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Turtles hang onto top spot at box office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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Moviegoers — and old and young — love their turtles. 
 
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was No. 1 for the weekend with an estimated $28.4 million with “Guardians of the Galaxy” second, riding a wave of good word of mouth and reviews. 
 
Here are the early numbers courtesy of Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst, at Rentrak: 
 
1. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — $28,400,000, bringing its total to $117,642,236.
2.  “Guardians of the Galaxy” — $24,735,000, for $222,281,000 so far. 
3.  “Let’s Be Cops” — $17,700,000, bringing its gross since its Wednesday release to $26,107,264.
4. “The Expendables 3” — $16,200,000.
5. “The Giver” — $12,760,000.
6.  “Into the Storm” — $7,720,000, for $31,341,436 since release. 
7.  “The Hundred-Foot Journey” — $7,109,000, or $23,619,000 since opening. 
8.  “Lucy” — $5,317,200, bringing its total to $107,536,705.
9. “Step Up All In” — $2,700,000, for $11,849,334 so far. 
10. “Boyhood” — $2,150,319, on 771 screens versus 3,980 for “TMNT,” nudging its total to $13,800,781.
 
 

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We're off to see the Wizard... 75 years later

Written by Maria Sciullo on .

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Someone in our household wanted to watch "The Wizard of Oz" on VHS just about every day when she was little. So we know a bit about the MGM classic that is celebrating its 75th anniversary this weekend... oh yes, we do.

Various media sites are running those "(fill in a number) things you didn't know about "The Wizard of Oz," and for the most part, they are worth reading. Reminisce magazine has a particularly good feature with some nice images. 

Here's one of my own. When Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch sends the flying monkeys to harass Dorothy and her friends, she tells them she's sent an insect ahead to soften them up. It's a reference to a song and dance number that didn't make the final cut, called "The Jitterbug."

Although MGM's $2.7 million big film of 1939 had a splashy Hollywood premiere on August 15, then one in New York City several days later (with star Judy Garland performing), it actually debuted in the tiny Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12.

There are several theories to this, but the most common: the studio was eager to field test the movie in what it considered America's heartland. Some sources claim there was a similar early showing in Massachusetts as well.

Director Victor Fleming's film was initially a box-office dud. According to Box Office Mojo, it has since made about $23 million worldwide, but it's found a loving home on television. Broadcast in 1956 for the first time, it became a stand-alone TV event that ran on commercial TV until 1991. Those of a certain age will remember families gathering to watch, and how there was always a commercial break just after the Cowardly Lion freaked and jumped out the window in the Emerald City.

Today of course, the Wizard of Oz can be watched in any number of DVD versions, even rented on iTunes. Skipping down the yellow brick road on your iPhone? Now that is a horse of a different color.

 

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Have a great Steelers man cave? A commercial may want you

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

terribletowelblobgbvDo you have the “Ultimate Steeler Man Cave”?  A commercial is looking for the perfect Steelers man cave for an upcoming ad. 

This is legit, came from the Pittsburgh Film Office and if you think you have this location, send photos along with your contact information by Aug. 20  to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Lauren Bacall, in her own words

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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Lauren Bacall ended her 1978 autobiography by asking, “Why didn’t I fall prey to the obvious pitfalls of life – booze, drugs, withdrawal?”

Her answer: “I would say that being loved unselfishly by two people had a hell of a lot to do with it.”

The first was her nurturing, encouraging divorced mother. “Together with the strength of our family and my own character, my ability to laugh at myself – all that is what made it possible for me to deal with Bogie, a man with three marriages in his past and 25 years on me.”

bacallblog812bvHumphrey Bogart, she wrote in “Lauren Bacall By Myself,” loved her, never suppressed her and helped her to keep her values straight and remember the quality of life and proper attitude toward work.

“To be good was more important than to be rich. To be kind was more important than owning a house or a car. To respect one’s work and to do it well, to risk something in life, was more important than being a star. To never sell your soul – to have self-esteem – to be true – was most important of all.”

On March 24, 1997, Lauren Bacall’s name was on plenty of Oscar ballots in office pools and at parties. She was considered a lock for her supporting role in “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” She had done the Barbara Walters interview, she was seated on the aisle for easy access to the stage and she was long overdue although remarkably this was just her first nomination.

But the ceremony didn’t go according to pundits’ plan. Juliette Binoche was named the winner of the Academy Award in that category, picking up one of nine Oscars for “The English Patient.” Even Binoche was surprised and you had to sympathize with Bacall who then had to sit through the balance of the ceremony and know she would go home empty-handed.

The actress eventually received an Honorary Oscar (above photo) but not during the telecast.

She, Roger Corman and Gordon Willis were saluted during the Governors Awards in November 2009 in the grand ballroom at Hollywood and Highland Center. Producer John Calley, absent due to health reasons, was given the Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award.

An estimated 600 guests drank champagne, dined on filet mignon and watched as each honoree was celebrated with tributes, toasts and a generous montage of film clips, leisurely elements not possible in previous years when special Oscar presentations were built into the already crowded broadcast. This was the first time the honors were shifted to a separate event.

Bacall  has died at age 89, another tether to Hollywood’s golden age gone.

Photos: Courtesy of The Margaret Herrick Library  and Todd Wawrychuk / A.M.P.A.S.



 

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RIP, Robin Williams, funnyman and deserving Oscar winner

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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I never interviewed Robin Williams but I saw him perform in Downtown Pittsburgh in the early 1980s at what I think was the Stanley Theater. 
 
He was wearing those sort of parachute pants that were big back in the day and he perspired on stage and kept the audience in nearly constant laughter. (It takes a lot to make me laugh and he could, on stage or on any late-night talk show where you knew he would keep you awake, alert and entertained.)
 
His mind clearly whirred and whirled and fired at a faster rate than the rest of us, and it’s just so sad to think he was found dead today at age 63, an apparent suicide. 
 
Instead of dwelling on the mournful, here’s a look back to the night he won the Academy Award for “Good Will Hunting.” He took the supporting actor honor the year Kim Basinger was named supporting actress for “L.A. Confidential.” 
 
When Williams said he wanted to be an actor, his father suggested a backup career, like welding. On March 23, 1998, he dabbled in some metal work, hoisting an 8 1/2 -pound statue called Oscar.
 
Considered a comic genius with one of the quickest wits in show business, Williams won for a serious role. He played Sean McGuire, a college professor and therapist, who helps Will Hunting come to terms with his genius and face a future far from South Boston.
 
Williams hugged the film’s (then) youthful creators, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and joked he wanted to see some I.D. “Thank you for putting me in this category with four extraordinary men,’’ he said, also paying tribute to director Gus Van Sant, the people of South Boston, his then-wife and (looking heavenward) “my father, up there.’’
 
Backstage, Williams expounded on his father:  “He was an elegant man. He was wonderful. When he saw I found something I loved, he stood by me. He seriously said that about the welding. And when I went to my first class and saw the teacher had one eye, I was out of there.’’ 
 
By then already a Grammy and Emmy winner, Williams had played everything from an extraterrestrial to a woman named “Mrs. Doubtfire.”  The co-star of television’s “Mork and Mindy,’’ Williams made his film debut in Robert Altman’s "Popeye.’’
 
The film “Good Morning, Vietnam’’ earned him his first Academy Award nomination, “Dead Poets Society’’ brought his second and “The Fisher King’’ a third. 
 
Backstage, Williams said he was pleased his Oscar win came that year.  “The other nominations were just foreplay. I’m very proud. This is an extraordinary piece.’’ 
 
As reported by my colleague Marylynn Uricchio, who was in Los Angeles while I was here, Williams followed Basinger into the press room. He bounded into the room after her and said, “It’s ‘Bass-inger.’ Alec [Baldwin] is outside. Don’t piss him off. He hit a photographer.’’
 
2010arriverobinwmsThe couple, of course, later divorced. 
 
A frenzy of ebullient, kinetic energy, Williams pretended the reporters raising numbered cards to ask questions were bidders at an auction or that he was getting their cars. He was one of the smartest actors in Hollywood, and genuinely revered by his peers and the press alike, Uricchio wrote. 
 
“It’s extraordinary. It’s the golden dude. I’ve been here three times before and lost. My odds were as good as the Jamaican bob-sledding team. One of the people I admire most was Peter Sellers. When you’re a comic, you feel like a slightly damaged person. I don’t know what it is with comics and the Academy, but it’s changing.’’
 
(Top photo, AP/Reed Saxon, File and photo to right from 2010 when Williams was an Oscar presenter, by John Farrell, A.M.P.A.S.)
 

 

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