Wes Craven, Horror Maestro, Dies at 76





Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Craven, whose iconic Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers for years, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. Survivors include his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka.
Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, where he moved permanently three years ago before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.
Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on a street of that name when growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland. The five Nightmare on Elm Street films were released from 1984-89.
Similarly, Craven’s Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-’em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre. The movies frequently referenced other horror movies.

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House of the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972. A rape-revenge movie, it appalled some viewers while generating big box office. Next came another film he wrote and helmed, The Hills Have Eyes (1977).
He invented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he wrote and directed.

He conceived and co-wrote Elm Street III as well, and then after not being involved with the three more sequels, deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated as best feature at the 1995 Spirit Awards.

His own Nightmare players, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, played themselves in the film.

In 1996 Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream. The film, which sparked the phenomenal trilogy, grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997).

Between Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), a film that earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress in the inspirational drama about a teacher in Spanish Harlem.

“We had a very difficult time getting an audience into a theater on my name,” he once said about that film. “In fact, we moved toward downplaying my name a lot on Music of the Heart. The more famous you are for making kinds of outrageous scary films, the crossover audience will say, ‘I don’t think so.’”

Also in 1999, in the midst of directing, he completed his first novel, The Fountain Society, published by Simon & Shuster.

Craven again pushed his genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006 he wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production, Paris Je T’aime.

Craven then produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, My Soul to Take (2010), marked his first collaboration with Labunka, who also produced Scream 4.

He directed several other thrillers and horror movies including Swamp Thing (1982), Deadly Friend (1986) and The People Under the Stairs (1991).

Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions and had a number of TV projects in development including The People Under the Stairs with Syfy Networks, Disciples with UCP, We Are All Completely Fine with Syfy / UCP, and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment.

He also was executive producing the new Scream series for MTV.

Craven had recently written atnd was to direct the Thou Shalt Not Kill segment for The Weinstein Co.’s Ten Commandments miniseries for WGN America.

He is listed as an executive producer of The Girl in the Photographs, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939, in Cleveland. His father died when he was 5. Raised in a strict Baptist household, he graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English and psychology, then earned a masters in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins.

He briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College, where he served as a disc jockey for the campus radio station.

Craven had an eye for discovering fresh talent. While casting A Nightmare on Elm Street, he discovered Johnny Depp. He cast Sharon Stone in her first starring role, for Deadly Blessing, and he gave Bruce Willis his first featured role in an episode of the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone.

He wed Labunka in 2004, his third marriage. Survivors also include his sister Carol, son Jonathan, daughter Jessica, grandchildren Miles, Max and Myra-Jean and stepdaughter Nina.

Craven was a nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a longtime member of the Audubon California Board of Directors. He penned a monthly column, “Wes Craven’s The Birds,” for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.

“I come from a blue-collar family, and I’m just glad for the work,” Craven said in an interview with writer-director Mick Garris in October. “I think it is an extraordinary opportunity and gift to be able to make films in general, and to have done it for almost 40 years now is remarkable.

“If I have to do the rest of the films in the [horror] genre, no problem. If I’m going to be a caged bird, I’ll sing the best song I can.

“I can see that I give my audience something. I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot. You realize you are doing something that means something to people. So shut up and get back to work.



Johnny Depp visits children’s hospital in Australia dressed as pirate Jack Sparrow


This is the day children will always remember as the day they met Jack Sparrow — *Captain* Jack Sparrow.

Johnny Depp and co-star Stephen Graham, who plays pirate Scrum, took a break while filming “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” on Tuesday to surprise patients at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, Australia.

The actors spent more than three hours visiting with children and their families.

The hospital shared exciting details and photos from the visit.

“Two very famous pirates made a special surprise visit to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital last night,” the hospital staff wrote on Facebook. “Both actors flew in for the visit from the Gold Coast, landing in a helicopter on the hospital’s rooftop.”

Patients and families seemed to enjoy the famous pirates’ company, sharing tales from their visit.

Kossy Halemai, whose daughter Lanais Malia, was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery during Depp’s visit, said she was all smiles.


“For me and my family, it was a fantastic time to meet up and speak with Johnny Depp and put a smile on everyone’s faces, especially my daughter,” Halemai told CBS News. “She’s recovering well and to see her smiling — I was emotional and proud.”

The Halemai family, as well as dozens of others, had no idea the actors were going to make the trip.

“It was a big surprise for all of us,” Halemai said.

Bella Harry, a 12-year-old with osteosarcoma, was another lucky patient who got to meet the actor.


The Benefit4Bella Facebook group, a fundraising page for the young girl, said Depp spent 15 minutes sitting and chatting with the young girl.

“Little did Bella know, through all the excitement, Captain Sparrow would sit and chat with her one on one for 15 minutes,” the fundraising group posted, along with several photos. “An amazing man to brighten up so many kids’ day.”

The famous pirate even gave some of his booty with the crowd, passing out gold coins to patients. Despite the reward, the kids seemed to value Depp’s company more than the gold “money.”

As Captain Jack would say, “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.”



School of Rock Reunion!

How fun! The cast of School of Rock, including Jack Black and Miranda Cosgrove got together recently for their 10 year reunion and… performed their hit song “School of Rock” for the crowd. Remember how they looked back then?SchoolOfRock


Here they are now:









Looks like they had a lot of fun at the get together! Watch the video performance below:

It’s a Wonderful Life, The Sequel?

its-a-wonderful-life-sequelJust reported today, a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is in the works. The story, entitled for now “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story” is being produced and collaborated on by Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods.

The original actress, Karolyn Grimes, that played Jimmy Sterwart’s daughter in the movie Zuzu (you all remember Zuzu’s petals) will return as an angel in the story, showing George Bailey (the noted unlikeable grandson of the original George Bailey) how much better life would have been if he had never been born, basically the opposite of what the original George Bailey was shown by the angel. They are hoping to have the sequel in movie theaters by the holidays in 2015.

The screenplay was written by Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird Productions and Martha Bolton. “The storyline of the new film retains the spirit of the original – every life is important as long as you have friends,” Farnsworth said.

According to Variety, no casting decision for the lead role of Bailey’s grandson will be made until February but producers have also begun discussions with original cast members Jimmy Hawkins, who portrayed Tommy Bailey, and Carol Coombs, who played Janie Bailey, to reprise their roles as well. The producers are also interviewing potential directors and plans are to shoot the majority of the movie in Louisiana.

The writers and producers insist the movie will retain the feeling of the original.

Star Partners are best known for “The Right Stuff,” “The Killing Fields,” “The Color Purple,” “The Mission,” “Moonstruck,” and “Rain Man.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture but lost out to “The Best Years of Our Lives.”


Now for this writers input: No, No, No, No and No. Some things should be left well enough alone. Frank Capra’s collection of films is one of them. What’s next? “Mr. Smith Goes Back to Washington: The Revenge!” What do you think? Will you watch? Do you hate the idea? Leave a comment below!

Bye Bye Blockbuster: Closing All Stores by Early 2014

blockbusterDish Network, who operates around 300 of the Blockbuster stores announced today that it will close all of the video rental chain’s remaining U.S. stores, as well as it’s DVD by mail business by early 2014 attributing the move to more consumers switching to streaming and other digital alternatives.

“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” said Joseph P. Clayton, Dish president and CEO. “Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.”

However, stores that operate as licensed franchises will be able to remain open and operate under the Blockbuster name. Blockbuster by mail will end in December.

This move probably makes Netflix, Amazon and Redbox very happy, and we suppose they will be offering specials soon to gather up as much of the old Blockbuster customers as they can. Were you a Blockbuster Subscriber, in store or by mail? Will you switch to another provider? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments below!

85th Academy Awards Nominations: “Lincoln” Tops With 12 Nods

oscarsIncluding a Best Picture nomination, Spielberg’s Lincoln topped the Oscar nominations (12 altogether), as they were revealed early Thursday morning. Life of Pi was a close second with eleven nominations, including Best Picture as well. Quvenzhane Wallis has become the youngest actress, at nine years old, to ever be nominated for Best Actress. Many of the “expected” nominations also occurred. The nominations were announced from Los Angeles by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone. The complete list is below. The Oscars air February 24 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on ABC!

Best Picture

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Director

Michael Haneke, “Amour”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Ben Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, “The Master”
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Screenplay by Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi”
Screenplay by David Magee
Screenplay by Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Screenplay by David O. Russell

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Written by Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained”
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Written by John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom”
Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Written by Mark Boal

Best Animated Feature Film

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Tim Burton
Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph”
Rich Moore

Best Cinematography

“Anna Karenina”
Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained”
Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi”
Claudio Miranda
Janusz Kaminski
Roger Deakins

Best Documentary Feature

“5 Broken Cameras”
“The Gatekeepers’
“How to Survive A Plague”
“The House I Live In”
“The Iinvisible War”
“Searching For Sugar Man”

Costume Design

“Anna Karenina”
Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables”
Paco Delgado
Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror”
Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Colleen Atwood

Best Makeup

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Best Music (Original Score)

“Anna Karenina”
Dario Marianelli
Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi”
Mychael Danna
John Williams
Thomas Newman

Best Music (Original Song)

“Before My Time”
Chasing Ice
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend”
Music by Walter Murphy
Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby”
Life of Pi
Music by Mychael Danna
Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
Les Miserables
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul

Sound Editing

Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
“Django Unchained”
Wylie Stateman
“Life of Pi”
Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Paul N.J. Ottosson

Sound Mixing

John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and
R. Christopher White
“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron,
Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and
Dan Sudick
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley
and Martin Hill
“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan,
Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson


William Goldenberg
“Life of Pi”
Tim Squyres
Michael Kahn
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Foreign Language Film

“A Royal Affair”
“War Witch”

Production Design

“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah
Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart
Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Production Design: Rick Carter
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Short Film (Live Action)

Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys”
Sam French and Ariel Nasr
Shawn Christensen
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een
Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Yan England

Short Film (Animated)

“Adam and Dog”
Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole”
“Head over Heels”
Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare'”
David Silverman
John Kahrs

Documentary Short Subject

Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Upcoming Movie ‘Bully’ Gets “R” Rating

As you already know, the Yak is very anti-bully, working with many different reality stars and the online community at large to help bring awareness to the problem of bullying and help to seek out ways to end it. As you may also already know, there is a movie coming out at the end of the month, Bully, highlighting bullying around the country, it’s victims and what we can do to help stop it. Here is the trailer:

Recently, the MPAA has assigned a rating of “R” to this movie. Harvey Weinstein petitioned the MPAA ratings board to soften the rating to PG-13 in hopes to reach more kids that are in these situations or know of situations happening around them. The MPAA refused. However, a 17 yr. old student from Ann Arbor, Michigan has stepped up and created an online petition to lower the rating over at Change.org.

Katy, a high school junior, who has not seen the movie but has suffered bullying herself, launched a petition urging the MPAA to reconsider. So far, more than 130,000 supporters have signed on all within only three days of the petition’s launch.

In her explanation, Butler cites an incident where bullies slammed a locker door on her hand, breaking her finger. “I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change — and, in some cases, save — their lives. According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools” Katy writes.

This is not Katy’s first rodeo into Anti-Bullying. Last year, when Michigan legislature proposed an Anti-Bullying law with a religious exemption, Katy petitioned to have the religious exemption removed from the law. The law did pass without the exemption.

The MPAA did respond to the petition in a blog post, stating basically that just because there is an “R” rating, that won’t stop children from seeing the movie. They cited that schools can still book the movie to show in classrooms and parents can decide if they want their children to see it. The reason the MPAA decided on the “R” rating was because of 6, yes, only SIX uses of the “F” bomb. Apparently the rating rules state that one use is a PG-13, more than one it gets the R. The trouble with the MPAA’s theory about the movie still be booked in schools is that some schools have a blanket policy of no R Rated movies.

Weinstein could of course edit out the expletives to achieve the PG-13 rating, like he did with ‘The King’s Speech’ a couple of years ago, but he says he won’t. “I don’t think we should. Whatever. I think this is realistic. I think it’s authentic. And I think we should win this battle rather than start editing the movie” Weinstein said on Piers Morgan. “The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the School Board of Cincinnati saw the film. The people there were arranging for 40,000 people to see the film if it got rated PG-13. Now those 40,000 kids can’t go to see the movie. They can’t go without their parents” he added.

If Weinstein can’t sway the MPAA, will Katy be able to? What do you think? Is 6 expletives excessive? Will you take your child to see the movie?

Bully is scheduled to be released on March 30th. If you would like to join Katy’s petition to lower the rating of the movie, CLICK HERE.

Choices, Coming to a TV Near You

Netflix has made some terrible mistakes in the past year. First it was the idea to separate the DVD service from the streaming (with a huge price hike), then the announcement they will be splitting out the DVD and streaming companies all together, then changing their mind on that, then relegating streaming users to only one stream at a time, then saying that it was an error on their end and they weren’t doing it, THEN actually (lately) rolling out the one stream at a time thing slowly without much fanfare thinking there would be less of an uproar that way. We reported on that last month here:  Netflix: N8107-154-5006 Back to One Stream at a Time.

Their loss is another companies gain. Apparently, Amazon is real close to cutting a deal with Viacom for their programming as well as offering a stand alone streaming subscription for customers without Amazon Prime. The announcement and program may come as early as this week. Amazon has already cut some deals with some other major TV providers such as  CBS Corp, Warner Bros, Fox, Sony Corp, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co. Viacom is the last of their building block to offer the subscription service with likely more deals with networks to come.

Amazon, in addition to it’s Prime Video library (and soon to come subscription service) also has a rental library similar to iTunes already, which boasts some big name newer movies. The subscription service would round them out to be a huge player in the streaming world and most definitely provide the biggest competition to Netflix to date.

Verizon is also jumping into the streaming game. Just announced this week, Verizon will be teaming up with RedBox to offer streaming subscriptions for content as well. No word yet on what deals they have made with content providers. Verizon says they should be up and running with RedBox in the second half of this year.

What will Netflix do, if anything? Netflix has been on quite a bumpy road lately and appears to be making some very bad decisions, at least where customers are concerned. So bad that it almost seems as if they are trying to go out of business. Are they? Who knows. I will say for me, who has both Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as occasionally use Redbox, I am liking more choices stepping forward. Maybe we can have more deals floating around. Maybe Amazon will be able to offer their newer movie rentals for less… like the price of a RedBox rental perhaps? All the choices coming can only add up to a good thing for us consumers.

What do you think? Do you use Amazon Prime already? Do you like their service? Looking forward to more choices all around? Sound off below!

Oscar Week: Didja Know? More Fun Oscar Facts!

For today’s Didja Know, we thought we’d visit memorable red carpet fashions from the Academy Awards! Presenting, the Top 5 Best and Top 5 Worst Oscar Gowns throughout the years! It’s definitely hard to pick from so many, feel free to tell us what yours would be in our forums!

Top 5 Best

[imagebrowser id=14]

Top 5 Worst

[imagebrowser id=15]

Well, there you have it! Think we will see some “bests” or “worsts” at this years Oscars? Leave us a comment below!

Banksy in L.A.: Maybe No Oscar Appearance, but Still Leaving His Mark!

As we reported earlier, Banksy, the famed Graffiti Artist, was denied by Oscar officials to accept his award, if he should win Best Documentary for Exit Through the Gift Shop, incognito. Questions have been swirling whether Banksy will attend the event masked, or if he will bypass it all together.

However, signs that he is in Los Angeles are popping up everywhere, and his art has been spotted around the city. People out in Southern California, myself included, are getting a rare treat. We know it’s him, as he has posted pictures of his works of art on his own website, laying claim. Have a look at the pictures below, and let us know what you think!

Click the pictures to enlarge:

[imagebrowser id=13]