Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hanks Sues over Unpaid 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Profits

Hanks Sues over Unpaid 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Profits

HOLLYWOOD - Tom Hanks is suing production company Gold Circle Films for failing to pay him his share of the profits from hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The Saving Private Ryan actor has teamed up with his co-producers from the 2002 film--his wife Rita Wilson and Gary Goetzman--along with leading actress Nia Vardalos, to launch the legal action against Gold Circle.

The company is accused of reneging on agreements to pay the four stars a share of the $368 million profits, as stated in their contracts.

The producers claim Gold Circle has so far avoided an audit to specify exact revenue from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, instead providing accounts that are "vague and inadequate in failing to provide information consistent with industry standards."

Tom Hanks

Few could have predicted back in 1980 that one of the leads of a sitcom about a pair of slippery, wisecracking ad men who cross-dress in order to keep a cheap apartment in a women's hotel would emerge as one of the country's most beloved entertainers by the end of the century. Tom Hanks rose from the star of a cult comedy series ("Bosom Buddies", ABC 1980-82) to a respected Oscar-winning actor and Emmy-winning producer with an equally successful secondary career as a writer-director....

Full Biography

Few could have predicted back in 1980 that one of the leads of a sitcom about a pair of slippery, wisecracking ad men who cross-dress in order to keep a cheap apartment in a women's hotel would emerge as one of the country's most beloved entertainers by the end of the century. Tom Hanks rose from the star of a cult comedy series ("Bosom Buddies", ABC 1980-82) to a respected Oscar-winning actor and Emmy-winning producer with an equally successful secondary career as a writer-director.
Blandly attractive, projecting a nice guy, Everyman persona, this California native experienced by his own account, a relatively unhappy childhood. After his parents' divorce in the early 1960s, Hanks, along with his two older siblings, went to live with their father, a cook who went on to two more marriages. Spending most of his formative years in the San Francisco Bay area, Hanks developed an interest in acting, receiving encouragement from one of his drama teachers Rawley Farnsworth, whom the actor cited in his 1994 Academy Award acceptance speech. Dropping out of college, he interned at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival under the guidance of famed Irish director Vincent Dowling and made his professional acting debut with the troupe in 1978. After a brief and unsuccessful stint in NYC, Hanks earned his first mainstream exposure opposite Peter Scolari in "Bosom Buddies.”

A guest appearance on an episode of "Happy Days" led to a fortuitous introduction to Ron Howard. When Howard set about casting the male lead in "Splash" (1984), the director hired Hanks for the role of a boyishly charming produce vendor who falls in love with a mermaid (Daryl Hannah). Proving a likable and engaging screen presence, he seemed assured of becoming a light romantic comedian. The amusing but sophomoric "Bachelor Party" (1984) followed as did a string of comic misfires (e.g., "The Man With One Red Shoe" 1984; "The Money Pit" 1986) that nearly ruined the actor's career. Of the films of this period only "Nothing in Common" (1986), in which Hanks played a selfish workaholic who begins to bond with his ailing father (Jackie Gleason), was perhaps the best.

In 1988, Hanks experienced a turning point in his career with two parts that demonstrated his versatility. He offered a strong turn with dramatic overtones as a volatile, brash and ambitious stand-up comedian who first mentors and then competes against a rising female comic (Sally Field). Hanks surprised many with the depth of his characterization. That same year, he also displayed his winning charms as a teenager trapped in the body of a 35 year old man in the winning "Big", helmed by Penny Marshall. The one-two punch of these roles proved there was more to the actor's craft and abilities and he was rewarded with critics' prizes and an Oscar nomination for "Big.”

Trying not to repeat himself and avoiding typecasting, Hanks accepted a string of leads in projects that perhaps sounded better on paper than in their execution. "Joe Versus the Volcano" (1990) first teamed him with Meg Ryan but their chemistry was dissipated by a meandering script. Although he might have seemed a bold choice to play the Wall Street wheeler dealer at the heart of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" (also 1990), Hanks proved to be grossly miscast in what proved a muddled mess. After a string of unsuccessful pictures, the actor reportedly campaigned for the change-of-pace role of the boozy coach of a distaff baseball team in "A League of Their Own" (1992). Although director Penny Marshall considered him wrong for the part, she nonetheless hired him. Gaining weight and taking a character proved a popular choice with audience members, although many reviewers concurred with Marshall's original instincts. Much more successful was a reuniting with Ryan in Nora Ephron's paean to romance "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993). Again displaying both his earnest charm and a flair for light comedy, Hanks offered glimpses into the sadness and loneliness of the widower father he was portraying.

"Philadelphia" (1993) finally solidified his standing as a leading dramatic actor. Some carped over his casting as a homosexual lawyer with AIDS who is fired from his firm and files a discrimination suit; despite having an onscreen lover, his character was presented almost as asexual who disappointed many in the gay community who had hoped for a more realistic depiction of their lives. Still, Hanks rose to the challenges and delivered a poignant, moving performance that earned him the first of his back-to-back Oscars. (He himself realized he was the "safe" choice for the part as he indicated in interviews at the time.) Newly anointed in Hollywood with epithets like "the nicest guy in show business" or "the new Jimmy Stewart" for his stalwart persona, he went on to stretch further playing a Southerner with a low IQ who through happenstance takes part in many of the defining moments of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Hanks displayed the proper whimsy required for this man-child who was fond of sappy sayings (i.e., "Stupid is as stupid does", "Mama always said life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you're gonna get") and built a consistent characterization. The film, which touched a chord with moviegoers who cheered Forrest's survival and triumph over one adversity after another, became the year's highest-grosser (in excess of $300 million) and picked up six Academy Awards, including Hanks' second as Best Actor.

Now ensconced in the pantheon of cinematic heroes, Hanks reunited with Ron Howard to tell the story of the ill-fated 1970 NASA mission of "Apollo 13" (1995). Playing real-life astronaut Jim Lovell (a role earmarked for Kevin Costner by the film's screenwriters), the actor served as a the anchor and delivered yet another fine performance. Rounding out that year, Hanks provided the vocals for Woody, a cowboy threatened by the more sophisticated razzle dazzle of Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) in "Toy Story", the computer-generated animated fable of friendship.

For the next couple of years, Hanks honed his screenwriting, producing and directing crafts. He wrote and helmed the genial 60s-era comedy-drama "That Thing You Do!" (1996), about a band who achieves success with a single hit. While not a blockbuster, the film demonstrated his flair for eliciting strong performances from a cast of relative unknowns (Hanks had a featured role as a slightly mysterious manager who represents the group) and for camera placement and pacing. He further enhanced his skills wearing several hats on a dream project, the 13-part examination of the history of the US Space Program, "From the Earth to the Moon" (HBO, 1998). In addition to executive producing the series, Hanks helmed the first segment, wrote four installments and acted in the penultimate episode, sharing the 1998 Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries with co-producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. After nearly two years away from the big screen, he returned in a prestige project cast as an army captain on a mission to locate a missing soldier behind enemy lines in Steven Spielberg's highly-praised "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). As Miller, the actor traded on his 'good guy' persona but colored the performance with hints of a dark side. While some of his co-stars were reduced to fleshing out two-dimensional stereotypes, Hanks was given a more complex role and offered one of his finest screen performances, earning his fourth Academy Award nomination as Best Actor.

Later that same year, he wrestled with the ghost of James Stewart when he co-starred a third time opposite Meg Ryan in Nora Ephron's "You've Got Mail", an updating of the 1940 Stewart-Margaret Sullavan classic "The Shop Around the Corner". Hanks then reunited with his "Private Ryan" cohort Barry Pepper to play prison guards who become involved with a mysterious prisoner in "The Green Mile" (1999), an adaptation of Stephen King's novel. Further stretching his thespian muscles, he collaborated with "Gump" director Robert Zemeckis on "Cast Away" (2000), which took the unusual step of interrupting filming to allow the actor to drop an appropriate amount of weight for his role as a man trapped on a deserted island. His bravura performance—for nearly a third of the film, Hanks was onscreen alone—brought him renewed critical acclaim and yet another Best Actor Oscar nomination.

After his experience portraying a veteran in "Saving Private Ryan,” Hanks became active in the creation of a memorial to the men and women who fought during WWII. He and Spielberg also joined forces to executive produce the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" (2001), adapted from historian Stephen Ambrose's book which followed the soldiers in the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their training in Georgia in 1942 through their participation in the Normandy Invasion. (Hanks additionally directed one episode of the miniseries, for which he earned an Emmy.) The actor then took on an atypical role, portraying a 1920s Chicago gangster seeking revenge for the death of family members in "The Road to Perdition" (2002)—the film prompted mixed responses but Hanks' efforts were roundly praised, though the actor's inherent likeability slightly undermined the professional killer that he played.

His next film reunited him with Spielberg and cast him as real-life FBI fraud investigator Carl Hanratty who was on the trail of the youngest con artist ever to make the Most Wanted list, Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio). Equal parts downtrodden and dogged, Hanratty was one of Hanks' most distinctive on-screen creations and stood in perfect contrast to DiCaprio as the film's glamorous lead--this time Hanks' likeability served his underdog character well, and the actor convincingly conveyed Carl's unlikable aspects as well. Indeed, the part seemed to mark Hanks' departure from charming leading man roles to dazzling character turns, a la Jack Lemmon and James Stewart . Also in 2002, Hanks the movie producer scored a mega-success with the unexpectedly popular comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which Hanks' part-Greek wife Wilson had discovered when it was still a one-woman show created by star Nia Vardalos.

Hanks' next trick was a return to his wacky comedic roots—indeed, even quirkier territory than he'd plumbed before—in the Coen brothers' remake of the cult classic British film "The Ladykillers" (2004); playing the verbose, guffawing Professor Dorr, Hanks created a bizarre and distinct character who polarized critics. The actor re-teamed with Spielberg for a third time with "The Terminal" (2004); Hanks, again trying on a heavy accent, played Eastern European immigrant Viktor Navorski, who through a quirk of international politics and passport law becomes stranded in a New York City airport terminal, where he takes up residence and becomes involved with many of the terminal's temporary inhabitants--despite a strong performance and smart direction, the film utlimately failed on a story level. Hanks then reunited with Zemeckis and took up the challenge of playing multiple characters in the ambitious CGI-animated adaptation of the popular children's story "The Polar Express" (2004), using the groundbreaking Performance Capture technology to digitally morph his physical performances into his on-screen roles as The Conductor, Hero Boy, Santa Claus, the Hobo and the Boy's Father, which were subsequently woven seamlessly into the film's computer generated environments.

Hanks next returned to his love of outer space and narrated the short IMAX film, “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D” (2005), a stunning journey into mankind’s most incredible adventure. The film showcased past, present and future space explorations as audiences experienced what the Apollo astronauts did on the moon’s surface. He was next seen in “The Da Vinci Code” (2006), the long-anticipated adaptation of Dan Brown’s monumental best-seller. After the murder of a curator at the Louvre, a famed symbologist unravels a sinister plot to keep a secret that has been protected since the days of Jesus Christ. While the script was kept as secret during filming as the fictional mystery in the story, the controversial nature of the book had kept filmmakers from shooting at key locations, including Westminster Abbey. Meanwhile, religious groups—already in a tizzy over the book—braced themselves for what was almost assured to be a blockbuster movie.


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