Maleficent: Old and new

This has made my whole day.

Maleficent (Disney, 1959) vs. Maleficent (Disney, approximately 2014). Love it. Angelina Jolie is perfect.

Advertisements

An open letter to PR people

This doesn’t apply to all of the PR people that I deal with. I have some dear, dear favourites (I bet you know who you are) who I do go that extra, extra mile to help out. I know some PR people that are so wildly excellent at their jobs that they probably deserve some kind of medal. This open letter is directed to those PR people who, from where I sit, look like they couldn’t care less about their jobs.

Dear Public Relations Person:

I get it, I do. You’re under pressure to sell your product. I’m under pressure to attract readers to my site. We need each other. Yes, I’ll admit it. I need you. It’s a difficult, complicated relationship. I’ve done some bad things, but so have you. In the interests of getting our relationship back to where it should be, I’ve compiled a list of small changes that you can make – and then some ways in which I can change.

  1. Please at least try to get my name right. I understand that I’m just one on a list of 500 names that you need to deal with, but how can I take the rest of what you’re saying seriously if you don’t take the time to check that you have my name written correctly. I’ll tell you a secret: We like to feel special. Spelling my name (which is “Candace”, by the way) as “Candice”, “Candance” or, true story, “Can” does not make me feel special. It makes me feel as though you don’t care.
  2. Please run your press release through a spell-check… And think before you click “Accept change”.  If I want to publish your press release, I want to do it with as little effort as possible. I do not have a team of journalists at my bidding, I’m afraid, so correcting the spelling and grammar so that I can use your press release just isn’t feasible for me. Make it easier for me, and I will be more likely to publish your piece. (*In all seriousness, when you learn public relations and marketing, is there a writing component?)
  3. Do not use 500 different types of formatting (bold, italics, underline, different sized fonts and bright colours) – I just have to strip it all out anyway. Also, please do not just send me a flyer/PDF/JPEG image. I am an online publication. I can’t use your pretty pretty flyer. It doesn’t fit in my template. (And no, I can’t change my template “just this once”.)
  4. Please attach an image to your email if you can. It stops me from having to request one from you within 30 seconds of receiving your mail. If you can’t attach images because you’re mass mailing, then please ensure that the time between my requesting an image and you sending one is less than a space of hours. I work online. If you have to source an image from somebody, please tell me so I can be prepared.
  5. Please do not call to check whether I received your press release. Unless you got a bounce-back, I did receive it. I may have chosen to ignore it, but I did receive it. If you absolutely must phone (and I know that for many of you, it is in your job description), then there is a certain… Etiquette that should be followed. Generally, I answer the phone with my name. This is because I pronounce my name “Cand-ACE” and not “Cand-uhs”. Do not then greet me with “Hi Candice”. No, I did not mispronounce my own name. Also, please, introduce yourself early in the phone call. Preferably before you’ve asked how I am. “Hi Candace, this is Sarah from Imaginary Press Releases calling. How are you?” is better than “Hi Candace, How are you?” The latter will get a snappy response. Or be met with dead silence. Next part of the phone call is usually “I’m just calling to check whether you got my press release”. And what was it about? When did you send it? I get a minimum of between 80 and 100 emails a day. I can’t remember them all. Some details go a long way to helping to jog my memory. “I’m just calling to check whether you got the press release that I sent on Thursday about the Imaginary Music Event” helps me to go yes/no/maybe more quickly.
  6. Please please please do not spam me with press releases regarding your event/competition/promotion/brand. The more I get spammed by you, the more I am likely to ignore your emails. Do not send me the same email twice. Do not send me five emails a week about your project. They will get ignored.
  7. I physically can’t make all of your events. I wish I could. I wish I could clone myself and have little versions of me going to events and writing about them. But I can’t do it, I’m sorry. Please don’t sound so hurt when I say I can’t attend. It’s not you, it’s me. Really.

And speaking of me, I do agree that I haven’t been an angel in all of this either. And for that, I do apologise.

I promise to RSVP promptly to events, even if I cannot attend.

I promise to publish press releases and promotional materials on time if I say that I will, and if they are relevant to my audience.

I promise to return phone calls and emails if needed.

I promise to at least try to write/tweet/Facebook about your event after I have attended. Sometimes I can’t because once I’ve been to the event, I’ve seen it just won’t appeal to my audience, but I will try.

I promise to make sure that all the information you request is in the article on my site and I promise to include links where relevant.

And I promise to moan, just a little less, when you send me the fiftieth press release for the same event.

A Great First Look at ‘Gatsby’ [Picture]

Cliched thought it may be… I love the 1920’s, more than any other era. I loved the fashion, the make-up, the hair, the idea of the parties and the excess and the sudden realisation that hey, girls, we don’t need to hide. As an added bonus, I love  The Great Gatsby.

So, of course, I perked my ears up at the mention of a Leonardo DiCaprio-starring, Baz Luhrmann-directed version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. And… I was torn. On one hand, a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey-freaking-Mulligan… Well now. Carey is perfect for Daisy, I can’t think of anybody better, and Leo will be great as the titular Gatsby. (I think he and Ryan Gosling are vying for the title of “Most Underrated Actor” of our generation, but that’s a discussion for a whole other time).

But Baz as director… Well, I won’t deny that it will be interesting. I loved Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! – they’re two of my favourite guilty-pleasure films – and I think that he will bring the exuberance of the period to the screen like nobody’s business. Will he be able to handle the subtle, complex, difficult emotions that run as an undercurrent to the film? That remains to be seen. He couldn’t in Australia – that’s all I’m saying.

In the meantime – a first look at the stars of The Great Gatsby. They all look superb. Can’t believe we have to wait until Christmas 2012 for this.

The Great Gatsby

Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Great Gatsby'.

Lady Gaga’s Judas controversy

You didn’t really think I’d let this one slip through the cracks, did you?

Lady Gaga – never one to do something quietly – has released the audio for her new single Judas. Now, with a title like that you’re not going to do anything but offend the Christian community, really. So I’m pretty sure Gaga saw this one coming. If you want the background to the whole story, you can click here – but basically it boils down to this: Gaga sings about being in love with Judas. You know, the guy who betrayed Jesus to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver.

The president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threw a small hissy fit on the matter, accusing her of “trying to rip off Christian idolatry to shore up her talentless, mundane and boring performances”.

“This is a stunt… Lady Gaga tries to continue to shock Catholics and Christians in general: she dresses as a nun… she swallows the rosary. She has now morphed into a caricature of herself”.

Let’s be honest – of course Gaga is trying to be controversial. It gets her sales. And attention. That’s how she rolls. Yes, I’m starting to feel that she’s trying way, way too hard to be “out there” – but it’s better than being vanilla, right?  And there is no better way of stirring up controversy than poking a stick at the Christian community and watching the feathers fly.

But surely, surely these people should realise that they’re being baited? When she dresses like a nun, or swallows a rosary, or covers herself in blood or sings about being in love with Judas, Gaga is trying to get a rise out of you.

And that’s okay. Her soul does not need to be “saved”.

She’s a musician, and much more of an artist than other mass-produced pop acts. If she wants to express herself in a particular way, then let her. Just as the person on the street is allowed to preach in favour of Christianity, she is allowed to use it to as a metaphor.

All of the religious rubbish aside – I’m not particularly impressed with this track. It’s a thumping dance track and is going to be a massive, massive club hit – it’s a powerful track. But it also sounds a hell of a lot like Bad Romance – and still has quite a solid early Madonna feel. But, much like every other song she’s ever written, it’s probably going to grow on me in a massive way.

I just can’t wait to see the video – she’s apparently starring as Mary Magdalene. That’s going to go down very well.

‘The Hobbit’ finally on the roll…!

I’m currently man-down with a radical cold, and am therefore not up to much else other than a) My basic day’s work b) Drinking lots of tea and c) Playing as much Dragon Age 2 as is humanly possible before my fingers seize up. But – much excitement – production has finally started on The Hobbit! After years and years of delays, they’ve finally kicked off – and are still aiming for a December 2012 release date for part one, which is apparently subtitled There and Back Again.

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

These cool promotional photos have been released by WB – and wow, is Peter Jackson looking a little trimmer than his Lord of the Rings days! Compare:

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson in a promo image for 'The Lord of the Rings'.

 

I’ve had a bit of a Hobbit overdose today – working on a feature to accompany the news. And now, I want to reread the novel for the zillionth time. With more tea, and sympathy.

Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

The music world has been talking about this for months – from the moment she first belted out a few lyrics at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards to her “New Year’s announcement on Twitter”… Let’s be honest, nobody knows how to hype up her fanbase like Lady Gaga.

And now it’s finally here – the first single off her highly, highly anticipated album of the same name. It’s Born This Way.

Listen to it below, then I’ll have my ten cents.

The danger of over-hyping a song is obvious. When it drops, it’s going to be scrutinised to the absolute last. And it’s happened here with Gaga. Born This Way will undoubtedly be one of the big club anthems of 2011 – but real-life music critics (a) Not the drunken crowd at a bar at 3am or b) myself) are divided.

On first listen, it seemed a little average to me – well, average for Gaga but miles and miles above the over-produced Britney single Hold It Against Me – but on a second listen, the song clicked. Yes, it could come across as a little preachy but my god, is she sincere about what she’s singing. She truly writes from the heart, and even though they may get lost in the thumping dance beats, the lyrics are hands-down the strong point of the single.

And of course, the inevitable Madonna comparisons. It draws inspiration from the spoken-word segments of Vogue, sounds very much like Express Yourself and even has a bit of a Like a Prayer mixed in at times. And in an artist who is constantly trying to outdo the crowd and prove she’s wildly original, it seems to be a bit of a slip. Gaga and her team definitely knew what they were doing – Gaga repeatedly refers to Madonna as one of her icons, and she’s no idiot – she would have seen the similarities. So no, I don’t think it’s a “rip off”, no matter how much the Twitter-sphere got their panties in a bunch. It’s a tribute in the purest form, and entrenches Gaga as the Madonna of this generation.

And now I’m dying to see the actual video – because I reckon we’re going to be blown out of the water.

Hollywood paycheques: Men vs. Women

Jack Sparrow

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

A colleague of mine pointed out something interesting yesterday.

In the top 20 of Vanity Fair’s list of the top 40 earners in Hollywood there are only two women. In the entire top 40? Only six. Six out of 40. And not one in the top ten.

Reese Witherspoon was the lowest lady on the list at number 36 with R106-million earned in 2010. Katherine Heigl clocked in at 33 with R117-million, America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock claimed 22 with R160-million and was pipped to the post by Angelina Jolie, who earned R171-million.

In the top twenty former Friends star Jennifer Aniston (seriously, how does this girl keep getting movie deals?) who raked in R179-million last year. And the highest rated woman? Twilight Saga star Kristen Stewart, who snatched 13th place on the list of the top earners in 2010 with R208-million.

Let’s put this in perspective. The top earner was James Cameron, who earned R1.8-billion last year. Granted he lucked out with that tiny movie he made about blue people last year, but my mind actually warps when I try to picture having that amount of money in my bank account. (Jim, if you’re listening – I’m putting my younger brother through university and I could happily use one hundred thousandth of your earnings. Seriously.)

But comparing Cameron and Stewart isn’t helpful. He wrote, directed and produced Avatar, so naturally he’d have a claim to a lot more money than any of the actors he cast in it. So the highest actor on the list? Johnny Depp, at position two. Captain Jack Sparrow himself earned a massive R729-million last year – he scooped R291-million for starring in Alice and Wonderland.

So the divide between the highest paid actor and the highest paid actress? A cool R521-million.

The great divide

Yes, I know it’s Johnny Depp and he’s, well, Johnny Depp. I love the guy to pieces. But the Twilight Saga is the thirteenth highest-grossing film franchise of all time. And The Twilight Saga: Eclipse? The third film in the franchise was the sixth-highest grossing movie of 2010. It’s not like Kristen Stewart and company aren’t raking in the cash!

If we’re looking at big names, there are no two bigger on the list than Angelina Jolie and Depp. And hey! They starred in a movie together – The Tourist – which the critics absolutely loathed. And she earned a whole million dollars less than he did for the film. And it’s Angelina-freaking-Jolie!

Surely there’s something wrong here, right? It’s clear that women are getting paid a whackload less than men are – whatever the “official” reasons are, I have no idea. Not being a Hollywood bigwig myself, I can’t provide justifications for why this happens. If you do know, then let me in on the secret please.

But the numbers really, really don’t lie. Where Johnny Depp earns a R255-million fee for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kristen Stewart earns a combined R182-million fee for both parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. And at the moment, I’d feel they are both ridiculously bankable stars. (Just ask the millions of Twi-hards chomping at the bit for the next vampire love fest).

It’s the Hollywood Boys’ Club, I’m afraid. Much as women don’t get paid nearly as much as their male counterparts, they also don’t get nearly as many award nominations when it comes awards season – particularly for directing … which is a rant for another day.