Month: January 2011

Peter Facinelli: Scripting His Wife’s True Love

Photo: Courtesy of The Hallmark Channel
Peter Facinelli’s acting career was just beginning to catch fire when he was inspired to write his first script back in 2003.  It stemmed from a traumatic Easter spent dressed up in a bunny outfit to entertain his two young daughters with wife Jennie Garth.  “I hopped around the yard like crazy while the girls looked out the window of our house for eggs,” he recalls.  “And I was just in hell.  It was hot, I was sweaty, it totally sucked.  And I thought, I wonder what the guy who has to be in that Barney suit all day feels like?”
So he sat down to write a story about a children’s TV show actor in a rabbit outfit who hates kids and hates his job.  It came together as a love story, of all things.  Facinelli showed the script to friends, who gave him notes that helped him sharpen and improve it.  And finally, he and co-writer Charles Thomas Daniels sold what would become the Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere “Accidentally in Love” that has its debut on Saturday, February 12 (9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C).
It wasn’t necessarily supposed to turn out like this for Facinelli, who not only hasn’t quit his day job but finds his acting career exploding.  He’s currently shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana the final two films in the blockbuster “Twilight” feature film franchise, in which he stars as the vampire Dr. Carlisle Cullen.  He’s also flying high as the smug Dr. Fitch Cooper on the hit comedy “Nurse Jackie.”
Having this sort of performing resume’ of late certainly didn’t hurt Facinelli to sell “Accidentally in Love.”  Neither did the fact he’s married to “Beverly Hills, 90210” alumnus Garth, with whom he celebrates a 10th wedding anniversary on Jan. 20 (or a little more than three weeks before the movie’s premiere).
But Facinelli, who bears a somewhat striking resemblance to the young Tom Cruise, didn’t really set out to craft a TV-movie – or a romantic in which his wife would play the love interest alongside an actor other than him.  That, however, is how it turned out.
“And the truth is that I’m thrilled at how everything went down with ‘Accidentally in Love’,” Facinelli stresses.  “The thought I had while I was writing and endlessly retooling the screenplay was that it would eventually be done as a feature.  But then I couldn’t get it off the ground, so I put it back in a drawer for a couple of years, took it out again, revised it some more and finally gave it to a director friend of mine, David Burton Morris.”
Morris loved the script and took it to Hallmark, which had more notes and suggestions.
“And then we made the thing, with Morris directing,” Facinelli recalls.  “It was the first thing I’d written that actually got produced, and it was just surreal to watch it all come to fruition out of an idea that just happened to pop into my head.”
“Accidentally in Love” stars Garth as Annie, a struggling waitress, widow and single mom to an adorable little girl named Taylor (Dannika Northcott) who is tragically losing her eyesight due to a degenerative condition.  One day, Annie gets into a car accident with Eddie (Ethan Erickson), who it turns out is the actor inside the bunny suit as the beloved children’s TV icon Mulligan the Rabbit.
Just like Facinelli on that fateful Easter Sunday, Eddie badly wants out of the bunny world to tackle more substantial adult work.  But now Taylor has melted his heart, and her mom ain’t so bad, either.  Things get a little bit tangled up, but we’re still pretty sure that love will win out in the end – particularly considering how Valentine’s Day falls just two days later.  Laughs are also on the menu via the supporting performances of the great Marilu Henner (“Taxi”) and comedy legend Fred Willard.
But why is Ethan Erickson standing there kissing Facinelli’s wife in the climactic scene of “Accidentally in Love,” while her real-life husband – who scripted the thing – is forced to stand on the sidelines and watch?
“There’s a logical reason for that, I promise,” Facinelli maintains. “I mean, I originally wrote this script for maybe me and my wife to play it.  But then I got a little busy.  I was doing press on (the 2010 ‘Twilight’ saga) ‘Eclipse’ at the time it was shooting, and I had no time to act in the film.  Ethan wound up doing a great job, though.”
That wasn’t the only reason for Facinelli’s deciding to take a pass on playing opposite his beloved in a love story.
“I also worried that this would become the Jennie Garth-Peter Facinelli movie instead of a film with two characters,” he adds.   “Our playing together could have detracted from the believability of the story and become a distraction.  So I took a step back and let my wife kiss someone else.”
 And how did that feel?
“You know, I was an artist looking at actors, nothing more,” Facinelli claims.  “I wanted the performer who was best for the role and someone my wife would be happy to work with.  She actually enjoyed being able to do it with somebody else and actually told me, ‘Honey, I don’t think you’re really right for it.’  And I’m like, ‘But I wrote it!’ Maybe she was just tired of kissing me and figured it was time to kiss someone else.”
But that wasn’t how Garth was behaving on the day when she’d be shooting the big kissing scene in “Accidentally in Love.”   She called Facinelli up and told him she didn’t think she could go through with it.”
“And I’m like, ‘But you have to kiss him’,” Facinelli remembers imploring.  “I’m fighting with my wife to convince her she’s got to kiss this guy and make it look real, right? So then later she calls me back and says, ‘OK, we did it in rehearsals and its working.’   I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, how well is it working?’
The moral of that story: Be careful what you write, particularly if your wife is an actor.  Yet rather than being discouraged by the trauma of watching his wife making out on camera, Facinelli has decided he likes this writing thing a lot.  He’s penned a couple of other scripts, including one that’s sprouted into the indie feature “Loosies” in which he also executive produces and stars alongside Michael Madsen and Joe Pantoliano of “The Sopranos” fame.  It’s due for release in 2011.
This isn’t to say that Facinelli has any plans to bag his acting career in favor of his scribe life anytime soon.
“I love writing because it opens up so many opportunities and doors,” he says.  “You’re no longer the guy going in begging for a job; you’re the guy creating jobs for other people.  As an actor, you’re just a cog in a wheel who goes in and says other people’s lines.  When you write it and produce it, you’re able to see the project all the way through.”
And sometimes, you’re even able to create a kiss-and-tell story for your wife.
“Accidentally In Love” premieres Saturday, February 12 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C).

SAG Awards Continue Bale, Portman Winning Streak

The Hollywood awards season continues to trek along, and on Sunday night (January 30), the performers honored their leading lights at the 17th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. In an evening of few upsets, 2011 awards-season darlings like Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Colin Firth and Melissa Leo continued to cement their status as names to watch along the road to Oscar.

Bale was joined onstage by real-life inspiration Dicky Eklund when he scored Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for “The Fighter.” Bale also dished out advice to aspiring actors, saying that it helps that he finds people fascinating, but added, “Bumping into Mark Wahlberg ain’t bad.”Read more>>

Jesse Eisenberg Thrilled By Zuckerman Meeting

Jesse Eisenberg was “overwhelmed” to meet Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman during an episode of Saturday Night Live – as the internet mogul congratulated him in his Oscar nomination for The Social Network.

The actor portrays Zuckerberg in the acclaimed movie and the performance has earned him a Best Actor Academy Award nomination.
The pair met for the first time this weekend (29-30Jan11) after the entrepreneur agreed to make an appearance with the star on the U.S. comedy sketch show.
And Eisenberg was pleased to finally meet the man he played onscreen, telling Access Hollywood, “It was wonderful. I was so thrilled that he agreed to come and do that with me. It was the perfect place to meet for the first time. We were both so overwhelmed to be there. We were both equally nervous to be on live TV. He has such a wonderful sense of humour about the whole thing…
“The fact that he would agree to come on Saturday Night Live was a testament to his good feelings about the whole thing. We were both so thankful that the other one was so open to working in that way under very unique circumstances.” When asked whether Zuckerberg congratulated him on his Oscar nod, Eisenberg replied, “Yeah. He was so sweet about everything.”

Sir Elton John Buys Baby Zachary An Ipod


Sir Elton John is determined his baby son becomes a music fan before he’s a toddler – the tot has his own miniature iPod.

The Rocket Man and his partner David Furnish welcomed little Zachary via a surrogate mother at Christmas (25Dec10), and they are revelling in their new roles as parents.
The singer is eager for his child to have great taste in tunes, so he has downloaded his favourite songs onto an MP3 music player for the baby – and the selection includes some of his own classic hits.
He tells Britain’s Hello! magazine, “It’s a teen-tiny little thing, so small you can hardly believe it even is an iPod, but David and I put it together for him. He has Chopin, Mozart, Carole King, the Carpenters, James Taylor, me, Kate Bush, Linda Ronstadt. Oh, and lullabies by Led Zeppelin, so it’s a nice mix.
“This boy is going to grow up surrounded by all the good things. Great music, great art, lots of travel, lots of time with our wonderful artistic friends, so he’s going to be inspired for the whole of his life.”

Sir Elton John Spent 11 Years Working On Gnomeo and Juliet

Sir Elton John  spent more than a decade trying to bring his new animated film Gnomeo And Juliet to the big screen – because film bosses just “weren’t enthusiastic about gnomes”.

The singer and his partner David Furnish are executive producers of the new 3D film, which is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and features the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as the star-crossed lovers in gnome form.
Sir Elton has now revealed he has spent more than 10 years working on the picture – he refused to give up after a number of setbacks and he’s relieved the movie is finally set to debut in February (11).
He says, “It’s taken 11 years because Disney weren’t enthusiastic about gnomes at one point and we persuaded them to stay with it. Several times it’s been resuscitated from the death bed and when you love something… Lion King took 10 years and Toy Story was rejected initially – we believed in it and we stuck with it, and we’re really happy with the results.” And Furnish hopes the couple’s newborn son Zachary will eventually be able to enjoy the movie, adding: “We’re very excited that in four or five years’ time, Zachary will be able to see this film.”

Johnny Depp buys 8.5 Million Home in Venice

Johnny Depp has splashed out on an 8.5 million home in Venice after falling in love with the city during filming last year.

The 47-year-old actor spent several months in the Italian city with his family while shooting ‘The Tourist’ with Angelina Jolie and he was reportedly so besotted with the stunning location, he has bought the 17th century Palazzo Dona Sangiantoffetti.

According to local newspaper La Nuova Venezia, the Hollywood star outbid an Arab prince for the empty building which is one of the only available homes overlooking the famous Grand Canal.

Johnny – who has two children Lily-Rose, 11, and eight-year-old Jack with his French partner Vanessa Paradis – has previously spoken of his love for the city and revealed he loved to explore late at night when the streets were quiet.

He said: “My experience of Venice really happened between 10pm and 2am when the streets closed and I was able to walk around and experience the poetry of Venice, the ghosts of Venice, all those wonderful dark alleys.

“For an actor being able to film within the confines of that magical city certainly helps… The city’s magic shone through completely.”

While the actor and his family spent most of their time at their estate in France, he also owns a home in Hollywood and a 45 acre island in the Bahamas.

Madonna Masterminding Glee-Full New Tour

Madonna  is planning to hit the road for a new tour this year (11) – and she’s taking the cast of U.S. TV hit Glee with her, according to U.K. reports.

The pop superstar has performed for fans tirelessly over the last decade, staging four huge global tours since 2001.
Her last trek, the Sticky + Sweet Tour in 2008 and 2009, became the highest grossing roadshow by a solo artist in history, pulling in $408 million.
The Material Girl is preparing to take a new show on the road later this year (11) – and she wants the stars of musical phenomenon Glee to perform with her, according to Britain’s News of the World.
The publication reports Madonna is eager to use segments of last year’s (10) Glee tribute episode, which featured her biggest hits, in her new concerts.
A source tells the newspaper, “Madonna wants to break records and make her career bigger than ever. And because the Gleeepisode featuring her music was such a hit, there are plans for the cast to appear.
“She is in amazing shape for her age but this could be her last big world tour she does for a while as she wants to concentrate on business ventures.”

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New Kids on the Block’s Jonathan Knight: "I Never Hid My Sexuality"

New Kids on the Block star Jonathan Knight  has spoken out following reports he was recently ‘outed’ as gay, insisting he has never hidden his sexuality.

The singer hit the headlines earlier this week (24Jan11) after 1980s pop star Tiffany revealed he was gay in a live U.S. TV interview, shocking fans who had no idea he was homosexual.
But Knight is adamant he wasn’t hurt by Tiffany’s ‘announcement’ – because he ‘came out’ to friends and family years ago.
In a post on the band’s official website, he writes, “To all my fans who have expressed concern: I have never been outed by anyone but myself. I did so almost twenty years ago. I never knew that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay. Apparently the prerequisite to being a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the caption, ‘I am gay’.
“I love living my life being open and honest, but at this time I choose not to discuss my private life any further! My fellow band members don’t discuss their private lives with their loved ones and I don’t feel that just because I am gay, I should have to discuss mine!”
New Kids On The Block: Coming Home
New Kids On The Block: Coming Home
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Lady Gaga Releases Full "Born This Way" Lyrics

Thanks to the excitement of her Little Monsters everywhere, Lady Gaga released the full “Born This Way” lyrics on Twitter, after teasing her fans with several lyrics earlier in the day.

“Are you ready for the full lyrics?! Can we trend #bornthiswaylyrics!? It has been in my heart for over a year. I’m so excited to share it,” she tweeted. “It’s #1 worldwide! That was fast! You’re so radical! Here you [go] Monsters, this one’s for you.” Read more>>

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Tommy James: Still Walking In Crimson And Clover! A Quick Update!

Photos And Text By Anne M. Raso

We were lucky enough to catch up with pop legend Tommy James at the recent Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp held at the Gibson Guitar Studios in New York City. We were very impressed with the 60s and 70s pop legend’s day of “guesting” at the camp. TJ was not an official camp counselor, but he came in to do a Q&A session at lunch time with legendary drummer/producer/camp counselor Sandy Gennaro and also to perform many of his hit songs with the different camp groups. Tommy’s throat was not in the best condition that day so he just played guitar on his biggest classics–including a beautiful version of “Crimson And Clover” with The Dicksteins, the camp band spearheaded by counselor Kip Winger which, with Tommy on rhythm guitar, featured a grand total three guitarists and two drummers. Needless to say, the sound in that particular studio was quite riveting and also “Wall Of Sound”-ish!

    Before he started his big day off, we spoke to Tommy about his current goings-on at the R&R camp office that normally belonged to counselor Rudy Sarzo. As we have reported here before, Tommy has been working out the deals for both a play (that will eventually come to Broadway after touring) and movie based on his 2010 autobiography, Me, The Mob & The Music. We know he has spent a lot of the recent past in negotiations with the famous Broadway family The Nederlanders. As for the movie, Martin Scorsese originally expressed interest but he is booked up for three years with other film and TV projects, but we know that a movie announcement is due momentarily.

Tommy, who presently resides in Cedar Grove, NJ, with longtime wife Lynda, a former NYC booking agent, told us the inside scoop on the play and biopic: “The Nederlanders are going to be the big producers on the play, which is wonderful and the lead producer who is going to be very hands on is Jeff Davis, who is now doing ‘Rock Of Ages.’ I am very, very thrilled with them…what is really wonderful is that the Nederlanders are great at putting mammoth deals together–their company actually wants to put the play on first in San Francisco and Singapore.

As for the movie soundtrack, “I am going to of course insist on consulting on the music–and we are going to recreate some of our session very accurately in the film–especially ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, ‘Crimson And Clover’ and ‘Hanky Panky’–I have to show those songs in the films being recorded with the accurate equipment of the time.” Tommy says he is willing to let the lead actor sing: “I think it is necessary for the actor to sing–lip syncing just looks too fake.”

Tommy has also been thrilled with how his book has been doing since its release last year–if you look on amazon.com, you will see that many people that purchase the Keith Richards autobiography, Life, seem to pick up Tommy’s book at the same time. Apparently, this rock legend is rolling still rolling in fields of “crimson and clover”–even though he outed nearly all the mobsters involved with Roulette Records and the music business in general circa the 1960s and 1970s and had to eventually sue for unpaid royalties. He admits that he had to wait for all the dark characters in question to be dead before writing Me, The Mob The Music. The son of a mobster Tommy knew “back in the day” recently met up with him and spoke of the “good old days,” but fortunately, really just wanted to reminisce and get his book signed.

We can’t wait to check out both the TJ play and film–and you can bet that you will hear all the formal details about them once they’re announced right here on themacwire.com!