Lars Von Trier Puts His Cannes Nazi Joke in Proper, Offensive Context

Plus: Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma among this year's Kennedy Center honorees

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The latest out of Hollywood includes: Lars von Trier attempts to qualify his "I understand Hitler" remark, Meryl Streep and Neil Diamond will receive the Kennedy Center Honors in December, and Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are going back to their action roots...again.

  • When Danish director Lars von Trier proclaimed "I understand Hitler" at the Cannes film festival press conference for his film Melancholia back in May, it led to no end of negative media coverage. The filmmaker was eventually banned from the event after being classified as "persona non grata" by festival organizers. At the time, he issued an apology statement, explaining  "I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi." At a retrospective of his films on Saturday in Berlin, he returned to the controversy, and questionably tried placing the Hitler sympathizing in its proper context. "There was a point to this whole thing," he explained. "I think history shows that we are all Nazis somewhere, and there are a lot of things that can be suddenly set free, and the mechanics behind this setting-free is something we really should really investigate, and the way we do not investigate it is to make it a taboo to talk about it." Also, he admitted to telling some German journalists that "the French are the real Nazis," which won't help get him back anytime soon. [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have signed on to play "substantial" roles in The Expendables 2, the sequel to the 2010 aging action hero bonanza that grossed $274 million at the worldwide box office. What does "substantial" mean? Presumably something larger than the blink-and-you-missed it cameos in the original, where Willis played the shadowy government operative who hired Sylvester Stallone's ragtag team of mercenaries, and Schwarzenegger portrayed the leader of a different group of ragtag mercenaries that Willis would have preferred to hire. It's the second post-gubernatorial, post-love child film project for Schwarzenegger after The Last Stand, which starts filming in September. Deadline notes that the original cast, including Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews and Jet Li, is expected to return and that there's "buzz about Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme" joining the cast. Will there be enough pithy catchphrases to go around? [Deadline]
  • Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and singer Barbara Cook will receive this year's Kennedy Center Honors at a ceremony on December 4, organizers announced Wednesday. They will be honored by President and Mrs. Obama at a White House reception prior to the ceremony, which will be hosted by Caroline Kennedy. The telecast will air on December 27. There's a better-than-good chance that Diamond will perform "Sweet Caroline." [Arts Beat]
  • The Hollywood Reporter reports that Goldman Sachs is countersuing producer Joel Silver, claiming in the suit that  Silver made deliberately false and misleading representations in order to fraudulently gain tens of millions of dollars in upfront cash payments. Silver filed suit against the banking giant last year, claiming it reneged on a deal to pay him $30 million in exchange for revenues from his production company Dark House when the markets plummeted in 2008. Back in May, a judge refused to grant Goldman's motion to dismiss the case. [The Hollywood Reporter]
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