Tag Archives: Hollywood

SUNNY THOMPSON GIVES BRAVURA PERFORMANCE IN “MARILYN: FOREVER BLONDE”

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson diamonds - photo by Howard PetrellaGentlemen may prefer blondes, but this blonde prefers Sunny Thompson and her re-imagining of the life of the legendary blonde bombshell in her one-woman show Marilyn: Forever Blonde that runs now thru Sunday Feb 15th at the equally beautiful Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street (just N. of Queen), Toronto.

The American singer/actress brings years of Monroe research to the stage with this theatrical tour de force that takes us from the bubbly ingenue Norma Jean up her ladder-climb to success and subsequent fall from grace that never gets maudlin or self-indulgent. I never caught Sunny acting – she WAS Marilyn. Thompson inhabited the character and took her time narrating Marilyn’s life story with a few wink-wink nudge-nudge moments when justifying the road Marilyn took to reach the top….detours and potholes and all.  She seduces us with tales of her many lovers, husbands and betrayers.

Marilyn Forever Blonde - Sunny Thompson blue robe -  photo by Howard PetrellaThe seamier side of her later life is not dwelt upon too harshly; yes, we “meet” Jack and Bobby Kennedy and a few other bad good guys, but as Marilyn drifts away from us on stage, the audience feels protective and carries her gently into Hollywood folk lore upon waves of applause.

The numerous costume changes were done modestly on stage behind a back-lit screen that teased us with Marilyn’s/Sunny’s gorgeous bod, and the dresses…oh those dresses…were dripping in “diamonds” and jewels that shimmered as she shimmied across the stage, speaking and singing in that breathy voice we remember so well.

sunnyThe two-act musical play, written & produced by Sunny’s husband, Greg Thompson, has toured the world for the past 7 years and I encourage you to grab your tickets a.s.a.p. for the 4-day run at the Winter Garden. The experience with leave you breathless…and humming the tunes that should bring back a few memories. Songs like My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Some Like it Hot, Let’s Make Love and of course, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, are all included, some sung a capella, others with recorded music, and even Ol’ Blue Eyes makes an audio appearance, too.

After the show, we attended a brief reception to celebrate opening night and I ran into some old friends, including the incomparable Micah Barnes (below with handsome actor/bartender David).

20150211_222900Sunny made it out of the dressing room and kindly signed autographs and posed for photos with her adoring fans (below), much like Marilyn did.

20150211_222953 20150211_223034 20150211_223048As we left, I took a few shots of the theatre itself…if you’ve never been to the Winter Garden, you can take a tour during the day – definitely worth a trip. And the theatre has a ghost, too. Wonder what she thought of Marilyn tonight?

20150211_223400 20150211_223448 20150211_223459Big thanks to Flip Publicity for the great seats for opening night. And finally, one more bravo and a big standing O to Sunny Thompson who you can follow via her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunnythompsona

Sunny Thompson as Marilyn in Marilyn Forever Blonde - photo by Howard PetrellaStudio shots courtesy of Howard Petrella.

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Company Man: The Best of Robert Altman at TIFF Bell Lightbox

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the Toronto Screen Shots blog for a number of years and always enjoy the unique insights and trivia shared by writer James McNally. Today his column highlights a new program hosted by the TIFF Bell Lightbox later this month and as I’m a huge Robert Altman fan, I wanted to share this with my readers. Hope you enjoy James’ editorial and please check out other stories at http://www.TorontoScreenShots.com
Glenda Fordham

ALTMAN

by JAMES MCNALLY on JULY 31, 2014
Robert Altman is a dir­ector I’ve always loved and respected. I loved that he dir­ected indus­trial films in his twen­ties, made tele­vi­sion in his thirties, and was well into his forties before he began making fea­ture films. He has also been described as quite a char­acter, prone to heavy drinking and strong opin­ions. He was always a mav­erick, and des­pite many crit­ical suc­cesses, he still found it a struggle to get many of his films made. I also love that he took many risks, dir­ecting films in many styles. He def­in­itely had a few flops (Popeye, not showing in this series) and films that I per­son­ally dis­liked (The Company, which will be screened), but all of that made him even more human, even as his oeuvre (all of it cre­ated in the latter half of his life) makes him larger than life. If you’re looking for some reading material about Altman’s life, I thor­oughly enjoyed Mitchell Zuckoff’s Altman: The Oral Biography (2010), and recom­mend it as a worthy com­panion volume to seeing the films in this series.

TIFF is bringing a wide-ranging ret­ro­spective of his work to the TIFF Bell Lightbox from August 7th-31st, and I’m excited to see some old favour­ites again, and to fill in a few gaps, too. Even better, kicking things off on Friday August 1st at 7pm is Altman, Toronto film­maker Ron Mann’s new doc­u­mentary on Altman’s life and work. Here are just a few highlights.

Still from M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H (1970)

It wasn’t his first fea­ture, but M*A*S*H def­in­itely announced Altman’s arrival and her­alded a new type of film­making that would come to be known as the “New Hollywood.” The tra­gi­comic lives of a group of bat­tle­field sur­geons during the Korean War came out while the war in Vietnam was in full swing, and its satire still stings today. M*A*S*H screens on Thursday August 7 at 6:30pm.

Still from McCabe and Mrs. Miller
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Described as a “revi­sionist Western,” McCabe and Mrs. Miller has been on my “blind spot” list for years. I’m so glad I finally got to see it on the big screen. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the film here very soon.McCabe and Mrs. Miller will screen with an intro­duc­tion from its cine­ma­to­grapher Vilmos Zsigmond onFriday August 8 at 6:15pm.

Still from Brewster McCloud
Brewster McCloud (1970)

This story of an eccentric young man (Bud Cort) who lives in the Houston Astrodome and who wants to fly like a bird has been dif­fi­cult to see over the years. I’m looking for­ward to catching it on 35mm.Brewster McCloud will screen on Sunday August 10 at 1:30pm.

Still from California Split
California Split (1974)

One of the only Altman films I’ve actu­ally written about before, this fea­tures two stal­warts of ‘70s cinema, Elliott Gould and George Segal as a couple of gambling bud­dies. It’s funny, but also darker than it first appears. Addiction’s pull is just below the sur­face of all the other antics. California Split screens onThursday August 21 at 6:15pm.

There is much, much more, including screen­ings of The Long Goodbye (1973), Nashville (1975), The Player(1991), Short Cuts (1993), Gosford Park (2001), and his last film, A Prairie Home Companion (2006). More inform­a­tion on the series from the TIFF web site.

Tickets for all screen­ings are avail­able through the TIFF web site or at the box office. I’ve got mine already. See you there!

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HISTORY IS THE NEW COOL ! According to actor and fan of “TO APPOMATTOX” TV mini-series.

I had the pleasure recently of e-chatting with actor and fan of the TO APPOMATTOX miniseries, MARY HUSE, who offers her passionate views about the project, the need for everyone to support the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to raise production finance, and to re-ignite the current generation’s interest in the American Civil War.  http://www.ToAppomattox.com

Headshot Mary Huse

Mary (pictured above) shares her thoughts…..

What first attracted you to the To Appomattox series?
I stumbled across it on IMDb looking up some of my favorite actors who had been a part of great historical dramas. I immediately fell in love with the project on the “To Appomattox” Facebook page. Here was a dream come true… a film proposal committed to historical accuracy, the honoring of Civil War figures, and the telling of the personal, true life stories of these amazing people. I decided then and there to pursue and support this project, so I that should never have any regrets while watching it. I knew that I, like so many, will go see anything that has to do with the War Between the States. But this was different.

Are you a personal friend of the producers/writers/director?
I am now! But initially,no. I had the great fortune to meet Mr. Beckner at the 2011 Moorpark reenactment (every Civil War enthusiast in Southern California waits for this all year) after some online communication. The circumstances were extremely hectic! A battle had just concluded, Pickett’s charge I think, only the mud version. No one wanted to “die”. But I introduced myself and my Dad to Mr Beckner anyway, while Mommy was in line for beer. Mr. Beckner was all ease and friendliness, and since then we have become friends. I’ve also gotten acquainted with three of the historical consultants, namely Cary Eberly, Ronald C White Jr., and J. David Petruzzi. Mr. Petruzzi in particular has kept me up on the latest new about the series. These are all people highly respected in their fields, extremely sincere and passionate about the Civil War, and yet very accessible and down to earth. And now with the Kickstarter campaign (www.ToAppomattox.com) everyone can be a part of the production. It’s a perfect fit.

Are you an actor yourself?
I am! I’m a fifth generation Angelino who decided she must be a part of telling stories of greatness and inspiration, especially of the historical genre. My great grandparents worked in Hollywood stage production and film studios, my grandmother worked for Cecil B.Demille, my grandfather surfed with Peter Lawford and Jim Arness and even taught Brit actor David Niven how! And my parents met at a production studio where my dad was a client. But watching films like Gone with the Wind and Friendly Persuasion as a kid was what sealed my fate.

Why do you think this is an important TV series that needs to be made and seen?
I think we are all apathetic and forgetful by nature. I know I am. Especially when I’m ignorant to facts, I feel detached from different events in the past. But the Civil War is the most defining moment in our history as a nation. All of the base work defining the United States, laid by our founding fathers, was on the edge. It was waiting to be sealed in history, either by the test of time, or, as it happened, by a monumental conflict over its very definition. This was an upheaval that not only touched Americans living in the 1860s in horrific ways, but continues to affect our lives every single day. Freedom is seen and defined in many ways by different people, and those who love freedom are willing to die for their version. We can and must learn from the commitment these people had to heir values, and from their mistakes. This series will show the amount of sacrifice and courage it took to make us what we are as a nation.

How do you think this show will impact kids now in school who maybe hate learning about history?
My brother and I were homeschooled and had the singular opportunity to focus on subjects that intrigued us, in particular the Civil War. Nothing is going to enthrall and interest the majority of school kids like experiencing history through great film drama…it’s just not. Not books, documentaries, or music on their own. But these things paired with a series like To Appomattox that lets them relate to historic figures in flesh and blood, not a stern hazy photo, will inspire them to find out more. Actors. In uniforms. With gold buttons. On horseback. Hey, it worked for me! And the corsets worked for my brother. Not on him. Oh well, you know what I mean! LOL

As a woman, how do you feel about those women who participated in the Civil war – nurses, even some women disguised themselves and signed-up to fight, as well as the wives who travelled with both armies and the “camp followers” (or floosies)?
Of course the majority of women at that time devoted their lives to being wives and mothers. And during the war they faced the hardest thing that could ever happen to a wife or a mother: experiencing the loss of their husbands and/or children. They experienced this loss in numbers that are unfathomable, losses that have not been paralleled in any American war. And yet, their efforts and support coming from the home lines was so powerful. It’s what they were so convicted about that I want so terribly to understand. Conviction equals strength. Even the strength to send your sweetheart off to face horrors unspeakable and, in the case of the officers, to lead other men to the same. And of course many of the women who endured this war faced desperation and destitution that might drive any one of us to do things we cannot imagine. And they did.

And there were courageous women who either tried to be soldiers, or join them in the camps and fields to help any way they could. They took care of the sick and dying, tended to dead bodies, crossed the line of fire to become angels on the battlefield- mascots of hope and mercy, and spied, smuggled, and used their feminine wiles to achieve victory. I think all of these stories of exceptional women deserve our acknowledgment, and our awareness, by having their stories told, to inspire young women for all time. I’m dying to know them, too.

How do you think To Appomattox will illustrate the real Civil War vs. say, the Gone With the Wind interpretation of the facts?
Civil War series in the past, the ones long enough to give a glimpse of the scope of the conflict, have often focused on fictional characters. It’s time we take some of our appreciation for people who never were, and focus it on real heroes. Gone With The Wind (wonderful, amazing film that it is), came out only 74 years after the war was over (it’s now 75 years since that film’s release). It gives the viewer a most thrilling sense of witnessing the past in technicolor. It is a romanticized porthole, an interpretation that came out when there were many people who witnessed the Civil War still alive. I think that perhaps the wounds were still too fresh to portray certain things about the war realistically. Although these pressures aren’t quite as strong today (well, more so in some parts of the country), we still haven’t had many realistic portrayals of the Civil War. The creators of To Appomattox are committed to honoring our history in a most accurate way.

Any comments you have about the need to donate to Kickstarter campaign (only 13 days left)?
I sincerely hope that some of my sentiments expressed here coupled with Mr. Beckner’s expertise will convince people that this would truly be an important and unparalleled production. Michael and his team have been so transparent as to the components of this series, and how very much To Appomattox, OUR STORY, needs all of us to keep it moving forward. One last thing I’d like to say is that at first I was a little nervous to tell my friends about this Kickstarter campaign. Not because I didn’t believe in this project with all my heart, but I was afraid they would immediately tune me out over any crowd-funding endeavor. I am happy to report that it has been easier than I ever thought to spark conversation. My friends want to be involved, and are happy to have the opportunity to pledge their support for this project that will honor our Country. I hope that everyone will get behind To Appomattox. They’ll be glad they did!

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Mary at Fort Sumpter (above)

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Mary at Ft. Sumpter (above)

NASCAR fans will be thrilled to learn we have Sprint Cup driver CARL EDWARDS and famed crew chief & now Fox Sports race commentator JEFF HAMMOND acting in this series. Country music fans will also be thrilled as RASCAL FLATTS are not only appearing in the series, they are composing the score and several songs for the series.

Click on www.ToAppomattox.com and support now!

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INTERVIEWS WITH INFLUENCERS: Award-winning Canadian filmmaker JOSEPH PROCOPIO

Back in the 80’s, I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, helping build the network of clubs across Canada and acting as agent for the amazing stable of stand-up comics represented by the YY-owned Funny Business Agency. One of those comedians was Frank Procopio, a handsome young Italian Canadian with a wry sense of humour and great writing chops. Skip ahead some 25yrs and I find myself again representing a Procopio, this time it’s Frank’s son, Joseph – a budding young filmmaker who starting making short films at age 9 and started winning international short film awards…at age 9!

Films By JPOver the past few years, I’ve watched Joseph grow as a writer, director and an excellent casting director, too – he seems to know instinctively which actors can bring his stories to life. Frank co-produces with him and after 12 short films, over 40 int’l film festival awards and being named one of Canada’s top under 25’s by Maclean’s Magazine in 2011, at age 19, Joseph is now working on his first two feature film scripts and is already in talks with leading LA industry professionals. I figured it was time I sit down for a chat with this uber talent.

Joseph Procopio, writer_director

Starting at such a young age, were you aware that it was not “normal” for 9yr olds to be writing and directing their own movies? I had no clue that what I was doing was not normal. I just grabbed a video camera, started putting together my own little stories and began editing them on Windows Movie Maker. Thanks to my parents, I had computers and video cameras around me my whole life; I just saw them as the tools with which to tell a story. Watching movies with my family on a weekly basis inspired me to want to try making ne of my own.

Were you ever bullied or teased by your classmates or friends? I was the class outcast because I was making films when the other kids were playing hockey or baseball. As a kid, I didn’t play as much sports as my friends – I was doing a lot of film work on my own instead playing team sports. I had a few good friends and I guess they were okay with it; thankfully they weren’t making fun of me because I saw life through a camera.

How did your parents come to understand your need to make films – were they supportive and encouraging? My dad was always talking to us about films, telling stories and everything just fell into place. My parents brought me to point where I knew how to tell a story and that was how they really supported me, apart from providing the equipment and acting as crew (and my mum’s “craft services” is the best!). I didn’t have to wait for film school to learn how to write a script, light a scene, or how to polish an edit. My family supported me from the beginning and helped make my dreams a reality.

When you received your very first accolades and awards, what was your first reaction (if you remember)? When I received my first award for my very first film “Nine Times Eight” at TIFF, it felt like I was as the Academy Awards. I couldn’t wait to go back home and start filming another story. It felt as if I really was part of show business.  I remember that night, when I got home, all I did was stare at that crystal award and I couldn’t believe that TIFF gave one to me.

Over the past 9 years, you have created some soulful, emotional shorts that were more mature in subject matter than your years. How would you explain your own capacity for “feeling” them, understanding them, then capturing these emotions on camera? All I was doing was filming exactly what I was feeling. For example, in my film “Drive” I was worried about my future and what would become of me, just like many teenagers do from time to time. And then when I started dating, what I felt after each breakup became my next film. I’ve continued to grab the camera to express how I felt and to get it out of my system.

While most young emerging filmmakers insist on making shoot ‘em up/bang-bang, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll movies, you have chosen to focus on story-driven and character rich scripts that you’ve written yourself – please explain your rationale behind this decision to go against the grain. All of my stories are rooted in the same emotions that I felt while I was growing up, for example: when I realized that I would be parting ways with a good friend who went away to university, I wanted to write about the possibility of meeting her again one day and what I would be feeling. That thought became the basis for “Sundae”. (see on-set stills below)

Still 1 Still 2 Still 3

Your latest and last short film, Sundae, has already captured a major award (Rhode Island Film Festival 2013) and is slated to be screened at many other int’l festivals and the upcoming TIFF Short Film Fest – do you feel that Sundae is the perfect final short film in your repertoire? Sundae was the largest of all my projects and I wanted to create a “calling-card” film that would deliver an original screenplay, performed by ACTRA talent, shot on professional camera systems and edited/coloured/mixed at Technicolor. I wanted to deliver Sundae so that the only difference between this short film and a feature film was the page length of the material.

As you now move on to writing your first feature film script, do you feel all the previous work done has prepared you for filmmaking on a grander scale?  My last four screenplays have allowed me to explore plot structure, character, and arc development which is now making the writing of my two feature screenplays much easier than I anticipated.  Lately, I’ve been feeling that I can’t contain the stories in only a few pages and feel ready for the long form so I can really get into my characters.

Do you currently have any interested parties for your feature script(s) and/or who are your “mentors” moving fwd in your career? I’m currently in talks with a noted Hollywood mentor and well-known filmmaker with whom I hope to work, and I should have an announcement early in 2014. So watch this space for news!

Joseph’s Fast-5 Q&A

Favourite film? Forrest Gump

Favourite director? Steven Spielberg

Favourite period or style of filmmaking? 1990’s  

Favourite actor/actress? Michael Caine

First purchase you plan to make once you hit that first big Hollywood payday? A bungalow on the Universal Studios back-lot. 

Keep up with Joseph’s career via his website www.josephprocopio.ca  and follow him on Facebook: ProcopioFilms

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PANORAM ITALIA MAGAZINE FEATURES AWARD-WINNING CANADIAN FILMMAKER JOSEPH PROCOPIO

2129-joseph-procopio-young-rising-talent-lensI’m thrilled to share this great article written by Rosanna Bonura for Panoram Italia magazine showcasing young Toronto-based filmmaker JOSEPH PROCOPIO [ www.josephprocopio.ca ]. With over 45 international film awards to his name, Joseph is currently writing feature film scripts and has just returned from LA where he met with leading agents and producers to discuss his next project.

Panoram Italia interview with Joseph Procopio

Watch this blog for my own interview with this multi-talented young director-writer-producer who’s creating such a buzz in the biz!

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Golden Bird Entertainment Plans $60M “MUMBAI MEDIA CITY”

I just received a media release from Golden Bird Entertainment regarding a fantastic new filmmakers’ facility in Mumbai and I thought I’d share it with those of you following my blog from South Asia:

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Golden Bird Entertainment announced at the Cannes Film Festival that they will soon commence operations of MUMBAI MEDIA CITY, India’s largest Studio, Broadcast, Media Asset Management (MAM), and Media School Facility in Kandivali, Mumbai.  This Hollywood-benchmarked facility is aimed to provide Indian and International Film and TV crews with Sound Stages, Equipment Hire and Post-production, VFX and Animation, Rehearsal and Preview Theatres, Make-up Rooms and Hotel Accommodation. The facility will also have an Auditorium for Local and Global events like Award Functions, Music Nights, and Corporate Events. Full details: http://www.goldenbirdentertainment.com/

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