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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Burton’

Willie Geist’s Parenting Advice to Kanye West; Star Jones Celebrates a Birthday

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After the last few head-spinning Wednesdays at Michael’s kept me ricocheting between Hollywood A-listers (Meg Ryan) and tabloid targets (Rachel Uchitel), it was something of a relief to turn my attention to the restaurant’s core constituency of authors and their agents (remember books?) who have always viewed the dining room at 55th & Fifth as a de facto company cafeteria. When I arrived a few minutes before noon and overheard Tom Connor telling L’Oreal Sherman he was meeting Gretchen Young for lunch, I just had to go over and introduce myself. Gretchen was my editor at Hyperion, and we worked together on two bestsellers: I Love You, Mom! a collection of celebrity essays I edited and Objection! which I co-wrote with Nancy Grace. Like I always say, in certain circles, all roads lead to Michael’s.

Now vice president and executive editor at Grand Central Publishing, Gretchen recently signed Tom’s clients Willie Geist and his father Bill Geist to write a father-son book scheduled for publication next year to coincide with Father’s Day. When Willie (who, it should be noted, is quite the snappy dresser) arrived, I asked him if the dapper duo had ever worked together before. “Aside from some yard work, no,” he told me. The yet-to-be-titled tome does have a subtitle: Birds, Bees and Other Conversations We Never Had. “It’s not going to be one of those super earnest father-son books,” says Willie. Bill describes the book as something “born out of our experiences and what we’ve learned from each other.”

“It’s really our humorous take on things,” says Willie, which seems only fitting since his first book, the bestselling American Freak Show, was a send-up of our tabloid culture featuring imagined conversations with characters like ’President’ Sarah Palin. The upcoming title will chronicle life growing up in the Geist household through a mix of essays and interviews. “I think we’ll both write things and then bounce it off each other,” says Bill. Sounds like there’s no shortage of material. “There’s the time the Christmas presents were accidentally locked in the trunk of dad’s company car and a sledgehammer was wielded,” recalls Willie. “And then there was the summer I was sent off to what was supposed to be an idyllic summer camp in New Hampshire, and I’m not exaggerating when I say the counselors were fresh-out-of-rehab juvenile delinquents, and there were literally knife fights going on around me. We’ll basically write about what not to do.”

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Donald Trump, Star Jones, Wendy Williams, Plus Dish on the New Dark Shadows Movie

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Who knew there was a pre-Easter rush? Michael’s dining room was jam packed today with moguls (Donald Trump!), fashion mavens (Rachel Roy, Fern Mallis) and talking heads (Star Jones, Wendy Williams and Joe Kernen) before the town car set jets off to Florida and other more exotic ports of call for the holiday. We arrived early so as not to miss a minute of the mixing and mingling of the power lunch scene and were glad we did. Trump made quite an entrance with his bodyguard in tow. The last time we spotted anyone with protection stationed inside the restaurant was when Elton John met with some bigwigs at Table One several years back. Life can be so complicated when you have money.

I was joined today by Kathryn Leigh Scott, who starred in one of my favorite television shows of all time, Dark Shadows. If you grew up in the 60′s, then you — or someone you knew – probably ran home after school in time to catch the iconic gothic soap opera which aired on WABC at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Kathryn played Maggie Evans and Josette DuPres who was the ill-fated lady love of Barnabas Collins, one of television’s most famous vampires memorably depicted by Jonathan Frid. She also starred opposite Jonathan in the hit MGM film House of Dark Shadows (soon to be re-released on DVD and BlueRay).

Well, everything old is new again and next month Tim Burton‘s big screen homage to the show, Dark Shadows, starring super fan Johnny Depp hits theaters May 11. Kathryn, Jonathan as well as her former castmates Lara Parker (the original Angelique) and David Selby (Quentin Collins) have cameos in the film. “Lara and I plan to walk the red carpet together at the Los Angeles premiere wearing age-appropriate gowns and have a glass of champagne. This is really something to celebrate,” said Kathryn who has high hopes for the film. “It has all the elements the show had (fantasy, horror, romance and comedy), but it’s their playground with their own spin on things.”

Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane
Kathryn Leigh Scott and Diane Clehane

The timing of the film couldn’t be better for Kathryn’s new book, Dark Shadows Return to Collinwood which has just come out to rave reviews. Designed by Cheryl Carrington, the book contains hundreds of rare photos from the show, as well as stunning images from the new film.

Kathryn told me she is “so grateful to Warner Brothers and to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp” for their “huge trust in me.”  The movie studio released the images from the film to her before they’d finished their own trailer or movie poster and did not ask for approval over their usage. The photos of Depp in full Barnabas regalia standing alongside the original cast members is really something to see, and Kathryn’s behind the scenes account of the experience of being in Burton’s film make the book a must-have for fans both old and new.

Over 200 fans turned out last night at Barnes & Noble on 86th Street to meet Kathryn, get their books signed, and talk about the show and the upcoming film.  They also got a surprise gift of posters from the new movie provided by Warner Brothers. “It was wonderful because it was a real mix of people,” she told me. “There were young fans who were excited to learn more about the show, and there were some of the longtime fans who were children when they stood outside the stage door of the show here in New York in the 60s. The legacy of Dark Shadows lives on!”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

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Screenwriter John August Describes His Daily Work Routine

Longtime Tim Burton collaborator John August, whose credits on that front include Charlie’s Angels, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and next year’s Frankenweenie, has always been at the cutting edge of the Internet. He was one of the first name screenwriters to start blogging regularly, and today he took the time to outline his weekday writing regimen.

He starts off with the funny revelation that it wasn’t until around age four that his daughter realized that “off to work” meant an office above the garage, about 100 feet away. And leave it to August to use the title of a certain Richard Dean Anderson TV series… as a verb:

For the past six months, I’ve been doing most of my “morning work”–reading and blog stuff, such as writing this post–while walking on the treadmill. I MacGyvered an old film festival lanyard to hold my iPad 2, and use an Apple bluetooth keyboard. I find I can think coherently up to about 3.2 miles per hour. (Beyond that speed, it’s genuine cardio and I can only listen to podcasts and such.)

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Last Night: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Blogger Night’ at the Kodak Theater

We’re no theater critics. We’ll leave that to the professionals. But, for what it’s worth, FishbowlLA was among those in attendance for last night’s “Blogger Night” performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Iris at the Kodak theater–and we enjoyed the show immensely. Between the psychedelic Prohibition-era costumes and Danny Elfman‘s score, we would describe the experience as being in the middle of a living Tim Burton film–a Burton film that happens to star a few dozen extremely flexible, French (or, more accurately, Russian and Chinese masquerading as French) Johnny Depp‘s.

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Kardashian Sisters Take Over LA Times Front Page

This morning on the LATimes.com home page, there is a static right-hand top cube ad featuring the Kardashian sisters and a matching dynamic banner running across the bottom of the page.

But if you happen to be a print subscriber, the reality TV trio’s intrusion is even more dramatic. Today’s front page above-the-fold is nothing but Kardashians, impeccably coiffed and striding towards the reader in individualized leopard-print outfits. It’s the latest full-page print wraparound ad sold by the Times, generating no doubt more than a few double takes among the publication’s older-skewing front lawn picker-uppers.

The ad touts a scheduled Sunday afternoon drop-in by the trio at a Sears in Cerritos, with a bottom-of-the-page reminder that “Celebrity appearances subject to rescheduling or cancellation.” In other words, line-up people, there’s always a chance that Khloé, Kim and-or Kourtney will wake up and decide to KO this particular Kardashian Kollection kowtow.

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All in the Family with Joe Kernen & A Dark Shadows Star is Reborn

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It was a bustling scene at Michael’s today as the power lunch crowd  crammed in some last minute networking before their late summer vacations. In the mix: talking heads (Joe Kernen, Andrew Ross Sorkin), hot shot editors (David Zinczenko, Joanna Coles), and beauty gurus (Estee Lauder’s John Demsey and Thia Breen at separate tables).

I was joined today by Kathryn Leigh Scott who I met years ago while working on a piece for TV Guide about the ongoing appeal of the ’60s Gothic soap, Dark Shadows. Long before Twilight, Kathryn starred as the doomed lady love of vampire Barnabas Collins. Like its eternal leading man, Dark Shadows just won’t die. Tim Burton, one of the show’s most fervent fans, is currently shooting a big screen version starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas and scheduled for a May 2012 release. Kathryn just returned from London where she shot a cameo role for the film. I was dying to get her take on how Johnny is sinking his fangs into the role, but Kathryn demurred, “I’ve been sworn to secrecy!”

We had plenty to talk about anyway. Kathryn’s  latest novel, Dark Passages (Pomegranate Press) is a love letter to Dark Shadows and is already getting rave reviews. Set in the swinging ’60s, it tells the tale of an actress moonlighting as a Playboy bunny who just happens to be vampire and is determined to make it in New York City without her supernatural powers. While working on the cult hit Dark Passages, she meets her nemesis, a 300-year-old witch. ”Anyone who, as a kid, ran home from school to watch Dark Shadows will love it,” Kathryn told me. (We’re starting it tonight.) On the 17th of this month, she’ll be at Barnes & Noble at 86th and Lexington signing copies. Then, on August 19 through the 21, she’ll join several of the original cast members at the annual Dark Shadows festival at the Brooklyn Marriott.

Kathryn is one author who has always taken that old chestnut ‘write what you know’ to heart.  Having worked as a Playboy bunny herself in the ’60s, she interviewed over 250 former bunnies, including Lauren Hutton and Debbie Harry, for her 1999 release The Bunny Years. The book was recently acquired by Imagine Television for potential use in upcoming episodes of The Playboy Club premiering this fall on NBC. With renewed interest in the subject, Simon & Schuster is releasing an updated edition next month with a new forward written by none other than Hugh Hefner.

While Kathryn is over the moon about The Bunny Years getting a new lease on life, she is livid with one former bunny who worked with her back in the day. None other than Gloria Steinem was part of a class of seven women who trained at The Playboy Club at the same time — but Gloria’s stint was a ruse so she could write a scathing expose on the women and the club. While she didn’t identify any of the women by name, she used stories they’d shared thinking they were talking to a friend. “What kind of feminism is it when you put down the women you work with?” asked Kathryn. “All of us were just as ambitious. She knew I was a scholarship student trying to build a career in acting.” What burns Kathryn the most is that Gloria is still bad mouthing the bunnies. “I’m in warrior mode,” she told me, “because this 46 year-old rant is tiresome.” Ms. Steinem, I think you’ve met your match.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hollywoodlife.com’s Bonnie Fuller and Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne, a Penske board member, presiding over their monthly lunch. On the guest list:  Activate’s co-founder and managing director, Michael J. WolfKatherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment; Ritu Trivedi of Mindshare Interactive; Tribeca Enterprise”s Jon Patricof; Estee Lauder group president John Demsey; WWD‘s AmyWicks; J. Walter Thompson CEO Bob Jeffrey; and Penske Media president Aly Racer; and the company’s head of strategy and operations, Will Lee.

2. Marie Claire’s publisher Nancy Cardone and editor Joanna Coles (Loved that Alexander McQueen dress!) with Estee Lauder’s Thia Breen.

3. Discovery ID’s head honcho Henry Schleiff. Henry tells me last night’s premiere of Big Law starring former boxer Eric Esch who returns to his hometown of Jasper, Alabama as ‘Deputy Butterbean’ to exact some big justice was “a knockout.”

4. CNBC’s Squawk Box host Joe Kernen with  his lovely wife and adorable daughter, Blake (co-author of Your Teacher Said What? with her dad). The family stopped in for a quick bite before catching today’s matinee performance of Wicked.

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Kodak Theatre Hosts Magnificent Media ‘Cirque’

The media got its first glimpse this morning of Iris, the new permanent Cirque du Soleil show set for previews at the Kodak Theatre in July and an official opening September 25th. The Quebec gang presented two show-stopping numbers, the first involving a pair of airborne male acrobats and the second showcasing what can best be described as the Cirque’s rooftop version of a James Cagney gangster movie climax (“Top of the world, maman!”).

FishbowlLA has seen a few Cirque shows, and we can honestly say that there’s something extra special going on here, thanks to the subject matter of cinema, the heart-of-Hollywood show location, and the fact that the music is provided by none other than Tim Burton right-hand band Danny Elfman. The composer’s sensibilities are as perfect a match for a Cirque moviola as they are for the filmmaker’s phantasmagorical canvases.

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Tim Burton’s LACMA Exhibit Drawing Mixed Reviews

The Tim Burton exhibit opened this weekend at LACMA and was summarily panned by the LA Times.

In an art museum, do we really need to see baby Penguin’s black-wicker pram from “Batman,” Catwoman’s shredded polyurethane cat suit or the fluffy angora sweater used as a fetishistic prop in “Ed Wood”? Such dark or peculiar items are often outward signs of their character’s concealed inner life; but that’s catalog essay interpretation, not exhibition material. You get the feeling they’re only here to satisfy the paying movie fans. Sometimes the display looks like the Arclight Cinema lobby on steroids. Toss in assorted puppets and a few toy-like sculptures, such as a suspended flying-saucer carousel illuminated by black-lights, and the quotient of celebrity self-indulgence climbs.

Ouch.

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Burbank Animator Ups Kickstarter Ante with Tim Burton Pitch

Hats off to Brian Joseph Ochab. In putting together his pitch on Kickstarter.com for the stop-motion short Tim, he went out and got Christopher Lee to do the voiceover narration.

At press time, Ochab is a long way off his goal of $150,000 raised. But he may have set a new, celebrity-infused precedent as far as how to attract potential project backers:

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Two Victorian White House-Related Vampire Movies Are ‘In the Works’

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We saw Seth Grahame-Smith‘s novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” in the store yesterday and thought it was misfired satire.

But no, Tim Burton will be producing the film version.

But wait, in case one saga of a supernatural presence in 19th century Washington DC was not enough for you, “Blood Oath” got picked up:

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Lucas Foster and his Warp Films have picked up the rights to “Blood Oath,” a vampire action novel written by Christopher Farnsworth, with the aim of fast-tracking a feature franchise about a vampire secret agent.

A mix of political techno thrills and supernatural action, “Oath” centers on a vampire captured by the U.S. Army just after the Civil War who is forced to swear an oath to President Andrew Johnson and has protected the presidency in the Secret Service for nearly 150 years.

Isn’t it a cliche that when the economy is bad we blame illegal immigrants for everything and obsess on vampire stories? That and the mega-ridiculous success of sexless melodramatic tweens devotion to “Twilight.” It’s raining blood-suckers!

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