Faces to watch 2009: film, TV, music and Web
This summer Chris Pine is going where only one man has gone before. As Capt. James T. Kirk in the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” revival, the 28-year-old faces one of the year’s biggest acting challenges -- how can you portray Kirk without sliding into a William Shatner imitation?
The early footage suggests that the L.A. native and third-generation Hollywood actor has pulled it off with swagger and a twinkle in his eye, which is, well, very Kirk-like. “He’s delivered a real performance,” Abrams said, “and it was amazing to watch.”
Pine jumped off the screen in the 2006 hit-man extravaganza “Smokin’ Aces” and then starred with Alan Rickman in the wine-country tale “Bottle Shock.” He was set to star opposite George Clooney in the cinematic adaptation of author James Ellroy’s noir tale “White Jazz” before he beamed up to the “Trek” franchise. Abrams says he hopes his “Trek” flies as a franchise, suggesting Pine may be on more than a five-year mission as Kirk.
-- Geoff Boucher (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)
Whitney Port, a supporting character on “The Hills,” has a reality spinoff of a reality spinoff. A graduate of Crossroads School (just like “Hills” costar Spencer Pratt), she has, like Rhoda Morgenstern before her, been moved to New York City. Designer Diane von Furstenberg has lent her name as Whitney’s employer and the show is called “The City.” The first two episodes air Monday on MTV.
“On ‘The Hills,’ we had a joke that no one has sex and no one gets hurt really,” said Kelly Cutrone, the New York fashion publicist who hired Whitney when she first came to New York. On that show, Whitney didn’t share much of her personal life because her boyfriend refused to be filmed.
Now he’s (allegedly!) gone and, from what we can tell, troublesome boys are swarming young Whitney. For instance, why is her on-camera boyfriend, Australian rocker Jay Lyon, eerily identical to one Brent Tuhtan -- who (allegedly!) dates, or dated, model Miranda Kerr?
Well, this is New York City, where people get really hurt every day, where the quest for fame is a full-contact sport.
“Who do you trust? Who are your friends? She had a safety net in Los Angeles,” said “Hills” and “City” creator Adam Divello. “Now there’s no family -- there’s no one.”
Lotsa luck, Whitney!
-- Choire Sicha (Scott Gries / Getty Images)
She was the little engine that could on the sixth season of “American Idol,” her prodigious talent and sincerity getting her only so far in the face of Blake Lewis’ novel approach and Jordin Sparks’ teen appeal. But now is the time for listeners to remember that this gospel-bred former backup singer has an earth-shaking gift, one that places her beyond trends and television watchers’ whims.
Doolittle might have stuck with praise and worship music or tried to update her style with hip-hop beats. Instead, she went with vintage soul, and man, does it work. Her solo debut, “Coming Back to You” (coming out in February on Hi Fi Recordings), connects her to venerable elders like Gladys Knight and, yes, early Aretha, but instead of sounding trapped within an antique box, Doolittle comes across as vital and vibrant.
Producer Mike Mangini helped Joss Stone launch her career, and with Doolittle he’s found a partner who delivers not only on technique but also with powerful emotion. The retro-soul trend has primed listeners to appreciate the warmth of live instruments and a strong voice, so Doolittle has a chance to find her place among the airbrushed pop queens of the mainstream.
-- Ann Powers (Saul Loeb, AFP / Getty Images)