Are you ready for the Academy Awards tonight? That's Rob Ashford, the ceremony's choreographer, pointing something out to Ewan McGregor in an EW image taken during preparations. Hmmm. What is Obi-Wan Kenobi up to? Harrison Ford also is among the folks shown in rehearsal.
Having spun a dungeon-ful armful of gold for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" this year, effects powerhouse Weta Digital is up for more this Sunday at the Academy Awards.
It's already been quite the awards season for New Zealand-based Weta, with the company earning Visual Effects Society (VES) honors for best animation in a live-action motion picture (that would be, among other effects, Smaug himself, the Middle-earth dragon voiced with silky menace by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Director Peter Jackson and senior visual effects director Joe Letteri -- who grew up in Aliquippa -- also received the Vanguard award from the Producers Guild of America last month. Letteri, who has eight Oscar nomination and has won four times, said Part 3 of "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" will be finished by the end of 2014.
"It has been an honor helping to bring Middle-earth to life again. It will be strange to be without it."
Heaven knows Weta won't be left standing around with nothing to do: "We are well into 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,' and it's a great film. The story is sharp, and we've had a few years to advance our technique for bringing our CG Apes to the screen."
Then there's this little project with James Cameron....
"As for 'Avatar,' [sequels] we've been working with Jim on some of the technology and excited for where he might take the story in these next films."
As it happens, Letteri is not the only Pittsburgh-area native up for the visual effects Oscar. Gary Brozenich, who grew up in Natrona Heights, lives in London and works for MPC, which was nominated for its work on "The Lone Ranger."
MPC also did the stunning recent television "dominoes" promotion for the return of NBC's "The Blacklist."
Letteri said that in a season where movie fans have been wowed by FX in any number of films -- including Best Picture nominee "Gravity," -- he's still able to be wowed along with the casual observer.
"It's harder on the films that you work on but for other films, if the story is good, you get swept up in it. If you love what you do, you never give up being a fan. You appreciate the artistry and the craftsmanship, much like a painter viewing someone else's work."
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In anticipation of "Mad Men's" seventh and (*sob*) final season, The Saturday Evening Post is giving AMC's hit the Norman Rockwell treatment.
The magazine's March/April issue features some of the characters fans have loved/hated as the employees of Sterling/Cooper and their families lived, loved, grew, imploded and fab-fashioned their ways through the 1960s.
In the artwork, Don, Betty, Joan, Pete, Roger and Peggy are being observed, appropriately, by series creator Matthew Weiner. He's the one literally hanging in the background as a window washer. (The original is below)
Cover artist Sharif Tarabay is a master of the Rockwell look. Besides a feature on "Mad Men," the Post also examines the "new" look of vintage 1960s-era art in advertising.
"Mad Men" returns Sunday, April 13 and will have two, seven-episode parts to its last season. Break out the Hershey bars.
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Samuel Anderson ("The History Boys," "Gavin & Stacey)" is set to join the cast of "Doctor Who" as a recurring character in the new season, which will also introduce Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, BBC America said in a press release. Anderson will play Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School where companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) also teaches when the series returns to BBC America later this year.
Anderson said: "I was so excited to join "Doctor Who" I wanted to jump and click my heels, but I was scared I might not come down before filming started! It's a quintessential part of British culture and I can't believe I'm part of it. It's an honor to be able to work alongside Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman and I can't wait to show people how my character becomes involved with such a fantastic duo!"
While Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, added: "For the fourth time in "Doctor Who" history, Coal Hill School is coming to the aid of the TARDIS. In 1963 teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright accompanied the first Doctor. These days it's the turn of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. And very soon now, Sam Anderson as Danny Pink will be entering the world of the Doctor. But how and why? Answers are coming later this year in Peter Capaldi's first season of "Doctor Who"!"
Filming recently began on episode four of the new series, which will co-star Robert Goodman and episode five, co-starring Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner.
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Sid Caesar, who died Wednesday at the age of 91, was perhaps best known as a pioneer in television sketch comedy ("Your Show of Shows"). But he was also a chameleon whose talents were showcased in Neil Simon's 1962 Broadway musical, "Little Me."
In it, he played seven different characters, an insanely challenging night of theater. By coincidence, New York City Center just finished a short Encores! run of "Little Me," featuring Fox Chapel native and Carnegie Mellon University graduate Christian Borle.
The new stage concert version was a hit with the critics, as was its star.
"If Borle were not already a Tony winner for 'Peter and the Starcatcher' and one of the best things in NBC's unlamented 'Smash,' we could consider this a star-making performance," gushed Linda Winer in her Newsday review.
Indeed, the Encores! production added an eighth character at the very end.
I caught the final show February 9 after seeing yet ANOTHER tour-de-force, multiple-role performance only hours earlier. Jefferson Mays, a Tony winner for "I Am My Own Wife," portrays eight decidedly daffy men and women in the critical darling of Broadway, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder."
From Asquith D'Ysquith Jr. to Lady Salome D'Ysquith Pumphrey, Mays is the very picture of British caricature. Bryce Pinkham co-stars as a poor man of good breeding who discovers he's eighth in line to the title of Earl of Highhurst and will do anything to get it.
Also in the cast is Catherine Walker, a CMU grad who on that day stepped into the role of Phoebe, the only nice member of the D'Ysquith clan.
Playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre, "Gentleman's Guide" is a delight, with Broadway newcomers Robert Freedman (book, lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music, lyrics).
So, eight hours, two actors, 16 roles. And yet it all made sense. Sid would have felt right at home.
(Top photo: Rachel York and Christian Borle. Credit, Joan Marcus)