Author Archives: Hiscock John


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HFPA Grants Banquet

Theo Kingma and Sofia Vergara

The HFPA gave away almost two million dollars to entertainment-related charities during a star-studded night of love, laughter and surprises at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

This year’s donations brought the amount given away by the HFPA over the last 20 years to $20 million—-and president Theo Kingma revealed to applause that another $7.5 million is available thanks to Guggenheim Partners, the new owners of dick clark productions, the HFPA’s Golden Globes producing partners.

” It underscores a new kind of partnership and we are going to make sure it is shared with those that are so deserving in an industry HFPA journalists cover all year,” said Kingma.

The evening featured a performance by actress Kristen Bell, who wowed the guests with the song, Wanna Build a Snowman from the hit movie Frozen.

Before the donations were announced Kingma, saying: “No star wants to hear silence,” called for a round of applause for Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall.

 The many celebrities who were there to accept the checks included Sofia Vergara, Nick Jonas, Jenny Slate, Andy Samberg, Channing Tatum, Kerry Washington, Rob Pattinson,  Minnie Driver, Morgan Freeman, Elle Fanning, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette,Logan Lerman, Jason Segal, Anne Heche, Franke Potenta, Chris Evans, Gena Rodriguez, Michael Pena, James Marsden and many more.

For the first time the grants were given at an evening banquet instead of at a lunch and marked the latest in ever-increasing amounts of money the organization has given to some 50 diverse entertainment-related and charitable organizations.

Kingma said: “We try every year to give as much as we can to these highly deserving organizations. It is gratifying to know that our efforts are appreciated and we are helping to further the cause of education and film preservation.”

As well as the preservation of film, the donations are for a wide range of projects, including higher education, training and mentoring and the promotion of cultural exchange through film.

Historically the Film Foundation has received the largest single donation and this year received $350,000. So far the HFPA has been responsible for the restoration of 85 films, from Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory to Federico Fellini’s La Strada and this year’s project, Sergio Leone‘s Fistful of Dollars. In a video message Martin Scorsese congratulated the HFPA on its “incredible contribution to cinema history.”

Morgan Freeman, accepting the check, thanked the HFPA for “a decade of support.”

Among its many additional charities, the HFPA provides scholarships, supports filmmaker training in Kenyan refugee camps and donates money to theater groups, musicians, storytellers’ foundations, film archives and youth projects, as well as many other worthy causes.

Watch the replay of the HFPA Grants Dinner Banquet

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The HFPA joins Hollywood and the rest of the world in mourning the death of Robin Williams, the beloved actor-comedian who was nominated eleven times for Golden Globes and won four, plus the Cecil B. De Mille Award for his contributions to the entertainment industry.

 Among all the tributes pouring in, here is one from a young fan, 12 year old Kaya Callahan, who spontaneously penned this heartfelt eulogy to Robin Williams for us – remembering him by her favorite movies:

Robin Williams

When you hear his name, the first thing that comes to my mind is  timeless’. In 25 years I could show my kids Aladdin and it would still be an amazing movie because without the genie there would be no Aladdin, it would just be this sad boy who had dreams that nobody cared about.

Mrs. Doubtfire: a movie that showed kids that family is the most important thing in life, and even if a family does break apart, love doesn’t end it just changes.

Jumanji: life is like a game, you can choose a card that will bring luck and happiness but you can also choose a card that will give you nothing but anger and sadness. It’s  all about your attitude when you play the game – whether it’s in the past or future, it’s your choice to decide the present and the future of your life.

And one of my favorite movies of his was Peter Pan. It’s about how everyone wishes to stay young and to not have time pass you by or even have the future cross your mind. All the lost boys just wanting to have fun and never growing up – which is the reason we all loved Mr. Williams’ real personality.

So when I think about it, all my favorite movies of his were about time. How in life there isn’t a redo or start over button. Or how people die and how another life is given. The one thing people wish they had more of is time. Time to talk, sleep, to be with someone, to love, and to live life. And when we make mistakes we can’t go back, we have to fix them in the present so that the future will be better. So we should live everyday like it’s our last, because we don’t have time to regret, only to remember. So sad to me that he made so many people happy but couldn’t make himself happy. Robin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Genie, and Peter, we will miss you but never forget you. You will always be in our hearts and memories.

Follow Kaya on twitter: @kayacallahan

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The HFPA is to give away almost $2 million at a star-studded donations banquet on Thursday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.HFPAsite728x90BannerSurprise guests will join the many celebrities in accepting the donations on behalf of various charities. Celebrities who will be attending include Andy Samberg, Kerry Washington, Rob Pattinson, Sofia Vergara, Morgan Freeman, Elle Fanning, Patricia Arquette, Anne Heche, Franka Potente, Chris Evans, and James Marsden.

This year’s donations bring the amount given away by the HFPA over the last 20 years to $20 million and mark the latest in ever-increasing amounts of money the organization has given to some 50 diverse entertainment-related and charitable organizations.  For the first time the checks will be handed out at an evening banquet instead of at a lunch.

HFPA president Theo Kingma, said:We try every year to give as much as we can to these highly deserving organizations. It is gratifying to know that our efforts are appreciated and we are helping to further the cause of education and film preservation.”

As well as the preservation of film, the donations are for a wide range of projects, including higher education, training and mentoring and the promotion of cultural exchange through film.

Historically the Film Foundation has received the largest single donation and this year receives $35,000. So far the HFPA has been responsible for the restoration of more than 80 films.  Among its many additional charities the HFPA
provides scholarships, supports filmmaker training in Kenyan refugee camps and donates money to theater groups, musicians, storytellers’ foundations, film archives and youth projects, as well as many other worthy causes.

Founded in the 1940s during World War II, the HFPA was originally comprised of a handful of LA based overseas journalists who sought to bridge the international community with Hollywood, and to provide distraction from the hardships of war through film.  Seventy years later, members of the HFPA represent 55 countries with a combined readership of 250 million in some of the world’s most respected publications.  Each year, the organization holds the third most watched awards show on television, the Golden Globe Awards, which have enabled the organization to donate almost $20 million to entertainment related charities and scholarship programs.

The next Golden Globe awards will be held on January 11 2015.

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Marky Ramone, the last surviving member of the seminal ’70s punk band the Ramones stopped by to talk with the HFPA about thramonee band’s turbulent times and the deaths of his four bandmates, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone.

“They were basically my best friends and bandmates and you never really get over it. It’s a curse,” he said.

His visit was part of the HFPA’s rapidly expanding Round Table series of interviews.

Marky, who joined the band in 1978 as a replacement drummer for Tommy, was fired in 1983,  rejoined the band in 1987 and stayed with them until they disbanded in 1996.

None of the Ramones were related and he said they chose the name because Dee Dee heard that Paul McCartney used to call himself Paul Ramone when he booked into hotel rooms because he thought it sounded exotic.

“Dee Dee found out about that and then used the name too. And that’s how the Ramones came about.”

Marky did 1700 shows with the Ramones, recorded ten studio albums and, he said, laughing, “I was on the Simpsons, which was the most important thing.” He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Marky, who gave up drinking 30 years ago, still tours the world with his band doing some 90 shows a year.


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Kingma (left) and Boehly

The recent settlement of the legal dispute between the HFPA and dick clark productions, which produces the Golden Globes show, was  celebrated at a reception thrown by Guggenheim, the new owners of dcp, at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Todd Boehly, president of Guggenheim Partners, which also owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hollywood Reporter and Billboard magazine among other assets, presented HFPA president Theo Kingma with Dodger star Yasiel Puig ‘s autographed team shirt, saying: “We are excited to be your partner.”

He described Guggenheim’s acquisition of dcp and the production of the Golden Globes as “a passion project” and told HFPA members: “What you guys have created is extremely unique. There are very few things that rise above the noise out there today and this is one of those things.”

Theo Kingma in turn presented Boehly with a commemorative plaque and looked forward to an exciting future in collaboration with Guggenheim.

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Angelina Jolie gave HFPA members a sneak peek at her angelina jolie unbrokenlatest film, Unbroken, the incredible story of former Olympic track star Lou Zamperini, although she is still editing it and it is not due to be released until Christmas.

After screening an eight-minute clip at Universal Studios, the actress answered questions about directing the movie and about Zamperini, whose plane was shot down in the Pacific during World War 11. He survived without food and water for 47 days until washing up on a Japanese island where he was taken prison and tortured for two years. Zamperini died on July 2, but not before Angelina had shown him a rough cut of the film on her laptop while he was in hospital.

“He was a mentor and a friend and a father to all of us,” she said. “He was a great man. They say you should never meet your heroes but I met mine and he was extraordinary.”

A film of Zamperini’s life story has been in the works since the late 1950s when Universal bought the rights to his book. Tony Curtis was originally due to star in it and then, much later, Nicolas Cage and, later still Ashton Kutcher were mentioned.

But it was not until Angelina Jolie came across the story and wanted to direct it that the project finally got under way with the relatively unknown British actor Jack O’Connell in the starring role.





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 The HFPA joined 130,000 fans, freaks and geeks at the frenzied, carnival-like atmosphere of Comic-Con in San Diego.
photo 1-3
While the hardcore nerds and geeks were there to celebrate superheroes and science fiction, and Hollywood studios were promoting their upcoming geek-friendly fare, HFPA members mingled with the stars at interviews, press conferences and panels in the giant convention hall.

photo 3-1Thousands of fans got into the spirit of the event by dressing as zombies, vampires, assorted monsters and, of course, superheroes. Batmen were particularly popular this year because the Caped Crusader turns 75 and Batman fans jammed into the hall for panels full of Batman artists, writers and DC Comics executives. Adam West, who played Batman in the campy 60′s TV series was also there along with his Robin, Burt Ward and Catwoman Julie Newmar.

photo 5-1The Comic-Con lineup is bulging with big names—actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe are there for the first time along with Peter Jackson and some of the cast of the last of his Hobbit trilogy, and the casts of some of the most popular series on television, including Game of Thrones, The Vampire Dioaries and The Walking Dead.

Among the other stars the HFPA interviewed were Colin Firth, there for the Woody Allen movie Magic in the Moonlight and Kingsman: The Secret Service, Wesley Snipes and Dolph Lundren, for Expendables 3 and the casts of the TV series Outlander and Under the Dome.


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SAM ASI reports on how China is beating the U.S. at the box office. 

transformers China is on the path to take the lead from the US in the box office.

Since its release 4 weeks ago, Transformers: Age of Extinction, has racked up over $850 million in the global box office, breaking the record in China where it grossed over $280 million – $65 million more than in the US, where it drew $215 million.

This is not the first time that the Chinese box office has beaten the North American one. Last year, The People’s Republic saved sci-fi Pacific Rim, which had cost $190 million to make, from a certain commercial failure, infusing its coffers with a much needed $111 million, after it had eked out only $101 million Stateside. Impressed by the movie’s triumph at the Chinese box office, Warner Bros, the producing studio, decided to make a sequel, with production due to commence next year. Evidently, the potential commercial success of a project in China and other foreign markets is increasingly becoming the impetus to greenlight it in Hollywood, regardless of its projected performance in the US market.

Indeed, in the last few years, international markets have surpassed the North American market, making up over 70% of the total global box office gross, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Consequently, this commercial reversal has precipitated a fundamental change in the movie-making business in Hollywood. In the past, studio bosses relied on their gut feelings and the feedback of their development departments to greenlight a project. Recently, however, development executives have ceded their power and influence to the  international marketing and publicity departments, who have taken center stage in greenlighting a project, based, not on its creative or artistic merit, but on its potential commercial profitability in major international markets, such as China, Russia, Latin America and the rest of Asia.

This shift has led to a surge in production of big-budget, special-effects driven blockbusters, that are filled with superheroes and waring monsters, and to a palpable decline in making dramas and comedies, prompting cinema critics and filmmakers to charge Hollywood with dumbing the masses with its superficial and inane movies that lack substance and artistic integrity. pacific rim  The problem, Hollywood executives say, is that dramas and comedies rely heavily on dialogue, which doesn’t translate well in non-English speaking markets, hence their feeble box office performance often fails to cover their production cost. In contrast, the stories of the big blockbusters are told with extravagant action and digital effects, which transcend the boundaries of language, nationality and culture. In its pursuit of luring the the broadest audience overseas, Hollywood also endeavors to feature foreign characters, played by international actors.

Hence, these days, we often see Chinese, Indian, Russian and other Asian characters in major roles that don’t conform to the negative stereotypes of the past, when the good guys were invariably white and foreigners filled in for the bad guys. In fact, Hollywood has become so sensitive to Chinese sentiment that it doesn’t dare show Chinese characters in negative light and responds swiftly to Chinese concerns, even if that entails changing the film’s story. Last year, the antagonists in Red Dawn were digitally altered from Chinese to Northern Korean following a protest in the Chinese media. In addition, blockbusters are increasingly being speckled with further Chinese elements, such as merchandise and story subplots, even when they are completely irrelevant to the movie, in order to pique the interest of the Chinese audience. Last year,  a Chinese space station was featured in the Oscar-winning Gravity.

And the Chinese version of Iron Man 3 received an extra subplot featuring a Chinese doctor treating Iron Man with acupuncture. Needless to say, both films swept the box office there. Speaking at San Francisco International Film Festival last year, director Steven Soderbergh argued that Hollywood was not making cinema anymore but producing commercial movies for public consumption, because “cinema is a specificity of vision, and isn’t made by a committee, by a company or by the audience. Granted, but one should not overlook the positives in this new development, because it’s evident that Hollywood is no longer a centre for promoting the virtues of the white American and vilifying everybody else, but rather has become an international hub where all nations, races and cultures are respectfully and fairly presented and where negative stereotypes of the “others” are fading away, thanks to the producers’ efforts to study and understand the cultures featured in their movies before they embark on making them, lest they hurt anyone’s feelings and consequently lose their box office tickets. Hence one could counter-argue that Hollywood is actually being enlightened rather than dumbed down.

In spite of these noble efforts, Hollywood is still struggling to penetrate a fiercely protectionist market such as China, which often takes steps to safeguard its local productions by the permitting only 32 foreign movies to be exhibited there in one year and by giving them unpalatable release slots. Hence Hollywood studios have resorted to forming partnerships with local companies and filming in China itself, as the director of Transformers, Michael Bay, did, shooting parts of the picture in Hong Kong, casting Chinese star Li Bingbing in a key role and partnering with the country’s largest distributor and film promoter, China Movie Media Group. One studio, DreamWorks animation, was able to pave its way into the Chinese market, thanks to its business savvy and politically-connected chairman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who announced three months ago the opening of DreamWorks Oriental in Shanghai. Having been monitoring the explosion of the Chinese market in the last decade, Katzenberg is confident that it will overtake the US market in the very near future. “It’s obvious,” he enthuses. “They have $1.5 billion consumers, which is $1.2 billion more than the US, so you can’t take these figures lightly. Of course, we want to be there. The Chinese people love Hollywood movies and we will cater to their need.”

In fact, there is a broad agreement in Hollywood that China will take the lead in the global market within less than 5 years, which should not be a surprise, considering that 13 cinemas are being opened every day there. Hence, it’s not inconceivable that we could see a Chinese superhero in a Hollywood blockbusters in the near future.

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James Garner, who shot to fame in the 1950s as the charming and dry-witted gambler on the hit TV western Maverick and  earned 12 Golden Globe nominations, winning three times, died at his home aged 86.

The Oklahoma-born Garner, who also starred in the long-running TV series The Rockford Files, amassed more than 80 movie and TV-movie credits during his 50-year career.

His Golden Globe wins were for Best Promising Newcomer in 1958, Best Actor in a TV movie for Decoration Day in 1991 and Barbarians at the Gate in 1994.

Garner, who lived in Los Angeles, underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in 1988 and suffered a stroke in 2008. He had been in poor health for some time.

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