Sony Emails: Benedict Cumberbatch Wanted to Play David Bowie in Stalled Freddie Mercury Biopic

The Freddie Mercury biopic has been stuck in development hell for nearly a decade. Until yesterday, the most recent update Queen fans had to go on was the news that Sacha Baron Cohen had not signed on to write, produce, direct, and star in the film; manager Jim Beach had simply said so at the Artist and Manager Awards on March 26 as what Brian May called a “small joke.” Now that Wikileaks has made last year’s leaked Sony emails publicly available, however, there’s some new information on a certain hopeful costar — and Amy Pascal’s blind adoration for “Under Pressure.” … Read More

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15 Eastern European Cult Classic Films You Should Know About

When the end of a war leaves an Iron Curtain and a totalitarian communist government in its wake, what is a filmmaker to do? The answer, based on what Eastern European film history seems to tells us, is to create satirical comedies that use bizarre scenarios, zany humor, and anything else available to get dissenting messages across without being shut down by film censors (and possibly imprisoned by the government). Here’s a list of 15 movies you may not have heard of — 14 of which survived the fall of the Berlin Wall — that have all achieved cult status in their European country of origin. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 19 Recap: “I’m Just A Bill”

With Scott Foley’s track record on Shonda Rhimes shows, I have to wonder if he’s her new Katherine Heigl. Or is it that there’s just something so satisfying about killing off characters that seem so inherently good, despite being an assassin?

For the second time on one of Rhimes’s show, Foley — who also played Henry, a terminal patient who fell in love with his doctor, on Grey’s Anatomy — was offed by Rowan (via Olivia’s new boy-toy), to what I imagine will be the dismay of fans. It’s hard to hate a good guy, even if he isn’t so good. Jake Ballard’s death was not the right thing to do. And so, “I’m Just A Bill” spent the other subplots holding on tightly to those white hats, so much so that it came at a detriment to the episode. (Though real talk: Susan Ross insisting to critique the implementation strategy of a 1400-page bill before signing it made me feel good about the American legislative system for a second, which pretty much never happens on Scandal.) … Read More

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“It’s Why People Don’t Pick Their Nose on CNN”: Words of Wisdom From Shia LaBeouf, Producer

I would’ve been at the Tribeca Film Festival work-in-progress preview for the new Alma Har’el movie LoveTrue no matter what. I saw her last film, Bombay Beach, at Tribeca back in 2011 and it knocked me out; whatever she’s doing next, I’m in. But that’s not why there was a throng of photographers on the red carpet. It’s because Shia LaBeouf was there. … Read More

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‘Louie’ Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: “A la Carte”

For a show about a stand-up comic, and with frequent inserts of its protagonist doing that job, Louie doesn’t often delve deep into stand-up comedy itself; as on Seinfeld, comedy is our title character’s job, and the particulars of that job are of only a passing interest, as in any workplace sitcom. But occasionally, Louie goes into the weeds: on the first-season “Heckler” episode (see title), in last year’s “Model” (where our hero badly bungles opening for, wouldn’t ya know it, Jerry Seinfeld at a charity function), and on last night’s “A la Carte,” an episode easily read as Louie’s take on the current vogue of “confessional comedy.” … Read More

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Prepare for Ice Cream “Brr-itos” and a Lot More Sarah Jessica Parker: Links You Need To See

Breaking news! An Italian explorer will be living in a giant ball atop an iceberg for a year! Studio Ghibli has released a U.S. trailer for When Marnie Was There! The Time 100 was released and has already become a work of found poetry! Sarah Jessica Parker is coming back to HBO with a new comedy called Divorce, which the network just gave a series order!  Hyperbole aside, the real breaking news is that the North River Lobster Boat is coming back to New York this summer—May 1st, specifically—with 45-minute long Hudson River cruises, replete with booze and Maine lobster rolls, AND secondly that Ben & Jerry’s is releasing the Brrr-ito, a giant ice-cream stuffed wafer of goodness, notably on 4/20. … Read More

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Critics of ‘Mad Men’s’ Workplace Sexism Are Picking the Wrong Fight With Matthew Weiner

For years, Matthew Weiner has been hearing two different reactions to the casual workplace sexism depicted on Mad Men — with men saying it was unrealistic and women saying it nailed their experience, he told Larry King this week. The gendered split remained just as pronounced after this month’s mid-season premiere, “Severance,” which featured an excruciating scene in which Peggy and especially Joan are the targets of blatant sexual harassment. After it aired, Weiner said, the reaction was as expected: “As usual, a bunch of men get on and say, ‘This is outrageous. You went too far, it’s too unbelievable,’ and all the women are [saying], ‘You’re nuts. It’s still like this. You have no idea.’” … Read More

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ABC’s ‘Cristela’ Is the Smart and Necessary Diverse Sitcom That You’re Not Watching

During the current 2014-15 television season, ABC successfully bet huge on diversity with three new sitcoms about multicultural families. Black-ish, about a well-off black family assimilating into the very white suburbs while struggling to maintain their cultural identity, and Fresh Off the Boat, about an Asian-American family trying to fit in when they move from DC to Orlando in 1995, have both received plenty of well-deserved praise and attention. The third, Cristela, about a multigenerational Mexican-American family living under one roof in Dallas, may not have received the same amount of buzz as its peers, but it’s no less deserving. In fact, while viewers were looking elsewhere, Cristela has stealthily become one of the smartest and funniest comedies on television, as well as one that deftly tackles race and gender.   … Read More

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The Mixed Message of Louis CK’s Apology to Sarah Palin

Louis CK slammed Sarah Palin with some particularly vulgar, obscene, anatomy-focused tweets back in 2010. They helped explode his Twitter popularity and resulted in Greta Van Susteren threatening to protest if he was named host of the Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner. … Read More

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Toni Morrison Is Not Your Grandmother: On the Explosive, Alienating ‘God Help the Child’

It is a strange fact of Toni Morrison’s career that no matter how viscerally — in at times the clearest and most instinctive sentences in narrative prose — she lays bare the sexual brutality and racial hatred that undergirds American life, she will still be expected to play the part of grandmotherly sage. In her recent, necessary, even recuperative piece “The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison,” Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah momentarily chides herself for wanting as much from the only living American Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. “I had spent hours with Morrison, accosting her with questions, thinking about her, observing her,” Kaadzi wrote. “Suddenly I felt greedy and excused myself in a hurry. How silly of me to think that she should provide me with an answer to the old woman’s riddle, to not see all the ways Morrison has given of herself.” It’s true: Toni Morrison is not here to comfort… Read More

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