The creator of Super Size Me continues to break new ground with his TV Show 30 Days, letting viewers see what life is really like in someone else's shoes.
For Super Size Me, the Academy Award–nominated documentary with a bold premise and the director as a guinea pig, Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's for 30 days and limited himself to the minimal exercise of the average American. He miraculously survived, with quite a story to tell. His success brought the opportunity to try a variety of even edgier eye-opening, month-long sociocultural experiments, in some cases aided by thoughtfully chosen volunteers, for his series 30 Days on the FX channel. With season one now on DVD from Fox and season two underway, Spurlock gave us 30 minutes to chew the fat.
I could easily fill pages of this magazine with a complete list of Phil Ramone's credits and achievements, but I'll stick with this condensed rundown. He's won 12 Grammy Awards and one Emmy, and he's worked with a virtual who's who of music: Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Chicago, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Madonna, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor—and those are just the highlights. Ramone is chairman emeritus of the board of trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He is also a trustee of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.
One of Hollywood's most successful directors, Richard Donner is also a damned nice guy.
After years in television—The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island—director Richard Donner went on to launch several major film franchises, starting with The Omen in 1976. Two years later, his Superman made Hollywood history. But few knew that he'd completed much of what wound up on screen for the sequel, Superman II, even though he would be abruptly replaced by director Richard Lester. Donner has finally returned by popular demand to complete his version, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (on DVD from Warner Brothers) and make every Superfan's dream come true.
Cinematographer/Editor/Visual-Effects Supervisor Robert Rodriguez might well be the hardest-working man in show business.
Much like the guitar-playing hero of his Mariachi trilogy, Robert Rodriguez is a one-man army—a veteran moviemaker well versed in all of its disciplines. Success born of unending creativity has led to unmatched creative freedom at his own Troublemaker Studios, far from the stodgy bureaucracy of Hollywood. Somehow, he found some time to talk to me about his work, including the ceaselessly stunning Sin City.
Televisionary: Writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell looks back at nearly four decades of top-flight programming.
You might known him best as a wildly successful producer with as many as six shows on the air at once. To others, he's a prolific writer who created or elevated many of television's most beloved series. Or you might just recognize him as that guy who yanks the page out of the typewriter at the end of The A-Team. With the release of his feature films Demon Hunter and It Waits on DVD from Anchor Bay, Stephen J. Cannell gave us more than a TV hour (that's 45 minutes to you and me) to discuss his extensive legacy.
The senior VP of Walt Disney Imagineering leads us through the "Under the Sea Adventure," the ride that almost was and the coolest DVD extra ever.
Here's a lost bit of Disneyland history gleaned from the new Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD: The film's overwhelming success prompted Disney Imagineers to dream up a new theme-park ride in its honor. But then the radiant accolades for the studio's Best Picture–nominated follow-up, Beauty and the Beast, promptly changed a fickle world's tune to "The Little Who-Now?" and Disney shelved the project. Disc two of the set caps this tale with one of the single most impressive bonus features ever conceived, fully realizing the ride that almost was through modern computer-generated imagery. It's authentic to the pseudo reality of Disney's parks, and you can view it with optional schematic drawings, commentary, and the ability to turn up the lights to reveal the inner workings of the accurately simulated machinery. It's all part of "Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride Inspired by Disney Imagineers."
Haven't you been watching Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology series, made by the genre's most notorious creators? Anchor Bay Entertainment is releasing each minimovie as a special-edition DVD, so it will be easy to catch up. Season two included "Pelts," an eerie tale of the world's most acrimonious furrier and some dangerous skins, directed by horror maestro Dario Argento and starring the multitalented Meat Loaf. It's now available on DVD.
The meticulous effects auteur looks back on a career spent creating movie magic.
During a time when movies were made entirely by hand, Ray Harryhausen knew better than anyone how to make the most spectacular cinematic creatures come to life. Inspired, like so many, by the original King Kong, Harryhausen honed his filmmaking skills on a variety of short subjects before he tackled his first feature film, Mighty Joe Young, working alongside Kong's stop-motion maestro Willis O'Brien. For you kids reading at home, stop-motion animation is the painstaking process of moving one or more specially designed models a precise fraction of an inch for each frame of film. Do it perfectly 24 times in a row (which can take a full day or more), and you've created one second of a movie. Along the way, Harryhausen even invented the Dynamation technique to more realistically combine his creations with live-action backgrounds, and his work became the gold standard that continues to stoke Hollywood's collective imagination. His 1957 black-and-white, monster-attacks-Rome opus 20 Million Miles to Earth was colorized and released on Blu-ray disc, the first Harryhausen title in high def, along with a new DVD boxed set that adds colorized special editions of Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and It Came From Beneath the Sea, all from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Miles away from the disquieting cyber-terrorism themes and violent action of director Len Wiseman’s Live Free or Die Hard (now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Unrated DVD from Fox) are its real-life co-stars. The baby-faced Justin Long finds the humor in just about everything, while the hypnotically beautiful Maggie Q is as charming as her onscreen henchwoman is deadly. Veterans of both Hollywood blockbusters and more obscure indies, together they offer a unique exposé of an actor’s life.
The art and passion of an actor/singer/producer. . . and director?
One of those great New York actors who just brings a smile to audiences' faces, the ever-affable Danny Aiello has been in front of the camera for more than 30 years with a string of memorable supporting and starring roles, and even an Oscar nomination for 1989's Do the Right Thing. He's also been in front of the microphone as an accomplished singer, and he's now behind the scenes with his own production company, Revolution Earth. Their first film, Shorty, shares the inspirational tale of a very special lifelong football fan at an impossibly friendly, small Southern college town. Shorty is now available as part of Mill Creek Entertainment's Reel Indies line, which showcases movies from smaller studios.
Even if the names Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland don't ring any bells for you, you surely know their music. They wrote most of the Supremes' and the Four Tops' megahits, such as "Where Did Our Love Go?," "Come See About Me," "Baby Love," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Baby, I Need Your Loving," "How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You)," and "Reach Out, I'll Be There." The three men supplied a steady stream of top-ten singles for Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, Martha & the Vandellas, and many others.
Hit maker Ivan Reitman has left his mark as the director and/or producer on some of the biggest, funniest comedies ever. Appreciative of his collaborators, keenly aware of his own canon, and showing a remarkable savvy for the home-video landscape, Reitman reflects upon almost three decades of favorites on the occasion of his latest release, Fox's My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman.
Mike Inchalik, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy at DTS Digital Images, Talks shop about film restoration.
Most consumers take for granted the awesome video quality of DVD. You might never consider the often decrepit physical condition of many of your favorite classic movies, which were shot on a variety of film stocks and have suffered any number of indignities over the ensuing decades. We discuss restoration frequently in these pages, but many readers want to know more. So, we went to the unrivaled experts. DTS Digital Images—formerly Lowry Digital Images—was founded by the now legendary John Lowry, whose name has become a seal of approval on well over 100 celebrated film restorations. Exclusively for HT, Mike Inchalik of DTS Digital Images pulled back the curtain on their closely guarded, much envied process.
A working director ever since film school, Randal Kleiser talks to us about his latest, his greatest, and his now famous USC roommate.
After years in television (The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), director Randal Kleiser earned a place in Hollywood history with his joyous adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease, soon followed by his updated ode to young love, The Blue Lagoon. He's kept busy in the ensuing years with an impressive slate of new projects and sequels—although the notorious Grease 2 was not his. We caught up with him as the DVD of his romantic comedy, Love Wrecked, which premiered on the ABC Family channel earlier this year, was being released on DVD from Genius Products/The Weinstein Company.
These guys make the image work: peter nofz, jonathan cohen, and spencer cook.
The most popular movie of the year and breaker of just about every box-office record, Spider-Man 3 owes much of its success to its seamless, high-impact visual storytelling. Vast portions of this were rendered in the computers at Sony Pictures Imageworks, the digital production studio that helped bring life to all three arachno-adventures. On the occasion of the release of this latest chapter on DVD—and the entire trilogy in a magnificent Blu-ray set—Sony invited HT to speak with three of the very dedicated men of Imageworks. Digital effects supervisor Peter Nofz, special projects computer graphics supervisor Jonathan Cohen, and animation supervisor Spencer Cook are all gifted artists and masters of their individual technologies. Each has different responsibilities, yet is proud of his role within the elaborate team. And their work speaks for itself—even when you don't notice it.