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20 items from 2006


The Last Winter

14 September 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- What, apocalyptic climate change isn't scary enough all by itself? In The Last Winter, writer-director Larry Fessenden does Al Gore one better, channeling fears of global warming into a horror tale that, until the end, doesn't let on quite where it's coming from. The long buildup is too deliberate to please the mainstream horror crowd, and the finale might alienate more niche audiences, but in between there's a good bit to savor.

Set smack dab in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Winter envisions a small outpost that has been given Congressional approval for exploratory drilling. Tensions are high among the crew, as chief Pollack (Ron Perlman) must slow his timetable to meet the concerns of his environmental impact officer James Hoffman, a "real cost of oil" type played by James LeGros. (Who, incidentally, is sleeping with Pollack's colleague and ex-gal, Abby.)

After establishing the icy vastness with some sharply employed aerial photography, and setting the camp's stage with eerie tracking shots that hint at a menacing point of view, Fessenden lets the line out a bit. At the 45-minute mark, with nothing scary having happened, many horror fans might give up hope -- though the popularity of slow-build Asian horror may be training moviegoers to be more patient. Eventually, a young team member goes crazy to ugly effect, but there's little hint what caused the breakdown.

This leaves plenty of anxious time for environmentalist and capitalist to bicker over drinks, debating the import of climate readings at the site that are unusual even in the context of overall worldwide trends. As other crew members start to behave strangely, Hoffman suspects mind-bending "sour gas" oozing up through the melting permafrost, and insists the crew evacuate. Right around the time Pollack definitively rejects this plan, things start to get ugly.

The remainder of the film works best when on reality-based ground. Enough tangible physical threats arise to sustain tension, but of course the film is going to have to explain the root causes eventually. Fessenden comes up with a solution that both depicts the threat too literally and answers no questions about how it operates. For those in the audience who manage to accept this letdown ending, he tacks on a bait-and-switch coda unlikely to leave any viewer thoroughly satisfied.

There's too much to enjoy about The Last Winter to dismiss it completely: likable performances, dialogue and characterization far above the normal horror level, chill-inducing images and horror notions that if a little more worked out could be truly memorable. But for what looks like that rare scare flick you still respect in the morning, it just doesn't pay off.

THE LAST WINTER

Antidote Films

Antidote Films/Glass Eye Pix

Credits:

Director: Larry Fessenden

Screenwriters: Larry Fessenden, Robert Leaver

Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Larry Fessenden

Executive producers: Jeanne Levy-Church, Sigurjon Sighvatsson

Director of photography: G. Magni Agustsson

Production designer: Halfdan Larus Pedersen

Costume designer: Helga I. Stefansdottir

Music: Jeff Grace, Anton Sanko

Editor: Larry Fessenden

Cast:

Ed Pollack: Ron Perlman

James Hoffman: James LeGros

Abby Sellers: Connie Britton

Motor: Kevin Corrigan

Maxwell McKinder: Zach Gilford

Elliot Jenkins: Jamie Harrold

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 107 minutes »

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Apple names Google CEO to board<BR clear="none"/>

29 August 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple Computer Inc. said Tuesday that Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt is joining its board, adding another well-known name to the list of high-profile directors who oversee the management of the company behind the iPod portable player and Macintosh computer. Schmidt has become a multibillionaire and emerged as one of high technology's best-known leaders since Google named him chief executive in 2002. He becomes the eighth member of Apple's board, which already consists of several prominent members. Apple's other board members include the Cupertino-based company's renowned CEO, Steve Jobs, former Vice President Al Gore, Genentech Inc. CEO Arthur Levinson and Intuit Inc. Chairman William Campbell. "Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google, and we look forward to his contributions as a member of Apple's board of directors," Jobs said. "Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric's insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead." »

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Current TV lets users tell the tale

4 August 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

As part of celebrating its one-year anniversary, Current TV is implementing new viewer initiatives and expanding into additional media platforms. The tone is far different from the skepticism observers expressed when the cable network went live. Current TV is the brainchild of Al Gore and partner Joel Hyatt, who created it in August 2005 from its roots as INdTV network. While its continuing evolution involves a balancing act between content that is serious and compelling with programming that's popular and hip, the network said it has grown from 17 million to 30 million households, all the while demonstrating that keeping a startup network alive might be the most revolutionary accomplishment of all. "We are so much further in one short year than we ever dreamed possible," Current TV CEO Hyatt said. Calling the network's concept of viewer-created content groundbreaking, he added, "Now our core innovation exists throughout the entire media industry worldwide." »

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Curtis and 'Crash' Filmmakers Honored by Humanitas

30 June 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Screenwriters Richard Curtis, Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco took home the top prizes for their "liberating" work at the annual Humanitas Prize awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Haggis and Moresco were awarded $25,000 for their smash hit movie Crash in the feature film category, while Curtis won the prize in the 90-minute category for his Bill Nighy-starring TV film The Girl In The Cafe, based on last year's G8 summit. Crash was hailed by judges "for its call to reach out with respect and compassion to all of our brothers and sisters." Former US vice president Al Gore won a special award for his documentary by about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth. The Humanitas Prize honors work which serves to "liberate, enrich and unify society". »

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'Sunshine' honored at Sydney fest

26 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

SYDNEY -- U.S. independent films fared well in the prize lineup on the closing night of the Sydney Film Festival this year, with Sundance sparkler Little Miss Sunshine, Hong Kong-U.S. martial arts feature Fearless, documentary An Inconvenient Truth and Brazil/U.S. music documentary Favela Rising, taking home key awards, while local short film, Girl in a Mirror swept the Dendy Awards announced Saturday. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' debut feature, Little Miss Sunshine, one of many sold-out sessions at the festival, was the audience favorite, taking away the Urban Cinefile best feature-world cinema award, while Ronny Yu's Fearless, starring Jet Li as 19th century martial arts legend Huo Juan Jia won the audience award for best feature-sidebar program. David Guggenheim's engrossing documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, presented by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, won the audience-voted best documentary--world cinema, while the "making of" documentary, that followed the progress of Australian feature Ten Canoes, The Balanda and The Bark Canoes, directed by Molly Reynolds, Tania Nehme and Rolf de Heer, won the best documentary in the sidebar program. »

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Franken docu lands distributor<BR clear="none"/>

23 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Al Franken: God Spoke, which follows the political firebrand from his war with fellow commentator Bill O'Reilly to his fight for progressive candidates, will hit U.S. theaters just in time for the November elections. Balcony Releasing has acquired U.S. theatrical distribution rights to Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus' docu and is planning a platform release, which will quickly expand from New York in mid-September to 10-20 markets nationwide. The docu features such political heavyweights as Al Gore, Michael Moore, Sean Hannity, Henry Kissinger, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Karen Hughes as it tracks Franken's joke-filled journey from satirist to a potential candidate for political office. »

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Interview: Lesley Chilcott

8 June 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Kermit the Frog said, “it isn’t easy being green”. Former Vice President Al Gore says if you haven’t figured it out yet, then perhaps its best if you start packing boxes to move northward from Florida. Apart from the first wave of blockbuster summer films, who knew that a documentary about climate change featuring a former U.S vice president would be at the center of attention? It’s all a question of timing – and as An Inconvenient Truth proposes: the time is now. Garnering up a flurry of attention at the beginning of the year at Sundance and making a splash at Cannes, the doc has benefited from a great word-of-mouth campaign on both the political and entertainment (see Al Gore’s recent SNL monologue) fronts ending the questioning about the greenhouse effect debate. It appears that the doc won’t fall on deaf ears and »

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'Truth' cleaning up after itself

6 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Paramount Classics, Participant Prods. and NativeEnergy are teaming up to offset 100% of the carbon dioxide emitted from air and ground transportation and hotels during the production and promotional activities associated with the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, making it the first-ever carbon-neutral documentary. NativeEnergy, which works with organizations to help them compensate for their contributions to global warming, calculated the carbon footprint for the Al Gore toplining film. The company then offset emissions through renewable energy credits, of which Paramount Classics and Participant will split the cost. »

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Silverdocs skeds Gore, Scorsese

19 May 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- The Silverdocs: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival announced its slate of films and programs Thursday. It includes talks by former Vice President Al Gore and director Martin Scorsese. The June 13-18 film festival has become the premier showcase for documentary films in America. It will showcase 100 films from 22 countries with 13 world, 12 North American and six U.S. premieres. Among the films are Ward Serrill's The Heart of the Game and Patrick Creadon's Wordplay. »

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Gore bringing Current TV to Edinburgh fest

17 May 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- Former Vice President Al Gore will debut his new media project, Current TV, to the U.K. media industry at this year's Edinburgh Television Festival, it was announced Wednesday. Gore will deliver the Alternative MacTaggart keynote on the final day of the annual three-day conference and workshop festival that runs Aug. 25-27. Gore, who will join such Alternative MacTaggart luminaries as James Murdoch, Geraldo Rivera and Michael Wolff in delivering the address, also is expected to use the forum to raise environmental concerns. The Alternative MacTaggart is traditionally used as a platform for visionary or futuristic thinking about the media, and Gore is thought likely to tell assembled TV execs that television is being left behind by new media. »

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'Seinfeld' Cast Reunites for 'Saturday Night Live'

15 May 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Julia Louis-Dreyfus reunited with her co-stars from Seinfeld when she guest hosted US comedy show Saturday Night Live this weekend. During her opening monologue the actress, who played Elaine Benes on the hit series, showed a video clip of her bumping into co-star Jason Alexander and talking about the "Seinfeld Curse." The curse states that no Seinfeld star - including Louis-Dreyfus, Alexander, Michael Richards or Jerry Seinfeld - has ever gone on to star in a successful sitcom. After the two chat, Alexander is hit by a cab. Back in the studio, the actress insists she doesn't believe in the curse, before a stage light falls next to her. The culprit is revealed to be Jerry Seinfeld, who cut the light down with a pair of hedge clippers. Louis-Dreyfus started her career on Saturday Night Live 21 years ago and made history by becoming the first female cast member to return to host the show. In another memorable moment, former US Vice President Al Gore was featured in the opening skit, appearing in a parallel universe where he was successfully elected as the US President. The comedy sketch showed what a Gore-run US would look like including no global warming, cars that run on rubbish, ridiculously low gas prices and a $11 trillion budget surplus. »

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IFC makes new business with docus

12 April 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Documentary films have become the new calling cards. Indie theatrical distributors like ThinkFilm have used documentaries as different as Born Into Brothels and Murderball to carve out a distinct niche in the marketplace. HBO has long used a mix of politically engaged work from filmmakers like Barbara Kopple and Rory Kennedy as well as sexually titillating titles in its America Undercover series to boost its profile. Even former vice president Al Gore is getting into the act, using the upcoming An Inconvenient Truth, which will be released by Paramount's specialty film division in May, to advance his campaign against global warming. Suddenly, docus are hot on the Independent Film Channel as well. About 18 months ago, IFC, which had been producing original documentaries that appeared as specials twice a year on the cable channel, decided to increase its output by developing an ongoing slate of original docus. »

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George and Julia Go Green for Vanity Fair

4 April 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood pals George Clooney and Julia Roberts have gone green for the cover of Vanity Fair's upcoming environmental issue. The couple, who played man and wife in Ocean's Eleven, appear alongside environmentalists Al Gore and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the new photo shoot, in which everyone wears green. Roberts appears like a wood nymph in the garden-themed shot, complete with a leafy crown on her head, while Clooney wears a smart dark green suit. The first Green Issue of Vanity Fair will hit newsstands on April 11th. Clooney's efforts to raise environmental awareness and inspire activism are profiled, along with the work of other stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bette Midler and Edward Norton. In the accompanying feature, Syriana star Clooney announces his plans to create Oil Change, a campaign to educate audiences and reduce dependence on oil. Meanwhile, Clooney has traded in his BMW for an eco-friendly Tango, which features in the photo spread inside the new Vanity Fair. »

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Current TV adds juice via Comcast pact

27 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Current TV, the cable venture headed by former Vice President Al Gore, has scored its biggest carriage deal to date, signing on with Comcast Corp. The pact will take Current TV from 20 million to 28 million households nationwide beginning in June; Current TV is available now to just 500,00 Comcast subscribers. Current TV launched in August with distributors including DirecTV. »

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Current TV adds juice via Comcast pact

27 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Current TV, the cable venture headed by former Vice President Al Gore, has scored its biggest carriage deal to date, signing on with Comcast Corp. The pact will take Current TV from 20 million to 28 million households nationwide beginning in June; Current TV is available now to just 500,00 Comcast subscribers. Current TV launched in August with distributors including DirecTV. »

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Gore lends support to 'Truth' docu

14 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LAS VEGAS -- Former Vice President Al Gore was here this week to support a ShoWest screening of the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The cautionary chronicle of global warming features Gore, an environmental advocate and self-described recovering politician. John Lesher, president of Paramount's new specialty division, introduced the film Monday night while Gore fielded questions from the audience of exhibitors after the screening. "What we have found about this movie is (that) the word-of-mouth gets people to come in and see it and bring others to come see it," Gore said. "John Lesher said before this screening that there is going to be a grass-roots campaign like you've never seen to get people to come to your theaters to see this film." »

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Downloads on Sundance site eclipse 1 mil

3 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The Sundance Institute has reported more than 1 million video downloads this year from its Web site, Sundance.org. The range of programs available includes footage of Sundance Film Festival events, interviews with filmmakers and their subjects (including former Vice President Al Gore) and 50 short films shown in competition. The number of worldwide downloads is up from fewer than 700,000 last year. »

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Par unit to tell Gore's 'Truth'

13 February 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Paramount's new specialty division has acquired worldwide rights to Participant Prods.' global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Al Gore. Helmed by Davis Guggenheim (Deadwood, The First Year), the film, which had its world premiere at last month's Sundance Film Festival, weaves the science behind the issue of global warming with the former vice president's personal history and longtime commitment to communicating the pressing need to reverse the effects of global climate change. Paramount specialty division president John Lesher called the film "a visually mesmerizing and shocking look at the serious and dire state of our planet." He added, "We are very proud to help Al Gore expose the urgency of global warming to the widest possible audience." »

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An Inconvenient Truth

25 January 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- There are two agendas behind Davis Guggenheim's "An Inconvenient Truth". One is to bring to a much larger audience former Vice President Al Gore's fascinating multimedia presentation of the facts and issues arising from the phenomenon of global climate change. The other is to re-introduce to the American public a man we thought we knew but clearly did not. The film, which is screening in the Spectrum sidebar, succeeds on both counts.

The danger, of course, is that viewership for the film, which is looking for distribution, Will Divide along red state/blue state lines. Gore does make a strong argument that the need to address global warming is not a political but a moral issue. Time is running out as witnessed by the record number of tornadoes in the Midwest, the torrential flooding in Mumbai, India, and Hurricane Katrina all in one year.

What Gore strives to make crystal clear to anyone in opposition is that the tools and methods to reverse these calamitous changes are at hand -- no new inventions required -- and that the economic consequences of tackling the problem are positive rather than negative. The idea that responsible environmental protection is bad for the economy is exposed here through facts and science for what it is -- a Big Lie.

The film will need critics and op-ed page writers to get across the message that people of all political persuasions can risk exposure to Gore's message without fear of becoming tree-huggers. What they will become is alarmed.

The heart of the film is what Gore casually calls his "slide show." In fact, this is an ultrasophisticated use of charts, graphics, a cartoon, photos and other media to distill more than 30 years of research into the issue by Gore, dating back to his study under university professor Roger Revelle. This is a dynamic and at times humorous explanation of the link between carbon emissions and public health problems, insurance company costs, melting glaciers, shrinking lakes, rising sea levels, killer heat waves and, most dramatically, Katrina.

Interspersed through the lecture is footage of Gore traveling the world to meet with scientists, governmental officials and laypeople along with quieter moments where Gore reflects about growing up on a ranch and his own affinity with nature.

Gore traces his activism on the issue of climate change to the near-fatal accident of his young son in 1989. The possibility of losing a child devastated him but did confront him with the question of "how should I spend my time on this earth?" The fact that we're in real danger of losing that earth, just as he nearly lost his son, made the environment his cause.

The documentary is an act of political activism. Guggenheim and his politically conscious producers, Laurie David, Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns, have no interest in either challenging Gore's viewpoint or giving opposing opinions equal time. The film is simply a conduit for Gore's message.

Along the way, though, we do see a different Al Gore than the one who conducted the 2000 presidential campaign. Instead of a stiff politician, seeming uncomfortable in crowds, Gore the activist is an earnest, passionate, funny and caring individual, determined to communicate with people about the most important issue facing our earth.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Participant Prods. presents a Lawrence Bender/Laurie David production

Credits:

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Producers: Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns

Executive producers: Jeff Skoll, Davis Guggenheim

Co-producer: Lesley Chilcott

Directors of photography: Bob Richman, Davis Guggenheim

Music: Michael Brook

Editors: Jay Cassidy, Dan Swietlik

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 95 minutes »

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Skoll puts politics in spotlight

25 January 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- With politics taking front and center stage among the movies unspooling here this week, billionaire eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll and his Participant Prods. president, Ricky Strauss, have injected two opinionated documentaries into the Sundance fray: Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth takes aim at global warming and stars former vice president and environmentalist Al Gore, while Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan's The World According to Sesame Street looks at how the educational series is adapted in other countries. Both films are seeking distribution. They also arrive as part of what to date has been a successful two-year experiment engineered by Skoll and Strauss to use "the power of Hollywood to do good," as their ParticipantProductions.com Web site declares. »

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20 items from 2006


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