A Close Encounter with a Couple of Hellcats (and an Olympian to boot)

Recently, Premium Hollywood was pitched the opportunity to attend the so-called SuperGirl Jam 2010, an event which, if we’re to be completely honest, we’d never heard of before we received our invitation.

Why the invite…? Because a couple of the stars of The CW’s new cheerleading drama, “Hellcats,” were going to be in attendance – Robbie Jones and Aly Michalka – and we’d been told that we’d have a chance to chat with them about the series. As a bit of pop culture gravy, we’d been told that we’d also be getting the opportunity to speak with an honest-to-goodness Olympian: Nastia Liukin, who’s also managed to turn up on such series as “Gossip Girl” and “Make It Or Break It.”

So off we went to SuperGirl Jam 2010…and $17 dollars in parking fees later, we did indeed get to to talk to all three of these individuals. That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that the sum total of time spent with the trio – we talked to each of them separately – barely topped out at the 10-minute mark. Note to self: next time, get a guarantee of at least five minutes per person.

And possibly parking validation.

– Robbie Jones –

Premium Hollywood: Hi, I’m Bob Westal from Premium Hollywood/Bullz-Eye.com.

Robbie Jones: Nice to meet you.

PH: I’m not usually a TV guy and I was researching you. You’re kind of a mystery man.

RJ: Am I?

PH: There’s not a lot about you on the Internet. For example, your age.

RJ: It’s crazy.

PH: Your age is unknown. Are you like 50 years old?

RJ: 57. I have 16 kids.

PH: In five different states.

RJ: It’s crazy. The math is all off but it’s true.

PH: Okay, I know you were on “One Tree Hill” and they kind of killed you.

RJ: It was sad. Sad. Q. [Quentin Fields] was just turning the corner to be a positive guy and — life cut short. Tragic end.

PH: “Tragic end.” Okay. Let’s get a little background [before we move on to “Hellcats”]. Where are you from originally? How did you get started?

RJ: I’m from Sacramento, California and I’ve been in L.A. for about five years and I’ve been acting pretty much since I got out here.

PH: How did you get the “One Tree Hill” gig?

RJ: Well, it was the audition process. I’m sure a ton of guys auditioned for the role. I went in, just like everybody else. [Series creator] Mark Schwahn, I’m telling you, he changed my life, he gave me a shot, believed in me, [CBS Television President] Peter Roth believed in me, and the rest is kind of history. It’s really a blessing from God, honestly.

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“Basterds” bash box office projections

Either the Weinstein Company did an extremely good job of managing expectations or box office prognosticators simply underestimated the potential of a director/brand name with a strong suit for entertaining a large swath of the moviegoing public, a premise with fairly proven guy appeal (revenge + WWII), and the additional gravy of an A-lister in a juicy, semi-lead role. In any case, for the second time in as many weeks, a very well-reviewed genre film has significantly over-performed and “Inglourious Basterds” has raked in an exceedingly healthy $37.6 million, say the box office estimates promulgated by THR, Nikki Finke, Variety, Box Office Mojo, etc.

Concerns which I brought up last time that the latest from Quentin Tarantino might be too cinema-esoteric for mainstream audiences have apparently proven to be a non-issue, at least for weekend #1. It’s outstanding foreign performance totaling $27.5 million is no surprise at all, especially given the subject matter and Tarantino’s  choice — which almost certainly made his job harder — to film the movie in several different languages rather than opting for the traditional mid-Atlantic or vaguely nation-specific accents we usually see in American-shot international tales. These are both, by the way, significant financial personal bests for Tarantino. Of course, that’s not “Transformers” numbers, but people will actually still likely be watching this one twenty years from now and probably longer, which means it will be making money for the putatively on-the-edge Harvey Weinstein and Universal for that time as well.

District 9
The same is also probably true in re: Tristar and Sony for this week’s #2 performer and that other transnational “well reviewed genre film” I mentioned above, “District 9.” The South Africa-set, politically charged violent sci-fi action piece brought in $18.9 million for a drop of just under 50% from last week, as there proves to be a market for combining a certain amount of brains with violent brawn. That’s even more impressive given the stiff competition from “Basterds” for largely the same audience.

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More megabucks, more superheroes, and the opposite.

The news earlier in the day was just the start. It’s been a busy Monday in Hollywood.

* Different publications are offering a slightly different ways of putting it, but a new version of Dreamworks is being launched by Steven Spielberg, who is ending his relationship with Paramount, and executive Stacey Snider. They’re doing so with the help of $825 million in financing (that’s enough for 4.85 “G.I. Joe” movies) including a big chunk from India’s Reliance Entertainment. U.S. distribution of the new Dreamworks’ films will be handled by Disney, so we guess they’re no longer competitors. (Remember those pokes at Disney in “Shrek”?)

Everyone’s reporting on this but the most lucid version is being offered by Anne Thompson, even if I’d need a glossary to fully understand phrases like “J.P. Morgan’s syndication of approximately $325 million of senior debt”…something about a fancy way of retiring old debt? I’m going to have to work on that. Carl DiOrio also offers a fairly readable version.

* Speaking of Dreamworks, Brad Pitt is stepping in for a mysteriously departing Robert Downey, Jr. in the animated superhero/supervillian comedy “Oobermind.” I say mysterious because, as the Hitfix staff points out, the reason cited for Downey’s departure is a scheduling conflict, which is odd as it’s usually not very hard to reschedule someone for a solo taping session. It’s not like he would have had to spend six weeks on location in the Sahara dessert.

Brad Pitt’s comedic side has been seriously underutilized, but maybe not after what I take it is a fairly off-kilter and funny performance in “Inglourious Basterds.” (Lee Marvin was also kind of hilarious in “The Dirty Dozen,” come to think of it.) The cast of “Oobermind” will also include the suddenly-in-everything Jonah Hill and Tina Fey.

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The strange weekend of five

This is one interesting movie August we’re in. In fact, if you go to a mutliplex this weekend and can’t find anything that interests you, then you probably don’t belong anywhere near a contemporary movie theater. At this point in film history, things just don’t get that much more diverse, and more interesting, than the new films on offer this weekend.

* Anyone with a geek bone in their body has heard and/or seen a fair amount about the movie box office prognosticators expect to end the reign of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” By most accounts a thoughtful yet violent/bloody R-rated science fiction actioner from first-time feature director Neill Blomkamp, “District 9” benefits from a lot of really good buzz, truly outstanding reviews, and a very high-profile variant of a viral campaign; the “humans only” signs have been up at bus-stops in Los Angeles for what seems like years and the film’s association with executive producer Peter Jackson won’t hurt. (Just like the filmgoers who probably still believe that Quentin Tarantino directed “Hostel” and have no clue who Eli Roth is, many casual movie fans will give Jackson the credit/blame on this.)

On the possible downside: there are no stars or recognizable faces and the film’s setting of South Africa might put off some people. We Americans, I fear, can be an obnoxiously xenophobic bunch at times. However, this is a new age we’re in (I think) and certainly this film, about space aliens being oppressed by us literally xenophobic humans, has a much easier to grasp premise than “Serenity,” the last star-free but excitement-heavy, well-reviewed science fiction film to rely on viral marketing, and the virus is far more virulent this time. So, the projections of a take of somewhere in the $20 millions or more for Sony offered both by Variety‘s Pamela McClintock and The Hollywood Reporter‘s ever-jolly Carl DiOrio, who guesses it at at least $25 million, make some sense.

Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams
* Unless they’re seeing someone very special and very insistent, the young males who will be flocking to “District 9” likely won’t be seeing this week’s promising box office hopeful, even though it’s also science fiction, though obviously of a very different sort. Warner’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is unusual for the movies I write about here in that I’ve actually seen this one before its release date, and you can read all about my opinion of the film over at the link. Suffice it to say that fantastical romantic melodrama is not generating a whole bunch of critical excitement, though that underwhelming 37% RT rating is not so much a collective groan as a chorus of “meh.”

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