Archive for the ‘Oscar Winners’ Category

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Where Great Art And “ON THE SCENE” Meet: Emmy Noms for OTS Alums

July 19, 2011

When I read the list of News and Documentary Emmy nominees  I saw some well deserved projects that have crossed paths with “ON THE SCENE.”

“Smash His Camera” is nominated, the documentary on paparazzo Ron Galella. It’s a fascinating, compelling look inside the mind, motivation and technique of the man widely considered to be the original American paparazzo. I interviewed Ron at his home last fall around the time “Smash His Camera” was released. For a clip check out my reel on http://www.johnbathke.com and search last year’s blog archive for more on the film and my impressions of Ron.

The Galella doc has some tough competition from “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” The documentary drew worldwide critical praise and though it had a successful theatrical release it was dissed by the Oscars. The filmmakers, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, deserve this Emmy nomination. I remember seeing this film for the first time at its Tribeca Film Festival debut, with Rivers and the filmmakers present. I had interviewed Rivers for ON THE SCENE shortly after filming was finished. I’m really interested to see if either film wins.

And I emailed my friend Roger Ross Williams with congratulations today. His “Music By Prudence” short documentary, which earned him a Best Director Oscar last year, was nominated for it’s television release by HBO for best music and sound. I interviewed Roger for a live audience at a screening along with Prudence Mabhena, the film’s subject.

There seem to be a lot of documentaries being filmed these days, but the ones that illuminate, that truly shine a light on the many facets of a personality or issue remain very few, indeed. These are three films that did that and more.

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Matt Damon Can Run. And Run. And Run And..

March 6, 2011

“God, aren’t you  tired after all that running?”

That’s what a woman sitting ahead of me in the theater said as we were leaving “The Adjustment Bureau.” She’s right. By the end of the film you wonder if Matt Damon walks anywhere.

He runs down sidewalks, he runs on streets, he runs between cars, he runs through doors, he runs from people, he runs after people, he runs up stairways. Boy, does he run the stairs.  He may hold the record for most stairs ever run  on film.

Someone is always chasing him and he’s always chasing someone.

And sometimes Emily Blunt runs with him. Up stairs. Down sidewalks. Through the street. To the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes they run holding hands.

If that’s not enough Damon’s character runs for office. He runs for U.S. Senate. Twice.

Damon has the “leading man” run. Purposeful in  execution if not in plot.

Damon runs in a suit. He runs in a hat. He looks back to see who’s chasing him as he runs.

Sometimes you think he’s done running. But then he starts running again. I suppose he could walk, but more men buy tickets if the leading man runs a lot. That makes it an action movie. If he’s running to catch up to  a woman the studio likes that because more women buy tickets. It’s a love story, then.

And I didn’t know even the marketing masters of Hollywood could cram this many genres into one film… science fiction, action, political drama, thriller, a love story.

I get running as a metaphor. Damon is running from his past, running for office to heal his childhood heartbreak, running after a woman in a race for happiness. I GET it. We all GET it.

Bad storytelling is beating the audience to death with metaphor. And we don’t need gratuitous action if the script is good.

I just remembered, I have to run to the gym…

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ON THE SCENE Star Power

January 22, 2011

Everywhere you look there’s a star on this weekend’s ON THE SCENE. In person, and in photographs.

The show features my interviews with singer Darlene Love and celebrity and movie poster photographer, Timothy White.

We taped the interview with Love just a few days after she got word she’s being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame…her dream come true.

“It’s like winning the Oscar, the Tony, the Grammy, all together, that’s what I feel about getting into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame,” she told me as tears welled up in her eyes and her voice cracked with emotion.

Her life story is what compels me  most and it’s a story for all of us who didn’t peak at age 23, who have faced roadblock after roadblock and pushed our way around them, and who keep setting goals…and celebrating hard earned successes.

Timothy White photographs Hollywood’s A-list…Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and just about every other star you can think of.  We interviewed him at his studio on 54th Street and every drawer he opens has another celebrity photo inside and another fascinating story behind getting “the shot.”

So if you’re local tune in January 22nd and 23rd at any of these times: 6:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM either day…the show must really have star power to get that much air time!

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My Most Fascinating Interviews of 2010

January 1, 2011

I don’t spend a lot of time in the past. Sometimes I think “reminisce” is another word for “can’t get on with life.”  Show me the person who’s always talking about the “old days” and I’ll show you someone who’s stuck there.

But I also know there’s a place for taking stock of what’s happened in life, how we dealt with it and pinpointing what we learned from it.

And here it is New Year’s Day, 2011, and I’m feeling strongly about the year just ended.

I interviewed some memorable talents for ON THE SCENE who left an impression on me.  In 2010, the show became more in depth, the interviews more revealing than ever. To get there, I demanded more of myself, extended myself, and dived into creative risks that I know I wouldn’t have just a couple years ago. Now that’s progress.

Maybe it’s natural I would do those things because the artists I interviewed who impressed me most are those who went outside their comfort zone and moved their careers into new directions.

For starters, David Bryan. For almost 30 years, now, the keyboardist in Bon Jovi.  But in 2010 he became a triple-Tony Award winner for “Memphis,” the musical which he wrote and co-produced. I interviewed him at his New Jersey beach house on a sweltering July afternoon. It was shortly after the Tony awards and he was reliving the winning moments. We also talked about how life altering it was for him to step outside Bon Jovi and helm a project in his own right and how it’s forever changed his career.

Oscar winners Geoffrey Fletcher, who won the Academy Award for writing the screenplay for “Precious,” and Roger Ross Williams who received his Oscar for directing the documentary, “Music By Prudence,” both saw their long efforts pay off in 2010. When I interviewed Geoffrey he described how just a year before “Precious,” hit the screen, agents would hang-up on him. Suddenly, they were calling him. I interviewed Roger (and the subject of his film, Prudence Mabhena) on stage for an audience q and a after a screening of his film. After a long career producing and directing television news and entertainment programs, he headed to Zimbabwe and shot this documentary for theatrical release. Look where it led.

And there was refreshingly honest singer Duncan Sheik, who went broke after scoring a big hit with “Barely Breathing,” then came back strong writing songs for “Spring Awakening” (another rocker turned Broadway success story).

Joy Behar was the year’s lightning rod. God, the hate mail. And that was before the interview even aired.

That’s only a few. Read the blog archives for more on these interviews and many others if you’re interested,  and there are interview photos in the gallery of http://www.johnbathke.com.

Now let’s see what we can make happen in 2011. All of us. Happy New Year.

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“The Social Network”: An Oscar Face-Off

October 31, 2010

I finally saw “The Social Network.” Hands down one of the best movies of the year and I think  it’ll be duking it out with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” when it comes to Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. The screenwriting for “The Social Network” is extraordinary. But Michael Douglas has the edge for Best Actor because the Academy loves it when a character evolves in the storyline…it’s the mark of an Oscar worthy performance…and his Gordon Gekko is changeable and emotionally all over the map…moreso than what people expected,  I think. Jesse Eisenberg is riveting playing Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg. He deserves an Oscar nomination for such a complicated performance, maybe he should even win…but in the end the character is status quo and that favors Douglas.

What do you think? Am I wrong? I’ve only singled out two actors, who else should be in the running?

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

October 10, 2010

Every filmmaker could learn a lesson from Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” And that is, make every character count.

I saw the movie Saturday and the attention to character is extraordinary. Yes, the plot twists and turns are as slippery as Gordon “Greed Is Good” Gekko, and the timeliness of portraying Wall Street sharks during an economic meltdown is impeccably relevant.

But what strikes me most is that this is a film with one vivid character after another. Even the smallest part is memorable…Sylvia Miles as an eccentric realtor, Eli Wallach as the frail but feisty  Wall Street veteran battling onward. No part is a novelty or a filler, a throw away cameo to a star like we’ve seen in these big budget sequels a million times, now.

Susan Sarandon (who I interviewed earlier this year), Josh Brolin and the great Frank Langella have spun their screen time into gold in this picture, playing supporting parts that under Stone’s direction, are as memorable as the leads.

There’s no question in my mind that Michael Douglas will get an Oscar nomination. The Academy looks for characters that undergo a transformation within the film when doling out noms, which Douglas does so believably as Gekko.

Shia LaBeouf impressed me and I went in skeptical…even Douglas said when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that he had to get over initial doubts that LaBeouf had the chops for the role. He does.

What a difference the movie-going experience is when you can latch-on to each moment and feel the relationships between the characters and see what they’re thinking, and not simply watch the plot unfold.