Trying to crack Reddit’s AMA magic
Hollywood, always looking for a new way to promote its latest offerings, has turned to Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” threads to allow stars to interact directly with fans.
But in the case of a recent AMA with Morgan Freeman, the whole thing blew up over allegations that the whole thing was a robotic, PR-driven falsehood.
Redditors immediately swarmed the thread, and by the end of it, Freeman and the film he was promoting, “Oblivion,” looked worse for wear.
Freeman and his team insisted to Reddit administrators that the actor was answering the questions orally, while his publicity people transcribed what he said. By that point, however, it was too late. Once the hive mind sets its mind to something, it’s difficult to shift gears and the damage can linger.
Read more about the machinations behind Hollywood’s efforts to seize grassroots momentum over at Company Town.
Scouting the Sierra for movie backdrops
There are birdwatchers, urban explorers and Instagram-centric photo hounds - but some people take their time to explore the barren expanses of California’s backcountry to find the iconic backdrops used in many Hollywood films.
From one couple with a particular penchant for finding famous backgrounds:
At one point, Carol held up a photograph of a campfire scene in “Django Unchained,” which is set in the South just before the Civil War. She moved the photo to the left, then to the right. She squinted, then broke into a smile.
Pointing to a nearby rock, she said that actor Jamie Foxx “stood right there.”
Read more, and see more scenic vistas, over at Framework.
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
RIP Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic whose “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” evaluations have become synonymous with cinema reviews, passed away today at age 70 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Just recently, he had announced that he would take a leave of absence from his work at the Chicago Sun-Times.
Photo: Robert K. O’Daniell / Associated Press
Like Finding Nemo?
Well, now that he’s been found, Pixar’s reaching out for more sequel material, announcing “Finding Dory” as the studio’s planned 2015 release. Pixar has announced a few details about the film, promising the return of many popular characters, as well as its California coastline setting.
From Ellen DeGeneres, who will be returning to the titular role:
“I’m not mad that it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it.”
Photo: Disney, Pixar
Argo still a no-go in Iran
“Argo” may have won acclaim from critics, audiences and now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - but many in Iran remain unimpressed with the film. Set during the turbulent post-revolution era in Iran, the Iranian government was initially provoked by the film for its portrayal of the country, but with time, more Iranians have been able to see the movie and react.
“I am secular, atheist and not pro-regime but I think the film ‘Argo’ has distorted history and insulted Iranians,” said Hossain, a cafe owner worried about business because of customers’ lack of cash in a sanctions-battered economy. “For me, it wasn’t even a good thriller.”
And further reaction from the ground in Iran:
“I did not enjoy seeing my fellow countrymen and women insulted,” said Farzaneh Haji, an educated homemaker and fan of romantic movies who was 18 at the time of the revolution. “The men then were not all bearded and fanatical. To be anti-American was a fashionable idea among young people across the board. Even non-bearded and U.S.-educated men and women were against American imperialism.”
Photo: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros
A joke too far: Last night, the Onion tweeted a tasteless joke at the expense of Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest-ever Best Actress nominee, accusing her of being a less-than-agreeable person with a less-than-agreeable term.
Onion CEO Steve Hannah sent out an apology above, but the attempted joke comes amid rising criticism that the Oscars trumpeted sexism during the ceremony, with a focus paid largely on host Seth MacFarlane’s quips.
Photo: The Onion, h/t to kateoplis
“Argo, “Life of Pi” and Jennifer Lawrence: The Oscars have come to a close, the after-parties dying down and the realization of victory (and defeat) settling in. What did we learn?
“Argo” could win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination (the first to do so since “Driving Miss Daisy).
Jennifer Lawrence can do wrong. Stumbling up the stairs to receive her Best Actress award, Lawrence shrugged off help and brought herself back together.
“Life of Pi” is your new Oscar champ - at least if total awards count. Bouyed by a bevy of techincal awards and director Ang Lee’s victory, the film won four awards, topping “Argo” and “Les Misérables,” at three apiece.
A song titled “We Saw Your Boobs” is a juvenile cheap shot - particularly on the grand stage of the Oscars.
At the end of the day, how would you rate the Oscars - a thumbs up or a thumbs down?
Photos: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
The Oscars have nearly begun!
We have you covered, from the red carpet arrivals, an early preview of the night’s ceremonies and predictions from movie expert Glenn Whipp.
So keep tabs on our all-encompassing coverage, and most importantly, kick back and enjoy the tribune to some of the past year’s best films!
Photos: Joe Klamar / AFP / Getty Images, Jason Merritt / Getty Images, Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images
Oscars 2013: It’s not too late to fill out our Academy Award ballot, with just a few hours left until the 85th Academy Awards. Head over to our play-at-home ballot, save your picks, print it out and see how correct your predictions turn out to be!
Forget the films, what about the food? Master chef Wolfgang Puck will once again take up kitchen duty for the Academy Awards this year, taking responsibility for the post-Oscars Governors Ball. If serving a multi-course meal to 1,600 guests doesn’t sound like a tough assignment, consider this:
The kitchen staff will have to wrap 2,750 dates in bacon, boil 6,000 chestnut tortellini, de-vein 7,500 shrimp and shuck 1,300 farmed oysters. And that’s just for a handful of the nearly four dozen separate dishes that Puck’s chefs will hand off to the waiters.
Mississippi ratifies the 13th Amendment: This isn’t 148 years late - it took an investigation spurred by the film “Lincoln,” for Mississippi residents to realize that they hadn’t, in the eyes of archivists, formally banned slavery.
The state initially refused to ratify the amendment back in 1865, and it took until 1995 for the state legislature to finally jump on board with the rest of the country. But no one had notified the U.S. archivist, and without that step, the ratification was never fully official.
For more on the strange series of events, head over to Nation Now.
Photo: David James / DreamWorks
Long live movie violence? Film critic Betsy Sharkey, in the wake of several tragic shooting sprees and the calls in Washington to study the effects of cultural works on the national psyche, takes the stance that Hollywood need not tone back its depictions of violence.
Movies are our cautionary tales, fictional reminders of the true nature of humanity’s baser basic instincts. And moviemakers — by that I mean every name above and below the title, for it takes a village — are the seers, the interpreters, the illusionists, the entertainers.
They are not the instigators.
Decide whether you think Sharkey’s right, or if her assertion should be placed on the chopping block by taking a look at her entire column on Movies Now.
Illustration: Edel Rodriguez / For The Times
In defense of on-screen torture: Mark Boal, screenwriter of the Oscar-nominaed “Zero Dark Thirty,” spoke candidly at an event held at Loyola Marymount University, defending the film’s highly-controversial depiction of torture.
“We’ve been accused of defending torture because there are disagreements in some quarters as to exactly which detainee undergoing exactly which form of interrogation first produced the lead that led to [Osama] Bin Laden and thus … we shouldn’t have included it,” Boal said. “I can’t understand the logic to that. If we left the torture out, we’d be whitewashing history. Interrogations were clearly part of how this lead developed.”
Photo: Columbia Pictures
A Jedi craves not spin-offs: The latest tidbit to gain steam in the post-George Lucas rumor mill? The possibility of a Yoda-focused film kicking off the first of many promised Disney-produced Star Wars movies.
Photo: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times