Earlier this month, successful Dorchester-born author Dennis Lehane visited Brookline to give a talk at the local high school for a an evening event sponsored by the Brookline Public Library. The affable Sox fan, who chastised the group for attending the event rather than stay at home to watch the game, discussed his writing process, experiences growing up in Boston, what first inspired him to become a writer, and his future plans.
“I became a writer for the chicks… for the women. Women have a fatal weakness. Women like men who are sensitive,” Lehane told a crowd of about 80 people who gathered to hear him speak and later get copies of his books signed.
“In all seriousness–I have about 20 reasons why I became a writer, and the first 10 are all the same…because of libraries,” Lehane later said to the group.
Most well-known for penning such works as Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone, and Shutter Island, Lehane has lately been finding himself in demand as a screenwriter. He co-wrote episodes in seasons three, four, and five of “The Wire,” and worked most recently on “Boardwalk Empire” as an executive producer, both for HBO.
In movie news, his 2012 historical novel Live by Night was all set to be adapted by fellow Boston-raised Ben Affleck, but has been put on the back-burner now that Ben has been tapped to be the next Batman.
And, in news that just broke this week, Lehane apparently will be Americanizing the French crime thriller “A Prophet” for producers Neil H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe, while also working on stuff for Fox and Leonardo DiCaprio. Not bad for a guy who admitted he often gets credited with a lot of stuff he didn’t actually have a hand in.
“I get so much fan mail for The Departed, you have no idea,” Lehane told the amused audience. “I also get thanked a lot for Mystic Pizza.”
Earlier this month, one of Boston’s favorite sons, Ben Affleck, was announced as the latest Hollywood stud to be tasked with filling out the rubber suit and cowl. Almost as soon as the casting news was released by Warner Brothers, the interwebs went all a-twitter, with countless fanboys and Batman fanatics crying fowl over the choice, some going so far as to create petitions on both Change.org and the official White House website. That’s right, some people were so upset over the choice, they took the time to put something together that they hoped would catch the attention of the President, and get him to intervene.
As the weeks have passed since the announcement, and other pop culture news has captured the attention spans of entertainment-obsessed America, the die-hard fans out there are still making faces. Affleck has not been immune to it. In a recent appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” the Oscar winner talked about how the studio actually sat down with him to prep him for any potential backlash by showing him how the fine folks on the internet have reacted in the past to questionable casting choices associated with the most recent series of Christopher Nolan films. It was at that point that Affleck decided to try to avoid the internet as much as possible when the news released. Unfortunately, he did click on one article, and scrolled down to the comment section, as he told Jimmy Fallon:
“I looked at the first comment and it says ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ And I was done! We’re going to be Luddites for a while.”
Now, with perpetual “Batfleck” memes, including some rather well-done Photoshopped versions of Ben as Batman with his best bud, Matt Damon, as his would-be Boy Wonder, Robin, the world waits with breath that is bated for the schedule July 2015 release date of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, which will also co-star Henry Cavill as Superman.
Snyder’s take on the Batman character is reportedly that of an older, down-trodden, world-weary Batman. Still, the Caped Crusader is one of the most iconic superhero characters ever depicted on the silver screen. With a long history of surprising performances from actors who were cast in the DC Comics roles to much initial dismay by fans, including Michael Keaton as Batman, Heath Ledger as the Joker, and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, the viewing audience will have to wait to see if the director of Argo will win over the fans in the end. Do you think Ben Affleck will be able to pull it off? Let us know in the comments!
Despite it’s success at the box office this summer, and the amount of attention it brought the Boston area when it filmed here last summer, Sandra Bullock says that a sequel to the highly successful The Heat, costarring Melissa McCarthy, is very unlikely.
America’s sweetheart recently told Entertainment Weekly:
“I know they say never say never, but right now, I can’t imagine it. I don’t want to ruin what Melissa and I had. If a miracle happens where shows up that really and truly outdid the first and provided an experience that was better than the first one, then I would look at it. But I’m not there.”
The smash hit comedy follows the story of Bullock as a straight-laced, uptight FBI agent, who is forced to pair-up with a foul-mouthed, plays by her instincts, long-time Boston cop in order to take down a dangerous and difficult to catch drug lord. The film was directed by Paul Feig, of Bridesmaids fame, and was written by screenwriter Katie Dippold. The film was shot primarily in Boston and Danvers, Massachusetts in the early summer months of 2012.
The film has grossed over $130 million at the box office this summer, during what has been a rather up and down movie season. Do you think they should do a sequel to The Heat?
Last Wednesday, the Maine International Film Festival featured a performance by vocalist and jazz legend, Annie Ross. The much-anticipated concert drew a large crowd to the Waterville Opera House, where folks got to listen to a medley of hits by the 83 years-young star.
As part of the Celebrating Altman portion of the festival, the tribute included screenings of several of his films, such as Kansas City, A Prairie Home Companion, and Short Cuts, as well as special guest appearances by Kathryn Altman and Michael Murphy. Ms. Ross’s performance was seen as the culmination of that portion of the festival, and she went on to perform for the crowd for nearly an hour, despite her advanced age and recent bout of pneumonia.
“I haven’t worked in months,” the colorfully dressed star admitted to the crowd, “but I’m very happy to be here with all you tonight in this gorgeous theater. And I’ve seen a lot of theaters, let me tell you,” she said, eliciting cheers and applause from the enthusiastic crowd.
As a star of Shortcuts, one of Altman’s films, herself, she shared some insight on what it was like to work with the famous director, admitting that she had a conversation with him before filming.
“I told him that I like to work out the songs in front of a live audience, because I am a performer and not so much an actor. The next day, he told me I would be performing the songs for the entire cast and crew!” Ross told the crowd.
The biggest reactions the feisty crooner drew from the crowd were upon performing one of her greatest hits, “Twisted,” a song she wrote and was later covered by Joni Mitchell and Better Midler.
Accompanied only by piano, Ross demonstrated why she became known as a master of what is known as “vocalese,” Ms. Ross is known for her ability to perform original lyrics set to instrumental jazz solos.
Upon the conclusion of the concert, which included one encore, a party was held, also in celebration of Altman, at the restaurant 18 Below, just down the street from the opera house.
Last week, the town of Waterville, Maine played host to the 16th Annual Maine International Film Festival. The event, which kicked off on July 12th and lasted till the 21st, brought dozens of folks from around the area interested in the variety of films, shorts, and documentaries covering a vast array of subject matter.
With the majority of screenings being held in the Railroad Square Cinema, some of the films featured older features, such as Secretary, starring James Spader, Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman, and A Prairie Home Companion, starring Meryl Streep. These films were selected for their boldness and ability to shed light on prominent subcultures in American society in way that both enlightens and engages. Documentaries that were featured include the topical After Tiller, which paints a portrait of the the four remaining doctors in the United States who perform third-term abortions.
Another documentary, Sofia’s Last Ambulance, is a powerful, thought-provoking film that takes us to the capital of Bulgaria, where there is only one ambulance to cover all emergency calls. Using in-your-face, front-dash cameras for much of its scenes, follow the first-responders as they have to choose which calls they can tend to as they pile up, night after night. Bear witness to the frustrated agony of citizens who call the ambulance only to have it arrive more than 4 hours later, after it is far too late. One of many international films with English subtitles that were screened as part of the fest, this stirring picture presents a stark contrast to the current thoughts held by many Americans regarding how much we should be spending on healthcare. Filmed last year ons-ite in Bulgaria, this film, without any sort of narration or voice-over to guide the way, tells the startling reality of what it means to live in an area of the world that is not so fortunate as ours through a simply-shot, lightly edited documentary that is above all, brutally honest, just as all good documentaries should be.
Theater-goers were eager to attend the events, as the brutal July heat made air-conditioned accommodations even more attractive. While many of the attendees seemed to skew towards a slightly older audience, many attendees could be heard eagerly discussing their thoughts on the screenings they had attended, and all guests who had viewed at least three films were encouraged to take an official ballot in order to vote on their favorites.
Other events that took place during the week-long festival included celebratory parties, including one dedicated to appreciating the work of director Robert Altman, as well as opening and closing night parties, that were held at various venues around town. Midway through the week, a concert was also held in the Waterville Opera House, and featured 83 years young vocalist and jazz legend, Annie Ross.
Celebrity chef Tiffani Faison was spotted last Thursday night dining al fresco on the gorgeous inset patio of the Met Bar and Grill on Newbury Street. The talented redhead who first appeared on season 1 of Bravo’s Emmy winning “Top Chef” series, and then returned to compete on their “All Stars” edition, opened her first restaurant in the Fenway area about a year and a half ago. Sweet Cheeks, a full-on barbecue and beer destination for the casual Boston set, features tables fashioned from old church doors and bowling alley lanes, sweet tea served in recycled Mason jars, and of course, every kind of tender-roasted hunk of meat you can think of, alongside a generous selection of brewery libations.
Thursday night, however, Ms. Faison was actually enjoying someone else’s cooking for once, sitting down with a female friend around 7 p.m. and enjoying a glass of white wine as she waited for her entree to appear. Even as the sun set, the Top Chef All Star lingered to enjoy the Beantown night air, wearing a light striped hoodie and a “Boston Back Bay” baseball cap, which helped keep her lovely red locks tucked out of her face.
Faison was spotted most recently giving back to Boston at the Fenway Bites Back event to benefit the One Fund.
Want to know why you should never, ever feel guilty about eating chocolate? Because earlier this month, celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels was spotted at Hotel Chocolat on Newbury Street buying about $50 worth of chocolate!
The super-buff star walked into the shop a little after three in the afternoon with her partner Heidi Rhoades and their adopted three-year-old daughter, Lukensia, from Haiti, who has been with them since May 2012. Lukensia was wearing leggings, a t-shirt, and a tiny leather bomber jacket. Michaels showed off her guns in a sleeveless t-shirt and jeans, and wore her hair tucked under a baseball cap, with dark sunglasses on her face in order to keep a low profile. The star picked out a variety of chocolates for her and her partner, including some salted caramels and a selection of cheesecake truffles. Lukensia tried a salted caramel in-store, as mama Michaels plunked down her black AMEX card and California license for verification at the register.
Michaels was in town for her current “Maximize Your Life Tour,” which made a stop in Lowell last night at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
The fitness guru hails from Los Angeles, California, and is best known for her appearances on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and “Losing It with Jillian.”
Last Friday night, Tracey Noonan and Dani Desroches, the mother daughter team and co-owners of the Wicked Good Cupcakes appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and got the alias “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary, to invest $75,000 in their little business based out of Cohasset, MA. This, however, was not the first time the company has made waves. In early 2012, “Cupcakegate” created a national commotion, after a woman got stopped by TSA while trying to take her cupcake in a jar through airport security. The resulting press helped increase sales on this clever company’s take on cupcakes, which puts layers on frosting and cake inside mason jars that can last up to 10 days without refrigeration.
Tomorrow, Wicked Good Cupcakes opens its second location, its first in Boston, in an area that receives more yearly visitors than Disney World–Quincy Market! The new addition to the plethora of cupcake shops that already inhabit the Hub brings with it their own creative spin and lots of buzz thanks to their recent appearance on primetime.
This is also not the first time that a New England company has appeared on the Friday night reality show. Last season, Barbara Corcoran invested $55,000 for a 15% stake in Cousins Maine Lobster, which helps bring succulent lobsters and lobster dishes to folks across the country, including lobster mac and cheese, lobster pot pie, and lobster rolls.
One of Boston’s favorite sons, Matt Damon will be in town today, visiting his alma mater in Cambridge. The Academy award-winning actor is visiting Harvard University in order to receive the 2013 Harvard Arts Medal. Damon attended the school from 1988 to 1992, but never actually graduated, though he later went on to pen the movie that would eventually launch his career about a young man’s struggles to improve his education at a different famed Cambridge school, when he won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting.
The award will be presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Board of Overseers, and will feature a ceremony and a discussion on Damon’s life and career. The event will be hosted by fellow actor and Harvard alum John Lithgow of “3rd Rock from the Sun” fame.
The Harvard Arts Medal honors “a distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made contribution through the arts to education or the public good.”
Today’s event also marks the official opening of Arts First, which will be an annual festival spotlighting students in the creative arts. The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at Sanders Theatre on Quincy Street. A live stream of the day’s events will also be available for viewing online through the school’s website.
Since last week’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon, a number of celebrities and other notable stars have come together to lend a hand in their own way to support the city, from both near and far.
Former New Kid on the Block, Joey McIntyre was running in the marathon to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association and in honor of his mother who suffers from the disease. He finished the race mere minutes before the bombs went off. he’s since tweeted messages of love and support, along with Cambridge native Minday Kaling.
As a touching sign of solidarity, New York showed their love for Boston by singing Neil Diamond’s hit song, “Sweet Caroline” at Yankee Stadium. On Saturday, Diamond surprised the Red Sox fandom at Fenway, just hours after a citywide lockdown, by showing up to lead Red Sox fans in the song traditional sung a the top of the eighth inning. Diamond apparently flew to Boston before he even arranged the performance, and also told Rolling Stone, “I’m writing now and obviously affected by this situation in Boston, so I’m writing about it just to express myself.”
Victims of the bombings that are still recovering in local hospitals were surprise when actor Bradley Cooper stopped by the Boston Medical Center on Friday. Cooper is currently in town filming David O. Russell’s upcoming movie American Hustle.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman made sure to visit Jeffrey Bauman during his visit. Bauman, lost both of his legs in the bombing, but awoke from surgery and was able to provide the the FBI with important information for their investigation. Other NFL stars, Danny Amendola and Jermichael Finley (of the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, respectively) have both pledged to give portions of their 2013 season salaries to the One Fund. Amendola will be donating $100 per catch and $200 per drop, while Finley promised $500 for both every dropped pass and touchdown to the relief efforts. “Now fans can cheer & boo me @ the same time!” Finley said on his Twitter page.
Late-night E! talk show host Chelsea Handler pledged her support to bombing victims in the form of a $25,000 donation to gofundme.com, an online recovery fund for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter from Lowell, Massachusetts, who were both severely injured at the marathon bombings.
Newton, Massachusetts, native Amy Poehler addressed the audience of her Smart Girls YouTube channel Friday by answering a viewer question on violent imagery. “It’s been tough, hasn’t it? Doesn’t it feel like we’re just bombarded with stuff now? That everywhere we go there’s just some picture that’s worse than before. I kinda feel like my eyes need a break.” She ended the video with a very simple message: “I love you Boston.” Poehler is a graduate of Boston College.
Other stars lent their support more simply. On Monday morning, “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck wore a red Boston jersey. The conservative member of the talk show panel attended and also graduated from Boston College. Likewise, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Aly Raisman was seen wearing Boston t-shirts in her aired rehearsals for “Dancing With the Stars.” The 18 year old lives in Needham, saying “It was really difficult,” of performing live on TV shortly after learning of the bombings. “I just want to say that I love everyone back home from Boston. You’re all in our thoughts and prayers.”
You can subscribe to HollywoodEastConnection.com by e-mail address to receive news and upates directly in your inbox. Enter your e-mail below and click Sign Up!