Last night, first time host Seth MacFarlane ushered in the 85th annual Academy Awards with a lot of song and dance. While some of his jokes bordered on the offensive, irking critics who panned his hosting abilities as “classless” and “tasteless,” the ratings were the best for Oscar since 2010 and were up a modest 2% over last year’s show hosted by Billy Crystal.
Choosing MacFarlane for host this year came from a concerted effort by the Academy to reel in that coveted 18-49 demographic, long considered the most valuable by advertisers. Preliminary reports show the ploy worked–ratings were up 11% among those very viewers.
While MacFarlane’s comedic sense was being both panned and in some cases, lauded, his timing certainly pushed it to the limit, literally. The show lasted more than 3 1/2 hours, though not the longest Academy Awards on record, it did last until after midnight in the eastern time zone, often seen as a big no-no. The honor for the longest telecast goes to the 2002 show, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, which clocked in at 4 hours and 23 minutes.
MacFarlane wasn’t the only notable name representing Hollywood East. Besides the Kent, Connecticut writer and Ted director, Boston’s own Ben Affleck got to take the stage once again as an Oscar winner, nearly 16 years after he first won, along with buddy Matt Damon, for best screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting. This time, he closed out the show, grabbing a second statuette for best picture for his film, Argo, a movie he both directed and starred in.
Once again, it was a big year in Hollywood East, as stars of both the big and little screens made their way through the area, working on projects. Stars who have connections to the New England area also played a big part in the entertainment scene, winning awards and starring in their own projects that only further helped prove that Hollywood East is a talent-laden land. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.
Current reigning queen of pop, the Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga, made a much heralded appearance in Cambridge to help launch her Born This Way Foundation, in conjunction with Harvard University
In television the Kardashians came to Boston for a bit, and NBC’s “Smash” shot their season 1 finale here. New England born or educated stars like Barbara Walters, Bronson Pinchot, and Maria Menounos made their own headlines. Menounos in particular had a lot going on–appearing in a bikini in Times Square after losing a bet, then later competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” and celebrating her 34th birthday in Hollywood.
Overall, it was yet another exciting year here at HEC, with lots more already being lined up for 2013. Stay tuned!
As 2012 draws to a close, it’s time to check-in on our favorite Beantown boys–Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Both leading men have a ton of projects lined up for the coming year, so let’s take a look at what they have in store.
Just a few weeks after the always pouty Kristen Stewart confirmed to the Huffington Post that she would be co-starring with Mr. Affleck in the upcoming Warner Brothers comedy, Focus, the actor-director dropped out of the project, citing scheduling conflicts. Affleck was set to play a con artist that falls for his younger protégé, played by Ms. Stewart. The names of a number of other qualified leading men have already been suggested, including Matt Damon, but there is no official word yet on who will replace him.
The star has also been questioned lately on his political involvement, with rumors bubbling up that a possible senate run is likely in his future. Affleck has downplayed the talk, saying that while he has much respect for the political process, his current plans do not include any campaigning, despite the fact that a special election for the senate will more than likely be held in the Bay State next year if John Kerry is confirmed as the new Secretary of State. Affleck dismissed hopes for a Senator Affleck in a Facebook post he made on his page on Christmas eve. He remains very involved in his Eastern Congo Initiative, the nonprofit he founded in 2010. Affleck testified before the federal House Armed Services Committee earlier this year in regards to ending the war in Congo.
Matt Damon, who recently made an appearance on the “Jay Leno Show,” where he recalled stories when he and Affleck were in college at Harvard and would take the train to New York City for auditions, has a number of movies slated for 2013. Elysium, The Zero Theorem, and Behind the Candelabra, co-starring Michael Douglas, are currently in post-production, and should be released throughout the coming year. He is also rumored to be the next George Clooney directed film, The Monuments Men, which is currently in pre-production. That film will co-star Cat Blanchett, Daniel Craig, George Clooney, and the ever elusive Bill Murray.
It’s not unusual for celebrities to get involved in politics. Being a famous face can put you in a unique position to garner attention for important causes, shedding light on difficult issues, or perhaps using your platform to campaign for a candidate you believe. This happens to be the case for a number of Massachusetts celebrities campaigning on behalf of Elizabeth Warren, who just won the democratic nomination for this fall’s senatorial race against incumbent Scott Brown (R). Massachusetts natives like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and John Krasinski have been holding fundraisers for the Harvard professor, including a recent one held in California.
The event was held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production studio in Santa Monica on Monday, May 21st, and helped raise over $250,000 for the consumer advocate. J.J. Abrams is no stranger to strong women, or Massachusetts—he created the television shows “Alias” which starred Ben Affleck’s wife, Jennifer Garner, and “Fringe” which is set in Boston.
Attendees of the event included Garner, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Braff, Dana Delany, Tobey Maguire, Alan Horn, and Writers Guild president Chris Keyser. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, both Damon and Krasinski were filming on location and couldn’t attend the fundraiser. Other top contributors included the likes of directors Steven Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, actress Sally Field, Harvey Weinstein and Alan Ladd Jr.
It took him a few years to catch on, but admittedly, the guy has been a little busy. But finally, Ben Affleck has joined Facebook! Late last month, one of our favorite Beantown boys joined the millions of us that have already been using the service for some time. Among his status updates and other revelations, Affleck shared photos from a philanthropic trip to Africa he recently took. His Eastern Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2009, works to help rebuild the area following years of armed conflict. Since founding the organization, Affleck has made many trips to the area, and the photos show him interacting with some of the people that are helped by his good work.
Just 10 days after setting up his Facebook account, Mr. Affleck had another important announcement to make—the birth of his first son! Samuel Garner Affleck was born on February 27th, the 3rd child of Ben and Jennifer Garner. Older sisters, Violet, 6, and Seraphina, 3, were said to have wanted to name the little one after a Disney character, but their parents wisely upheld the responsibility themselves.
In other Boston baby news, Beantown born Uma Thurman, 41, recently announced she is expecting her 3rd child with current boyfriend, Arpad Busson. Busson, a multimillionaire financier, has been dating Thurman on and off since 2007. Busson has two children from his former relationship with supermodel Elle Macpherson, and Thurman has two children with her former husband, actor Ethan Hawke.
Photos: 1: Affleck in Congo with Heal Africa (Photo: Barbara Kinney Photography), 2-4: Ben, Jen and Children, (Photos: Perizitos) – 5: The Beautiful Uma Thurman (Photo: Rottentomatoes.com)
It’s no secret that Boston is a great city for sports. With all 4 of our major league teams winning at least one championship in the past decade, many have taken to calling our Hub “Title Town”. As local sports fans become increasingly accustomed to attending championship parades, it’s natural to expect that many celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon.
Many of these stars long-time, hard-core, Boston sports fans, most of them with long-standing roots in the area. Brookline’s Conan O’Brien, Medford homegal Maria Menounos, and of course Ben Affleck, Matt Damon are all fans of all four of our championship winning teams. Any of them are likely to be spotted wearing their green at a Celtics game, grabbing a Fenway frank for a Sox game, chilling at a Bruins game, or kicking back at a Pats game.
Our most storied sports team, the Red Sox can claim many celebrities among their fans, including the likes of Jennifer Garner, Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Stephen King, Denis Leary, Kenny Chesney, Stephen Tyler, Arlington’s own Dane Cook, Neal McDonough (who hails from Hyannis), Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, and Mark Wahlberg.
Up until June of last year, Bruins fans felt a bit left out of the Boston sports championship frenzy. Then, thanks to the first Stanley Cup in 29 years this past June, famous fans like Dropkick Murphys’ frontman Ken Casey, celeb chef Ming Tsai, “Superbad” star Chris Mintz-Plasse (you may remember him as McLovin), “The Office” star Mindy Kaling, Newton-bred actor/director Eli Roth, Dane Cook, Denis Leary, Jim Gaffigan, and former Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, all suddenly had something serious to cheer about.
With their 2008 champhionship win, the Celtics brought the luck of the Irish back to Boston, harkening back to the days when the likes of Larry Bird helped us hoist multiple banners years after year in the Garden. These days, famous faces like Everett’s Ellen Pompeo, Gisele Bundchen, Watertown’s Eliza Dushku, Dane Cook, Steven Tyler, Mike O’Malley, Jay Leno, and Dorchester’s Donnie Wahlberg all were seeing green. Wahlberg in particular has definitely waited for his chance to celebrate with the team, supporting them by being spotted in the stands going all the way back to the mid-90s, long before Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Shaq ever put on their clover leaf apparel.
Famous Patriots fans are a little harder to find. It seems with all their championship successes, the team causes a lot of controversy, even amongst the most stalwart and staunch Boston sports supporters. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who of course is our famed quarterback, Tom Brady’s, wife, is at every game. Donnie’s brother Mark Wahlberg also roots for his Pats, as does writer Steven King, who originally hails from not to far off Maine. Aerosmith frontman and former Brighton resident, Steven Tyler not only sang the Star-Spangled Anthem at the AFC championship game, but showed his love for his home team by sporting the sparkliest Patriots scarf this side of Michael’s Craft Supply. With the Pats defeat of the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC championship, sending them to yet another Superbowl showdown, maybe we’ll see a few more famous faces pop up at the next game!
Our good ol’ Boston boy, Ben Affleck, is at it again. Spotted sporting what could best be described as a “Justin Bieber at 40” haircut for the latter part of last year, is now being explained with the release of the first production stills from Warner Bros., the studio releasing his latest feature, Argo.
The movie is based on the 2000 memoir by Tony Mendez entitled The Master of Disguise. Mendez helped create the fake “Studio Six,” complete with Hollywood offices and employees, a vital part of making the plot to pitch to the Iranian government that their hostages were actually just Canadian film workers, not diplomats. Mendez even worked in part out of offices that had just been vacated by Michael Douglas’s film China Syndrome. Affleck plays Mendez in the film.
Argo hits theaters in September, and costars Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Victor Garber, and Kyle Chandler. This is Affleck’s 3rd directorial project. Unlike his first two, Gone Baby Gone, and The Town, this movie was not shot in the Boston area, but rather shot on location in LA, Washington D.C., and Istanbul, Turkey starting this past September. The film is produced by Oscar winner George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Affleck.
If you blend up Gone Baby Gone and The Town as you start prepping Argo, you get one smooth director, Ben Affleck. The hot native is not only set to direct the political shake, Variety reports that Affleck will also star in the flick.
Argo chops up the 1979 Iran hostage crisis when the CIA hooks up with Hollywood and the Canadian Embassy and uses a fake movie project to smuggle six Americans out of Tehran.
The film is based on a 2007 Wired magazine article by Joshuah Bearman titled “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran.”
Some other big names attached to the project are John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and George Clooney. Varity also reports that Scoot McNairy has just signed on too.
Production schedule is peeling and ready to be sliced this September. Unfortunately, unlike his first two Massachusetts directing debuts, the action is slated for LA. Hopefully Beantown bred Ben will keep the ties tight here in the Bay State which has certainly laced his directing and acting sneakers.
Johnny Depp to star in ‘The Night Stalker’ Remake & Paul Revere project.
★ Reports say former Celtic star Shaquille O’Neal will be working for Turner Broadcasting.
You can subscribe to HollywoodEastConnection.com by e-mail address to receive news and upates directly in your inbox. Simply enter your e-mail below and click Sign Up!