SZ Exclusive Sly Candid

This pic above was taken on April 26, 2001 outside the David Letterman show. SLY stopped before the show to sign autographs for everyone. All the best, Christine Eschenauer (ps the photo is from my personal collection of SLY pics)

(Christine was born and lives in Brooklyn. She’s been a major SLY fan for 20 years now!! She’s a director of marketing at a law firm. Funny story: each time she’s met SLY, she’s had a Rocky towel with her that he sees – she calls it the lucky towel and thinks she will go down as the “crazy towel girl” to the people at David Letterman!!!

Thanks to Christine for sharing!
– Craig Zablo

CRAIG’S “DRIVEN” REVIEW

Driven (2001)

Directed by Renny Harlin

Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Kip Pardue, Til Schweiger, Burt Reynolds, Stacy Edwards, Estella Warren, Gina Gershon, Robert Sean Leonard and Cristián de la Fuente

Cinematography by Mauro Fiore

I was lucky to catch a special advanced showing of “Driven” on Monday night. The theater was filled with a diverse crowd. Probably more males than females (although there were more females than you’d expect for a “Stallone” movie). The ages of the crowd varied widely. The oldest person was 92 (he won a shirt before the movie started), and there were kids probably as young as ten or so. I think that the diversity of the crowd indicates the wide appeal of “Driven.”

“Driven” reteams Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone for the first time since their blockbuster hit “Cliffhanger.” Renny is back in the director’s chair and Sly once again writes (not just co-writes this time) the screenplay and acts. Both Renny and Sly are racing fans, so what better (pardon the expression) vehicle for them to choose than a racing movie?

The Screenplay
Sly has written a movie that has many layers to it. On the surface, “Driven” is simply a movie about an older man brought in to mentor a young “hotshot” who has the ability to be great if he can only “keep it together.” Some people will go see “Driven” and they will come away saying that the movie was cliche… that the racing scenes weren’t realistic… that the computer effects were obvious… that the movie was too slow in parts… Yeah, and some people think that racing is simply about driving real fast!

Sly’s screenplay for “Driven” IS on the surface simply a movie about an older man brought in to mentor a young “hotshot” racer… but it is also very much more than that. For one thing it’s autobiographical. Just as Sly used Rocky and boxing to parallel his life, he also uses Joe Tanto and racing. Tanto was at one time the hot young driver (like Sly after Rocky), who drove on the edge and was “dangerous” (like Sly’s choice of making movies that kept kicking up the action-level). There’s more that Joe has in common with Sly — note the Gina Gershon character and think Brigitte. Look at the motivations of Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) bringing Sly back and think of how producers offer Sly certain roles, how they want Sly only when he plays the character that they need. There are more similarities if you look for them.

Sly’s script allows each character (except for Gina Gershon’s) to be well rounded. They aren’t one dimensional – they don’t always act as you might expect. There are no real heroes or villains… and that’s because we see and understand their motivations.

Even the title of Sly’s screenplay is more complex than first glance. Sure, “Driven” refers to racing but it also refers to the state of mind of the racers – they are driven to be not just their very best but THE very best. As I earlier stated, some people will complain that the screenplay has cliches. On the surface some things may seem cliche but I assure you that the movie will have plot twists that you won’t expect. The cynics will still complain,”But there are cliches!” To them I say, before something can become cliche it must occur enough that people can see it as cliche and if it occurs that often, then it is real life!

The Cast

Sly is very, very good as Joe Tanto. He seems very relaxed and has several scenes where he shines. Til Schweiger works well as the current racing champion who questions Joe Tanto’s motivations in returning. Cristián de la Fuente is excellent in his small but important role as Memo Moreno, the racer that Sly replaces when he returns. Memo and Joe were once friends, but that all ended when Sly’s wife left him to marry Memo. Gina Gershon shines as Sly’s ex-wife. Robert Sean Leonard and Kip Pardue also do well in their respective roles. Estella Warren is very pretty. I loved seeing Burt Reynolds in a film with Sly.

Will this film win any academy awards for acting? No. Did the actors/actresses do a good job in portraying their characters? Yes, and in most cases a very good job.

The Direction
Renny Harlin built his rep as an action director. The racing scenes shine. There are many, many scenes that action fans will love. The question is will they enjoy the slower scenes as well? One of the things that bothered a friend who saw “Driven” was the way the pace of the film changed when there was no racing. He said during the races everything was quick cuts and all out action but when it followed the racers when they weren’t racing everything seemed to be going real s-l-o-w. Well, duh! These racers live for the next race. That’s when they are alive, doing what they do best in a sport that can have deadly consequences for even the best who make a mistake. When they are racing everything is split-second decisions and speed… and I believe that in the opening scenes away from the track, that Harlin was trying to show how slow and mundane life is when they are not racing. The action scenes are great (especially the impromptu race through city streets at night) but my favorite scenes included more than just the racing.

The Special Effects
“Driven” does have a bunch of them. Some work very well and a few are just “ok.” The first obvious special effect involves Sly flipping a coin in the air (of all things). I liked the effect and thought it worked for the movie. Did I know it was a special effect? You betcha, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it. (I also knew that Neo wasn’t really running up walls, that Tom Hanks wasn’t getting shot at as he stormed the beach, etc.) There are several crash sequences that are effects shots as well and most of them worked really well (especially the shot of the car tossed in the air and coming straight down nose first from the driver’s perspective). Two effects that were just ok in my opinion were the rain drops hitting the face shield (not overdone at least) and the “Pitch Black” speed effect.

Overall
“Driven” was a good choice for Sly. He was able to create a character that I think fans will really like. He was able to return to writing (one of his strengths – now if he would just direct again). He proved that he is willing to take a supporting role (which I think will get him some offers that might otherwise never come his way). And he was able to show more range than just running and shooting a gun (not that I want him to stop that all-together).

I think that “Driven” will do pretty well at the box office. I have no doubt that it will be #1 at the box office it’s opening weekend. The real test will be to see how it does in the following weeks. I’ll be surprised if it reaches blockbuster status – but it could! My feeling is that it will be a modest hit and probably Sly’s biggest at the box-office since the last time Renny and Sly teamed up.

– Craig Zablo (April 26, 2001)

“Rocky” Special Edition Set

The long awaited DVD Rocky Special Edition Box Set goes on sale today! The five disc set will list for $89.96 but is available |HERE| at discounted price.
FEATURES:
* 5-disc set that includes all of the Rocky films
* All of the films will contain new sound mixes
* All of the films will contain anamorphic transfers
* ROCKY will be a SPECIAL EDITION with:
– deleted scenes
– a documentary
– commentary track with SLY,
director JOHN ALVIDSEN, and cast members
– an extensive still gallery
– a new 5.1 Dolby Digital Soundtrack
– and MORE!

Craig Zablo [January 22, 2001]

Sly Reflects

Monday April 23 3:50 AM ET From YAHOO! NEWS

WASHINGTON (AP) – SYLVESTER STALLONE, middle aged and married with four children, is taking stock of his life – and he doesn’t like everything he sees in his past.
“Climbing that mountain of ambition, being so prolific, put the emphasis on the wrong side of my life. It didn’t make me feel better,” STALLONE said in Sunday’s Parade magazine. “Now I understand what’s sacred.”

The 54-year-old creator of monosyllabic film heroes Rocky and Rambo says he prefers fatherhood to the whirlwind lifestyle he was leading a decade ago when he dated a different woman every month.

“I didn’t have the extraordinary love of my wife and children. I didn’t have a real home. That started to get very, very old,” said STALLONE, who married model JENNIFER FLAVIN in 1997. “If I were watching a home movie of my life, I would shake my head in despair and wonderment … it’s a comedy of errors.”
STALLONE’s latest film, “Driven,” opens Friday.

– Craig Zablo

Sly Interview in Parade

 

The April 22, 2001 issue of the Parade [Sunday Supplement] features a well-done interview withSYLVESTER STALLONE by Jane Ciabattari.

The interview contains seven photos [four reprinted here] and 2 1/2 pages of text. The interview features SLY talking about his career, choices that he has made, and his life.


Check out Parade.com.

“If this never happened, would I be able to survive? Yeah, I could paint and write and enjoy that. An artist dies twice. The second death is easy. But when people don’t appreciate you as a performer anymore, that’s very difficult. That’s one death. What to do?”
– SYLVESTER STALLONE from Parade interview 04/22/01

“Real love is when you become selfless and you’re more concerned about your mate’s or your children’s egos than your own.”
“There is nothing more exalting than requited love.”
“Now I’m a giver instead of a taker.”
– SYLVESTER STALLONE from Parade interview 04/22/01

My values have altered drastically.”
“Blazing guns hold little allure for me now.”
“Now I understand what is sacred.”
“I may not be at the top of my game with my career, but in my private life I am.”
– SYLVESTER STALLONE from Parade interview 04/22/01
——————————————————
I can not urge you strongly enough to get a copy of this interview if you are a SYLVESTER STALLONE fan. I’ve included just some of the pics and enough quotes that you can see that SLY has given a lot of thought to where he has been and where he is going [in his life and career].

– Craig Zablo / John “Big” Beatty (April 22, 2001

“DRIVEN” CONTEST

Hey SZoners, I received this e-mail and thought you’d find it of interest: Dear Craig, UGO and “Driven” have joined forces to bring fans the opportunity to win a 3-day trip to a racing school in California!Step into the driver seat racing buffs, cause UGO and Warner Bros. have teamed up to give you the chance to go to racing school! Enter to win a trip to the Californian desert where you’ll receive three fuel-injected days of racing instruction by the real pros at the Danny McKeever Fast Lane Racing School. That’s you and the open road, flying on a tank of adrenaline as you learn what the pros learn, in the classroom and on the tracks.

Grand Prize includes roundtrip airfare for you and a guest, three days of training by pro racers, transportation and hotel accommodations. Please share this great promotion with all fans of the upcoming Sly movie…
Enter to win at
http://www.ugo.com/services/promotions/freestuff/default.asp.

You can also read the interview clips with Sly Stallone and the rest of the
Driven” stars at: http://www.ugo.com/channels/features/driven/

Thanks,
Harris Gazis
PR Associate
UGO Networks / UnderGroundOnline


Good Luck SZoners! – Craig Zablo (April 22, 2001)

SLY: NIGHT & DAY AND MORE

Sly appears twice in the April 17, 2001 issue of the National Enquirer. He first appears in the two pictures above in a piece that looks at how differently celebrities dress during the day and at night. Sly makes another appearance later in the magazine (in a small picture) in an article about Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

– Craig Zablo (April 15, 2001)

DRIVEN PREMIERE: CALLING ALL SZoners

I’ve received word from Greg Spotts, who has spearheaded the Driven Street Team Publicity (and who provided us with Driven magnets and postcards), that on April 16th, Driven will premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. They will close down Hollywood Blvd. so that Champcars can rocket down the street in front of the theater!
I know that we have SZoners who can attend given enough notice… so here’s hoping this is notice enough! If you are able to attend, we’d love to hear from you!

  • Craig Zablo (April 15, 2001)