News Nuggets: Does ‘quirky’ and ‘bizarre’ Johnny Depp need a career makeover?

Susan Wloszczyna wonders if Johnny Depp can transcend his onscreen quirky roles to have a career resurgence. His latest film bomb this weekend was “Transcendence,” where his role as a cyber-age Dr. Frankenstein “barely registers a ripple on his scale of bizarre characters.” He has made the quirky and bizarre work before in such films as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Edward Scissorhands, “Ed Wood,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Alice in Wonderland.” But more recent efforts such as “The Lone Ranger and “Dark Shadows” are hurting him as a box office draw. She concludes that Depp “is in danger of becoming a cliche – which is not easy to do when you are so unique. By taking on every nut-job role that comes along and always straining to be original, the actor is losing his ability to surprise his fans and to be taken seriously.” Thompson on Hollywood.

Veteran producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan will return for the third consecutive year in charge of the Academy Awards telecast. President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the news Monday: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Craig and Neil back to produce the Oscars again in 2015. Their showmanship has elevated the show to new heights and we are excited to keep the momentum going with the creative partnership.” Their first show in 2013 was hosted by Seth MacFarlane. This year’s program was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. The next ceremony will be on Sunday, February 22, on ABC.  Deadline.

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“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is already banking major money overseas. With a unique roll-out plan, the highly-anticipated sequel from Marc Webb debuted this weekend to $47 million internationally. It is pacing 30% ahead of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which has grossed over $385 million in the past month. Spidey’s next adventure starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Jamie Foxx does not open in the United States until May 2. Cinema Blend.

Lauren Duca reviews Sunday’s “Mad Men” episode “A Day’s Work” and concludes that Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is becoming “her own worst enemy.” While two other ladies in the office, Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Dawn (Teyonah Parris) were rising up in the ranks, Peggy spent Valentine’s Day complaining about her romantic prospects and nastily undercutting her secretary. The character was constantly “outsmarting herself” and “emotionally overcompensated for her every moment of tension.” Huffington Post.

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are partnering again on an untitled thriller set during the Cold War. The true story revolves around a prominent American attorney (Hanks) enlisted by the CIA to negotiate the release of a U-2 spy plane pilot who has been captured in Russia. Matt Charman is the screenwriter, and Spielberg is producing with an eye on directing the film. The duo has worked together on theatrical movies “Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and “Terminal” plus “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” for HBO. Variety.

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Immediately after debuting his latest film “In Your Eyes” at the Tribeca Film Festival, Joss Whedon is now renting it online. The movie is available for $5 as a 72-hour rental on the website Vimeo. Whedon wrote and produced the film, which is directed by Brin Hill. It stars Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David as a bored wiefe and charismatic ex-con who share an inexplicable connection. Whedon is currently in production on the sequel to “The Avengers.” The Wrap.

A-list music artists are lining up to perform on the first iHeartRadio Music Awards. The ceremony will be live May 1 on NBC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Performers include Arcade Fire, Luke Bryan, Drake, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Pitbull, Shakira, Ed Sheeran, Blake Shelton, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Pharrell Williams. Associated Press.

The trailer for the seventh and final season of HBO’s “True Blood” teases that vampires are on the verge of becoming extinct. Sookie (Anna Paquin) surveys her small town of Bon Temps as vampires start attacking each other. It concludes with her character and those played by Chris Bauer, Ryan Kwanten, Joe Manganiello, and Sam Trammell. The last episodes debut on June 22. TV Guide.

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