Judging from the rally on Wall Street, it would appear that the American economy is recovering. But there are several families who have yet to feel that sense of recovery. A moving new documentary on HBO takes us into some of the living rooms and dining rooms of families struggling to survive since the recession. It explores the recent downturn of the American economy by focusing on a handful of families, once comfortably middle-class, who are now under pressure to make ends meet. “American Winter” debuts Monday on Hbo at 9 p-m, Eastern Time.
Joe Gantz and Harry Gantz are the producers of the heartbreaking and revealing documentary about the reality of many American households today. They share some of the stories in the film and the message they hope to send.
“The takeaway is that the hope is in the love they have for each other, and hopefully, that the government will come around and fund the social safety net in a way that can help them get back on their feet," Harry Gantz says, "because it's a lot cheaper to fund them before they fall into abject poverty than to try to get them out of it.”
It’s official. The nominations are out for the 85th Annual Academy Awards. And the man of the hour and the host of this year's ceremony is one of the nominees.
Seth MacFarlane may be best known as the force behind TV’s "Family Guy" and last summer's smash hit comedy "Ted", but today he is the voice heard round Hollywood. MacFarlane just made the Oscar nominations announcements with help from actress Emma Stone in Beverly Hills, California, and tells us about his big gig in the ceremony live on “Starting Point” this morning.
Hollywood and all its fans wait with bated breath until Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announce this year’s Academy Award nominees this morning. Big contenders include “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty”, critically acclaimed films with historical or political importance. But these are hardly the only movies in the race that have drawn scenes from the past. Zoraida Sambolin looks at Hollywood’s fascination with history in the Oscars and tells us more.
“Since 1927, nearly half of pictures nominated for the Academy Awards are about something historical,” Sambolin says. “Why does history and politics make for so much of Oscars attention?” She offers some answers.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as good presidents, patriots and politics,” she says. “And at a time when the economy is roughed and two wars are winding down, movies can provide an escape. Then there is the controversy that usually surrounds a political film.” These factors can be related to any of the three films. “But it’s not just the action and the controversy, directors also like the personal layers in historical films—taking a character who is often larger than life, and making them human.”
Christmas is right around the corner, a time for forgiveness for the family. But the holidays can be dramatic family occasions as well. The plot of director Ed Burns’ new film, "The Fitzgerald Family Christmas", shows just that family dynamic. It's a return to his Irish-American roots, as the film explores the complex relationships between siblings and parents, which tend to be heightened around the holidays. Burns wrote, directed and acted in this film, alongside co-star Connie Britton. He also shot the film in the neighborhoods where he grew up in Long Island.
"The Fitzgerald Family Christmas" is reminiscent of his directorial debut in "The Brothers McMullen", which was also written by Burns and starred him in it. It told the story of three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island struggling to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity. Burns comes to talk about the new film and its connection to his first one this morning on “Starting Point”.
“It was a conscious decision on my part, 17 years later, which is scary,” Burns says, “to go back to that milieu, that world, and literally, a homecoming.” He says the way he shot the film, “the Fitzgerald’s live about 6 doors down from where the McMullens lived in Valley Stream, Long Island,” which is his own neighborhood.
“It’s not autobiographical,” Burns says, “but the Fitzgerald’s definitely come from the same world that I came from. They grew up in the same neighborhood, shaped by the same experiences, went to the same schools. So it was one of those screenplays that really poured out of me.”
It’s been 25 years since “The Princess Bride” first awed audiences, but the off-kilter fairy-tale remains a classic. The film, beloved by generations for its comic appeal, extreme star power and timeless script, easily made hero Cary Elwes a star. Elwes visits “Starting Point” early Tuesday to talk about the 25th anniversary of the film and its famous lines that never grow old.
“We had no idea,” Elwes says. “We just wanted to make the best possible movie we could make. And we had a lot of fun doing it.” The actor adds that fans often ask him to repeat some of the memorable lines. “Sure, I get it all the time,” Elwes says. “I think that when I pass away, it’ll probably be on my tombstone.”
But, for Elwes, this fandom is welcome. Through his fans, the "Princess Bride" star is able to promote Mercy Corps, an organization that provides disaster relief and helps alleviate suffering by aiding people in rebuilding their communities. “They go in and they help rebuild the economy of these areas that have been affected by natural disasters or man-made conflicts,” Elwes says, adding that the first 100 fans who donate to the cause at Mercy Corps.org/princessbride/ will win limited edition memorabilia.