News

The Black List Update: Picks 5 to 1 of 2006

Of all the Black List years (dating back to 2005), 2006 has the distinction of being the only year where the top voted screenplay hasn't already been filmed. 2005 topper Things We Lost in the Fire was quickly put into production, 2007's Recount was an HBO film, 2008's The Beaver by Kyle Killen (read our profile) is in the can and ready to go forth with a theatrical release, and finally last year's The Muppet Man is currently lensing and still adding more faces (Emily Blunt and Ricky Gervais) while in production and it's pegged with a Holiday release next year. Here are updates on the top 5 screenplays for 2006. 5. The Grackle (Votes: 16) Writer: Mike Arnold & Chris Poole Status: In Development The last we heard is that this comedy about a "New Orleans barroom brawler starts his own business settling disputes for people who can't afford a lawyer," was finally being set in motion
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Keith Goldberg joins Dark Horse

Dark Horse Entertainment, with a term deal at Universal, has hired Keith Goldberg as senior vp production.

Goldberg will be based in the Portland, Ore.-headquartered company's Los Angeles offices and oversee the first-look relationship with Universal as well as bring in new film projects.

The Universal deal, signed this year, gives the studio access to the Dark Horse library of characters and properties while giving Dark Horse the opportunity to distribute its own movies through Universal.

Calling Goldberg "the right person at the right time," Dark Horse president Mike Richardson said: "We've seen explosive growth throughout our company, and the film division is no exception. With the addition of an ambitious slate at Universal to our existing film projects, we needed to expand."

Goldberg spent seven years as an executive at New Line, where he oversaw the upcoming Zac Efron comedy "17 Again"; "Rendition," with Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep and
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Rendition

Rendition
This review was written for the festival screening of "Rendition".Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- In "Rendition", a major moral and political issue confronting the American public runs up against the filmmakers' commercial agenda. There is a crying need to publicly explore the U.S. government's policy of "extraordinary renditions," the abduction of foreign nationals deemed security threats and their transportation to overseas prisons for brutal interrogations. But "Rendition" tackles the concern in a heavy-handed thriller with simplistic characters and manipulative story lines.

The film, directed by Gavin Hood in his first outing following the Oscar-winning "Tsotsi", aims for none of the moral ambiguity of Steven Spielberg's examination of Israeli anti-terrorism in "Munich". Rather he settles for a contrived melodrama, emotionally jerry-rigged to ensure audiences arrive at the proper conclusion.

The well-produced film, due for release October 19 by New Line, will attract considerable attention and commentary from non-entertainment media, so along with a solid cast of bankable young actors such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Reese Witherspoon the film should enjoy good boxoffice numbers opening week. Disappointed word-of-mouth, though, may prevent much carry over into the following weeks.

"Rendition" does little to resolve and even shed light on a program most Americans find morally repugnant but are divided on when it comes to its potential for preventing terrorist attacks. In the fictional case in question, the CIA clearly has the wrong guy from the get-go but, ratcheting up the emotional manipulation even more, the guy is an American green card holder who lives in Chicago with an American wife and child -- make that a pregnant wife -- whose only crime apparently is his Egyptian birth.

Meanwhile, the CIA head of anti-terrorism, played by Meryl Streep at her devilish worst, and the North African torturer (Igal Naor) are cartoon villains with just enough personality quirks to make them seem almost human. A thriller may have been the wrong way to go here because screenwriter Kelley Sane feels the need to up the tension and emotional ante further by playing a trick on the audience with the story's structure and sequence of events.

A suicide bomb goes off in an unnamed North African city square, claiming as one of its victims a CIA case officer. The bewildered CIA has no real leads but nevertheless snatches a U.S. resident, Egyptian-born chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), from the Washington, D.C. airport moments after he arrives on a flight from Cape Town, South Africa. Their only evidence is a possibly coincidental use of cell phone number.

When the CIA understandably gets no information from him at the airport, he is hooded and dragged aboard a secret flight to the very country where the bomb went off for an appointment with a talented torturer.

This is where the movie ensnares itself in a particular sticky set of connections and circumstances of scant credibility. Anwar's distraught wife (Witherspoon) just happens to have an old college friend -- more than a friend, the movie implies -- in Alan Smith (Sarsgaard), who is top deputy to her Illinois Senator (Alan Arkin), who just happens to be on a committee briefed weekly by the CIA anti-terrorist head (Streep) who ordered the rendition. So he is in prime position to learn all sorts of dirty state secrets for the wife.

Anwar's torturer (Naor) just happens to have a rebellious daughter (Zineb Oukach) who is romantically involved with an Islamic militant (Moa Khouas) who is connected to the attack. It gets better. The dead CIA case officer is temporarily replaced by an analyst, Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal), who is so new to this game he still has a conscience and becomes sickened over the water-boarding and electric shocks delivered to a man who has no information to surrender.

Characters make political statements and stake out fierce positions that are meant to ponder the issue of torture in the name of anti-terrorism. Yet these arguments are mostly loaded by clearly appalled, liberal-minded filmmakers.

The reality of these situations is much messier. Victims seldom if ever have friends in high places. They are not U.S. residents, nor are they always guilt free. The real questions, touched upon ever so lightly here, concern the value of any information so derived, the violation of constitutional law by outsourcing dirty work and the potential for radicalizing moderate Islamic elements through these tactics.

The film also contains an unappetizing whiff of anti-Arab sentiment. The good Arab, the film's victim, is thoroughly Westernized. But the old country Arabs are either American lackeys and therefore backward and sadistic or terrorists and therefore brainwashed fundamentalists and bigots.

The film benefits from good location work in Marrakech, Morocco, along with D.C. and Cape Town, a slick (perhaps too slick) production and a score infused with North African musical themes.

RENDITION

New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema presents in association with Level 1 Entertainment an Anonymous Content Production

Director: Gavin Hood

Writer: Kelley Sane

Producers: Steve Golin, Marcus Viscidi

Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Keith Goldberg, David Kanter, Keith Redman, Michael Sugar, Edward Milstein, Bill Todman Jr., Paul Schwake

Director of photography: Dion Beebe

Production designer: Barry Robison

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Music: Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian

Editor: Megan Gill

Cast:

Douglas Freeman: Jake Gyllenhaal

Isabella El-Ibrahimi: Reese Witherspoon

Sen. Hawkins: Alan Arkin

Alan Smith: Peter Sarsgaard

Anwar El-Ibrahimi: Omar Metwally

Abasi Falwal: Igal Naor

Corrinne Whitman: Meryl Streep

No MPAA rating, running time 121 minutes

Rendition

Rendition
Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- In "Rendition", a major moral and political issue confronting the American public runs up against the filmmakers' commercial agenda. There is a crying need to publicly explore the U.S. government's policy of "extraordinary renditions," the abduction of foreign nationals deemed security threats and their transportation to overseas prisons for brutal interrogations. But "Rendition" tackles the concern in a heavy-handed thriller with simplistic characters and manipulative story lines.

The film, directed by Gavin Hood in his first outing following the Oscar-winning "Tsotsi", aims for none of the moral ambiguity of Steven Spielberg's examination of Israeli anti-terrorism in "Munich". Rather he settles for a contrived melodrama, emotionally jerry-rigged to ensure audiences arrive at the proper conclusion.

The well-produced film, due for release October 19 by New Line, will attract considerable attention and commentary from non-entertainment media, so along with a solid cast of bankable young actors such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Reese Witherspoon the film should enjoy good boxoffice numbers opening week. Disappointed word-of-mouth, though, may prevent much carry over into the following weeks.

"Rendition" does little to resolve and even shed light on a program most Americans find morally repugnant but are divided on when it comes to its potential for preventing terrorist attacks. In the fictional case in question, the CIA clearly has the wrong guy from the get-go but, ratcheting up the emotional manipulation even more, the guy is an American green card holder who lives in Chicago with an American wife and child -- make that a pregnant wife -- whose only crime apparently is his Egyptian birth.

Meanwhile, the CIA head of anti-terrorism, played by Meryl Streep at her devilish worst, and the North African torturer (Igal Naor) are cartoon villains with just enough personality quirks to make them seem almost human. A thriller may have been the wrong way to go here because screenwriter Kelley Sane feels the need to up the tension and emotional ante further by playing a trick on the audience with the story's structure and sequence of events.

A suicide bomb goes off in an unnamed North African city square, claiming as one of its victims a CIA case officer. The bewildered CIA has no real leads but nevertheless snatches a U.S. resident, Egyptian-born chemical engineer Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), from the Washington, D.C. airport moments after he arrives on a flight from Cape Town, South Africa. Their only evidence is a possibly coincidental use of cell phone number.

When the CIA understandably gets no information from him at the airport, he is hooded and dragged aboard a secret flight to the very country where the bomb went off for an appointment with a talented torturer.

This is where the movie ensnares itself in a particular sticky set of connections and circumstances of scant credibility. Anwar's distraught wife (Witherspoon) just happens to have an old college friend -- more than a friend, the movie implies -- in Alan Smith (Sarsgaard), who is top deputy to her Illinois Senator (Alan Arkin), who just happens to be on a committee briefed weekly by the CIA anti-terrorist head (Streep) who ordered the rendition. So he is in prime position to learn all sorts of dirty state secrets for the wife.

Anwar's torturer (Naor) just happens to have a rebellious daughter (Zineb Oukach) who is romantically involved with an Islamic militant (Moa Khouas) who is connected to the attack. It gets better. The dead CIA case officer is temporarily replaced by an analyst, Douglas Freeman (Gyllenhaal), who is so new to this game he still has a conscience and becomes sickened over the water-boarding and electric shocks delivered to a man who has no information to surrender.

Characters make political statements and stake out fierce positions that are meant to ponder the issue of torture in the name of anti-terrorism. Yet these arguments are mostly loaded by clearly appalled, liberal-minded filmmakers.

The reality of these situations is much messier. Victims seldom if ever have friends in high places. They are not U.S. residents, nor are they always guilt free. The real questions, touched upon ever so lightly here, concern the value of any information so derived, the violation of constitutional law by outsourcing dirty work and the potential for radicalizing moderate Islamic elements through these tactics.

The film also contains an unappetizing whiff of anti-Arab sentiment. The good Arab, the film's victim, is thoroughly Westernized. But the old country Arabs are either American lackeys and therefore backward and sadistic or terrorists and therefore brainwashed fundamentalists and bigots.

The film benefits from good location work in Marrakech, Morocco, along with D.C. and Cape Town, a slick (perhaps too slick) production and a score infused with North African musical themes.

RENDITION

New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema presents in association with Level 1 Entertainment an Anonymous Content Production

Director: Gavin Hood

Writer: Kelley Sane

Producers: Steve Golin, Marcus Viscidi

Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Keith Goldberg, David Kanter, Keith Redman, Michael Sugar, Edward Milstein, Bill Todman Jr., Paul Schwake

Director of photography: Dion Beebe

Production designer: Barry Robison

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Music: Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian

Editor: Megan Gill

Cast:

Douglas Freeman: Jake Gyllenhaal

Isabella El-Ibrahimi: Reese Witherspoon

Sen. Hawkins: Alan Arkin

Alan Smith: Peter Sarsgaard

Anwar El-Ibrahimi: Omar Metwally

Abasi Falwal: Igal Naor

Corrinne Whitman: Meryl Streep

No MPAA rating, running time 121 minutes

2006 Blacklist: The Top 10 Unproduced Screenplays

  • Last year, it surfaced on a couple of sites and was featured in Entertainment Weekly. The Black List is a top 10 best unproduced screenplays complied by (you fill in the blank) insiders at talent agencies, management companies, and film studios. 2 of last year’s top 3 are far from being shelved under a pile of other scripts – Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)Things We Lost in the Fire
[/link] is in post prod and the number 3 consensus pick Lars And The Real Girl is being produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and is currently filming. Juno is lining up for a January shoot in Vancouver. Posted on the blog site www.spinandstir.com, this year the Top 10 list surfaces once again, however many of the scripts are already being produced by big studios. Since it comes from an undisclosed source it’s hard to take it at face value, but for the pure fun of it we
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Arkin on 'Rendition' ballot

Alan Arkin is in final negotiations to join the cast of New Line Cinema's Rendition, a political thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon and being directed by Gavin Hood.

Written by Kelley Sane, the multilayered story centers on a CIA analyst (Gyllenhaal) based in Cairo who finds his world spinning out of control after he witnesses the interrogation of a foreign national by the Egyptian secret police. Witherspoon will play the pregnant American wife of the national.

Arkin will play a senator who tries to help Witherspoon in her search for her missing husband. The investigation eventually threatens the senator's position in Washington.

Steve Golin is producing.

David J. Kanter, Keith Redmon and Michael Sugar are executive producing.

Toby Emmerich and Keith Goldberg are overseeing for the studio.

Arkin is riding high on buzz for his performance in the indie darling Little Miss Sunshine and appears in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. He is repped by Endeavor.

See also

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