FROM Bill Condon
'Beauty and the Beast' director Bill Condon From the opening notes of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast , it's clear that Disney was not going for understatement with this one. Coming 26 years after the animated version, the lavish, live-action production broke multiple box office records with a $175 million opening weekend. That was the biggest-ever bow for a PG-rated movie, and it surpassed last year's Batman v Superman as the biggest March opening ever. As in the animated version, the action follows book-loving Belle to a cursed castle, where she is held in captivity by a prince-turned-beast whose time is running out. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens play the title characters, while Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen voice Lumiere and Cogsworth, once human servants who have been transformed into a candlestick and a clock. Our guest today is Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon. His credits include the screenplay for the movie version of Chicago and he wrote the screenplay for and directed Dreamgirls. In 1999, he won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Gods and Monsters. More recently, he directed the final two films in the Twilight franchise. Those credits may seem eclectic, but Condon doesn't see it that way. He tells us about the thread that ties his films together and explains what his earlier Twilight movies have in common with Beauty and the Beast. And then, of course, there's the "gay moment." As in the 1991 animated version, the villain Gaston has a lackey named Le Fou, always ready to buck him up when he's down. But as has been widely reported, Le Fou -- played by Josh Gad -- finally comes to a realization about his sexual orientation. Condon said as much in an interview a couple of weeks before Beauty and the Beast was released, and in some quarters, the backlash was immediate. Russia threatened to ban the film but then allowed it to pay to audiences 16 and over. Malaysia demanded cuts to the film, though it too eventually allowed an uncensored version to open with a PG13 rating. Obviously this became a distraction from Disney's point of view. The studio had invested hundreds of millions in the film, and probably would have preferred to avoid any further discussion of the controversy. Condon tells us why he decided to make a subtle statement about Le Fou's sexuality and gives his take on the immediate reaction--much of which happened, to his disappointment, before anyone even saw the movie.
Securing Public Spaces, Super Wealthy Asians Vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons, as seen in the London Bridge attack over the weekend and in New York’s Times Square last month. The Compton-based company Calpipe is designing security bollards to help make public spaces safer. And novelist Kevin Kwan satirizes the “crazy rich” Asian jet set and their luxurious tastes in his latest book, “Rich People Problems.”
Previewing James Comey's blockbuster testimony Former FBI director James Comey testifies Thursday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but his opening statement has been released. In it, he says he felt pressured by Donald Trump to declare loyalty to him and publicly clear him of any wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.
Shaking up the USDA, 'The Beef Cookbook' and 'Tartine All Day' Peggy Lowe explains why Trump’s pick for USDA Secretary is rattling rural America. Dario Cecchini talks future plans for Chianti ramen, and Richard Turner shares cuts from “PRIME: The Beef Cookbook.” Writer Matthew Sedacca looks at the controversy behind liquid smoke. Jonathan Gold tries Chengdu-style dishes, and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine fills us in on the latest. Plus, chef Michael Beckman shares a recipe for cactus confit.
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.