Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

Maria Canals Barrera: From Emotional ‘Wizards’ Goodbye to Tom Hanks Film

Maria Canals Barrera Disney Channel photo

With “The Wizards of Waverly Place” having wrapped its final episode for airing July 24, series mom Maria Canals Barrera admits she’s getting a lot of questions about what she’s doing next.  Fortunately for her, she has “Larry Crowne” opening July 1, with none other than Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

“I’m looking forward to the premiere June 27,” notes the actress, who plays one of Tom’s fellow community college students — in teacher Julia’s classroom — in the feature the actor coscripted (with Nia Vardalos) and directed as well.  “Tom is fun and relaxed on the set and yet very focused and professional,” Maria notes.  “It was a lot of fun to see him in action as a director, finishing a scene and then saying, ‘And, cut’ — then rushing to the monitor to see the playback.”

The film has Tom’s character moving from coping with life after job loss — to a new life.  “I think it was very wise of them — Tom and Nia — to write the script in these times when unfortunately, a lot of people have to reinvent themselves.  Or fortunately,” Maria adds, “because sometimes when people have to reinvent themselves, they are able to move toward their original passion and become a more fulfilled person in the end.”

Maria is facing big life changes herself.  With her long-time series now concluded, she’s had to say goodbye to her “Waverly Place” family — Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin and David DeLuise.  Of the forthcoming hour-long series finale, she says, “I believe the fans will get what they’ve been craving.  The beauty of it is, it has adventure, total heart-tugging drama and suspense, humor, wackiness, randomness and a ton of special effects.  It was fun doing it.  We were all emotional.  At the very last scene, we were crying and toasting and making speeches.”

The wrap party had a prom theme and the cast and production team received show “yearbooks” in keeping with the graduation of the young  “Wizards” actors.  Of her onscreen offspring, she notes, “They really are great people in that they each have a good head on their shoulders.  They’re very professional, focused on their work, they enjoy it and they realized the show was a blessing and appreciated it.”

MEANWHILE:  Maria says she texted back and forth with Selena recently when the 18-year-old It Girl took ill and was hospitalized after a “Tonight Show” appearance.  “She sent me a note that she was feeling much better,” reports the actress, who adds that she didn’t ask the nature of her former TV daughter’s ailment.  Having played mom to both Selena and Demi Lovato (in “Camp Rock” and its sequel), she’s aware of the fact both young stars are constant tabloid targets, with Demi having recently made her bipolar condition public, and Selena paparazzi bait as she dates teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.

“I don’t now how they can handle it.  It must be incredibly difficult at their age,” she says.

But Maria — who has two young daughters of her own — would much rather rhapsodize about her small screen daughters.  “What are the chances of two little girls who are best friends, both extremely talented, winding up becoming so wildly successful?  Demi is like — she glows.  She has that megawatt smile, and so much passion and enegy.  I love, love, love her voice.  She’s an incredible singer.  And Selena, she is so naturally an actress.  She was fully present, emotionally there, at 12 years of age and she’s just gotten better and better — amazing, especially when we were doing dramatic scenes.

“I really love them both to pieces,” she adds.

We guessed.

George Clooney, Al Pacino, Kyra Sedgwick, Eric Stonestreet and More – Backstage From the Emmy Winners’ Circle

George Clooney

George Clooney proved again how utterly charming he is, Al Pacino quoted Michelangelo, and Kyra Sedgwick talked the fifth time being the charm backstage at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Maybe it was that First Amendment question that got things rolling.   George Clooney, honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his fund-raising work including this year’s multi-network telethon for Haiti earthquake relief, was asked about the conflict between wanting to maintain some kind of privacy in his life and his belief in the First Amendment.

He said firmly that, as the son of a newsman, “I always felt that the inconveniences I have are worth it rather than infringing on anyone else’s rights.”

Alrighty then, open season!

Clooney quickly deflected a question about his date – girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis — noting that “She picked me up in Italy” and yes, she was around.

He said he’d spent part of his day shooting hoops:  “John Krasinski came over to my house with a bunch of guys to play basketball.  If you see him later, well, he’s limping.”

Illustrating anew that the stars’ biggest fans are other stars, Clooney confessed to a moment of that star-struck feeling when he found himself with Al Pacino and Tom Selleck in the green room, and “suddenly I’m 14 years old.  It’s very funny.”

He also gave the telecast its first glowing review:  “The show is really good tonight.  Jimmy Fallon is just really killing it.  He’s just really funny.”

George on Prop 8 being lifted:  “I think it’s terrific.  Now it’s unlifted again…These are things that take a long time to change…People will look back on this period of history and think of it as an archaic time.”

George on his “ER” leading lady, Julianna Margulies, presenting his award:  “It’s pretty great. We’ve stayed in touch.  We’re good friends.”

Clooney talked about the namesake of his award, Bob Hope, noting, “It wasn’t just the USO shows.  That’s something everybody remembers him for 50 years.  He was one of the great charitable actors.  He did it all, always a great sense of humor.  He was fun.  He’d just show up and do something.”  Asked what he learned from Hope, Clooney, who knew the iconic comedian personally as a young man, recalled that “What you learn from him was, he didn’t take himself seriously.  I really appreciated that.”  Clooney recalled that Hope’s wife Dolores sang with his aunt, Rosemary Clooney, on her “Salute” show, and “she was great.  She’s 101 now and really doing great.”

Noting several times that he felt a little awkward to be getting an award for doing the right thing, Clooney insisted, “I don’t particularly do more than anybody else in the position I’m in.”

Well, not everyone organizes record-breaking, multi-network telethons full of A- List celebrities to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, the South Asia tsunami and Sept. 11 — raises hundreds of millions of dollars, and then follows up to ensure that the money is being used properly as Clooney does.  But anyway, he went on, “If you have a tremendous amount of heat from the spotlight, you’re able to deflect some of it onto people who could really use it.  My dad calls it a ‘Celebrity Credit Card’ that you can try to cash in other places.”

Al Pacino

Al Pacino, who won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his portrayal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in “You Don’t Know Jack,” admitted that he felt a bit out of place at the TV honors.  “I’m just so used to movies,” he said, noting that he considered his HBO “You Don’t Know Jack” to be a movie, though it was shown on small screen.

“You’re a little lost.  You’re in the midst of all these TV people and you feel a little like you don’t belong.  You still feel like a movie person,” said Al.

Holding an Emmy had to have helped.

Pacino talked about the controversial medico known as Dr. Death for assisting suicides of terminally ill patients, saying he only got to know Kevorkian after making the movie, but “I’m so glad I got to know him.  He’s got that kind of intelligence where you can ask him anything and he’ll come up with something different from what you expected.”

Pacino lost weight to play Kevorkian, a notoriously finicky eater who has impassioned feelings against fat – yet is known to sneak sweets, according to Al.  He joked, “Gaining weight is much easier.  I wish I had to gain weight for a part.  Losing weight requires exercise, and “I’m from the Oscar Wilde school…Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes.”

He told press he considers it a plus to play a real-life character:  “It’s great when you know somebody exists…It sort of frees you.  As Michelangelo said: ‘Free me of myself, Lord, so I can please you.’  I had that with Frank Serpico when I played him.  Actors like it, it’s very nourishing.”

Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick, who took home her first Emmy (outstanding Lead Actress for “The Closer”) in five nominations, was asked whether she’d been afraid of turning into another Susan Lucci, notorious for always being nominated but never winning.  “I love Susan Lucci,” she said.  “I kind of think you think you haven’t got a chance in hell after five times, but it’s always such a gift to be invited to the party.”

Looking amazing in her purple Monique Lhuillier gown, Kyra added that she reached the point, “I started to placate myself” with remembering that a lot of great actors never won Emmys – Martin Sheen, for instance, never won for “The West Wing.”  “I’d find solace in such things.”

With hubby Kevin Bacon in the press room nearby, sipping champagne while she fielded questions, Kyra was asked about competition between the famous couple.

“I think Kev’s won more….We don’t play the same roles…Of course there’s no rivalry.”  She says they always joke around about whether there’s enough room for another award.

Eric Stonestreet

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series winner Eric Stonestreet talked eloquently and movingly about reaction to his portrayal of a dad with a same-sex partner on “Modern Family.”  “I can tell you what people say to me – I get amazing compliments from kids of same sex families.”  He cited a “gentleman who was raised by two moms” who had recently adopted another daughter.  He thanked Stonestreet, saying that now, if bullies ever taunt his sister, “she can say, ‘Look at Mitch and Cam – you like them.”

Mitch and Cam, of course, are the couple played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and himself.   Ferguson and cast mate Ty Burrell were also nominated in the same category, so one reporter wondered whether there’d be awkwardness on the set Monday.

“No, not at all, we had all joked around abut that before — if any one of us won whether it would be fun to punch each other in the stomach or walk out.”  However, “This was a win for the show…We love our job, so it won’t be awkward at all.”

Stonestreet and “Modern Family” executive producer Steve Levitan – who came into the press room after the show won Outstanding Comedy Series honors – both stressed that the upcoming episode in which Cam and Mitch kiss was planned a long time ago.   That is, before the controversy grew over their lack of physicality on the series.  Although, as Stonestreet acknowledged, it’s going “to look like we caved to public pressure, it was planned before.”

Asked about where he found inspiration for his portrayal, Stonestreet pointed to his mom – “spell it right” – Jamey and her excitable, emotional, passionately caring ways.  After he keeps it for a couple of weeks, he’s sending his Emmy to her and his father Vince to keep, he says.

He’s had a lot of women tell him that they identify with Cam.

Edie Falco

“Nurse Jackie’s” Edie Falco came right out and said what a lot of people were thinking about her winning as Outsanding Actress in a Comedy – over a group of funny ladies that included Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lea Michele, Toni Collette, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.   Said Falco:  “Tina Fey, for heaven’s sake.  It’s ridiculous!”  She also said, “The women I was up against are hysterically funny, talented comedians.  I’m not playing coy here.  I’m just dumbfounded by the events of the evening.”  She added, “But I’m happy to be here nonetheless.”

As for what she planned to do to celebrate?  “I hadn’t planned on celebrating.  I’d planned on going home and ordering room service,” Falco said.  But she was glad to make a change in her plans.

Tom Hanks

For those die-hards who care about the coarsening of public discourse in America today, Betty White’s “What the hell are you looking at” during the opening number of the Emmy show this year no doubt felt like a let down.  Et tu, Betty?  Later, after his “The Pacific” won the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, Tom Hanks dropped the F-bomb backstage.  At least he apologized right away.  He got carried away when a reporter mentioned how HBO and his Playtone production company continue to be winners, and Tom answered with “$#%-in’ A!”

Hanks also talked about the fact he was sorry there were only two nominees in the category, since there are certain stories that so well suited to the form.  He hopes “The Pacific” serves as a model.  As for what will come next from the firm that has gifted the public with a phenomenal string of artistically, intellectually and emotionally satisfying productions (“From the Earth to the Moon,” “John Adams,” “Band of Brothers” to name three), Hanks said they’re still three or four years away from unveiling any new projects.

Padma Lakshmi

When it comes to the night’s most overtly competitive personality, honors have to go to “Top Chef’s” Padma Lakshmi.  She made it clear that she’d had enough of “Amazing Race” winning “Outstanding Reality – Competition” honors year after year.  “I was really mean to the host on the red carpet.  I think I hit him twice with my purse,” she said.  “I said, ‘You’re going down.’”  And so they did – and “Top Chef” got the Emmy.

Claire Danes

“It’s always nice to see someone who is getting old with you,” said Anthony Edwards, asked about his former “ER” cast mate George Clooney being honored the same night that Edwards’ “Temple Grandin” won seven out of 15 Emmy nominations, becoming one of the huge winners of this year’s awards.

Edwards is one of the executive producers of the telefilm that won Emmys for Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress for Claire Danes, Outstanding Director for Mick Jackson, and Supporting Actor and Actress Emmys for David Strathairn and Julia Ormond.  Getting the bio-pic made was a ten-year effort.  “I was very involved from an early part of the journey…Trying to sell a movie about a woman who is autistic and designs slaughterhouses – it’s not the easiest sell,” Edwards admitted.

Clearly, however, it was worth it.  Grandin herself was in the press room, and pointed out that the telefilm has a lot to say about autism and clearing up misconceptions about the nature of the malady.  She noted that autistics range from “Silicon Valley geniuses” to severely afflicted persons who can’t even speak.

She also said she had faith in Emily Gerson Saines, the lead Exec producer and driving force behind the film of “Temple Grandin.”  Saines’ own son is autistic, and she founded the Autism Coalition for Research and Education that’s now a part of Autism Speaks.

Said Grandin, “I knew a mom would get it right.”

Asked what made this win special, Claire Danes declared, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder on a performance. It was epic in its scope.  And I don’t think I’ve ever been as inspired by any part I’ve played.”  She feels that Grandin and the film of her story “encourage positive change in the world. That’s wonderful.  I don’t expect to have another opportunity like this.”

Danes admitted that her shimmery golden Armani Prive gown was “not as uncomfortable as it could be.”  She wasn’t complaining.  After all, “It’s a party dress and we’re gonna party!”

Kathryn Morris: ‘Cold Case’ Heroine To Blur Legal Lines

Lilly Rush as Kathry Morris in

Fans of “Cold Case” can expect detective Lily Rush to take a turn off the straight and narrow in the forthcoming seventh season of the CBS drama.  That’s the word from series star Kathryn Morris, who tells us, “There’s a lot of questionable activity for Lily this year.  All the best heroes have that fork in the road, you know.”

Morris acknowledges that last season wound amid talk of “Cold Case” being “on the bubble or whatever, but we were not.  We were cranked up 30-40 per cent in the last leg,” she says, referring to the series’ ratings.  “And we had this really explosive season finale” — with Lily’s car being forced off a bridge into 40 feet of water.

“It was really cool to be able to complete that and it really raised a whole new set of questions for everyone,” adds Morris.  “So now every character has something that they’re going to be delving into.  For Lily, well, the justice system has always worked for her, but now she’s finding out that no, it isn’t really working for her as it has for all the victims that she takes care of things for.  Now she can take things into her own hands and I think she’s going to blur the lines a little bit.”

THE INSIDE TRACK: English singer-songwriter David Gray shot to fame in the late 90s with his breakout album “White Ladder,” including such hits as “Babylon” and “This Year’s Love.” With his newest album, he’s hoping he can finally match that success.

“With your first breakthrough thing, I don’t think you can recreate it.  It was fairytale that wrote itself with me in the middle of it.  All you can do is try to create something of equal potency,” says Gray, whose album “Draw the Line” hits stores Sept. 22.

Gray has a new band, which, he says, “has given me a completely new lease on life.  There’s this sort of bulletproof feeling that I’ve got when I’m inside the music that we’ve made,” he tells us.  “‘White Ladder’ will always be something that will be there.  It’s a benchmark thing that you’ll always be pigeonholed into, but I’m trying to get out of the cage for Chrissakes.  This is certainly my best shot at it,” he adds with a laugh.

Also featured on the album are two duets with Jolie Holland and Annie Lennox, who Gray says added a breath of fresh air to the project.  “Oh, that was brilliant. We were a bunch of cynical bastards sitting there in the studio not knowing what it was going to be like.  We needed the other voice to be able to finish the song and Annie just blew us away.  She was like a gale of positive energy from the moment she came into the studio.  There was no ego or nonsense.  She just threw her heart and soul into it because she wanted it to be as good as it could be.”

Gray begins his US tour with the album starting Oct. 23 in Boston.  “The gigs are the best part of it…I’m just fanaticizing about getting out there and playing.”

NO REGRETS: Some TV stars aren’t too thrilled about constantly being associated with their most memorable character, especially years after the show has been off the air.  But “A Different World” star Darryl M. Bell tells us he takes it as a compliment.

“With six years in primetime as one of highest-rated shows on television and 17 years of syndication, we still get recognized pretty frequently.  Not only am I flattered by it, but I embrace it,” says Bell, who is currently starring on Fox Reality Channel’s “Househusbands of Hollywood” with his longtime girlfriend Tempest Bledsoe of  “The Cosby Show.”

“We’ve all taken great pride in the legacy that ‘A Different World’ left, which was doubling the enrollment in historically black colleges and universities.  That’s always been amazing,” notes Bell.  “I can’t tell you how many young men come up to me and tell me the show is the reason they went to college or went to a black college.  It’s been one of the most gratifying things about the work that we’ve done.”

It also helped pave the way for many other African American shows of its time.  “It was a precursor to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ ‘In Living Color,’ ‘Martin,’ ‘Living Single,’ and all the other shows that opened the door for more African American shows on television,” he says.  “The late 80’s was a magical time for African American shows in television.  For whatever reason, the fact that that door hasn’t stayed as opened in today’s environment as we would have liked is unfortunate.  Hopefully that will come back.”

NOTE WORTHY: Nia Vardalos, who collaborated with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson to make “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “My Life In Ruins,” wants us to know, “They are very normal people.  They are so down to earth.  They have managed to achieve a very humble existence in this cesspool of a town, so I admire them for that.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster