Sunday night Will Smith paid tribute to actor James Avery, who passed away Wednesday following complications from open heart surgery. The 68-year-old Avery had played Uncle Phil to Smith’s onscreen alter ego through six seasons (and two Aunt Vivs) on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996 and made a star out of Smith. “Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace,” Smith wrote on Facebook, posting a photo of the two with Fresh Prince cast mates Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, and Alfonso Ribiero. Ribiero, who played Uncle Phil’s son Carlton on the show, Tweeted his condolences after Avery’s passing on New Year’s Day: “I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.” Tweeted Ali: “James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be a part of me.”
Catch up with Deadline’s best film stories of the week:
Year-End: How A Growing Global Mandate And Franchise Fever Led To Movie Studio Tsuris
By Mike Fleming – Considering that global movie ticket sales reached precedent levels after a particularly robust holiday period and a mostly sizzling summer, 2013 was one of the most turbulent years I can remember in the executive suites of major studios.
Box Office: Nation In Deep Freeze As Ticket Sales Plummet; ‘Frozen’ Still No. 1, Just Shy of $300M; ‘Paranormal’ Audiences Scared While ‘Wolf’ And ‘Hustle’ Close
By Anita Busch – With the nation in a deep freeze, pictures across the board were affected this weekend. And Sunday moviegoing is expected to be down. With more estimates coming in, the odds are that The Wolf of Wall Street will just nudge out American Hustle by a mere $200,000 for the weekend to take the fourth spot.
Year-End: UK Tax Breaks Too Much Of A Good Thing? Tasty Danish Offerings; French Film Biz Blues; Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain
By Nancy Tartaglione – The UK emerged in 2013 as an increasingly attractive location destination with new and expanded tax credits – but can it stand the bulge? Hollywood has cozied up to Britain, not only bringing its films there to shoot, but now its TV programs while it also continues to plumb it as a source of original drama to be remade in the U.S.
WGA Continues Strong Awards Season For ‘Wall Street’, ‘Hustle’, ‘Dallas’ & Woody, But ‘Gravity’, ‘12 Years’ & Coens Not Invited To The Party
By Pete Hammond – It continues to be a good week for American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska. All followed up yesterday’s Producers Guild nominations with WGA noms this morning, making it 2-for-2 in the early guild contests of this new year.
James Avery, the actor who played the family patriarch on NBC’s long-running The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, died December 31 in Glendale, CA after complications from open heart surgery, his publicist said today. Avery was 68. The classically trained actor had just completed shooting what will be his final role: a part in Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded indie feature Wish I Was Here, which will premiere later this month at Sundance. Avery was born in Atlantic City in 1945 and eventually served in the Navy in Vietnam. He launched his career in entertainment after settling in San Diego after his discharge writing poetry and TV scrips for PBS, and his acting career began in 1980 with an uncredited role in The Blues Brothers movie, according to IMDb. He went on to appear in three decades worth of movies and TV shows — from The Jeffersons to LA Law to Grey’s Anatomy on the small screen — and also voiced numerous animated series including playing Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in the mid-’80s and ’90s. But it was his role as Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince that put him on the map. The series ran from 1990-1996 and launched the acting career of Will Smith; his fellow Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro was one of the first to send his condolences via Twitter today. …