Spidey, Batman lead huge summer lineup

Published: Monday, May 14, 2012 @ 11:35 AM
Updated: Monday, May 14, 2012 @ 11:35 AM

As superhero summers go, this one is truly super.

Amid one of the most-promising box-office seasons Hollywood has ever served up, three movies stand above the rest.

The first weekend in May brought "The Avengers," the ensemble adventure teaming Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man with such fellow Marvel Comics heroes as Thor, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" follows over the Fourth of July as Marvel's web-slinger gets a fresh origin story, with Andrew Garfield taking over as teen-turned-superhero Peter Parker.

Finally, in late July, there's "The Dark Knight Rises," with Christian Bale returning as DC Comics' masked vigilante in the finale of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

These three are the gold standard for fans: "The Dark Knight," Tobey Maguire's three "Spider-Man" flicks and Downey's two "Iron Man" movies are the six top-grossing superhero adventures ever.

Add in solid receipts for solo turns of "Avengers" co-stars Chris Hemsworth in "Thor" and Chris Evans in "Captain America: The First Avenger" — plus the lure of a new incarnation of the Incredible Hulk by Mark Ruffalo in "Avengers" — and summer's superhero meter is off the charts.

"'The Avengers' is literally one of the first books I followed regularly. ... Some of the work that was done in there was really groundbreaking and really epic," said "The Avengers" writer-director Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). "It's great fun to take characters that you are so invested in, because you grew up with them, and get to put words in their mouths and figure out what they're going to be doing with their lives for a while.

Of course, there's plenty to fill in the gaps between superhero sagas.

Other action tales include "Men in Black 3," with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones; Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron's fairy-tale makeover "Snow White and the Huntsman"; Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi with "Prometheus"; "Avengers" co-star Jeremy Renner's "The Bourne Legacy"; Colin Farrell's remake "Total Recall"; and the board game adaptation "Battleship."

Cartoon makers offer up the Scottish adventure "Brave," the latest from the animation virtuosos at Pixar, while talking-animal franchises return with "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and "Ice Age: Continental Drift."

The comedy and music front brings Adam Sandler's fatherhood story "That's My Boy"; the all-star song fest "Rock of Ages"; Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill's suburban romp "Neighborhood Watch"; Sacha Baron Cohen's tyrant tale "The Dictator"; and Whitney Houston's final film, "Sparkle."

And what would summer be without vampires? Johnny Depp turns blood-sucker as he reunites with director Tim Burton for "Dark Shadows," a big-screen take on the gothic soap opera. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has the great emancipator taking down the undead.

Like director Whedon with "The Avengers," ''Amazing Spider-Man" star Garfield practically has Peter Parker in his DNA. Garfield has been a huge Spider-Man fan since age 4.

"I know the character really well. It's part of me already. It's like I've been preparing for the role for 24 years," said Garfield, who hints that destiny is at work in this version as orphan boy Peter's search for his parents puts him on a path with the mutant spider that endows him with superpowers.

Directed by Marc Webb and co-starring Emma Stone as romantic interest Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as the villainous Lizard, "Amazing Spider-Man" aims to walk the line between gravity and exuberance, Garfield said.

"Marc Webb has approached this with a real eye for authenticity, emotional authenticity, a kind of groundedness and grittiness. It feels a bit darker to me," Garfield said. "Also, it's really important that Spidey has fun and is witty. The mask's a very powerful thing for anyone who wears it. It gives you leave to do anything you want, and I think in the hands of a teenager, he'll just run riot. I hope we've managed to have some of that."

"The Avengers" has superhero puppetmaster Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) rounding up Downey's Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, Evans' Captain America, Hemsworth's Thor, Ruffalo's Hulk and Renner's Hawkeye to take on Thor's evil brother (Tom Hiddleston), who plots to unleash alien marauders on Earth.

"'The Avengers' challenge was just not so much the scope of it," Downey said. "It's funny to think about a superhero movie as being complex, but I think it was a little bit daunting imagining how you get the balance of all of these intersecting stories. ...

"It was a bit of a welcome relief in a certain sense in that 'Avengers,' once it took shape, was a very, very smartly executed and controlled venture."

Whether alone or together, much of the gang will be back. Downey's about to start shooting "Iron Man 3," Hemsworth and Evans have "Thor" and "Captain America" sequels coming and there's talk of solo spinoffs for some of the other Avengers.

Unlike "Avengers" and "Amazing Spider-Man," ''Dark Knight Rises" will not be playing in 3-D. Director Nolan just isn't a fan. Nolan does like shooting for the huge-screen IMAX format, so fans can count on a visual spectacle in those theaters.

"On 3-D, I don't know if that was ever even a debate," said Gary Oldman, who returns as Batman's police commissioner ally, Jim Gordon. "It's IMAX. That's as big and bold as it gets, so there's plenty of that."

Anne Hathaway signs on as Catwoman, while Nolan's "Inception" co-stars Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy join returning Batman cast members Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine.

Nolan and his cast have kept details secret, but the film could spell a dark end for Bale's Dark Knight: Hardy plays the villain Bane, the brawny brute who broke Batman's back in the comic books.

Hardy has a tough act to follow. The late Heath Ledger won an Academy Award as Batman's last foe, the Joker, in "The Dark Knight."

"I find it interesting that he picked Bane as a villain, and he was not tempted to use the Riddler or the Penguin, the more obvious choices," Oldman said. "It suits the story better. It's a great read, it's a great piece. And there we are. There's the end of it."


Here's a look at other summer highlights:


— "Battleship": Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson are in the Navy now as sailors take on inhuman invaders in an action tale inspired by the game.

— "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel": Those classy Brits put some sophistication into summer with a tale of UK retirees in India. With Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson.

— "Chernobyl Diaries": Six rookie tourists mistakenly visit the site of the nuclear disaster and find unexpected horrors in the abandoned place.

— "Dark Shadows": We bet the latest reunion of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton will bring some fresh bite to vampires as they adapt the creepy TV soap opera featuring a 200-year-old blood-sucker.

— "The Dictator": Sacha Baron Cohen outdoes Castro with his wild beard in this comedy about a tyrant battling for untruth, injustice and the totalitarian way.

— "Men in Black 3": Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones return to fight aliens in a time-traveling action comedy that adds Josh Brolin as the young version of Jones' Agent K. Nice casting.

— "What to Expect When You're Expecting": Everyone's in a family way with an ensemble tale about pending parenthood that features Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks and Dennis Quaid.


— "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter": Can't wait for Steven Spielberg's upcoming biopic "Lincoln"? Then catch the 16th president (Benjamin Walker) as he emancipates the land from blood-suckers.

— "Brave": A Scottish lass (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) must undo the chaos her defiance has unleashed on her kingdom in the latest from the animation maestros at Pixar.

— "G.I. Joe: Retaliation": The toy soldiers inspire another live-action firefight featuring Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson.

— "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted": The zoo animals are still on tour as voice stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith return.

— "Magic Mike": Channing Tatum takes it off again in a story inspired by his early work as a male stripper. Steven Soderbergh directs.

— "People Like Us": "Star Trek's" Chris Pine comes down to Earth as a salesman tidying up his late father's estate in a comic drama co-starring Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer.

— "Piranha 3DD": It's another Friday night fish fry in reverse as prehistoric piranha chow down on tourists at a water park.

— "Prometheus": Ridley Scott. Science fiction. Any questions? The "Alien" creator returns to the genre with a cousin to his space horror tale starring Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender.

— "Rock of Ages": Journey and REO Speedwagon ride again in a musical romance featuring old rock tunes and a cast that includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julianne Hough.

— "Snow White and the Huntsman": Kristen Stewart's the fiercest in the land as she teams with a tough guy (Chris Hemsworth) to battle an evil queen (Charlize Theron).

— "That's My Boy": Adam Sandler tries to grow up as a bad dad hoping to make things right with his estranged grown son (Andy Samberg).

— "To Rome with Love": Woody Allen woos Italy and appears on-screen for the first time in years with an ensemble romance co-starring Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni and Ellen Page.

— "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection": Filmmaker Perry reprises his role as saucy grandma Madea, who takes in the family of a CFO (Eugene Levy) in witness protection.


— "Ice Age: Continental Drift": For extinct species, these cartoon critters sure are survivors. Ray Romano and his voice co-stars are back with another prehistoric comedy.

— "Katy Perry: Part of Me": The pop superstar gets the 3-D treatment in a music documentary featuring performances and behind-the-scenes access.

— "Neighborhood Watch": Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill learn their town is teaming with space invaders disguised as average suburban dwellers.

— "Ruby Sparks": A character created by a novelist (Paul Dano) comes to life as a real woman (Zoe Kazan) in the latest from the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine."

— "Savages": California pot growers fight a Mexican drug ring in Oliver Stone's thriller featuring Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch and Uma Thurman.

— "Step Up: Revolution": The next round in the dance franchise has a crew of Miami hoofers fighting a neighborhood developer.

— "Ted": A teddy bear come to life is every boy's dream — until the thing sticks around into the kid's adult years. Mark Wahlberg stars in the comedy from Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy").


— "The Apparition": Ashley Greene stars in a spooky tale of a couple haunted by a presence conjured up in a college experiment.

— "The Bourne Legacy": The spirit of lethal operative Jason Bourne lives on, minus Matt Damon, with Jeremy Renner at the center of fallout from the first three action hits.

— "The Campaign": Dirty politics in this age of bipartisanship? Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis sling mud as congressional opponents in Jay Roach's comedy.

— "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days": The hapless hero (Zachary Gordon) of the best-selling books stumbles through trouble over summer vacation.

— "The Expendables 2": Action heroes crowd the screen again as Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and friends seek vengeance after a mission goes wrong.

— "Hope Springs": Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are a long-married couple trying to renew the spark with a counselor (Steve Carell) at a marital retreat.

— "The Odd Life of Timothy Green": A couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) eager to start a family gets a dose of the unexpected when a mysterious boy turns up at their door.

— "ParaNorman": The animated comedy centers on a boy who can speak with the dead and becomes the last hope of his hometown after it's overrun by zombies.

— "Premium Rush": A Manhattan bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is steered into a deadly chase when bad guys come looking for the delivery he's carrying.

— "Sparkle": Whitney Houston's final movie role features the late singer as mom to a girl group (including "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks) struggling with the pressures of fame.

— "Total Recall": Colin Farrell steps into Arnold Schwarzenegger's sci-fi role as an average guy on the run who uncovers a secret identity even he didn't know about.

Taylor Swift and Tim Tebow spotted out together

Published: Thursday, March 01, 2012 @ 2:50 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 01, 2012 @ 2:50 PM

The New York Daily News and other media are reporting that former Florida Gator Tim Tebow is romantically linked to country singer Taylor Swift.

The Daily News says the couple was seen arriving at a restaurant together, and "after dinner, he walked her out, and then he walked back in to join two other people."

The source did add, however, that "they may have been with their agents," which could indicate that the two were meeting for business purposes.

Swift and Tebow were reportedly spotted chatting it up at WME's pre-Oscars bash just last week as well.  The two are represented by the same talent agency.

Jackson confesses: he's no superhero comic fan

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 @ 2:21 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 @ 2:21 PM

Peter Jackson does not expect he'll ever get into the superhero business.

The filmmaker behind "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the upcoming prelude "The Hobbit" said superheroes may rule in Hollywood, but he has no interest in doing a comic-book adaptation himself.

"I've never actually read a comic in my life," Jackson confided in an interview at last week's Comic-Con, the fan convention where he previewed footage of his two-part take on "The Hobbit." ''That's a lie. I did read 'The Walking Dead' in the last year or two, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But I've never read a superhero comic. I've literally never turned a single page of a single superhero comic."

In that regard, Jackson's out of step with Hollywood's current moneymakers. This summer's big films so far have been the superhero ensemble "The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," with the Batman finale "The Dark Knight Rises" expected to debut to huge audiences.

Jackson's a master of action spectacles himself, so he's not going to knock superhero flicks. He's in favor of whatever it takes to keep people coming out to the movies at a time when technology has given them endless entertainment options.

And if right now, it's superhero movies, so be it.

"You're dealing with a situation in which the audience votes with its bums, as they say,"Jackson said. "We've got to make films that get kids off their iPads and away from their home entertainment systems and back into the cinemas again. So I think anything that can stimulate a return to the cinema is a good thing, no matter what the genre is."

Still, Jackson said he wishes studios would make room for more lower- and mid-budgeted films, the sort of intimate, personal stories that were a Hollywood mainstay before the blockbuster era took hold a few decades ago.

In between his great ape tale "King Kong" and "The Hobbit," Jackson directed just such a smaller film with 2009's "The Lovely Bones," an afterlife drama centered on a murdered girl.

But Jackson said "all the really great independent cinema has gone to TV now," with such sharp, brave dramas as "Breaking Bad."

"Variety is the thing, isn't it?" Jackson said. "It would be a shame if cinema was just superheroes and nothing else. So the real problem is the lack of those mid-budget films."

Jackson wants to do something smaller again himself at some point, though he's booked for a few years with "The Hobbit" and a sequel to last year's "The Adventures of Tintin."

Steven Spielberg directed "Tintin," with Jackson producing the action tale based on Belgian writer Herge's stories of a globe-trotting young reporter. The film was created through motion-capture, with live actors providing a digital foundation for characters that were layered over with computer animation to make the finished product.

The filmmakers plan to switch roles on the next one, with Jackson directing a follow-up that he said will move Tintin "to a slightly different genre, a slightly less of a rollicking adventure and something a bit more, a little bit more of a sort of espionage type of story. So it's a slight tone shift, which I think will be good."

Jackson said he hopes to spend five or six weeks next year doing the motion-capture shoot, while he's finishing part two of "The Hobbit." The first "Hobbit" film hits theaters this December, with the second following a year later.

Spielberg and Jackson have not decided what to do with "Tintin" after the second movie.

"We have talked about us co-directing at some stage, but we have talked about the idea of bringing in a third filmmaker," Jackson said. "But then, we've said, 'You know what? If we're having so much fun, it's something we might just want to keep on doing ourselves.' So we certainly haven't put our minds quite into a third film yet."

Judge appoints temp guardian for Jackson children

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 2:19 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 2:19 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge appointed Tito Jackson's son Wednesday as a temporary guardian of MichaelJackson's children.

In addition, the judge temporarily suspended Katherine Jackson as the children's guardian because she is in Arizona and hadn't spoken with them in several days.

TJ Jackson appeared in court and sought the temporary appointment, but his attorney said he wasn't trying to replace Katherine Jackson permanently.

TJ Jackson said he spoke with Katherine Jackson on Tuesday, but she sounded strange. He says she was using words he had never heard her use and her voice at times sounded slurred.

The appointment came after days of turmoil among the Jackson family, with a relative reportingKatherine Jackson missing before she was located safely with other family members in Arizona.

Katherine Jackson is the court-appointed guardian of her son Michael's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket. The children have remained at the home they share with their grandmother in Calabasas.

The house was the scene of a family disturbance Monday that sheriff's deputies continue to investigate.


Monkees singer Davy Jones dead at 66

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 1:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 1:31 PM

Davy Jones, lead singer of the Monkees, has died, the Martin County (Fla.) Medical Examiner’s office confirmed this afternoon.

"The district 19 Medical Examiner’s Office has been notified of the death of Mr. Davy Jones. We are currently evaluating whether or not the Medical Examiner’s Office will take jurisdiction," according to a statement read by spokeswoman Rebecca Shortridge.

Details about when and where Jones died have not been confirmed. But early accounts circulating on TMZ indicate he may have suffered a heart attack.

In his last conversation with The Palm Beach Post in mid-February, Davy Jones was upbeat, chatting animatedly about his three 2-year-old racehorses and his wife Jessica Pacheco, a flamenco dancer who performed in Stuart on Feb. 23.

The couple was in the middle of remodeling their beachfront condo in Hollywood, Fla.

They had just returned from a cruise onboard the Grand Princess, where Jones performed. It was a great family trip, Pacheco said, because Jones’ daughter, Jessica, and her son, Phoenix, 8, had joined them.

"David bought his grandson a pirate’s hat, and he wore it all over the ship," said Pacheco, who married Jones in August 2009.

They had been traveling so much for the past year, Pacheco said, that coming home to Hollywood "felt like a honeymoon."

Last summer, for their 45th anniversary, the Monkees toured in Great Britain and the United States.

After the UK leg of the tour, Jones told The Post that he had not been feeling great, but he got a stress test and the doctor told him he "had the heart of a 25-year-old."

"You know how it goes with touring – they don’t pay you to sing, they pay you to travel," he said. "The doctor says my heart’s so good, the door’s open to do any kind of exercise I want."

Jones has raced horses for years, and his favorite exercise at home is swimming in the ocean. He had performed shows in New York over Presidents’ Day weekend.