Jessica Alba, who switched her hair from their natural dark-brunette tresses to golden blonde for hit films Fantastic Four and Sin City, noticed how much attention she attracted as a lighthead. "People pay attention to blondes far more than they do to brunettes, the actress told Elle magazine. "I definitely got checked out three times for every once I do with my regular hair colour."
Fortunately for her, the on-screen beauty isn't crazy about men drooling over her, or of playing sexually charged roles on the silver screen, so being a natural darkhead works out just fine. "A lot of young women push to be tarts more than maternal figures," she said. "My character in Fantastic Four, Sue Storm, is young but she takes care of the boys and keeps her family together. I also like that she's intelligent.
"A lot of comic book women are damsels in distress or evil rather than heroes, and they're usually sexed up. Being objectified like that is not something I'll ever get used to."
Does that mean the young, vivacious celeb doesn't like the role of femme fatale? "It's fun to play the role," she said, "and I know that it's pure fantasy, but I still get anxious."
All of which makes us wonder: is "fun" the same thing as "mandatory"?
Stop us if you think you've heard this one before: Jennifer Aniston has touched off romance rumblings after she was spied noshing with a member of the opposite sex. But what sets this tête-à-tête apart, according to People, is that there was actual finger-to-finger contact involved.
The affable actress, 38, reportedly stepped out for a "cozy" three-hour dinner date on Saturday with a mystery man, who wasn't shy about "gently" rubbing her back as they waited for a table at a Santa Monica, Calif., eatery.
Later, over candlelight and a bottle of San Pellegrino, they were "leaning in close" and enjoying some romantic hand-holding across the table, says the magazine.
Details on her dining partner are scarce, other than he has dirty-blond hair, is quite the eye candy and he and Aniston make a fine-looking couple (and no, it wasn't her ex, Brad Pitt).
This is the latest in a string of reports to surface about Jen's love life, which she insists is not as busy as the tabloids make it sound. In recent months, she's shot down rumors linking her to everyone from Sam Rockwell to Orlando Bloom to Keanu Reeves.
Still, she remained mum when Us reported a few weeks back that she was enjoying a "friends with benefits" arrangement with former flame Vince Vaughn. - More
Rosie O'Donnell has fought her last fight at "The View." ABC said Friday she asked for, and received, an early exit from her contract at the daytime chatfest following her angry confrontation with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Wednesday. She was due to leave in mid-June.
It ended a colorful eight-month tenure for O'Donnell that lifted the show's ratings but no doubt caused heartburn for show creator Barbara Walters. O'Donnell feuded with Donald Trump and frequently had snippy exchanges with the more conservative Hasselbeck.
O'Donnell said last month she would be leaving because she could not agree to a new contract with ABC executives.
"Rosie contributed to one of our most exciting and successful years at `The View,'" Walters said. "I am most appreciative. Our close and affectionate relationship will not change."
In a statement, O'Donnell said that "it's been an amazing year and I love all three women."
No one was feeling the love on Wednesday, when the argument with Hasselbeck began over O'Donnell's statement last week about the war: "655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?"
Talk show critics accused O'Donnell of calling U.S. troops terrorists. She called Hasselbeck "cowardly" for not saying anything in response to the critics.
"Do not call me a coward, because No. 1, I sit here every single day, open my heart and tell people what I believe," Hasselbeck retorted, and their riveting exchange continued despite failed attempts by their co-hosts to cut to a commercial. - More
With the release of Brad Pitt's titular latest Danny Ocean vehicle, Ocean's 432 (choose your own number), we had to wonder: what is it that makes this venue so appealing? Why does this sequel to a sequel to a remake garner top box-office numbers? Is it simply because of the drawing power of its stars? Or is there really a great story behind all the glitz and glamor?
Not knowing the answer, we thought of a possible solution. It comes in the light of the very first Danny Ocean flick to fly...the original, featuring Frank Sinatra and the indomitable Rat Pack, plus a host of miscellaneous little ratlets. What did the critics think of that film on the eve of its release? We thought we'd take a step back in time to find out what, exactly, makes Danny tick. Here's a New York Times review from Aug. 11, 1960, by Bosley Crowther, entitled The Screen: 'Ocean's 11':Sinatra Heads Flippant Team of Crime.
"A SURPRISINGLY nonchalant and flippant attitude toward crime-an attitude so amoral it roadblocks a lot of valid gags - is maintained through "Ocean's 11," which arrived at the Capitol yesterday. Frank Sinatra, who is the power behind the picture, should have a couple of his merit badges taken away.
"The idea is that a bunch of fellows, Danny Ocean's (Mr. Sinatra's) breezy gang of wartime buddies and heroes, are assembled to do a little job of robbing five major casinos in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. That's all. Ten cheerful, chummy fellows and Mr. Ocean, a stalwart crew, conspire - with Akim Tamiroff as their big boss - to pick up a bundle of dough.
"And they do it, too. That's the sad thing. Almost as easy as rolling off a log (or rolling a sequence of "naturals" with loaded dice in a Hollywood film), these eleven guys knock out the power lines, "hit" the cashiers' cages in one fell swoop and rake some $5,000,000 into their convenient little black bags. They're so clever and humorous about it and the casino people are such dopes. Well, why not? Wasn't the crime team schooled together in a lot of Eighty-second Airborne Division "drops"?
"That's the way it is: no dishonor, no moral misgivings, no sweat, outside of the normal, natural tension that occurs while the crime is being done. After the whole thing is over and a hijacker moves in to grab the swag, there is no built-in implication that the boys have done something wrong. There is just an ironic, unexpected and decidedly ghoulish twist whereby they are deprived of their pickings and what seems their just deserts. - More
When Kari Matchett made her belated arrival during the middle of this season's "24," she patched up a season-long crack, a palpable lack in the series. As Lisa Miller, the assistant to Vice President Noah Daniels (played by Powers Boothe), Matchett made her first appearance in Episode 12 (aka "5 p.m. to 6 p.m."). Daniels soon stepped in as acting president, and Miller emerged as his Lady Macbeth, at first quietly observing, but soon willing to do anything for her boss, including perjure herself to advance his career. Miller was the necessary addition that all prime-time programs seem to require these days: She was a network blonde.
A network blonde is different from a regular blonde. In history, blond hair was an evolutionary mutation, a decrease in dark pigment levels that appears to have been introduced into the genetic soup around 3000 B.C., in -- counterintuitively -- Lithuania. Statistically, only 1.8 percent of humanity is truly blond. Culturally, blond hair has divided the public.
In "Presence of the Present," a magnificent analysis of Victorian literature and society, author Richard D. Altick notes the rise of "chestnut" (read: blond) hair on female characters in novels of the mid-1800s as it supplants "auburn," (read: red) hair as indicative of moral corruption. In modern times, from Jean Harlow to Marilyn Monroe, blond hair and its variations marked a woman as fun-loving -- and dumb. The dumb blonde joke emerged in the late 1970s as a new variant in a long history of discriminatory gags. - More
People have been awfully quick to pick on Paris Hilton. It's been a field day for the Schadenfreude Fairy, to be sure. Many are getting quite the laugh out of the 23 days she'll spend in the slammer for violating the terms of her drunk-driving probation.
Admittedly, she's hard to like. Although we felt a bit sorry for her when Tori ''Homewrecker'' Spelling's mom chewed her out in public, she has committed many a foul offense in public.
Not only does her ''THATS HOT'' clothing line lack a crucial apostrophe, she's also been caught on tape using the n-word, and another time, having glassy eyed sex with a very icky man. Finally, she was there when Britney Spears started walking around without panties and giving those of us who saw the pictures permanent retinal damage.
Still, we feel sorry for her. Not because she got caught -- twice! -- driving with a suspended license, and not for failing to sign up for an alcohol-education program (and it's not because she's already an expert in alcohol.)
No, we pity her because she's an idiot, and it must be hard to function with such a limited set of brains. If you're dumb enough to sign a document acknowledging your license is suspended, stick it into your glove compartment and keep driving anyway, like Paris did, then you're seriously impaired.
No wonder she gets pulled over every few weeks. - More
by Andrew O'Hehir
CANNES, France -- With most of the major movie stars having decamped, and the French Riviera on the verge of plunging into its torpid summer season, it's a good time to take stock of Cannes 2007. The Palme d'Or ceremony is still to come on Sunday night (and I'll have a report on Monday morning), but while that will create international headlines and look great on the DVD case, Cannes' big prize has long since stopped being a box-office difference maker outside continental Europe. Still, it's not as if this festival has no reach. "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Volver" emerged from Cannes last year with worldwide buzz, and went on to find a wide audience in the English-speaking world that was never before accessible to Spanish-language cinema. "An Inconvenient Truth" had actually premiered at Sundance, but the media coverage surrounding Al Gore's visit to Cannes came right before the film's U.S. opening and helped push an unlikely hit. If pictures like Rachid Bouchareb's World War II drama "Days of Glory," Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Bergman-esque domestic drama "Climates," Andrea Arnold's erotic noir "Red Road" and Abderrahmane Sissako's confrontational docudrama "Bamako" never found the audiences they merited, they still got their shot, largely because of what happened here.
Of course, it can run in the other direction sometimes too. If you'd told me a year ago that well-liked Cannes films such as Aki Kaurismäki's "Lights in the Dusk," Israel Adrián Caetano's "Chronicle of an Escape" (aka "Buenos Aires 1977"), Wang Chao's "Luxury Car" and Pedro Costa's "Colossal Youth" would remain virtually unreleased and unseen in the United States, I'd have -- well, OK, I'd have believed you.
All of that is to state the obvious: Picking the hottest films out of any film festival is an inherently subjective matter of guesswork and taste, and I'm certain to be dead wrong about something on this list. I've included the films that were my personal favorites at Cannes this year, but of course I'm also reacting to the tides of gossip and innuendo and thirdhand enthusiasm that flow through any large group of people. I'm including a couple of films I haven't seen yet, based on the overwhelming reaction of those who have. (It's possible to see about half of the official selection at Cannes, and maybe more if you literally don't do anything else, but everybody leaves here regretting the movies they don't catch.)
A few words about the movies that aren't on my list, because in some cases their absence requires explanation. I'm not including Hollywood movies that screened here out of competition, like "A Mighty Heart" and "Ocean's Thirteen." I'm also not counting movies that have been extensively covered here and that will clearly get a mainstream or near-mainstream level of release. Those would include Wong Kar-wai's "My Blueberry Nights" (the opening-night feature here), along with the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" and James Gray's crackerjack 1980s New York cop thriller "We Own the Night."
I'm essentially looking for this year's art-house surprises: challenging and adventurous films likely to appeal to a small but serious audience of cinema buffs all over the world. To my own surprise, I'm not going to include Korean director Kim Ki-duk's "Breath," Hungarian art-god Béla Tarr's "The Man From London," Alexander Sokurov's "Alexandra" or Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park." Those are all important directors, and those movies -- all respectfully received here -- are worth discussing in more detail. But none of them, to my mind, is a startling or exceptional work likely to reach beyond those filmmakers' existing fan bases. ("Paranoid Park," for instance, will play better in Europe than in America. "The Man From London," like most Tarr films, will barely escape the festival circuit.)
I'm fairly sure all of these will actually see U.S. release in the next year, but there can be major differences of scale. Pictures like Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" or Juan Pablo Bayona's "The Orphanage" will be rolled out as potential foreign-language hits, while Carlos Reygadas' "Silent Light" may play half a dozen big-city venues. My advice is to catch them all, if and when you can. (The list is alphabetical and otherwise unranked.) - More
by Stephen Walker
For two weeks each May, thousands of movie producers, directors and actors invade the quiet Mediterranean resort of Cannes for the most famous, and perhaps the most glamorous, film festival in the world. To everybody who is anybody in the movie business, and for a whole lot who aren't, this is the Mecca of film festivals.
Just a mile down the coast, an alternative festival takes place at exactly the same time, a sort of flip-side, bad-brother mirror image of the mainstream event: rather less glamorous, certainly more sleazy, unquestionably more infamous. It's the Hot d'Or, the porn industry's answer to the Cannes Film Festival, complete with its own (legendary) parties, its own ceremonies, its own awards. Held in a large, anonymous hotel complex that is patrolled by legions of swarthy security guards in low-rent tuxedos, the Hot d'Or is an impressive testament to the power of an industry that is growing at a phenomenal rate. And I mean phenomenal. In Los Angeles alone, 10,000 porn movies are made every year, making more than $4.1 billion in 2000.
Hollywood would kill for that kind of success. A couple of more years like that, and the Cannes Film Festival will be just a sideshow to the real event down the road. Forget Bruce Willis. We'll all be lining up for Lexington Steele, one of porn's biggest stars, and proud owner of a 16-inch-long penis. - More
Quentin on Italia
Italian newspapers on Monday and over the weekend were full of reaction to the director's comments, which came less than a month after it was revealed that he would co-present a series of Spaghetti Westerns in a special sidebar at this year's Venice Film Festival.
Tarantino is known to be a fan of old Italian films, but according to his recent comments published in Sorrisi & Canzioni -- the country's leading television magazine -- his love for the country's film productions does not extend to more contemporary cuts. - More
Penguins on Parade...
This animated film about surfing penguins unfolds documentary-style, complete with scratchy "archival" footage of surf legends from the past. Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf), a tiny Rockhopper penguin and surfer, talks directly to a camera crew that follows him from his home in Shiverpool, Antarctica, to a big surfing contest on a tropical isle.
Once you get past the idea of penguins needing surfboards to negotiate water, a premise that initially evokes that famous quote about fish and bicycles, the faux-documentary angle is pretty nifty. So is the animation.
Big-wave and underwater scenes are vividly rendered, and a sequence in which a storm brews over the surfing contest creates an impressive sense of mood. But the adventures in "Surf's Up" tend to be more modest than those in "Happy Feet" or even "March of the Penguins."
The voice acting, by contrast, is more nuanced than in most animated films. Much of the charm of "Surf's Up" derives from the relationship between Cody and his mentor, voiced by Jeff Bridges. LaBeouf and Bridges invest these characters with real personality.
Directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, "Surf's Up" assumes that kids have seen those other penguin movies and know about such things as regurgitated meals. Though Cody isn't as instantly adorable as Emperor penguin Mumble from "Happy Feet," he shares with Mumble an individualistic streak at odds with the penguin fold. His zest for surfing prompts disapproval from his brother (voiced by Brian Posehn, who, oddly enough, sounds more like a surfer than other voice actors). - More
Warner Bros. Buys
Warner Bros. Pictures is bringing the Shannara fantasy book series by Terry Brooks to the big screen, according to reports. The studio has purchased rights to the series, which blends technology and magic in stories that take place in a world dominated by apocalyptic battles. During the process, the human race splits into sub-races of trolls, gnomes, dwarves, and elves who finally come out of hiding.
Against the skeletal remains of skyscrapers and subways, the survivors use magic to practice politics and wage war.
The first book, The Sword of Shannara, was published by Random House in 1977. Written by Brooks while a bored law-school student, it was the first fantasy book to top the New York Times best-sellers list.
Brooks wrote more than a dozen books in the series, including Straken (2005). The studio is eyeing the second book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara, as the most likely starting point for the film series. They are currently seeking writers to work on the scripts.
Tulip Fever, the story by author Deborah Moggach of a 17th-century love triangle inspired by a painting by the Dutch master Jan Vermeer, has proved one of the most popular novels of the past eight years.
Published in 1999, at the height of the dotcom boom, it recalled an earlier age of irrational exuberance, one which, like the hi-tech euphoria of the millennium, also ended in lost fortunes and ruined lives.
The story had all the right ingredients - love, passion, betrayal and greed - not to mention an achingly picturesque setting on the waterways and in the workshops of mercantile Amsterdam.
Inevitably, as Moggach's novel climbed the best-seller lists and began dominating book club discussions, Hollywood came calling. Tinseltown's special envoy was no less a figure than Steven Spielberg.
But the Hollywood dream turned into something of a nightmare. Now Moggach has admitted for the first time how she was aghast at the Oscar-winning director's grasp of the finer details of the plot.
Speaking at this year's Hay-on-Wye Festival of Literature, Moggach described how she sat stunned after being summoned to a meeting in Los Angeles with Spielberg's team as the director referred to her novel as being "Danish". She said: "The book is about the Dutch but nobody corrected him."
He also failed to get to grips with the overall theme of the book, she claimed. "He said, 'I think it's a comedy about poverty', which it isn't but everyone just agreed."
Sex and the
Kotb, the first licensed sexologist in Egypt, believes that sex is a gift Allah intended for humans; her divine mission is to make sure that they're enjoying it. Every week, viewers throughout the Muslim world flood her station with calls, hoping to have their most embarrassing and intimate questions answered on-air. All sorts of sexual queries are allowed, with one snag: Sexual relations outside of marriage are haram (prohibited by Islam) and not open to discussion. In fact, Kotb, a wife and mother of three, draws her sex advice directly from the Quran. According to her textual analysis, the Prophet Mohammed encouraged frequent sex and foreplay and decreed that female pleasure is, um, actually kind of important. She delivers these sexual dictates with the dryness of a doctor and the conviction of a fundamentalist, but she's also prone to jarring fits of laughter.
To the Western world -- where gray-haired sex educator Sue Johanson can be seen on TV simulating oral sex on six inches of silicone -- Kotb's call-in show would seem relatively quaint and her views on homosexuality downright regressive. But, to much of the Muslim world, the 39-year-old -- who appears fresh-faced and prim, save her heavily kohl-lined eyes -- is considered a radical liberal. Not surprisingly, though, her work has drawn the attention of extremist Islamic clerics: Sheik Youssef al-Badri declared that her work only "increases the number of sex perverts." But viewers were aching for a show like hers, she says, because sex education in Egypt is "nonexistent." In fact, it was while studying stateside to become a surgeon that Kotb discovered there was a world of sexual knowledge that had been withheld from her -- so she decided to take a dramatically different path and pursue a degree in clinical sexology. Years later she returned to Cairo and opened her own sex clinic; the demand for her services is so high that she's booked months in advance. - More
Fired Rather, Moonves,
Rather [who was forced last year by CBS into an early retirement following a doctored report of George Bush's military records], speaking on MSNBC by phone ...said CBS had made the mistake of taking the evening news broadcast and "dumbing it down, tarting it up," and playing up topics such as celebrities over war coverage. The comments appeared in blogs and in a story published in the New York Daily News. - More
Do You Know Where Your
If you are continually amazed at just how wrong movie reviewers can be, do we have a treat in store for you. Yes, Virginia, there is a reviewer right for you, and he's only a heartbeat--make that a mouse click--away.
Wise Geek has an interactive program that asks you to rate as many movies on a list as you've seen, and then it compares your ratings with those of professional reviewers and tells you which reviewer (Roger Ebert, James Bernadelli, Peter Travers, or Rotten Tomatoes) is most in-synch with you. The result is not only mildly entertaining, but also potentially useful. By checking the reviews from "your" reviewer and ignoring those from others, you may just find the hit-and-miss prospect of seeing a movie based upon the opinion of a bunch of thoughtless Bollywood drones a thing of the past.
Then again, maybe not. In any event, it's worth a peek. Check it at