ARTICLES: 2006–20022019-05-16T19:02:17+00:00

As more shows feature faith and spirituality, priests, ministers, monks and rabbis are taking on paid roles as religion consultants

Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2004

By James Verini

Ben EICHER, a teacher in Rapid City, S.D., has been to Los Angeles only a few times and rarely watches television. But when he’s not teaching religion at St. Thomas More, a boys’ Catholic high school, he works as a paid consultant to CBS’ “Joan of Arcadia,” a series about a student named Joan […]

Head turner

Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2004

By James Verini

As the light waned on a brisk fall afternoon, Sean Penn walked quickly into the barroom at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in that slightly pigeon-toed half-swagger, and the heads of the patrons — mostly women, as it happened — turned in unison. Penn was wearing a black suit and gray shirt, was […]

The heist film still steals hearts

Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2004

By James Verini

During a century of cinema, Americans have enjoyed seeing our anxieties about crime and criminals sublimated in the movie theater in any number of ways. After the gritty-gangster-film craze of the 1930s, audiences turned to the more fanciful western. Sometime later a hankering for reality returned, and movies about beat cops and grizzled […]

Celebrities who shoot back at the paparazzi

Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2004

By James Verini

Here’s the plot of “Paparazzi,” which Fox is releasing today: A newly minted action movie star moves to Hollywood, gets hounded by four irredeemably villainous paparazzi and, after they nearly kill his family, resolves to exact bloody revenge.

That synopsis might have been prefaced with “In a nutshell,” except that, in this case, there […]

You’re not just imagining it

Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2004

By James Verini

There is a prescient line of dialogue in Ron Howard’s “The Paper.” A disheveled but with-it reporter — you know the type — thinks the mob and the government are after him (it turns out he is sort of right).

When did you become so paranoid?” his skeptical editor asks.

“When they started plotting against me!” […]

He’s a man of revision

Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2004

By James Verini

On a recent bright, muggy morning in Manhattan, the screenwriter David Franzoni was reclining in a low-slung chair in the tapestry-strewn barroom at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, across from Central Park, talking about history. Franzoni, who writes big clanging period pictures like “Gladiator” and “Amistad,” was wearing jeans, an open-collared shirt and a loose jacket, […]

Gee, long time no see

Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2004

By James Verini

In this age of brand-enhanced, franchise-fattening “media events,” when inane sequels, incomprehensible prequels and unjustifiable remakes seem to be replacing original films like the pods replaced the real people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (which, by the way, is being remade for the third time), there may be scant room for a film […]

She thrills at the chase and crash

Los Angeles Times, By James Verini

May 24, 2004

Movie and television stunt people basically fall into two categories: fighters (kung fu, swords, bar stools on heads) and drivers (police cars, Miami muscle boats, tanks). Debbie Evans is a driver. She can race, jump, incinerate or wreck just about anything on wheels. She’s jumped cars from docks onto moving ferry boats and torn […]

His people don’t do lunch

Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2004

By James Verini

In the new film “Troy,” there are two writers credited: David Benioff, a screenwriter and novelist in his early 30s who has of late become a very hot literary property in Hollywood, and Homer, the blind Ionian bard who, scholars think, died between 800 and 600 years before Christ, somewhere in the Mediterranean. Benioff, […]

The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Heartburn

Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2004

By James Verini

“You are about to witness the single most important sporting event to take place in Los Angeles County since the 1984 Summer Olympics!” hollered Rich Shea to a group of perhaps 100 rain-soaked and rather bewildered-looking UCLA students who had gathered before a makeshift stage in the middle of campus. Though the event may […]

The United States of Coen

Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2004

By James Verini

“The LADYKILLERS,” the new Coen brothers film, is the story of a florid robber (Tom Hanks) and the prayerful black matron who foils him. It takes place in the fictional town of Saucier, Miss. Where it really takes place, though, is the South. The Coens have been there before: It’s where they go when […]

Another head case; ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Adaptation’ writer Charlie Kaufman enters, and bends, minds again with ‘Eternal Sunshine.’

Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2004

By James Verini

On Page 38 of Charlie Kaufman’s script for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — which is to say, about a third of the way through the new film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — the following line of dialogue appears:

JOEL

I’m in my head already, aren’t I?

There are few employed screenwriters who […]

Let it go, let it go, let it go

Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2003

By James Verini

HONEY-GLAZED ham! Bing Crosby! Scotch tape sticking to your wool pants! Pine needles in your Florsheims! Mincemeat pie! Your ridiculous sister-in-law and her violent-video-game-playing kids! More ham! More pie! Is that Nat King Co– No, it’s Bing Crosby again! And still more Crosby! Crosby, Crosby, Crosby!

Welcome back to your holiday life.

Remember last New […]

With the program

Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2003

By James Verini

For a prolific Renaissance man, David Byrne has always seemed a little removed. Not difficult, but removed. As a polymath musician and the onetime frontman of Talking Heads (the band’s 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” regarded by many as its best, lists Byrne on vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass and percussion, and as lyrics writer, […]

A writer who’s adapted; When a movie needs novelizing, Dewey Gram is Hollywood’s head writer.

Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2003

By James Verini

On Friday, Tom Cruise’s latest film, “The Last Samurai,” will be released in theaters. The requisite massive marketing blitz for this period piece about a Civil War general who learns the ways of the Samurai warriors of Japan has already been underway for months. Part of that blitz was supposed to include “The Last […]

Their pet projects; A cadre of pros searches out offbeat animal acts not yet ready for prime time.

Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2003

By James Verini

On a brisk afternoon in early October, on the Burbank set of the Animal Planet show “Pet Star,” Bill Langworthy was looking on patiently as Mr. Rowdy, a 500-pound zebu bull, stood immobile before a little A-frame hurdle. Mr. Rowdy wore a look of what could be described only as indifference as his owner, […]

Quintessentially L.A.; Big, boxy and bland: It took a Brit to find the beauty in the ‘dingbat’ architectural style.

Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2003

By James Verini

“I drove around for 20 years taking pictures of these things. Finally, someone told me, ‘You’ve got to make a book.’ ” So says graphic designer Clive Piercy, who has lived in Los Angeles for two decades, which is precisely how long it has taken him to publish his first book of photographs.

A […]

L.A. wide web

Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2003

By James Verini

The protagonist of “Pattern Recognition,” the latest novel from William Gibson, the D.W. Griffith of cyberspace (he invented the word, actually), is Cayce Pollard, a “coolhunter” and consultant who gets paid large sums to opine on trends. CayceP, as she’s known online — she’s an inadvertent celebrity, even an oracle, to a devoted clan […]

Matters of the art

Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2003

By James Verini

On a recent afternoon, The Times sat down with Frank O. Gehry at the offices of Frank O. Gehry Associates, tucked into a quiet industrial neighborhood off Jefferson Boulevard, to discuss the architect’s career and the city of Los Angeles. Gehry is known for occasionally being reticent in interviews, and indeed on certain subjects, […]

L.A.: Gehry’s laboratory

Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2003

By James Verini

When the Walt Disney Concert Hall opens for business next month, the world’s eyes will be upon it, partly because the concert hall is expected to rejuvenate the fortunes of downtown Los Angeles, partly because the building looks like a giant space tulip (incongruous truths worthy of its quiet yet provocative architect) but mostly […]