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A giant Transformer figure is displayed against Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, June 18. World premiere of the movie Transformer is slated for Thursday in Hong Kong. (AP)
‘Jersey Boys’ still a living story Eastwood reveals strains behind group

LOS ANGELES, June 19, (AFP):”Jersey Boys” has become a global stage show triumph, but Clint Eastwood’s new film version highlights the rivalries, shady dealings and hit records of 1960s megastars The Four Seasons.
The movie, based on the hit Broadway musical, shines a spotlight on what singer Frankie Valli and guitarist Tommy DeVito got up to when not cranking out top-10 singles like “Sherry” and “Oh, What a Night.”
Based on a screenplay by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman — co-author of Woody Allen’s early movies — Eastwood follows the structure of the original musical, while not opting for a “Miserables”-style musical.
“Clint’s career led up to the point where he could direct this movie,” John Lloyd Young, who plays Valli and won one of four Tony awards bestowed on the Broadway show, said before the movie’s US release Friday.
“Clint’s been a jazz aficionado and musician his whole career, he scored some of his own movies, he knows music,” he added. “If you look at his career, there are these signposts along the way that say that when this show came along, he would be so well prepared to adapt it.”
It was in the mid-50s that Valli and DeVito, two Italian Americans from New Jersey, formed their first group.

While Valli’s falsetto voice brought them some attention, they had to wait until the 1960s and the arrival of Nick Massi and above all Bob Gaudio — who wrote all their songs — for The Four Seasons to take off internationally.
Songs like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” “Save It For Me” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” became global hits.
But the group was finally brought down by internal jealousies and conflicts of interest, combined with DeVito’s shady friends — the mafia is never far away — and financial mismanagement that forced Valli to underwrite its debts for several years.
And those divisions persisted.
“This is not a story from the past, this is a living, breathing story still going on,” said Erich Bergen, who plays Gaudio.
“When we opened the show in Las Vegas, the original Four Seasons, those who are still with us, came out on stage and took a bow with us. Frankie wouldn’t talk to Tommy. This story has not ended.”
Three of the film’s four main actors worked on the Las Vegas stage production.
Newcomer Vincent Piazza (from TV show “Boardwalk Empire,” and who plays DeVito), had never danced or sung on screen before.

But it wasn’t a problem.
“Tommy wasn’t the most adept or keen on just a group, he had a life outside of it,” the actor told reporters.
“So if I’m off a step here or there, there is a certain bit of forgiveness, because he’s the guy that would miss a step, that would be distracted by the things, whether be gambling, stealing money, women, that kind of thing.”
Michael Lomenda, who had played Massi more than 1,200 times on stage, said the film “was a totally new experience because you have to figure out who you are as a group, you have the chance to develop your own identity.”
Eastwood finished filming ahead of time and on budget as usual, shooting only one or two takes per scene and placing his full trust in his actors.
“Warner Bros has sort of handed the keys to the studio to him, at this point,” said Bergen. “And he gets to a point in his career where he can do whatever he wants.
“There are very few people who could get a way with doing ‘Jersey Boys’ the way it (is) done, without putting stars in, or names I shoud say, without turning it into a Hairspray-type of glossy musical.”

Corey Hawkins has been cast as Dr Dre in the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” it was announced Wednesday by Universal, which will release the film on Aug. 14, 2015 — the date just vacated by the next “Bourne” movie.
Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., will play Ice Cube, as TheWrap first reported, while Jason Mitchell will play Eazy-E.
Hawkins beat out numerous candidates for the coveted role of Dr Dre, including Marcus Callender, who was tipped for the role earlier this week by one publication that jumped the gun with an erroneous report. He previously appeared in “Iron Man 3,” “Non-Stop” and Orlando Bloom’s recent “Romeo and Juliet” movie.
Mitchell is a New Orleans-based actor who won the role of Eazy-E with an impressive screen test. He previously appeared alongside Mark Wahlberg in both Universal’s “Contraband” and the indie “Broken City.”
In the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation. Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton” tells the astonishing story of how these young men revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.

LOS ANGELES: Lifetime’s upcoming Whitney Houston biopic has cast Yolonda Ross to play the “Bodyguard” actress’ longtime friend and rumored lesbian lover, Robyn Crawford.
The description for the role describes Robyn as “the loyal friend and confidante to Whitney who helped manage her business affairs.”
The two met at age 16 during a summer job in East Orange, N.J. and soon began an alleged romantic relationship. Crawford later became Houston’s personal assistant. According to reports, “The Greatest Love of All” singer had to break up with Crawford to marry fellow R&B musician Bobby Brown in 1992.
Ross joins former “America’s Next Top Model” contender-turned-actress Yaya DaCosta, who will play Houston.
Directed by Angela Bassett, the TV movie will focus on the singer’s rise to stardom and her stormy relationship with Brown. It’s set to air in 2015.
Ross, who earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her supporting turn in John Sayles’ “Go for Sisters,” recently wrapped the indie movie “Lila & Eve” with Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis. She’s repped by Sanders Armstrong Caserta Management.


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