Monday, April 21, 2014

Oscars 2015: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron return as producers

Craig Zadan (right) and Neil Meron will produce
the 87th Academy Awards on Feb. 22, 2015.
Photo by Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.®
We sense a pattern here...

The Academy has named its producing team for the 87th Oscars: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Those names may look familiar. The musical pair has produced the two most recent Oscars.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Craig and Neil back to produce the Oscars again in 2015,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs in the news release. “Their showmanship has elevated the show to new heights and we are excited to keep the momentum going with this creative partnership.”

A successful Oscars telecast made the decision easy for the Academy.

This year's ceremony drew an average audience of 45.4 million total viewers, according to the Academy, and reached 74.6 million viewers watching 6+ minutes, the best since 2004.

From the Academy: "The Oscars were TV’s most-watched entertainment telecast in 10 years and attracted the biggest viewership in 14 years. The show helped drive increases for the second consecutive year, marking a seven-year high for adults 18–34 (+3%); a nine-year high for teens 12–17 (+13%); and an eight-year high for kids 2–11 (+13%). Social media activity was particularly robust with more than one billion impressions generated on Twitter and 25 million interactions happening on Facebook on Oscar Sunday."

And don't forget that infamous Oscars selfie with host Ellen DeGeneres, which became the most retweeted photo of all time with 32.8 million views.

The 2015 Oscars are scheduled for Feb. 22. The Academy announced key dates for the 87th Academy Awards season last week. Nominations will be announced Jan. 15.

With more than 300 days until the 2015 telecast, the Academy's announcement (similar to last year's) on is one of the earliest in recent memory. Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer were named producers on June 22, 2010.

Finding a host
The first job of the producers is to select an Oscars host. Both producers will work with President Cheryl Boone Isaacs in selecting an emcee for the Brobdingnagian awards show. Don't expect an announcement until late summer. DeGeneres was announced as this year's Oscar host Aug. 2.

Both Zadan and Meron served as executive producers on the 2002 Best Picture winner "Chicago," which won six Oscars. Their film credits also include "Footloose" (2011), "Hairspray" and "The Bucket List." Zadan also produced the original "Footloose" (1984). Upcoming projects include "Pippin" and "Monster High."

Television work for the pair includes "The Sounds of Music Live!," which drew a record-breaking 21.3 million viewers; the pair will next executive produce "Peter Pan Live!" for NBC. Other producer credits include miniseries "Bonnie and Clyde," NBC musical series "Smash" and Lifetime drama "Drop Dead Diva" as well as TV movies "A Raisin in the Sun" and the upcoming "Steel Magnolias." On Broadway, they recently produced the Tony Award-winning revivals of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and "Promises, Promises."

Their work in feature film, television and theater productions has earned a total of six Oscars, 11 Emmys, two Tonys, a Grammy, five Golden Globes, two Peabody Awards, five GLAAD Awards and two NAACP Image Awards.

The 87th Academy Awards, for outstanding film achievements of 2014, will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Video: Reviewing ‘Transcendence’

TGK Editor James A. Molnar — also film editor of Toledo Free Press — stops by WTOL-11's “Your Day” in Toledo every Friday morning and talks about the latest movies at the box office. On the Friday, April 18, 2014, segment, he reviews "Transcendence," Wally Pfister's directorial debut where Johnny Depp plays a smart doctor turned A.I. He also chats the other movies coming out, including Disneynature's "Bears" and "Heaven is For Real."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oscars 2015: Key dates announced for 87th Academy Awards

Mark your calendars: The Academy has announced all of the key dates for its 87th Academy Awards season.

Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Governors Awards

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Official Screen Credits and music submissions due

Monday, December 29, 2014
Nominations voting begins 8 a.m. PT

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Thursday, January 15, 2015
Oscar nominations announced

Monday, February 2, 2015
Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Friday, February 6, 2015
Final voting begins 8 a.m. PT

Saturday, February 7, 2015
Scientific and Technical Awards

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015
87th Academy Awards (Red Carpet begins 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT)

The 2015 ceremony date was previously announced last March.

The Gold Knight will, of course, be covering all angles of the 87th Academy Awards — from the film festivals to the Red Carpet. Follow all the news here, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

The 87th Academy Awards, for outstanding film achievements of 2014, will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CIFF review: ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’ is a poignant, must-see documentary

By James A. Molnar
TGK Editor

There is a reason top awards at this year's Cleveland International Film Festival went to "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine."

The documentary was honored with the Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film and the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition, during the closing night ceremony March 30.

With 97,804 in attendance during the 12-day festival held in downtown Cleveland and 186 feature films, winning the audience award is a big deal. Festivalgoers rate each film they see and the most popular film receives the award. The standing up award is also audience voted.

And the kudos are well deserved.

Upon accepting the awards on the final night of the festival, director Michele Josue said she never wins awards and that she was grateful.

This is Josue's first feature film and she wanted to make one that meant something to her.

Josue was a childhood friend of the film's subject, Matthew Shepard.

The well-done documentary chronicles the life of Shepard, whom the world met after his 1998 anti-gay beating and murder when he was a 21-year-old college student.

The purpose of the film was to share his story and his humanity.

"The world needs to know the real Matt so they don't let him go," Josue says in her narration at the beginning of the film.

After the March 29 sold-out screening, Josue emphasized the title of the film is present tense.

Her goal of the film, which took four years to make, was to show that Matt wasn't perfect and he wasn't a martyr.

Throughout the film, Josue goes on an international journey to interview friends, teachers and those touched by Matt's life. His parents play the most important role in the movie, providing details of their son's life from birth to death and his ongoing legacy. They highlighted his love for theater, along with his gentle nature.

The film has received the blessing from Matt's parents, who were at the Cleveland screening. The pair received a standing ovation even before the screening began.

The interview conversations with the director can become quite emotional as memories surface and are relived — both happy and sad.

Matt struggled with his identity as a young gay man, but also his place in the world. His teachers and mentors echo this struggle.

The most enlightening and eye-opening interview in the film comes from a priest.

Josue speaks to him about hate and forgiveness and his responses bring her to tears.

This is a cathartic journey for Josue, one that took more than a decade to begin.

Audiences also take this journey with her, learning who Matt was, a behind-the-headlines look at the young man gone too soon. Remember to bring the tissues.

The response to the hate crime in media and Congress is also included, highlighting new legislation signed into law a year later by President Obama.

Friends interviewed in the film reflected that they wanted to help and honor Matt and that his parents are not alone.

The real Matt Shepard painted on the big screen is kind, gentle and loving. He touched many lives and 15 years later, his memory lives on, with a little help from his friends.

This movie is a must see.

/ 5

Official trailer:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Video: Reviewing ‘Rio 2’

TGK Editor James A. Molnar — also film editor of Toledo Free Press — stops by WTOL-11's “Your Day” in Toledo every Friday morning and talks about the latest movies at the box office. On the Friday, April 11, 2014, segment, he reviews the colorful sequel "Rio 2" from Blue Sky Studios.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Video: Reviewing ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

TGK Editor James A. Molnar — also film editor of Toledo Free Press — stops by WTOL-11's “Your Day” in Toledo every Friday morning and talks about the latest movies at the box office. On the Friday, April 4, 2014, segment, he reviews "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the ninth film in the Marvel cinematic universe. (Read his full review here.)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ thankfully kicks off the summer season early

By James A. Molnar
TGK Editor

The First Avenger is back in theaters and this time he faces the Winter Soldier.

Director Fury is also back, along with Black Widow, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is in trouble.

Sound like code?

There is a farrago of people, places and things in the superhero Marvel universe in which audiences can easily lose themselves. It’s easy to begin saying, “Who is that again? What happened?”

The latest movie in the expansive franchise, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” continues the saga and focuses on the First Avenger himself — Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans).

“The Winter Soldier” finds Cap, as he’s called in the movie, in the midst of a slight identity crisis. The end of the first movie found him waking up from a deep sleep in present day. He’s made a list of things to do, which includes certain music, topics and films.

But does he still want to fight and be a soldier?

“For the longest time, I just wanted to do what’s right,” he says. “Now, I just don’t know what that is.”

S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization charged with protecting Earth from enemies at home and away, doesn’t seem like the place he’d like to be.

Its director Nick Fury (played as always with a cool swagger by Samuel L. Jackson) also seems to share the sentiment. Something isn’t quite right.

One thing is for sure: Don’t mess with the Winter Solider. Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), learned this truth on her numerous encounters with him. Captain America will also learn this lesson.

Required viewing for this sequel includes the 2011 predecessor “Captain America: The First Avenger,” along with 2012’s “The Avengers.” The other Marvel movies don’t quite figure into the storyline here, even though Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye and the Hulk should theoretically be around the corner to pinch-hit with battling whatever enemy comes their way. (Audiences have to wait for a reunion until next summer when “Avengers: Age of Ultron” comes out May 1.)

Comic books fans will love the mid-credits scene, which teases future Marvel projects (no spoilers here).

Ohioans, look for an appearance of the fountain and shopping center at Tower City in downtown Cleveland.

Overall, “The Winter Soldier” builds on the impressive oeuvre in the Marvel movie collection. While it’s missing some of the heart of the first Captain America outing, there are twists and turns in this early summer blockbuster to keep audiences entertained and thrilled.

/ 5

Official trailer:

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout.