Column: Live, from Madison Avenue, 'SNL' getting into advertising game

From the maker of Super Bass-o-Matic '76, Mom Jeans, Colon Blow cereal and the recently controversial Heroin AM comes something not entirely new and not necessarily improved: real commercials.

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" is moving beyond parody, planning to get into the ad game with both feet next season and not even holding its nose while ...Read more

Theater review: 'Tuck Everlasting' keeps things light, even things like life and death

NEW YORK -- The new Broadway musical version of "Tuck Everlasting" -- a young person's novel by Natalie Babbitt that has justly been loved by at least three generations of kids, including mine -- is determined to tell the story of those who drink from the waters of eternal life in the language of whimsy. Walt Spangler's setting is dominated by ...Read more

Theater review: 'Shuffle Along' delivers a powerful kick from Broadway's musical past

NEW YORK -- A Broadway history lesson is being delivered these days at the Music Box Theatre, and never has anything this educational been so sensationally staged.

All credit to Professor George C. Wolfe, holder of a PhD in theatrical pizazz, for adapting and directing this homage to "Shuffle Along," the 1921 Broadway blockbuster that had the ...Read more

What's opening in theaters next week


Opening Friday:

"Captain America: Civil War" (PG-13): Time to pick sides between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Tony Stark) as Marvel's superheroes declare war on each other. The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), ...Read more

Movie review: 'Mother's Day' is a monotonous and predictable group therapy session

LOS ANGELES -- Much of the pre-release chatter around "Mother's Day," the latest holiday-themed group therapy session from director Garry Marshall ("Valentine's Day," "New Year's Eve"), has focused on the subject of Julia Roberts' hair -- specifically, the strawberry-blond Anna Wintour bob that her character wears throughout. As the diligent ...Read more

Movie review: 'Vita Activa' raises insights into life of philosopher Hannah Arendt

LOS ANGELES -- Even decades after her death in 1975, political philosopher Hannah Arendt remains a figure of intense controversy, a situation the woman who said "there are no dangerous thoughts, thinking itself is dangerous" would doubtless approve of.

As revealed in "Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt," a thoughtful, nuanced examination ...Read more

Patrick Stewart happy to show off his dark side in 'Green Room'

Diabolical, coldblooded, racist, horrifying. Not the sort of qualities you associate with Sir Patrick Stewart, a global darling for his wise, kindly roles in "Star Trek" and "X-Men."

But being cast against type is just what he wanted when he signed on as the clever, regal villain of writer/director Jeremy Saulnier's punishing thriller "Green ...Read more

Movie review: In deft 'Viva,' son's dream of being drag performer is opposed by surly father

LOS ANGELES -- Emotional and effective, "Viva" is a torch song melodrama convincingly set in Havana even though it's written and directed by a pair of Irishmen. Nothing happens you won't see coming, but it's all so deftly done you're more than happy to wait for the inevitable to arrive.

Shortlisted for the foreign language Oscar this year, "...Read more

Movie review: 'Sworn Virgin' is an absorbing glimpse at Balkan tradition

LOS ANGELES -- "Sworn Virgin," Laura Bispuri's subdued and intimate debut feature, follows a young woman who has availed herself of a centuries-old Balkan tradition to live as a man. You could say the movie arrives at a fortuitous moment, given that transgender stories and experiences have never been more culturally front and center. But Bispuri...Read more

Movie review: 'Tale of Tales,' inspired by fairly tales, never quite stirs to life

LOS ANGELES -- One of the earliest and grisliest scenes in "Tale of Tales," a fitfully entrancing English-language fantasy from the Italian writer-director Matteo Garrone, is what you might call an offal sight: A queen (played by a severe-looking Salma Hayek) sits in an all-white room, devouring the heart of a freshly slain sea monster. The ...Read more

Movie review: 'Keanu' is a real, funny movie

If you watched the trailer for "Keanu" -- starring Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key of Comedy Central's beloved series "Key & Peele" -- and wondered "is this a real movie?" you're not alone. In fact, it's one of the auto-searches on Google. It's understandable, as most know "Key & Peele" as a veritable factory of genre-bending viral sketches ...Read more

Prince was pronounced dead 24 minutes after 911 call

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twenty-four minutes after emergency responders got the 911 call reporting an "unresponsive adult male" at Prince's Paisley Park studio complex on April 21, the rock star was pronounced dead, according to the incident report released Thursday.

The 911 call from Paisley Park was made at 9:43 a.m. on April 21, according to the ...Read more

Movie review: 'Papa' is a flop

"Papa: Hemingway in Cuba," directed by Bob Yari, trumpets itself as the first Hollywood movie to shoot on location in Cuba since the 1959 revolution. It is not, however, the first good Hollywood movie to shoot in Cuba since the 1959 revolution; apparently we'll have to wait for that.

Based on true events, "Papa" unspools from the point of view ...Read more

Movie review: 'Keanu' is a funny caper with comedic duo Key and Peele — and one cute kitty

Here, kitty kitty kitty ...

OK, why don't more movies have kittens in them? I can think of a dozen recent ones off the top of my head (most egregiously, this week's "Mother's Day") that would have been vastly improved by an adorable miniature cat. That's the hook of the uneven but thoroughly enjoyable "Keanu," in which a couple of regular guys ...Read more

Viacom's Paramount Pictures suffers $136 million operating loss

LOS ANGELES -- Viacom Inc. continues to suffer from Paramount Pictures' box-office blues.

The media company's fiscal-second-quarter earnings were marred by more missteps from the Melrose Avenue movie studio.

Paramount released two films that underwhelmed audiences: "Zoolander 2," with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, and "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" ...Read more

Katzenberg to relinquish DreamWorks Animation CEO role after Comcast deal

LOS ANGELES -- Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul whose name has been synonymous with DreamWorks Animation, will step down as chief executive after his company is sold to Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal.

After the deal closes, Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media, made up of the company's stakes in Awesomeness TV and NOVA, ...Read more

Two Whitney Houston documentaries are in production, but only one has the estate's blessing

Two filmmakers have announced plans to make documentaries about Whitney Houston, but the legendary singer's estate is saving all its love for only one of them.

On Thursday, Altitude Film Entertainment -- the production company that released last year's popular Amy Winehouse doc -- announced that it is making a film about Houston with director ...Read more

Prince had prescription painkillers on him when he died, reports say

Prince was in possession of prescription painkillers at the time of his death, and local officials have sought the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of the investigation, according to published reports.

NBC Nightly News cited unnamed law enforcement officials on Wednesday saying that prescription painkillers were in the pop ...Read more

BBC One and Netflix partner to produce watered-down 'Watership'

What is "Watership Down" if it's not traumatizing small children? Fans of the vocal stylings of Ben Kingsley and, also, bunnies have reason to rejoice as BBC One and Netflix announced Thursday a four-part computer-generated animated miniseries adapting Richard Adams' classic adventure novel "Watership Down." However, some might find elements of ...Read more

Movie review: Susan Sarandon sparkles in 'The Meddler,' a valentine to mothers

The smooth, cozy charm of writer-director Lorene Scafaria's "The Meddler" offers considerable seriocomic satisfaction in its story of a mother and a daughter, the meddler and the meddled with, respectively. I don't get the high-end praise for this medium entity. But as a performance vehicle it's nice and spacious.

Susan Sarandon is Marnie ...Read more