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Renee Zellweger to Play Judy Garland in London-Set ‘Judy’

13 hours ago

Renee Zellweger (“Chicago”) will star as Judy Garland in a new movie about the show business legend’s final concerts in London. Pathé and Calamity Films are behind “Judy” and principal photography is set for next February, in London.

Opening in the English capital in the winter of 1968 as Garland arrives for a five-week run of sell-out concerts, the movie will also recount the icon’s battles with management, and relationships with musicians and fans.

As the concerts get underway the star of stage and screen is 47 and exhausted, fragile, and wanting to be at home with her kids, casting into doubt whether the shows, at the Talk of the Town nightclub, can go on.

“Judy” is based on a script written by Tom Edge (“The Crown”) and will be produced by BAFTA winner David Livingstone (“Pride”) for Calamity Films. British stage director and Tony nominee, Rupert Goold, will direct. The producers »


- Stewart Clarke

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Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges to Star in Drama ‘Ben Is Back’

5 hours ago

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges will star as mother and son in the  family drama “Ben Is Back,” to be directed by Hedges’ real-life father, Peter Hedges.

Lucas Hedges, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “Manchester by the Sea,” will portray a charming yet troubled man who returns home to his unsuspecting family on Christmas Eve. His wary mother welcomes her beloved son’s return, but soon learns that he is still very much in harm’s way.

Color Force and Black Bear Pictures are producing alongside the elder Hedges, with 30West and Black Bear fully financing the project. CAA, which packaged and arranged financing for the movie, will represent U.S. rights. Sierra/Affinity will be handling international rights at the American Film Market, which opens Nov. 1 in Santa Monica, Calif.

Production is set to begin this December in New York.

Roberts stars in the upcoming drama “Wonder,” opposite [link=nm »


- Dave McNary

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‘Paddington 2’ Producers Seek to Exit Distribution Deal With Weinstein Company

7 hours ago

With the future of the Weinstein Company already uncertain, the backers of the family film “Paddington 2” are looking to sever distribution ties with the company, Variety has confirmed.

According to The Guardian, Heyday Films and French company StudioCanal, the co-producers of the film, feel that a movie that caters to children shouldn’t remain associated with the sex harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

TWC also distributed the first “Paddington” film in the U.S. through its TWC-Dimension label, where it grossed $76.3 million, making it one of the company’s highest-grossing movies. Bob Weinstein has referred to “Paddington 2” as a reason why TWC’s future is not completely dire, and if the contract is not terminated, “Paddington 2” may become TWC’s biggest hit since 2012’s “Django Unchained.” The film is set for release in November in the U.K. by StudioCanal and January in the U.S. via TWC-Dimension.

“TWC has had nothing to do with the making »


- Erin Nyren

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‘Hunting Ground’ Filmmakers Working on Hollywood Sexual Assault Documentary

47 minutes ago

Academy Award nominees Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have begun work on an untitled documentary about sexual assault in Hollywood.

The exposé will examine abuse and cover-ups within the entertainment industry and focus on the behavior of “predatory perpetrators,” such as Harvey Weinstein. The project will also explore the culture that enables and protects them, provide a safe place for survivors to share their stories, and profile the many emerging voices for change.

An Oct. 5 New York Times report detailed Weinstein’s settlements in at least eight harassment cases, leading to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and launching criminal investigations. Weinstein’s reps have denied that the sexual activity was non-consensual.

Dick received Academy Award nominations for 2005’s “Twist of Faith” and 2012’s “The Invisible War.” Ziering was nominated for an Oscar for producing “The Invisible War,” which deals with sexual assault in the military. Dick and Ziering then teamed on the 2014 campus rape documentary “The Hunting Ground.”

“Documentaries »


- Dave McNary

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Antalya Festival: Juliette Lewis on Harvey Weinstein, Acting with Robert De Niro, ‘Natural Born Killers’

1 hour ago

Antalya, Turkey — When asked whether she’s ever had trouble from along the lines of the alleged sexual assaults of Harvey Weinstein, Juliette Lewis said producers were too frightened of her, even at age 18, to try anything.

“I scared everyone,” she told fans at the Antalya Film Fest. “Even at 15, people thought I might blow their head off. It’s a good power to have.”

Speaking to an audience who had just seen “Cape Fear,” the 1991 Martin Scorsese film that launched her career, Lewis added, “In any field, it’s nice when things get revealed. It’s important for any line of work that people get found out for their crimes.”

Having received the key to the city from Antalya’s mayor at the fest’s opening gala Saturday, Lewis reflected on the many lessons she gleaned from filming with Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte and Robert Mitchum.

“I was 18 when I did ‘Cape Fear’ but I’m playing »


- John Hopewell

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Matt Damon Says He Knew Harvey Weinstein Was a ‘Womanizer,’ Not a Predator

2 hours ago

George Clooney and Matt Damon continued to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, the mogul who helped launch both of their careers, alleging they didn’t know the extent of Weinstein’s misconduct.

“When people say like, ‘Everybody knew,’ Like, yeah, I knew he was an a—hole,” Damon told ABC News in a joint interview with Clooney. “He was proud of that. That’s how he carried himself. I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy. But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not.”

Clooney said Weinstein talked to him about women he had affairs with, though Clooney didn’t believe him.

“I didn’t really think that they were going to have affairs with Harvey, quite honestly. And clearly they didn’t. But the idea that this predator, this assaulter, was out there »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Discop Africa Profile: Econet Media CEO Joseph Hundah Helms Fast-Growing Kwesé TV Empire

2 hours ago

What a difference a year makes. That’s all it took for the president and CEO of Econet Media, Joseph Hundah, to turn the upstart Kwesé TV network into a serious rival to MultiChoice’s DStv for the continent’s pay-tv throne. The former Mtg and MultiChoice exec has established Kwesé as a primetime player looking to expand beyond the 25 countries where it’s currently operating, with a multiplatform network that pairs its pay-tv operations with an aggressive mobile strategy. Locking down deals with the likes of Viceland and Espn has helped drive uptake while signaling its intent to shell out for premium content—especially in the lucrative arena of exclusive sports rights, long dominated by MultiChoice. Partnering with Netflix on the launch of Roku-powered Ott service Kwesé Play, Hundah has the company poised to cash in on increasing broadband penetration across the continent, with an eye toward targeting an urban youth demo that – like Kwesé itself »


- Christopher Vourlias

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Inaugural Indiewire Honors to Celebrate James Franco, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani and More

3 hours ago

IndieWire, the definitive outlet for creative independence in film and TV, will launch IndieWire Honors — celebrating six of the biggest names in entertainment with an event November 2 in Los Angeles as well as video coverage and interviews with the honorees that will be featured on Indiewire.com.

“For more than 20 years, IndieWire has celebrated the fresh talent who help advance unique and original storytelling,” said IndieWire Editor in Chief Dana Harris. “This event highlights the best and brightest who remain true to their voice.”

“At the heart of this event is IndieWire’s mission to advocate for distinctive artists who push boundaries,” said IndieWire Publisher James Israel. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have this amazing group for our first IndieWire Honors.”

Selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the first-ever honorees are familiar names on the cusp of even greater success. They include:

Mary J. Blige — Breakthrough Performance (Film). Mary J. Blige is already a musical »


- Variety Staff

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Uber Sexual Harassment Movie in the Works With Susan Fowler

4 hours ago

Good Universe is teaming up with Susan Fowler, who exposed Uber’s sexual harassment problems, for a movie about her experience at the company.

Fowler disclosed the ride-share company’s problems in a Feb. 19 blog post titled “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber.” The post led to an internal investigation and CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation.

Good Universe, which was recently bought by Lionsgate, has hired “Hidden Figures” screenwriter Allison Schroeder to write the script. Kristin Burr is producing.

Fowler wrote in her post, “When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%. Women were transferring out of the organization, and those who couldn’t transfer were quitting or preparing to quit. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was »


- Dave McNary

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‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Creates Thunderous Buzz on Social Media Ahead of Debut

4 hours ago

Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” dominated social media last week with a hefty 113,000 new conversations with the release of extended clips and plot details, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service.

The third Thor movie has now totaled 1.65 million new conversations two weeks before the Nov. 3 opening of the tentpole.

Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins.

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” generated 70,000 new conversations following the Oct. 16 release of the first full action-packed trailer. In it, Chadwick Boseman’s character, T’Challa, returns to his home where he rules, the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Footage throughout the trailer shows him embodying his superhero identity, Black Panther.

Michael B. Jordan’s character Erik Killmonger — an exile who seeks to overthrow »


- Dave McNary

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Harvey Weinstein Is a Monster of Hollywood’s Own Making. What Are We Going to Do About It?

4 hours ago

We are at a tipping point.  

Three weeks ago, Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Today, he is radioactive — denounced, dismissed, and defending himself against potential lawsuits and criminal investigation. It has felt for several days as if the sky is falling in Hollywood; as if the firmament that the entertainment ecosystem is crumbling before our eyes. It has been horrifying and cathartic, in turns; long-held secrets are being uncovered, while long-buried suspicions are being validated. What may have started with Harvey Weinstein is not ending with him: Already, several men throughout media and entertainment have been outed by their employees and in many cases, ousted by their employers. When a movement can unseat an agent, an editor, a showrunner, and an executive, it is just getting started. Little doubt there are more to follow.

The last two weeks have seen a steady stream of stories, from women in »


- Sonia Saraiya

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Watch the Stunning Trailer for Daniel Day-Lewis’ Final Film, ‘Phantom Thread’

5 hours ago

Focus Features has released the first trailer for the period fashion drama “Phantom Thread,” what’s expected to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ final film.

Variety first reported on June 20 that Day-Lewis was retiring from acting at the ago of 60, after completing production on “Phantom Thread.”

The film — set in 1950s post-war London — follows Day-Lewis, a renowned dressmaker, who, with his sister (portrayed by Lesley Manville), is at the center of British fashion. His life is disrupted by a strong-willed woman, played by Vicky Krieps, who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. “You look beautiful, very beautiful,” he tells her.

“Why are you not married?” she asks at one point, evoking only nervous laughter from the actor.

Manville declares at one point to Krieps, “May I warn you of something — my brother can feel cursed; that love is doomed for him.”

Phantom Thread” marks director Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second »


- Dave McNary

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Judith Light, Roberta Colindrez to Star in Drama ‘Ms. White Light’ (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

Judith Light, Roberta Colindrez, Zachary Spicer, Carson Meyer, and John Ortiz will star in the independent drama “Ms. White Light,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Paul Shoulberg will direct the film from his own script. The movie will be produced by Spicer and John Robert Armstrong for their Indiana-based company Pigasus Pictures. Shooting begins Oct. 27 in Bloomington, Ind.

Ortiz and Colindrez portray a father-daughter team who operate Cordova Mortality Solutions, counseling terminally ill clients, while Light plays a sharp-tongued free spirit who has no time for her own mortality. Spicer is a psychic medium and Meyer portrays a woman dying of a terminal blood disease.

Ms. White Light” is the first in Pigasus Pictures’ slate of six films to be produced locally in Indiana over the next three years. Spicer and Armstrong previously teamed with Shoulberg to produce “The Good Catholic,” starring John McGinley and Danny Glover.

Light stars on “Transparent” and was nominated for a supporting actress »


- Dave McNary

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Award-Winning Animated Short ‘Negative Space’ Makes Online Debut

6 hours ago

After playing in more than 80 festivals and winning 25 prizes since premiering at Annecy in June, the stop-motion animated short “Negative Space” will be available for viewing online for two weeks beginning on Monday.

Negative Space,” co-directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, is an adaptation of the poem by Ron Koertge. The poem’s tale about a boy who connects with his father by learning to pack a suitcase touched each of the filmmakers in different ways.

For Kuwahata, it was especially personal. “As an airline pilot, my father traveled often when I was growing up. I don’t really remember things like trips to the zoo or theme parks, but the image of him packing a crisp, white shirt is burned in my memory,” she recalls. “I remember my dad adjusting his watch precisely before leaving the house and I remember the packing list that he pinned to the wall of his study. My most vivid »


- Terry Flores

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Ashley Judd Sets First TV Interview After Harvey Weinstein Allegation

8 hours ago

Ashley Judd, whose sexual harassment allegation against Harvey Weinstein helped take down the disgraced power producer, will give her first television interview since the fallout to ABC NewsDiane Sawyer.

‪The interview will air on Thursday across ABC News, including on “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight With David Muir,” “Nightline,” ABC News Digital, and ABC News Radio.

Although Judd told Variety in 2015 about her borrowing experience being sexually harassed by a mogul, she declined to name him at the time. The “Kiss the Girls” actress went pubic with the allegations in an Oct. 5 article in the New York Times, which led dozens of other women to come forward with their own stories about sexual misconduct. The bombshell report chronicled decades of sex harassment allegations and revealed that Weinstein reached confidential settlements with at least eight women, including Rose McGowan.

“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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George Clooney ‘Glad’ Academy Took Action Against Weinstein: ‘It’s Long Overdue’

9 hours ago

Matt Damon and George Clooney added their voices to the particularly prominent dialogue surrounding sexual harassment culture. Their input was prompted by the continuously growing number of allegations being brought to light within the industry, primarily against their former colleague Harvey Weinstein.

At the premiere of “Suburbicon” Sunday night in Los Angeles, Clooney addressed past sexual harassment cases, specifically those involving Bill Cosby and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, which didn’t ignite change quite the way they should have.

“We hope this is a watershed moment for us as a society, where women feel safe enough to talk about this issue, feel believed, and where men who are committing these crimes, these violations, don’t feel safe, and feel as if, if they do these things, they’re going to be outed, they’re going to be sued, they may even get litigated, maybe go to jail for it,” he told reporters »


- Rebecca Rubin

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‘Darkest Hour’ Gets Endorsed by Churchill Family, Experts

9 hours ago

Darkest Hour” is getting some key endorsements as it revs up its awards season campaign.

The historical drama about Winston Churchill’s efforts to rally the British people in the bleakest days of World War II has been embraced by members of the prime minister’s family and by Churchill experts. They believe that the film, with a few dramatic embellishments, is a good faith effort to capture a vital period in Chuchill’s prime ministership — a time when he was being pressured to sign a peace agreement with Adolf Hitler and did not yet have the popular and political support he needed to wage the war.

“My take is overwhelmingly positive,” says Michael Bishop, executive director of the International Churchill Society and the director of the National Churchill Library at George Washington University. “It’s a great opportunity to spark renewed interest in Churchill.”

Darkest Hour” is backed by Focus Features, the indie label »


- Brent Lang

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Virtual Reality Makes Real Gains Across Africa

10 hours ago

Head a few miles north of the Sandton Convention Center, where more than a thousand producers, broadcasters, and assorted industry execs are gathering this week to discuss the latest trends in African content at Discop, and you can deep-sea dive off the Galapagos islands, battle zombies, buckle up for a trip to the moon—or look into the future.

At VRCade, a virtual reality arcade which opened in Johannesburg last year, customers can get a glimpse of what the burgeoning Vr industry will have in store as it expands into the African market.

Yet just as tepid headgear sales in the U.S. in 2016 tempered industry-wide forecasts of an impending Vr revolution, widescale adoption in Africa seems a good way off—even in South Africa, the continent’s most-developed market.

“The technology there is far from mature,” says Glenn Gillis, CEO of Sea Monster, an animation and gaming studio that specializes in virtual and augmented reality. Yet Gillis »


- Christopher Vourlias

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Discop Africa: Guest Country Germany Talks African Ties

10 hours ago

For visitors looking to escape the cold at this year’s European Film Market (Efm) in Berlin, the first Berlinale Africa Hub offered a chance to warm up with the hottest trends transforming filmmaking south of the Sahara.

Attached to the historic Martin-Gropius-Bau, the hub offered a platform for African innovation, showcasing advances in virtual reality and 360° storytelling on the continent, new distribution and marketing models, and the growing number of mobile platforms looking to cash in on Africa’s smart phone boom.

It also underscored an ongoing commitment to African creative industries by Germany, guest country at the Discop market in Johannesburg this week. Buoyed by the support of cultural institutions and the federal government, Germany has long been one of the world’s strongest partners for African filmmakers.

The Africa Hub was a collaborative effort on the part of the Efm, in co-operation with the World Cinema Fund, Berlinale Talents »


- Christopher Vourlias

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African Toons Take Off as Regional, Global Partnerships Blossom

13 hours ago

Africa’s toon boom takes center stage in Johannesburg this week, as the continent’s animation biz gets a boost from organizers of the Discop TV market Oct. 25-27.

A packed agenda will spotlight the bold strides being made by African animators to join the global conversation around kids’ content.

“We’re slowly building momentum, and we’re slowly building a platform for role-players across the continent to plug into,” says Nick Wilson, of the African Animation Network (Aan), an open-network platform for African animators and industry associations to connect and collaborate. “There’s going to be a real pan-African buzz represented at Discop this year.”

Anchoring the action on the floor of the Sandton Convention Center will be the African Animation Village. Sponsored by Turner Africa, the village will be the hub for a busy week that includes a roundtable discussion on developing local content through partnerships with international brands, led by Ariane Suveg, »


- Christopher Vourlias

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