Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
VIA: After the massive success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has remained tight-lipped about the title of the highly-anticipated sequel. No, it won’t just be Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Proceed no further if you consider the title of a movie a spoiler (but seriously, though, proceed further).
During a recent press event for Ant-Man, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige seemingly let the raccoon out of the bag when he mentioned to Collider that “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” will start shooting in March of next year. GotG director James Gunn later confirmed the title on Twitter…
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may seem like a somewhat dry title at first glance, but it’s a reference to Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix Vol. 1, given to him by his dying mother.
The second Guardians of the Galaxy will be a somewhat smaller, more personal movie focused on Star-Lord’s backstory and family (including his mysterious alien father). Given that context, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 makes perfect sense, although part of me is still pulling for the movie to be called Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Electric Grootaloo.
VIA: In our August cover story, Dwayne Johnson talks about "the Rock," football, acting, working out, self-doubt, success, gratitude, Ballers, and balls.
Over Skype. Johnson in L.A., Raab in Cleveland.
Man, you're gorgeous.
That smile speaks a universal human language. Do you ever think about how huge you are right now?
I just came back from the gym, and I'm driving down Sunset and I see a massive billboard that says San Andreas, and I'm like, "Wow, that's great! This worked out!" I get corny like this. And I swear to God, I turn my head and there's an even bigger billboard that says Ballers. Man, I can't believe it.
What a path. You look like an old wrestler I used to see every once in a while.
I've been fortunate to have had the life I had prior to Hollywood. I wasn't starving, I was going to eat the next day. I came to Hollywood wanting a career that had longevity, and I wasn't afraid to take risks because I had a dollar in the bank. I wasn't driven by money as much as I was driven by making a successful transition. And I was smart enough to know that I certainly didn't have all the answers and I needed to surround myself with smart people and be willing to take risks and be willing to fail.
[His assistant brings him a plate of food.]
Potatoes and chicken. A postworkout meal.
How are the potatoes prepared?
They're cut like french fries, but they're baked. Phenomenal. And the chicken is just a grilled chicken with a little bit of some sort of barbecue sauce.
You want ten minutes to eat? I don't want the food to get cold.
No, it's fine. I'm rarely sitting and eating, so this is nice.
As long as you're comfortable.
It's funny, journalists will come in and say, "Thank you so much for sitting with me; I know your day's been so long." I've got to be honest with you, we're literally sitting here talking. It's the easiest thing. Everything's free, we're at this hotel, you've got free food, we're just talking about things.
I was talking to Mickey Rourke a long time ago, after he quit acting for boxing. He felt that acting wasn't manly. I've talked to other actors who seemed tortured by the work for other reasons. You're having nothing but fun.
I think wrestling for $40 a night and eating at the Waffle House three times a day, wrestling every weekend at a flea market, then at a state fair or a car dealership or in barns, "blade jobs," where I cut my forehead with razor blades... These days I never question, "Oh, do I deserve it? Am I a real man?" No.
How accurate is The Wrestler? All that stuff's for real?
It's very accurate. I would do blade jobs. I get a call once from the WWE, saying, "Vince [McMahon] would like to see you in Stamford." I went to his office and he says, "I really think you have a lot of potential, but you're not ready for the WWE. You should go to Memphis, Tennessee. That's where I want you to learn the business." And as I was leaving, he said, "You keep working hard, but don't go down there and cut your fucking forehead with razor blades, you understand me?"
In the '60s and '70s and early '80s, the trainers would grind you and eventually they would break something—they would break an ankle in ways that it would heal. It was just the way of the business, to ensure that you learned respect for wrestling. It was crazy. My dad [Rocky Johnson, a WWE Hall of Fame grappler] didn't break anything on me, but he grinded me out every day for months.
Do you enjoy making movies as much as you enjoyed wrestling?
Wrestling is intimate. You can reach out and touch the wrestlers. I don't get that connection in movies, but the impact is so much greater. You're able to craft a longer career in movies. In wrestling, there's a shelf life, and some wrestlers don't pay attention to the shelf life. Mickey Rourke's character in The Wrestler—that was my dad, that was my uncles, that was so many members of my family. It was the only thing they knew. And then they would end up wrestling for a hundred bucks, go to autograph signings for two hundred bucks.
Did you feel self-doubt as you were building your career as an actor?
When I first came into acting, I had great opportunities to make a decent movie. I had a run there in 2005, '06, '07—for a long time it was "Oh, he's the best thing in the movie that's not that good." I started questioning: Did I make the right choice? Should I have stayed in wrestling a bit longer? And then budgets became lower and lower and the pay kinda stayed the same and there wasn't a lot of growth.
You also got smaller. Literally.
The big stars didn't look like me—and I didn't look like them. There wasn't a blueprint or a model. Well, here's a former football player who once wrestled and he's this height and this weight. He's black and Samoan and he has tattoos... And then it was slim down, stop working out as much, get distance from wrestling and the moniker of the Rock. There were a lot of changes—the people around me at that time felt like it was the best thing to do, but by the way, I bought into it. I embraced it. Well, like anything, when you start being someone else, not being yourself, you may get lucky and it may work for a little while, but it's gonna come back and bite you in the ass eventually. So there was a big moment of clarity in about 2010—I just felt, Yeah, this isn't working. I need to stop, readjust, reassess, and change everything around me—and I gotta take one more shot, but at least I'm gonna take a shot with me being myself.
What do you weigh these days?
Two-forty, 250, 260, depending on the role. I think for San Andreas I was 240. But I think what's interesting is when you finally make that decision and clarity becomes king in your life, the weight doesn't become an issue. Like, who gives a fuck how much you weigh?! Just go out there and put on a great performance.
That must be liberating. Working out has to have been a way of life for you.
At a very young age, at five, I was with my dad down in the wrestling ring and in the weight room, watching all these guys wrestle, jack iron all day. It was a different world. Everything was dirty: dirty gym, dirty mats. My dad said, "I'm getting up at six; you're gonna get up at six, too. I'm having my coffee; you have your orange juice. I'm going to the gym; you come to the gym with me." And then on the mats, I would roll around and these guys would throw me around and wrestle around with me. It was always "What you want?" You gotta get up in the morning, you gotta get after it, you gotta
put in the work, you gotta sweat. There's gonna be heavy iron and there's gonna be a lot of sweat, and it's gonna be dirty.
Have you ever gone wrong trusting your gut, trusting your instincts?
I've never gone wrong trusting my gut. It was really the only thing that I had going into acting. I didn't have the background—Juilliard or performing-arts school or anything like that. You can get great people around you, smart minds and great resources, but it's still from here [points to heart]. Steven Spielberg has this great quote: "Moviemaking is always about noise. There's so many voices that you've gotta listen to. But you've always got to pay attention to the one voice that's in your gut that always tells you it's still not good enough."
That voice can do a lot of damage.
There was a time in my life when opportunities were so few and far between they were like little cracks in the wall, and if one opportunity came my way, I would scratch and claw and bite and I would do anything I could to make sure that I grabbed that opportunity by the throat and I did not let it go. They're a bit more frequent these days, I have more coming my way, but I still look at it like it's a crack, and I attack it. I'm a long way away from ever getting evicted again, but man, I think about that so much. That's where my "we've got to make sure this happens" and "let's go" type of energy comes from.
I wonder if fatherhood makes that feeling even more pronounced.
Absolutely. I feel that way for my little girl. I never want her to experience that at all.
Were you taken seriously when you started transitioning into being an actor? Did people think of you as a lunkhead?
When I sit in these big meetings with the head of marketing, head of distribution, looking at the big boards to figure out how we're gonna deliver the movie and where we're gonna go, where we're strong, where we need to see some uptick—there's not much of an issue that can come across my desk where I really go, "Wow, I don't know how to handle that!" It's like, I've been through all this
other shit before. I never quite understood why if you're successful in something, and then you want to make the transition to Hollywood, why wouldn't you apply the same discipline and processes that you did with wrestling and football? Which meant: surround myself with great acting coaches; definitely get a good director; I need great actors around me to help me raise my game; I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I need great acting coaches, I need good directors, I need help. I have been told I have potential. I think I do. Let's give it a go. And that allows more people to say, "Okay, let's give it a shot." Compared to: I think I'm gonna be great. I'm gonna make 30, 40 movies.
Nobody who's ever referred to themselves as humble seems humble to me.
Am I gonna like Ballers [currently on HBO]?
You'll get a kick out of it. The guy, Spencer Strasmore, is everything I dreamed of being. I dreamed of being an NFL player, All-Pro, making money, buying my parents a house, the whole thing, like he has done.
That is who I failed at being! That's the irony of it.
The name of your production company is Seven Bucks Production because you literally had seven bucks to your name? Those stories always seem apocryphal. Did you really have only seven bucks?
I did. In 1995, I called my old man when I landed in Miami [after getting cut from the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders] and I said, "Dad, you gotta come get me." I didn't have a car at that time. He drove in his little truck from Tampa to Miami, picked me up, and we were on our way up I-75, the famous Alligator Alley, and I thought, Shit, how much money do I even have? Pulled out my wallet, and yeah, I had a five, a one, and some change. I remember thinking, Fuck, all I have is seven bucks. At that time I wanted so much more. Warren Sapp had just signed for millions of dollars in the draft. He was the one that actually beat me out of my position [at Miami] two and a half years earlier. Not to begrudge him at all; we're still good buddies today and I'm very happy for him. But it was like the success I wanted so badly and worked so hard for for years was happening all around me to everyone else but me. And I'll never forget that. The term "seven bucks" has a lot of meaning.
I just watched a YouTube video of you singing to [former WWE manager] Vickie Guerrero [in the ring]... You have a very delicate voice for a man who presents physically the way you do.
Thank you. In Polynesian culture, the men run 300, 350 pounds and the women are even bigger. But Polynesian men are known for singing in a pitch that is soft falsetto singing. It sounds amazing. That's just how they sing, at a very high pitch in an octave that's very falsetto and soft. I fool them with my voice. I'm singing in Disney's next animated musical, called Moana.
Has there been any single special moment when you knew you'd made it as an actor?
About three weeks ago, I'm here at the house and I get a letter—"Been enjoying your movies over the years. Very entertaining. I feel like I've really gotten to know you over the years, most recently after watching you host Saturday Night Live. Great job. You continue to go for it. Proud of your work and look forward to meeting you. Steven Spielberg."
It took me back to being just like a kid. I was so blown away.
In old clips of you wrestling, you have a line in the ring: "Rutherford B. Hayes, bitch!" It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.
There was a time in the WWE when it wasn't a publicly traded company. It was a great time. Because you flew under the radar. No one was covering it. We said whatever we wanted. My writer and I would challenge ourselves every night: What is the most insane, entertaining, fucked-up, crazy shit we can say tonight in an entertaining way? Maybe we could sing it; maybe we can say it in a nursery rhyme. "Rutherford B. Hayes, bitch!"
You used to say jabroni a lot in the ring. I love that word.
When I was a kid, it was an inside term that guys would use. When wrestlers wanted to have a private conversation when fans were present, they would start talking carny because they used to wrestle in carnivals. I thought it was so cool. Jabroni was a word that was always used in the derogatory sense. Oh, this jabroni, that jabroni. But the Iron Sheik was famous for saying the word constantly backstage. Jabroni, jabroni, jabroni. Around 1998, I thought, Why can't I say it on TV? So I started saying it publicly, but the Iron Sheik was known for it.
You appear in The Sheik, the new documentary about the Iron Sheik. I didn't realize how influential he was.
He was an incredible, world-renowned wrestler. He was a bodyguard for the shah of Iran. Incredible life. He was one of the guys who took me under his wing and bestowed some goooood knowledge. And one of the things that he told me was: "Keep your fucking mouth shut when you come in. If you're gonna be good in this business, then learn how to keep your mouth shut and your ears open, and when you get in the locker room, you just listen to everybody else." And it was great advice. You can apply it wherever you go.
Hollywood, for instance.
These young bucks come in and think they know everything when they really don't know shit. The best thing you can do is be quiet and open your ears. Let everybody else talk.
Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Yeah. I've lived with my longtime girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, going on, like, eight, nine years now. She's a singer-songwriter. We spend a lot of time with my daughter in Florida, Simone, who's 13. We do these stories and we talk so much about the business end, the success end, but then Lauren isn't mentioned and my daughter isn't mentioned. I always like making sure we find the balance and my home life is in there and Lauren Hashian is in there and my daughter is in there.
You gotta get the better half in there. With all the cool shit and success that I've been lucky enough to get? That doesn't happen unless the home life is solid
Sunday, June 28, 2015
VIA: A podcaster by the name of Jensen Karp may have stumbled upon the golden nugget of scoops while chilling pool-side earlier today. Apparently, Karp watched free-agents-to-be LeBron James and Kevin Love meet near the same pool and had the wherewithal to take out his phone and snap a picture for all of Twitter to enjoy.
If the all-stars were meeting to discuss their impending free agency, James likely wasn’t a repeating a sales pitch to Love.
Both players have reportedly informed the Cavaliers they will opt out of their contracts to become free agents, but the expectation is both will return to Cleveland, especially James.
The uncertainty stems from how each will construct their contracts moving forward. A max deal this year will be substantially lower than one next summer and even lower than deals beyond that as the salary cap continues to rise with the influx of money from the NBA’s new television deal. Plus, LeBron’s continued free agency each summer following a succession of two-year deals with a player option after the first year, puts pressure on Cavs brass, like it will this summer to dip into the luxury tax to sign Love and Tristan Thompson.
It could be nothing, just a couple of rich guys doing rich guy things, or it could be some really, really good news for Cavs fans.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
WWE Network will air a 30-minute special on Finn Balor titled "Finn Balor: The Demon Revealed" on Thursday, July 2nd at 10:30pm EST.
This could be the three-part series on Balor that wraps up on NXT TV this coming week but that's not confirmed. The special will also replay as a lead-in to the July 4th WWE Network "The Beast In The East" special from Tokyo, where Balor will challenge NXT Champion Kevin Owens.
The description for the special that premieres on Thursday reads like this:
"An in depth look inside the life, career and future of NXT Superstar Finn Balor."
Friday, June 26, 2015
A video posted by Barstool Sports (@barstool_sports) on
Michael Rapaport, Knicks sufferer/fan, posted this video to social media, purportedly of “Danny Aiello” (the 82-year-old actor you might remember from several films, including “Godfather II” and “Do the Right Thing.”) It’s Rapaport doing his impersonation of Aiello reacting to the Porzingis pick. Similar reactions seem to have occurred all over New York.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
VIA: Just last month we told you about Molly Qerim, a reporter with the NFL Network who was reportedly moving to ESPN as a co-host on the Mike and Mike radio show. Turns out everyone was wrong about that. You see, Qerim is indeed with ESPN but she’s been upgraded (or downgraded depending on your viewpoint) to host of First Take, that wacky and zany show featuring perma-blowhards Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.
So what do we know about Qerim? Does she have what it takes to handle the two biggest egos in sports media?
She’s one of the first women to cover MMA and has hosted the World MMA Awards a handful of times.
Qerim won an Emmy for her work on ESPN’s Fantasy Football Now.
She graduated from the University of Connecticut.
She has a better arm than 50 Cent.
She’s a diehard New York Giants fan.
She grew up just outside of New Haven, in the same town as NHL Hall of Famer Brian Leetch.
She doesn’t drink.
She’s got a sense of humor.
VIA: The radio star helps generate some buzz ahead of Apple Music's launch.
In a hotel room in New York's Crosby Street Hotel this past Tuesday (June 23), Apple gave Billboard a run-through of Apple Music, the company's streaming platform set to debut next week at 11am on June 30. Representatives explained that the platform's radio station, Beats 1, is meant to be a centerpiece of the service, a modern approach to traditional radio, streaming twenty-four hours a day, where listeners should be surprised and even -- strange for the data age -- miss something if they aren't tuned in. They probably won't miss this one.
Last night Zane Lowe, the BBC Radio star that Apple picked to lead its radio network, posted on Instagram a picture of him interviewing Eminem, "my first... for Beats 1." Lowe is famed for his extended, meandering chats with artists -- you may remember a couple with Kanye West.
The New York Times also reported today that Elton John would be hosting his own show, "Elton John's Rocket Hour," and would be joined on the station by Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Josh Homme, Hollywood eccentric Jaden Swith and British dance stars Disclosure. Also joining them on the "dial" is Beats co-founder Dr. Dre.
Eminem has been quiet so far this year, grabbing headlines this past December for his appearance in The Interview -- making it not unlikely that Lowe's interview will reveal some upcoming plans from the artist.
As well, Lowe's post reveals enough about Beats 1's approach to suggest it will, if supported, could become more than a staid button inside a colorful app. In that hotel room in New York, it was clear that Apple Music's radio component embodies its approach to music, which boils down to fostering the feeling of "a human touch" to fans' digital listening. Next Tuesday, we'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
WWE NXT Title Match
Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens
WWE Divas Title Match
Naomi vs. Paige vs. Nikki Bella
Brock Lesnar vs. Kofi Kingston
Neville vs. Chris Jericho
John Cena and Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane and King Barrett
The Lucha Dragons vs. Big E and Xavier Woods
Cesaro vs. Diego
VIA: With the exception of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, every movie in the Fast and the Furious franchise has made more than the one before it. The increases are sometimes minimal, like the original earning $207.2 million vs. $236.3 million for 2 Fast 2 Furious. Other times, they’re massive. Fast & Furious 6 brought in $788.6 million, which is impressive until you compare it to Furious 7‘s $1.52 billion (!). They needed every last dollar, too, after director James Wan spent $850 million on glass for the Rock to fall through.
That $1.52 billion is good enough for third place on the all-time box office list.
1. Avatar, $2,787,965,087
2. Titanic, $2,186,772,302
3. Furious 7, $1,520,032,910
4. The Avengers, $1,518,594,910
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron, $1,364,888,953
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, $1,341,511,219
7. Frozen, $1,279,852,693
8. Iron Man 3, $1,215,439,994
9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $1,123,794,079
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, $1,119,929,521
Only one of those movies was released before 2003, Titanic, which goes to show how huge that film was. Adjusting for inflation is a more accurate way of measuring now vs. then, but Box Office Mojo only tracks inflation domestically, not worldwide. If you still want to look at it that way, Furious 7‘s $351 million ranks No. 140, far below Gone with the Wind‘s $1.64 billion.
None of this will matter in 2016, when Furious 8 makes $3 billion.
VIA: In an especially good week for its host Steve Harvey, “Family Feud” has ascended to the No. 1 spot on the syndication ratings chart for the first time.
Nielsen estimates for the week of June 8-12 show that “Feud,” produced by FremantleNorth America and distributed by Debmar-Mercury, averaged a 6.1 household rating to edge out longtime gameshow leaders “Wheel of Fortune” (6.0) and “Jeopardy” (5.9). The Nielsen survey said “Feud” was up a big 33% vs. the same week a year ago (4.5).
“Family Feud” had tied “Jeopardy” once before, but last week marked the first time since the advent of Nielsen People-Meters in 1987 that it had caught or surpassed “Wheel of Fortune” as the most-popular gameshow in syndication. And it also had to fend off “Judge Judy” (6.0), as the long-running court show typically stands as No. 1 overall in the household ratings derby.
“Family Feud” continues to dominate among syndicated originals in key demo categories, with its 2.6 rating in adults 25-54 easily besting “Judge Judy” (2.1), “Wheel of Fortune” (1.7) and “Jeopardy” (1.6). Similarly in women 25-54, its 3.2 rating put it comfortably ahead of “Judge Judy” (2.7), “Wheel of Fortune” (1.9) and “Jeopardy” (1.8), according to Nielsen.
The milestone victory for “Family Feud” comes on the heels of a strong premiere for “Celebrity Family Feud,” the six-week summer series for ABC — also hosted by Harvey — that bowed last Sunday. It drew 8.66 million viewers and a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49, making it the week’s No. 1 primetime series telecast in the demo.
And Harvey’s own daytime talkshow, “Steve Harvey,” last week was the biggest year-over-year gainer among talkers, up 20% vs. the same frame a year ago (1.8 vs. 1.5 in households).
Harvey took over as host of “Family Feud” in September 2010, and the show has been building in the ratings ever since. His talkshow, produced by Endemol Shine and distributed nationally by NBCUniversal Television Distribution, bowed in September 2012.