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NEWS LITE : PECK LAUDS ACTORS BUT BOOS SCRIPTS.

Veteran film star Gregory Peck is pleased with the current crop of Hollywood actors. His only problem is with the screenwriters.

``The quality of film acting is quite high,'' Peck said Friday at a fund-raiser for the Missouri Repertory Theater in Kansas City, Mo. ``If there's a problem, it's the absence of really good scripts.''

Asked which current stars he admired, Peck mentioned Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and added, ``I think this Matt Damon is going places.''

Peck won an Academy Award for his role as Atticus Finch in ``To Kill a Mockingbird'' and played Captain Ahab in ``Moby Dick.'' Some of Peck's other many credits include ``Spellbound,'' ``Roman Holiday,'' ``The Guns of Navarone,'' ``The Gunfighter,'' ``Cape Fear,'' ``How the West was Won,'' ``The Boys from Brazil'' and ``The Omen.''

Finale of `Sanders' to mirror real life?

Garry Shandling is saying farewell to Larry Sanders, but unlike his TV alter ego the impact of the goodbye hasn't hit him yet.

The comedian closing the book on his hit HBO sitcom ``The Larry Sanders Show'' says he hasn't experienced Sanders' emotional roller-coaster ride about departing because he's ``still too close to it.''

Airing May 31, the final episode can't help but mirror Shandling's real-life unhappy ending to the show, coming thanks to a bitter lawsuit exchange with former manager-partner Brad Grey amid allegations of double-dealing and personal betrayal.

Still, Shandling says he's not Sanders.

``I think this show works because I'm able to see both sides in some objective way that allows me to write about someone caught up in a materialistic world, yet I write as someone who is fighting just that,'' Shandling says in the latest Entertainment Weekly. ``Larry does not have any sense of introspection, of what the consequences of his self-absorption are on other people. I, on the other hand, have been in my introspective period since I was 14.''

The final installment of the sitcom that skewers Hollywood phoniness features guest stars including Warren Beatty, Carol Burnett, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Carrey and David Duchovny.

Turner tells grads money not end-all

Billionaire Ted Turner says money isn't everything.

Speaking to graduates at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., on Saturday, the media mogul urged departing seniors to choose a career they really enjoy, put family first, and continuously exercise their minds.

``There are other things in life much more important than just making money, and having made a lot, I'm qualified to speak about it,'' Turner said.

The founder of CNN, TBS, TNT and head of sports teams including the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks said that of all his successes, ``the thing I am proudest of is my family.''

Turner, 59, pointed out that all five of his children earned college degrees - an accomplishment he didn't accomplish until he was 50.

Lighter Holocaust film gets standing ovation at Cannes

Making a movie about the Holocaust is delicate enough. Making one that is humorous, too? Some would call that crazy.

Yet Italian comic star Roberto Benigni has attempted it, and his tale of a man trying wildly and creatively to shield his son from concentration camp horrors is the first unqualified hit at Cannes.

At its official premiere Sunday night, the film was hailed with a 10-minute standing ovation and shouts of ``Bravo!'' from the audience.

Many Holocaust films try to present the century's darkest moment in its full scope, to show the enormity of the event. It's easy to fail in this venture, and Benigni doesn't even try.

Instead, ``Life is Beautiful'' is simply about one man, one woman and one child. There are concentration camp scenes, and references to gas chambers. But there are no big signs in German, barely a Nazi flag, barely a swastika.

``We assume people already know about those things,'' says Benigni, who co-wrote, directed and starred in the film.

Benigni, revered in Italy for his highly physical comedy, is best known abroad for manic performances in Jim Jarmusch's ``Down By Law'' and ``Night on Earth.'' He's been called Italy's Chaplin, but there's some Woody Allen there, too.

He plays Guido, a Jewish man who comes to a Tuscan town in 1939 to open a bookstore, but can only get work as a waiter. A jokester and above all a dreamer, he sets his sights on Dora, who is engaged to a local Fascist official.

He wins her, and soon they have a little boy, Joshua. Guido seems oblivious to the rising anti-Semitism in Mussolini's Italy - until the day the family is deported to a Nazi camp.

To shield his son from the horror, Guido begins an elaborate ruse. The whole thing is a game, he tells Joshua; the first to get 1,000 points will win a great prize: a real army tank. The nasty men in uniform are just role-playing. You get points by being quiet, hiding, not asking for snacks . . .

As the horror grows, Guido's attempts to save his son become more desperate. The ending is not completely happy, but definitely not completely sad, either.

Australians charging $6,300 for a case of Duff Beer? Doh!

Homer Simpson's favorite beer, Duff, has become a real-life collector's item and is being offered for sale for up to $6,300 a case.

Banned from sale in 1996 after the makers of ``The Simpsons'' complained the name was stolen from their cartoon series, a beer called Duff has reappeared for sale in Australia in classified advertisements.

The same 24 cans of the beer that cost about $15 in 1995 now have an asking price of up to $6,300.

According to ads in the latest edition of a national classified advertisements newspaper, a six-pack of Duff will set buyers back $750. In the three Duff ads, the cheapest price for a case was $2,800.

``I'm after a quick sale so I priced a bit lower than some other people,'' advertiser Andrew Wade, who has two unopened cases, told the Sydney newspaper The Sun-Herald.

In 1996, a Federal Court judge ruled that the South Australian Brewing Co., a subsidiary of Lion Nathan Australia, illegally had tried to ``exploit a strong association'' with ``The Simpsons'' by making and selling Duff Beer.

The case went to court after 20th Century Fox Film Corp., which distributes the series, complained.

Duff went on the Australian market in 1995. Homer Simpson began chugging a fictional brew by the same name in 1990, when the show went on the air.

Firetruck ignites on its test drive

Where's the fire? In the new firetruck.

A fire started under the engine of the new truck Saturday as members of the Quaker Farms Fire Company in Oxford, Conn., were taking it out for a test drive. Firefighters on the $300,000 truck had to call back to company headquarters for help putting out the blaze, which may have started in the fuel pump or turbocharger, Fire Chief Gary Flach said.

``It's kind of embarrassing to get a new firetruck and have it catch on fire,'' said Fire Marshal Fred Pommer.

News Lite is compiled from Daily News staff and wire reports

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2 Photos

PHOTO (1) Italian director Roberto Benigni clowns around in Cannes on Sunday.

Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

(2) PECK
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 18, 1998
Words:1209
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