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Screen Grabs - Larger Than Life

The last week was all about roided-up celebs, a forgettable Golden Globes, some noteworthy obits, the countdown to Sundance and Cloverfield, and more! Plus, that pesky strike that just won't go away.

In a business notorious for outsize personalities and giant egos, the expression "larger than life" took on new meaning last week, when the ongoing investigation into illegal steroids out of the Albany DA's office, which so far had only implicated sports figures, fingered entertainers Tyler Perry, Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean, and 50 Cent as users. The news was one of several showbiz items that overshadowed an attenuated "Golden Globes" event, which took the form of a listless 32-minute press conference that seemed designed to answer the question: If you hold a ceremony in Hollywood without any stars, does it make a sound? The answer, apparently: Only on E!To sum up, Atonement, rather than No Country for Old Men or there Will Be Blood won, and NBC lost big. (It was not a good week for the network, which also blocked Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich from another debate Tuesday in Las Vegas, and had the audacity to use the First Amendment in doing so.)

Of course, what really did in the Globes was the writers' strike, which entered its twelfth week, and was causing studios to cancel production deals right and left, with such major players such as Hugh Jackman and John Singleton impacted. However, the larger-than-life Weinsteins were reportedly near a deal with the writers, like the one Tom Cruise recently struck, that would allow the company to resume production. The strike now seems likely to do to the Oscars what it did to the Globes, and some think the Academy should just postpone the ceremony. Regardless of the whats and whens, the bombastic Harvey Weinstein has to be heartened by actress Cate Blanchett's Globes win for Best Supporting Actress; if she repeats the feat at the Oscars, he'll be spared from having to shoot himself.

Moving away from strike news and nonexistent red carpets, the week that was also saw the passing of three of the film industry's uniquely larger-than-life legends. Maila Nurmi, better known as Vampira, a pioneer of goth aesthetics and horror-schlock who served as a muse to both Man Ray and Ed Wood, left this earthly plane at 86. Johnny Grant, the longtime Hollywood entertainer who unveiled new stars on the Walk of Fame as Tinseltown's honorary mayor, departed for the stars above at 84. And Dusty Cohl, co-founder of the Toronto Film Festival and friend to countless filmmakers, died at 78; he was touchingly eulogized by Roger Ebert.

To the great relief of Wire fanatics, the strike isn't impacting the critically acclaimed crime drama, which started its fifth season a week and a half ago. The critics have already begun dissecting the new material, and meanwhile, larger-than-life Democratic candidate Barack Obama revealed that he is is a fan of the show's most larger-than-life character, the Robin Hood-like "homothug" Omar.

 

Finally, film folks were preparing themselves for their annual January migration to Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and figures to have a larger significance than usual as a market, in light of the writers' strike. Those staying home could at least go to the movies on Friday and find out whether producer J.J. Abrams' latest extravaganza, Cloverfield—which is teetering on the brink of overexposure and could be destined for Snakes on a Plane-style disaster—is worthy of the hype. Hopefully it won't disappoint—nothing qualifies as larger than life more than a mysterious monster wreaking havoc on the Big Apple.

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