Larry Vaughn with Mentora Vaughn Gratrix
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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

My Lunch with Leonard Nimoy & His Vulcan Ears

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A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
—Leonard Nimoy
(shared on Twitter a few days before his death)

It would be hard to live on planet Earth and not know who Mr. Spock is from Star Trek. Even if you’re not a Star Trek fan (which would be hard to believe!), no one has worn Vulcan ears better than Leonard Nimoy. I, like so many other fans, was saddened to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy. While he had his share of struggles (like so many of us do), he will always be remembered for his contribution to Star Trek, as he would frequently “boldly go where no man has gone before.” I actually had the pleasure once of having lunch with Leonard Nimoy at Paramount Studios. Here’s an excerpt from Hollywood’s Chosen:

We spent the majority of the following day visiting the distribution arm at Paramount Studios. We had lunch with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at the Paramount commissary. Mr. Shatner and Mr. Nimoy were taking a lunch break from filming their weekly Star Trek television series. Walter Matthau stopped by our table while on lunch break from filming the film version of the Neil Simon play, Plaza Suite.
A comical moment happened during lunch while Mr. Morgan (who always spoke extremely loudly) was speaking. Mr. Nimoy interrupted Mr. Morgan, cupped his Vulcan ear in his hand, and then leaned in toward Mr. Morgan and bellowed, “What? What did you say? My Vulcan ear makes it hard for me to hear.” I laughed out loud, as I couldn’t help but think, “Now, that’s got to be a first: asking Heyward Morgan to speak louder!”

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The Hollywood Reporter published an article by Kim Masters on February 27, 2015. (You can read the full article here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-leonard-nimoy-was-convinced-778379.) I love this story because it reminds me of so many behind-the-scenes stories that we share in Hollywood’s Chosen. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The original script for the first Star Trek movie did not include Mr. Spock.

The project was conceived as what would have then been the most expensive television project ever, with a budget of $3.2 million. When that vision died, Paramount — which had watched other studios feast on Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind — decided to make a movie instead.

With a planned $18 million budget, the studio courted director Robert Wise (West Side Story), who took the job not because he loved the old television series but because his wife and father-in-law were fans. Based on their comments on the script, he told the top film executives at Paramount, Michael Eisner and a young Jeffrey Katzenberg, that Spock was essential.

But there was a big problem. Leonard Nimoy did not care at all for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who had engaged him and then dropped him from another project without explanation. And he was suing Paramount for using his likeness on merchandise without his permission. When his agent called about the movie, Nimoy told him, “If you ever call me again about Star Trek, you’re fired.”

At the time, the actor was in New York appearing onstage in Equus. Katzenberg called and said he’d like to come see the play. Flattered that Katzenberg would fly across the country for that purpose, Nimoy agreed to meet with him.

Backstage two days later, Katzenberg pressed Nimoy to have coffee with him. In three more meetings over the following days, Katzenberg listened to Nimoy’s grievances about Roddenberry and Paramount. Katzenberg suggested that Nimoy could do the film while the litigation was pending, but Nimoy replied, “I just can’t do that. I’m sorry.”

Within a couple of weeks, Paramount settled the lawsuit. Nimoy received a check from the studio at 5 p.m. and a copy of the Star Trek script an hour later. By 7 p.m., Paramount rang to set up a meeting. . . .Production started before the script was set. As the project fell weeks behind schedule, Nimoy and William Shatner devised a workable third act as Roddenberry was pushed aside. The budget climbed from $18 million to $45 million — staggering for the time. For Katzenberg, the ordeal almost derailed his career. (He briefly quit or was fired before Eisner brought him back.) The buzz on the movie was so negative that theaters tried to get out of playing it. But Paramount held them to their contracts so they would be forced to meet guarantees that the studio believed would offset inevitable losses from the movie. To everyone’s surprise, the film was a $82 million hit and with its sequels and spinoffs, became Paramount’s biggest franchise.

When Nimoy wanted to make his directorial debut on the third film in the series, Eisner was reluctant to entrust him with this now-valuable property. Nimoy was clear: Eisner needed a director, and he needed Spock — both problems that Nimoy could solve. “You and I are having a very important meeting,” he told Eisner. “This might be the last time we ever speak to each other. We’re either going to start working together on something, or we’re literally down to the final moments of our relationship!”

The result was another hit — and Nimoy went on to direct the fourth Star Trek movie and other hits, including the 1987 smash 3 Men and a Baby. By then running the Disney studio, Eisner and Katzenberg were no longer in the Star Trek business, but they had been wise to keep Nimoy in the fold.

This article has been adapted from a section of Kim Masters’ book, Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else.

A special thanks to J.P. Brooks for sending me the link to this article. We’re always looking for fresh material for our blog, so please send us an email or use our contact page.

 

Snowed In? Great Movie Pick…

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I also hope that I am occasionally involved in projects that touch other people in ways that make their lives a little better, more interesting for the moment that makes them think.
—Jim Caviezel

Life certainly has its challenges. I keep hearing about different people who are hurting or are struggling with the trials of life. So, I love when a good story—especially a true story—encourages my heart. If you’re snowed in this weekend and maybe a little depressed because it’s the end of February and there’s still snow on the ground, I suggest you pop some popcorn, start a fire in the fireplace (well, I switch mine on), grab a cozy throw, and find a comfy spot to sit as I have a movie that will not only warm your heart but will inspire you to want to make a difference in the lives of others. Last fall TriStar Pictures released When the Game Stands Tall. The movie is inspired by the extraordinary true story of the De La Salle High School football team and their record-setting 151 game winning streak. When the Game Stands Tall stands much taller than most of the run of the mill sports movies as this film has a solid cast and a good director.

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Sports’ enthusiasts won’t be disappointed as When The Game Stands Tall is laced with many exciting grid iron moments. But what really makes this movie stand out as something extra special is it’s a true-to-life drama that tells the story of a most remarkable and successful coach who would rather see his students mature in character and personal integrity than win football games. When the press asked Coach Ladouceur (played by Jim Caviezel) what his secret is for winning, he commented, “Winning a lot of football games is doable. Teaching kids there’s more to life, that’s hard.” Laura Dern does an excellent at playing the role of Bev, Coach Ladouceur’s wife, and Michael Chiklis also does a most memorable job in playing Coach Ladouceur’s assistant coach, Terry Eidson.

Would love your thoughts on the movie. Enjoy!

Trivia: Question: Jim Caviezel played the lead role in which top grossing R-rated film of all time? What did the film gross?

Answer: The Passion of the Christ; $611.9 million

Don’t Miss Oprah’s Diamond in the Rough…

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Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
~Voltaire

For most of my married life, I have enjoyed delicious meals around the family table that Doneata prepared with love. About ten years ago when I retired and Doneata went to work for a cardiologist’s office, I decided it was time for me to try my hand in the kitchen. I thought it was only fair that if Doneata was going to go to work, I should take care of the home and meals for her. I got online and googled recipes. At first, it was a lot of trial and error, but I came to enjoy what I once feared—cooking meals in the kitchen. What I have learned while trying different recipes is that when seasoned correctly foods that at first don’t sound appealing can actually be quite tasty.

So, why all the food talk? Because Doneata and I recently watched the 2014 fall release of the comedy drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey. This little picture opened last fall without a massive marketing blitz as many films do. According to Box Office Mojo, whose job it is to track the Hollywood movie grosses, Journey came in ranked number fifty-seven of the top one hundred grossing films of 2014, which means a lot of people missed this great little film.

In 2009 Sony Pictures released Julie & Julia, which would certainly play to the same audience as The Hundred-Foot Journey. Both films have an A actress in the lead role. Julie & Julia has the actors’ actor, Meryl Streep, in the starring role; and The Hundred-Foot Journey has Helen Mirren in the lead role. Helen Mirren is not as popular as Meryl Streep; however, she is one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress as Queen Elizabeth II in the movie The Queen.

What I appreciate most about Journey is how the issues that the characters struggle with are very true to life. Journey is not only a story about food: the storyline is rich—filled with love, family, hardships, disagreements, life-changing decisions, and joy. Journey celebrates the simple things in life and is a delight to the senses. From the beautiful scenic landscape of Southern France to a superb cast of characters, Journey makes for a most enjoyable movie experience.

After watching Julie & Julia I came away with a deeper appreciation for, of all things, butter! After watching The Hundred-Foot Journey I have that same appreciation for herbs and eggs. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the film.


Trivia: What two industry giants teamed up to produce The Hundred-Foot Journey along with Juliet Blake?

Answer: Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we pause and celebrate the life of a great man, Martin Luther King, Jr. Though, like all of us, his life wasn’t perfect, Martin Luther King stood up for his fellow man against extreme opposition. We are inspired by his life, by his passion, by his determination, and by his love for others.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”MLK2
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.”MLK3
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”Martin Luther King Jr. mug
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”MLK4

 

Selma is in theatres now. This film has received rave reviews. Paramount Pictures distributed the film; Cloud Eight Films and Harpo Productions co-produced the film.

 “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered,
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Cinderella, Is It Really Happily Ever After All?

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This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.
—C. S. Lewis.

Like so many other girls, I grew up watching Disney’s animated Cinderella and dreaming of marrying Prince Charming someday.
Through the years I have heard people criticize fairytales and express concerns with girls having hopeless romantic desires and dreams. While I definitely understand some of these concerns, I am and always will be a hopeless romantic.

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The beginning of the movie trailer is very moving as Ella’s mother lovingly gives her sweet daughter wonderful words to live by,
“I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer…Have courage and be kind.”
She also encourages her daughter by saying,
“You have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body.”

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Lily James, best known for her role as Rose—the vivacious cousin from Downton Abbey—plays Cinderella. What’s not to love about Lily James?
Her sweet disposition seems to make one believe that glass slippers could really be comfortable when she wears them.

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After all, who doesn’t love a good fairytale? I for one can’t but help to believe that for some there is the possibility of happily ever after…

 

Movie Trivia:
Who else was considered for the role as Cinderella? Imogen Poots, Bella Heathcote, and Margot Robbie.