:
 
allegiantTeaser Poster1.  “Zootopia” — $38,042,000, for $201,807,497 in North America so far. 
2. “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” — $29,050,000.
3. “Miracles From Heaven” — $15,000,000, for $18,557,053 since its Wednesday arrival. 
4. “10 Cloverfield Lane” — $12,500,000, for $45,176,639 to date. 
5. “Deadpool” — $8,000,000, for $340,941,383.
6. “London Has Fallen” — $6,894,000, for $50,089,820.
7. “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” — $2,805,000, for $19,275,840.
8. “The Perfect Match” — $1,900,000, for $7,306,179.
9. “The Brothers Grimsby” — $1,400,000, for $5,912,670.
10. “The Revenant” — $1,225,000, or $181,161,538 since release. 
 
Opening in Pittsburgh on Friday (with some early shows on Thursday) will be "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," "Hello, My Name Is Doris" starring Sally Field and "Fastball," a baseball documentary narrated by Kevin Costner and featuring, among others, Pirate Andrew McCutchen. "Fastball" opens at the Harris Theater, Downtown, on March 25.
 
 

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