Richard Roeper Blog

Archive for September, 2009

Chicago, West Coast edition.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009


Last night I co-hosted the ‘orange carpet’ festivities for a Chicago-in-Hollywood event at the Melman family’s new restaurant, La Grand Orange. You can read all about in Bill Zwecker’s piece in today’s Sun-Times.


In the photo above, comedian Tom Dreesen and actress Virgnia Madsen. Dreesen, a fellow south suburbanite, was for many years the primary opening act for Frank Sinatra. As I said hello to Dreesen on the orange carpet, I thought of the Sinatra connection and the fact Sinatra once said, “Orange is the happiest color,” which has to be one of the wiggiest declarations of the mid-1960s. Sinatra even wore a startling orange sweater in the original “Oceans 11.” WTF.

As for Ms. Madsen, an engaging and talented actress: I remember seeing her in films such as “Class” (semi-nude cameo appearance) and “Electric Dreams” a million years ago. (Probably shouldn’t say “a million years ago” when referring to an actress.) Not to mention the immortal “Hot Spot,” co-starring the perma-tanned Don Johnson and the very young Jennifer Connelly. What a warm and welcome presence Madsen is these days. How great was she in “Sideways”? (Note: As much as I liked “Sideways,” I have a theory that many film critics had extra love for that movie because it features the schleppy Paul Giamatti as a bitter, frustrated writer who drinks far too much and often has the manners of a wolverine——yet he manages to intrigue, court and bed the lovely Maya, played by Madsen. Of course all those male critics loved “Sideways,” because more than few of them look, sound and behave like Giamatti’s character.)

Also at the party: Harold Ramis, co-architect of many of the greatest comedies of the last 30 years. Earlier this year, I did a Q-and-A with Ramis in which he revealed his first choice to play the lead in “Groundhog Day” was Tom Hanks, but the problem was that Hanks had such a nice-guy persona, viewers would like him from the start, even when he was being a jerk. Bill Murray? Much easier to buy as an asshole. (And to Murray’s credit, he was just as believable as a changed man by the end of the film.)

Ramis was one of the 30 or so guest critics that filled in for Roger Ebert on “At the Movies” after Roger took ill. (Others included Jay Leno, Kevin Smith, Aisha Tyler [my personal favorite], David Edelstein, Lisa Schwarzbaum and John Mellencamp, who did the show mainly because he wanted to tout the documentary “Grey Gardens.”) Nearly every time after I’d finished taping a show with a guest critic, that person would say, “Wow, there’s a lot more to this than I thought,” or, “It’s not so easy to rip a movie or a performance when you realize millions of people are going to see it,” or, “There’s a lot that goes into this show.”

When Ramis finished, he deadpanned, “You call this work?”

Whether I was chatting with Jeff Garlin or Joe Mantegna or for pics with Dick Butkus (!), there were a number of moments when I thought to myself, “You call this work?”

Yeah it’s a bit of a challenge to maneuver your way through one interview after another with an actor or a producer or a sports figure, listening to their answers while formulating your next question as a frantic producer is signaling for you to wrap it up because MISTER BIG STAR has just arrived—–but compared to the real jobs most people do every day, it’s another day at Fantasy Camp.



In search of a redhead.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

If you’re a Chicago-area redhead, I’d like to be judging you. In a good way.

UPDATE: I guess some people couldn’t see the photo, so here’s the link to information about the event:

Redhead Piano Bar

Kanye interrupts Obama…

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Kanye see him making a fool out of himself?

Monday, September 14th, 2009


Seconds after Kanye West stormed the stage at the VMAs like a comic book villain and almost stole that glass moon man trophy from little Taylor Swift, there was much Twittering about whether it was a “publicity stunt.”

Um, no.

When a fringe actress shows up on the red carpet dressed like a Marsupial, that’s a publicity stunt.

When a reality show couple gets into a big fight outside the Ivy, that’s a publicity stunt.

When a troubled bimbo exits a limo in a mini-skirt and no panties, that’s a publicity stunt.

But when you’re already one of the world’s most recognizable and successful entertainers, rushing the stage at a secondary awards show and throwing a temper tantrum isn’t a publicity stunt.

It’s just stupid.

Let’s put it this way: if a 10-year-old pulled the same nonsense at a Little League awards ceremony, his parents would be mortified, the other kids would be stunned and you’d want to seek immediate counseling for the child.

Kanye West is 32 years old.

Whiteout is a washout.

Friday, September 11th, 2009


The first time we see Kate Beckinsale as U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko in “Whiteout,” she has just come in from the brutal Antarctica cold and has entered her quarters.

She peels off layer after layer after layer of clothing, until she’s down to bra and panties, poking her butt in the camera’s direction as she turns on the shower. (Even though “Whiteout” is rated R, she takes a PG shower.)

Someone enters her quarters and says hello. “I’m in the shower!” says Carrie.

Yes. We knew that.

There is absolutely no point to this scene other than to show Ms. Beckinsale’s tiny and flawless figure in bra and panties and then naked, albeit through the steamed-up shower walls. It’s kinda ridiculous. So is much of “Whiteout,” a violent, formulaic thriller that is ultimately no less predictable or interesting simply because it is set in the coldest and most isolated place on Earth.

As veteran movie-goers know, when a cop of any kind is just days away from the long-awaited retirement or the promotion to the cushy desk job or the tropical climate–well, that’s when all hell breaks loose and you’re plunged into the biggest case of your career. (See Morgan Freeman in “7,” Robert Duvall in “Colors,” et al.) Carrie has spent two uneventful years as the lone cop at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station, but in three days, the station will power down for the long winter, and she’ll be leaving for good. She’s turning in her badge, don’t you know.

That’s when a body turns up on the open ice, far from any research station. It’s Antarctica’s first homicide, but it won’t be the last.

So far we have some pretty interesting ingredients for a different kind of thriller. There’s the opening sequence, set 50 years earlier, in which all hell breaks loose on a Russian plane. What’s up with that? There’s that gruesome corpse found stuck to the ice. There’s somebody stomping around Antarctica with an ax, chopping up geologists and trying to kill Carrie. And there’s constant talk of the killer storm on its way. Maybe this will all play out in smart and surprising fashion.

Or maybe not.

Despite the promising source material—a graphic novel written by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber–some impressive visuals (with Manitoba filling in for the South Pole) and the earnest performances from the talented cast, “Whiteout” often plays like a slasher movie in a parka. When it’s not a slasher movie, it feels like a hundred other cop mysteries in which we know one of the core characters probably isn’t such a good guy after all. Sooner or later we’re going to get that Big Reveal, where the true criminal mastermind gives a long speech explaining the motives for his evil deeds.

Other clichés abound. The killer has that omniscient movie-killer ability to magically appear in places where he couldn’t have possibly known his next victim would be. We keep getting flashbacks to a deadly incident in Miami that was the impetus for Carrie’s escape to this most isolated post. At one point Carrie gingerly approaches a figure that might be sleeping—but we know he’s not sleeping. When a handsome special agent (Gabriel Macht) from the United Nations suddenly appears to offer help, we can’t help but wonder about his true motives.

There’s also some very weird stuff, as when Carrie shares a tender exchange with her best friend and father figure, Doc–as Doc prepares to amputate her frostbitten fingers, I kid you not. (Doc is played by Tom Skerritt, who now looks like Kris Kristofferson’s twin brother.)

As for the big whiteout, when the storm finally hits, it just makes it really difficult to see who’s doing what as a number of key characters battle it out in the middle of the deadly storm. At one point as Carrie and company are flailing about on the ice, punching and kicking and trying to kill one another, the action was more reminiscent of a Three Stooges film than a nail-biting thriller.

Director Dominic Sena (“Gone in 60 Seconds,” “Swordfish”) knows how to film elaborately choreographed action sequences, but the screenplay-by-committee is bereft of originality, lacking in comic relief. You want to see a good movie starring Kate Beckinsale in a fully formed performance? Rent out last year’s political spellbinder “Nothing but the Truth,” which was seen by no one but deserves a second chance.

Comics on Screen.

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Starz Inside, a series of original specials from Starz hosted by Richard Roeper.

Starz Inside: Comics on Screen explores comedians who have transitioned from stage to the big screen. Those interviewed for the special include George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, Tim Allen, Dane Cook, Rosie O’Donnell, Andrew Dice Clay, Frank Caliendo, Mo’nique, Tom Arnold, Judah Friedlander, and actor/director Harold Ramis.  Films explored include Young Frankenstein, Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip, Wild Hogs, White Chicks, A League of Their Own, True Lies, Caddyshack, Toy Story, The Santa Clause, Little Man, Meet the Parents and more.

Starz Inside host Richard Roeper was co-host of “Ebert & Roeper” for eight years. For the last 20 years he has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. He was also a contributor to Fox News in Chicago, where his commentaries were nominated for five Emmys®, winning twice. He has written seven books, and he continues to review films for

Premieres Tuesday, September 8 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)

For information on Starz Inside: Comics on Screen please click here.

Upcoming Starz Inside specials include:

· Sex and the Cinema

· Zombiemania

For Starz Inside images and logos please click here.

A million little pieces.

Monday, September 7th, 2009

A million little pieces go into the taping of an “Oprah” show on Michigan Avenue. Scenes from the setup on Monday:


Something tells me these guys don't Tivo the show on a regular basis.

Something tells me these guys don’t Tivo “Oprah” on a regular basis.


Showing the Big O some love.


oprah's luggage

Oprah’s luggage has arrived.


You can walk but ya can’t drive…

Oh my God.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

There was a time when lunatics like Glenn Beck would spend their days on street corners, babbling their nonsensical theories into a cheap megaphone while people hurried past, avoiding eye contact.

Somehow, this man has a TV show, a radio show, books, a tour—-which means a large number of people actually find his views legitimate and informative.

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow f—— WOW.

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