Tag Archives: Hollywood

‘Beauty and the Beast’ aims to enchant a new generation

In 1991, Disney struck gold with Beauty and the Beast. The film enchanted audiences and critics alike, and raked in several hundred million dollars along the way, but also upended expectations of what an animated film could be.

Not only did the New York Times theater critic controversially call it the best Broadway musical score of the year (spurring an actual Broadway show three years later), it also was the first-ever animated film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Over a quarter century later, the legacy endures but times have changed, and there’s a new Beauty and the Beast on the block. Out March 17, the film is a lavish live-action reimagining of the “tale as old as time” with state-of-the-art CG splendor, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s classic songs and score (and a few new tunes with Tim Rice), and a modern social consciousness.

The film stars Harry Potter’s Emma Watson as the bookish heroine Belle, who yearns for adventure outside of the confines of her “small provincial town” and Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens as the cursed and cold Beast. Their supporting cast is a coterie of veterans, including Kevin Kline (Maurice), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza) and Ewan McGregor (Lumiere).

That Disney’s specific vision for Beauty and the Beast has lived on is no surprise, and its 13-year run on Broadway helped keep it in the cultural consciousness.

“It’s genuinely romantic, a genuinely beautiful story,” Menken said of its lasting appeal.

And then there’s the nostalgia aspect. For many (including the cast), this was a seminal childhood film.

Luke Evans (Gaston) saw it when he was 12, Josh Gad (LeFou) when he was 10, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette) when she was 8. Suffice it to say, they all knew the lyrics to the songs before they were cast.

The remake is also part of the Walt Disney Company’s ongoing strategy to mine their vaults for animated fare worthy of live-action re-creations. Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King are just a few already in the works.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t worthy updates to be made in Beauty and the Beast. Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) delighted in rooting the story in a specific time and place — 1740 France — and adorning every last corner of the production with Rococo and Baroque details.

Technology advances allowed the production to render household objects that look believable when brought to life. The Beast’s look, meanwhile, was achieved by combining performance capture and MOVA, a facial capture system, meaning Stevens throughout production walked on stilts and sported a prosthetic muscle suit with a gray body suit on top. (Yes, he danced in this getup).

The characters are more fleshed out as well. The Beast gets a backstory. As does Belle, whose independence looked refreshingly radical in ‘91 and goes even further here.

“She’s a 21st century Disney princess. She’s not just a pretty girl in a dress,” Evans said. “She’s fearless and needs no one to validate her.”

That the woman behind the character is also the UN women’s goodwill ambassador only adds to its resonance.

“I think Emma’s an incredible role model for young girls, as somebody who has two daughters but also has a young son who I want to grow up with these values instilled,” Stevens said.

And, in a tribute to Ashman, who died of complications relating to AIDS at age 40 before the ‘91 film came out, the production even unearthed forgotten lyrics from his notes, which they’ve added to two songs in the new film — Gaston and Beauty and the Beast.

While many of the beats, and even lines, remain the same as in 1991, the world looks more diverse from the very first shots. Faces of all races can be seen both in the grand castle and the country town.

“(Condon) wanted to make a film that was resonant for 2017, that represents the world as it is today,” said Mbatha-Raw.

Much has been made, too, of LeFou’s subtle “gay moment,” which put the internet in a tizzy far ahead of anyone actually seeing the film. On one side, GLAAD was applauding, on the other, a Facebook page apparently belonging to the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in Henagar, Alabama, announced that it would not be showing the film.

Many in the production have backed away from the topic entirely.

“To define LeFou as gay … nobody who sees the movie could define it that way. He’s enthralled with Gaston,” Menken said. “I’m happy that LeFou is getting so much attention. But I pray that this stupid topic goes away because it’s just not relevant with any respect to the story. Even the one moment that’s being discussed is just a silly little wink. It’s nothing.”

For his part, Gad thinks it’s been “overblown,” too, and that the story is more about “inclusiveness” and not judging a book by its cover.

“It’s a story with a lot of wonderful messages, and, really once you watch the film, anyone who is wondering what it’s all about will understand that it’s a beautiful story, inclusive of everyone. It’s a legacy that I’m proud to be part of,” Evans added.

“But you can judge Gaston by his cover,” he said with a smirk. “That’s exactly who he is.”

How ‘Moonlight’ pulled off the Oscar upset of a lifetime

Long before Barry Jenkins made his way to the podium through the bewildered throng that packed the Dolby Theatre stage at the Academy Awards, he sat in a Toronto hotel room explaining his movie’s quiet power.

“There’s something in the way black men grow up in this country,” said Jenkins. “There’s a lot of information on these men’s faces when they’re not speaking, partly because we’re robbed of our voices so much by society and the things society projects on us.”

It was, in a way, fitting that “Moonlight” — stealthy and silent — won best picture amid such cacophony Sunday night. Since its fall film festival debut, Jenkin’s tenderly lyrical film has steadily risen not through the loud kind of arm-waving that often catapults movies to the top prize — big box office, scene-chewing performances, historical sweep — but instead by a soulful, unremitting glow that slow-burned all the way to the Oscars.

Now that we more or less have some answers to “What the heck happened?” in the Oscars’ final moments — EnvelopeGate, if you will — we can turn to that other puzzler: How did “Moonlight” just pull off one of the biggest upsets in Academy Awards history?

While not quite as gasp-inducing as the gaff that preceded its win, “Moonlight” will surely rank alongside, if not above, shockers like “Shakespeare in Love” (over “Saving Private Ryan”) and “Crash” (over “Brokeback Mountain”) for sheer, oh-my-god surprise.

The odds were stacked against it. “La La Land,” with a record-tying 14 nominations, was seen as the hands-down favorite, having run up prizes from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Though this usually hapless critic predicted a “Moonlight” win , virtually every Oscar prognosticator considered “La La Land” _ like Hillary Clinton, it turned out_ a lock.

But just as Clinton learned, there are dangers to being the presumed front-runner, especially when you’re seen as a representative of nostalgia and tradition in turbulent times.

Widely expected to honor itself again by awarding a showbiz celebration like “La La Land,” Hollywood veered instead to Miami’s Liberty City, and a film that ripples with the humanity of a young man — black, gay, poor — seldom dignified by the movies or other realms of society. Yet “Moonlight” isn’t a traditional social drama but a deeply personal one, soaked through with the kind of empathy many believe is missing from the national discourse. In the wake of the election of Donald Trump — surely a factor on Oscar night — Hollywood chose not a love letter to itself, but, as filmmaker Mark Duplass argued in an open-letter to academy voters , a “love letter to the core human values that connect us all.”

“Moonlight,” arguably the most critically adored film of 2016, is unquestionably deserving. In fact, it might even be too deserving. Films this good don’t often win best picture. Even “La La Land” star Emma Stone took a moment in the chaotic aftermath Sunday to exclaim: “I love ‘Moonlight!”

But “Moonlight” was made for just $1.5 million. It was only Jenkins’ second film, and his first in eight years. Having made $22.2 million at the box office, it’s one of the littlest-seen best-picture winners ever. The littlest seen best-picture winner was Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2009), which had made $12.7 million at the time of the Oscars.

The comparison is a good one, in some ways. Like “Moonlight,” “The Hurt Locker” triumphed over a colorful event movie that was praised for resuscitating the theatrical experience: “Avatar.” And it was boosted by some compelling history: Bigelow’s film was the first best-picture winner directed by a woman. “Moonlight” is the first directed by an African-American filmmaker. Its win, also the first for an LGBT-themed movie, is sure to inspire a generation of filmmakers.

Only one major studio release (Warner Bros.’ “Argo”) has won best picture in the last decade. “La La Land” was distributed by Lionsgate, often called a “mini-major,” and had much the feel of an old studio musical. Its 14 nominations and $370 million-plus in global box office only enhanced its reputation as the juggernaut front-runner — with the requisite backlash to go with it.

But, increasingly, small wins big at the Oscars. For four years straight, the Film Independent Spirit Awards winners — “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman” and “Spotlight” — have lined up with the Oscars. It could well be that academy voters, working in an industry that increasingly makes little beyond branded blockbusters, are most moved by the personal cinema that has managed to escape Hollywood.

“I hope we are moving in that vein,” said Tarell Alvin McCraney, co-writer of “Moonlight,” which was based on his play. “I hope the storytellers up here and their proud journey here can imprint on someone out there watching, that they, too, can stand here too, and also tell their stories as daringly, as intimately as possible.”

“Moonlight” had won at the Writers Guild Awards and the Globes and (unlike “La La Land”) been nominated for best ensemble by the Screen Actors Guild. But it broke all the rules that help predict Oscar winners. There are factors that may have played a role, like the revamped film academy, which added 683 new members in June to help diversify its ranks. And the best-picture category, unlike the other categories, uses a preferential ballot to select the winner, a ranking method adopted in 2009 when the category increased from five movies to as many as 10. It’s a system that rewards films with broad support, not necessarily the most No. 1 votes.

Jenkins didn’t have any answers himself, sounding amazed and impressed that the industry “voted for a film about a marginalized character from a marginalized community told in a very unorthodox way.”

“I guess anything’s possible,” said Jenkins.

Q&A: “La La Land” composer on his moment in the spotlight

For “La La Land” composer and songwriter Justin Hurwitz, it’s been a long, laborious ride from dreaming up the musical with his old college roommate Damien Chazelle over six years ago to becoming the toast of awards season.

His catchy score and songs have broken through, too, securing their own place in the spotlight and overshadowing the likes of Justin Timberlake and Lin Manuel-Miranda in the awards races.

In the past two months, Hurwitz has picked up a handful of critics’ awards, a BAFTA and two Golden Globe Awards for score and original song (“City of Stars”) and is nominated for three Oscars — score and two songs (“The Fools Who Dream” and “City of Stars”). He knows how unique this moment is, especially for a composer.

Hurwitz recently spoke to The Associated Press about his “La La Land” score, the unusual production process and how he was an inspiration for Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian.

AP: This wasn’t a typical director/composer relationship during production. Can you describe how?

Hurwitz: Normally, the composer doesn’t come in until later in the process when the picture is locked. We didn’t feel like temp music (temporary music, sometimes from another film) could work in this movie since the language of the music was so important in making it all flow together, so I had an office next to the editing room where Damien and (editor) Tom Cross were working for eight months. Every day they would give me scenes and I would give them the score and they would tweak the scenes to fit the score and I would tweak the score to fit the scenes. The picture and the score were evolving together. It was kind of an unusual process.

Then there were some really weird situations where I was playing the piano while they were shooting _ like the scene where Mia (Emma Stone) is at the restaurant with her boyfriend and his brother. I was on set playing the theme because we wanted her to react to it, but we also wanted the music to react to her. I was watching her in the monitor and playing it and scoring it while they were shooting it.

AP: What was the theory behind Emma Stone’s naturalistic singing style?

Hurwitz: What we were going for would be like Audrey Hepburn in “Moon River. Emma has a similarly breathy voice. It’s a lovely voice but it doesn’t have too much of that Broadway belt to it. She can, and she does in “Audition,” but when she’s singing there’s lightness and airiness to it that I think is really charming. That kind of voice makes someone feel like a real person a little more. We wanted to still have some reality and vulnerability and humanity in all of it.

AP: You’ve been working on this for over six years. Do you see yourself in the movie at all?

Hurwitz: Damien was modeling the Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) character somewhat on me. During pre-production, he sent the costume designer and the production designer to my apartment to take pictures and take a look at everything. I was using my piano as a table. I would eat on it and put all my mail on it and pretty much everything was on my piano. Ryan (Gosling) got wind of what they were planning and he said, “I think that’s just too sad. I think that’s too pathetic.” So they made his apartment not quite as austere.

AP: What was your apartment like?

Hurwitz: It was just a white room with a piano and a bed. An “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” poster on the wall was my only decoration. That’s where I first met (producers) Fred (Berger) and Jordan (Horowitz). Six years ago Damien brought them over to my apartment to hear some of the music and they were pretty weirded out when they walked in. They didn’t know what to think. They described it various ways, one of which was, “an insane asylum with a piano in it.” I’ve acquired more furniture now. Not much. I have a dining room table but no chairs.

AP: How has this whole awards run been for you?

Hurwitz: It’s been really fun and flattering. It’s been tiring at times — getting dressed up as much as I’ve had to get dressed up. These are not things that I do normally. I’m enjoying it, but I’m also aware that this won’t happen again for me, at least in this way, on this level. Composers don’t often get opportunities like this. This was such an incredible opportunity, not just to compose so much music for a movie, but to put so much of myself in the movie. Because of the relationship I have with Damien, I got to put my musical voice in such a pure way into his movie. That’s a rare opportunity. So yeah, I’ll do film scores going forward and maybe I’ll do more musicals, but I don’t know the next time that I’ll get to be so involved in a movie creatively.

AP: That’s very wistful!

Hurwitz: Basically my life is downhill from here. This is it.

AP: What’s next?

Hurwitz: I’m writing and producing “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It has nothing to do with music.

Mary Tyler Moore dies at age 80

Emmy-winning actress Mary Tyler Moore, who brightened American television screens as the perky suburban housewife on The Dick Van Dyke Show and then as a fledgling feminist on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Moore, who won seven Emmy Awards for her television work, died in the company of friends and her husband, Dr. S. Robert Levine, representative Mara Buxbaum said in a statement.

She had been seriously ill over the past two years, when she was in and out of hospitals and suffered from heart and kidney problems, close friends said. She was a diabetic, and in 2011 she had a benign brain tumor removed.

Moore also was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1981 film Ordinary People, playing a character very different from her TV roles — an icy woman coping with a suicide attempt by her 18-year-old son.

Moore’s eponymous show and The Dick Van Dyke Show were both among the most popular sitcoms of their time, with the former ranking seventh and the latter No. 20 on TV Guide’s 2013 list of best television shows.

Moore, asked by Reuters in 2012 when she was given the SAG lifetime achievement award how she wanted to be remembered, said: “As a good chum. As somebody who was happy most of the time and took great pride in making people laugh when I was able to pull that off.”

Ed Asner, who acted alongside Moore in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, mourned her death on Twitter, writing: “my heart goes out to you and your family. Know that I love you and believe in your strength.”

Longtime interviewer Larry King on Twitter called Moore “a dear friend and a truly great person. A fighter.”

Moore had emerged on television in the early 1960s when many of the women in leading roles were traditional, apron-wearing stay-at-home moms like June Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver.”

Moore’s bright-eyed Laura Petrie character was prone to moaning “Oh, Rob!” at her husband in moments of exasperation on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but she chipped away at that stereotype. For one thing, she wore stylish pants rather than house dresses and styled her hair like Jacqueline Kennedy’s.

Moore’s Mary Richards character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show went even farther. Mary Richards focused on her career as an assistant producer for the news show at television station WJM in Minneapolis and was determined to fulfill the lyrics of the show’s theme song – “You’re going to make it after all” – as she joyously flung her beret into the air in the show’s opening credits.

While she may have had conservative Midwestern values and been a bit naive and prim, 30-ish Mary Richards was, by 1970s television sitcom standards, a budding feminist. She lived on her own, was not hunting a husband and protested that she was not being paid as much as a male counterpart.

“YOU’VE GOT SPUNK”

Asner, playing Mary’s gruff boss, Lou Grant, summed up her character and their relationship in the show’s first episode.

“You know what?” he growled at her. “You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk!”

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, whose seven-year run ended in 1977, had a solid cast and great writers and won the Emmy for best comedy in each of its final three seasons. It was the cornerstone of MTM Enterprises, the company Moore and then-husband Grant Tinker used to launch three spin-offs — Lou Grant, Rhoda and Phyllis — as well as other hit shows such as The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere.

One of New York-born Moore’s first entertainment jobs was appearing as Happy Hotpoint, a singing and dancing pixie in television commercials for Hotpoint appliances. In 1961 she was cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Moore won two supporting actress Emmys for that show and four best-actress Emmys for The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

“I’m not an innately funny person,” she told The New York Times. “I find it an almost overbearing responsibility when I think about having to be funny. I like simply standing next to the funny person. Just being part of what caused the laughter is great fun for me.”

Moore won an Emmy in 1993 for the TV movie Stolen Babies, giving her a total of seven for her career, including one special Emmy in 1974 as actress of the year. She was nominated nine other times.

She was given a special Tony Award for her work in Whose Life Is It Anyway on Broadway.

OFF-SCREEN STRUGGLES

Moore’s life was not all awards and perky television characters. She grew up in New York and Los Angeles with an alcoholic mother, a demanding father and many self-doubts. When she became a mother herself, she felt guilty about not spending more time with her son, Richard, when he was young.

Shortly after Ordinary People came out in 1980, Richard, 24, was killed when a shotgun he was handling discharged — a death that was ruled accidental.

Moore’s 19-year marriage to Tinker ended in divorce in 1981 amid what she said was a lot of drinking and too little talking. She eventually went into rehab at the Betty Ford Center.

During her time on The Mary Tyler Moore show, Moore was diagnosed with diabetes, which affected her vision in later years.

After the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Moore tried two variety shows but neither caught on. Two other shows set in newsrooms – Mary, in which she played a newspaper columnist, and New York News, starring Moore as a newspaper publisher — also were short-lived.

Moore still appeared frequently in one-off television roles and in plays. In 2003 she quit the Broadway play Rose’s Dilemma, however, after playwright Neil Simon sent her a letter shortly before curtain time saying, “Learn your lines or get out of my play.”

In 2013, she appeared on the TV show Hot in Cleveland for two episodes.

Moore, who became an activist for diabetes research and animal rights, wed for a third time in 1983, marrying Levine, a cardiologist who had treated her mother.

Tinker, who Moore described as her mentor, died in November.

(Reporting by Bill Trott; Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant and David Ingram; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Transcript: Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech

The text of Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes after accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, according to a transcript provided by Hollywood Foreign Press Association:

Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. This town, thank you. I love you all, but you’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend, and I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year. So I have to read. Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said. You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we? And what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids from Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in — no — in Ireland, I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a small-town girl from Virginia. Ryan Gosling, like all the nicest people, is Canadian. And Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, is here for playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this. So an actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like, and there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hook in my heart not because it was good. It was — there was nothing good about it, but it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart, and I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence insights violence. When the powerful use definition to bully others, we all lose. Ok. Go on with that thing. OK. This brings me to the press. We need the principal press to hold power to account to call them on the carpet for every outrage.

That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedom in our Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists because we are going to need them going forward and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something, you know, we were going to work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight. As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia said to me once, “Take your broken heart. Make it into art.” Thank you, friend.

Actress Carrie Fisher dies at age 60

Carrie Fisher, who rose to fame as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films, died on Tuesday aged 60, her family said.

Fisher, a mental health advocate who spoke about her own struggles with bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction, had suffered a heart attack on Friday as she flew into Los Angeles.

The daughter of actor Debbie Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher had been returning from England where she was shooting the third season of the British sitcom “Catastrophe.”

“Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter,” Reynolds said on Facebook. “I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”

Fisher’s friend and former Star Wars’ co-star Mark Hamill, who played Leia’s brother Luke Skywalker, said in a tweet: “No words. #Devastated”

Fisher was met by paramedics and rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering the heart attack during the flight on Friday.

She made headlines last month when she disclosed that she had a three-month love affair with her “Star Wars” co-star Harrison Ford 40 years ago.

Fisher revealed the secret to People magazine while promoting her new memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” just before it went on sale. The book is based on Fisher’s diaries from her time working on the first “Star Wars” movie.

Harrison said in a statement Fisher was funny, emotionally fearless and one-of-a-kind. “She lived her life, bravely…We will all miss her.”

Fisher said the affair started and ended in 1976 during production on the blockbuster sci-fi adventure in which she first appeared as the intrepid Princess Leia. Ford played the maverick space pilot Han Solo.

“It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend,” Fisher told People. She was 19 and Ford was 33 at the time.

“How could you ask such a shining specimen of a man to be satisfied with the likes of me? I was so inexperienced, but I trusted something about him. He was kind,” she wrote of Ford in the memoir, the latest of several books Fisher authored.

Fisher reprised the role in two “Star Wars” sequels. She gained sex symbol status in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” when her Leia character wore a metallic gold bikini while enslaved by the diabolical Jabba the Hutt.

She returned last year in Disney’s reboot of the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Force Awakens,” appearing as the more matronly General Leia Organa, leader of the Resistance movement fighting the evil First Order.

Filming was completed in July on Fisher’s next appearance as Leia in “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which is set to reach theaters in December 2017.

Fisher’s Princess Leia makes a surprise appearance at the end of “Rogue One,” the latest blockbuster, which opened this month, in the “Star Wars” series.

Shortly after news of her death was made public, her dog Gary, who has his own Twitter account, said goodbye: “Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you @carrieffisher.”

She is survived by her mother, Reynolds, her daughter, Billie Lourd, and her brother Todd Fisher.

EARLY SHOWBIZ START

Fisher also played a memorable supporting role in the 1989 hit film “When Harry Met Sally,” as a friend of Meg Ryan’s character who falls for and marries the best pal of Billy Crystal’s character.

More recently, Fisher played the American mother-in-law on “Catastrophe.”

Born in Beverly Hills, Carrie Fisher got her showbiz start at age 12 in her mother’s Las Vegas nightclub act. She made her film debut as a teenager in the 1975 comedy “Shampoo,” two years before her “Star Wars” breakthrough.

But her life was also at times mired in drug abuse, mental illness and tumultuous romances with other entertainment figures, all of which she laid bare in her books, interviews and a one-woman stage show titled “Wishful Drinking.”

She was once engaged to comic actor Dan Aykroyd, later married, then divorced, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, and had a daughter out of wedlock with Hollywood talent agent Brian Lourd.

After undergoing treatment in the mid-1980s for cocaine addition, she wrote the bestselling novel, “Postcards from the Edge,” about a drug-abusing actress forced to move back in with her mother. She later adapted the book into a film that starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

She told Reuters in a 2011 interview that tabloid exposure of her private life could be trying.

“‘Carrie Fisher’s tragic life.’ That was one that hurt,” she said, quoting a headline. “‘Hey, how about Carrie Fisher? She used to be so hot. Now she looks like Elton John.’ That hurt.”

She also acknowledged being briefly hospitalized in 2013 due to a bout with bipolar disorder.

However, Fisher told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview published last month she was happier than she had ever been.

“I’ve been through a lot, and I could go through more, but I hope I don’t have to,” she said. “But if I did, I’d be able to do it. I’m not going to enjoy dying but there’s not much prep for that.”

Summing up the showbiz legacy she expected to leave behind in her 2011 memoir “Shockaholic,” Fisher wrote in self-deprecating style: “What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.”

In 2016, politics dominated our pop culture and vice versa

Our politics is often reflected in our pop culture, and vice versa — especially in an election year. That relationship seemed closer than ever in 2016, when a TV personality was elected president, reality shows and beauty contests were referenced in presidential debates, and even a Broadway show ignited partisan sparring.

At times, it seemed like the election overshadowed everything, but of course there was more. The diversity issue again roiled Hollywood. The old-style musical made a glamorous comeback. One of Hollywood’s most scrutinized couples called it quits. And we said a series of painful goodbyes: to legendary rock stars, cinema and TV greats, and The Greatest himself. Our annual, highly selective journey down pop culture memory lane.

JANUARY:

Ground Control to Major Tom: We shall miss you. The death of DAVID BOWIE casts a pall over the pop culture scene as the year begins. The elegant rock star succumbs to cancer — an illness he fought in secret — just a few days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final music video, “Lazarus,” which begins with the line: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.”

FEBRUARY:

A year after (hash)OscarsSoWhite in 2015, the Oscars are … (hash)SoWhiteAgain! For the second year, all 20 nominated actors are white. The lack of diversity leads to some sweeping membership changes at the Academy. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl halftime show is allegedly headlined by Coldplay. But it’s BEYONCE who rules with a commanding performance of her new song, “Formation,” proving that Queen Bey is still very much among our royalty.

MARCH:

The ROLLING STONES perform in Cuba, a once-unthinkable event that happens a week after President Obama visits the island nation. Speaking of Obama, he hosts a White House concert performance of “HAMILTON,” part of a remarkable 2016 for LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA and his rap-infused Broadway musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton. We say goodbye to GARRY SHANDLING.

APRIL:

HAMILTON wins the Pulitzer for drama (to add to a Grammy and, soon, 11 Tonys), and current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reverses a plan to bump Hamilton from the $10 bill after fans kick up a fuss — undoubtedly the first time a Broadway show influences currency policy. And April showers bring Purple Rain: Rock legend PRINCE dies a shocking death at 57 of an accidental opioid overdose, launching countless poignant tributes.

MAY:

“It’s not over ‘til I say it’s over,” says BERNIE SANDERS to HILLARY CLINTON, of the fight for the Democratic nomination. Actually, that’s LARRY DAVID talking to KATE MCKINNON on “Saturday Night Live.” As MCKINNON hones her acclaimed, manically ambitious portrayal of Clinton — one of nine actresses to portray her in SNL history — DONALD TRUMP (in real life) clinches the Republican nomination. We’ll have to wait a few months to see who plays him on SNL….

JUNE:

The greatest is gone: MUHAMMAD ALI dies at 74 after a three-decade battle with Parkinson’s disease. It’s CLINTON’s turn to clinch her party’s nomination, becoming the first woman in U.S. history to lead a major party ticket. At the Tony awards, host JAMES CORDEN opens with a tribute to the Orlando nightclub shooting victims, and MIRANDA does the same with a tearful sonnet, declaring that “love is love is love is love.”

JULY:

Hollywood always turns out for Democrats, and the Democratic National Convention is no exception. Performers include KATY PERRY, ALICIA KEYS, CAROLE KING, DEMI LOVATO, BOYZ II MEN and PAUL SIMON, among many others. In media news, ROGER AILES is out at Fox News Channel, following allegations of sexual harassment. And the retired JON STEWART — missed by many fans in an election year — returns to late night, bearded and in a bathrobe, for an appearance with STEPHEN COLBERT.

AUGUST:

SCOTT BAIO is the biggest celebrity at the Republican National Convention. And some sports news: In Rio, MICHAEL PHELPS ends his historic Olympic career (or so he says) with a mind-boggling 23rd career gold. But the U.S. swim team’s achievements are overshadowed by RYAN LOCHTE’s drunken night and evolving explanation. Goodbye, Willy Wonka and Leo Bloom: Actor GENE WILDER — whose name could easily describe his famous eyes and untamed hair — dies at 83 of complications of Alzheimer’s.

SEPTEMBER:

The first CLINTON-TRUMP debate draws 84 million viewers, the most ever for a U.S. presidential matchup, and yields at least one catchy meme: The “Hillary Shimmy.” Clinton tries her hand at comedy with ZACH GALIFIANAKIS on “Between Two Ferns.” JIMMY FALLON famously musses TRUMP’s hair, and is criticized for the friendly encounter. Bye Bye, BRANGELINA: One of the most high-profile couplings in Hollywood is over.

OCTOBER:

Hello, NASTY WOMAN: Trump’s frustrated comment about Clinton in their third, extremely contentious debate becomes one of the more famous exchanges of the season, launching “nasty woman” merchandise like the “Madam President If You’re Nasty” T-shirt. We meet ALEC BALDWIN’S Trump on SNL. TRUMP — the real one — tweets: “Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks.” And the candidate’s “grab ‘em” comments on “Access Hollywood” emerge, sending his campaign into damage control.

NOVEMBER:

Something happens in early November … what was it again? Meantime, let’s remember singer LEONARD COHEN, dead at 82. Many find themselves singing “Hallelujah,” his much-covered ballad — including a somber MCKINNON on “SNL,” a few days after the election. BALDWIN reprises Trump, the real TRUMP settles into meetings at Trump Tower, and his vice president-elect, MIKE PENCE, goes to HAMILTON, where the production appeals to him directly from the stage to work on behalf of all Americans. Pence says he doesn’t mind, but Trump tweets: “Apologize!”

DECEMBER:

It’s been quite a year for the musical, and not just on Broadway. “Hairspray Live!” continues the live TV musical fad. And movie audiences are enchanted by a candy-colored, old-fashioned musical ode to Tinseltown itself, “La La Land,” by young director DAMIEN CHAZELLE. Finally, for those craving a little consistency in this turbulent year, it’s perhaps nice to know that December arrives bearing the same Christmas gift as it did last year: A new “STAR WARS” movie.

 ‘La La Land’ is something to sing about

In time for Christmas, there’s the eye-popping, heart-lifting “La La Land,” which honors and modernizes the screen musical to such joyful effect that you might find yourself pirouetting home from the multiplex.

OK, perhaps we exaggerate.

“La La Land,” created by the copiously talented writer/director Damien Chazelle and featuring the dream pairing of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, is not for everyone.

Perhaps you don’t like music, or singing, or dancing. Or romance, or love, or beautiful people falling in love. Or sunsets, or primary colors, or pastels. Or stories. Or, heck, the movies themselves.

If you don’t like any of those things, maybe stay home.

Otherwise, be prepared: By the end, something will surely have activated those tear ducts. The one complaint I overheard upon leaving the film was: “I didn’t have enough Kleenex.”

The first obvious gift of “La La Land” is its sheer originality. Let’s start with the music. Unlike in so many other films, nobody else’s hits are used here. The affecting score is by Justin Hurwitz, with lyrics by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul (also getting kudos for Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen.”)

Our setting is Los Angeles, and so it begins — as it must — on a jammed freeway.

But unlike Michael Douglas in “Falling Down,” the drivers here simply brush off their frustrations, exit their cars, and break into song and dance.

This virtuoso number, “Another Day of Sun,” which was filmed on a freeway interchange with some 100 dancers toiling in sizzling temperatures, establishes Chazelle’s high-flying ambitions. It also tells us we’d darned well better be ready for people to break out into song — because that happens in musicals. And it introduces our main characters.

Sebastian (Gosling) is a struggling jazz pianist, with stubborn dreams of opening his own club. Mia (Stone) is an aspiring actress, working as a barista while auditioning for TV parts. They clash on the freeway. She gives him the finger.

They have a second bad meeting at a piano bar. Finally they meet a third time, at a party. Suddenly, they find themselves on a bench overlooking the Hollywood Hills at dusk. And then … they dance.

Is it Astaire and Rogers (or Charisse)? Yes and no. Stone and Gosling are charming musical performers, but way less polished and ethereal than their cinematic forbears. This human quality in their first duet makes us root for them.

And we keep on rooting. It’s hard to imagine more perfect casting here. Gosling’s Sebastian is suave and sexy but also ornery and unsure of himself; Stone’s Mia is warm and ebullient but also fretful and self-doubting. They need each other to chase their respective dreams.

But what will success mean, and can they possibly achieve it together? It’s this pillar of the story that lends it a very modern, melancholy bite.

Chazelle, 31, shows his love for cinema with references both sly and overt to classics like “Singin’ In the Rain” and Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

And then there’s the nod to “Rebel Without a Cause,” with a scene at LA’s Griffith Observatory.

There, at a place built to watch the stars, the two dancing lovers actually lift up into them.

It’s corny, sure, and gorgeous and romantic. As Sebastian says to his sister earlier in the film, “You say ‘romantic’ like it’s a bad word!” In a musical, romantic is NEVER a bad word.

Some people resist musicals because in real life, people never break out into song; they just speak their feelings. To which musical lovers say: “Exactly! And this is why we need musicals.”

Long live the musical. Bring enough Kleenex.

Trump’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame smashed

A man who admitted to smashing Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in protest at the Republican presidential candidate’s treatment of women was arrested on Thursday, police said.

James Otis had planned to hold a news conference in the early morning at the site of Trump’s star and then surrender to police, but he was arrested beforehand.

Otis, who had his misdeed filmed on Wednesday, said he initially wanted to remove the star and auction it in New York on Election Day.

The proceeds, he said, would go to nearly a dozen women who have accused the 70-year-old Trump of sexual misconduct.

Otis ended up taking a sledgehammer and pickaxe to the star but could not totally remove the slab, as the “stone was like marble,” he told the news agency.

In a statement, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler said Trump’s star will be replaced immediately but must sit for a few days before it can be polished. During that time, it will be covered for protection.

The star was awarded to the billionaire businessman in 2007 for his work on his reality television show The Apprentice.

In a statement, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler said Trump’s star will be replaced immediately but must sit for a few days before it can be polished. During that time, it will be covered for protection.

“When people are unhappy with one of our honorees, we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways than to vandalize a California state landmark,” chamber head Leron Gubler said.

“Our democracy is based on respect for the law. People can make a difference by voting and not destroying public property.”

Gubler said the chamber planned to pursue the case against Otis, who was charged with one felony count of vandalism.

Nearly a dozen women have accused Trump of groping, forcibly kissing or being sexually aggressive toward them in the past.

He has denied the allegations and vowed to sue the women after the Nov. 8 election.

This is not the first time Trump’s Walk of Fame star has been targeted.

In July, a Los Angeles street artist built a tiny wall of wooden planks topped with barbed wire around it, in protest at Trump’s campaign vow to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Last year, excrement was left on the star and someone drew a large yellow X over it.

A swastika was also drawn on the red tile earlier this year.

J.K. Rowling’s ‘Potter’ world roars back to life

The pop culture juggernaut of J.K. Rowling’s Potter-mania appeared to be breathing its last gasp when the eighth film in the series, part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, made its premiere amid teeming throngs of bittersweet Potter fans in London’s Leicester Square in 2011.

Wands went into their cases. Hogwarts scarves were hung up.

“When Potter finished, I thought that was it,” says producer David Heyman, who oversaw the movie adaptations from the start and has since produced Gravity, Paddington and other films. Director David Yates, who helmed the final four Potter movies, staggered away for a much-needed holiday.

“I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d come back so quickly,” says Yates. “But it was the script that pulled me back in.”

The script was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it, unlike all the Potter films, was penned by Rowling herself. Based on Rowling’s 2001 book, which was framed as Harry’s Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts is set in Rowling’s familiar, magical world, but takes place 60 years earlier, in a more adult 1926 New York where wizards and Muggles (called “No-Majs,” as in “no magic,” in America) live in disharmony.

This fall, Rowling’s $7.8 billion film franchise will roar back into life, resurrecting one of the most potent and lucrative big-screen sensations. It’s a two-pronged attack. While Fantastic Beasts is reaching back into the past of Rowling’s Potter world, the two-part West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (only co-written by Rowling) is going into the future. It moves the tale 19 years ahead of where the books left off.

Authorship, timelines and casts may be extending in new directions, but the old obsession is still goblet-of-fire hot. The script of Cursed Child sold 2 million copies in two days.

Big expectations naturally also surround Fantastic Beasts (Nov. 18). For Warner Bros., which has endured sometimes rocky times in the intervening non-Potter years, it’s a happy reunion. In today’s constantly rebooting, ever-sequalizing Hollywood, did you really think Rowling’s world was finished?

“This isn’t Harry Potter. There aren’t Harry Potter characters in this,” says Heyman. “But there is connective tissue. To (Rowling), it’s part of one big story.”

That connective tissue, like a prequel, will grow more pronounced in coming Fantastic Beasts installments, eventually leading close to Harry, himself. A trilogy is planned, with the next chapter going into production next July. Less diehard fans should prepare for some very hardcore nerding-out by Potter fans as they trace illuminating hints in the tale’s history.

Eddie Redmayne stars as the bumbling magizoologist Newt Scamander, the future author of the Hogwarts textbook. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Colin Farrell are among the many supporting roles. The story about escaped magical beasts loose in a city with anti-magic elements, the filmmakers claim, bears contemporary relevance.

“We in a time of great bigotry in America, the UK and around the world,” says Heyman. “This context of the story, while not political with a capital ‘P,’ is relevant in this time. It’s an entertainment but it’s not a hollow entertainment.”

Along with the new cast and the hop across the Atlantic, the biggest change is Rowling’s deeper involvement as screenwriter. She’s also writing the next “Fantastic Beasts” film.

“There were lots of things that inevitably got left behind,” says Yates of forming the Potter films. “In this case, we’re working directly with (Rowling) and the material is pouring out of her.”

“She’s a great writer and a quick study,” says Heyman. “She approached it with incredible humility but at the same time with the confidence of someone with boundless imagination. She wanted to be as good as she possibly could at it.”