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Mike Nichols – R.I.P.

800px-Still_portrait_Mike_NicholsLegendary film and theater director, writer and producer Mike Nichols has passed away. An Oscar winner for 1967′s seminal The Graduate, he also was nominated for such films as Working Girl, Silkwood and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? For his stage work, he amassed 10 Tony Awards including as director for such plays as Barefoot In The Park, The Odd Couple, The Prisoner Of Second Avenue andDeath Of A Salesman; and as producer of Annie and The Real Thing.

“William Goldman said there were two great American film directors—Elia Kazan and Mike Nichols,” said Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg, who co-produced Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing with Nichols, who also staged ythe play’s Tony-winning Broadway edition with Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. “I think that’s true. He was a giant who could convince people to be better than they were.”

Nichols died suddenly late Wednesday night at 83 and his passing was announced on Thursday morning by ABC News President James Goldston. Nichols was married to ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer. Goldston said this morning, “He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT — an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony in his lifetime. No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike… Mike and Diane were married for 26 years. He leaves behind three children — Daisy, Max and Jenny — and four wonderful grandchildren… The family will hold a small, private service this week, and a memorial will be held at a later date.”

Nichols’ last film as director was 2007′s Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2012, he staged a Tony-winning revival of Death Of A Salesman with Hoffman as Willy Loman. At the time of his death, he was working on an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Tony-winning play about Maria Callas, Master Class, for HBO.

Nichols was an “extraordinary talent. Consummate gentleman. One of the legends,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said this morning. “Legend is often overused, but he was a legend and most importantly he was unbelievably decent and had time for everybody, mentored a lot of young talent. That is a vacuum that will not be filled.”
Steven Spielberg weighed in on Nichols’ passing this morning with the following statement to Deadline:

The-Church-in-The-Graduate-600x400“Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America’s all time greatest film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever known. For me, The Graduate was life altering — both as an experience at the movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene. Mike had a brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and real. Actors never gave him less than their personal best — and then Mike would get from them even more. And in a room full of people, Mike was always the center of gravity. This is a seismic loss.”

Nichols was born in Germany in 1931 and moved to the U.S. with his family at age seven. He pursued theater while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1950s. Although he was studying medicine, his true calling was comedy. He met Elaine May in Chicago and the pair formed a legendary comedy duo, winning a Grammy in 1962 for Best Comedy Album.

In 1964, he directed Barefoot In The Park on Broadway, and followed that up with The Odd Couple in 1965. His first film as director was Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? in 1966 which won five Oscars including Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor. He followed that up the next year with The Graduate, putting Dustin Hoffman on the map and earning seven Oscar nominations. Nichols won his first Oscar for directing the film. In the early 70′s, he helmed Carnal Knowledge and in the 80′s made a string of now classic movies that includes Silkwood, Heartburn and Working Girl. He produced 1993′s Best Picture nominee The Remains Of The Day, and in 1996 transferred The Birdcage to film with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane starring. His 1998 Primary Colors opened the Cannes Film Festival that year.

MV5BMTM0MzM1NTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTkyMTQzNw@@._V1._SX333_SY500_His TV credits include exec producing classic 1970′s drama series Family and directing and exec producing HBO drama Angels In America.

The list of actors with whom Nichols worked on stage and screen is a who’s who of Hollywood, past and present. They include (in no particular order) Julie Christie, Lillian Gish, George C Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, Morgan Freeman, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Emma Thompson, John Travolta, Kathy Bates, Natalie Portman, Christopher Walken, John Goodman, Kevin Kline, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Ron Silver, Anne Bancroft, Candice Bergen, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Gestapo Toht Candle

Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark_Gestapo-Toht_CandleChristmas will soon be upon us and some will be running around looking for that perfect gift, candles! They’re always popular…

If you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s probably one scene that really sticks in the memory. No not that gigantic boulder tumbling after Indy, nor when he shoots that sword-twirling nutter in the market square, nor even when he has that uncomfortable staring contest with a cobra…

No, the scene when ruthless Gestapo agent Toht gets his gory comeuppance at the end of the film – you know, when his eyes roll back like a couple of boiled eggs and he lets out a blood-curdling scream as his entire face dribbles off his skull. That bit. Just awesome.

Whether it left you with nightmares for weeks or just had you repeatedly hitting the re-wind button, celebrate one of the greatest deaths in all of cinema history with the Melting Toht Candle. Thankfully this detailed replica won’t melt quite as fast so you can really savour the moment.

Just light the wick to set the glorious melting process in motion – there’s no need to seek out the Ark of the Covenant and unceremoniously release its supernatural powers. Order it HERE

The Jurassic World – Viral Site

Jurassic-WorldThe Jurassic World viral site is masraniglobal.com. The site is technically for a company called Masrani Global, which, in the film, is the construction company which helped to build and create Jurassic World. The site has a ton of images, some of which feature actors Irrfan Khan and B.D. Wong, as well as some history of the island and park which opened (according to the site) in June 2005. You can read quotes from the site below or click to see it HERE.

Soon after the acquisition of InGen in 1998, Simon Masrani looked to work at a plan that seemed impossible given the circumstances of the years preceeding – the control and re-invention of a new theme park on Isla Nublar. Experts from the Masrani company were collected together, along with Dr. Henry Wu from the InGen company, to plan for the greatest theme park and attractions ever constructed in humankind’s history.

Simon Masrani used subsidaries Axis Boulder Engineering and Timack Construction to work on the preparation and planning prior to construction on the island. Construction workers were protected from native wildlife by InGen security over the course of the three years from 2002 until completion in 2004. With over $1.2 billion alone spent in concrete and building materials, this project was never underestimated.

The most incredible thing about the project for me was the fact that we were able to construct so far off the mainland, while maintaining all deadlines”, explains Jurassic World Project Manager Mr. Eli Jacobs. “The logistics and the planning were just incredible. Security teams, perimeter fencing, scientists, quarantine zones … it was quite the atmosphere.”

Simon Masrani was taking no chance.

Simon adds, “The sense of security proved vital in the establishment of Jurassic World. The media were having a frenzy at the time, conservation groups around the globe were looking and waiting for any incident to tarnish our reputation to try and take Isla Nublar away from us. We had to set a feeling of safety, for when the time came for opening in 2005, we had to ensure people were willing to come.

And come they did … Jurassic World officially opened in June 2005 to an incredible 98,120 visitors in its first month of operation.

The Sandman – By Paul Berry

Thanks to Deane Taylor’s comment on yesterday’s post, here is the short stop-motion film, The Sandman, directed and animated by Paul Berry.

A chilling interpretation of an old European folktale. This Oscar-nominated short film was conceived, designed and produced by Colin Batty, Paul Berry and Ian Mackinnon. It has won awards at Festivals in Hiroshima, Annecy, Stuttgart, Ottawa and Espinho.

Support Dario Argento’s The Sandman

Support The Maestro Dario Argento and his creative freedom as he crafts his most HORRIFIC FILM EVER! Check it out on indiegogo HERE

Going back to the dark, original German legend: the REAL Sandman was someone who stole the eyes of any children that wouldn’t just close them and go to sleep… he’d then go feed them to his hungry children on the moon.

Nathan, a young  student in the city who struggles to forget his childhood trauma at the hands of the serial killer dubbed “The Sandman”: a masked killer who murders his victims with a lethally jagged melon spoon (yes, you read that right!), and claims their eyes as trophies. Nathan killed The Sandman years ago, on Christmas Eve, after he witnessed the murder of his mother, and the nightmare seems to be buried in the past … until he sees the beautiful woman who lives in the apartment across the way dying at the hands of that very same masked killer. This brutal murder plunges Nathan into an odyssey into the night country of his past, his dreams…and the buried secrets of… you guessed it!… The Sandman, who’s on the hunt again.

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