The 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday night were chock full of New England connections from start to finish. While many were preoccupied with evaluating the skills of first time hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, who recently admitted to only rehearsing the show on the weekends because of his course load at Yale, or checking their watch to see how long the show went over, those of us in Hollywood East were anxiously keeping tabs on the awards tally for films made in New England.
Boston’s Maria Menounos worked the red carpet arrivals in the official pre-show. On the E cable network, Ryan Seacrest talked to Mark Wahlberg, producer and star of The Fighter.
“It exceeded my expectations. We were fortunate to make the best possible version of the film, we just had so much support. I promised Mickey and Dicky I would get the movie made,” said Wahlberg.
Melissa Leo, who won her first Academy Award in 2 nominations for her role in The Fighter, secured her own quirky point in the history of the awards–uttering the F-word during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress. Though the word was bleeped by the censors for the telecast, Leo later apologized for her inappropriate choice of language.
Her award counterpart, and costar, Christian Bale also picked up his first Oscar for his supporting role in The Fighter.
Harvard grad Natalie Portman completed, as expected, a whirlwind awards season, picking up her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her turn in Black Swan.
The Social Network, which was partially filmed in Boston and Cambridge, picked up a number of awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Score, and Best Film Editing. The film, of course, follows the story of the creation of Facebook by Harvard grad Mark Zuckerberg.
The New England connections weren’t limited to the Oscars telecast; commercials for the Rhode Island shot “Body of Proof” TV show aired during the breaks, as it will be premiering on the alphabet network in March.
In its opening weekend, the romantic comedy No Strings Attached topped the box office, bringing in $20.3 million, and making it the number 1 movie in the country. The film stars Ashton Kutcher and current Hollywood “Its Girl” and Harvard graduate, Natalie Portman. The supporting cast also includes a Cambridge, Massachusetts native, Mindy Kaling.
Kaling would probably be most recognizable to audiences for her role as Kelly Kapoor in the television series “The Office,” costarring fellow Massachusetts natives, Steve Carell (Concord) and John Krasinski (Newton). The talented actress, who was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam, attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and portrayed Ben Affleck in a play entitled “Matt & Ben”, which she co-wrote with Brenda Withers in 2003. In addition to starring in “The Office” she also has written more than 18 episodes, and is currently in talks with NBC to develop a new comedy show in which she would also star. Kaling also recently lent her voice to the animated feature, Despicable Me, and will release her first book later this year, entitled The Contents of My Purse, which will be published by Random House’s Crown imprint.
Kaling’s middle name, which she uses as her first, comes from the TV show “Mork and Mindy.” When her mother was pregnant with her in Nigeria, that was the only American TV show they were able to get there.
On Sunday night, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association held the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television in the previous calendar year. Hollywood East was well-represented in the winner’s circle, with a number of made-in-New England projects walking away with prizes, as well as performers and crew with connections back east coming out with a trophy.
The biggest prize of the evening for Best Motion Picture–Drama, went to the The Social Network. The movie walked away with four awards overall, including Best Director–Motion Picture, for David Fincher, Best Screenplay–Motion Picture, for Aaron Sorkin, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for Best Original Score–Motion Picture. The film was inspired by the real-life story of Facebook and Harvard alum Mark Zuckerberg, and filmed partially in Cambridge, MA.
The solid supporting cast of the made-in-Massachusetts flick, The Fighter did not walk away empty handed. Melissa Leo won Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her role in The Fighter. Christian Bale won for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for his role in The Fighter. The British actor even thanked the people of Lowell in his on-stage acceptance speech.
Pregnant and newly engaged Harvard grad Natalie Portman won Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture–Drama for her role in Black Swan.
On the TV side of things, “Glee,” created by Newton native Brad Falchuk, won Best Television Series–Comedy or Musical for the 2nd year in a row.
Laura Linney won an award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series–Comedy, for her role on Showtime’s “The Big C,” which is filmed in Connecticut.
Claire Danes won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role in HBO’s Temple Grandin, a made-for-TV movie about the real-life story of a woman with high functioning Autism who becomes a doctor of animal science and autism advocate. Danes sat with the woman and namesake of the picture, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
On Tuesday morning, the nominees for the 2011 Golden Globes were announced, and New England is well-represented once again.
Leading the pack with six nominations each were the (at least partially) made in Massachusetts flicks, The Social Network and The Fighter. Nominations for The Social Network included newcomer Jesse Eisenberg as best dramatic actor, Andrew Garfield as supporting actor, and David Fincher as director. Four of The Fighter’s nominations came in acting categories, including best actor for Dorchester, Mass. native Mark Wahlberg, and supporting honors for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo. David O. Russell was also nominated for best director.
Additionally, Harvard alum Natalie Portman was nominated for her psychosexual turn as a ballerina in Black Swan.
On the TV side, “Glee”, which is helmed by writer/producer Brad Falchuk of Newton, Massachusetts, was nominated in the comedy or musical category of Best TV Series. Concord’s Steve Carell was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, also in the comedy or musical category, for his work in his final year on “The Office”.
The 68th Annual Golden Globes will air live on NBC on Sunday, January 16th, at 8PM.
★ NECN’s “TV Diner” co-host, Billy Costa, appears at Cambridgeside Galleria’s 20th Anniversary Cupcake Celebration on October 3.
★ Medford resident, Frank Imbergamo, was featured on ‘Emeril Live!’ for his winning meatball recipe.
★ Casey Affleck nearly goes bankrupt making movie about Joaquin Phoenix.
★ The Social Network becomes third made in Mass. flick (after The Town and Shutter Island) to top U.S. box-office. The film creates questions about Facebook co-founder from Harvard. Turns out, Harvard grad Natalie Portman helped with research on movie.
★ Michael Cunningham (below), author of The Hours, the book which the movie was based on, signs autographs at the Boston Public Library on October 6.
While it’s no secret Boston has become the unofficial capital of Hollywood East, with numerous films and TV shows shooting here each year, it’s been hard not to stumble across camera crews and make-shift sets, despite sometimes very well-guarded production details. What has been kept slightly more hush hush has been the hotspots in the Hub that the stars of these projects hit when they’re not on the clock.
Boston’s restaurant scene has caught the Hollywood wave and starting offering more upscale options. Not surprisingly, many of the celeb favorites are centered around the Back Bay/Newbury Street area. Long-time favorite Sonsie has played host to Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Hulk Hogan, Roger Clinton, and Donnie Wahlberg.
For dessert, it seems that everyone in fact does scream for ice cream. The Newbury Street location of Ben & Jerry’s posts pictures on their walls of the famous faces that often stop by their store. Alec Baldwin, John Mayer, Jane Fonda, Ellen Pompeo, and players from the Celtics have all grabbed a cone recently.
In order to keep in shape (and perhaps work off the pounds from all that ice cream) the Sports Club/LA, adjacent to the Ritz Carlton hotel is arguably one of the most upscale gyms in town. That’s why it’s not surprising that The Rock, Justin Timberlake, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, and Emilio Estevez, Reese Witherspoon, and Britney Spears have all been spotted working out there at one time or another.
To blow off a little steam in a different sense, Felt Nightclub is a big favorite with the glitterati. Stars like Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Chris Rock have all made a presence there in the past year or so while they’ve been in town for projects. Other stars like Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, and Ben and Casey Affleck frequent the hip spot whenever their roots call them home again.
Speaking of Mark Wahlberg, he and Will Farrell will be at his restaurant, Alma Nove, in Hingham, MA celebrating the premiere of their new flic, The Other Guys, showing at the Patriot Cinemas in Hangham. The Alma Nove restaurant is owned by three Wahlberg brothers, including chef Paul Wahlberg, and family friend Ed St. Croix.
There’s a plethora of other places HEC has spotted celebs during their off hours. Singer Seal was seen in Boston’s Public Garden last spring while he was in town to sing the national anthem at Fenway Park. Actress Natalie Portman was in Cambridge in February for a friend’s wedding. Brooke Shields was spotted in her off-time from shooting Furry Vengeance at South Boston eateries Flour2 and Sportello. Funnymen Denis Leary and Lenny Clark grabbed lunch at the Four Seasons last spring while Leary was in town for his son’s graduation from Emerson College. Grown Ups costars David Spade and Colin Quinn were seen last summer grabbing a weekend bite at Sel De La Terre on Boylston Street.
As more and more movies have turned to Hollywood East for filming locations, Boston has become quite the celebrity hub. Combined with the number of stage shows, traveling theater, concert venues, world class hotels, world-renowned universities, and high-profile sporting and charity events, Beantown’s ability to attract the A-list crowd is significant. With stars ranging from former SNL castmembers, to popular movie actors, to reality show winners, lately, it seems like there’s no telling who you could run into walking down the streets of Boston these days.
Here at Hollywood East Connection, we’ve heard about a variety of celebrity sightings over the past year. These stars have been spotted all around town by fans. Singer Seal was seen in Boston’s Public Garden. Actress Natalie Portman was in town in February for a friend’s wedding in Cambridge. Brooke Shields was spotted in her off-time from shooting Furry Vengeance at a number of South Boston eateries. She wasn’t the only one sampling local eats, funnymen Denis Leary and Lenny Clark grabbed lunch at the Four Seasons last spring, and Grown Ups costars David Spade and Colin Quinn were seen this summer grabbing a bite at Sel De La Terre. We even caught Lady GaGa’s make-up artist shopping at the Pru.
We’ve also heard from up-and-coming stars from the New England area about their experiences on set with all the big names. Local talent Bradley J. Van Dussen checked out Robin Wright Penn’s piggy toes on the set of Empire Falls and in his first-time movie role, teen actor Anthony O’Leary talked baseball with Ben Affleck on the set of The Company Men. Movie extra Kathy Fitzgerald recently shared with us details of her experience on the set of the the Martin Scorsese directed Shutter Island. She tells Hollywood East Connection:
“I worked on Shutter Island as a criminally insane person and was right on the side of the path that Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Max Von Sydow, and Sir Ben Kinglsey walked down. With the many takes of Leonardo walking down in his ‘detective’ costume, he and Mark kept looking at me with a quirk. I knew what it was, but could do nothing about it. Finally, after about 7 takes, and a ‘cut’ yelled out, Leonardo looked at me again and asked…”What’s with the curl?” Then they both started laughing. All I could say was…”That’s what they did to me, what can I say?” The hair people took my bangs and put them into one curl in the middle of my forehead, while the rest of my very long hair remained normal, if not nice and shiny.”
Whether its accidental encounters on the street, or more professional experiences with fellow actors on set, there’s no doubt that Boston has become quite the hotbed for celebrity activity. As the summer shooting season is about to heat up, we want to hear your stories about your close encounters of the movie star kind on the streets of Boston and its surrounding areas. Email your sightings, and snapshots to [email protected]!
★ Celebrity connections, HEC exclusive: Spotted on Saturday, February 13, Harvard Alum Natalie Portman presented a reading on love as a guest at the wedding of two Harvard Med School grads. The ceremony was held at the Memorial Chapel at Harvard Yard, and the actress wore a red and black designer dress.
★ Who could be meaner than Simon? Boston U grad, Howard Stern in talks to guest judge on “American Idol”.
★ Batman in Beantown: Val Kilmer speaks at the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston.
★ 5 people injured at the North Attleborough mall during a visit by the Disney Channel’s Selena Gomez.
When you hear the name Harvard University, the first thing that comes to mind is usually medicine, law, business or engineering. Though Harvard is undeniably known for producing some of the greatest minds in these fields, its studies go beyond the realms of math, science and logic to include the more creative as well.
The Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) at Harvard University offers courses to both undergraduate and graduate students in painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, design, film, video and photography as well as theory and history classes in the different types of practical arts. VES concentrators (a Harvardism for majors) choose to focus on a more specific track–Studio Art, Film or Video Production, Film Studies or Environmental Studies–once admitted to the department.
For graduate students, VES offers a Ph.D. program in Film and Visual Studies as well as a secondary graduate program in the field of Film and Visual Studies for any student enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, contingent upon the approval of their specific department director of graduate studies.
In addition to film, Harvard features a multitude of practices in the Arts such as Architecture, Creative Writing, Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts. In Fact, Fox’s hit show “The Simpsons” has a strong connection to the school as half of the show’s current and past writers went to Harvard.
Despite its notorious reputation for producing Pulitzer winners in the sciences, Harvard is paving its way as a heavy hitter in the Fine Arts as well. Like any distinguished school, film-related or not, the university has produced its fair share of modern day celebrities. Among the many Hollywood elite, Harvard alumni include Stockhard Channing, Rashida Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, John Lithgow, B.J. Novak, Conan O’Brien, Natalie Portman, Peter Sellars, Mira Sorvino and Steve Zahn.
Anyone in the Boston area the beginning of this month most assuredly noticed a flurry of activity. The annual convergence of college students meant that close to 250,000 temporary townies of the academic sort moved in to local dorms and apartment complexes, no doubt eager for the school-year to begin. With the almost 50 colleges and universities located within a 10-mile radius of Boston, its not hard to believe that numerous celebrities of television and movies have at one time made a similar trek.
Boston College: The private Jesuit liberal arts school can claim movie actor Chris O’Donnell as an alum, as well as numerous television personalities, among them, Massachusetts natives Leonard Nimoy and Amy Poehler, as well as Rhode Island born Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
The polarizing conservative cohost on “The View”. The Fine Arts major captained the softball team for 2 seasons while also studying industrial design. Her athletic affiliations also aided her dating life; BC is where she met her football-playing husband Tim.
Harvard University: The Ivy League school has seen its fair share of star students. Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Lemmon, John Lithgow, Mira Sorvino, Wallace Shawn, and Conan O’Brien are just some of the super-smart celebrities who have at one time called Cambridge home. Most recently, Ashley Judd enrolled at the Crimson college, perhaps inspired by her Where the Heart Is co-star, Natalie Portman, who graduated in 2003.
Boston University: The fourth-largest private university in the country has more celebrity alumni than any other in the area. Movie stars like Geena Davis, Olympia Dukakis, Faye Dunaway, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Mariel Hemmingway are all on BU’s annual fundraising call-list. TV stars like Jason Alexander, Rosie O’Donnell, and radio shock-jock Howard Stern also walked its hallowed halls.
David E. Kelley, the Maine born and Belmont, MA raised writer and TV producer no doubt used his Juris Doctor from the BU School of Law, in addition to his experiences around Beantown for inspiration for his numerous successful Boston-based shows; “The Practice”, “Ally McBeal”, “Boston Public”, and “Boston Legal”.
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