Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Frontal Assault

Young actor Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter in the film series based on author J.K.Rowling's popular books, is raising some eyebrows with his latest role.

From IESB:

Divested of his clothes, not to mention the lightning scar on his forehead, this is Harry Potter a million miles from Hogwarts.

Between filming the fifth and sixth Potter movies, 17-year-old Daniel Radcliffe is appearing on the West End stage in a revival of Peter Shaffer's controversial play Equus.

He plays troubled stablehand Alan Strang and is involved in a lengthy nude sex scene with former Holby City actress Joanna Christie.

Radcliffe was clearly keen to impress with his physique, pumping up his slender frame in the gym for seven hours a week.

But whether his young fans will be impressed by his transition from Hermione Granger's boy wizard friend to hunky sex symbol remains to be seen.

Websites were receiving e-mails from parents worried about Radcliffe's appearance in the play, which will be open to children despite its explicit adult content.

One said: 'We as parents feel Daniel should not appear nude. Our nine-year-old son looks up to him as a role model. We are very disappointed and will avoid the future movies he makes.'

Another wrote: 'I am curious as to how and why his parents said this was okay.'

The play opens at the Gielgud Theatre on February 27 and has already attracted advance bookings worth 1 million [
in British currency].

Radcliffe has been rehearsing his nude scene for a week with his female co-star and although he was 'a little hesitant and shy' at first, he had overcome his embarrassment, said producer David Pugh.

He added: 'Equus is on the school syllabus and I would never stipulate what age people should be to see it.'

Radcliffe's spokesman Vanessa Davies said: 'Daniel does not want to step away from Harry Potter but he does want to show he is an rounded actor capable of very different and diverse roles.

'He has tremendous support from Harry Potter fans.'

Equus opened in the West End in 1973 to huge controversy. It was followed in 1977 by a movie version in which Peter Firth played Alan and Jenny Agutter played his girlfriend Jill, both appearing full frontally nude.

Miss Agutter also features in the 2007 version - as a judge with her clothes on.

Admittedly, I have never have had any real interest in either the Potter books or films (and I don't plan to have any interest any time soon), that said though, I was amazed at the the amount of uproar this story has generated over the last 24 hours...Thus--I felt compelled to comment.

Why is this such big news now? I say this because I remember reading about this career move of Radcliffe's sometime ago. It's old news folks. To illustrate my point, I found this AP story dated October 22nd 2006 It's also been reported by multiple sources that Radcliffe ran the idea past Rowling and Potter film distributor Warner Bros. so that everyone was on the same page--Back then no one seemed to bat an eye...Publish a few provocative publicity stills from the play and people are surprised?

Of the controversial role Radcliffe told Newsweek Magazine:

"Part of me wants to shake up people's perception of me, just shove me in a blender," he told the magazine in an exclusive interview on the set of the fifth Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

"It's a really challenging play, and if I can pull it off we don't know if I can yet I hope people will stop and think, 'Maybe he can do something other than Harry,'" he said

This is another one of those "parental control" issues I talk about from time to time. It rests with the parents and guardians of kids to explain that Radcliffe is not playing Harry on stage and the difference between the two roles. If some choose to no longer support his career over this that is their choice. If anyone had reason to object it would have been Daniel's family and they obviously did not. I doubt this play appearance will affect the Potter brand all that much when it's all over... The series is just far too popular for that to happen.

RIP Sidney Sheldon (1917-2007)

Author and TV producer Sidney Sheldon passed away Tuesday afternoon of complications from pneumonia at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, his publicist Warren Cowan said, His wife, Alexandra, was by his side. Sheldon was 89 years old.

I will remember Mr. Sheldon most for his work in television. My late Mom was a big fan of both "I Dream of Jeannie" (1965-1970) and "The Patty Duke Show" (1963-1966) and I remember watching reruns of both series with her as a kid. Sheldon would also find success with the light-hearted drama series "Hart to Hart" (1979-1984), in which Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner played a wealthy married couple who solved crimes together.

Earlier in his career he wrote the screenplays for a host of films including the musicals Easter Parade (1948), Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Anything Goes (1956). He penned the comedy The Birds and the Bees (1956) and the popular You're Never Too Young (1955) He wrote produced and directed The Buster Keaton Story biopic (1957)

He won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 1947's The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.

Sheldon left TV and film behind at age 50 and went on to become a highly successful novelist...

For more on the life and career of Sidney Sheldon--Read the Entertainment Weekly tribute...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fighting AD-diction

Over the past decade or so, the Super Bowl has been a great forum in which movie studios can promote their upcoming releases. As one of the most watched television events of the year, the big game used to mean prime time exposure for all those Summer flicks waiting to be unleashed a few months later...This year, however, things are quite different.

Dade Hayes and Michael Learmonth of Variety:

Less than a week before the Super Bowl, only two movie ads are confirmed for the game -- a steep decline from last year, when eight pricey plugs yielded decidedly mixed results.

Neither of the pics is a summer release; summer movies have historically used the winter showcase as a launch pad.

Time has not run out on inventory, and network and studio execs said a couple of studios are in talks with CBS over the last remaining fourth-quarter spots. Those positions are usually the least watched, especially in a lopsided contest.

Universal, Sony and Warner Bros. have deliberately avoided the Chicago-Indianapolis matchup, diverting those millions in potential spending to targeted primetime berths. With record ratings for "American Idol" as well as strong new series from "Grey's Anatomy" to "Heroes," TV has lately provided prime opportunities.

The two studios that have locked down game time are Lionsgate and Disney.

Lionsgate is advertising for the Terrence Howard-Bernie Mac pic "Pride," about an inner-city teacher who turns troubled kids into champion swimmers. Lionsgate is planning a wide bow March 23.

Disney is advertising for "Wild Hogs," a comedy starring John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence that launches March 2.

Paramount is sponsoring an hour of the six-hour pregame show, a promotion for its Eddie Murphy film "Norbit." Sony, which in past years has taken a pre-game spot, has done so again this year for "Ghost Rider." Both pics are launching in February, and pregame ad time is considerably cheaper than during the game....

Pressures can be more concentrated in Hollywood. "The biggest nightmare with Super Bowl spots is telling other producers why you aren't buying ads on the game for their movies," noted one studio marketing vet.

Film marketers' jitters reflect wider concerns about capturing eyeballs as ad dollars gradually shift toward the Web. The Super Bowl is perhaps the last bona fide communal campfire, but viewers are often at large parties when watching, and many are overly saturated with lavishly produced, 30-second spots and the accompanying Ad Bowl sweepstakes.

Plus, many major summer titles, especially those bowing in May, are new editions in well-established franchises, so generating awareness is the last concern. Would a 30-second enticement for "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" or "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" yield more B.O. or would it just raise that always-bedeviling level of expectations?

Rates for the game's fourth quarter are typically steeply discounted, and CBS is giving big discounts for the last remaining national spots, in some cases cutting nearly a million off the $2.6 million asking price.

"We're very happy where we are right now; we have a couple of units left, but we are going to be sold out by game time," said CBS exec veep of sports sales John Bogusz.

The shift this year is interesting in historic terms. A decade ago, "Independence Day" was the only film advertised on the game. Its theatrical launch was monstrous, leading seven studios to take ads the following year. Studio spending has remained at a high level ever since, with film trailing only beer as a category.

Time Warner and Disney have been the fourth- and fifth-biggest advertisers in the Super Bowl over the last 20 years, spending $63.4 million and $43.5 million, respectively, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Since 1991, 87 pics have been advertised during the Super Bowl...

Article Continues...

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The reasoning behind the studios' decision to back away from the game--certainly makes sense. But as a film aficionado and fan, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed by the fact that none of the Summer 07 blockbusters will be representin' that day. I always look forward to seeing the cinema advertisements...

Maybe the lack of film ads is a good thing--considering that my team the Chicago Bears is going up against the favored Indianapolis Colts...I don't need the memory of any glossy film clips distracting me once the game comes back on...

Monday, January 29, 2007


Even though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had their back, that meant nothing to movie-goers, who were more interested in having a good laugh with their
popcorn instead.

Kal Penn and Darrell Hammond spoof Pirates 2 in Epic Movie

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

Opening well, 'Epic Movie' [in 1st place with $19.5 million] and Smokin' Aces [in 2nd with $14.2 million] overshadowed the Oscar nominees...

There's more Mojo. to be had...

Ian Mohr of Variety writes today:

"Epic Movie," Fox's slapsticky spoof of popular pics, handily topped the box office over the weekend. But there was also an epic battle further down the charts as high-end features tried to spin their Academy Awards nominations into added biz.

Some Oscar-nominated pics saw spikes in B.O., but others made more marginal plays despite their pedigrees.

Fox has had a run with comedy in recent months, with standouts including "Night at the Museum" and "Borat." Broad parody "Epic," made with Regency Enterprises, bowed at No. 1 with $19.5 million and was the frame's widest new release, in more than 2,800 locations.

Its take bested that of the studio's similarly silly "Date Movie," which rolled out around the same time last year to just more than $19 million.

Trailing at No. 2 was Universal's shoot-'em-up "Smokin' Aces." Helmer Joe Carnahan's actioner, released in 2,218 locations, lit up $14.26 million in its bow. Project was an acquisition -- backed by the Relativity and StudioCanal labels -- and its per-theater average of $6,430 almost caught that of "Epic," though its cume fell short.

In other wide studio rollouts, Sony's Jennifer Garner starrer "Catch and Release" bowed in the No. 4 slot, taking in $8 million off 1,622.

Per-location average was healthy, at $4,932, and aud was 75% female. But "Release" wasn't able to catch "Museum," which took third place with $9.45 million, lifting cume to $216.7 million.

MGM and Lakeshore's werewolf pic "Blood and Chocolate" didn't have much bite, taking in just $2.1 million from 1,200 theaters and failing to make the top 10...

Article Continues...

In his weekend wrap-up for Entertainment Weekly Joshua Rich says:

A low budget spoof tops the box office; meanwhile, Oscar contenders bring in disappointing numbers

"Sun" Screen

The 13th annual SAG Awards, honoring actors in both film and TV, took place last night in Los Angeles...

Forest Whitaker wins as best actor for his role in 'Last King of Scotland.'

Dave McNary of Variety filed this report on who won in the cinema categories:

...Fox Searchlight's offbeat family comedy won SAG's top trophy Sunday night, beating "Babel," "Bobby," "The Departed" and "Dreamgirls" for the ensemble prize at the 13th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium.

Victory places "Little Miss Sunshine" at the forefront of the best picture Oscar race, adding to the pic's momentum following its Jan. 20 Producers Guild of America win.

SAG has matched the Oscar best picture five times in 11 years, including last year, when "Crash" took both awards. With actors repping a quarter of voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the SAG Awards are a closely watched indicator of Oscar sentiment.

"I'd like to thank the engineers at Volkswagen for making a beautiful vehicle back in 1969 that was comfortable and so safe," said an elated Greg Kinnear in his acceptance speech, referring to the pic's trademark yellow minibus.

Helen Mirren took two trophies for playing British monarchs, winning the lead actress awards for Miramax's feature "The Queen" and HBO's telepic "Elizabeth I."

"Oh Lord, be still my beating heart," Mirren said in her acceptance for "The Queen."

She told the audience she wept on first seeing the sensible shoes and tweed skirts for the role, but added, "I learned to love the person who chooses to wear those clothes, because I learned to love a person without vanity but with a great sense of discipline that I understand. With a great sense of duty that I understand and with a great deal of courage that I understand."

SAG members also feted Forest Whitaker as feature actor for his portrayal of dictator Idi Amin in Fox Searchlight's "The Last King of Scotland."

Mirren and Whitaker both won Golden Globes and are widely regarded as front-runners for the Oscar.

The "Sunshine" victory underlined the wisdom of studio spending on screeners. Searchlight sent "Sunshine" screeners to all 110,000 SAG members -- at a cost of $5 per disc -- following the successful "Crash" strategy last year. SAG members also received screeners of Warner Bros.' "The Departed" and Miramax's "Venus." ...

..."Sunshine" won only the single trophy Sunday. In the supporting categories, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin -- who portrayed the grandfather-granddaughter combo in "Sunshine" -- lost out to the "Dreamgirls" duo of Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, who also won the Golden Globes earlier this month.

... Murphy began his acceptance speech in a British accent, then dropped it and explained he admired how smoothly English thesps handle such situations, adding, "And I feel goofy up here because I don't be winning stuff."

Newcomer Hudson gave an emotional acceptance speech, stressing the support of castmates, producer Laurence Mark and director Bill Condon -- "for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. ... Thank you for noticing little old me." ...

...Julie Andrews received a lifetime achievement award at the ceremonies and singled out "main squeeze" and spouse Blake Edwards. She evoked big laughs by saying, "I guess I have one tiny complaint: When he directs me in a love scene, he's quite likely to say, 'Well, that was fine, darling, but I know you can do better.'

Article Continues ...

Congrats to the cast of Little Miss Sunshine on their big win against some pretty stiff competition...The best part of the evening though for me --the tribute given to Julie Andrews and her acceptance speech. What a class act.

Here are last night's winners and a few Backstage Notes. from the event...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The "Dance" Finals

The 2007 Sundance Film Festival came to an end last night in Park City Utah...Adam B. Vary of Entertainment Weekly reports on this year's award winners:

Political films take Sundance's top prizes...

Movies dealing with the Iraq war, international corruption, and immigration win jury awards in the feature and documentary categories

The issues of the day were clearly on the minds of Sundance 2007's audiences and juries, as they collectively awarded some of the most topical films at the festival. Padre Nuestro, a dark thriller about two young Mexican men smuggled into New York City, won the feature grand jury prize at the festival, the second Mexican-themed film in a row to win the festival's top prize (last year's winner was the sweet-15 film Quinceañera).

Director and screenwriter of "Padre Nuestro," Christopher Zalla, left, accepts the grand-jury prize for best U.S. drama for the film during the Sundance Film Festival Awards Night on Jan. 27 as Sundance Festival Director Geoff Gilmore joins him on stage in Park City, Utah.

Grace Is Gone, a drama starring John Cusack as a father facing the daunting task of telling his two young daughters that their mother was killed in the Iraq war, won the coveted audience award, voted on by practically every person who saw the eligible films during the 10-day festival. Grace Is Gone writer-director James C. Strouse also won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

Feature documentary Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), which explores a vast network of corruption, kidnapping, and money-laundering frog farms in modern Brazil, took home the U.S. documentary jury prize. No End in Sight was awarded a special jury prize for its probing insight into the failures of the Bush administration's Iraq war policies. The film's director, Charles Ferguson, emphasized in his acceptance speech that he did not wish to make a political film, but he won thunderous applause by concluding with the statement that ''it might be too late for Iraq, but I hope it isn't too late for this country to conduct itself differently in the future.''...

I grant you, the situation in Iraq is not good at the moment, but who's to say it can't improve...or won't. And for Ferguson to say he hopes it's not too late for this country....just how bad is it in the US right now Chuck? I wonder what he would have said in his acceptance speech if a Democrat were in office and had authorized troops in Iraq?


Steven Zeitchik and Pamela McClintock of Variety report on some of the deals that were made while the festival was still in full swing in Delirious deals and deals aplenty...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sequel Stew

This latest edition of Cinema Stew provides updates on a some very popular film franchises

Stax of Filmforce starts us off with a controversy over the script for Rob Zombie's updated Halloween flick.

Although casting was under way and the commencement of principal photography in California was imminent, filmmaker Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween has reportedly been delayed while the screenplay is reworked.

The brouhaha supposedly began when Ain't It Cool News panned a draft of Zombie's script, which caused Zombie to retort on his
My Space blog: "I notice that so many people get crazy when someone you don't even know posts an opinion about what they think Halloween will or won't be. This is crazy. Do you really go through life influenced by the thoughts of others that easily? Anyway, things change so much in a movie, from moment to moment, from second to second that all I can say is : see it for yourself and figure out if you like it or not."

Bloody-Disgusting now reports that "what we've heard from industry buzz is that after the online fiasco, shock-rocker Rob Zombie is going back to the script and doing more re-writes, thus pushing the shoot back a bit, thus forcing the release back from its August 31st date. We've called people on all fronts and can't get a straight answer, so I guess only time will tell the truth."

The site adds that Lindy Booth (Wrong Turn) and Agnes Bruckner (The Woods) are in the running to play main character Laurie Strode... if and when filming actually happens

I have read the script review posted by Quint over at AICN, and assuming his information is correct...I gotta be honest and say that as major fan of the 1978 classic, I was disappointed by Zombie's take on the story as written and welcome the rewrite...

Actor Dylan Baker is talking about his character's return in Spider-Man 3 and the future of the superhero series to IF Magazine (report via Dark Horizons)

Hanging Out In Spider-Man 3

...Baker has played Dr. Curt Conners in the past two films, a small role but one many have been waiting to see turn into the villainous The Lizard.

Baker confirms that "I am in SPIDER-MAN 3, and my wife Becky Ann Baker is also in the movie, she plays James Cromwell's wife and Bryce Dallas Howard's mother".

Don't expect the Lizard to show up this time though - "In this one I am still in my business suit and that's all I'll say. I'm kind of the guy that Peter Parker needs to come to whenever he has those quandaries about what's going on... All I can say is we're going to see a lot more of [me] at some point if what [director Sam Raimi] says is true, and Sam is the guy who knows, so I am sticking with him."

Would he be up for playing the Lizard? "Oh yeah [I'd be up for that]. I'm friends with Alfred Molina and I just saw him the other day and he had so much fun doing Doc Ock, that for me it's a no-brainer. So, put it in [the movie] and let's go".

Speaking of the possibility more Spidey flicks...

Michael Fleming of Variety writes:

Shortly after getting their first look at "Spider-Man 3," Columbia Pictures execs have begun negotiating with David Koepp to pen the script for a fourth installment of the franchise.

Koepp, who most recently wrote the draft of a fourth "Indiana Jones" project that got George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford to reteam for Paramount, scripted the 2002 Spidey film that launched the studio's most lucrative franchise.

Alvin Sargent scripted the second and third installments; all the pics in the Marvel Comics franchise were directed by Sam Raimi.

"Spider-Man 3" bows on May 4, with Thomas Haden Church playing Sandman and Topher Grace as Venom. Laura Ziskin produces with Avi Arad and Grant Curtis.

[Columbia] is just beginning the process of development on the fourth Spidey pic -- a pricey exercise since new deals will have to be made with Tobey Maguire, Kirstin Dunst and James Franco, along with Raimi if he decides to return to direct a fourth film.

The studio would release the pic in 2009 or 2010.

The first two movies had a combined worldwide gross north of $1 billion.

Koepp got the Spidey movies off to a great start and I look forward to seeing what his talents as a writer bring us in Indiana Jones 4. If anyone can pull that script off--Koepp can. Leading me to this last blurb...

Sir Sean Connery has confirmed he is considering returning to the silver screen to reprise one of his most popular roles in Indiana Jones 4.

The actor told UK Teletext he will read the script for the fourth movie and, if he likes what he sees, will appear once more as Indiana's father, Dr Henry Jones.

Connery said: "At the moment there's nothing decided. I haven't got the script. Everything depends on the script."

"We are writing him in whether he wants to do it or not," Lucas said on an American TV show recently.

I hope Connery decides to do Indy 4--He was a huge reason that The Last Crusade worked as well as it did--and this latest chapter just wouldn't be the same without him.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Paved With Gold

Forget the 4 new films opening today at the cineplex...This weekend--It's all about OSCAR and how well the recent nominees will do that has the number crunchers curiosity piqued.

The 4 flicks hoping some of Oscar's gold will rub off in terms of $$ include: The comedy spoof Epic Movie (reviews) that pokes fun at blockbusters past and present; The multiple hit man hunting one elusive target actioner Smokin' Aces (reviews); The romantic dramedy Catch and Release (reviews) starring Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant from writer/director Susannah Grant; Blood and Chocolate (reviews) is based on the popular book by Annette Curtis Klause.

Ian Mohr and Dave McNary of Variety have a cinematic overview of the weekend

Will a slew of expanding Oscar nominees put the squeeze on new releases at the B.O. this weekend?

With distributors fired up by their recently announced noms, pics including "Dreamgirls," "The Departed" and "Babel" will all make aggressive moves to grab the spotlight from new fare. Also expanding and making the movie market even tighter will be Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth," Fox Searchlight's "Notes on a Scandal" and Sony Classics' "Volver," all Oscar nommed as well.

But away from such high-end fare and aiming for more mainstream auds will be wide studio releases "Epic Movie" (Fox), "Smokin' Aces" (Universal) and "Catch and Release" (Sony).

Even with the firepower of noms behind them, the Oscar faves could have some hurdles in their way.

Warner Bros.' "Departed" -- which relaunches this weekend in 1,453 locations -- has already taken in $121.8 million. It remains to be seen how many more available fans the violent, R-rated pic can reel in.

Paramount and DreamWorks' "Dreamgirls," meanwhile, was showered with Oscar noms, but not for best pic or director. Being overlooked in those key categories could detract from interest. The musical heads from 2,214 locations to 2,785. It has taken in $79.3 million in six weeks of release.

Par Vantage's starry ensembler "Babel," which will expand to 1,090 locales from 889, has found much critical praise but hasn't yet been able to ignite auds. R-rated pic has taken in less than $25 million since its bow in late October. It was generating a per-playdate average of just $2,331 in its last frame, but its seven noms could add some heat this weekend.

Among new rollouts, Fox will go widest with "Epic Movie," the comedy from "Scary Movie" franchise scribes Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Rolling out in just over 2,800 theaters, pic will skew toward young males.

Also trying to bring in that demo will be Universal shoot-'em-up "Smokin' Aces." Pic from "Narc" helmer Joe Carnahan will hit 2,204.

Sony's "Catch and Release," starring Jennifer Garner as a woman dealing with the death of her fiance, rolls into 1,622, aimed at a female aud.

MGM also has a new wide rollout in "Blood and Chocolate," a werewolf pic from "Iron Jawed Angels" helmer Katja von Garnier.

On the specialty circuit, the Weinstein Co. rolls out Anthony Minghella's "Breaking and Entering" in limited release, while Samuel Goldwyn bows "Seraphim Falls," a Western starring Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson.

But the specialty circuit, too, is clogged with pics that have received Oscar attention, including "Last King of Scotland" and "The Queen."

Article Continues...

Over at Entertainment Weekly, in his latest weekend report, Joshua Rich says:

The blockbuster-skewering spoof should hit No. 1 ahead of Jennifer Garner's ''Catch and Release''

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Junk Yard "Dog"?

Not every film playing at this year's Sundance Film Festival is getting a warm reception. In fact, for all of the controversy and buzz that surrounded Hounddog--which features the rape of Dakota Fanning's character, it turns out the film's tough subject matter is the least of its problems. And the flick has plenty of noteworthy company in duds ville...

Roger Friedman of Fox News writes in his daily 411 column:

"Hounddog," the simply awful movie in which 12-year-old Dakota Fanning’s character is raped, has no buyers.

"No one wants it after the terrible reviews," one distributor told me, just as we were sitting down to see another disaster, J.P. Schaefer’s "Chapter 27."

Indeed, the people associated with The Weinstein Company, IFC Films and First Look were among those who instantly agreed that they had no interest in "Hounddog."

At this rate, this exercise in bad taste may wind up being a DVD collector’s item. Same thing for "Chapter 27," from which many fled before it ended in the two audiences that have seen it.

Meanwhile, the producers of "Hounddog" trotted out Fanning yesterday to defend the film in places like USA Today and at another press conference.

It’s come to that, apparently. The people who should be answering questions, however, are Fanning’s parents, and the parents of the other children in the film.

Indeed, 12-year-old Cody Hanford, who plays Fanning’s boyfriend in the provocative and poorly written outing, may actually become more of the focus than even the star.

In the film, his character lures Fanning’s into a barn and then watches as she’s raped. Hanford and Fanning also have numerous kissing scenes, some in which they’re half-dressed

Yesterday, Variety’s Todd McCarthy was one of several reviewers who echoed my complaints about the hoary plot, terrible dialogue and clichés marking every scene.

With the above-mentioned distributors out, it’s unlikely now that any major buyer will take "Hounddog." And that’s just as well, considering that its release is sure to spark more outrage, protests and calls for investigations.

The strange part is that, in the long run, the movie itself is only offensive because it’s so bad. The real culprits aren’t the filmmakers, but the parents of the young actors.

Yesterday I spoke to Joy Pervis, the Atlanta agent who discovered Dakota and her sister, Elle. She’s since signed Cody and Isabelle Fuhrmann, the other child in the film.

Pervis told me she’s basically in favor of the film and trusts the Fannings’ judgment. "They’re a good Christian family," she said.

But plenty of publicists who’ve worked on movies with either Fanning girl have stories about their mother, Joy.

"She’s a real stage mother," one of them said at the screening. "The negotiations just go on and on."

But back to "Hounddog." Since I am one of the few who’ve actually seen it, let me explain something important. There is no point that I can find to the child’s rape.

Once it happens, it’s never discussed. The culprit is never accused or apprehended. The child never tells her story to anyone. There’s no great moment of revelation that could possibly help someone who’s watching the film. It’s simply there for shock value

The fact that [writer/director Deborah] Kampmeier and the producers have somehow conned rape-assistance groups into using the movie as a public-service announcement is bizarre to me. But I guess it’s no more bizarre than using Dakota Fanning as the public defender of the indefensible.

Wow! It sounds like Hounddog is a film more concerned with shock schlock than carrying an important message--let alone entertaining an audience. It says a lot that not one distributor at the fest will touch the film.

Hedging Their Bets

With the 2008 race for president off and running, Hollywood has decided to jump in, throwing it's support behind the various candidates--particularly (but not surprisingly) for those running for the Democratic nomination..
New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (Pictured Above) and Illinois Senator Barack Obama seemed to have garnered the most attention from Tinseltown thus far.

Both the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign have already lined up a few (preliminary) endorsements and big fundraisers on Dream Factory soil

Ted Johnson of Variety has the details:

The blooming presidential campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have set fund-raising swings through Los Angeles, as they tap entertainment industry donors in what will be a frenetic race for campaign money.

The DreamWorks trio of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen sent out hundreds of invitations Wednesday for a Feb. 20 fund-raising reception for Obama's exploratory committee. The $2,300-per-person event, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, will be followed by a private dinner at Geffen's home for Obama's fund- raising co-chairs. The latter are those who commit to raising $46,000 each for the evening.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign is planning a big gala on March 24, at a venue such as a hotel in the Beverly Hills area. That will be preceded by a visit on Feb. 11, when Clinton is planning to hold meet-and-greets at the homes of investment banker Sim Farar and of entertainment industry mogul Haim Saban. The meet-and-greets are for fund-raiser/donors who each commit to raising at least $25,000. Clinton also plans another visit to meet with donors in late Feb.

"She will be talking about her race: 'I'm in, and I'm in to win,'" said Farar, echoing the catchphrase Clinton used Saturday in announcing the formation of an exploratory committee.

One fund-raiser/donor described the method of raising money as akin to setting up Amway distributorships. Because each donor is limited to giving at most $4,600 per candidate per election cycle, a pyramid-like network of key fund-raisers is required to round up contributions.

As such, the process of organizing the events is said to be a balancing act of egos and logistics -- what one fund-raiser called "organized chaos." Holding the Clinton event in a hotel, for instance, saves the campaign from having to soothe the inevitable animosities that would develop if one donor's home is picked for a fete over another.

Democratic candidates' competition to raise money in Hollywood is shaping up to be even more intense this election cycle, with so many in the race and with the huge sums needed to remain viable.

Many campaigns are trying to set up events in advance of the March 31 deadline for filing the first-quarter campaign-finance reports. When made public, these reports will show how each has done in meeting fund-raising goals.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the first Democrat to declare, visited Tuesday and Wednesday and had meetings with such industry figures as William Morris chief Jim Wiatt, and he is planning further visits. John Edwards, who spoke at a reception at Endeavor earlier this month, is planning another visit in February.

Many in the industry are likely to contribute to multiple candidates and then wait to see who remains later in the year how the candidates come out on certain issues.

"If you are a big donor, you are likely to have a personal relationship with multiple candidates," said political and fund-raising consultant Noah Mamet. "I've told donors, 'It's OK to choose multiple candidates. You don't have to choose just one if you like more than one.' "

Katzenberg has endorsed Obama, after having contributed in the past to Clinton's Senate campaign and her leadership PAC.

Obama At The 2004 Democratic National Convention

But just because someone is holding a fund-raiser doesn't necessarily mean he will, in the end, endorse that candidate.

Geffen, who has not been very active in political fund raising since Bill Clinton was president, has not made any official statement on whom he will endorse, a spokesman said, even though his enthusiasm for Obama has been widely reported. And Spielberg has not yet made a decision, as he also has personal relationships with [Candidate John] Edwards and Clinton.

"Steven will make a determination in a few months," said political consultant Andy Spahn, who represents Spielberg and Katzenberg and was a key figure in setting up the Obama event.

One entertainer wasted little time in giving to Clinton; the money came via delivery late Saturday night. "The first donation we received in California was from Elizabeth Taylor," Farar said. "It was for the maximum amount."

If only these huge political donations could somehow be used to ensure better movies instead...I think the film-going public would be a lot better off if that were the case.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Dance"-ing With The Stars

It's been quite the first few days at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival as these various reports will illustrate:

First up are Steven Zeitchik and Pamela McClintock from Variety with the early deals:

Fox Searchlight outbid other distribs, ponying up $5 million for Keri Russell starrer 'Waitress.'

After a somewhat sleepy start, Sundance surged to life Monday as lucrative deals for pics began to pour in, with Fox Searchlight spending a reported $10 million in less than 24 hours on a pair of films.

At least a half dozen seven-figure deals closed between Sunday and Monday evening....

The sudden surge in heftier deals took many execs by surprise after early buzz on the festival indicated a dearth of crossover films.

"Because there are a lot fewer good movies that have rights available at a festival, it drives the prices of the good ones up," said one well-known exec. "The hunger for product is bigger than ever."

In her first Sundance acquisition, Warner Independent Pictures [president] Polly Cohen plunked down $4 million for North American, U.K. and Teutonic rights to upbeat Brenda Blethyn starrer "Clubland," directed by Cherie Nowlan and penned by Keith Thompson.

Some considered the deal the richest yet of the fest, since it was only for three territories. Deal was struck with London-based Goalpost Films' Tristan Whalley and Nicki Parfitt, who have sold or are close to selling off other key territories, including Benelux to A Film, Italy to Lucky Red and France to Wild Bunch.

William Morris Independent's Rena Ronson led the negotiations for her team. Taking the lead for Warner Independent was senior VP of production and acquisitions Paul Federbush.

Two of the biggest buys of the day came from Searchlight. The Peter Rice-led division scooped up rights to "Waitress," written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelley...

News came a few hours after Searchlight disclosed it had bought "Joshua," a thriller set amid a Manhattan family, which preemed in the coveted slot after "Grace Is Gone" Saturday. Price is reported to be about $4 million for worldwide rights.

Searchlight has been the biggest spender at the fest, but its investments can be funded by lucrative international TV output deals, essentially bringing down the cost of acquisitions...

ThinkFilm laid down $2 million for all North American rights except TV for "In the Shadow of the Moon," outbidding Warner Independent and several other buyers.

David Sington pic examines the Apollo mission using rarely seen NASA footage of space...

Also on Monday, buyers were circling Spanish-language fave "La misma luna," and insiders expected bidding to climb into seven figures as well.

And buyers had heavy anticipation for "Son of Rambow," Garth Jennings' '80s period story about a boy cut off from pop culture.

Earlier buzz titles, including "Snow Angels," "The Good Life" and "The Ten," had yet to find buyers by Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, the Weinstein Co. and Lions gate pacted to buy "Teeth" for a reported $1 million

More deals at Sundance...

Here are more reports from the Fest via Entertainment Weekly

And then there's the controversial documentary Zoo that's got many folks all in a tizzy and then some:

The film takes on the tough subject of bestiality...The director of the movie Robinson Devor says 'ZOO' is neither graphic nor exploitative'...

If that were not enough, there's also the controversy over the movie Hounddog featuring the on screen rape of the character played by pre-teen star Dakota Fanning...Whew!!!

While I myself do not endorse Zoo--I see it as a free speech issue--Each side is entitled to their support or detraction. The same goes for Hounddog--If Fanning's parents didn't object to what went on...I've always said, if you don't like something don't support it...Yes it is that simple.

...When I read this last item I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants...The headline alone...BWAHAHA...

Cage Confirmed As Liberace Favorite

Nicolas Cage has been confirmed as the favorite to play camp showman Liberace in a new movie musical. The actor has been linked to the role for years, but now screenwriters Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have confirmed Cage is in talks to show off his musical skills as the late pianist.

Speaking at the Sundance Film Festival, where the writers are promoting their new comedy Epic Movie, Seltzer says, "We met with Nicolas Cage last year and he really wanted to star in it; he wanted to direct himself in it too."

Cage....You've got to be kidding! Act and direct....Sheesh!!

Reaction And Inaction

Coverage leading up to the 79th Annual Academy Awards continues...

Jeff Sneider and Jill Feiwell of Variety have compiled a heap of reactions from this year's nominees. Here's a sample of what some of them had to say:

"I'm very surprised," said "Half Nelson's" Ryan Gosling. "I was convinced that it wasn't gonna happen, and I knew that my manager was up watching TV, so I called her to try and make her feel better, and before I could say, 'I told you not to be disappointed,' she said, 'What do you mean, they haven't announced it yet.'

"Then I heard this huge squeal and car crash out my window. I went to have a look and saw that a cop on a bike had been hit and thrown into the middle of the intersection. Before (the nomination) settled in, I had to watch this poor guy get put into an ambulance.

"It was on the news a little later and he only broke an arm, so it turned out to be a good day for both of us, but the polar extreme of that moment for him and I left me speechless for a little while."

"My wife and I snuck downstairs while the kids were asleep and we watched it together on TV," said "An Inconvenient Truth helmer Davis Guggenheim. "Al (Gore) and I had a nice talk and he's over the moon. It's exciting that he's going to be recognized, and when he walks down the red carpet next month, it's going to be a hero's walk. He's tried to tell this story for almost 40 years, and now people are finally listening."

"I'm not sure what it is, but I seem to be having a pretty good day," exclaimed "Little Children"'s Jackie Earle Haley.

"Needless to say, I did a little tossing and turning last night. My wife, Amelia, got up early and I was pretending to sleep. She came into the bed-room screaming and crying and absolutely beside herself yelling, 'You got it, you got it!' I was totally overwhelmed with emotion. We just held each other and cried and shared the experience.

"With everything I've been through and experienced, for the Academy to vote and include me, it's a wonderful, validating feeling."...

"I'm extremely batty. I hope this nomination will drive audiences to see the film. It deserves to be seen. That's why you make films," said "Babel" screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga.

"When I was 9 years old, I used to practice my 'I'd like to thank...' speech in front of my brothers with a Coke bottle (as a mic). I hope to do it for real this year."...

Now that he has the supporting actor nomination in the bag, Mark Wahlberg said that his Tuesday afternoon golf game with brother Paul would likely curry favor to his older sibling.

"He may beat me today as I'm not too concerned about golf," "The Departed" star said. Of his nomination, Wahlberg said the real sweet spot was making mom and dad proud. "I was able to put my real-life experiences with the Boston Police to good use after all," he said. "After all the torture I have put them through, to know they cried happy tears today. I'll think about that for a while."

“I am very pleased that ‘The Departed’ has been honored with five nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. I am particularly happy that the hard work of the entire cast and crew has been rewarded with a Best Picture nomination and that the specific contributions of Mark Wahlberg, our screenwriter William Monahan, and my longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker have been recognized with nominations as well," said Martin Scorsese, Best Director nominee for “The Departed”

Helen Mirren phoned from the set of "Inkheart," and had just wrapped a scene in which the characters get showered by gold coins from above. It, she said, "was very appropriate."

Retelling her tale of nomination morning, she added: "My heart started pounding. I was on hold with the 'Today' show -- they had me on the line in case I was nominated -- and doing a Sudoku puzzle.

"I thought this is going to be so embarrassing if I'm not nominated, because there's always doubt. When you've had a career as long and wonderful as I have, there are ups and downs and disappointments. You get used to them. You can't let them influence your life and work too much." ...

Forest Whitaker plans to celebrate his actor nomination by taking his wife out for a night of dinner and dancing. Thesp is in Gotham to promote "Last King of Scotland," just going into wide release.

"I worked hard on this character and put so much of my spirit and soul into it," he said. "Now let's fill those theater seats." ...

"I can't remember who told me because I was in the middle of shooting 'The Bourne Ultimatum'" said "United 93" director Paul Greengrass.

"I'm very proud to represent those families and those who played a part in 9/11, from the air traffic controllers to law enforcement officials.

"You can never escape the tragedy of what happened and the enduring pain, and of course, there are great questions and challenges that remain with us in the wake of those events.

"You have to take this nomination with humility in the face of those events."

"The Pursuit of Happyness" actor contender Will Smith, who is on location in Gotham lensing "I Am Legend," said: "Congratulations to all of the nominees. It is a great honor to be considered among this caliber of performers. No competition, all celebration. Let the parties begin." ...

Read more nomination reactions...

Meanwhile, fellow Variety scribe Timothy M. Gray reports on all of the Oscar snubs

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Early this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced nominations for the 79th Annual Academy Awards...

Timothy M. Gray of Variety:

Oscar took a world view in nominations for the 79th annual Academy Awards, with foreign-language work strongly represented in a roster filled with surprises. No. 1 on that list of surprises is "Dreamgirls," the noms leader with eight bids that failed to make it into the best picture race.

Best picture contenders are Paramount-Paramount Vantage's "Babel," with seven noms; Warner Bros.' "The Departed" (five); WB's "Letters From Iwo Jima" (four); Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine" (four) and Miramax-Pathe-Granada's "The Queen" (six).

Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth" earned six; WB's "Blood Diamond" earned five.

The wealth was spread wide. Voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences threw a lot of surprises into a race that had begun to seem formulaic this season.

The surprises included the "Dreamgirls" omission; Acad officials could not remember when a film had led the noms without a best picture bid, but it certainly goes back to the early days of the Academy, when the 1932 "Grand Hotel," for example, won the top prize but earned no other nominations.

The nominees in the acting categories typify the catholic tastes of voters this year. The 20 thesps include five blacks, two Lati-nas and one Japanese actress (including three foreign-language performances) in categories that were all-Caucasian (and all English-language) for decades. (This year's lineup breaks the records of 2003 and '04, when there were five non-Caucasians nommed.)

Two of the best pic nominees break the English-only domination of the best film race: "Babel," in four languages (including English) and the Japanese-language "Iwo Jima." Before Tuesday's announcement, only seven foreign-language films had been nommed for the top prize.

The strong showing for Mexico's "Labyrinth" points up the Spanish-language triumphs. Guillermo del Toro, writer-helmer of the pic, was recognized for his script, while his friends and fellow Mexican helmers Alberto Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron, also saw recognition for their films. Inarritu was nommed as director for "Babel", while Cuaron received a screenplay nom for "Children of Men," which is up for three awards. In addition, Sony Pictures Classics' "Volver" received its sole bid for Penelope Cruz's performance, and Buena Vista's Mayan-language "Apocalypto" scored three bids in technical categories...

On nomination day, it seems odd to dwell on what wasn't nominated, but the "Dreamgirls" omission means a further break in Oscar tradition. In 16 of the past 20 years, the film with the most noms went on to win best picture. But the trend is reversing, with the top nom-getter winning only twice in the last five years...

Final ballots will be mailed Jan. 31 and are due Feb. 20. Oscars will be held at the Kodak Theater on Feb. 25.

Article Continues...

Here's the complete nominations list...

Some things that jump out at me:

Dreamgirls leads the nominations pack but misses out on Best Picture and Best Director for Bill Condon.

United 93's Paul Greengrass probably took the Best Director spot reserved for Condon; While Little Miss Sunshine likely sneaked in for Dreamgirls Best Picture spot.

Leonardo DiCaprio and his bad accent in Blood Diamond get noticed over his turn in The Departed for Best Actor; While his Departed co-star Mark Wahlberg gets the only acting nod in the Best Supporting category for that film. Wow!

Meryl Streep is spotlighted for Best Actress with her turn in the comedy The Devil Wears Prada.

Golden Globe winner as Best Foreign Film Letters from Iwo Jima gets noticed over its companion flick The Flags Of Our Fathers--which is shut out completely.

It's a re-match between Superman Returns and the Pirates of the Caribbean--this time fighting it out for a Best VFX Oscar...

I'll have more to say about OSCAR as the ceremony approaches.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Razzie Dazzle

Amid all of the usual glitz and glad-handing that the film award season offers, I have to say that the one event I look forward to as much (if not more) than the Academy Awards are the Razzie Awards. The organization honors the worst movies of the year and today, they announced their coveted nominations for 2006:

David Germain, movie writer for the Associated Press has the details on the honorees:

At least someone was happy Sharon Stone reprised her notorious femme-fatale role with "Basic Instinct 2."

The box-office bomb received seven nominations Monday for the Razzie Awards that mock the bottom of Hollywood's barrel, among them worst picture and worst actress of the year.

Also receiving seven nominations was the Wayans brothers comedy "Little Man," about a thief posing as a baby, including worst picture and director for Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Shawn and Marlon Wayans shared a worst-actor nomination, while sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff shared a worst-actress nomination for "Material Girls."

"We stuck the siblings together to allow room for more dreck," said Razzies founder John Wilson.

The other worst-picture nominees were the fantasies "BloodRayne" and "Lady in the Water" and the thriller "The Wicker Man."

Winners will be announced Feb. 24, the day before the Academy Awards.

Joining Stone and the Duffs in the worst-actress category were Lindsay Lohan for "Just My Luck," Kristanna Loken for "BloodRayne" and Jessica Simpson for "Employee of the Month."

Stone previously won a Razzie as worst-actress for 1994's "The Specialist" and "Intersection."

"She's what we call a Razzie repeat offender. Perhaps even a recidivist," Wilson said.

"Basic Instinct 2" also had a nomination for worst screen couple for Stone's "lopsided breasts."

Also nominated were co-star David Thewlis for worst supporting actor and the movie's director, Michael Caton-Jones.

Along with the Wayans, "Little Man" co-star Rob Schneider had a worst-actor nomination.

The other nominees were Tim Allen for "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," "The Shaggy Dog" and "Zoom"; Nicolas Cage for "The Wicker Man"; and Larry the Cable Guy for "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector."

The Razzies added a new category, worst excuse for family entertainment. The nominees were "Deck the Halls," "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," "RV," "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" and "The Shaggy Dog."

The big surprise for Wilson was that all-time Razzies champ Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky Balboa" was not nominated. Stallone, who has 30 Razzie nominations and 10 wins, surprised many skeptics by delivering a sequel that was well received by audiences and earned better-than-expected reviews.

"At the first of the year, you could not have convinced me it wasn't going to be a Razzie contender," Wilson said. "I would like to publicly say that Stallone has made a good movie."

Director Michael Caton-Jones tried really hard to make Basic Instinct 2 a serious follow-up to the 1992 hit...Too bad Sharon Stone haming it up got in the way. The film definitely gets my vote as the year's worst. I have family members that swear Little Man and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector are at least good for a laugh. I wouldn't know...Lady in the Water had water-logged reviews and sank at the box office...Nicolas Cage gets my vote as worst actor for his entire career...I would say that the Razzie staff did a great job this year with their picks...

"Stomp" Wins By A Yard

The weekend results of the latest Cineplex Derby proved quite scary for the only new film on the block...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo kicks things off:

The Hitcher fell under the thumb [#4 $8.2 million] of Stomp The Yard [#1 with $13.3 million] and Night At The Museum, [#2 with $13 million] while Oscar hopefuls Pan's Labyrinth [# 7 with $4.7 million] and The Queen [#9 with $3.6 million] expanded significantly...

Get more Mojo right here

Ben Fritz writes in Variety:

'Stomp the Yard' remained in the top spot.

"Stomp the Yard" and "Night at the Museum" stayed atop the box office on a crowded weekend that featured over half a dozen awards contenders expanding in between the Golden Globes and Tuesday's Oscar nominations.

More of the indie kudos contenders did solid, if unspectacular business. Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth" proved particularly strong, while "Babel" didn't get much of a boost from its Golden Globes win.

Rogue's thriller "The Hitcher," only wide opener of the frame, grossed a soft $8.2 million.

Sony's college dancing pic "Stomp" declined 39% to stay atop the rankings with $13.3 million. Per theater average was a healthy $6,485.

"Museum," meanwhile, dropped just 24%, coming in close behind with $13 million. Fox's family juggernaut passed the $200 million mark domestically.

Par and Dreamworks' "Dreamgirls" added 307 theaters after its Globes victory for comedy/musical pic and saw a 4% boost in b.o. Tuner came in third with $8.7 million, bringing its cume to $78.1 million.

Losing the Golden Globe for best foreign language film didn't hurt "Pan's Labyrinth."

Picturehouse more than tripled the print count for Guilllermo Del Toro's fantasy tale to 609 and grossed an impressive $4.7 million. Per play average of $7,758 was the strongest of the expanding indie pics.

Cume is $10.2 million. Picturehouse topper Bob Berney predicted that it has a shot to become the highest grossing Spanish language film of all time. Current record holder is "Like Water for Chocolate" with $21.7 million.

"We opened well in markets like Knoxville and Columbia, South Carolina," he noted. "The film is connecting on a story level and the language isn't an issue."

Picturehouse will add about 200 more plays for "Labyrinth" next weekend.

Miramax's "The Queen" went wide for the first time on its 17th frame after Helen Mirren won the best actress Globe. Biopic took $3.7 million at 1,586, averaging $2,333 per play.

Domestic cume is now $35.8 million. Despite winning the top trophy at the Globes, "Babel" only grossed a so-so $2.3 million as Par Vantage expanded it from 173 to 889 plays. Per theater average was $2,569 and cume is now $23.9 million. Fox Searchlight's "The Last King of Scotland" went from four to 495 following Forrest Whitaker's best actor win at the Globes and grossed $1.8 million, or $3,545 per theater. Cume is $5.4 million.

Warner Bros. took "Letters from Iwo Jima," which won the foreign language kudos at the Globes, from 35 theaters up to 360 and grossed $1.5 million, or $4,211 per play. Total domestic take is now $2.6 million.

Studio plans to expand the Clint Eastwood-helmed Japanese language World War II drama to about 1300 plays on Friday.

"Notes on a Scandal" grossed $1.2 million, or $6,150 per play, at 200 engagements. Cume is $6 million. Fox Searchlight expands the British drama to 600 theaters Friday.

"Hitcher" is the second consecutive disappointing bow for a thriller, following Disney's "Primeval," which opened to $6 million last weekend and tumbled 70% this frame...

Article Continues...

In his weekend wrap-up Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly writes:

Dancing frat daddies take the No. 1 spot for the second weekend in a row; meanwhile, the new horror flick ''The Hitcher'' fails to match its gross predictions...

...Hey, did you know that the Chicago Bears are going up against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XL I on Sunday February 4th, 2007? It's been 21 years since the team made it this far!! Congratulations on a great game yesterday!!! NOW, IT'S ON TO THE SUNSHINE STATE...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Produce Stand

With the Academy Award nominations just two days away, the Producers Guild of America has chosen its favorite films of the past year...

Dave McNary of Variety writes:

In an unpredictable turn in the wide-open awards season, the Producers Guild of America has tapped offbeat family comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" as winner of its top feature film award over "Babel," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen."

The PGA, based on voting by its 3,300 members, gave its Darryl F. Zanuck trophy to "Sunshine" producers Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa in ceremonies Saturday night at the Century Plaza. The award, presented by Tom Cruise, was only the second comedy ever chosen by the PGA, joining "Forrest Gump."

With a $12 million price tag, "Sunshine" was the lowest-cost of the nominees for the PGA award. Fox Searchlight acquired the pic -- starring Alan Arkin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Van Breslin, Steve Carrell and Paul Dano as a dysfunctional family -- at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

In his acceptance speech, Turtletaub singled out Michael Arndt's screenplay and said the key scene in making him decide to back the project came when he read about the grandfather advising his grandson to have sex with a lot of women -- "I mean, like a thousand."

"Thank you Michael," he added. "Without your wonderful screenplay, with equal parts of humor, heart and wisdom, none of us would be here tonight."

The PGA win for "Little Miss Sunshine" -- a surprise success first released during the summer with domestic grosses hitting nearly $60 million -- gives it significant awards season momentum as the PGA winner has matched the Best Picture Oscar winner 11 times in 17 years. However, the orgs differed last year with the PGA choosing "Brokeback Mountain" and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences going with "Crash" and in 2005 with "The Aviator" winning at the PGA and "Million Dollar Baby" winning the Best Picture Oscar.

"Little Miss Sunshine" hadn't been seen as frontrunner recently, thanks to "Babel" and "Dreamgirls” taking the Golden Globes for best drama and best comedy/musical, respectively. "Babel," "Dreamgirls," "The Departed" and "Sunshine" have all been nominated for the DGA award for director, the WGA for script and the SAG award for top ensemble.

If "Sunshine" receives an Oscar nom for Best Picture on Tuesday, the exec committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will then have to eliminate at least two of the five producers from being credited due to the AMPAS requirement limiting the number of producers to three. The PGA, which formally advises AMPAS on producer credits, has no limit on the number of producers that can be credited although it's been attempting to cut down on the proliferation of credits.

The PGA's determination of credits last year on "Crash," which named only Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, provoked a lawsuit against the PGA and AMPAS from financier Bob Yari. A judge dismissed the suit last month.

Yerxa, in his acceptance speech, thanked the PGA for giving all five producers the award. "We did different things at different times and we had a great working relationship," he added. We couldn't be more gratified that the Producers Guild credited all five of us...

The PGA presented its second animated feature trophy to Disney/Pixar's "Cars," which topped "Flushed Away," "Happy Feet," "Ice Age: the Meltdown" and "Monster House." ...

...Also at the kudofest was former Vice President Al Gore, who gave a well received speech as part of the presentation of the Kramer award given to the producers of "An Inconvenient Truth."

The full article and winners list....

This is a great win for Little Miss Sunshine...It's a superb film well worth the rent.

...The road to the Super Bowl continues for the Chicago Bears as they take on sentimental favorites, The New Orleans Saints later today...Here's a preview of the big NFC Championship Game...I'll be sweating it out in front of my TV for the Bears, that's for sure--especially after last weekends' sqeaker win against the Seattle Seahawks...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pepper And Spice

2 bits of casting news top today's agenda:

It was recently announced that actress Gwyneth Paltrow has signed on for Jon Favreau's film adaptation of the Iron Man comic book... The folks over at IGN have the details:

Paltrow Peps Up Iron Man

Gwyneth Paltrow has joined the cast of Iron Man, the forthcoming [flick is also] starring Robert Downey Jr., and Terrence Howard.

Marvel Studios announced [on January 17th] that Gwyneth will play Virginia "Pepper" Potts, personal secretary and confidant to Tony Stark in the flick. Downey Jr. stars in the title role as Stark/Iron Man, and Howard plays Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes, Stark's best friend.

The studio explains that Pepper is an invaluable resource to Stark Industries, and one of the few people in Tony's life who can go toe-to-toe with him, occasionally acting as his conscience and working to keep his priorities straight as he secretly defends the world. Below the surface, Marvel says, Tony and Pepper share a deep attraction for one another although neither is willing to admit it.

"Gwyneth is the embodiment of a leading lady. She brings intelligence, poise and an incredible range of talent to this role," said Kevin Feige, President of Production, Marvel Studios. "We could not be more excited about the great chemistry this illustrious cast will bring to Iron Man."

...Iron Man is slated to hit theaters May 2, 2008

As I've said before, the casting for this project is very impressive...

This isn't Palytow's first foray into worlds of the fantastic...I'm just hoping this film turns out better than Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow did. Fingers Firmly Crossed. So far the odds are looking very good that Iron Man will satisfy the masses.

Al Pacino as noted Spanish painter Salvador Dali...So says Michael Fleming of Variety:

Al Pacino will play artist Salvador Dali in "Dali & I: The Surreal Story," with Andrew Niccol directing. Room 9 Entertainment has set a June start date in New York and Spain.

Niccol, who previously directed Pacino in "Simone," is rewriting a John Salvati-scripted adaptation of the Stan Lauryssen book "Dali and I."

Pic's produced by Room 9 partners David O. Sacks, Daniel Brunt and Michael R. Newman, who are coming off "Thank You for Smoking."

The film covers the latter days of Dali and Niccol said that was when the surrealist painter decided to take his career in a most surreal direction. He felt that Pacino understood the subject.

To be honest, Simone was not all that great of a film, certainly not as good as the talent suggested. The Dali project sounds like a better fit for the friends to try on.