Tag Archives: Robin Williams

What to Watch for at the Emmy Awards/’Expendables’ Actress Looking for More Action

Billy CrystalPlan to watch the 66th annual Emmy Awards show Monday (8/25) night?  The Granddaddy of TV Awards shows looks likely to bring us plenty of memorable moments. Here are five reasons to tune in:

1. This is where the TV community will be giving Robin Williams a proper send-off. That’s the word according to Executive Producer Don Mischer, who has Robin’s long-time best pal Billy Crystal giving a tribute to the man. Mischer himself worked with Williams at least 30 times. Planning began as soon as the production team heard of Williams’ death. Don’t be surprised if presenters and winners comment on Williams as well.

2. If Matthew McConaughey wins an Outstanding Lead Actor award for “True Detective” — and many believe his searing portrayal of existentialist detective Rust Cohle will rule the category — it will be the first time since George C. Scott in 1971 that a leading man has won an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. McConaughey won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for “Dallas Buyers Club.”  (Scott turned down his “Patton” Oscar, but accepted his Hallmark Hall of Fame Emmy because he liked the Emmys Blue Ribbon Panel voting system better.)

3. Host Seth Meyers. Meyers watchers know that behind the seeming calm of the late night host and former “SNL” Weekend Update guy lurks a scathing wit. Recall how he ripped Donald Trump when he hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011?  “Donald Trump has said he’s running for president as a Republican. Which is surprising because I thought he was running as a joke,” he said. And another, “Donald Trump owns the Miss USA pageant, which is great for Republicans because it will streamline their search for a vice president.”  Who’ll be his target Monday night?  Meyers told the L.A. Times he plans to front load the comedy — his opening monologue and a couple of film pieces are where his funny stuff will be most visible — and then just keep the evening moving along, so be sure to be there for the opening.

4. As more and more A list actors move to TV the wattage of star power at the Emmys just keeps getting higher. You’ve got McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in “True Detective,” Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo among the many nominees for “The Normal Heart,” Billy Bob Thornton for “Fargo,” Don Cheadle for “House of Lies,” Jodie Foster for “Orange is the New Black” and more.

5. The big contests. Will “Orange is the New Black” break “Modern Family’s” Best Comedy streak, or will the latter show prevail with a record-breaking fifth win in a row?  Will “True Detective” squeeze in front of “Breaking Bad” for Drama series?  Will Robin Wright “House of Cards” beat Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan and Kerry Washington as Best Lead Actress in a Drama?  Can Don Cheadle break Jim Parson’s streak as Lead Actor in a Comedy?  We want to know!

natalie burnMOVING UP: Natalie Burn, who plays Mel Gibson’s wife in a short-but-sweet turn in “The Expendables 3,” admits she’d have liked to have been in on the action of that high-octane Sylvester Stallone feature. The Ukranian-born former prima ballerina for the Bolshoi has been sharpening her fighting skills to be ready for…anything. The much-discussed “Expendabelles” perhaps?  “The next push I will try to convince Stallone or whoever I work with that I’m a good fighter — and coming from a ballerina background, I’m still flexible. I did gymnastics so I can do a lot of backflips and wire work and a lot of knife fights. I’m definitely a good asset to an action film,” she says.

Burn likely already impresses Stallone, since she is taking her career into her own hands as the “Rocky” star did, writing and producing her own projects. One of those is her “Awaken” drama about a random group of people who wake up on an island where they start being hunted down. She reports that it is coming out in October. In it, moviegoers will be able to see her doing plenty of action, including fights she calls “raw and natural. That’s what I like.”

“We finished it a couple months ago. I wrote the movie, produced and starred. Daryl Hannah, Edward Furlong, Robert Davi, Michael Pare, David Keith and a few others are in it,” she says. Next, she’s making another of her own movies, called “Devil’s Burn” in Louisiana.

“I would definitely encourage all the young actors to do that,” she says of writing and producing projects for themselves. “We don’t get enough auditions and enough scenes. If you make your own projects and get them seen, it’s a good start.”

Initially the “Expendables” team planned to have an older actress play Gbson’s wife, by the way. But in came Natalie with her youth, beauty and Russian accent — parallelling Gibson’s notorious ex — and those plans changed. According to her, the prickly actor-director couldn’t have been nicer.

Robin Williams’ Other Legacy

Robin WilliamsAs the outpouring of grief over Robin Williams’ death continues, it becomes more and more apparent that another legacy of the comedic genius will be heightened public awareness of the ravages of depression – and that is a good thing. In fact, Williams at his best would be pleased to play a part in bringing understanding and help to others battling the condition. The superstar who was so quick to lend his name and his energy to dozens of good causes, including the Comic Relief events he toplined with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, would surely have stepped up for this one.

Williams, as has been noted by many colleagues, gave his best in interviews. We experienced many of those rollicking sessions, during which he would fly rat-a-tat through free association craziness, character voice upon character voice, then veer into seriousness with insightful remarks. (I often quote his “humor half-life” measure of how funny a comedy bit is: funny if you laugh at the time, very funny if you think of it a day later and laugh again, exceptionally funny if you still laugh after a year or more. Robin scored lots of the latter. Think Mrs. Doubtfire, flaming bust, for instance.)

But the interviews changed in recent years, more and more tinged with the pain he was experiencing inside. He commented that his doctor used to tell him drugs could kill him. Now his doctor told him he needed drugs to stay alive. “So my doctor has become my dealer, and harder to get a hold of.”

He talked candidly about his return to drinking alcohol in 2003 after 20 years of sobriety. Asked by Decca Aitkenhead of the U.K.’s Guardian whether those who attributed his drinking to the loss of his friend, Christopher Reeve, were correct, he answered, “No…It’s more selfish than that. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.”

What was he afraid of? “Everything. It’s just a general all-round arggghhh. It’s fearfulness and anxiety.”  And loneliness, he said.

Ironically, he was promoting the black comedy film “World’s Greatest Dad” at the time – a film in which his character’s son dies, and he writes a fake suicide note that becomes a sensation. Suicide and death were present in several of his films.

Now, one can’t help wondering how much his fear and anxiety was at work within him, even as he made what was supposed to be, expected to be, a triumphal return to television last year with “The Crazy Ones.” The show had started off with 15.52 million viewers, making it the most highly viewed series premiere that fall – then ratings dropped off. Still, it was considered “on the bubble” until the announcement came that CBS was cancelling it – with an audience of 10.5 million, the highest-rated cancellation of last season. Don’t be surprised if stories emerge that there was more of a problem behind the scenes than a supporting cast that didn’t quite jell.

In fact, there will be, sadly, many more stories emerging of Williams’ decades-long struggle with depression, which fueled his alcohol and substance abuse, and the pain behind his tragic end. He was jarred by his heart surgery – for replacement of an aortic valve – in 2009. He felt open and vulnerable, and very mortal, a feeling he said never left him, which he considered a blessing.

He had reached out for help numerous times, had gone through 12 step program rehabs and sobriety journeys with friends. Tragically, it wasn’t enough.

Borgnine Keeping a Pace That Could Scare Guys Half His Age

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

Ernest Borgnine may be 92 years old, but he’s keeping up a pace that could scare a man half his age.

The “Marty” Oscar winner just wrapped up work on “The Genesis Code” big screen drama with Louise Fletcher and Fred Thompson in Michigan, and he leaves next week for New Orleans to start work on the comedy “Snatched” — his 202nd picture.

He’s also been busy this summer with book signings for his recently-launched “Ernie, the Autobiography.”  “I love being out meeting the people!” he enthuses.

He helped launch “Another Harvest Moon,” his ensemble drama with Anne Meara and Cybill Shepherd, at this month’s Rhode Island International Film Festival — where Lifetime Achievement Honors were bestowed upon him.  And he squeezed in a visit to Naval Station Newport, where he went through boot camp some 74 years ago.

“This time, they were saying, ‘What can we get for you, Mr. Borgnine?’  None of the finger-pointing and ‘Hey you’s!’ I remember from before,” says the Navy veteran of 10 years, including WWII.

With all that going on, he’s barely had time to celebrate his Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama.  He tells us he and wife Tova will definitely be on hand to see whether he’ll win the honor for his portrayal, on the final episode of “ER,” of a man whose wife of many years is dying.   He played it with such honest simplicity, it was a four hankie job, for sure.

“It was hard in the sense that it never happened to me and to make it look like it was real, I had to really dig into my heart and my head,” he says.  “It turned out fine.”

So fine, he got nominated — while returning stars George Clooney, Eriq LaSalle and Noah Wyle did not.

“I know,” he says and smiles.  “I shouldn’t gloat, believe me.”

Nevertheless, Ernie’s competition is fierce – Michael J. Fox on “Rescue Me,” Ted Danson on “Damages,” Jimmy Smits on “Dexter,” and Edward Asner on “CSI: NY.”

He assures, “I’m just glad I was nominated.  I was also nominated for the Golden Globe and I missed out on that one.  People were saying they were sorry, but I said, ‘Hey, man – I won the nomination!  Are you kidding?’”

BAD BOY: Moviegoers who remember Daryl Sabara as Juni, the cute younger brother of Robert Rodriguez“Spy Kids” movies, are in for a paradigm shift of perception if they see him in “World’s Greatest Dad” starring Robin Williams, opening tomorrow (8/21).  Sabara plays the teenage son you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, a profane and mean-spirited kid whose departure from this earth could only improve it.  So how did writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait come to know that the 17-year-old actor had this ability to play rotten?

“Daryl is a funny guy.  He came in and lied, saying he wanted to play Andrew, the sweet kid in the movie” – when in fact, he had his sites set on terrible Kyle instead.  Bobcat let him read for the latter, and found “he was such a convincing creep – a teenage Gary Oldman, you know?  I had him come in again just to meet with him.  I needed to know he wasn’t really a jerk.”

Goldthwait also tells us there was a surprise when it came to casting Robin Williams as the beleaguered, bereaved title parent in the truly twisted black comedy that was a Sundance Festival hit.  According to Goldthwait, Robin recently confessed, “he thought he was going to help me out and do a cameo.  But then he read the script and said, ‘I’d like to be the guy.’  It really changed everything.”

These days, Goldthwait does stand-up if he needs to support his efforts as an auteur filmmaker.  Admits the show business veteran once thought of as a way-too-out-of-control comic, “The early part of my career, I had the kind of career you usually have when your career is ending.  Having a new career now at 47, I have much more appreciation.”

READ NO EVIL:  Joan Rivers, the queen of jabs, tells us she has one big secret to her success.  If you’ve written something about her, she wants no part of it.  “I don’t read it.  I absolutely don’t read it.  I don’t read good reviews and I don’t read bad reviews,” admits Rivers.  “Obviously I’m told about good reviews,” she adds.  “I know when it’s been a good show and I know when it’s been a bad show.  I don’t need an outsider to tell me.  I can come off stage and tell you how it was and what went wrong a lot faster than somebody else can say it.  I’m sure they say terrible things about it.  I don’t need it.  I don’t need to look at it.”  So, there!

Rivers currently can be seen enjoying the high life with some fellow hard workers in the TV Land series “How’d You Get So Rich?” “We go to their houses and we see all of their toys.  It’s fascinating how differently they spend their money. One man made all this money so he bought himself a Lamborghini for every day of the week,” she says.  “I think it’s very uplifting that in this day in age you can do it if you’ve got the right attitude and the right product.  But it teaches you a good lesson that you’ve got to work for it or win the lottery.”

A WEIGHTING GAME: Angie Dickinson was one of those perpetually perfectly lean ladies in her heyday on small and big screen, but now the still-beautiful septuagenarian complains that she’s 20 pounds overweight.  “If I lost 20 pounds I’d be more viable.  I’m serious about that,” she says.  “I watch ‘The Biggest Loser’ and I am so enamored of those incredible people, how they shame themselves and go through whatever it takes to get in shape.  I could no longer get out there in a little top and shorts.  They expose their worst sides and I admire them beyond belief – but I still don’t lose the weight.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Tony Shalhoub Talks About Bitty Schram’s ‘Monk’ Return

Tony Shalhoub reports that his one-time “Monk” costar Bitty Schram is due to make her much-talked-about return to the USA Network series in early September, and “We’re all looking forward to that.  We’re all excited to see what the writers have cooked up.”

Bitty Schram in "Monk"

Bitty Schram in "Monk"

Fans of the show were upset back in the midst of its third season when Schram was suddenly let go under the official line that the “Monk” creative team wanted to “go in a different direction.”  Later reports revealed that she’d been among the supporting players in a renegotiation wrangle with the network, which chose to take a hard line against her.  Her Sharona Fleming character was replaced by Traylor Howard’s Natalie Teeger.

“It will be great for the audience to have her back,” Tony feels.  “We’ll see how that character has changed, what the dynamic might be between Sharona and Natalie.  Something tells me they’ll be really good friends.”  Both, of course, have had to deal with Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive detective character’s idiosyncrasies in an up close and personal way.

Will it be awkward for the cast having Schram back?  “Oh, no.  I don’t think it will be awkward at all.  I’ve spoken to Bitty through the years, especially around the time Stanley Kamel passed away,” Tony says, referring to their costar who died last year.  “She was close to him, too.  There’s no bad blood.  Nothing but good.”

FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUTCorey Reynolds, who is currently starring on TNT’s “The Closer,” admits he misses working on Broadway, but the perks of television are just too good to pass up for the time being.  “I have a tremendous desire to get back to the stage. I received a Tony nomination for my work in ‘Hairspray,’ which was my Broadway debut.  That was a lot of fun, but now I’m kind of in that stage where I’d like to win so the right project would have to come along at the right time,” says Reynolds.  “I will say this – the paychecks aren’t even close to what you get paid in television.  It is a deterrent for a lot of my friends.  I was just talking with my buddy Matt Morrison, who was in ‘Hairspray’ with me.  He’s now starring in the new show ‘Glee.’  We were reminiscing about how different life is as a working New York actor compared to what it is as a working L.A. actor.  We can both breathe a little easier for the time being.”

For now, Reynolds is focused on his work in “The Closer” where he tells us he’s trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible.  “I’m the young guy of the bunch and I’ve had the least experience in the business.  It’s been so great working with so many seasoned actors.  I didn’t go to college so these guys are kind of like my professors.  I’m just trying to get that kind of longevity myself,” he says.  “Luckily I landed on a very supportive show.  G.W. Bailey has told me many times that it’s a blessing and a curse that this is my first experience on a television series because he reminds me often that they’re not always like this.”

WEB BITSHeidi Montag’s recent Twitter tweets include this bold declaration:  “we have the right to bare arms! this is america!!!!! FREEDOM!”  Do you think she  wrote about that ’cause it’s summer and long sleeves can be hot?  Probably not, since she linked to a story about citizens surrendering guns.

In fact, knowing that our readers are a literate lot – and that as such, you probably grimace, as we do, over the widespread mindless mangling of grammar and spelling on the internet – we invite you to point out egregious examples made by folks in the public eye.  Go to the Celebrity Gaffes section of BeckSmithHollywood.com to post your comments.

Nice to see news that Robin Williams will top off his September-launching comedy tour with an HBO special at year’s end – especially considering it’s only been four months since his surgery to replace an aortic valve.  Williams shows off his scar and re-enacts his bike ride with Lance Armstrong last March, just three days before his hospitalization, on the video he and the cycling legend made on Armstrong’s bus between legs of the current Tour de France.  “Lance, wait!  Lance,” Robin wheezes, “wait for me!”  And Armstrong notes that it’s lucky Robin didn’t die that day.  No doubt Robin’s years of being an avid bike rider have helped him bounce back from his operation.  The video, posted on Livestrong.com, also demonstrates that Williams is back in fine comedic form, as he cracks up Armstrong, mocking his compression socks and otherwise acting up in various character voices.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster