Silver: I’ve come back around on Ron Howard. For me, the hyperbolic sentimentality of his films and his overly lavish set pieces always felt like he was trying too hard. I tend to not like films that are so blatantly campaigning for an Oscar, and would rather a film’s innate importance be a tad subtler. But after recently catching Backdraft and Apollo 13 on cable, I went back and rewatched the entire Howard catalogue, and it became clear that my ire against his filmography was a case of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.
Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, and Angels & Demons are just poorly produced, pedantic movies. But there’s a certain earnestness and genuineness to the vast majority of his other films that, as I went title-by-title, came to be a welcome antidote to the cynicism inherent in so many films released today. Even in the titles some folks might consider to be weaker — The Missing, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Paper — ol’ Opie's heart bleeds through every frame.
Yesterday, eight new inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced: Rush, Donna Summer, Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, and Albert King, as well as two Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement inductees in producer/promoter Lou Adler and arranger/producer Quincy Jones. What does this mean? Effectively, not much. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has been around since 1983, inducting artists and industry shakers since 1986, and it’s been an actual building you can visit in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1993. It’s a fine place, designed by I.M. Pei and everything, but it’s not much more than a shrine to particular artists deemed worthy by a shadow group responsible for the voting. Every year, there's mild consternation over that year’s nominees — all of whom become eligible exactly 25 years since first becoming active — but this is nothing like the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is no Internet community driven mad by a Tim Raines–style fascination with, say, Jethro Tull. Wonderful as it might be, there is no Rock VORP in play though Tull’s Flute-Solo-Per-Song (FSPS) average is Gehrig-esque. To honor and examine this moment, Grantland’s resident music critic Steven Hyden and editor Sean Fennessey, a Rock Hall voter, discussed this year’s lineup, some methodology, and asked: Why do we need this thing?
Last year around this time, for the first time in my life, I got all excited about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination announcement. You see, Guns N' Roses had been nominated, and so the heretofore inconceivable occasion of an Axl-Slash reunification all of the sudden seemed like it was on the table. And as GNR went from nominee to official inductee, we held that flicker of hope — for once, would the Rock Hall be an organ of good, and not irrelevance? It wasn't to be. When it all shook out, Axl skipped the induction ceremony altogether, leaving GNR now and forever fractured and withering.
Joel and Ethan Coen are teaming up with Cedar Rapids' writer Phil Johnson on their first TV project. It's called Harve Karbo, it's an hour-long single-camera comedy about a private detective in L.A. who frequently encounters big Hollywood names while on the job, and it's got a script plus penalty commitment from Fox. The Coen Brother's famed dark humor and subtle sensibilities are going to fit in great with American Dad. Grade: A [HR]
Olivia Munn has joined the cast of Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper epic Magic Mike. In order to prove to the haters once and for all that she’s a talented actress, Munn will play a male stripper. Grade: B+ [Deadline]
John Moore (Max Payne,Behind Enemy Lines) has landed the directing gig on Die Hard 5, rumored to feature John McClane's son in a "passing of the baton" situation. Shia LaBeouf, clear your schedule. Grade: C [HR]
Sorry, Dirk. Tom Cruise is now confirmed to play crime-fighting drifter Jack Reacher in One Shot, Paramount's adaptation of Lee Child's best-selling thriller, to be directed by Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie. Initial reports of Cruise's possible casting caused an uproar among fans of Child's books last month, since Racher is 6'5" tall and Cruise is only 5'7". Said the author at the time: "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way." Maybe his performance will be motion-captured. Grade: C+ [Deadline]
Game of Thrones' Sean Bean will play more royalty, this time the king in the family-friendlier, slightly less ridiculous-sounding one of the two competing upcoming Snow White movies. He'll be the dad to Snow White (Lily Cole) and husband to her Oscar-tarnishing apple-poisoning stepmom (Julia Roberts). Grade: B- [HR]