One of Empire’s most strongest aspects, along with its talented ensemble, lies in the quality guest stars that take part in the show. Alicia Keys begins her recurring role on FOX’s Empire starting tonight as Sky Summers, a singer who collaborates with Jamal (Jussie Smollett) on the new song “Powerful.”
“(Sky) is an artist,” said Keys, whose previous acting credits include Smokin’ Aces and The Secret Life of Bees. “She is really looking to break out of the boxes that have started to close in on her as an artist. She’s fantastic. She’s really a lot of fun. I’ve had a great time putting her together (and) really creating a character for her. There’s very specific things we have talked about to make Sky come to life.”
Although she is not an avid TV watcher, Keys does get hooked on the occasional show, and she admits to being a huge fan of Empire. Click on media bar below to hear Alicia Keys talk about her love for Empire.
Empire, which also features guest star Rosie O’Donnell, airs tonight on FOX (9/8).
With a worldwide take of over $430 million, the animated monster comedy Hotel Transylvania 2 is one of this year’s biggest hits, and the movie the Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez headlined project hits Blu-ray and DVD January 12. Digital HD viewers can catch the film on December 22.
The sequel mainly centered on Mavis (Gomez) and Johnny’s (Andy Samberg) attempts to raise their son Dennis in Hotel Transylvania. Scared that Dennis, who hasn’t shown any signs of being a vampire, might be hurt by the monsters around him, the worried couple scout out the suburban neighborhood of Johnny’s parents. “Vampa” Drac (Sandler) is up to his old tricks, as he’ll do anything to keep Dennis in the hotel with his motley but loving crew (Sandler regulars David Spade and Kevin James are also featured voices in the flick).
Special features on the Blu-Ray and include two audio commentary tracks (one with Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert, and the other with director Genndy Tartakovsky), a character sketch gallery, and the Fifth Harmony music video “I’m In Love With a Monster.” Blu-ray owners will also get deleted scenes and the segments “Sing Along with Monster Scary-Oke!,” “Make The Scary, Silly Sounds of Hotel Transylvania 2,” “How to Throw The Ultimate Monster Party,” “How to Draw Your Favorite Characters,” and “The New Guys: Meet Vlad, Dennis, Kakie and More.”
Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy’s collaboration with director Todd Haynes in Carol is, as the oft-used phrased goes, a match made in heaven. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, the 1950s set novel centers on a Manhattan store clerk (Rooney Mara) who is instantly bewitched by Carol (Cate Blanchett), a sophisticated, charming yet unhappily married woman. That instant connection between the two is that rarest of occurrences, and both attempt to hold onto that bond even though Carol’s familial obligations is of utmost importance.
Nagy’s writing and directing efforts for 2005’s Mrs. Harris was highly celebrated (the film garnered 12 Emmy nominations), but it still took Nagy years to see her adaptation of Highsmith’s work hit the screen. Since 1996, the scribe has collaborated with different filmmakers and actors, but when Haynes (Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce) came on board the momentum swung in Nagy’s favor.
Nagy, who befriended Patricia Highsmith while on assignment, talked about her appreciation for the late author’s body of work. “Her books are quite singular in the annals of crime fiction, for lack of a better term,” said Nagy. “In that she examined issues of guilt and lack thereof, and it’s the same thing she does in The Price of Salt, but in a very different way. She uses the profound lack of guilt of both of those women, about who they are, or what their sexual choices are, to examine much larger issues in the society.”
In the audio below, Nagy talks about her “fortuitous” collaboration with director Todd Haynes:
How far would you go to uncover the ugly truth? At the center of the new Tom McCarthy-directed and co-penned film Spotlight is the investigation into one of the most powerful institutions in Boston — the local Catholic Archdiocese — and the rampant abuses of power and cover-up of sexual abuse cases among the clergy.
It’s not a pretty tale by any means, but one told from the viewpoint of the investigation spearheaded by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight division. As the film opens, the four-person investigative team led by Walter Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) and including dedicated staffers Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) are awaiting the appointment of a new boss at the Boston Globe. The teams intermediary between themselves and management is Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), who also signs off on their choice of topics. It’s not long until we meet the aloof Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who has come to run the paper from Miami and is ready to make waves right off the bat.
It’s 2001 and the Internet is starting to slowly bite into the newspaper business and Baron is seeking ways to make the paper remain vital. Rather than have the Spotlight team choose a story that he feels is less than interesting, he suggests a follow-up story on the church and their abuse of power. With this being Boston, one of the largest Catholic cities in the U.S. and with a Catholic school right across the street from the Globe offices, not everyone is convinced it’s worth pursuing.
But once the door is open and Spotlight digs into the case, what follows is an ever-growing conspiracy of cover-ups that have been perpetrated for decades in Boston that suggests even a wider pattern of looking the other way. Rezendes attempts to earn the trust of Mitch Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), a tenacious but overly cautious lawyer who has been fighting the good fight against the church who have stonewalled him at every turn. Pfeiffer and Robinson dig into the validity of some of those who have spoken out against the church and the investigation begins to ruffle the feathers of some of Robby’s longtime contacts.
The screenplay co-written by McCarthy with Josh Singer crackles with energy as the Spotlight team chips away at the cover up, while also becoming a little more frightening as we learn that things are way bigger than ever expected. The film also addresses the ideals of dedicated journalists and how far they’ll go to uncover the truth even when it may hit closer than wanted to home.
It’s a fine acting job all around by the cast, but as there is no true lead, look for the best to happen come awards season being an ensemble honor at the SAG Awards. However, McCarthy and Singer could be in line for attention for the sharp script and keeping the intensity going in this film. As Spotlight is based on real events, you likely know the outcome going in, but McCarthy makes sure that the journey getting there is well worth every minute on screen and the final credits just make the story that much more powerful.
Now You See Me was a sleeper hit when it was released in 2013, and one would assume Now You See Me 2 would follow suit. Though director Louis Leterrier moved on from the franchise to direct The Brothers Grimsby, filmmaker Jon Chu has taken over the reigns. Expect Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), whose last film was the box office bomb Jem and the Holograms, to get back on track with this installment.
With Now You See Me 2, the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan) are at the peak of their powers as illusionists, and now they have to pull off an elaborate heist for tech prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Though having Daniel Radcliffe as part of your ensemble is always a bonus, one wonders if he’ll be convincing as the resident bad guy. However, Now You See Me proved that, along with the magic tricks, there are narrative twists and turns which will keep moviegoers guessing.
The teaser trailer to Now You See Me 2 has just been released. Check it out below and tell us what you think!