By JAKE COYLE
NEW YORK -- With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the sweeping biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" transforms in the midst of its theatrical release from a living tribute to a big-screen eulogy.
The South African revolutionary and former president, who died Thursday at the age of 95, has long been a compelling figure for movies -- a hero of uncommon dignity whose dramatic story and titanic accomplishments insured his tale would be told often in film.
But arguably the fullest movie portrait of Mandela's life -- a film made with his permission and his family's support -- was released just six days before his death.
News of Mandela's death broke as "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" played during its London premiere, where Mandela's daughters Zindzi and Zenani were in attendance. A spokesman with the film said the daughters requested that the film continue, though they immediately left the theater. Producer Anant Singh, who has spent more than a decade trying to get the film made, called for a moment of silence at the film's end.
By MARK KENNEDY
NEW YORK -- Whew, that was nerve-wracking, right? All those kids and staircases, pillow fights, candles and dancing. But somehow the cast and crew of NBC's three-hour live telecast of "The Sound of Music" pulled it off Thursday night with only a trodden-on dress, some inconsistent sound levels and a flubbed few words.
This was the first time in more than a half-century since a broadcast network dared to mount a full-scale musical for live TV and there seemed to be danger everywhere, making it impossible to stop watching in case one of the von Trapp kids tumbled into a fountain or a camera accidentally exploded. But it was all whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens, for the most part.
The only real problem was the real reason most people tuned in: Carrie Underwood, an "American Idol" winner and country music star, sang well as Maria but her acting inexperience was laid bare. She had zero chemistry with her love interest and lacked any intensity or shading. Deer in headlights have emoted more. How do you solve a problem like Maria, indeed.
Underwood was done no favors by being surrounded by some Broadway veterans -- Christian Borle, Laura Benanti and Audra McDonald, especially -- who thrive under the lights and pressure. This is what these Tony Award winners do for a living and it showed. Underwood would never have gotten through the audition process if this was a regular Broadway musical. Her co-stars overpowered her at every turn. It was like watching a Nissan Sentra try to drag race with a pack of Bugatti Veyrons.