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5 items from 2005


'Down' rising from HDNet's film schedule

13 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Anthony LaPaglia, Viola Davis, Isabella Rossellini and Hayden Panettiere have been tapped to star in HDNet Films' All Fall Down, which went into production June 27 in New York and wraps July 25. The film, written and directed by Matthew Tauber (Rosen's Son) is about a conflict between an architect and an activist, who has to live in a dangerous complex the architect designed. HDNet, a production division of Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment, was created to develop, finance and produce films shot in high definition that will be released simultaneously through 2929 holdings, including Magnolia Pictures for distribution, Landmark Theaters for theatrical distribution and day-and-date TV premieres on HDNet Movies Network. »

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'Down' rising from HDNet's film schedule

12 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Anthony LaPaglia, Viola Davis, Isabella Rossellini and Hayden Panettiere have been tapped to star in HDNet Films' All Fall Down, which went into production June 27 in New York and wraps July 25. The film, written and directed by Matthew Tauber (Rosen's Son) is about a conflict between an architect and an activist, who has to live in a dangerous complex the architect designed. HDNet, a production division of Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment, was created to develop, finance and produce films shot in high definition that will be released simultaneously through 2929 holdings, including Magnolia Pictures for distribution, Landmark Theaters for theatrical distribution and day-and-date TV premieres on HDNet Movies Network. »

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Ice Princess

20 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A teen inspirational dramedy about a high school physics nerd who follows her dream of becoming a figure skater, "Ice Princess" proves that it's still possible to teach an old formula a few new tricks.

Thanks to an insightful script (credited to Hadley Davis), a light but assured directorial touch (by England's Tim Fywell) and especially to a delightful title performance by Michelle Trachtenberg, this Cinderella tale of female empowerment remains engaging while not always having pretty things to say about mother-daughter dynamics and competitive sports.

The Disney picture should handily score a direct hit to its targeted young female demographic as well as striking a chord with their big sisters, moms and aunts.

Making the klutz to lutz transition with crowd-pleasing appeal is Trachtenberg's Casey Carlyle, a brainy but unpopular high school student whose academic, single mom (the always splendid Joan Cusack) envisions a Harvard education for her daughter.

But when a science class report on the physical dynamics of figure skating provides Casey with a rink-side view into the rhinestone-studded world of Axels and Salchows, she decides to pursue a secret childhood fantasy.

That is, if she's able to survive Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall), a tough-as-nails coach and former ice princess herself, not to mention fiercely determined skater mom to Gen (Hayden Panettiere), a championship contender who'd rather live the life of an average teenager.

Helping through those inevitable tough patches is Gen's sympathetic brother, Teddy (Trevor Blumas), who serves as Casey's handsome prince riding in on a trusty Zamboni.

In short, "Ice Princess" doesn't break a sweat trying to reinvent the wheel, but it goes to show how effective the original model can be when there are skilled operators involved.

Fywell, who made his feature directorial debut with "I Capture the Castle", keeps the elements running smoothly and efficiently, working from a knowing script by "Dawson's Creek" and "Spin City" writer Davis, who also shares story credit with "The Princess Diaries" author Meg Cabot.

Key to the success of the film is the tricky dynamic among Trachtenberg, Cusack and Cattrall that adroitly manages to avoid falling into one-dimensional good vs. evil stereotypes.

Also helping to keep things real is the decision to cast as many professional skaters as possible in the roles of Casey's contemporaries, with Kirsten Olson, Juliana Cannarozzo and Jocelyn Lai proving to be as confident in front of the camera as they are on the ice.

Technical contributions are equally well-executed, highlighted by cinematographer David Hennings' ("Blue Crush") propulsive camera work and choreographer Anne Fletcher's colorful, far-from-routine routines.

ICE PRINCESS

Buena Vista

A Walt Disney Pictures presentation

Credits: Director: Tim Fywell; Screenwriter: Hadley Davis; Story: Meg Cabot, Hadley Davis; Producer: Bridget Johnson; Executive producer: William W. Wilson III; Director of photography: David Hennings; Production designer: Lester Cohen; Editor: Janice Hampton; Costume designer: Michael Dennison; Music: Christophe Beck. Cast: Joan Carlyle: Joan Cusack; Tina Harwood: Kim Cattrall; Casey Carlyle: Michelle Trachtenberg; Gen Harwood: Hayden Panettiere; Teddy Harwood: Trevor Blumas; Nikki: Kirsten Olson; Nikki's Mom: Connie Ray; Zoey: Juliana Cannarozzo; Tiffany: Jocelyn Lai.

MPAA rating G, running time 98 minutes.

»

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Racing Stripes

10 February 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The amazing and hilarious achievement of director Chris Noonan and his team of animal trainers and CGI whizzes in the 1995 hit film Babe becomes more apparent every time someone else attempts a sequel or knockoff. Racing Stripes, directed by Frederik Du Chau, copies the formula of a farm animal unaware of its own identity. But the results don't come close to duplicating Noonan's charming and gentle barnyard fable. At best, Racing Stripes should play nicely to youngsters with the cutoff for enjoyment extending no further than midteens.

Instead of a pig who believes he is a sheepdog, Racing Stripes concerns a zebra who thinks he is a race horse. Like Babe, the zebra named Stripes converses with other animals on the family's Kentucky farm. This is achieved again with a mix of real animals, computer technology and animatronic doubles.

Stripes is named by the young daughter (Hayden Panettiere) of a former horse trainer (Bruce Greenwood) who rescues the lost foal. Once the humans retire from the barn, all the animals begin to chatter up a storm. Three years later, the daughter gets the idea she would like to ride the zebra, every bit as much as Stripes would like to be ridden because he thinks he can run in races against horses. But, in a bit of unconvincing melodrama, Dad won't allow this because his late wife lost her life after being thrown from a horse.

David Schmidt's screenplay switches back and forth between the two story lines of the animal kingdom and the horse race movie, but the narratives never really merge as the story lines never play off each other. Famous voice actors do inject a bit of whimsy into the barnyard banter, especially Dustin Hoffman as a cantankerous Shetland pony, Whoopi Goldberg as a sagacious goat and Joe Pantoliano as a Mafioso pelican on the lam from the big city. Meanwhile, Frankie Muniz and Mandy Moore give Stripes and his filly girlfriend, Sandy, a coltish innocence.

The human actors including M. Emmet Walsh as a racetrack junkie do respectable work with the stock characters in the National Velvet story line, though Wendie Malick is over the top as the coldblooded doyenne of the Kentucky racing circuit. Two well-animated horseflies with a penchant for breaking into song and dance, played with unapologetic zeal by Steve Harvey and David Spade, take the film south into poo humor so beloved by youngsters. They are not, however, the only offenders.

Du Chau is better at integrating the racing footage -- which must have been tricky given that zebras really aren't racers -- with the animation and animatronics. The CG work allowing the animals to mouth dialogue blends well into the live action. David Eggby's cinematography and Wolf Kroeger's sets make the South African locations look convincingly American.

RACING STRIPES

Warner Bros.

Alcon Entertainment

Credits:

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Screenwriter: David Schmidt

Story by: David Schmidt, Steven P. Wegner, Kirk DeMicco, Frederik Du Chau

Producers: Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Ed McDonnell, Lloyd Phillips

Executive producer: Steven P. Wegner

Director of photography: David Eggby

Production designer: Wolf Kroeger

Music: Mark Isham

Costumes: Jo Katsaras

Editor: Tom Finan

Cast:

Nolan Walsh: Bruce Greenwood

Channing Walsh: Hayden Panettiere

Woodzie: M. Emmet Walsh

Clara: Wendie Malick

Stripes: Frankie Muniz

Sandy: Mandy Moore

Tucker: Dustin Hoffman

Franny: Whoopi Goldberg

Goose: Joe Pantoliano

Buzz: Steve Harven

Scuzz: David Spade

Reggie: Jeff Foxworthy »

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Lifetime touts 'aggressive' telefilm slate

17 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Highlighting Lifetime Television's recent decision to ramp up the number of its original movies from 12 to 18 this year, the cable network showcased two of those upcoming movies to TV critics and pointed to a teen-education program that it's tying in to one of them. Lifetime execs and talent were on hand Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Universal City Hilton to talk about the movies Lies My Mother Told Me, starring Joely Richardson and Hayden Panettiere, and Mom at Sixteen, starring Jane Krakowski and Mercedes Ruehl. Lies premieres 9 p.m. March 7, while "Mom" premieres at 9 p.m. March 21. Trevor Walton, senior vp original movies at Lifetime Entertainment Services, said the network is planning a national campaign aimed at preventing teen pregnancy in conjunction with "Mom" to encourage teachers to have active discussions with their students about the subject after viewing the movie. »

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5 items from 2005


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