Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Friday, December 30, 2005
Steve edges toward being more political
December 30, 2005
Leap Second Lovers are Traitors Says Bill O’Reilly
"This year’s leap second is an assault on the American public," says commentator Bill O’Reilly. "The reason the leap second is even being proposed is because of America Haters, because of Iraqi hate mongers, and let’s be honest, Shiites. Why would you add a second to the year unless you’re an anti-American hate monger?
I remember liberals at a party saying, ‘let’s add a second to the year’ and I was the only one who spoke up against it. Why would they want to add a second to the year? Because it gives them a second longer to hate Bush.
“Look, look, look, look. A leap second is a denial of everything American, of everything good, of everything moral. They’re saying we need this seconds because the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the earth, well this is the no spin zone. So we don’t need a leap second. Though I would rather have a leap second than some of these hate-mongers who go around hating even their own ideas! They need to hate their own ideas so much that you have many liberals proposing the leap second, which is an idea that they hate, yet, they propose.
“I am so so so so upset with these people, who actually believe their ideas, yet, I have no hate in my heart. I am a simple guy, who only has my own true beliefs and a few products that are my cornerstone to fight against the leap second poobah. Let me say it aloud: Leap Second, leap second, leap second. Doesn’t it sound ugly?
“Please, don’t let these Darwinian leap-seconders, who believe that the planets revolve around the sun, who believe that rocks are sedimentary, igneous and stalactites, who are innocent dim-wit believers in a faith bordering on hating everything religious like trees and fruitcake, yet, who don’t believe in John 7:12:45:67:89, have their say.
“But you know what I love? Dialogue. Rational dialogue which allows me to say that aliens from a Iraqi loving planet want to abolish Christmas by adding a leap second to the Darwinian anti-God year. Dialogue is what keeps the American system God-loving and anti non-God. It also keeps the anti-God loving non-Iraqi loving insurgent deniers able to voice their hideous so-called opinions over the American loving tolerant airways. And now let’s take some calls.”
found by the very up to the minute KMT. You can read comments to the article at the Huffington site.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
What did you buy, Steve?
Greed on Wall Street
The Rise and Fall of Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski
Former Tyco International CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski
By BRIAN ROSS, ABC News
Nov. 11, 2005 — This fall's art season brought a gathering of multimillionaires to New York's famed auction houses, where connoisseurs competed for the latest must-have works of art.
"It's a big night for money," the actor Steve Martin said as he mixed into the crowd heading into Christie's at Rockefeller Center for the evening's auction of postwar and contemporary art.
The bidding was fast and furious, with works by Warhol, DeKooning and Lichtenstein changing hands for tens of millions of dollars.
"It's amazing. It's like grand opera. You have egos fighting other egos," said Brett Gorvy, international co-head of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Collection for Christie's in New York.
The night's star was Homage to Matisse by Mark Rothko, which set a new record when it sold for $22.4 million.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Six reviews of Cheaper By the Dozen 2
Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
ARTS; Pg. C9
Cheap gags wear thin
Vanessa Farquharson, CanWest News Service
Rating: 2 1/2
- - -
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 begins with a pair of legs -- belonging to Steve Martin, it turns out -- stepping out of a station wagon in a pair of pants that are clearly too short, as though his tailor simply ran out of material.
It's a fitting metaphor for this sequel, which runs out of material in the first few minutes but keeps going anyway. Identical to its predecessor, but with the pleasant addition of Eugene Levy along with arguably even cheaper gags, the film follows the Brady Bunch -- or at least its contemporary incarnation, the Baker family -- as a family trip to the cottage spirals into comic disaster.
Much of the zany antics result from the competitive streaks of Tom (Martin) and his arch rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Levy), who owns the sprawling estate across the lake, which includes a dining table courtesy of the King of Thailand and a trophy room bursting with awards won by his kids who are over-achievers and therefore sad inside.
Jimmy and Tom spend the entire film trying to one-up the other, whether it's who sings a better campfire song or whose children are better behaved. Of course the Bakers, who specialize in cartoonish heights of wackiness, have some catching up to do when it comes to clam-bake etiquette and book smarts.
Director Adam Shankman, of The Pacifier and Bringing Down the House fame, has until recently specialized in choreography. If he'd thrown in a dance number here, other than a schmaltzy slow dance on the dock, it might have been improved.
But unfortunately all the other dancing is around issues of self-esteem and parental anxiety. In the end, we don't get much of a lesson about either, other than the old we-have-to-let-go-of-the-kids-at-some-point one, footnoted with a Kodak moment roasting marshmallows at dusk.
There is some good humour in the dialogue, at least, especially between the two wives. During one scene, Jimmy's fourth wife -- whose ambiguous trophy status is played to a tee by Carmen Electra -- exclaims to Mrs. Baker (Bonnie Hunt), "Kudos! That's my word of the day," to which she deadpans, "Oh ... fun ... it's fun to have a word."
Levy also brings a nice, vague sobriety to his role as the grooming dad who'd probably kill for one of those "My kid and my money go to Harvard" T-shirts. This, coupled with the cottage jokes, that will surely get a chortle or two from most Canadian audiences (also, note the Hudson's Bay blanket in one scene), give the film some charm.
But don't think Cheaper doesn't resort to the crassness of having elderly people in wheelchairs get inadvertently pushed into the lake -- twice -- or slapstick that's clinically dead (ie. malfunctioning plumbing, overturned dinner tables, watersports gone wrong, dogs attacking crotches, etc). And then there's the over-protective but loving dad character, who may be a bumbling fool but, when push comes to shove, proves he can be responsible.
Such is the stereotype played by Steve Martin, who's laid claim to it since Parenthood and both Father of the Brides. After seeing him take such a challenging, personal turn in Shopgirl, it's all the more depressing watching this veteran actor schlep through yet another dad role. Even his trademark wistful grin seems to have become more of a grimace, his enthusiasm as unbridled as a work horse.
The kids, at least, seem to be enjoying themselves, and Sarah (Alyson Stoner), who's at the centre of all the action, provides the most realistic depiction of early adolescence, from stealing makeup to the forced nonchalance of a first date.
But Hilary Duff, back as Lorraine, looks a little hungry around the eyes; she just doesn't seem comfortable in a supporting role where her only lines revolve around her not-yet-dad-approved internship at Allure magazine and the benefits of lip gloss.
What this film needs is a hint of the unexpected -- every ounce of humour has been coloured so far within the lines, it doesn't approach even the remotest edge of spontaneity.
The few gems it has drown in a sea of '50s-era slapstick, where the idealism is so pervasive that a lower-back tattoo, of a butterfly at that, leads a parent to contemplate disowning his child. Those who are truly jonesing for A Very Brady Christmas or who savour that syrupy sweet aftertaste of eggnog in the morning may derive some satisfaction from Cheaper 2.
But for the discerning filmgoer, it might cause a slight, family-friendly hangover.
The Toronto Sun
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
ENTERTAINMENT; Pg. 85
A HALF-DOZEN LAUGHS
By all accounts, it wasn't that funny the first time.
But Hollywood loves a moneymaker, and the first Cheaper By The Dozen in 2003 -- actually an updated remake of the 1970 film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy parently raked in about $190 million at the box office.
So Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt are back, reviving their roles as superbreeders Tom and Kate Baker in Cheaper By The Dozen 2, shot in and around Toronto earlier this summer.
This time, however, the couple's 12 children are either growing up too fast or leaving home. The oldest pregnant daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) is moving to Houston with her annoying husband (Jonathan Bennett), who is prone to feeding her organic food or reading to their unborn child when he isn't on his cellphone, while humourless second-eldest daughter Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is going to study fashion in New York City.
The Bakers' empty nest syndrome leads them to organize one last family summer vacation trip together at a beloved cabin on Lake Winnetka, Wisconsin.
But once the brood arrives, reality sets in as their rustic, paint-peeling cabin with a falling-apart dock clearly isn't what it once was. Its dilapidated state is only reinforced by the palatial estate across the lake called The Boulders.
Living inside the ridiculously large compound are obnoxious developer Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy), his much-younger fourth wife Sarina (Carmen Electra) and his well-educated, over-achieving eight children, who he forces to read and write for two hours every day.
The well-organized Murtaugh clan is in stark contrast to the Baker's dozen, who spend their first minutes inside their cabin chasing a rat they've nicknamed The Chiseler.
Turns out too, that Martin and Levy are childhood rivals, which only fuels the long-standing family competition on the lake known as the Labour Day Cup.
Unfortunately, this family comedy doesn't live up to its promising premise due to an unfunny script by Sam Harper, whose credits include the first Cheaper movie and Just Married, and sloppy direction from Adam Shankman, who helmed the Martin/Levy comedy Bringing Down The House.
It seems like Shankman lost control of Martin and Levy, who are normally two of the most consistently funny men on screen.
Only Hunt manages to keep her dignity intact, and some of the younger children provide much needed comic relief, whether they're setting off fireworks at the Murtaugh's stuffy private club, or following a trail of animal droppings.
"Cool, we get to follow the poo!" exclaims one of the Baker's mischievous twin boys (played by Shane and Brent Kinsman).
That sounds more exciting than this movie.
Kids in the 8-12 range will probably enjoy the slapstick comedy but Steve Martin and Eugene Levy's pratfalls grow tiresome pretty quickly for the teenaged set and older. However, Bonnie Hunt is good in every scene she's in.
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2
1 hour, 34 minutes
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy
Director: Adam Shankman
PLOT: Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt return as the parents of a dozen children in this sequel to their 2003 box office hit. This time the couple take their brood for one last summer vacation at a lakeside cabin where Martin attempts to compete with Eugene Levy and his over-achieving, well-heeled clan.
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (California)
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
DAILY DATEBOOK; Pg. E1
Dad is wild and crazy and the kids are cute. Sound familiar? It's Part Deux of 'Dozen.'
Peter Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic
RATING: (SNOOZING VIEWER)
Cheaper by the Dozen 2: Comedy. Starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy and Tom Welling. Directed by Adam Shankman. (PG. 100 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
Steve Martin is kind of like your uncle who still gets to play quarterback during the holiday family football game, even though he hasn't thrown a touchdown since 1992. His attempts at broad physical comedy have become so weak and predictable in recent years that it's getting harder to remember how funny he was in "The Jerk" and on "Saturday Night Live."
"Cheaper by the Dozen 2" follows a similar path as the first movie, with 12 kids committing a series of criminal misdemeanors right up until the touching everyone-learns-a-big-lesson ending. Martin is the main foil for the brood's precocious violence, but there are some completely innocent victims as well. Rush out and see this film if you think the only thing funnier than a guy in a wheelchair getting knocked into a lake is a guy in a wheelchair getting knocked into a lake twice.
Martin and Bonnie Hunt are Tom and Kate Baker, whose superhuman fertility has strapped them with a dozen unruly kids, each with a distinct stereotype that roughly mirrors one of the youngsters in the original "Bad News Bears" --
the smart kid with glasses, the tomboy, the fat funny kid ...
A series of forgettable events sends everyone to a creaky cabin by a lake, where Tom becomes crazy with competitive spirit after running into a now-successful high school rival whose kids appear to be perfect. Eugene Levy shows up in this role, if for no other reason than he was about to lose the lead in his competition with Ben Affleck to see who can appear in more bad movies in the 21st century. ("Cheaper 2" makes the score Levy 15, Affleck 14.)
"Cheaper by the Dozen 2" is less a movie than random scenes from "The Brady Bunch" re-created by better actors and strung together to feature-film length. First dates are planned and then ruined, cherished possessions are lost and then found, and a dog knocks over a table filled with food. Davy Jones doesn't show up to take one of the kids to the prom, but it will almost certainly be a deleted scene on the DVD.
There are a few amusing moments mixed in with the painful ones, and Carmen Electra of all people, adds some needed originality by playing a brain-dead trophy wife who has a pretty good heart. But the addition of nearly a dozen new characters -- Levy's movie family is huge as well -- only makes the plots and subplots and sub-subplots that much harder to cram into the 100-minute movie.
Hunt once again tries her hardest in a losing cinematic cause, maintaining her dignity even though she's the voice of reason and thus has all the worst lines -- most of which are sapped up even further in a sea of string instruments from the manipulative musical score. "The tighter you hang on," Kate tells Tom, right before the violas kick into overdrive, "the more they're going to pull away."
The movie ends as you'd expect -- with two events that are foreshadowed in the first scene. (Spoiler in the next sentence!) Come to think of it, the idea to wrap everything up with a sappy final birthing scene was foreshadowed more than a decade ago in "Parenthood," "Father of the Bride II" and one or two other Martin movies I'm probably forgetting.
It's likely Martin suffers through the indignities of "Cheaper by the Dozen" films so he can more easily afford smaller, more personal projects such as "Shopgirl" and the forthcoming "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," where, if I remember Martin's theater production correctly, nobody's kids set off a backpack full of fireworks in a country club the way they do in "Cheaper 2."
But it seems like a big risk. Buddy Ebsen did some smaller films, too, and everyone still remembers him as Jed Clampett.
-- Advisory: This film contains comic violence and criminal mischief. Hilary Duff and Piper "Coyote Ugly" Perabo both appear in this movie -- normally a sign of the apocalypse, but not too horrible here, since they barely have any lines and neither one sings.
The Boston Globe
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
ARTS / ENTERTAINMENT; Pg. D4
SEQUEL IS A CHEAPER IMITATION
BY TY BURR, GLOBE STAFF
Noisy, silly, gratingly upbeat, and piously sentimental, "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" is what passes for wholesome family entertainment these days. It's the sort of movie to send small children and grandparents out of the theater hugging each other and strong men in search of bourbon.
Any resemblance to the original 1948 bestseller "Cheaper by the Dozen" and the ensuing 1950 movie has long been obliterated by the needs of the marketplace: The DVD player in your den is hungry, and this movie means to feed it. So we get more of what made 2003's "Cheaper" remake an across-the-board hit: Steve Martin with his frontal lobes removed as football coach Tom Baker, Bonnie Hunt as his loving, no-nonsense wife Kate, and a sprawling brood of kids with varying degrees of attitude.
They're beginning to grow up and pull away, though, a natural process that fills Tom with panic. Oldest daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) and her husband (Jonathan Bennett) are expecting their first child, while son Charlie (Tom Welling) yearns to strike out on his own and graduating daughter Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is off to New York for a magazine internship.
In a last-ditch effort to keep the clan together, Tom rents the Wisconsin lakefront cabin at which the family once spent their summers. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be: The place is a dump, the local pack rat is more brazen than ever, and Tom's high school rival now lives across the lake with his eight children in a McMansion the size of a retirement complex.
Said rival, Jimmy Murtaugh, is played by Eugene Levy as a gloating nudnick whose tan appears to have been applied with a putty knife. Jimmy's on his third wife (Carmen Electra; the script can't decide whether she's a sensitive soul or a jiggly bimbo) and he's a taskmaster with his kids, making them spend two hours a day reading and writing.
One of Tom's brood dismisses this as "lame," but it doesn't sound that terrible to me it's a lot closer, ironically, to how efficiency expert Frank Bunker Gilbreth treated his children in the original "Cheaper by the Dozen." Kate delivers the movie's countervailing philosophy when she tells her husband, "We give our kids love and guidance. What else is there?" Those who might offer suggestions "culture," "individual attention," "tax-free municipal bonds" are obviously subversives.
Still, "Cheaper" rolls along on well-greased wheels. The burden of the plot's little dramas falls on the younger kids, in particular Alyson Stoner as tomboy tweener Sarah. Conceiving a crush on daredevil Eliot Murtaugh (Taylor Lautner from "The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D"), Sarah gets mopey and starts fiddling with make-up. Mom tells her "when you like a boy, don't be anything but yourself," but then the family offers her up on a first date with a full makeover, another of the movie's weird mixed messages. Elsewhere, there's a rote romance between Charlie and the oldest Murtaugh girl (Jaime King), while Duff just looks like she'd rather be in a different movie she's angry and haggard here, not at all pleasant company.
The burden of slapstick falls on Martin, of course, and those of us who treasure the goofball intellectual wit of the comedian's early career may watch in dismay as Tom takes water-ski pratfalls and suffers random crotch injuries, never ceasing to grin a well-paid, defanged grin.
Your kids will laugh hell, my kids will laugh but speaking as a father, I have to say Tom Baker is one idiot patriarch too many. We're saddled with the cliche dumb daddy in ads, TV sitcoms, comic strips, but a neutered Steve Martin is the last straw. I therefore announce the founding of a new anti-defamation organization, Fathers United against Dopey Dads or F.U.D.D. and call for volunteers and greater media awareness of this slanderous stereotype. A dad is a terrible thing to waste, and "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" is one vast, cheery wasteland.
Los Angeles Times
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
CALENDAR; Calendar Desk; Part E; Pg. 3
REVIEW; There's no need to settle for the 'Cheaper' laughs;
Sympathetic characters and deft acting give this comedy sequel about a large family appeal.
Kevin Thomas, Times Staff Writer
"Cheaper by the Dozen 2" proves that less is more -- in comparison to the dismal "Yours, Mine & Ours" remake -- that the occasional comic calamity works better than nonstop chaos and allows for a family comedy that is actually involving, even believable, and manages to be pretty funny too.
Directed perceptively and energetically by Adam Shankman, this sequel to the 2003 hit is as shiny as a Christmas tree ornament yet gives full rein to Steve Martin's warm but sophisticated, richly nuanced talent and shows to advantage a large cast featuring Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy and Carmen Electra.
Sam Harper's clever script turns upon a universal tug, which is the reluctance of parents to let their kids go. Faced with the news that pregnant daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) and her husband (Jonathan Bennett) will be moving to Houston and that daughter Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is off to New York, Martin's Tom Baker decides the family should have one last vacation together, at their beloved Lake Winnetka, Wis.
The Bakers' 12 kids are reluctant, but Dad, with a nudge from Mom (Hunt), persuades them to agree to the plan. Clearly, the Bakers, based in the Chicago area, haven't vacationed there for some years, and the remorseless course of change that gives this comedy its shading hits home when they're faced with the ramshackle condition of the place they so enjoyed in the past. Tom rallies the troops, but a more daunting prospect looms across the lake: a lavish log palace, only slightly smaller than Old Faithful Inn, constructed by Tom's lifelong rival, Jimmy Murtaugh (Levy), who has but eight children, about a zillion bucks, a gorgeous third wife (Electra) and who now owns almost the entire resort community.
Murtaugh's strict discipline has resulted in offspring who excel at everything but experience feelings of mounting rebellion toward their obnoxious martinet father. Since childhood Jimmy has been jealous of Tom for his popularity, especially with girls, and, to be sure, this ancient rivalry will flare up, but not before the Baker and Murtaugh children get to know and like each other.
To his credit, Shankman smoothly forges a cast of some 25 principals to form an engaging ensemble with the focus on Martin and Levy's deft sparring. Hunt is graciously understated as a wise wife and mother, but what helps lift the film above the usual is the way in which Electra's Sarina is written and played. Despite her spectacular looks, Sarina refuses to be a mere trophy wife, wishes her husband would grow up, wants genuinely to be a good stepmother and asks Hunt's Kate for advice. Electra is delightful: She helps humanize Levy's overbearing Jimmy and thereby gives the film an unexpected dimension.
Many families are likely to find "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" a holiday treat.
The Vancouver Province (British Columbia)
December 21, 2005 Wednesday
E-TODAZ; Pg. B2
Cheaper 2 cheap on laughs: He's selling out to half-hearted comedy remakes
Roger Moore, The Orlando Sentinel
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2
Warning: G. 94 minutes.
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is perfectly acceptable shmaltz, another movie ode to permissive parenting and inadequate birth control. So, if you didn't get your "the more the merrier" jollies with the remake of Yours, Mine & Ours, here's a sequel to the last Dozen.
But two Dozens and Ours together don't have a dozen laughs between them.
Shopgirl proved that Steve Martin doesn't want to spend his dotage remaking the John Candy-movie catalogue. But that's pretty much what comedy's reigning sellout is doing. He's Father of the Bride to Father of the Brood.
That's what Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is, another half-hearted ka-ching family "comedy" about the dozen-kid Baker family of upstate Illinois. Martin reunites with his first Dozen and Bringing Down the House director, ex-choreographer Adam Shankman, and a teeming mass of kids for a Labour Day trip to the old family vacation rental. That's where Tom (Martin) can renew his rivalry with Jimmy Murtaugh, played by Eugene Levy, who at least gives Martin somebody with comic weight to battle.
The frugal Bakers and the wealthy Murtaughs mix it up. Mom (the ever-game Bonnie Hunt) tries to keep the peace. But she and the latest Mrs. Murtaugh (Carmen Electra, meeeeooow) are having no luck.
At least the kids are getting along -- almost too well. The oldest, Charlie Baker (Tom Welling of Smallville) and Anne Murtaugh (Jaime King), are batting eyes at one another. The Baker's tomboyish prankster, Sarah, played by the very winning Alyson Stoner, is discovering boys, a Murtaugh boy to be precise.
Yes, the Dozen are growing up. Nora (Piper Perabo) and her new hubby are expecting. As Tom puts it, "Life's blazing by." He's just an observer. Jimmy Murtaugh is his opposite, a control freak.
"Parenting comes down to one word, Tom. Push. You don't push, they don't amount to anything." His kids are over-achievers. The Bakers have other priorities.
Martin recycles all his Parenthood/Father of the Bride shtick, the funny dance, the goofy efforts to be "cool with the kids." His idea of daddyhood seems to be that clueless bachelor camp counsellor whose car we would stuff with pine needles every summer.
Teen idol Hilary Duff, back as the high-maintenance Baker girl, has moved into a particularly awkward-looking age. When she's old enough, she should sue her hairdresser on this one. She looks like a horse, a scary horse. With cleavage.
But she's still wearing less makeup than Martin.
Martin's longtime fans can only cling to the odd moment -- a hip-hop turn in Bringing Down the House, or the planned film of his funny play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
But there is further news to make us abandon all hope for him and the joker he once was. His Pink Panther remake is due in February.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Steve offers some new words on Shopgirl
December 16, 2005 Friday
SPECIAL REPORT 1: SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT: EYE ON THE OSCARS: BEST PICTURE; Pg. 5
EYE ON THE OSCARS: BEST PICTURE: Love's slings and arrows
Don't jump off that cliff, stop guzzling the Absinthe, and for heaven's sake, cut it out with that vituperative blogging. If you're suffering the aftereffects of a romance that, in rueful hindsight, seemed doomed from the start, do what the Elizabethans did: Go to your local theater.
For just as 16th-century brooders checked out William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" for a dose of shock empathy, so this year's moviegoers could discover their own romantic plights writ large on the silver screen. Two thousand-five was indeed Hollywood's year of the doomed romance.
Even summer behemoths like "The Interpreter" (he's an FBI agent; she's a guerrilla) and "Star Wars III" (she's the good queen, he's bad to the bone) didn't escape the specter of star-crossed attraction. By the time fall rolled around the theme pretty much took root with "The Constant Gardener," which centered around a withdrawn British diplomat, Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), and his wife Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a firebrand muckraker.
In "Gardener's" wake, love in the time of melancholia would surface again in "Shopgirl" and "Walk the Line," as well as the upcoming "Brokeback Mountain," "Match Point," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "The New World," in which a high-born Indian princess and a renegade English adventurer flirt with the notion of a harmonic convergence despite two cultures at cross purposes.
But love conquers all, at least when movie magic is cooking.
Blind leading the blind
The romantic comedy, "Shopgirl," written by Steve Martin from his own short novel, adopts a different stance. In place of thrills, we get a tonally minor-key realism, in which an affair between a middle-aged, wealthy entrepreneur, Ray Porter (Martin) and a young department-store clerk, Mirabelle (Claire Danes) stays casual for the guy, but gets serious for the girl. Again, sex opens the show.
"I often wonder about men or women who are searching for somebody," Martin says, "but until they meet that person what do they do in the meantime?"
In "Shopgirl," men, at least, go for what's out there.
"That was very important part of the story," the writer-star asserts. "He was on the prowl in a nice, gentle way. He set out to meet a girl that he fancies."
Ah, fancy. For years Hollywood has staged battles on the line between fancy and love. Ernst Lubitsch picnicked out in that dreamy "No Man's Land," even directing a masterpiece, "Heaven Can Wait" (1943), that plunged into the morality of each (as usual with Lubitsch's plunging, he --- and Don Ameche and Gene Tierney --- came back up smiling).
But however things may end, the course of a star-crossed love affair progresses with the blind leading the blind. Who is honest about their motives --- who even knows their motives? Interestingly, Martin leaves the door ajar when it comes to Porter's own attitudes. For a character he created and plays, he is only willing to hazard a guess --- a good guess, no doubt --- as to motives:
"I think that he always knew it was temporary and never went back on that belief."
Hence the melancholy that permeates "Shopgirl."
"The entire purpose of the story is to tell a romance that is doomed," Martin says coolly. "In many romantic comedies --- it's a solid tradition --- the couple falls in love, but you really don't know what happens next. 'Shopgirl' deals with what happens."
Monday, December 19, 2005
Steve Sponsors Corcoran Gallery show on Banjo
Los Angeles Times
December 11, 2005 Sunday
SUNDAY CALENDAR; Calendar Desk; Part E; Pg. 38
ARTS NOTES; He also plays sponsor
GATHER round, aspiring arts fundraisers, and test your mettle. On Saturday, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., unveiled "Picturing the Banjo," an exhibition running through early March that examines one
stringed instrument's role in culture and social history since enslaved West Africans brought the first banjo to North America.
The exhibition, which includes 72 artworks made over four centuries by artists including Thomas Hart Benton, Norman Rockwell and Betye Saar, was first organized by the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University.
So: If you were the Corcoran and looking for a banjo-loving, museum-friendly sponsor to help pay for the show's appearance in Washington, whom would you approach?
Exactly. The Corcoran won't say how much he gave, but the principal sponsor is the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation, founded by the actor-writer-
comedian who first hit it big 30 years ago with a stand-up act that included his picking a five-string banjo.
Steve on CBTD2
Steve doesn't seem to be doing much to promote the new movie. Here's some.
Daily Post (Liverpool)
December 16, 2005, Friday
NW Merseyside Edition
FEATURES; Pg. 7
If the jokes are fresh, everything will be fine;
Robin Walker talks to comedian Steve Martin about his upcoming films
STEVE MARTIN was once one of the most acclaimed comedians in America. A former stand-up comic, he managed to transfer his odd mix of dryness and zany humour to the big screen in classics like The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
But aside from the odd creative burst, like the wonderfully satirical Bowfinger six years ago, 60-year-old Steve seems to be sliding into a comfortable Hollywood late middle age.
Most of his more recent films have been commercial studio fare like Bringing Down The House and Cheaper By The Dozen. Now with Cheaper By The Dozen 2 he treads familiar territory on another easy sequel.
The first film, in which he and Bonnie Hunt played the parents of a brood of 12 kids, was a moderate box office hit in 2003.
This time when the Baker family go on holiday they find themselves in competition with a smaller family of a mere eight children.
Acting with kids is fun he says, but with no children of his own, Steve admits he doesn't have any experience of parenting 24 hours a day.
"The kids really want to do it, they're very normal and excited about everything," he enthuses.
While he doesn't think the films will influence parents to want a dozen kids he believes "it will remind parents and children of the value of their families".
He adds: "No matter what the joy is, families also are a lot of work. You see a movie like this and it gives you that little boost of love and confidence."
The whole comedy - the remake of a 40-year-old classic - revolves around the free-spirited chaos that a dozen modern kids would cause, despite the best efforts to rein them in.
As he says: "Chaos in the midst of chaos isn't funny. But chaos in the midst of order is."
"I always try to take it easy and just kind of kid with them a little," he says of his young co-stars. "I don't spend too much time with them."
Steve admits he's not one of those workaholic actors and when he's not acting he "loves to read or write and in the evening, have dinner with friends".
The upcoming film version of his novella Shopgirl sees the articulate and thoughtful comedian in a more substantive role, even though he didn't plan to star in it.
Shopgirl is a comedy-drama about a young woman, played by Claire Danes, who drifts into unlikely relationships. Steve initially wanted Tom Hanks toplay his character, a middle-aged man who buys his young lover gifts to make up for the fact he's kind of a jerk.
While he took ideas for the story from his own life, he says people shouldn't look for too many clues about what makes him tick.
"Everything is culled from every source, my life, other people's lives. I'm 60 and I've been having sex since I was 18 so there's a lot of stuff going on.
Steve, who has been romantically linked to a number of actresses since his divorce including Bernadette Peters, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Heche, says we can all relate to his Shopgirl character, a man who is having trouble loving someone.
"Who knows why someone is some way," he says. "We all know there are people like that. We meet them and are them."
The former 'wild and crazy guy' defends his more mainstream films. "I believe entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art. But if you set out to make art, you are an idiot."
He certainly has clout in Hollywood, which is why he's playing Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the remake of The Pink Panther, due out next year. His failed attempt at reprising another comedy classic, Phil Silver's Sgt Bilko in 1996 means he's on dangerous ground, but Steve is upbeat.
"I turned it down a couple of times," he says about resurrecting the role that Peter Sellers made his own.
"What changed my mind is I began working on the script and began coming up with jokes and gags that I liked. I think if the gags are fresh everything will be fine." p CHEAPER By The Dozen 2 opens on Boxing Day. Shopgirl opens on Friday, January 20
Monday, December 12, 2005
Steve interview for Australian opening of Shopgirl
GEELONG ADVERTISER (REGIONAL DAILY)
December 10, 2005 Saturday
BIG WEEKEND; Pg. 51
WHEN not in front of the camera, Steve Martin is at the typewriter coming up with film scripts, humourous essays published in prestigious magazines like The New Yorker, stage plays and books.
His latest film Shopgirl, the story of Mirabelle, a smart but emotionally fragile shop assistant (Claire Danes) romantically divided between Ray, a wealthy older man (played by Martin), and a sweet but unfocused slacker named Jeremy (Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman), is based on his first novel.
And even though Martin's skill as a writer was undisputed long before the book was published in 2001 he was still plagued with doubt during the process of putting it all down on paper.
"I started it and stopped in disappointment," Martin said about the creation of Shopgirl. "And then I picked it up again and liked it and kept going. I had gotten some negative feedback from someone I shouldn't have allowed to read it, because I was very nervous, you know. It was essentially my first prose work, and I was afraid of making a fool of myself."
Seems odd that someone of Martin's stature should be concerned about such things, especially given the course of his development as an artist over the years. "I always thought that writing for my comedy act was writing," he said.
"When I was in high school and college, I loved poetry. And I was very moved by certain poems and certain sentences. And then I became a comedian and a comedy writer and that was a whole other form. After I'd done my comedy act during the late Seventies, I started writing a screenplay for The Jerk. And that went on and I started writing more screenplays."
Martin's writing progressed to include his stage play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. "The play had more, let's say, thoughtful passages," he said. "And those thoughtful passages encouraged me to be able to write. For example, in [his short-story collection] Pure Drivel there are a few stories that are more thoughtful, and I have these thoughtful sentences. And those few sentences encouraged me to be able to write Shopgirl."
There's been much speculation about an autobiographical aspect to Shopgirl, with many reviewers striving to draw parallels between the charming but remote Ray Porter and Martin himself (who is known for shunning the spotlight). Martin sidesteps such claims.
"Everything is culled from every source: my life, other people's lives. There's a lot of stuff going on. So there's a lot of experience, whether it's my own or somebody else's," Martin said.
"I wanted this story to be about three people who are actually quite nice. In spite of that, they're still paying, even though everyone's trying to do their best in a way. The way it's written, first you explore Mirabelle and then you explore Jeremy and then you explore Ray Porter. They start interacting but there are chapters dedicated to who they are, especially Ray Porter.
"Now I absolutely knew what to say about Mirabelle. But when I got to Ray Porter, it was much harder. Being a man myself, I didn't know what was interesting. I knew what was interesting about being a woman. But being a man, I was like, 'Is that common knowledge?'"
When it came to bringing Shopgirl to the screen, Martin had another actor in mind for Ray - "The first person I asked was Tom Hanks," he said. "I thought he was really the perfect guy to play it" - before taking on the role himself. However, selecting Danes for the central role of Mirabelle was an easy decision.
"As soon as we had lunch, Claire didn't have to speak before we knew she was exactly right for it," Martin said. "Claire is naturally beautiful as opposed to unnaturally beautiful in Hollywood. She had a quiet solitude. There was something about the simplicity of Claire's performance that was amazing."
Simplicity would appear to be the key to telling the story of Shopgirl. "Basically, the book is about small moments and the movie is about small moments, which are the biggest," Martin said.
There's also a sweetly melancholy feel to the story, which leads one to wonder about Martin - whether he's the kind of funny person who's really crying on the inside.
He admits that he's not always on "the light side, but I am a happy person. You go through periods of your life where you're skewed more dark and you're skewed more light. Right now, I'm sort of dead in the middle."
Friday, December 02, 2005
Jason Schwartzman on Steve
This is not the whole interview.
Posted by Clint Morris on November 30, 2005 (Australia)
He’s one of todays most gifted and applauded actors; his ma is cinema’s Adrian Balboa, and in his relatively short acting career he’s has shared scenes with such luminaries as Shirley MacLaine, Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray and Al Pacino. It’s quite a surprise then to hear Jason Schwartzman was awe-struck when he first met Steve Martin, penner and co-star of his latest film "Shopgirl" says, CLINT MORRIS.
From the moment the 25-year-old actor was told he had to meet Steve Martin if he wanted in on the film version of the comic great’s book – about a young retail clerk named Mirabelle who has to decide between two men in her life, a rich older suitor (played by Martin) and a young dimish scruffier (Schwartzman) - Schwartzman said he was as panicky as a virgin on their wedding night. “There’s no way I’m going to meet Steve Martin and it’s going to go well”, he recollects. “Not because of him, because of me”.
Schwartzman, having grown up in the eighties, spent most of his weekends at the cinema watching movies, movies that usually always featured Steve Martin. He was the guy. “Because I was just a kid back then, I was only allowed to see comedies – he was in nearly all of them! He’s very much engrained in my human fabric. I just knew it was going to be hard for me to meet him. I get star struck normally, but this was Steve Martin! This was a whole other level of star struck.”
Schwartzman was hired for "Shopgirl" at the 11th hour, only after comedian Jimmy Fallon dropped out. “I had heard that, but I don’t know the truth about that”, Schwartzman, whose mother is Rocky and Godfather star Talia Shire, uncle is Francis Ford Coppola and cousin is Nicolas Cage, explains. “They probably all said ‘Don’t tell Jason about that’. All I know is that I was the last that was cast. Obviously Steve was onboard first, and I know Claire (Danes) had been involved it in for a long time too –and then I, somehow, got in there”.
The perceptibly modest actor says he was far from simply ‘offered’ the role though, he had test like everyone else did. “No, I’ve yet to really reach that stage yet”, he laughs. “I was shooting this movie called I Heart Huckabees and I got a call to say Steve Martin had adapted his novella Shopgirl into a film and that Claire Danes was in it and that Anand Tucker was directing it. They said they were going to send me the script. I freaked out because I had read the book and I’d loved it. So I said ‘What can I do to throw my name on the pile?’”
Schwartzman said Martin magnificently adapted the book into screenplay form, and he knew he wanted to be a part of it – regardless of how nervous he’d be meeting the silver-haired legend. “It was the truest way to adapt that book. Steve adapted the essence of it, not the plot. I don’t think he sat there with the book on his left and his computer on the right. He didn’t just copy the words from the book over to the computer screen, like ‘Now, I’ve got to write in the scene where they’re having coffee’, I think he just understood what the book was about and that’s how he did the movie. I so wanted in.”.
That meeting with Steve Martin went well, but the actor says it’s not because he still didn’t “go to shit” - He did. “I just sat down on the couch and was like ‘Three Amigos’ is just perfectly incredible!” he laughs. “For like half-an-hour I was gushing. I was confident that I had lost any chance I might have ever had of being in the movie. Somehow – I got it”.
Martin, says Schwartzman, isn’t the ‘wild and crazy’ guy we all know him best for either. “He’s not like a wild and crazy guy. He’s a man on a quest for art and beauty and information. Every conversation I have ever had with him has been about music or movies or about books. I have to have my Franklin word speller in my pocket when I talk to him though – because he uses words that I have never even heard before. But every time I leave him, I feel totally inspired. He’s an inspiring man. He’s one of the few people around that have an undying love for art”.