Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Lion The Beast The Beat

The Lion The Beast The Beat, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' fourth studio album for Hollywood Records, will be released on June 12th. The musically powerful and conceptually dazzling work was produced by Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s 2012 Grammy winner Revelator) and Potter at Scott’s studio PLYRZ in Santa Clarita, CA, with the exception of "Loneliest Soul," which was produced by Dan Auerbach and engineered by Collin Dupuis at Easy Eye Sounds in Nashville, TN. 

David Campbell (Beck, My Morning Jacket, Jackson Browne) arranged and conducted the strings on the album. The album was mixed by fellow Vermonter and Grammy award winner Rich Costey (Foo Fighters, TV on the Radio, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball) and mastered by Grammy award winner Bob Ludwig (David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Foo Fighters). The first single from The Lion The Beast The Beat  is "Never Go Back," written by Dan Auerbach and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. The track went to radio on March 23rd for an April 9th impact date. GPN's debut performance of "Never Go Back" is set for April 5th on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. A companion video for the track will be shot in Los Angeles in April. 

"I think there’s a Lion and a Beast within all of us— as humans. There's also true goodness, and the appearance of goodness…" says Grace. "Maybe I’ve watched too much Mad Men, but I'm in love with the idea of a story with no heroes and no villains. I've never really even dipped my toes in the whole 'concept album' thing but these themes just kept creeping into all the new songs and I didn’t fight it. I decided to embrace it."

Among the song titles are Stars, The Divide, Steady, Parachute Heart, Never Go Back, and Loneliest Soul, both co-written with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and the title track The Lion The Beast The Beat. 

"Each song stands upright on its own, but these songs really belong to this album. The way we’ve always made records is to put together a list of 30 or so songs, pick the best ones, throw them together and hope it congeals. I didn’t wanna do that this time. I came up with the track order before we recorded so we could really bring you in and out of these songs like scenes in a movie. I want to bring the listener into our weird fantasy and keep them there."

Monday, March 19, 2012


SnagFilms, one of the world’s leading distributors of independent films for all digital platforms, announces the United States of America pay-on-demand release of the most highly anticipated, phenomenal, groundbreaking feature documentary, CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2012. 

CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST takes viewers on an action-packed voyage with the world’s most wanted environmentalist heroes, Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society— the stars of Animal Planet’s Emmy-nominated hit series "Whale Wars." Seen through the eyes of director, activist and longest serving Sea Shepherd crew member, Peter Jay Brown, the film features 30 years of never-before-seen insider footage of the most exciting, dispairing and triumphant eco-campaigns in the world. During their voyages they’ve been engaged in dramatic conflict including the boarding of ships, arrests, being fired upon by the Norwegian Navy and successfully ramming and/or sinking illegal whaling and fishing vessels worldwide. The group is also credited with stopping drift-netting worldwide and saving the lives of millions of marine wildlife, some of which is on the verge of extinction. 

"We are extremely excited for audiences in the U.S. to be able to experience CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST and its unmistakable environmental message,"stated Stephanie Sharis, COO of SnagFilms. "Earth Day is the perfect time to premiere this truly revolutionary documentary to the masses."

The film will be available on video on demand on Comcast, FiOs and iNDemand affiliates including Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House Networks, as well as digital platforms, including iTunes, VUDU, Amazon and Xbox Live "Everyone has a unique talent that can make a difference in this world,"said Brown. "30 years ago hardly anyone knew what ‘ecology’ meant, now oil companies are trying to be green. We’re the guys who started the modern environmental movement and have pretty much won the revolution, now we need the right people to govern it before we reach a tipping point," he continued. Brown recently returned from Sea Shepherd’s most recent campaign (Operaion: Divine Wind) to stop illegal Japanese whaling in an Antarctic whale sanctuary. Whale Wars Season 5, premiering this summer on Animal Planet will cover the voyage in detail.

"There have been many films made about Sea Shepherd but none as hilarious and revealing as CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST, which was three decades in the making." Captain Watson said. "Peter Brown, a Sea Shepherd insider expertly exercises aikido with his camera by turning a negative accusation into a positive confession of influential activism."

For more information on CONFESSIONS OF AN ECO-TERRORIST and to view the trailer, please visit www.confessionsfilm.com


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Norah Jones— Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones is unveiling something new at South By Southwest— again. Ten years after she shook Austin and the entire music world with "Come Away With Me," the 25 million-selling debut she released just weeks before the 2002 conference and festival, she returned to play her entire new album "Little Broken Hearts" at La Zona Rosa in Austin on Saturday night. "It seemed to make sense to come back to my new record," Jones explained. "I'm just going to play the new record. I'm not even going to play any old songs because it's South By Southwest. It doesn't seem wrong to me to do it that way. It's fun. This is a festival. It's for new bands but it's also just for new stuff, so it feels right to do the new record."

The stylish yet deeply emotional and introspective collaboration with Danger Mouse is due to be released on Tuesday, May 1st. In a brief interview on Friday, Jones described "Little Broken Hearts" as a concept album of sorts that examines a difficult breakup. She said she and Danger Mouse, the producer whose given name is Brian Burton, wrote most of the songs as a team, working out lyrics and the instrumentation together. It's something of a departure for Jones and yet another step in her evolution away from the jazz of the Grammy-winning tune "Come Away With Me."

Jones came back to SXSW in 2006 with her side project The Little Willies, a group that she played two shows with on Thursday. The experience performing as a solo artist will be a little less discombobulating this time around. "It was kind of crazy," Jones said. "I remember 10 years ago when I came... and it was insane. It was like we were doing four shows a day or something. I don't know. It felt very strange, but it was fun."

Friday, March 16, 2012

An Open Letter to Lucy Lawless

Dear Lucy— 

I felt the need to compose a letter thanking you for being the remarkable human being that you are. It was [as it always is] both an honor and a pleasure talking with you during your Green Peace protest against Shell Oil. I've interviewed, gotten to know and became friends with a sleuth of actors and actresses in my lifetime. An entire lifetime... and I can say with the utmost sincerity that I have never felt compelled to call any one of them a hero. But thanks to your selfless actions aboard that ship, I can finally bestow the title of hero upon YOU... with great pride and admiration. As much as I love Fiona Hutchison [as we are sisters], I CANNOT see her boarding that ship and climbing to incredible heights to send a message to Shell Oil, just one of the many corporate giants who prey upon this planet like parasites. You are a hero Lucy, not just to me or millions upon millions of fans all over the world... but for those generations yet to come. 

I know for a fact that you do not have an egotistical cell in your entire body and that you would totally disagree with everything I am writing. You would tell me in that infamous Kiwi accent, "Bridget, you've gone completely mad because I'm not special. I'm just a Mom who cares about her children and the planet." But what you do not see... is that you ARE so much more than special. You, my humble friend, are far more heroic than the character you played for six seasons. Xena Warrior Princess, sword in hand, couldn't come close to who you REALLY are on her best day.

You see Lucy, by nature; the United States of America is a very pessimistic society. We seem to have great difficulty believing in the good nature of most people. Everyone has skeletons buried in their closets. We seem to have the need to dig them out. How many times have we heard the words uttered "It seems too good to be true they must be hiding something". So we take whatever heroes we may have and tear them down. We are more concerned with tragedy than we are with hope. You defy this logic  and in doing so, you have set an example, a true precedence for the rest of us. We need to consider the process of learning to add courage to our faith.

Many people have faith, or at least they say that they do, but it does not seem to reveal itself in the outworking of their lives. The problem is the absence of courage and "courage is the muscle that faith uses to hold its ground." So many people today do not seem to have the ability to courageously live out their faith in humanity and what is best for our future. Now I am not talking about those instantaneous heroes who make the headlines because they happened to be at the right place at the right time. I'm talking about TRUE heroes like you Lucy... who make daily conscious decisions to respond courageously to life's dilemmas. The Webster's Dictionary defines courage as: "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty." Courage is putting our faith into action, adding sweat to our convictions, doing what is hard to do because we know it needs to be done. This is precisely what you did, without hesitation. 

Perhaps the simple acts of kindness that we all perform need to be taken just a little further. Maybe all it takes is the belief in ourselves, and the courage to face reality fearlessly. We all want to make a difference, to be someone Lucy... but you have given all of us an example to follow, to believe. This is my challenge to everyone who reads this, become a hero to others. Have the courage to stand up for your convictions and stop living in fear. 

And Lucy? Please accept my compliments and this letter as a testament to what it means to be a hero and a heartfelt thank you for your wisdom and courage.

Much Love,
Bridget Petrella

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nicollette Sheridan Case— Twists & Turns

The trial over Nicollette Sheridan's firing from Desperate Housewives featured one last plot twist Monday with the disclosure of a new mystery witness who has indicated show officials tried to cover up a correspondence related to the actress. A judge has ordered the man to appear in court Tuesday morning to determine whetheror not  he will become one of the final witnesses that jurors considering the case will hear from. The man, who was identified as Michael Reinhart, left a message for Sheridan's attorney on Sunday afternoon stating that he mistakenly got an email that suggested that messages related to Sheridan's departure would be purged. The man on the message said he didn't want to become involved in the case, but by day's end had becoming the latest intriguing thread in a trial that has featured a behind-the-scenes look at Desperate Housewives and conflicting testimony on whether Sheridan was struck by show creator Marc Cherry during a September 2008 dispute. 

"There was a definite conspiracy to cover up the correspondence on email-wise in regards to Nicollette," the caller is heard saying on the call, which was played in court outside the presence of the jury. Adam Levin, an attorney for Cherry and the ABC television network, dismissed the claims. He noted in court that he had not spoken with Reinhart. "Today's antics by the plaintiff, conjuring up mysterious emails, appears to be a last ditch effort to save her case," Levin said after Monday's proceedings. Closing arguments are likely to begin on Tuesday as both sides call their final witnesses. Sheridan's attorney Mark Baute, who received the message Sunday, said he would like to call Reinhart as a witness. Sheridan, now 48, is suing Cherry and ABC for wrongful termination and battery and is seeking $6 million in damages. All of us here at UPBEAT think that Nicollette deserves a small fortune for having to put up with Marc Cherry. That's right ABC, we/ believe that Marc Cherry doesn't really deserve another show let alone all of the dubious "ass-kissing", similar to the same empirical treatment given to ex-ABC Daytime Head Brian Frons!

In the end, the character, Edie Britt's death came after she escaped being strangled and survived a car crash only to be electrocuted by a downed power line. Baute, in opening statements, called it a triple homicide that reflected Cherry's animosity toward Sheridan. Cherry told jurors that he had contemplated killing Sheridan's character at the end of season three, but studio and network executives didn't approve. As he began to plan season five, he said he wanted to kill Britt as part of a "risky but potentially effective change to the series."

And of course, ABC, made sure that numerous witnesses for the show's creator and network testified that the decision to kill off Sheridan's Edie Britt character was made in May 2008, four months before her dustup with Cherry on the show's set. Cherry maintains he tapped the actress while trying to give her direction for a scene, but Sheridan claims he struck her hard on the left temple, leaving her stunned and humiliated. For the record, we believe Nicollette Sheridan, not only is she a superb actress, but we've spoken with and interviewed her several times and she's an extraordinary person. Maybe it's time for ABC to grow a set and take better care of their TALENT and the SHOWS as opposed to guys like Cherry and Frons!

As Harriet Ryan from The Los Angeles Times summed it all up in her brilliant piece, "Underscoring it all was the absurdity of asking a group of strangers to care deeply about the minor travails of the very rich and semi-famous." 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dropped Names— By Frank Langella

Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight in a small Mexican village; Elizabeth Taylor devouring homemade pasta and tenderly wrapping him in her pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York City street. Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella's myriad encounters with some of the past century's most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny, wicked, sometimes shocking, and utterly irresistible. With sharp wit and a perceptive eye, Mr. Langella takes us with him into the private worlds and privileged lives of movie stars, presidents, royalty, literary lions, the social elite, and the greats of the Broadway stage.

What, for instance, was Jack Kennedy doing on that coffee table? Why did the Queen Mother need Mr. Langella's help? When was Paul Mellon going to pay him money owed? How did Brooke Astor lose her virginity? Why was Robert Mitchum singing Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs at top volume, and what did Marilyn Monroe say to him that helped change the course of his life? Dropped Names is a sizzling platter of stellar vignettes— pungent, indeed, but poignant as well. He opens telling of a chance Manhattan encounter with Marilyn Monroe in 1953, and ends with the wealthy Bunny Mellon, whose motto was "Nothing should be noticed." Through these shared experiences, we learn something, too, of Mr. Langella's personal journey from the age of fifteen to the present day. Dropped Names is, like its subjects is absolutely riveting and unforgettable.

Frank Langella has been a professional actor for over five decades and hopes to carry on for several more. He began performing as a boy in his hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey, and currently resides in New York City. This is his first book.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hitchcock's Notebooks— Film Virtuoso

I read this book when it was released back in 1999. I have always been fascinated with Alfred Hitchcock. He will always be, in my opinion, the greatest director that ever lived. From a couple desperately racing across the top of Mount Rushmore to a woman's final shower at an isolated motel, no other filmmaker has given movie fans more unforgettable images or heart-pounding thrills than Alfred Hitchcock. Now for the first time, you can finally share in the Master of Suspense's inspiration and articulate development, his entire creative process, his subtle brilliance... in Hitchcock's Notebooks. With the complete cooperation of the Hitchcock estate and unprecedented access to the director's notes, files, and archives, Dan Auiler takes you from the very beginnings of story creation to the master's final touches during post-production. 

Actual production notes from Hitchcock's masterpieces join detailed interviews with key production personnel, including writers, actors and actresses, and his personal assistant of more than thirty years. Mirroring the director's working methods to give you the actual feel of his process, the book explores the production files of 'Shadow Of A Doubt,' 'Strangers On A Train,' 'North By Northwest,' and others, as well as the legendary lost works: 'The Mountain Eagle' and the unfinished film 'Kaleidoscope'. Highlighted by nearly one hundred photographs and illustrations, chapters focus on finding and constructing the right story (featuring interviews with such renowned screenwriters as Charles Bennett, Samuel Taylor, and Ernest Lehman); envisioning the film (from storyboards to set design); the filming (spotlighting Hitchcock's innovations and trick shots); music; and so much more.  

No fan or film student should be without this definitive guide to the renowned filmmaker's art. From a couple racing across the top of Mount Rushmore to a woman's final shower at an isolated motel, no other filmmaker has given movie fans more unforgettable images or heart-pounding thrills than Alfred Hitchcock. Now for the first time, you can finally share in the Master of Suspense's inspiration and development— his entire creative process— in Hitchcock's Notebooks. With the complete cooperation of the Hitchcock estate and unprecedented access to the director's notes, files, and archives, Dan Auiler takes you from the very beginnings of story creation to the master's final touches during post-production. Actual production notes from Hitchcock's masterpieces join detailed interviews with key production personnel, including writers, actors and actresses, and his personal assistant of more than thirty years. 

Mirroring the director's working methods to give you the actual feel of his process, the book explores the production files of Shadow Of A Doubt, Strangers On A Train, North By Northwest, and others, as well as the legendary lost works: The Mountain Eagle and the unfinished film Kaleidoscope. Highlighted by nearly one hundred photographs and illustrations, chapters focus on finding and constructing the right story (featuring interviews with such renowned screenwriters as Charles Bennett, Samuel Taylor, and Ernest Lehman); envisioning the film (from storyboards to set design); the filming (spotlighting Hitchcock's innovations and trick shots); music; and much more. No fan or film student should be without this definitive guide to the renowned filmmaker's art.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Brittany Murphy— We Still Miss Her

Brittany Murphy, the bubbly, free-spirited actress who appeared in such films as Clueless and 8 Mile, died of natural causes back in 2009. She was only 32. Our favorite film starring Brittany will always be Little Black Book as the actress perfectly captured how we all sometimes feel when it comes to relationships and matters of the heart. This little gem of a film pulls together a stellar cast including Kathy Bates, Holly Hunter and Carly Simon [as herself]... 

This snippet from the feel-good film goes out to Brittany Murphy as she will always remain in our hearts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFF0tfzLqPE If you have an opportunity to snag up a DVD of Little Black Book, do so... as it brings out the dreamer in all of us... there's a spark of optimistic magic in the film that we could all use right now.

Murphy got her first big film break playing one of Alicia Silverstone’s high-school clique in Clueless. She followed this intuitive performance with a series of roles on TV, before again turning in a notable supporting performance in the Winona Ryder/Angelina Jolie starrer Girl, Interrupted. She also stood out in another challenging supporting role in the Michael Douglas thriller Don’t Say a Word, which no doubt helped to land her a starring role in 2002 in 8 Mile opposite rapper Eminem. Playing Eminem’s beautiful but unfaithful new girlfriend in Curtis Hanson’s powerful Detroit drama, Murphy turned in a raw and sympathetic performance in what was on the surface an unsympathetic role.

Brittany was a "breath of fresh air" compared to so many of the "mini divas" that permeate the film industry like so many parasites. She brought such a natural charm and genuine love/vulnerabilty to every character she played. One of the first things Brittany Murphy did when she showed up on the Oregon set of her independent thriller Something Wicked was acknowledge— and apologize... for her weight, which, to us, was absurd. "I met her on the first day she arrived in Eugene with her husband," explained Scott Chambers, a principal at Chambers Productions and an executive producer on the picture. "She looked ill, as much as 10 pounds underweight, and she's a small person to begin with. She easily could have made an excuse not to come to work, but she didn't. She said, 'I've got to get better, but I want to do this part.'"

A day after the death of the 32-year-old actress, people in the film business described a woman who continued to work tirelessly even as her star-wattage dimmed somewhat and health issues began to take their toll. Murphy spent about three weeks shooting her role as a psychiatrist in Something Wicked, a mystery thriller about a teenage couple experiencing supernatural phenomena. Chambers noted that although the part was not physically demanding— most of the scenes took place in an office setting— he nonetheless was struck by Murphy's commitment to her part given her fragile state.

Angelo Bertolotti, who says he is the late actress Brittany Murphy’s biological father, has filed suit this past year against the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department. He wants to force them to do additional toxicology testing on a sample of the star’s hair and to re-open the investigation into her death. Brittany's mother has also filed a lawsuit against the attorneys that represented her in a suit against the builders of the home where the actress died, claiming the lawyers never told her about a possible wrongful death suit due to mold growing in the house. The suit by Sharon Murphy in Los Angeles Superior Court came nearly two years after the December 20th, 2009 death of Brittany Murphy, which was followed by the May 2010 death of Brittany's husband Simon Monjack. Sharon Murphy apparently did not become convinced that toxic mold was a cause in the death of her daughter and son-in-law until this past summer, when she was in the process of selling the house in the Hollywood Hills.

"Due to the lack of investigative efforts by the Los Angeles Police Department," states one of the lawsuits filed in L.A. Superior Court, "and the failure to conduct toxicology tests on the specimens" of her hair, Bertolotti believes that "his daughter's death was incorrectly determined to have been allegedly caused by pneumonia and anemia." No word as to where the case stands at this point. 

When the final curtain came down for Brittany Murphy, the drama played out in the one room in her Hollywood Hills mansion that had become her refuge: her bathroom. This tiled, peach-colored sanctuary was where she went to get away from the mounting pressures of her life: a house she hated, a city where she no longer wanted to live, a career that was imploding and the constant burden of being a caregiver. Even though she didn’t feel well herself, Brittany was there to care for her mother, Sharon Murphy, a breast cancer survivor suffering debilitating neuropathy, and her ailing husband of three years, 39-year-old Simon Monjack. For nearly a year, the England native had been having seizures and a month earlier suffered an apparent heart attack. When he had a seizure, his arms and legs flailing on the big four-poster bed, Brittany would rush to his side. Although weakened by anemia and gasping for breath from her own ailments, Brittany held his 300-pound body down, using a spoon to keep him from swallowing his own tongue.

The tabloid noise had increased over the years as Brittany got thinner and blonder in a quest for leading roles in movies, which also raised the specter of anorexia, which haunts many Hollywood actresses who feel the need to be thin. Brittany was 115 pounds when she died, a healthy weight for her height, even though she looked fragile. "She had curves in all the right places," Simon said as he was terribly upset by all of the tabloid innuendos. "She was just miniaturized. She ate whatever she wanted when she wanted."

It was wonderful that Brittany never lost her childlike innocence and sense of wonder... or that infectious giggle she often displayed as she was indeed an eternal optimist. But what worked for her as an actress made for a confusing life: She never learned to drive or balance her own checkbook. She looked to her mother, business managers and finally Simon to care for her. It was the need for a father— as her biological father [Bertolotti] was rarely part of her life— mentor, teacher and anchor that finally led her to Simon, who, inevitably died just 5 months after she did.

Whatever becomes of the two seperate lawsuits, filed by each of her parents... nothing can EVER replace the smile, the acquiescent person we all came to know and care about. There is still a noticible void in the industry... a place that will never be filled in quite the same way. Brittany Murphy herself once said, "I've learned to be selective of the people in my world, because if I love someone, I will give them my blood, whatever they need. In doing so, one can end up with little left for themselves. It's a lesson in self-preservation that I'm still learning. If you don't have yourself, you have nothing to give." This statement could easily sum up Brittany's life... but we prefer to remember her as a compassionate soul who dared to be selfless when it came to love... and everything else that she left behind in every role she played. We still miss her terribly... and always will.