Rick Bentley

Michael Douglas joins superhero ranks with ‘Ant-Man

Michael Douglas attends the world premiere of "Ant-Man" at the Dolby Theatre on Monday, June 29, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Michael Douglas attends the world premiere of "Ant-Man" at the Dolby Theatre on Monday, June 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. AP

Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym in the upcoming “Ant-Man” movie. Those of you who have been reading comic books for years will recognize Pym as the first person to wear the Ant-Man costume.

The new Marvel Comics film looks at Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), the person who becomes the successor to Pym.

After Douglas took his son, Dylan, to see “Ant-Man,” the youngster’s comments showed some real insight into show business and the growing comic book-inspired genre.

“My 14-year-old’s reaction was like an agent. He said, ‘You know, Dad, this could be a whole new audience for you’,” Douglas says.

Douglas is just the latest veteran actor to star in a comic book movie. In fact, the genre has featured some of the biggest names in films since “Superman” came out in 1978. That film featured an appearance by Marlon Brando as Jor-El. The legendary actor was only on screen for a few minutes, but he earned millions for what was little more than a cameo. It also featured veteran actors Gene Hackman and Glenn Ford.

Over the years, some of Hollywood’s top actors have been drawn into the comic-book projects: George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Kingsley, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Bridges and Peter Fonda.

For many of these actors, being in a comic book movie — as so cleverly pointed out by Dylan Douglas — has helped broaden their fan base. They also has helped bring a little more gravitas to the genre.

Often, the big-name stars need a little help with the character.

Michael Douglas wasn’t familiar with “Ant-Man” before being cast. He was sent two years of comic books to help him get up to speed with the mythology behind the character.

He found a lot of good source material — including the script — to help him play all of the tones of the character.

I know that name

Fresno filmmakers Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff wanted to cast unknown actors in their low-budget horror film, “The Gallows.” They were afraid a familiar face would take away from their efforts to make the movie look like it was put together from found footage.

Three of the actors fit that bill perfectly. But, Cassidy Gifford, a last-minute replacement casting, brought some fame with her. She’s not been seen in many movies, but her famous mom, Kathie Lee Gifford, has talked about her for years on “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee” and as part of the “Today” team.

The mother and daughter were headed toward a dinner date when the filmmakers called Cassidy in for a five-minute audition. Cassidy laughs and says her mom was OK with the slight delay because she needed to use the restroom anyway.

I talked with Cassidy during a red-carpet event here in Fresno about whether she feels famous because of her mother.

“I really seems like she talked about me a lot, but if you look recently it’s only been here and there,” Cassidy says. “At the end of the day, she’s a mom and she wants to talk about her kids. For me, I felt like I got a lot less than my brother did.”

The young actress had never been to Fresno before shooting “The Gallows.” The closest she ever got was Bakersfield because her father, Frank Gifford, went to high school and junior college there. It’s also where he became a big fan of Dewar’s Candy Shop.

“I would stop in Bakersfield on my way back home after filming to pick up some Dewar’s toffee for him,” Cassidy says. “I actually got him two pounds of it for Father’s Day.”

The first thing Cassidy knew about Fresno was the stories her dad told her about the rivalries between the city and Bakersfield.

Cassidy doesn’t watch her mom on TV because she’s worried about what she might say. As for what her mom has said about her to a national TV public so far, Cassidy resigns herself to the reality it could have been a lot worse.

Kathie Lee will get to talk about her daughter even more as Cassidy’s scheduled to be a guest on “Today” Monday, July 6, to talk about “The Gallows.” The film opens nationwide Friday, July 10.

Other news

▪ More talent: NBC’s variety series “I Can Do That” has been given a second-season order for eight episodes.

▪ No language problems: NBC Universo, the sports and entertainment cable channel for Latinos, will show “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” “Law & Order” will air 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday starting July 6 while “Law & Order: Los Angeles” will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Tuesdays starting July 7.

▪ The hunted: CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh” and “Death Row Stories” return for second seasons on Sunday, July 12. “The Hunt,” an eight-part investigative docu-series, kicks off at 9 p.m. followed by “Death Row Stories,” a six-part docu-series about the U.S. capital punishment system, at 10 p.m.

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