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‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ director wants you to care about the beasts

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Twenty-two films into a mind-numbing “Godzilla” movie marathon, director Adam Wingard thought he couldn’t take anymore.

“I was half-comatose,” Wingard told The Post. “But then this scene came on, and I was flooded with emotion.” 

The movie was 1995’s “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah,” and the scene was one in which Godzilla Junior is killed in battle and Godzilla senior bows his head in mourning. 

“I noticed that any time these movies made me feel that these monsters had personalities and feelings, that’s when I was most excited,” the director said. “That was a big turning point for me.”

With the latest entry in the MonsterVerse series, “Godzilla vs. Kong” — in theaters and HBO Max on Wednesday — Wingard was determined to treat the two titular creatures not as hulking, unfeeling beasts, but as “fully fleshed-out” characters. 

At least as much as was allowed. 

Godzilla was a bigger challenge than Kong, because Toho, the Japanese company that owns the kaiju (strange beast), has strict rules about what can and can’t be done with him. 

“There’s literally a guy at Toho, I think his actual title is Chief Godzilla Officer, whose whole job is to keep up with what Godzilla should do,” Wingard said. “Godzilla is a godlike presence, you can’t show him eat things and you can’t show him emote.” 

The latest entry in the MonsterVerse series is “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
The latest entry in the MonsterVerse series is “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Enterta

In this sequel to 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” two scientists (Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård) attempt to return Kong to his home in a hidden world at Earth’s center, but the giant ape is attacked by his centuries-old enemy, Godzilla. 

The filmmakers attempted to make the giant lizard more distinctive by infusing him with “swagger.” 

“He doesn’t care about anyone because he knows he’s the alpha dog,” the director said. “It comes from his walk and the way he carries himself.” 

In the film’s first battle between Godzilla and Kong, for example, Godzilla is hit in the back by missiles. In an early version, the missiles distract Godzilla, allowing Kong to briefly gain the upper hand. But in the film’s final print, Godzilla simply swipes his tail, destroying the jets that are firing at him.

‘There’s something about the innocence and purity of King Kong that strikes through the heart of people.’

Kong was easier to give emotions, which are mostly communicated through his eyes. 

Wingard was inspired to make Kong sympathetic after watching 1976’s “King Kong” with his girlfriend. The finale brought her to tears. 

“There’s something about the innocence and purity of King Kong that strikes through the heart of people,” Wingard said. 

Much of the digital work on Kong was done by Weta — the same effects company co-founded by director Peter Jackson and that worked on his 2005 film “King Kong” and the recent “Planet of the Apes” movies. 

“They had this library of how to approach primate emotions,” Wingard said. 

The Kong here is childlike with an expressive face that conveys sadness, anger and at one point, a slight smile. 

In the end, Wingard knew that when the film premiered, many viewers wouldn’t care about how cool the two giants’ city-destroying battles looked if they weren’t invested in the combatants. 

“This might be a once-in-a-generation that we get a chance to see these guys match up,” Wingard said. “And if this is the last one you see for another 50 years, this is our one chance to get it right.”


‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: Why the killer lizard is king of the monsters

Adam Wingard, director of “Godzilla vs. Kong” — out March 31 in theaters and on HBO Max — told The Post that he used to do what a lot of little kids did: daydream about who would win in a battle between fictional characters. 

So who would reign supreme? No spoilers here, but take a look at a power ranking of five kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast”) based on previous films. 

Godzilla

Godzilla paints the town blood-red in 1998.
Godzilla paints the town blood-red in 1998.
©Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Height: 393 feet

Powers: Atomic breath, using his tail like a club

He’s survived attacks by humans, battles with giant monsters and an awful 1998 Roland Emmerich reboot. At this point, it’s safe to say Godzilla is nearly unkillable and dominates among the kaiju. 

King Kong

King Kong and Godzilla battle it out in 1962.
King Kong and Godzilla battle it out in 1962.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Height: 300+ feet

Weapon: An axe made from Godzilla’s dorsal fin

They don’t call him King for nothing. The giant gorilla is a ferocious fighter, and in his previous battle with his nemesis in 1963’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” Kong seemingly bested Godzilla after wrestling him off a cliff and into the sea. 

Mothra

Godzilla battles Mothra in 1964.
Godzilla fights Mothra in 1964.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Size: a wingspan of 803 feet

Powers: Eating very, very large sweaters; can also fly and spit silk at enemies

For a moth, she packs a punch. In 1964’s “Mothra vs. Godzilla,” the giant insect was killed by Godzilla, but her larvae ultimately ensnared and defeated the monster. 

Mechagodzilla

Mechagodzilla has metal — but maybe not enough mettle against Godzilla.
Mechagodzilla has plenty of metal — but maybe not enough mettle against Godzilla.
Alamy Stock Photo

Height: 300+ feet

Powers: Atomic breath and a battery of missiles

The giant robotic dinosaur has historically not fared particularly well against its flesh-and-blood counterpart. In their first battle back in 1977, Godzilla and his ally, the doglike King Caesar, tore off Mechagodzilla’s head. Ouch!

King Ghidorah

Ghidorah is a tall one, topping out at 521 feet.
Ghidorah is a tall one, topping out at 521 feet.
Warner Bros. / Everett Collection

Height: 521 feet

Powers: A serious set of wings that allow him to fly nearly fast enough to break the sound barrier

The three-headed dragon has lost at nearly every turn to Godzilla, including being brutally incinerated in 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” 

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‘Brokeback Mountain’ screenwriter Larry McMurtry dead at 84

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Larry McMurtry, the prolific novelist and screenwriter who won a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award for his work, died Thursday at 84.

Amanda Lundberg, a spokesperson for the family, confirmed McMurtry’s death in an obituary published Friday by the New York Times. Lundberg did not respond to The Post’s request for confirmation.

Neither the cause of death, nor where McMurtry passed away, are known.

McMurtry was best known for his anti-Western work, or stories that focused on demythologizing the romanticism of the American West.

“I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,’’ the native Texan said in an 1988 interview. “I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.’’

Often cited as his most memorable work, his coming-of-age book “The Last Picture Show” sold over 9 million copies and was adapted into a film starring Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Cloris Leachman.

McMurtry was not only respected for his 843-page novel “Lonesome Dove,” which won him the Pulitzer and was made into a mini-series for television, but also for the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” a 2005 romantic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Co-written with his housemate and collaborator Diana Ossana, the pair won the Academy Award in 2006 for that film, which focused on the romantic relationship between the two men, one a ranch hand and the other a cowboy.

McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
©Focus Films/Courtesy Everett C

Over the course of more than 50 years, McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels, more than 30 screenplays — and published other works of memoir, history and essays. One book, “Horseman, Pass By,” was made into the film “Hud,” starring Paul Newman. The film version of his novel “Terms of Endearment” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1984.

McMurtry was born the son of a rancher in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1936. He studied at North Texas State, Rice and Stanford universities. He taught English at the university level, but ditched teaching in his younger years. For about a half-century, McMurtry was also a bookseller. His store Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas, is one of the largest in the nation, according to the Times.

Archer City, where he was raised, served as a model for the town of Thalia, which appeared in his works of fiction.

It’s not clear who survives McMurtry, but he most recently married the widow of his friend Ken Kesey, Faye, in 2011.

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Truth of Pink, Christina Aguilera ‘Lady Marmalade’ feud revealed

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Gitchie-gitchie yourself a load of this juicy drama. 

Sex, divas and shade, honey! Those were the makings of music producer Missy Elliott’s masterful 2001 “Lady Marmalade” remix — which celebrates its 20th anniversary next month. 

While the Grammy Award-winning track — with lusty vocal contributions from pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera, rock ‘n’ roll fireball Pink, R&B dynamo Mya and hip-hop heroine Lil’ Kim — starts off with a sultry salute to “all the soul sistas,” the vibe between the singers was anything but sisterly. 

“I think it’s pretty public knowledge that there was tension between Christina and Pink,” Tina Landon, who served as lead choreographer on the music video for the chart-topping jam, told Cosmopolitan.  

Landon, Missy, Mya and Aguilera all recently revisited the sweet beats and sour notes of working together on the colorful collaborative piece that had almost every millennial sing-screaming “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” with the radio volume on full blast. 

“It got a little hairy at one point,” the choreographer said of the unharmonious energy between Aguilera and Pink. 

Their bad blood boiled over on March 17, 2001, during the two-day video shoot in Los Angeles. 

“They were all sitting there watching each other work. Paul Hunter, the director, was trying to give Christina direction and she couldn’t hear him,” Landon said. 

“She said, ‘What did you say?’ And Pink reiterated what Paul had said. Christina did the thing: ‘I was talking to Paul.’ I just sank down in my chair going, ‘Oh, God, please don’t let this get worse.’ And it didn’t!”

Although the dance pro remembers the on-set edginess, Pink, 41, said the beef between her and XTina ignited well before a single “Lady Marmalade” lyric was ever sung. 

“[Aguilera’s label executive] Ron Fair walked in and didn’t say hello to any of us,” Pink said of one of the formative meetings she had with her would-be collaborators. She recounted the incident during her feature on VH1’s “Behind the Music” in 2009. 

“He said, ‘What’s the high part? What’s the most singing part? Christina’s going to take that part,’ ” she recalled. 

“And I stood up and said, ‘Hi. How are you? So nice of you to introduce yourself. I’m Pink. She will not be taking that part. I think that’s what the f – – king meeting is about.”

From there, “I just became the a – – hole,” Pink added. 

Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
WireImage

But after years of exchanging thinly veiled barbs, unmistakable side-eye glares and nearly resorting to fisticuffs during a heated exchange at a club, the “So What” superstar said she’s made amends with her “Fighter” singing rival. 

“She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too. She’s a really sweet person. We made up on ‘The Voice,’ ” Pink told Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2017. 

Aguilera, 40, echoed Pink’s illustration of their newfound friendship to Cosmo. 

“She’s such a powerhouse and definitely paved the way, setting the precedent of pushing back if something didn’t feel right,” she said. 

‘She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too.’

Pink

Decades-old shadiness aside, Mya, 41, praised “Lady Marmalade” — a remake of Patti LaBelle’s 1974 tune — as the women’s empowerment anthem of the day. 

“It was truly about coming together, being women, being slightly over the top, expressing ourselves, and exuding our bold approach to being sexual beings,” the singer insisted. 

Producer Elliott, 49, reimagined LaBelle’s original version of the song to be used as a seductive hymn for director Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster “Moulin Rouge!” The ornate film earned Oscar and Golden Globe accolades in 2002. 

Although La Belle, 76, gladly belted out the hit alongside Pink, Mya, Aguilera and Lil’ Kim — all of whom she lovingly refers to as her “little girls” — at the 2002 Grammys, the music legend still demands the world’s respect as the “Lady Marmalade” originator. 

“People loved it and still do today,” the Philadelphia native told Cosmo. 

“When I do it onstage, I have to say to the audience, ‘I did this 100 years ago. These little heifers, they did it 20 years ago and it’s a hit.’ I have to remind them that I did it first. Isn’t that something?”

Pink, Mya, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Pink, Mya, Lil’ Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
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Jay Baruchel on his starring role in sitcom ‘The Moodys’

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When Jay Baruchel took his starring role in Fox sitcom “The Moodys,” he enlisted his wife’s help. 

“I got sent the script about a month before I was about to get married. If I took the gig, it would mean starting a day or two after our wedding . So of course I had to ask my — at that time — fiancee what she thought,” he said, referring to Canadian model Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel, who he married in 2019. 

“We each cracked open our laptops and sat on either side of the kitchen table and read them simultaneously and were both laughing a whole bunch. That made it easy.”

Season 2 of “The Moodys” premieres Thursday, April 1 (9 p.m.). Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr., one of the three adult Moody children. Other members of the close yet dysfunctional family include his brother Dan (Francois Arnaud), sister Bridget (Chelsea Frei) and his cantankerous parents, Ann (Elizabeth Perkins) and Sean Sr (Denis Leary).

“We all get on like a house on fire,” he said. “[Perkins and Leary] are both just so good at what they do, it makes me better, being around them. It’s been wonderful getting to be their fake son.”

Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Getty Images

Season 1 revolved around the Moody family reuniting at Christmas when each had their own struggles and self-destructive behaviors: Dan got into a messy love triangle with his cousin’s girlfriend while Sean Jr. was still living with his parents and working at an ice rink. Bridget, meanwhile, was a high-powered lawyer who had recently cheated on her husband. 

Season 2 sees Dan continuing to have love troubles, Bridget getting divorced, parents Ann and Sean Sr. contemplating a road trip, and Sean Jr. chasing “get rich quick” schemes such as a funeral business involving fireworks (to “revolutionize the grieving industry”).

“I am incredibly fortunate that I found a career in acting, because basically if I didn’t get on TV and movies, there’s a very good chance that I am Sean Jr,” said Baruchel. “We’re wired very similarly in that we’re chronic daydreamers — as passionate about the stuff we dig as we are absolutely incapable of doing anything else, to our respective detriments. There’s a lot of me in him and vice versa. But the biggest thing is that I was lucky enough to trick people into giving me a career in movies and stuff.”

Baruchel, who grew up in Montreal and is now based in Toronto, is known for a slew of movie and TV roles, including “Knocked Up,” “Tropic Thunder,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Undeclared.” As high-profile as many of his projects are, fans often approach him about one that’s much more obscure. 

Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
philippebosse.com

“Actually I think the one I get recognized for the most is one a lot of people in the States have no idea was a thing. When I was 15, I co-hosted an educational show called ‘Popular Mechanics for Kids.’ It was on all the time up here [in Canada], so it’s like a whole generation of kids that ate cereal every day watching me teach them about centrifugal force. That’s probably the one I get the most love for still, to this day.”

While he was tight-lipped about Season 2 of “The Moodys,” he had a cryptic teaser. 

“It’s pretty crazy. Sean is a very ambitious lad, and he maybe doesn’t always think everything through as well as he should, so I’ll say this: there are monks involved. What would make people interested that wouldn’t give anything away? Monks.”



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