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6 items from 2007

Hopkins To Play Hitchcock

8 November 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Sir Anthony Hopkins is to play movie mogul Alfred Hitchcock in a new biopic about the revered director. Hopkins insists he has been such a fan of the filmmaker's work over the years, he feels he's the right guy to portray his fellow Brit - and pay a proper tribute to him. Hopkins says, "I'm not one of those guys who went to film school and watched Hitchcock movies in order to study, but I admire people who know all about Hitchcock. I'm a real Hitchcock fan. I know all about the movies and had a closer look at why he set that shot up in the way that he did and the skill and rhythm of his movies like Rear Window and Vertigo. He was really quite astonishing and there's so much wit to his work. I think those scenes between Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window are so witty and sophisticated. This film I'm going to do is about the making of Psycho and Hitchcock's doubts about himself. He never had any real confidence and never felt that he was successful. He always felt a bit like a failure." In playing the director, Hopkins will attempt to forget a brief meeting he had with Hitchcock early in his career. He explains, "I met him once very briefly. He was sitting at a place called Ma Maison and I was sitting with my agent... He had just been knighted and he was very heavy, enormous; he looked ill. That was my one contact with him." »

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Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story

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

AFI Fest

The man who brought the world such immortal movie house gimmicks as Emergo, Percepto, Illusion-O and Ghost Viewer glasses is finally given his due in Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story.

A fittingly lively portrait of the B-movie artist who put the show back into showmanship, Jeffrey Schwartz's documentary portrays the late director-producer as a man with the heart of a carny who dreamt of one day shedding his reputation as a low-rent Hitchcock and winning the artistic respect of his peers.

While the 80-minute film's a natural for festivals, Castle's affectionate fan base could also warrant a theatrical release, especially if somebody could figure out a cost-effective way of rigging theater seats to vibrate at pivotal moments.

Director Schwartz, whose company, Automat Pictures, specializes in producing making-of docs for TV and DVDs, takes a standard issue approach here, gathering together Castle family, friends, colleagues and historians--daughter Terry, John Waters, John Landis, Joe Dante, and the late Marcel Marceau among them--to provide the obligatory testimonials and anecdotes.

But when you've got a guy as colorful as Castle, you don't need a lot of fancy frills to attract attention, especially when you've got a generous clip assortment from such immortal movies as Macabre, which offered patrons insurance by Lloyds of London in the event of "death by fright," 13 Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus and intended Psycho rival, Homicidal.

Although most were accompanied by publicity stunts designed to lure audiences of the late '50s and '60s away from their TVs and back into theaters, Castle craved something beyond profitability, and would eventually land his biggest gimmick in the form of Joan Crawford, who starred in his 1964 thriller, Strait-Jacket, penned by Psycho author Robert Bloch.

While Crawford essentially ran the whole show, insisting the set be kept at freezing temperatures to "tighten the skin," the experience made Castle more determined than ever to beat Hitch at his own game.

Bittersweet success would come with "Rosemary's Baby," a vehicle he had wanted to direct himself, but he'd have to settle for a producer's credit after Paramount brought in a hot young Polish filmmaker by the name of Roman Polanski.

Castle was never able to build on that newfound artistic credibility but his death, in 1977, marked the end of a truly spirited era.


Automat Pictures


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'Birds' redo calls Campbell as director

19 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Martin Campbell is circling to direct the re-imagining of the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, which Platinum Dunes and Mandalay Pictures are producing for Universal.

Naomi Watts has been loosely attached to star for some time, but her involvement is script dependent.

While Campbell has no offer to direct, the early talks put the potential movie's production dates past any possible directors and actors strike.

Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing via Platinum Dunes, while Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman are producing via Mandalay Pictures.

The Birds, released by Universal in 1963, featured an attack by birds on the California coastal town of Bodega Bay. Coming after Psycho, Hitchcock's innovative use of special effects and sounds continued to cement his reputation as a horror director and launched many "nature on the attack" imitators. The movie also featured the screen debut of the director's newest ingenue, Tippi Hedren.

The studio says the redo will owe more to the Daphne Du Maurier short story than the Hitchcock film based on it. »

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Vertigo spins Lionsgate TV deal

28 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Production company Vertigo Entertainment, whose film credits include The Departed and The Ring, has inked a first-look television deal with Lionsgate to develop and produce scripted programming for broadcast and cable.

Vertigo, which was formed in 2001 by Roy Lee and Doug Davison, has a track record of producing U.S. remakes of Asian films. In addition to best picture Oscar winner Departed and Ring, Vertigo has been a producer on the The Grudge and its sequel, The Ring Two and The Lake House.

The company recently entered the TV arena with the MTV series I'm With Rolling Stone. It also is making its first foray into scripted television with The Bates Motel, a re-imagining of Psycho that's being developed with Universal Media Studios, and a high-stakes gambling drama created by writer Matt O'Neal that is being shopped to networks.

Vertigo's agreement with Lionsgate expands the existing relationship between the companies, which are working together on The Eye, a thriller produced with Cruise/Wagner that stars Jessica Alba.

"Roy and Doug have tremendous creative instincts, outstanding relationships within the industry and the proven ability to recognize, acquire and develop high-quality material with widespread appeal," said Kevin Beggs, president of television programming and production at Lionsgate. »

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'Bull' roars on new AFI list

21 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Raging Bull" and "Vertigo" are up, and "The Graduate" and "On the Waterfront" are down.

On Wednesday night, the American Film Institute revealed a new list of the 100 greatest movies of all time as part of the CBS broadcast "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies --10th Anniversary Edition."

With votes cast by 1,500 filmmakers, critics and historians, the AFI compiled a new list of greatest movies as a mirror to the rankings it unveiled in 1998. The qualifier in the update is that the movies under consideration were narrative films with significant American elements.

Although some tastes may have changed, Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" topped both lists.

But this time around, Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" battled their way into the top 10, at No. 4 and No. 9, respectively. In the original list, "Bull" ranked No. 24 and "Vertigo" was No. 61.

They supplanted "The Graduate", which fell from No. 7 to No. 17, and "On the Waterfront", which sank from No. 8 to No. 19

Of the 43 films from the past decade, 1996-2006, that were on the 400-film ballot, only four made the cut: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (No. 50), "Saving Private Ryan" (71), "Titanic" (83) and "The Sixth Sense" (89).

New additions to the list from previous decades included "The General" (No. 17), "Intolerance" (49), "Nashville" (59), "Sullivan's Travels" (61), "Cabaret" (63) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (67).

John Ford's Western "The Searchers" moved up the most of any film, going from No. 96 to No. 12. "City Lights" and "Unforgiven" also improved their standings.

The top 10: "Citizen Kane", "The Godfather", "Casablanca", "Raging Bull", "Singin' in the Rain", "Gone With the Wind", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Schindler's List", "Vertigo" and "The Wizard of Oz".

AFI's  100 Years...100 Movies

1. Citizen Kane, 1941

2.The Godfather, 1972

3. Casablanca, 1942

4. Raging Bull, 1980

5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952

6. Gone With the Wind, 1939

7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

8. Schindler's List, 1993

9. Vertigo, 1958

10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939

11. City Lights, 1931

12. The Searchers, 1956

13. Star Wars, 1977

14. Psycho, 1960

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

16. Sunset Blvd., 1950

17. The Graduate, 1967

18. The General, 1927

19. On the Waterfront, 1954

20. It's a Wonderful Life, 1946

21. Chinatown, 1974

22. Some Like It Hot, 1959

23. The Grapes of Wrath, 1940

24. E.T. »

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NBC Uni to launch Chiller, Clooney mini

14 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PASADENA -- NBC Universal Cable Entertainment is set to launch a new channel featuring horror and thriller programming, while Sci Fi Channel has teamed up with George Clooney to develop a miniseries set in a futuristic civilization.

Meanwhile, Bravo will end the run of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy after the makeover show's upcoming fifth season. Additionally, the cable channel has inked deals with Paula Abdul and Project Runway's Tim Gunn for new unscripted series. Those were among the announcements Friday during the NBC Universal cable networks' portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel.

Chiller, set to launch March 1 on DirecTV, is a 24-hour cable channel dedicated to the horror genre, featuring classic films and TV shows. At launch, the slate will include the TV series Friday the 13th, Twin Peaks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales from the Crypt and feature films including The Shining, Psycho and Blade Runner, said Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, Digital Content and Cross Network Strategy.

He added in an interview that the channel also has deals in place with studios not owned by NBC Universal for film and TV product as well, including Fox, Lionsgate and Sony. »

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