Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Latest on TV: Bumps in the Night

Notable movies and other programs on TV for Monday October 1 to Sunday October 7:

October is here, which means one thing: lots of horror movies on TV!

TCM kicks off a month long salute to "Classic Horror Directors" every Friday, beginning with Jacques Tourneur on the 5th. His moody, atmospheric style can be seen in tonight's films, including Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie and The Leopard Man.

More undead on TCM with a marathon of vintage vampire and zombie flicks on Friday, including Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth and Bela Lugosi in My Son, the Vampire.

This week's movies not on DVD: Alice Faye in Hello Frisco, Hello (Tuesday, Fox Movie Channel), Raymond Massey in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (Tuesday, TCM), Henry Fonda in Stage Struck (Friday, TCM), Dennis O'Keefe in Brewster's Millions and Gina Lollobrigida in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (both Sunday, TCM).

Fonda is TCM's "Star of the Month". You can catch more of his best on Thursday, including 12 Angry Men and Jezebel, with Bette Davis.

If you've missed some of AMC's great Movies That Shook the World series, then this week gives you a great chance to catch up: Philadelphia on Monday and
American Graffiti and The China Syndrome on Friday.

And finally, this week in Diva TV: Susan Lucci joins the Queer Eye guys as they return for one last round on Bravo (Tuesday). And Susan Sarandon brings a little class to Fox's MADtv (Saturday).

Click on the network links to find the show times in your area. All programming is subject to change.

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Potent Quotables: John Carradine on Multitasking

Katharine Hepburn played the title role in John Ford's Mary of Scotland, and, if she had had her wish, would have also played Elizabeth I. When Kate suggested this to RKO, co-star John Carradine asked:

"But if you play both queens, how would you know which one to upstage?"

Florence Eldridge was cast as the Virgin Queen.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ritz Crack-Ups

All the latest on our favorite stories to make the leap from screen to stage and back again:

- And that, my friends, is what you call a farce. The above picture is from the new revival of The Ritz on Broadway. Here are more pictures of Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin in character as Googie Gomez and Gaetano Proclo, and you can see more of the very tall Terrence Riordan in Brooks Ashmanskas' hilariously self-deprecating backstage video tour of the show, now playing at Club 54. In addition to the gorgeous three-story set (you've never seen a bathhouse look so good), you'll also see cast members Patrick Kerr (who you'll remember as nerdy Noel on Frasier), the fabulous Seth Rudetsky and the pornolicious Ryan Idol in all their hirsute 70's glory.

- And if you're into Hairy guys, here's some pics from the recent 40th anniversary concert performance of that flower powerful musical starring Spring Awakening cutie Jonathan Groff.

- If you missed my update last week, the MTV presentation of Legally Blonde - The Musical will now premiere on Saturday, October 13. Meanwhile, the hard-working sorority gals and legal eagles of the show recently won the first ever "Outstanding Broadway Chorus" award from Actor's Equity.

- Elsewhere, the most famous Chorus Line ever will soon hit the road in a national tour.

- Chaka Khan, Bebe Winans and American Idol's LaKisha Jones are the latest pop divas to join The Color Purple, although don't expect Chaka to stick around for long.

- Another "famous book set in the South and turned into a movie" is now also being turned into a stage musical. Are you ready for ... Gone With the Wind: The Musical?

- In this week's Grease: You're the One That I Want update: "Emotional Sandy" Ashley Anderson has joined The Wedding Singer tour and "Ambitious Danny" Chad Doreck talks about becoming one of the Altar Boyz.

Speaking of boy bands, here's news of a show-tune singing one that just may be the gayest thing ever (and I mean that as a good thing).

And speaking of reality shows, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, the British program that cast the lead in The Sound of Music, is heading to North America. Don't get too excited though: it will land in Canada.

- Maybe those rumors of a Brokeback Mountain musical weren't too far off after all: Brokeback ... the opera?

- Another tearjerker making the transfer from page to screen to stage: The Joy Luck Club will have their first meeting Off-Broadway.

- Xanadu sweetie Kerry Butler talks about Penny, Audrey, Ariel and Clio-slash-Kira.

- Are you grumpy, old and a man? Then you too can be on Broadway in the upcoming Grumpy Old Men: The Musical.

- On the gay icon front: the first Off-Broadway performance of Charles Busch's Die Mommie Die! will benefit Live Out Loud, which provides gay youth with mentors and role models. On the other coast, get a look at Harvey Fierstein in A Catered Affair, now playing in San Diego.

And on the "he's not gay, but we love him anyway" front: Bobby Cannavale stars in Mauritius on Broadway.

- From the cast of Young Frankenstein, meet Christopher Fitzgerald (who plays "the peculiar Igor"), Fred Applegate (the Lonely Hermit) and Andrea Martin (as Frau Bl├╝cher [horses whinny]) in exclusive video interviews over at

- Chicago still sizzles, as this new internet ad campaign proves.

- Paint Your Wagon hits the trail back to Broadway.

- QueerSighted says it all in the title: "High School Musical Even Gayer on Stage (as if That Were Possible)".

- You can learn all about The Last Starfighter musical, now performing at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, or at least check out Danny Binstock, the hottie they cast in the lead. I'd like to see how he handles a joystick ...

- And finally: To all the Keanu Reeves fans who blasted me last week, check out this article on the soon to hit LA Point Break LIVE! to see that he is, in fact, dispensable.

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Turnin' Back Time: Cher Through the Years (Brought To You By Mattel)

If there is one diva who looks good in plastic, it would be Cher. Over the years, with all the rumored rib removals and rhinoplasties, the singer/actress/ goddess has gone thru more renovations then a Ritz Carlton.

So leave it to the fashion doll geniuses at Mattel to design a line of Cher Barbie dolls that document our icon from her 70's heyday to her 80's comeback era. Clad in miniature recreations of Bob Mackie's finest, these two 11 ½ inch replicas of the former Mrs. Bono are a far cry from the old school Cher doll sold back in the day.

The Barbie 1970s Cher Doll is decked out in feathers and buckskin for the whole "Half Breed" look, while the Barbie 1980s Cher Doll sports her leather and lace look from the infamous "If I Could Turn Back Time" music video (horny sailors not included). It is not clear if her many tattoos adorn her plastic frame, but the dolls do recreate Cher's bountiful black mane quite effectively. (Click on these two links to to purchase the dolls.)

We're still waiting for her other looks, such as her notorious Spider-Woman ensemble from the 1986 Oscars or even a movie role or two. Personally, I would love a little Loretta Castorini, but not the post makeover, going to the opera one. I'm thinking the frumpy, grey-haired one, compete with spring-loaded slapping action that squawks, "Snap out of it!" when she smacks the Nicolas Cage Ken doll upside the head.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Out in Film: Rosie O'Donnell

Love her or annoyed by her, you have to admire Rosie O'Donnell for always standing up for what she believes in. And since coming out in 2002, O'Donnell has been a very visible proponent for various gay causes and other charities and was recently ranked #10 in The Advocate's 40th anniversary list of "Gay Heroes" (more on that later).

O'Donnell first came to audience's attention as a stand-up comic on Star Search, which led to TV gigs on Gimme a Break and VH-1. She made her film debut in A League of Their Own and suddenly seemed to be everywhere: Sleepless in Seattle, Another Stakeout, The Flintstones, Exit to Eden, Now and Then. Around this time, she also began her public love affair with Broadway, starring in a revival of Grease and hosting the Tony Awards three times (she would later star in Seussical and Fiddler on the Roof as well).

In 1996, O'Donnell returned to her first love, television, with her own eponymous talk show. The extremely popular series, which would go on to win 24 Emmy Awards (including 11 for O'Donnell herself) in six seasons, brought the Koosh Ball-tossing "Queen of Nice" to the masses. Acting-wise, she continued to make guest appearances on such programs as All My Children, Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal and Will and Grace and appeared in the movies Beautiful Girls, Harriet the Spy, Wide Awake and Disney's Tarzan.

Soon after two huge events in her life (the end of her series, coming out), O'Donnell suffered some public set backs, including a nasty battle over McCall's magazine and the Broadway flop Taboo (which she produced). Last fall, she made her triumphant return to TV talk on The View. Ratings soared, but the on-air controversies began piling up, and she eventually left the program earlier this year.

Meanwhile, while still acting occasionally (the TV movie Riding the Bus With My Sister, guest spots on Queer as Folk and Nip/Tuck), O'Donnell and her wife Kelli Carpenter founded R Family Vacations, which offers luxury cruises for gay families (profiled in the documentary All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise) and is an avid blogger. Her memoir, Find Me,was a national best-seller, as will likely be her next book, Celebrity Detox: (the fame game)(on sale October 2), which reportedly will detail her tumultuous time on The View.

In recognition of O'Donnell and the eleven other film-related Advocate "Gay Heroes" (listed here), this week's MD Poll asks the question: "Of these 12 "Gay Heroes" as named by The Advocate, which one is most deserving of such a title?" The poll will run for one week, and can be found under my profile in the sidebar to your right.

UPDATE: The poll is now closed, click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

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9 Lives / Fab 4 / Galactica 80 & More

In the next few months, we'll all be gearing up for the holiday season, so lots of nifty new DVDs are on the horizon just in time for gift-giving:

- Nine Lives(Available October 2): This sexy gay-themed drama stars out in Hollywood actor Steve Callahan. So naturally, Out in Hollywood has an interview with him, where he also chats about his other movie coming soon to DVD, East Side Story(December 4).

- I Love Lucy: The Complete Series(October 23): If you don't already have the sitcom that started it all, here's your chance. As a bonus, the set will include the never released I Love Lucy movie.

- Help!(October 30): The Beatles re-team with director Richard Lester for their follow up to A Hard Day's Night. A deluxe edition, which will include reproductions of the script, original poster and lobby cards, will go on sale November 6.

- Ratatouille(November 6): The Disney/Pixar animated hit about a rat who wants to be a top chef makes its DVD debut. Also available that day: the Pixar Short Films Collection - Volume 1,which will include all the classic shorts produced by the studio to date.

- Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition(November 13): For the first time ever on DVD, all three versions of CE3K together in one DVD set: the original 1977 theatrical version, the 1980 special edition and the 1998 director's cut.

- Nosferatu: The Ultimate Two-Disc Edition(November 20): F. W. Murnau's silent classic as it was originally seen, fully restored and complete with the original intertitles and accompanied by the score that played with the film at the time of its original release.

- Walt Disney Treasures: Wave 7 (December 11): Three new titles in the DVD series hosted by Leonard Maltin:

- Galactica 1980 - The Complete Epic Series(December 26): Anyone who remembers this first attempt to reboot Battlestar Galactica are all laughing that they are actually calling it an "Epic Series". Pure cheese.

Click on the above links to pre-order these titles from

Also coming soon to DVD are two long awaited gay faves: The Ritz (the bathhouse sex farce starring Rita Moreno and Treat Williams) and Personal Best (Robert Towne's lesbian on the run drama starring Mariel Hemingway), both on January 8.

Plus, just what we were waiting for: direct-to-video sequels to The Lost Boys, Legally Blonde and Open Season.

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"Grease" is Baby's First Word

In the tradition of the Muppet Babies and the Tiny Toons, here are ... the Greaser Babies! (Cigarette smoking, pregnancy scares and slutty clothing not included.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

MD Poll: Nothing Can Stop the "Beat"

The first MD Poll was a rousing success, with 220 total votes. I didn't doubt that anything could stop "You Can't Stop the Beat" as the favorite Hairspray song; the pulse-pounding grand finale easily topped the list with 40% of the vote (88 total votes). The surprise came with #2: "(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs" nabbed 25 votes (11%). The lesson to be learned here? Never underestimate the fans of La Pfeiffer.

Onscreen lovebirds Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron vied for third place with their respective solos "Good Morning Baltimore" and "Ladies' Choice". Harmony was restored, however, when they tied with 23 votes each, for an even 10%. "The Nicest Kids in Town" rounds out the top five with 15 votes (6%).

The next MD Poll will be announced tomorrow in this week's "Out in Film" profile.

Meanwhile, in other Hairspray news: We have learned some more about its eagerly awaited DVD release on November 20th. Both the two-disc "Shake and Shimmy" edition and the Blu-ray version will include such bonus material as a "jump to a song" feature (with optional onscreen sing along lyrics), a step-by-step dance tutorial and "Hairspray Extensions", which will offer multiple views of select musical numbers. Deleted scenes will include the cut songs "I Can Wait" and a Velma-only "Big Blonde and Beautiful" reprise, plus alternate versions of "Welcome to the 60's" and "You Can't Stop the Beat". Two "making of" features will come in at a total of 120 minutes, three minutes longer then the movie itself (not complaining, just saying). The Blu-ray will also have a nifty "picture-in-picture" option where you can watch behind-the-scene footage during the movie (this will also be included on the HD-DVD, available next year).

Also, the new collector's edition soundtrack (now called a "Deluxe Box Set"!) will include the original soundtrack and a second CD that will be packed with recording demos, unreleased songs from the movie, video karaoke and more. The Hairspray movie blog also states that composer Marc Shaiman teased that the set will feature "lots of guest stars!" The new album will be released on November 20th as well.

Click here to pre-order the Hairspray DVDsand/or the new soundtrack CDfrom
Click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.
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Monthly Wallpaper - October 2007: Classic Movie Monsters

October is almost here, which means Halloween is just around the corner. Therefore, this month's calendar wallpaper is a salute to the "Classic Movie Monsters" of yesteryear, in all their black and white glory.

This veritable "monster mash" includes the Universal mainstays Frankenstein (and his Bride), Dracula and The Wolf Man, along with other old school faves The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the original King Kong. Zombies (Night of the Living Dead), pod people (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and a very large carrot from outer space (The Thing from Another World) are on hand next to such relatively normal-looking creeps as Norman Bates, Rhoda Penmark, Dorian Gray and Baby Jane Hudson.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

Trick or treat!

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Film Art: Welcome to the Jungle

In preparation for next week's Platinum Edition release of Disney's animated adventure classic The Jungle Book, here is some nifty early concept art of the cast, including the unused character "Rocky the Rhino". (Click image to enlarge.)

Rocky will be the star of his own bonus feature on the two-disc set, available Tuesday (my Toon Talk review of the new DVD will be posted that day as well).

Click here to pre-order The Jungle Book: 40th Anniversary Platinum Editionfrom

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The Latest in Theaters: A Piece of the Rock

This week's movies include the latest from two Academy Award-winning directors and four Academy Award-winning actors ... but don't underestimate The Rock. Have you smelled what he's cooking?

- The Game Plan: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a superstar quarterback on his way to the big touchdown when he is sidelined by the seven-year-old daughter (cutie-patootie Madison Pettis) he never knew he had. Kyra Sedgwick co-stars in this family-friendly flick from Disney. (I'll post my Toon Talk review of The Game Plan next week.)
- The Kingdom: Peter Berg directs this, one of many war-themed dramas gunning for Oscar glory this year. Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman (uh, what's he doing here?) go all commando on their search for a mad bomber in the Middle East.
- Lust, Caution: Ang Lee's first post-Brokeback picture received mixed review on the festival circuit, but won Venice's Golden Lion anyway. Leung Chi Wai and Wei Tang get all lusty and caution-less in Shanghai circa the 1940's; already slightly notorious for its NC-17 rated sex scenes.
- The Darjeeling Limited: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman are estranged brothers on a cross-country train trip through India seeking spiritual fulfillment yet finding wacky escapades instead. Wes Anderson's latest quirk fest co-stars Bill Murray (what a surprise). Limited opens this week in (wait for it) limited release.
- Feast of Love: Robert Benton oversees this multi-layered tale of love, sex and death starring Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Jane Alexander and, in a lesbian romance, Selma Blair and Stana Katic.

Visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Movie Music: Miss Bette Davis

Certified film legend, actress unparallel, unquestionable gay icon. Bette Davis was known as many things in her life (some not even nice), but did you know that she was a recording artist as well?

Sure, she warbled her way through such onscreen numbers as the Oscar-nominated "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" in Thank Your Lucky Stars and "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and she even played a "musical comedy girl" (at age 44) in Two's Companyon Broadway.

But in 1976, Miss Bette Davis actually recorded her very own album, titled Miss Bette Davis (as if it could have been called anything else). On it, you can hear the above two movie songs, plus her own surprisingly haunting rendition of the title track from Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, as well as "It Can't Be Wrong" from Now, Voyager and (for no other reason then to give the listener a break from her singing, I guess), her big "you're not a woman" car speech from All About Eve. These and the other standards that fill out the album are sung in her own, shall we say, distinctive style. Granted, she is no vocalist by any stretch of the imagination, but what she lacks in vibrato she makes up with in sheer bravado.

That ol' show biz moxie is amply apparent in this vintage clip of Davis' appearance to shill the album on that 70's classic daytime talker Dinah! In it, she begs off actually singing "I Wish You Love" due to "this croak", and instead "goes along with" the recording. As you, I and Dinah Shore back in the day know, that's called lip-synching, but Miss Bette Davis, ever the consummate professional, will have known of that nonsense. She may have been many things in her life, but at that moment, she was a singer.

Click here to purchase the Miss Bette Davisalbum from
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Women We Love: Esther Williams

From O.J. to The Rock, athletes-turned-actors have found varying degrees of success in show biz. However, the most popular example originated not from a rough-and-tumble sport like football or baseball, but from the world of competitive swimming: Esther Williams.

A national freestyle champion, Williams was discovered by MGM talent scouts, ultimately starring in a string of hugely popular musical pictures in the 1940's and 50's that made her one of the studio's shiniest stars. The highlights of each of her films were highly choreographed, intricately photographed water ballet spectaculars, each more elaborate then the last. These underwater extravaganzas became such an indelible image of the "Hollywood musical" that they have been paid homage to/parodied by everyone from Mel Brooks to Miss Piggy to Carol Burnett.

But Williams was more then just a pretty face in a bikini who could hold her breath underwater for alarming amounts of time. She was also a very talented light comedienne, perfectly suited for the vehicles tailored for her. She also had a pleasant singing voice, most notably on display in the Oscar-winning song/future standard "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from Neptune's Daughter, sung as a duet with Ricardo Montalban. Her other famous co-stars ranged from Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Take Me Out to the Ballgame to Tom and Jerry in Dangerous When Wet.

It wasn't all fun in the pool though; Williams suffered for her art. While filming Million Dollar Mermaid (my personal favorite of hers), she broke her neck during a high dive. Ruptured eardrums and near-drowning were also common to her while filming. These challenges to her health and safety led to her retirement in the early 1960's, and she rarely returned save for special occasions like That's Entertainment! III.

But we will always remember her for her grace and beauty ... and being able to hold her breath underwater for alarming amounts of time.

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Spank That Monkey

Hey, you better stop doing that or you'll get hairy palms
like this guy.

"Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."

Sure, Woody Allen talked about it in Annie Hall, but thank god we didn't have to watch him do it. The same cannot be said for certain actors in certain scenes of certain movies, all conveniently collected into The AV Club's appropriately titled list of "14 Tragic Movie Masturbation Scenes".

Ah, masturbation. We all do it, yet nobody wants to talk about it, let alone see it in a movie (well, OK, a non-naughty movie). And when a moment of self pleasure does make it onto the screen, it is usually played for laughs (poor Judge Reinhold in Fast Times at Ridgemont High) or shock value (poor, poor Linda Blair in The Exorcist), or it's there to show how pathetic and/or depraved a character is (poor, poor, poor us for having to watch Harvey Keitel in The Bad Lieutenant).

Interestingly enough, four entries (Parenthood, Happiness, The Squid and the Whale, Babel) deal with prepubescent preoccupation with the practice, while only two (Mulholland Drive, Junebug) feature women giving themselves some attention. Which may lead to the conclusion that, at least in the movies, one group is really really good at it, and the other is really really bad at it. I believe that answer is -- tragically -- clear.

Another intriguing aspect of this list is how many characters don't finish the task at hand. They're either interrupted by a spouse (American Beauty) or parent (Spanking the Monkey) or leave the job undone in unfulfilled frustration (Your Friends and Neighbors). These are the cinematic equivalents of your mother screaming at you from the other side of a locked bathroom door to "stop that or you'll go blind".

Little Children has the ignominious distinction of having not one, but two actors, each in their own, separate "tragic masturbation" sequence. Combined, these two scenes pretty much sum up the whole lamentable lot. Which would you rather be: caught red-handed with panties on your head, or stuck in a station wagon with the worst blind date ever playing pocket pool in the passenger seat?

With examples like these, it is no wonder that wacking off is so often written off as "bad for you". That is, all but one on the list: there is absolutely nothing tragic with what Paul Dawson does to himself in Shortbus. Hell, if all us men could do that, we would never leave the house.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poster Post: 21st Century Women

Next year's eagerly awaited remake of the 1939 classic The Women already has a teaser poster out there. Very chick lit cover art, no?

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The Latest on DVD: Knock Knock

This week's latest and greatest ... now on DVD:

Featured Titles:

  • Knocked Up- Somehow, Seth Rogan gets Katherine Heigl pregnant; hilarity ensues. Available in rated, unrated, two-discs and HD-DVD.
  • The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection- The boy and girl next door put on a show ... four of them in fact, all new to DVD: Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, Girl Crazy and Strike Up the Band.
  • Creatures from the Pink Lagoon- For those of you too faint of heart for HellBent, here's the gay horror flick for you.
  • The Wild Bunch- The director's cut of the Sam Peckinpah western bloodbath classic in all its HD-DVD and Blu-ray gory ... uh, glory.
What Else is New:
  • Evening- If Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Toni Colette and Claire Daines aren't enough for you, there's also the always welcome Patrick Wilson and Hugh Dancy. Also available on HD-DVD.
  • Black Book- Paul Verhoeven's semi-autobiographical World War II thriller.
  • As You Like It- Kenneth Branagh's latest Shakespearean adaptation, starring Kevin Kline, Janet McTeer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Alfred Molina.
Oscar Winners:
  • Babel- A two-disc special edition of the globe-spanning drama starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Oscar nominees Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. Gustavo Santaolalla won the gold for his musical score.
  • The Panama Deception- 1993's documentary winner takes a look at the 1989 US invasion of Panama.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha- Three Academy Awards were given to this historical epic of sex, lies and paper fans, now on Blu-ray.
Keep It Gay, PFLAG Edition:
  • Coffee Date- Sally Kirkland is all for it when her son starts dating a man (Wilson Cruz) in this romantic comedy of mixed identities.
  • Times Have Been Better- On the other hand, Arnaud Binard's parents are a bit perplexed by his coming out in this French farce.

Scary Stuff:

  • Bug- William Friedkin gets under your skin in this creepy-crawly thriller starring Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr.
  • Cujo: 25th Anniversary Edition- A frantic Dee Wallace, a little Danny Pintauro, and a very big, very slobbery Saint Bernard.
  • Inside the Actors Studio: Leading Men- James Lipton ... now he's scary. Here he interviews Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn and Russell Crowe, thankfully not all at the same time.

Click on the individual titles to purchase them from

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