TIME Television

Infamous Ex-Pitcher John Rocker to Star in Newest Season of Survivor

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Former Braves player John Rocker participates in a pre-game ceremony honoring many Braves alumni at Turner Field on August 8, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin Liles — Getty Images

Series kicks off on Sept. 24

The newest season of Survivor will feature none other than former Major League Baseball pitcher John Rocker, according to CBS Sports.

The retired pitcher, who played portions of six seasons in the MLB, will compete in Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water, which will debut on Sept. 24, CBS says.

Rocker is notoriously remembered for the bigoted comments he made about New Yorkers during a widely publicized interview in Sports Illustrated in 1999.

“I was raised in a professional baseball clubhouse and still carry a lot of that idiocy with me,” said Rocker in a trailer released by CBS.

The former reliever will appear on the show alongside his girlfriend Julie McGee.

TIME Music

Chuck Berry Honored at Polar Music Prize Ceremony in Stockholm

Chuck Berry In Concert - January 1, 2011
Chuck Berry performs at the Congress Theater on January 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Barry Brecheisen/FilmMagic

Think of it as the Nobel of the music world

Polar Music Prize laureate Chuck Berry has been honored at an awards ceremony in Sweden.

Poor health prevented the rock ‘n’ roll legend, now 87, from leaving his home outside of St. Louis to attend the event in Stockholm. But the ‘Johnny B. Goode’ singer had Welsh musician Dave Edmunds read his acceptance speech at the ceremony.

“My heart is in Sweden,” he said. “I understand what a great honor it is to be a recipient. I am sorry that I am unable to travel and receive this personally.”

The Polar Music Prize is the so-called “Nobel of the music world,” awarded annually to one recipient each from the fields of modern and classical music. The award was established 25 years ago by the manager of ABBA, Stig Anderson. Previous laureates include Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin.

Keith Richards paid tribute to Berry in a video that was played at the award ceremony. “Chuck Berry, he just leaped out of the radio at me. I ate him basically, I mean I breathed him,” he said. “If I listened to Chuck Berry, I was full for the day.”

In a statement made when announcing Berry’s award in May, the Polar Music Prize Foundation said: “Chuck Berry was the rock ’n’ roll pioneer who turned the electric guitar into the main instrument of rock music. Every riff and solo played by rock guitarists over the last 60 years contains DNA that can be traced right back to Chuck Berry.”

Berry was recognized alongside theatre and opera director Peter Sellars, who is known for bringing controversial flair to the stage. Sellars received Tuesday’s prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

TIME celebrities

LMFAO Singer Redfoo Had a Glass Thrown at Him in Sydney

Sony Showcase Girl Band G.R.L. In Sydney
Redfoo poses just prior to international pop sensation G.R.L. performing for the first time in Australia at Marquee Nightclub in Sydney on Aug. 12, 2014 Don Arnold/WireImage

"All of a sudden I was just talking to some girls and ... bam, something hit me in the head"

Singer Redfoo of the rock duo LMFAO was attacked at a Sydney pub on early Thursday morning, the Guardian reports. The 39-year-old, who is also a judge on reality music show The X Factor (Australia), suffered a cut above his right eye when a man allegedly threw a glass at his head.

Redfoo received medical attention at the scene by paramedics. A 21-year-old man allegedly tried to flee the bar but was caught by security. He was detained by police and charged with malicious wounding, the Guardian said.

“All of a sudden I was just talking to some girls and … bam, something hit me in the head,” Redfoo told Australian morning TV show Sunrise.

The singer added that the alleged attacker taunted him after the incident.

“He looked at me and taunted me and blew a kiss at me and winked his eye, as if to say ‘I got you’ or something.”

“It’s not my fault that everybody’s dancing to [my] single,” the singer joked.

Redfoo also addressed the incident on Twitter, telling a sympathetic witness that “jealousy is a hell of a drug!”

TIME Music

‘Don’t Shoot': Rappers, R&B Singers Release Mike Brown Tribute Song

Money from the sale of the song will go to the Mike Brown Memorial Fund

A slew of rappers and R&B singers released a song Wednesday that pays tribute to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed black teen shot in Missouri by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

The song, entitled “Don’t Shoot” features artists including The Game, Rick Ross and Diddy, all of whom speak passionately about the need for justice in the wake of the teen’s death. Its release comes only two days after Brown’s funeral and two weeks after his hometown of Ferguson exploded in protest of the police.

The Game told Rolling Stone he wanted to release the song because the issues surrounding Brown’s death really struck a chord.

“I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown’s happening to them,” the rapper told Rolling Stone. “This possibility has shaken me to my core. That is why this song must be made and why it was so easy for so many of my friends to come together and unite against the injustice.

The song is available for purchase on iTunes. Funds from the song’s sales will to the Mike Brown Memorial Fund.

TIME Television

David Chase: ‘Whether Tony Soprano Is Alive or Dead Is Not the Point’

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano The Kobal Collection/HBO

"The final scene of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer"

On Wednesday, Vox reported that Sopranos creator David Chase had finally answered a question burning in some fans’ minds about whether or not the lead character of his hit HBO series had died after its final scene.

“He shook his head ‘no,’ and he said simply, ‘No he isn’t.’ And that was all,” reads the piece by Martha P. Nochimson, in dramatically enlarged lettering atop a black background, which pops up to fill the screen when you arrive at that point in the article.

The site declared definitively that Tony Soprano was not dead, as many had theorized after the finale’s ambiguous fade-to-black last scene, and subsequent media reports drew similar conclusions.

However, Chase issued a statement Wednesday, through a publicist, countering that his words had been misrepresented.

According to the statement, published in a piece by TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture, Chase said Wednesday:

“A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying,” Tony Soprano is not dead,” is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, “Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.” To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

Welp, that settles it. Go back to believing whatever you believed. Tony Soprano may or may not be dead. And Hello Kitty may or may not be a cat. It’s all relative.

TIME Television

Zach Galifianakis to Star As a Clown in New FX Comedy Baskets

Festival Supreme
Actor Zach Galifianakis performs at the Festival Supreme comedy and music festival on the Santa Monica Pier on October 19, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. Michael Tullberg—Getty Images

The show was co-created by Louis C.K.

Zach Galifianakis is coming to a TV near you as—get this—a clown. FX has greenlit a pilot starring the Hangover actor in a show called Baskets co-created by Louis C.K., Portlandia’s Jonathan Krisel, and Galifianakis, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

A 10-episode run is set to air in 2016, starring Galifiankis as a man desperate to become a respected professional clown but who’s stuck working at a local rodeo.

The show has already garnered praise from FX executives, though that may come as no surprise thanks to the success of CK’s current show, Louie.

“To say Zach’s portrayal of the lead character Chip Baskets is hilarious/unique/riveting/fascinating would be an understatement. We can’t wait for the world to meet him,” FX’s president of original programming for FX Networks said in a statement, The Wrap reports.


TIME movies

Birdman at Venice: Can an Ex-Superhero Still Fly?

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman. Alison Rosa—Fox Searchlight

Michael Keaton has superhero issues in director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's impressive technical accomplishment

Riggin Thomson (Michael Keaton), who long ago played the movie superhero Birdman but now is struggling to be taken seriously as a New York stage actor, listens to the old comic-book voice in his head and miraculously takes flight on a Broadway side street. “There you go, motherf—er,” the Birdman voice growls triumphantly. “Gravity doesn’t apply to you.”

It does apply, a little, to Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the odd and oddly punctuated title of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s new comedy-fantasy that opens the 2014 Venice Film Festival tonight. Last year’s Venice opener was Gravity, directed and co-written by Iñárritu’s Mexican amigo Alfonso Cuarón, and photographed by Emmanuel Lubezki in sumptuous long takes, including the astounding 13-minute first shot. The director and his cinematographer both earned Oscars for their work, but the challenge they set for themselves was almost child’s play compared with the game that Iñárritu and Lubezki play here: to make virtually the whole movie look as if it were realized in one two-hour take.

Gravity upped its degree of difficulty with a cast of two (make that one). Birdman, which takes place in the week or so leading up to the opening of Riggin’s Broadway debut in an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” has seven major characters running and snarling through the caverns of the St. James Theatre: Riggin and his costars Lesley (Naomi Watts), Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and Mike (Edward Norton), plus Riggin’s daughter Sam (Emma Stone), ex-wife Sylvia (Amy Ryan) and manager Jake (Zach Galifianakis). An eighth, the corrosive Times critic Tabitha (Lindsay Duncan), waits for opening night to pounce on Riggin and write a review that would kill his play, because its success would underline Hollywood’s dark power over immaculate, endangered Broadway.

In his first bloom, when he was known as Alejandro González Iñárritu, the director collaborated with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga on three features —Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel — that wove a dozen or more fates, interlocking across a city or around the world. In Birdman , written by Iñárritu, the Argentinians Nicolas Giacobone and Armando Bo and New York playwright Alexander Dinelaris Jr., all the characters are cramped together inside the St. James, or wandering a block or two outside, united by space but separated by their individual needs. As theater creates an impromptu family of brilliant invalids, Birdman brings that theatrical unity to movies, which usually have 600 to 1,000 shots.

No question that Birdman is a breathtaking technical achievement, not a stunt. Shot in 30 days after a long rehearsal period, with the actors’ and the camera’s movements calibrated to the inch and the millisecond so the action flows smoothly, the picture has the jagged energy of a long guerrilla raid choreographed by Bob Fosse. In Gravity, Cuarón worked wonders with a solitary Sandra Bullock and the green screen behind her. Birdman has the aspect of naturalism: scenes lasting 10 minutes or more (edited together with invisible transitions) demand that a couple dozen performers and technicians all be in perfect synch. It’s a precision ballet whose most impressive effect is that it plays out like real theatrical life.

That life echoes other backstage dramas. The rivalry of Riggin and Mike suggests a man’s-world All About Eve. Charlie Kaufman’s insanely ambitious Synecdoche, New York investigated the same notion that the agony of putting on a show can seem like a military siege or a fatal sickness. For the movie versions of the creative and personal pressures, from actors, producers and ex-wives, that lead their directors to the brink of suicide, look no further than Federico Fellini’s 8-1/2 and Fosse’s All That Jazz. (Albert Wolsky, who created the costumes for All That Jazz, is on board here; he designed everything but the scaly, superb Birdman costume, which was the work of Mike Elizalde.)

And like any clever inside-showbiz satire, Birdman exploits its stars’ biographies. A quarter-century ago, Keaton segued from the title role of the demon in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice to the caped crusader in Burton’s two Batman movies, before leaving the Caped Crusader for a somewhat diminished career as a character actor. Norton, making the most of his gaudy role as a crazy-great stage actor, may dismiss popularity as “the slutty little cousin of prestige,” but he did a turn as Marvel’s Incredible Hulk; and Stone is fresh off two installments of The Amazing Spider-Man. Riggin has a nightmare in which he’s on a flight with George Clooney (a later Batman, as well as Bullock’s Gravity costar), and after the plane crashes the headlines mention only Clooney. Riggin’s nagging Birdman alter ego also dismisses the Iron Man work of Robert Downey Jr., saying, “That clown doesn’t have half your talent, and he’s making a fortune in that Tin Man outfit.”

That attitude could be Riggin’s sour grapes — the snobbery-envy of serious actors who aren’t in superhero movies toward the serious actors who are. But it fits with his decades-behind-the-curve view of all things digital. His neglected daughter Sam, just out of rehab and helping Riggin with the show, tells him, “You hate bloggers, you’re scared of Twitter, you don’t even have a Facebook page. You Don’t Exist.” In Birdman’s skewed comic vision, Riggin can succeed only by outlandish public embarrassment: a walk through Times Square clad only in his underpants, which gets him 300,000 social-media views in an hour, or a more explosive accident onstage.

Through Riggin’s eyes, the movie sees journalists as parasites, either pompous (quoting Roland Barthes) or gossipy (asking the actor to comment on an online report that he uses baby pig semen as a youthening agent). He agrees with Flaubert’s comment that “A man becomes a critic when he cannot be an artist, as a man becomes an informant when he cannot be a soldier.” His biases are justified when the Times critic warns him she’ll be showing up on opening night to eviscerate the production. (Flash: Theater critics see plays a day or more before the official premiere, so their reviews can appear on opening night. And they would be fired if their bosses learned they had threatened an actor with a pan, especially before seeing his play.)

When not focusing on Riggin, Birdman admits for some cogent backstage alliances and dalliances. Norton’s Mike can come to erotic life only when on stage, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Watts’s Lesley. (“You can’t get it up for six months, and now you want to f— me in front of 800 strangers?”) Later he plays a sexy round of Truth or Dare with Sam on the roof of the St. James. Lesley also gets a brief bond when Laura suddenly kisses her. “What are you doing?” she asks, and Laura shrugs, “Nothing.” Lesley says, “Do it again.” The movie is full of little nothings that can add up to something special.

That something starts with Keaton. Now 62, his face crisscrossed with lifelines, the actor uses the weariness of age more than his manic Beetlejuice energy. His Riggin, playing a Carver character that he calls “a deranged, deformed version of myself” (even as Riggin is of Keaton), seems ready to sag into defeat, not ascend into madness. Yet the star’s performance is the compass that guides all the actors who must play off him in their fiendishly compressed and extended moments. Birdman represents not just Keaton’s fictional apologia but also his defiant, nearly heroic comeback.

Finally, the Gravity comparison is unfair. The Cuarón film launched audiences into a stratosphere of emotions; Birdman is grounded by everyday worries. It’s a comedy, after all — one that takes its ex-hero’s career and personal anxieties and makes them fly high.

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