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Burton: 'Studios Feared Sweeney Todd'

28 December 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Studio bosses balked at proposals for Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd movie, because they feared a musical/horror film with no "pop songs" would bomb at the box office, according to the director himself. The maverick filmmaker struggled to win over movie bigwigs, not least when he opted to cast Johnny Depp - who has no previous singing experience - in the lead role. But Burton has praised Hollywood for greenlighting such a risky project. He tells British film magazine Empire, "What's weird is that they (the studios) are afraid of musicals anyway, but an R-rated musical with blood that's not based on pop songs, it's like, 'F**k!' "Then it was like, 'Um, can he (Depp) sing?' Nobody knew. I didn't know. So that's the joke of the whole thing. In a way, that's the surreal nature of Hollywood, so you have to love it for that because on paper, it's like the worst idea of all time!" »

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

20 December 2007 2:46 PM, PST | The Scorecard Review | See recent Scorecard Review news »

Plot: This musical gets the big-screen adaptation from director Tim Burton. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) is a highly trained barber who was wrongly imprisoned by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). He comes back to town, seeking revenge and gets help from Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) and her meat pie shop. Who’s it for: It’s definitely a musical, so be prepared to sit through numerous numbers. Less than half are of the upbeat variety. Expectations: I never saw a production of “Sweeney Todd,” but I knew the gist of the story. I was more curious to see if Depp could sing and if this really was a dark musical. Scorecard Actors: Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd: Todd’s main goal is to remain angry the entire time. Depp »

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Atonement Leads Golden Globe Nominations

13 December 2007 | IMDb News

Atonement was the dominant movie at this morning's announcement of the Golden Globe nominations with seven nods, including Best Picture (Drama) and three acting nominations. The adaptation of Ian McEwan's acclaimed bestseller also received nominations for directing, screenplay, and score as well as for its two leads, James McAvoy and Keira Knightley, and a supporting actress mention for young Saoirse Ronan. Critical favorite No Country for Old Men received four nominations, including picture, supporting actor (Javier Bardem), and directing and screenplay nominations for Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; legal thriller Michael Clayton also received four nods, including picture and three acting nominations for George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton. Rounding out the dramatic Best Picture nominees -- there were an unprecedented seven in all -- were American Gangster, Eastern Promises, The Great Debaters, and There Will Be Blood. Over on the Comedy/Musical side, Charlie Wilson's War led the pack with five nods, including Best Picture (Comedy/Musical), three acting nominations for stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a screenplay nomination for Aaron Sorkin. Tim Burton's blood-filled adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd received four nominations in the Comedy/Musical categories for picutre, Best Actor (Johnny Depp), Best Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), and a directing nod for Burton. Indie hit Juno also scored well, with mentions for star Ellen Page and screenwriter Diablo Cody as well as a best picture nod, and summer musical Hairspray bounced back to life with nominations for picture, lead actress (Nikki Blonsky) and supporting actor (John Travolta). The other nominee for Best Picture (Comedy/Musical) was the Beatles musical Across the Universe. In the television categories, FX newcomer Damages was the leading series contender with four nominations, while the HBO movie Longford also received four nods. Freshman hit Pushing Daisies, returning comedies Entourage and 30 Rock, and miniseries Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee received three nominations each.

Get all of the Golden Globe Nominations in our Road to the Oscars section

»

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'Into the Wild' leads Broadcast Critics' noms

12 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

With seven nominations, Sean Penn's Into the Wild, the account of a young man who leaves society behind, led the pack as the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. announced its nominees for its 13th annual Critics' Choice Awards Tuesday morning in New York.

Wild figured in the categories of best picture, best actor for Emile Hirsch, best supporting actor for Hal Holbrook, best supporting actress for Catherine Keener and best song for Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" and picked up a double nomination for Penn as both writer and director.

The pregnant comedy Juno followed with six noms, followed by a clutch of films -- Atonement, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd and Hairspray -- that scored five noms each.

Several actors received dual recogntion. Newcomer Michael Cera appeared twice among the nominees for best young actor for his performances as a horny teen in Superbad and an unexpected father in Juno. Cate Blanchett was hailed with a best actress nom for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and a supporting actress nom for her Dylanesque appearance in I'm Not There. Amy Adams, who plays a Disneyesque princess in Enchanted was nominated for best actress and made an appearance in the best song category for "That's How I Know" -- in the song category, the group recognizes the performer who performs a song on film.

Made up of nearly 200 TV, radio and online critics from the United States and Canada, the BFCA prides itself on its ability to foreshadow eventual Oscar noms and awards.

However, the BFCA does load up some of its categories with six nominations each to cover its bases. And for best picture, the group nominated ten films that encompassed American Gangster, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood.

In addition to Hirsch, the best actor heat includes George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises).

For best actress, Adams and Blanchett will face off against Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) and Ellen Page (Juno).

Nominated for best supporting actor are Holbrook, Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (Country), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).

Seven directors appeared among the BFCA's six nominations for best director, thanks to a shared nomination for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen for Country. Their competition embraces Penn, Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd), Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows Your Dead"), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell) and Joe Wright (Atonement).

In the best writer category, the nominees are Penn, Diablo Cody (Juno), the Coens (Country), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Nancy Oliver (Lars) and Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson's War).

Bee Movie, Beowulf, Persepolis, Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie will all compete as best animated movie. »

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Broadcast critics trek with 'Wild'

11 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

UPDATED 10:35 p.m. PT Dec. 11, 2007

UPDATED 8:30 a.m. PT Dec. 11, 2007

With seven nominations, Sean Penn's "Into the Wild", the tragic, true-life account of a young man who lights out for the territory, led the pack as the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. announced its nominees for its 13th annual Critics' Choice Awards on Tuesday in New York.

Paramount Vantage's "Wild" figured in the categories of best picture, best actor for Emile Hirsch, best supporting actor for Hal Holbrook, best supporting actress for Catherine Keener and best song for Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" while also picking up a double nomination for Penn as writer and director.

The pregnancy comedy "Juno" followed with six noms, followed by a clutch of films -- "Atonement", "Michael Clayton", "No Country for Old Men", "Sweeney Todd" and "Hairspray" -- that scored five noms each.

Several actors received dual recognition. Newcomer Michael Cera appeared twice among the nominees -- for best young actor for his performances as a horny teen in "Superbad" and an unlikely father-to-be in "Juno". Cate Blanchett was hailed with a best actress nom for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and a supporting actress nom for her Dylanesque appearance in "I'm Not There". Amy Adams, who plays a Disneyesque princess in "Enchanted" was nominated for best actress and made an appearance in the best song category for "That's How I Know" -- in the song category, the critics' group recognizes the performer who sings a song on film.

Made up of nearly 200 TV, radio and online critics from the U.S. and Canada, the BFCA prides itself on its ability to foreshadow eventual Oscar noms and awards.

However, the BFCA does load up some of its categories with six nominations each to cover its bases. And for best picture, the group nominated 10 films: "American Gangster", "Atonement", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Wild", "Juno", "The Kite Runner", "Michael Clayton", "No Country", "Sweeney Todd" and "There Will Be Blood".

In addition to Hirsch, the best actor heat includes George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("Blood"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd"), Ryan Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl") and Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises").

For best actress, Adams and Blanchett will face off against Julie Christie ("Away From Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart") and Ellen Page ("Juno").

Nominated for best supporting actor are Holbrook, Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), Javier Bardem ("No Country"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton").

In the supporting actress category, Blanchett and Keener are surrounded by Vanessa Redgrave ("Atonement"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton").

Seven helmers appeared among the BFCA's six nominations for best director, thanks to a shared nomination for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen for "No Country". Their competition consists of Penn, Tim Burton ("Sweeney Todd"), Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"), Julian Schnabel ("Butterfly") and Joe Wright ("Atonement").

In the best writer category, the nominees are Penn, Diablo Cody ("Juno"), the Coens ("No Country"), Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton"), Nancy Oliver ("Lars") and Aaron Sorkin ("Charlie Wilson's War").

"Bee Movie", "Beowulf", "Persepolis", "Ratatouille" and "The Simpsons Movie" will all compete as best animated movie. »

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Depp & Mann are 'Public Enemies'

7 December 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Its official- Michael Mann & Johnny Depp are teaming up on Public Enemies over at Universal. This comes about a week after the announcement that Depp’s long gestating project Shantaram was going to be delayed do to script issues- which over course cannot be remedied until after the writer’s strike. Mann’s been circling a few projects the last few months, including the potential Will Smith vehicle, Empire, and the Tom Cruise project- Edwin A. Salt.  Depp will be playing the notorious outlaw John Dillinger in “Enemies”- which is said to focus around the early days of the FBI, when Dillinger was public enemy no.1. The film is on the fast track- and shooting is slated to start March 10th in Chicago. Mann himself wrote the script- based on the book by Bryan Burroughs. Mann will also produce alongside Kevin Misher, and Tribeca’s Jane Rosenthal. This »

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

4 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "Sweeney Todd".

It's 19th century London and everyone is singing, but when arterial blood sprays from the opened throat of Signor Adolfo Pirelli, you know this is no "My Fair Lady".

Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," a savage tale of cannibalism, madness and serial murder, is now Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd". The show couldn't have fallen into better hands. With realistic gore replacing the stylistic bloodletting in the stage version, "Sweeney" loses some of its darkly comic tone -- not a lot of laughs here except the nervous kind.

More akin to Burton's "Sleepy Hollow", where heads rolled like so many bowling balls, his "Sweeney Todd" places its emphasis on Grand Guignol and the deeply human story of twice-lost love and the horrifying destructiveness of revenge.

It took two studios, DreamWorks and Warner Bros., to share the considerable risk of making and marketing this tragic tale that defies so many conventions of the American musical. It will be a significant challenge to find a substantial audience despite the advantage of the Burton and Sondheim brands along with a cast that includes Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

"Sweeney Todd" comes from an obscure British melodrama -- which might or might not have been based on true 18th century events -- about a deranged barber who slit the throats of customers and his landlady who served the victims up in meatpies.

Sondheim's 1979 show took place within the context of the Industrial Revolution and its rampant corruption and avarice. More satiric opera than musical, "Sweeney Todd" blended together a number of theatrical and literary modes, making the show at once Brechtian, Dickensian and Jacobean. Sondheim acknowledges the influence of the film music of Bernard Herrmann even as he throws in a Viennese waltz or music hall burlesque.

Burton and writer John Logan take all this as a gift, which is then filtered through Burton's own unrepentant sense of the macabre. Except for imaginary sequences or flashbacks to happier days, the film has a monochromatic look with color drained from cityscape. Depp and Carter dress mostly in stark dark clothes with black circles around the eyes, almost as if the figures in Burton's "Corpse Bride" served as models.

In choosing actors who can carry a tune as opposed to singing-actors, Burton has wisely gone for the tragic, emotional heart of the story, narrowing the focus to Sweeney; Mrs. Lovett, the meatpie lady, plagued by unrequited love for Sweeney; and Toby (Edward Sanders, who has a striking voice), the street urchin who assists but is innocent of the pie's ingredients.

Depp is the movie's heart and guts. His Sweeney, nee Benjamin Barker -- having escaped false imprisonment in Australia after 15 years -- is ruled by revenge upon his return to London. Presented with his razors, which Mrs. Lovett (Carter) has lovingly guarded all these years, he grasps a blade with his firm right hand. "At last, my arm is complete again," he thunders.

His homicidal rage centers on Judge Turpin (a dour Alan Rickman), a vile sexual predator who had Benjamin arrested by henchman Beadle Bamford (a smarmy Timothy Spall) so he can steal Benjamin's wife Laura Michelle Kelly) and baby daughter. Sweeney learns that his wife poisoned herself and Turpin, who took the baby as his ward, lusts after the now grown woman Johanna (a wan Jayne Wisener). Anthony Jamie Campbell Bower), a young sailor who rescued Sweeney at sea, now longs to do likewise for Johanna on land.

Thus, a triangle of obsessed characters emerges. Depp plays Sweeney as a man so focused on death, so committed to blood, that he has lost all touch with life. Carter's amoral Nellie Lovett, her hair apparently combed with an egg beater, is herself obsessed with Sweeney. She imagines an impossible life with him without realizing he is unmoored from any reality in which this might take place.

The judge, hungering after young women, is the film's major disappointment. Onstage, the tormented man struggled with his obsession, longing to regain his goodness. Here he is a stock melodramatic villain who lacks any ideals other than those of self-interest, though Rickman uses all the tricks in his actor's bag to coax a human being out of the caricature.

Sanders' Toby is a street kid who turns out to possess a moral compass the adults so sorely lack. Baron Cohen as Pirelli, the barber's first victim, is surprisingly muted. Perhaps the requirement to sing has neutralized Cohen's usual outrageousness. Burton doesn't seem to know what to do with film's ingenues, Wisener's Johanna and Bower's Anthony, so they are largely ignored.

The musical numbers ooze with Sondheim's audacious wit and scathing lyrics. A lullaby conveys menace. A waltz celebrates conspiracy. Cynicism runs through all the songs' social critique.

The blood juxtaposed to the music is highly unsettling. It runs contrary to expectations. Burton pushes this gore into his audiences' faces so as to feel the madness and the destructive fury of Sweeney's obsession. Teaming with Depp, his long-time alter ego, Burton makes Sweeney a smoldering dark pit of fury and hate that consumes itself. With his sturdy acting and surprisingly good voice, Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

DreamWorks/Paramount

DreamWorks and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Parkes/MacDonald/Zanuck Co. production

A Tim Burton Film

Credits:

Director: Tim Burton

Screenwriter: John Logan

Based on the stage musical by: Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler

Music-lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Producers: Richard D. Zanuck, Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, John Logan

Executive producer: Patrick McCormick

Director of photography: Dariusz Wolski

Production designer: Dante Ferretti

Co-producer: Katterli Frauenfelder

Costume designer: Colleen Atwood

Editor: Chris Lebenzon

Cast:

Sweeney Todd: Johnny Depp

Mrs. Lovett: Helena Bonham Carter

Judge Turpin: Alan Rickman

Beadle Bamford: Timothy Spall

Signor Adolfo Pirelli: Sacha Baron Cohen

Toby: Edward Sanders

Johanna: Jayne Wisener

Anthony Hope: Jamie Campbell Bower

Running time -- 116 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

4 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

It's 19th century London and everyone is singing, but when arterial blood sprays from the opened throat of Signor Adolfo Pirelli, you know this is no My Fair Lady.

Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," a savage tale of cannibalism, madness and serial murder, is now Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd. The show couldn't have fallen into better hands. With realistic gore replacing the stylistic bloodletting in the stage version, Sweeney loses some of its darkly comic tone -- not a lot of laughs here except the nervous kind.

More akin to Burton's Sleepy Hollow, where heads rolled like so many bowling balls, his Sweeney Todd places its emphasis on Grand Guignol and the deeply human story of twice-lost love and the horrifying destructiveness of revenge.

It took two studios, Paramount and Warner Bros., to share the considerable risk of making and marketing this tragic tale that defies so many conventions of the American musical. It will be a significant challenge to find a substantial audience despite the advantage of the Burton and Sondheim brands along with a cast that includes Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Sweeney Todd comes from an obscure British melodrama -- which might or might not have been based on true 18th century events -- about a deranged barber who slit the throats of customers and his landlady who served the victims up in meatpies.

Sondheim's 1979 show took place within the context of the Industrial Revolution and its rampant corruption and avarice. More satiric opera than musical, Sweeney Todd blended together a number of theatrical and literary modes, making the show at once Brechtian, Dickensian and Jacobean. Sondheim acknowledges the influence of the film music of Bernard Herrmann even as he throws in a Viennese waltz or music hall burlesque.

Burton and writer John Logan take all this as a gift, which is then filtered through Burton's own unrepentant sense of the macabre. Except for imaginary sequences or flashbacks to happier days, the film has a monochromatic look with color drained from cityscape. Depp and Carter dress mostly in stark dark clothes with black circles around the eyes, almost as if the figures in Burton's Corpse Bride served as models.

In choosing actors who can carry a tune as opposed to singing-actors, Burton has wisely gone for the tragic, emotional heart of the story, narrowing the focus to Sweeney; Mrs. Lovett, the meatpie lady, plagued by unrequited love for Sweeney; and Toby (Edward Sanders, who has a striking voice), the street urchin who assists but is innocent of the pie's ingredients.

Depp is the movie's heart and guts. His Sweeney, nee Benjamin Barker -- having escaped false imprisonment in Australia after 15 years -- is ruled by revenge upon his return to London. Presented with his razors, which Mrs. Lovett (Carter) has lovingly guarded all these years, he grasps a blade with his firm right hand. "At last, my arm is complete again," he thunders.

His homicidal rage centers on Judge Turpin (a dour Alan Rickman), a vile sexual predator who had Benjamin arrested by henchman Beadle Bamford (a smarmy Timothy Spall) so he can steal Benjamin's wife Laura Michelle Kelly) and baby daughter. Sweeney learns that his wife poisoned herself and Turpin, who took the baby as his ward, lusts after the now grown woman Johanna (a wane Jayne Wisener). Anthony Jamie Campbell Bower), a young sailor who rescued Sweeney at sea, now longs to do likewise for Johanna on land.

Thus, a triangle of obsessed characters emerges. Depp plays Sweeney as a man so focused on death, so committed to blood, that he has lost all touch with life. Carter's amoral Nellie Lovett, her hair apparently combed with an egg beater, is herself obsessed with Sweeney. She imagines an impossible life with him without realizing he is unmoored from any reality in which this might take place.

The judge, hungering after young women, is the film's major disappointment. Onstage, the tormented man struggled with his obsession, longing to regain his goodness. Here he is a stock melodramatic villain who lacks any ideals other than those of self-interest, though Rickman uses all the tricks in his actor's bag to coax a human being out of the caricature.

Sanders' Toby is a street kid who turns out to possess a moral compass the adults so sorely lack. Baron Cohen as Pirelli, the barber's first victim, is surprisingly muted. Perhaps the requirement to sing has neutralized Cohen's usual outrageousness. Burton doesn't seem to know what to do with film's ingenues, Wisener's Johanna and Bower's Anthony, so they are largely ignored.

The musical numbers ooze with Sondheim's audacious wit and scathing lyrics. A lullaby conveys menace. A waltz celebrates conspiracy. Cynicism runs through all the songs' social critique.

The blood juxtaposed to the music is highly unsettling. It runs contrary to expectations. Burton pushes this gore into his audiences' faces so as to feel the madness and the destructive fury of Sweeney's obsession. Teaming with Depp, his long-time alter ego, Burton makes Sweeney a smoldering dark pit of fury and hate that consumes itself. With his sturdy acting and surprisingly good voice, Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Paramount

DreamWorks and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Parkes/MacDonald/Zanuck Co. production

Credits:

Director: Tim Burton

Screenwriter: John Logan

Based on the stage musical by: Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler

Music-lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Producers: Richard D. Zanuck, Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, John Logan

Executive producer: Patrick McCormick

Director of photography: Dariusz Wolski

Production designer: Dante Ferretti

Co-producer: Katterli Frauenfelder

Costume designer: Colleen Atwood

Editor: Chris Lebenzon

Cast:

Sweeney Todd: Johnny Depp

Mrs. Lovett: Helena Bonham Carter

Judge Turpin: Alan Rickman

Beadle Bamford: Timothy Spall

Signor Adolfo Pirelli: Sacha Baron Cohen

Toby: Edward Sanders

Johanna: Jayne Wisener

Anthony Hope: Jamie Campbell Bower

Running time -- 116 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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Depp casing Mann's 'Public' heist

4 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Johnny Depp doesn't shy away from blood in the upcoming Sweeney Todd, for which he's being touted as a major Oscar contender, and he might again find himself awash in blood if he opts to join up with producer-director Michael Mann for a film about the Depression-era crime wave.

Mann has long been interested in mounting a screen adaptation of Brian Burrough's nonfiction book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 for Universal; at one point, Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to the project, but DiCaprio is headed into Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island.

But Mann -- who has considered taking the helm of Columbia's spy thriller Edwin A. Salt but has not committed to that project because he believes it needs a rewrite -- has an open slot.

As for Depp, he was to have starred in Warner/Initial Entertainment's Shantaram followed by Warner Independent's The Rum Diaries, but both of those projects were postponed last month, leaving the star with an opening in his schedule. »

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'Leno' goes to archives

26 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

CBS' and NBC's late-night shows will continue to air repeats this week as WGA and studio negotiators are returning to the bargaining table.

NBC is digging deep into the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno vault with five vintage episodes featuring the first headliner appearances of five of today's biggest stars. Leno will rerun a 1992 episode with Tom Hanks, a 1993 segment with Julia Roberts, a 2000 appearance by Matt Damon, and 1995 episodes featuring Jennifer Aniston and Johnny Depp.

As they are running out of recent episodes to repeat with the strike going on, late-night show producers have been looking for ways to explore their archives. »

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Depp Gifts Paradis With Vineyard

26 November 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Johnny Depp has given his long-time partner Vanessa Paradis a vineyard as congratulations for her months of hard work recording a new album. The 44-year-old purchased the vineyard near the villa in Plan de la Tour, France, which he shares with the singer and their two children Lily-Rose, eight, and Jack, five. The Sweeney Todd star also owns a 45-acre island in the Bahamas, where he frequently vacations. Depp has been with the French beauty for nearly 10 years, but insists he has no plans to marry again after his two-year marriage to musician Lori Anne Allison ended in divorce in 1985. »

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NBC slates vintage 'Leno' during WGA strike

22 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

CBS' and NBC's late-night shows will continue to air repeats next week as WGA and studio negotiators return to the bargaining table.

NBC is digging deep into the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno vault with five vintage episodes featuring the first headliner appearances of five of today's biggest stars.

Leno will rerun a 1992 episode with Tom Hanks, a 1993 segment with Julia Roberts, a 2000 appearance by Matt Damon, and 1995 episodes featuring Jennifer Aniston and Johnny Depp.

As they are running out of recent episodes to repeat with the strike going on, late-night show producers have been looking for ways to explore their archives. »

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Pitt no longer in 'Play'

22 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Brad Pitt has pulled out of Universal's political thriller State of Play because of script concerns.

The move comes after a couple of weeks of meetings between Pitt and director Kevin Macdonald in an attempt to iron out the concerns. The script cannot be worked on due to the writers strike.

Universal is on the fast track to replace the star. Sources said the studio is looking at Johnny Depp, whose own movie Shantaram just got postponed at Warner Bros., as well as Russell Crowe.

Pitt was set to star with Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Robin Wright Penn in the Matthew Michael Carnahan-scripted adaptation of the British miniseries. He was playing a political consultant-turned-journalist who heads a newspaper's murder investigation involving a fast-rising politician (Norton).

Sources said the studio is mulling its legal options and might sue the actor.

Universal confirmed Pitt's departure in a statement: "Brad Pitt has left the Universal Pictures production of 'State of Play.' We remain committed to this project and to the filmmakers, cast members, crew and others who are also involved in making the movie." »

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Depp & Cruz Movies Postponed Due to Strike

21 November 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Two movies starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz have become the latest casualties of the Hollywood writers' strike. Depp was due to have started filming director Mira Nair's Shantaram in February, but the production start date has now been called off. And Cruz was to have teamed up with reported boyfriend Javier Bardem, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard and director Rob Marshall for Nine, which has had its start date postponed from March. Members of the Writers Guild Of America (WGA) began their industrial action on November 5 after failing to negotiate a better financial deal for royalties from DVD and internet sales with producers and movie executives. »

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Depp in play as strike delays two films

20 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Johnny Depp is the latest A-lister to fall victim to the WGA strike.

The actor was scheduled to film Shantaram -- Warner Bros. and Initial Entertainment Group's adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel -- in the winter, but that project has been postponed.

Among the reasons the film has been delayed is that the script was not in the shape the filmmakers wanted; the current strike prohibits any revisions.

Budgetary concerns also were a factor. Sources said Shantaram's budget was heading north of $75 million, outside the studio's comfort zone for the drama set in India and Afghanistan.

The story revolves around an Australian heroin addict convicted of robbery who escapes from a maximum-security prison, flees to India and reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of Bombay. He gets involved in counterfeiting, smuggling and gunrunning, which leads him to Afghanistan, where he and a mob boss battle the Russians. Eric Roth did the latest script rewrite. »

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AFI Fest Interview: Cast & Crew of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

15 November 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Every year there's a film (or two) that elevates the viewer experience to the next level. That higher ground is an inspiring one and in film terms - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le papillon) is an example of the power of art; what art is supposed to do and its relevance to our lives. Based on a novel Jean-Dominique Bauby (who blinked the book to an interpreter after a stroke left him paralyzed with only one blinking eye), if this would have happened to just about anybody else, people would scream euthanasia - but Bauby used his imagination to inspire us. Julian Schnabel who gets better with each film (Basquiat, Before Night Falls) along with Ronald Harwood (The Pianist) and a terrific cast and crew delights us with a film full of splendor and imagination about the human spirit that will move you beyond words. »

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D'Works/Par seeks perfect pitch for 'Todd'

15 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- The Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd tells the morally complex story of a wronged barber who takes a bloody knife to patrons of his London shop.

But it's nothing compared with the complexity faced by DreamWorks/Paramount in releasing the R-rated musical.

"This has many niche audiences that need to be dealt with, and they don't really cross," said Terry Press, the marketing guru who is consulting on the film for DreamWorks. "There are 'Sweeney Todd' freaks, there's a sophisticated theatergoer crowd, there are the Tim Burton fans, and there are the young girls who love Johnny Depp. It's like threading many needles."

On top of that there's this prickly issue: The movie isn't done yet.

Burton said in an interview Wednesday that sound and visuals are still being mixed. "Probably about two weeks", he said. "I hope".

Still, the studio took the wraps off the Burton-Depp collaboration Wednesday night at a Film Society of Lincoln Center event in New York -- a venue whose appeal lies squarely with the theater crowd -- bringing out Burton to talk up the process of directing a musical and showing 20 minutes of footage including several Depp musical numbers for the first time in North America.

Outside of a Venice Film Festival event, it was the first public unspooling of the film, which has been the subject of a quiet, even stealth campaign since being put on the calendar for a December release. »

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Damon Beats Dempsey, Reynolds & Pitt To Be Sexiest Man Alive

15 November 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Matt Damon has topped a new poll to be named the Sexiest Man Alive. The Bourne Ultimatum star, 37, beat Grey's Anatomy hunk Patrick Dempsey - who is nicknamed Doctor McDreamy on the hit medical series - and Blade: Trinity actor Ryan Reynolds to the top position on the annual People magazine hotlist. The title will be a welcome accolade for Damon - he recently revealed it has been his longtime ambition to beat pal George Clooney - a frequent entrant in such surveys - to the coveted number one spot. But married Damon, who became a first-time father earlier this year, remains coy about his win. He tells People, "You've given an aging suburban dad the ego-boost of a lifetime." The magazine cites Damon's "irresistible sense of humor," "rock solid family man" and "heart-melting humility" for landing him the title. The top 10 Sexiest Men are as follows: 1. Matt Damon; 2. Patrick Dempsey; 3. Ryan Reynolds; 4. Brad Pitt; 5. James McAvoy; 6. Johnny Depp; 7. Dave Annable; 8. Will Smith; 9. Javier Bardem; 10. Shemar Moore. »

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Berry is top 'Choice' for awards noms

9 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Halle Berry tops of the list of nominees for the 34th annual People's Choice Awards which were announced Thursday.

The Favorite Female Movie Star nominee will go head to head with fellow nominees Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon during a live CBS broadcast at the Shrine Auditorium on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Other nominees include Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis for Favorite Male Movie Star and Favorite Movie contenders, The Bourne Ultimatum, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Word's End, and Transformers.

Nominees in 38 categories across television, film and music platforms were selected by a sampling of men and women, ages 18-49 from a list compiled by Knowlege Networks, a market research company, and members of the People's Choice Community. Fans can vote for their favorites at PCAvote.com. »

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Depp Delighted With Daughter's Recovery

2 November 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Johnny Depp's life is full of "mini-celebrations" now his eight-year-old daughter Lily-rose has been given the all-clear after her health scare earlier this year. The little girl was hospitalized in London, where she received treatment for an undisclosed ailment as her father started work on movie musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. Depp still isn't going into details about his daughter's illness, but he admits he can't be thankful enough that she pulled through. He tells Entertainment Weekly magazine, "Now every single millisecond is a mini-celebration. Every time we get to breathe in and exhale is a huge victory. She pulled through beautifully, perfectly, with no lasting anything." And Depp will always be grateful to director pal Tim Burton and the cast and crew of Sweeney Todd for their support. He adds, "Knowing that those people, Tim and the crew, shut down and stood by and waited... I didn't know if I was coming back. I remember talking with Tim, saying, `Maybe you need to recast.'" Lily-Rose is Depp's daughter by long-time girlfriend Vanessa Paradis. The couple also has a son, Jack, who is five. »

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