Articles from November 2007

Johnny Depp in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's new issue, featuring "The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood"

Johnny Depp is featured in the new issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (cover date December 7, 2007) as one of their chosen “50 Smartest People in Hollywood,” celebrities they claim are “the brains leading the film business forward.” Johnny ranks 21st on their list, because “he’s proven that you can sell tickets without selling out. Depp has carved a niche for himself as Hollywood’s wizard of weird and showed the suits that audiences were hungry for his handcrafted oddballs. After piloting the PIRATES franchise to $2.7 billion worldwide, Depp is playing a murderous, singing barber in the bloody operetta SWEENEY TODD. Seriously,” asks EW rhetorically, “who else would do that?” Ummm . . . no one, which is why there is only one Johnny Depp?

To show that they are focused on brains and not beauty, EW frequently offers caricatures of their honorees rather than printing their photographs. You can see Johnny’s caricature, by Robert Risko, here: http://tinyurl.com/39yzou The Zone thanks Theresa for posting the EW story on the News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

SHANTARAM Update: Mira Nair tells NPR that she "hopes to resume" SHANTARAM in fall 2008

Last week’s announcement that Warner Brothers was putting the filming of the Johnny Depp film SHANTARAM on hold due to the WGA strike was very difficult news for the film’s director, Mira Nair. In an interview with Alison Stewart on National Public Radio, Ms. Nair tackled the tough subject of “what’s next” on her agenda. “Well, I’m just coping with the, you know, hard news that my film that I had worked on for almost a year, SHANTARAM, which is this fantastic epic with Johnny Depp, in India mostly, has been postponed from the writers strike just only last week. So that’s been, you know, hard to shift gears with that one because I’m already deep in it and dreaming in scenes and so on; we were supposed to shoot in a couple of months. But, you know, life must be lived in the present,” she adds, “and that’s what I am trying to do.”

When asked by Stewart to assess “what’s the reality of the film with Johnny Depp . . . coming true?” (i.e., being filmed), Mira Nair replies, “The reality is that they have postponed it, really, until the strike is settled, but there’s no guarantee when that would happen.” She adds hopefully, “But we’re hoping to resume the film in fall, 2008 . . . if God is willing.” We are all hoping to see that day, when cameras roll on SHANTARAM.

The Zone thanks Emma for posting the NPR interview with Mira Nair; you can read more of the director’s comments on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Hilarious SWEENEY TODD interview with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton from ACCESS HOLLYWOOD

Huzzah to ACCESS HOLLYWOOD for giving us five-and-a-half minutes of hilarity from the SWEENEY TODD press junket in London. Their unnamed interviewer begins well enough, asking Johnny Depp and Tim Burton about their long professional association, but then her slip of the tongue sends the interview in an unexpected direction:

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: This is your sixth film together. What does it feel like when you get back together again for a film? [She doesn’t realize it, but we’re about to find out.]

TIM BURTON: I feel like I work with a different actor each time, because he’s [Johnny’s] always different in every movie. So it’s always something new, and that’s always what’s fun about it for me.

JOHNNY DEPP: For me, working with Tim is like going back to the most comfortable place you can be. It’s like going home . . . it’s a place where you can try anything.

TIM BURTON: [interrupting] Even singing.

JOHNNY DEPP: [laughing] Even singing. Even dancing! No . . . it’s comfort.

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Now, I hate to say this, but you’ve been working together for almost ten decades–

TIM BURTON: [interrupting in shock] Ten decades?

[Johnny Depp bursts into laughter, almost choking with it, but the interviewer is oblivious to her mistake.]

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: Yes!

TIM BURTON: Can you roll the IV in for me, please? I’m feeling a bit faint.

From this point, the interview turns into a Burton-and-Depp comedy routine as the men bounce one-liners off the bewildered reporter. To see the video, an instant classic, click here: http://tinyurl.com/38eokx

Many thanks to Theresa for sharing this gem with the Zone, and thanks to Johnny and Tim for the best laugh we’ve had since the writers’ strike started! –Part-Time Poet

TV ALERT–THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO to air vintage Johnny Depp appearance on November 30th!

Due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO is being forced to find creative ways to fill its late-night time slot. This week Leno has dug deep into the archives and is re-airing vintage episodes which show today’s A-list stars in their early appearances with Jay. On Friday night, November 30th, THE TONIGHT SHOW will re-air a 1995 broadcast featuring Johnny Depp. Unfortunately the NBC website does not specify which of Johnny’s two 1995 appearances with Jay Leno will be shown; Johnny spoke with Jay in April 1995 about Don Juan De Marco, and he returned in November 1995 to promote the John Badham thriller Nick of Time. I guess we’ll just have to tune in Friday night and be surprised. Many thanks to Theresa for sharing the news! –Part-Time Poet

Nine new film clips from SWEENEY TODD, plus behind-the-scenes footage!

Paramount has released a feast of new film clips from Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD–beware of spoilers right and left, because once you start watching these intoxicating bits of film, you will not be able to stop until you have seen them all. Marvelous, spellbinding, addictive . . . there are nine separate (short) clips, including previously unseen footage of “A Little Priest,” with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter; “You Gandered at My Ward,” with Alan Rickman and Jamie Campbell Bower; and “The Contest,” with Sacha Baron Cohen in fine voice. There are also three behind-the-scenes featurettes available: one focused on the cast, one on the vision of the film, and one on the history of SWEENEY TODD. Finally, we can view two substantial behind-the-scenes clips, one devoted to the filming of “A Little Priest” and the second showing parts of “Pretty Women,” “Epiphany,” and “The Contest.” They beggar all description–you can see and hear them for yourself at iesb.net, The Movie Reporter: http://tinyurl.com/2p46bl

Many thanks to Emma for sharing the news! –Part-Time Poet

New interview with Johnny Depp about playing Sweeney Todd: "I was fine until I actually had to shave someone"

Interviews from yesterday’s round table press conference for SWEENEY TODD, held at Claridge’s in London, are beginning to surface on the Internet. Director Tim Burton and actors Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Mrs. Lovett), and Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin) took questions from reporters in a playful hour punctuated with self-deprecating jokes and plenty of laughter. Here are Johnny and Tim discussing the pivotal moment when Sweeney the demon barber actually has to prepare to shave Judge Turpin on-screen:

Q: Can you talk about your relationship with the razors, Johnny, and how you worked with them?

Johnny Depp: Well, having worked with sharp objects before, everything was fine . . . until I actually had to shave someone.

Tim Burton: Let me just remind you of one thing. He didn’t have trouble with the razors. He was freaked out by the shaving cream.

Johnny Depp: It made me real nervous.

Tim Burton: Am I right? Was that the hardest thing that you had to do, lather up Alan Rickman?

Johnny Depp: It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life, as it would be.

Tim Burton: He was like, “I can’t do it.”

Johnny Depp: Poor Alan [Johnny laughs].

Q: Was he screaming?

Johnny Depp: He wasn’t screaming. He was close.

Tim Burton: Inside he might have been screaming.

Johnny Depp: I think that he really didn’t enjoy it. So, in that sense, I’m sure he hated working with me.

Q: It wasn’t a “Method” preparation, where you went into a barbershop and tried to learn that for two weeks?

Johnny Depp: No, no, . . . because, I mean, at the same time I didn’t go out and slash anyone’s throat–that you know of.

The Zone thanks Emma and CassNJ for the round table interviews–you can read full transcripts of interviews with Johnny and Tim, with composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, with Helena Bonham Carter and with Alan Rickman on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Enjoy! –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–New photos of Johnny Depp shopping in London

The photo at left shows Johnny Depp during a shopping excursion at Forbidden Planet, a London toy store, on November 26th. Johnny and fellow doting dad Tim Burton, his director in SWEENEY TODD, ducked out to do some holiday shopping following a day of press interviews at Claridge’s to promote SWEENEY TODD. You can see a larger version of the photo of Johnny studying the toy display here: http://tinyurl.com/2ua9f3 To see a photo of Johnny and Tim together, shopping at Forbidden Planet, click here: http://tinyurl.com/2k2u5a The Zone thanks bonnie for sharing the photos. The SWEENEY TODD press junket is underway–be sure to check the Zone’s News & Views forum to read the new interviews! –Part-Time Poet

Tim Burton's "seductively dark visions" illuminate SWEENEY TODD, says Los Angeles Times

“SWEENEY TODD, which opens December 21, [. . .] is a beautifully scored, high-art slasher film,” writes Paul Brownfield in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times (issue date Nov. 25), “told almost entirely in song and topped off with [Johnny] Depp paying homage to Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff.” About the two leads, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, Brownfield writes, “The pairing of Depp, with dead eyes and big, scary hair, and Bonham Carter lends a different vibe to the twisted relationship between Todd and Mrs. Lovett. They’re almost heroin-chic-looking, the guy thirsting for blood and the girl counseling patience. [. . .] Burton likens his SWEENEY to a relationship movie.”

The quick shoot and relatively low budget for SWEENEY TODD ($50 million, modest by current standards) didn’t bother the director: “I would have liked a couple more days of shooting things,” Burton told the Times, “but, you know what? I prefer it this way. You can have a $200-million budget and feel like you’re being choked to death.” Nor was the story’s gore a problem: “Burton has long thought the violence in the show was more illustrative than literal–an orgiastic release,” writes Brownfield. As for those Internet rumors that claimed Burton was told to cut back on the blood spilled, they are not true. Burton tells the Times that he told the movie executives exactly what to expect and had no pressure to deviate from his vision of SWEENEY: “The first thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘There’s going to be blood in the movie, so don’t even ask.’ “

The Zone thanks Emma for posting the L.A. Times story; you can read it in full on the Zone’s News & Views forum, or here: http://tinyurl.com/35cw89 The story includes a lovely Peter Mountain photograph of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on the set; you can see it here: http://tinyurl.com/yu3ch6

For a link to a wonderful video of Johnny singing “Epiphany” from SWEENEY TODD –footage of him in the recording studio– click here: http://tinyurl.com/yv36p3 The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for first posting the video link. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp named one of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Top 25 Stars of 2007

Johnny Depp is featured in the new issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY devoted to “the top 25 Entertainers of 2007” (author J. K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, is on the cover). Johnny appears in the category of “Most Popular,” along with Matt Damon, Katherine Heigl, Carrie Underwood and Kanye West. Says EW’s Jeff Labreque, “When Johnny Depp sailed into the sunset at the end of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END, the quirky heartthrob capped one of the most lucrative trilogies in movie history. Hollywood enthusiastically surrendered, handing him the lead role in Tim Burton’s big-screen musical adaptation of SWEENEY TODD without hearing him sing a note. Risky, dark, kooky: music to our ears.” EW adds a timeline of Johnny’s year, but coincidentally chooses the same Dan MacMedan photograph that PEOPLE used for Johnny in their “Sexiest Man Alive” issue last week. Hmm . . . great minds think alike?

The Zone thanks Theresa for the EW news. You can read Johnny’s feature on the EW website: http://tinyurl.com/ywsqyd or on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Hollywood rumor–Johnny Depp to replace Brad Pitt in Universal's STATE OF PLAY?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal is “looking at” Johnny Depp to replace Brad Pitt in the political thriller STATE OF PLAY. Pitt pulled out of Kevin Macdonald’s film, which was scheduled to begin production on November 15th, citing “script concerns” (the script cannot be worked on because of the Writers Guild of America strike). Johnny is now available to shoot a film in the winter due to the recent postponement of Mira Nair’s SHANTARAM.

STATE OF PLAY is based on an award-winning British miniseries and has a top-notch cast lined up and ready to film, including Oscar-winner Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Robin Wright Penn; however, Universal must act quickly to replace Pitt–according to Variety, by November 29th–or it will begin to lose its cast to other projects. The Pitt character is a journalist (formerly a top political consultant) who heads a newspaper’s murder investigation involving a fast-rising politician (Norton). Other actors rumored to be under consideration for the role include Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks.

The Zone thanks Donna B. for breaking the story and Gilbert’s Girl for the Variety article; you can read both of them in their entirety on the Zone’s News & Views forum. We wish Universal and Kevin Macdonald good luck in finding their new leading man; so many fine projects have already been deferred by the strike that we would hate to see STATE OF PLAY vanish, too. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Premiere for SWEENEY TODD to be held in New York City on December 3rd!

Circle Monday, December 3rd on your calendar in red . . . because that’s when the long-awaited premiere of Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd and Helena Bonham Carter as his confederate Mrs. Lovett, will take place! Honoring SWEENEY TODD’s Broadway roots–the film is a faithful adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-Award-winning musical–the premiere is scheduled to occur in New York City at the Zeigfeld Theatre, at 8 pm.

If you are interested in attending the premiere–the movie only; the afterparty is not included–there is currently a charity auction in progress on Ebay for two tickets to the SWEENEY TODD premiere in New York. 100% of the auction proceeds will benefit Variety’s Kids Charity; bidding ends on November 28th at noon Pacific time. If you want to be tempted into bidding your entire holiday budget and then some, click here to see the Ebay listing: http://tinyurl.com/2xnnqr but buyer beware–the urge to type in a really large number will be all but irresistible. Well, it is for a good cause!

The Zone thanks emma for posting the Ebay listing, and Theresa and FANtasticJD for breaking the first story about a possible New York premiere for SWEENEY TODD. We’re counting the days! –Part-Time Poet

Writer's strike delays two Johnny Depp films–SHANTARAM and THE RUM DIARY

The Hollywood Reporter calls Johnny Depp “the latest A-list actor to fall victim to the Writers Guild of America strike” in a story headlined “Depp in play as strike delays two films.” That doesn’t mean that Johnny will be toplining a stage production any time soon (although the idea is not without charm); “in play” means that he is currently free–not committed to any film that’s shooting soon–and that studios can hope to entice him to sign on to a new project that would film in early 2008. The Zone sincerely hopes there are some interesting projects out there with completed shooting scripts and an intriguing role that would be perfect for Johnny Depp, and that Tracey Jacobs’ phone is ringing right now.

About the two Depp films put on hold, the Hollywood Reporter says, “The actor was scheduled to film SHANTARAM–Warner Bros. and Initial Entertainment Group’s adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel–in the winter, but that project has now been postponed. Among the reasons the film has been delayed is that the script was not in the shape the filmmakers wanted; the current strike prohibits any revisions. Budgetary concerns also were a factor. Sources said SHANTARAM’s budget was heading north of $75 million, outside the studio’s comfort zone for the drama set in India and Afghanistan.”

As for THE RUM DIARY, it has also been “put on hold,” says the Hollywood Reporter. “Bruce Robinson, whose 1987 comedy WITHNAIL & I gained a cult following, was adapting and directing. THE RUM DIARY, loosely based on [Hunter S.] Thompson’s experience working as a freelance journalist in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s, is in the development stages. Depp had planned to make the film after SHANTARAM.” The Zone thanks Theresa for posting the article; you can read it in full on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Warner Bros. calls off February production start of SHANTARAM, starring Johnny Depp

Sad news . . . Variety reports that Warner Bros. will not begin filming Mira Nair’s SHANTARAM, which was to be Johnny Depp’s next starring role, next February. Says Variety, “The writer’s strike posted another casualty Monday as Warner Bros. called off a February production start on SHANTARAM, the Mira Nair-directed adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that was to star Johnny Depp. [. . .] Though Eric Roth was rewriting right up to the start of the writer’s strike in an attempt to bring down the pic’s pricetag, insiders attributed the postponement partly to script considerations but also other factors, such as the onset of monsoon season in India and a snag over how much time Depp would spend shooting there vs. New Mexico, where part of the film will be shot.”

Disappointing though this decision is, there is some good news; the film is only delayed, not dead. Variety reports that “Warner Bros., Nair, King and Depp plan to make SHANTARAM as soon as they can, sources said. Pic has been a top studio priority studio since Depp’s zeal prompted WB to pay $2 million for the book.” The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news–you can read more about the SHANTARAM postponement on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp's contributions to GONZO: THE LIFE OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY now in the JDZ Archives!

The BY JOHNNY section of the JDZ Archives now contains all of Johnny Depp’s writing and reminiscences from the new book GONZO: THE LIFE OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY. Many thanks to Joni for transcribing them for us, and for her meticulous editing of all the Archives material. Johnny Depp wrote the introduction to this volume of memoirs of Hunter, but there is much more in GONZO: AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY that relates to Johnny and Hunter’s friendship. The “oral biography” consists of hundreds of stories told by the people who knew Hunter and worked with him over the years. Johnny speaks often of Hunter, and he is mentioned by others in the course of their memories.

Johnny’s final words about Hunter are haunting: the Good Doctor left Johnny a long phone message, and Johnny listened to part of it before he had to leave, so he saved the rest of the message to hear later. “[T]he clock was ticking and I had to run,” Johnny says. “The part of it I did hear was so sweet, and up, and light. I saved the message and went on to do my stuff, and by the time I got the news that Hunter had made his exit, that message was gone–it just evaporated.” Says Johnny sadly, “I never heard the end.”

To read Johnny Depp’s contributions to GONZO: AN ORAL BIOGRAPHY, click on the JDZ ARCHIVES button above, select “Johnny Depp Zone Archives,” and click on the By Johnny Home button. The new addition is the final entry in the archive. –Part-Time Poet

Celebrity round-up: Compliments from Johnny Depp's co-stars, past and (possibly) future

We’ve noticed quite a few recent compliments coming Johnny Depp’s way from other actors with whom he’s worked . . . and from one lovely young actress who hopes to work with him. Freddie Highmore, who acted with Johnny in FINDING NEVERLAND and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, is out promoting his new film AUGUST RUSH, and he had this to say in an interview with Will Lawrence of The Telegraph: “Johnny’s a mate, a real first-rate guy. We became friends on NEVERLAND, and we still email and text. He’s so normal–he says hello to everyone on set, from the director to the tea lady.” Freddie adds that Johnny always treated him “like an adult” and says, “That was really important for me.” Freddie was only ten when they filmed FINDING NEVERLAND.

In the December 2007 TOTAL FILM, another FINDING NEVERLAND co-star, Dustin Hoffman, is asked this question: “Your generation of actors is possibly the greatest. Is it a quirk of fate? The training? The roles?” Dustin Hoffman replies, “One of the critical differences is that many of us came from the stage. We had a sense of craft: breaking down a character, breaking down a scene. We studied. But there are some wonderful actors today who did not come from the experience we came from. Let’s see . . . Johnny Depp and DiCaprio. They were getting jobs as they grew up and yet somehow they retained a sense of their own truth.”

Jamie Campbell Bower has his first major movie role as Anthony Hope in the upcoming SWEENEY TODD. He tells Adam Baer of the Los Angeles Times how nervous he was on the first day of shooting: “Tim [Burton] helped a lot and is a very relaxed director, though I was terribly nervous–and Johnny was great too. On the first day of shooting, I was standing with him on a boat in the middle of the studio. And I’m like, ‘Is this actually happening? Am I here?’ Now, Johnny can tell I’m a wreck. I’m shaking while there’s this huge fan blowing our hair wild. But then he leans over and says, ‘Jamie, that’s our biggest fan.’ It was a great way to break the tension.”

SIN CITY actress Jessica Alba hasn’t had the chance to work with Johnny Depp yet, but she’s hoping to have the opportunity. In an appearance on MTV’s TRL, she was asked if the rumors that Johnny might appear in a SIN CITY sequel are true. “I don’t know,” Ms. Alba replied. “I sure hope so!” She told the audience, “I have a huge crush on him. When I saw him at the Golden Globes I made eye contact with him, and got all flustered.” She confided, “Of all the men in the business, he is my favorite.”

The Zone thanks Emma and Gilbert’s Girl for contributing articles on Johnny’s co-stars. –Part-Time Poet

TV ALERT–Watch for Johnny Depp and SWEENEY TODD on E! channel's "Hot Holiday 16" tonight

The E! network kicks off its movie promotion for the upcoming holiday season tonight, Friday November 16th, with a half-hour special called “Hot Holiday 16.” Presumably this will include trailers and other promotional features for 16 films to be released between now and New Year’s Day (when one-week Oscar consideration runs must be completed). E! is dropping Johnny Depp’s name first in their promo spot: “What do Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman, Jerry Seinfeld & Keira Knightley have in common? Well, these stars and many others will drop by during our preview of must-see holiday movies.” While we aren’t expecting Johnny to literally “drop by,” it will be great to see a feature on SWEENEY TODD. “Hot Holiday 16” airs at 6 p.m. tonight Eastern and Pacific time, and 5 p.m. Central, with repeat broadcasts at 8 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, November 17th and 7 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, November 18th. Thanks to scratchthedragon for breaking the story. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp featured in PEOPLE's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue

You can find that beautiful DanMacMedan photo of Johnny Depp in the new PEOPLE Magazine, which lists him among this year’s ten “Sexiest Men Alive”–a group that includes Matt Damon (on the cover as this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive”), Patrick Dempsey, Ryan Reynolds, Brad Pitt, James McAvoy, Dave Annable, Will Smith, Javier Bardem, and Shemar Moore. Here’s what PEOPLE had to say about Johnny: “Why is he sexy? For starters, there’s his quirky style (he lives in France, dresses like a rock star, is not afraid of a little eyeliner) and his devil-may-care spirit (didn’t take a single singing lesson to prepare for his role in the upcoming musical SWEENEY TODD). Most of all, there’s something heart-melting about how gaga he is for his gaggle– daughter Lily-Rose, 8, and son Jack, 5, his kids with longtime girlfriend Vanessa Paradis. “Suddenly you meet your reason to live,” Depp, 44, told London’s Daily Mail about being a father. “They make me happy.”

The Zone thanks H2H for posting the “Sexiest Man Alive” story; you can read a lively commentary about PEOPLE’s choices (and their editors’ possible need for corneal transplants) on the Pit. To see a larger version of the photo, click here: http://tinyurl.com/2cby9m and to see PEOPLE’s photo gallery of the Sexiest Men Alive, click here: http://tinyurl.com/274kcc –Part-Time Poet

"Spectacular" and "breathtaking"–Fox News reviews the SWEENEY TODD preview at Lincoln Center

Fox News critic Roger Friedman attended Tim Burton’s presentation at Lincoln Center on November 14th, and thinks Johnny Depp’s performance as the crazed barber Sweeney Todd has “Oscar written all over it.” Writes Friedman, “Last night, at Rose Hall in Jazz at Lincoln Center, a lucky few of us got to see about 25 minutes of footage of SWEENEY TODD. This is the long awaited film version of Stephen Sondheim’s magnificent 1981 Broadway musical, directed by Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, his accomplice. The Oscar race just got officially really, really interesting,” says Friedman. “The three set pieces we saw were, in a word, spectacular. They were also just enough to light a fire and suggest that Paramount Dreamworks has a potential Best Picture nominee in SWEENEY TODD, and maybe even a winner.” Wow.

As for the cast, Friedman notes, “Both Depp and Carter sing, as do Sasha ‘Borat’ Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and three important newcomers: Jayne Wisener, Jamie Bower, and Ed Sanders. Of the three, we only got to hear Bower besides Depp and Carter. But young Bower turns out to be a winner. His rendition of my favorite number from SWEENEY—’Johanna’—just knocked out the crowd. And just a hint of what Depp does in this film was demonstrated in a number called ‘My Friends,’ in which Sweeney sings to his recovered barber tools after returning from 15 years in prison. The number was breathtaking.”

Friedman’s conclusion after seeing the clips? “Johnny Depp can sing, and he makes for an impressive Sweeney. The look and attitude are right. The performance should earn him an Oscar nomination as well. Carter, who specializes in playing “off’ types, makes an excellent comic and romantic foil for him.” The Zone thanks Emma for posting the Fox News review; you can read it in its entirety on the Porch forum. –Part-Time Poet

"Just amazing"–a Zoner's firsthand report from "An Evening with Tim Burton" at Lincoln Center

Several Zoners were lucky enough to get tickets to “An Evening with Tim Burton: Cinema’s Demon Barber” at Lincoln Center last night, and to share what they saw there. You can read full accounts on the Zone’s Porch forum, and they are delightful. Here is an excerpt from Scout’s report: “I am just back from the Tim Burton night at Lincoln Center. It was a wonderful time. They showed clips of all of Tim’s films, and then he and a moderator would sit on stage and discuss them. They did this in three segments, and the third segment was called ‘The Collaboration with Johnny Depp.’ The audience cheered! Tim was asked if he wanted to say anything about Johnny before they showed the clips. He sort of paused, then with a dry kind of wit said, ‘No, he gets enough attention.’ It was very funny.”

Scout says that Tim’s affection for Johnny was obvious. “He [Tim] spoke the whole night with great warmth and was very personable, and you could tell he and Johnny have a tremendous relationship. He spoke in general terms about the importance of liking the people that you end up spending so much time with on the set, and how he enjoys when characters just emerge as shooting takes place and when the actors improvise and are able to do it very well.”

As for the clips from SWEENEY TODD, Scout reports: “They ended the evening with showing some extended scenes from SWEENEY TODD, and this was truly amazing. I have seen both Broadway productions and love the music very much. I knew Johnny could handle the part BUT I was not prepared for what I saw. In my opinion, Johnny sings the parts (we heard three complete songs) fantastically! I mean he is not just ‘handling’ the music, he sounds superb, like he has a trained voice.” She adds, “The songs they showed were ‘My Friends;’ one segment called ‘Epiphany’ that is part of the trailer of Johnny singing in the street to get men into his chair; and the last was ‘Johanna,’ where he sings about his daughter while he is slitting throats. It is just amazing to see, because Johnny is totally this crazy Sweeney, singing beautifully–but as a crazy person–the fantastic Sondheim lyrics.”

A bit more on the response to the SWEENEY TODD clips: “Before they showed the SWEENEY clips, Tim emphasized that it was still a work in progress, but no mention was made of the premiere,” says Scout. “After each song segment was shown, the audience cheered, and also at the end they went wild. If anyone from the studio was there [and] interested in audience reaction, they should be VERY excited and thrilled by what they saw. . . .” And Scout’s own reaction to the clips? “December 21st can’t come fast enough.” Agreed!

We thank Scout very much for sharing her account of the evening with the Zone’s readers–you can read many more wonderful reports on the Porch. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp tops Forbes Magazine's list of top-earning actors

According to FORBES Magazine, Johnny Depp ranks first on the list of top-earning actors in Hollywood. Says Forbes, “He generated $92 million during the 12 months ending June 30, more than any other single actor, regardless of age group.” The magazine’s feature focuses on actors over 35 and their deal-making clout–“Nothing generates income in Hollywood like a proven track record,” notes Forbes–but here, too, Johnny transcends any age restrictions. He is the #1 earner, period . . . largely thanks to a certain roguish pirate and a ship called the Black Pearl.

“Just five years ago, the idea that Depp would ultimately become Hollywood’s top-earning actor would have been inconceivable, even laughable,” says Forbes. “Depp had long commanded more respect than box-office pull for his offbeat but critically acclaimed roles in films such as EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ED WOOD, [. . .] and CHOCOLAT. Then he unexpectedly hit pay dirt in 2003 with the release of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, the first installment in what turned out to be a massively profitable franchise for Walt Disney Pictures. Depp’s charismatic portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow struck just the right balance between Hollywood appeal and his own inherent weirdness, transforming him into a mainstream box office star.” Of course Forbes’s focus here is strictly financial and not artistic, but it is always pleasant to see a great artist rewarded for his work.

The Zone thanks Kazren for sharing the story; you can read the full article on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet