Jennifer Lopez On Fellow ‘American Idol’ Judges: “We Have The Same Hearts”

American Idol (CR: Michael Becker, FOX)

Although they’re technically judges on American Idol, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. are trying their best to impart their respective pearls of showbiz wisom for all of the singing hopefuls that come their way. One of this year’s biggest pleasures is the lack of bickering that infested last season, and the return of Lopez and addition of Connick Jr. certainly helped with the refreshing change.

“We have similar hearts,” said Lopez about her colleagues. “We have a similar feeling for what we are doing. We love music. We love our children. We have a sense of family. There’s a commonality of a lot of things about us besides the business (aspect) of it that makes the whole thing work.”

Part of Lopez’s decision to return to American Idol was to also have the ability to give salient advice and insight to up and coming artists, and she understands that such a collaboration isn’t a two way street. “I think about mentoring and why people who love something love to mentor and pass on what they know,” she added. “Because in that exchange you also learn something.”

Click on the bar below to hear Jennifer Lopez talk about why she loves being a judge/mentor on American Idol:

American Idol continues its Hollywood Round tonight on FOX (8 pm et/pt).

Chad Michael Murray Reflects on ‘Cavemen’ & A Creatively Gratifying Year

Cavemen (Wellgo USA)

Opening Friday in select theaters and on VOD, Cavemen centers on several young men who live and love the night away in Los Angeles. Chad Michael Murray stars as one of the perpetually on the make bachelors.

While his friends Dean (Skylar Astin) and Tess (Camilla Belle) are the kind of buddies who are destined to be with each other, Jay (Murray) throws a monkey wrench into the equation after showing his affections for Tess. Along with Cavemen, Murray’s role on Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Fruitvale Station (in a pivotal cameo), and the Crackle original series Chosen is proof that he’s making a concerted effort to diversify his body of work.

During the Cavemen interviews, Murray talked about going into a “dark place” while playing a homeless man in the indie feature Other People’s Children. He lost twenty five pounds for that role, and that upcoming project, along with much of his recent work, signals a possible subtle yet significant shift in his career.

I asked him about the creating gratification of doing such a challenging role as Other People’s Children. “You know, I didn’t understand it up until this last year,” said Murray. “Now that I’m starting to see the fruits of the labor on film, it’s really validating, because you know you gave it your all and you know that you really committed.”

To hear Murray talk about why he loves a “blue collar” approach to acting and filmmaking, click on the media bar below:

I haven’t checked out Chosen, after hearing Murray’s absolutely praise the project (he said it looks like a “60 million dollar movie”), I’ll definitely give it a shot. Click on the audio to hear him talk about the series, as well as his work on Other People’s Children and Cavemen:

Dominic Sherwood’s Vampire Academy Role Shaped Through Audition Process

To land the role of Christian Ozera in Vampire Academy, Dominic Sherwood auditioned six times for director Mark Waters. It’s a challenging process that’s just part of the job for many actors, so it’s good to know that Sherwood keeps things in perspective.

“I think my passion is performing,” said Sherwood, who grew up in Kent, England. “Working on a movie like this is truly incredible but if I’m performing for a living, it could be anywhere. I could be in a theater in London playing to 50 people every night – I’d be able to die happy because I know I’m doing what I love and I never gave up on it. I was always there.”

The movie, co-starring Zooey Deutch and Lucy Fry, is based on the popular novel penned by Richelle Mead. Click on the media bar below to hear the actor explain how the audition process helped him shape Christian Ozera (he mentions director Mark Waters and writer Daniel Waters in the clip):

Vampire Academy opens Friday.

Blu-ray Blast: Inside Llewyn Davis Readies For A March Release

Inside Llewyn Davis (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)It’s still hard to stomach that Oscar Isaac’s compelling, and ultimately heartbreaking portrayal of a stubborn folk singer was snubbed by the Academy. But Oscar voters aren’t exactly on my mind these days, especially since Inside Llewyn Davis is now being released March 11 on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The narrative centers on the titular character (Isaac), a folk singer whose life and talent was inspired by Dave Van Ronk (his track ‘Green, Green Rocky Road’ is featured on ILD’s stellar soundtrack). Penned and helmed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis contains the darkly humorous pessimism featured in their most resonant work (No Country for Old Men, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and A Serious Men travel similar thematic ground), as Llewyn Davis just can’t seem to catch a break. Like much of the Coens’ stories, Davis’ failure isn’t simply due to his human frailties, but sometimes life is really about timing and, as the closing moments of this story suggests, sometimes lightning doesn’t strike twice.

The Blu-ray & DVD special features are unfortunately threadbare, as the only offering is the featurette “Inside Inside Llewyn Davis.” The making of documentary features the Coens, Elijah Wald, Stark Sands, T-Bone Burnett, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Chris Thile, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, production designer Jess Gonchor, art director Mary Zophres, and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel.

To hear Oscar Isaac talk about why his collaboration with the Coen Bros. worked so well in Inside Llewyn Davis, click on the media bar below:

About Last Night’s Kevin Hart on Comedy: “Laughing Heals All Wounds”

Bernie (Kevin Hart)in Screen Gems' ABOUT LAST NIGHT.With the success of Think Like A Man, Grudge Match, and Ride Along, Kevin Hart is definitely, to quote one of his phrases, “coming in hot” with the relationship comedy About Last Night. A remake of the popular 1986 feature (which is based the David Mamet work Sexual Perversity in Chicago), About Last Night centers on the highs and lows of two couples (Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant) who live, work, and play in downtown Los Angeles.

During a recent interview to promote the film, a journo asked Hart how he prepared for his love scenes with Hall, and although the following quote applies to the picture, it also can be applied to Mr. Hart’s approach to life.

“You’ve got to understand the type of person I am,” says Hart. “You can’t be awkward or uncomfortable around me. I’m too open, and if you are uncomfortable I’m going to make you comfortable very fast. Laughing heals all wounds.”

One of the misconceptions regarding Mr. Hart’s career is that he’s an overnight success, and it’s a perception that is somewhat understandable considering overwhelming reception he’s received the past several years. Hart has actually been paving his way in the business for close to 15 years, and back in 2004 he starred in the short-lived TV series The Big House and was also the lead in Soul Plane.

Close to a decade later, the actor/comedian is still growing as an artist. Part of Hart’s longevity deals with his dedication in learning all aspects of show business. Click on the media bar below to hear Kevin Hart talk about one of the secrets to his success.

About Last Night opens February 14.

Sarah Hyland Hopes ‘Vampire Academy’ Scores With “Supportive” Fans

Laurie Sparham/The Weinstein Company

Best known for her work on Modern Family, Sarah Hyland is also carving out a career in film. Vampire Academy, based on the popular book penned by Richelle Mead, co-stars Gabriel Byrne (he plays her father in the feature) hits theaters on February 7. The actress is hoping the book’s diehard fans will have a positive experience with the film version.

“I really hope the fans love the movie,” said Hyland, who starred last year in the Lifetime film Bonnie & Clyde. “They’ve been so supportive since the beginning. They make the most beautiful fan art I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I think fans should make the posters instead of the people that do. Our posters are amazing, I’m not demeaning them in any way…there are beautiful artists out there that are fans of the book. I just hope they like because they’re the ones invested in it. Even more than we are, I think. We put our souls into it, but they are the souls of the book.”

Photo: (Modern Family/ABC/Bob D'Amico)

During interviews for Vampire Academy, I asked Hyland how she stays “in the moment” as an actress, and she admitted that it differs from project to project. With Modern Family, the level of comfort definitely helps the process, and in one instance she recounts shooting a scene that she doesn’t even remember working on. Check out the audio clip below:

A new episode of Modern Family airs Wednesday night (ABC, 9 pm et/pt), with Vampire Academy opening on Friday.

‘Tim’s Vermeer’ Follows An Inventor’s Spirited and Artistic Journey

Tim's Vermeer (Sony Pictures Classics)Tim’s Vermeer opens today in select theaters, and if you have any sort of artistic inclinations or, for that matter, have an unwavering spirit, it’s a documentary I’d highly suggest. Directed by Teller and produced by longtime collaborator Penn Jillette, the project comes off as one of their greatest illusions, as the pair, along with inventor Tim Jenison, pull back the curtain to reveal an entirely new creation.

Jenison’s epic undertaking was to explore how Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer captured a photo realistic rendering of his work, 150 years before the creation of photography. With the use of a camera obscura, two mirrors, and pinpoint precision, Jenison attempted to recreate his own version of Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. Handcrafting his own paints and pigments, fashioning his own lens, and recreating the painter’s own working conditions by reconfiguring a warehouse in Texas were just a few of the details Jenison employed to prove his theory.

The true resonance behind Tim’s Vermeer, however, is not just the exploration of Vermeer’s innovative technique or the apparent solving of a mystery. The documentary explores Jenison’s passionate and dogged attention to detail, even to the point of sheer exhaustion.

“I really felt like I was getting inside Vermeer’s head,” said Jenison during our conversation. “Building this room was in a way building a time machine. If I did my job right, that would look ideal to what Vermeer was seeing in his living room…I learned everything I could about Vermeer. I read every book I could find, just trying to get into his head and studying what Holland was like in Delft in 1650. I just immersed myself (in the world).”

Click on the media bar to hear Tim Jenison talk about the “astounding” response he’s received from people who’ve seen Tim’s Vermeer.

‘Noah’ Pre-Game Super Bowl Spot Comes Up Snake Eyes

NOAH (Paramount Pictures)The good news is director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) has only helmed superior work, and his most ambitious effort, the life affirming tale The Fountain, is ridiculously underrated.

But will Aronofsky’s cerebral approach fit into Noah, a film of biblical (literally) proportions? Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the man who’s called by God to build an ark to save his family and a plethora of animals from an epic flood. Jennifer Connelly, who worked with Aronofsky in Requiem for a Dream and Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, stars as Noah’s wife Naameh, with Emma Watson co-starring as Noah’s adopted daughter Ila.

The movie comes out March 28, and my “snake eyes” headline refers to the lovely reptiles that are briefly featured in the spot. Considering Aronofsky’s track record, Noah should be worth the game.

Check out the trailer, which will also air during the Super Bowl, below:

Chicago P.D.’s Marina Squerciati & LaRoyce Hawkins Praise Real Life Officers

Chicago PD - Season 1

Tonight’s episode of Chicago P.D., titled “Now Is Always Temporary,” has Officers Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) and Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) arresting a hoarder that, upon discovery, holds a much more valuable haul than one can imagine.

During a recent interview, Squerciati talked about the bond she has with Hawkins, as both of them are more than thankful to work with Chicago P.D.’s first rate cast and crew. “The days when we’re not on set, when we’re not working – we’re just itching to get back on set,” said the actress, who also had a recurring role on Gossip Girl. “We really love this experience and have fun doing it, so it’s really a blessing. Not everybody gets that.”

In the video below, Hawkins and Squerciati talk about how the various police officers have contributed to Chicago P.D.’s level of accuracy and detail.


Chicago P.D., co-starring Sophia Bush and Jason Beghe, airs tonight (NBC, 10 pm et/pt)

George Clooney Sees Directing & Writing As “Infinitely More Creative”

Opening February 7, The Monuments Men is the true story of how a group of art historians and museum curators risked their lives to rescue masterpieces that were in the hands of the Nazis. The project stars and was directed by George Clooney, who assembles an all-star cast (Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett) for his latest venture.

During a recent press conference to promote the film, Mr. Clooney talked about how he has evolved as a filmmaker since his 2002 debut effort Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

“Directing and writing, they seem to be infinitely more creative,” says Clooney, whose last directing endeavor was the 2011 release The Ides of March“As far as how I’ve changed, all you’re trying to do is learn from people that you’ve worked with. I’ve worked with the Coen Bros., Steven Soderbergh, Alexander Payne…I’ve worked with really great directors over the years, see what they’re doing, and just steal it.”

The “steal it” comment was obviously in jest, but one of the reasons why I’m pretty psyched for The Monuments Men lies in Clooney’s description of the film as a “mix between Kelly’sHeroesand The Train.” Clooney also cited the films of director John Sturges (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven) as an influence, and hopefully this new film reaches those stratospheric heights.

To hear George Clooney talk about how his directing has evolved over the years, click on the SoundCloud bar media:

Where dreaming is believing…