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Interview with Branko Tomovic - Red to receive L.A. premiere at North Hollywood CineFest

The North Hollywood CineFest returns for another exciting edition this month and among the fantastic line-up is the intense and atmospheric thriller Red by Branko Tomovic (24, Fury, The Bourne Ultimatum), which also stars Dervla Kirwan (Ondine, Ballykissangel, The Silence, Doctor Who) and Francesca Fowler (Doctor Who, Rome, Closure). It's Branko's directing debut and tells the story of Niklas, a surgeon who lives a life of solitude and is tormented by self hatred. He performs regular illegal surgeries for the red market and works together with Mia, a young prostitute who lures her clients in and drugs them. Niklas is looking for a way out of this dark world, but owes his life to their violent crime boss Ed, who would rather kill him then let him go....

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

Taviani Brothers/Caesar Must Die: Golden Bear Winner

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Caesar Must Die Paolo Taviani, 80, and Vittorio Taviani, 82, were the big winners at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival. The Taviani brothers' documentary Cesare deve morire / Caesar Must Die, about a staging of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in Rome's maximum-security prison Rebibbia — with the actual inmates playing the various roles, was the surprise winner of the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlinale. (Caesar Must Die photo: © Umberto Montiroli.) “I hope that someone, going home, after seeing Caesar Must Die will think that even an inmate, on whose head is a terrible punishment, is, and remains, a man. And this thanks to the sublime words of Shakespeare,” Vittorio Taviani remarked. Through a translator, Paolo Taviani explained that "we chose Julius Caesar for one clear reason. We were working in a prison. That meant it was easy to get the message across with this play where actors are talking about freedom,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Exclusive: Ray Stevenson talks Punisher: War Zone to help promote the DVD and Blu-ray -- Plus info on Rome and Book of Eli

It started off like any normal Friday. My boss at the station was running around like a chicken with its head cut off for no apparent reason, as usual, so I had to take care of my workload and his to make sure upper-management didn’t come down on us like a ton of bricks, or the ones they have in their heads anyway. I was just about to take a late lunch after cutting up some audio when I noticed a new message in my inbox. It was an opportunity, an opportunity to speak with a man who punished people, or at least played one in the movies. A rare window had opened up for a phone interview with Ray Stevenson, the star of “Punisher: Warzone”, coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on March 17th, 2009. I had mere moments to locate an open studio, get back to Ray’s people,
See full article at Collider.com »

'Rome,' 'Firefly' veterans land pilot leads

  • Hitfix
The latest round of pilot casting sees roles going to Indira Varma, Gina Torres and David Giuntoli. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Varma has landed the lead role in ABC's "Inside the Box," from "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes. Written by Richard E. Robbins, "Inside the Box" focuses on Varma's Catherine, an ambitious producer at a Washington network news bureau. Catherine thinks she's on the verge of a promotion, but when she doesn't get it... Well, we assume she's unhappy. Varma's credits include CBS' "3 Lbs" and "Comanche Moon," as well as a turn as Niobe in HBO's "Rome." The trade...
See full article at Hitfix »

Casting in the strike-shortened pilot season

Casting in the strike-shortened pilot season
More pilot season coverage

The frantic pilot season is creating a bull market for top-tier talent.

Thirtysomething men including Dominic West, Matthew Perry and Simon Baker are being offered roles, as are Amanda Peet and Amy Smart, the latter of whom recently signed to star in CBS' "The Meant to Be's". Also lured back to TV is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar.

As in previous years, there is the young hot ingenue. Last year, it was Jordana Brewster, who was offered a number of plum lead roles and ultimately picked ABC's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". This year, it's "12 Miles of Bad Road" co-star Eliza Coupe, who is in hot demand.

There also is an accomplished foreigner who is taking over the lead of a pilot despite the fact that he's virtually unknown in the U.S. Last year, Brit Michelle Ryan was tapped in "Bionic Woman"; this year, Australian Josh Lawson landed the lead in "Spaced".

Foreign-born actors continue to be hot this pilot season: West and "Eleventh Hour" star Rufus Sewell hail from the U.K., while Baker is from Australia.

As usual, there is a departing HBO series that has freed up actors for pilot season.

Two years ago, it was "Six Feet Under", whose stars Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Rachel Griffiths and Lauren Ambrose landed leads on new series. Last year, it was "Rome", with Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson and Polly Walker doing broadcast pilots.

This time around, it's "The Wire", whose star West is a hot commodity.

'Witch Mountain' remake lands Hinds, Ludwig

'Witch Mountain' remake lands Hinds, Ludwig
CORRECTED 3:42 a.m. PT March 6

Ciaran Hinds and Alexander Ludwig have joined the cast of "Race to Witch Mountain", Disney's reimagining of its 1975 adventure movie "Escape to Witch Mountain".

Andy Fickman is on board to direct what is described as an action thriller, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and AnnaSophia Robb.

Disney-based Andrew Gunn, whose "College Road Trip" opens Friday, is producing via his Gunn Films banner.

The adaptation revolves around a pair of paranormal-powered siblings (Ludwig, Robb) who, with the help of a Las Vegas cab driver (Johnson), go on the run from a diabolical group of men who wish to exploit their abilities. Hinds will play the nefarious leader of the pack.

Mark Bomback wrote the current "Witch" draft.

Gunn Films' Ann Marie Sanderlin is executive producing. Brigham Taylor and Casey Wolfe are overseeing for Disney.

The studio is eyeing a late March start in Los Angeles.

Ludwig, repped by ICM, starred in Walden's "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising".

UTA-repped Hinds is known for portraying Julius Caesar in HBO's "Rome". His credits include "There Will Be Blood" and the upcoming "Stop-Loss".

Editors unveil their Eddie noms

Editors unveil their Eddie noms
American Cinema Editors have announced 10 feature film nominations for the 58th annual ACE Eddie Awards, set for Feb. 16 at the Beverly Hilton.

Christopher Rouse for The Bourne Ultimatum, Jay Cassidy for Into the Wild, John Gilroy for Michael Clayton, Roderick Jaynes for No Country for Old Men and Dylan Tichenor for There Will Be Blood will compete for best edited dramatic feature.

Nominees for best edited feature, comedy or musical are Michael Tronick for Hairspray, Dana E. Glauberman for Juno, Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Darren Holmes for Ratatouille and Chris Lebenzon for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Two-thirds of the films that won Eddies during the past 15 years have also been best picture nominees.

Competing in the documentary category are Edgar Burcksen & Leonard Feinstein for Darfur Now, Leslie Iwerks & Stephen Myers for The Pixar Story and Geoffrey Richman, Chris Seward & Dan Swietlik for Sicko.

In television, the nominees for half-hour series are Ken Eluto for 30 Rock (The C Word episode), Shannon Mitchell for Californication (Hell-A Woman) and Grady Cooper for Curb Your Enthusiasm (The Bat Mitzvah). Contenders for their work on one-hour series for commercial TV are Norman Buckley for Chuck (Pilot), Malcolm Jamieson for Damages (Pilot) and Karen Stern for Law & Order: SVU (Paternity).

Stewart Schill for Dexter (It's Alive), David Siegel for Rome (De Patre Vostro) and Sidney Wolinsky for The Sopranos (Made in America) are nominated for one-hour series for non-commercial TV.

Italian cast picked for Lee's WWII drama

ROME -- The production team behind Spike Lee's wartime drama Miracle at St. Anna on Friday announced the Italian-language cast for the film and said that work on the project will begin Oct. 15.

The film, which will be shot mostly on location in Tuscany, tells the story of a group of black U.S. soldiers who get involved in a Tuscan village's efforts to weed out a traitor.

According to producers Luigi Musini and Roberto Cicutto, the Italian-language cast will include Pierfrancesco Favino (Romanzo Criminale), Omero Antonutti (La Ragazza del Lago), Valentina Cervi (War and Peace), Lydia Biondi (HBO-BBC's Rome) and Italian TV actor Sergio Albelli.

Producers have not yet announced the films English- and German-speaking cast.

In addition to Musini and Cicutto, producers will be Italy's 01 Distribution, RAI Cinema and Lee's own 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

Soft start for HBO's 'Tell Me'

HBO's new series Tell Me You Love Me got off to a slow start Sunday night, averaging 910,000 total viewers.

The racy drama, which aired at 9 p.m., was off significantly when compared with the recent series debut of HBO's now canceled John From Cincinnati, which averaged 3.4 million June 10, according to Nielsen Media Research. However, it should be noted that John had the series finale of The Sopranos (11.9 million) as its lead-in, while Tell Me led out of a Sopranos repeat that drew only 519,000 viewers.

Tell Me also didn't help its lead-out, the sixth-season premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which averaged 1.2 million viewers at 10 p.m.

That marks the comedy series' poorest showing for a season opener. The Seaon 5 premiere, which aired Sept. 25, drew 1.6 million viewers. The show's most-watched premiere came in September 2002, with the third season opener drawing 5.5 million viewers.

Other recent drama series debuts on HBO include Big Love in March 2006 (4.6 million), Rome in August 2005 (4.6 million) and Deadwood in March 2004 (5.8 million).

'Ben-Hur' Italian Studio Partially Destroyed by Fire

  • WENN
Italy's famous Cinecitta Film Studios have been partially destroyed by a fire. The Rome studios were built by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini during the Fascist period and were the set of classic films such as Ben-Hur, La Dolce Vita, Gangs Of New York, The Passion Of The Christ and the hit TV show Rome. A fire broke out at the studios at 10pm on Thursday night destroying a 2,000 square meter hanger, before moving on to other buildings. Guido Parisi, the commander of the Rome region firefighters, says, "There are flames up to 30 to 40 meters high, because it is wood and synthetic materials that are burning. We're going to use aircraft because the flames must be fought from all sides in order to prevent them from spreading further." The studios celebrated their 70th anniversary in April.

Emmy list goes primetime early

An online leak about the Primetime Emmy Award finalists in the comedy and drama series categories raised questions Monday about the security and future of the Emmy voting process.

When TheEnvelope.com posted the list of the top 10 finalists in each category during the weekend, citing multiple judges who were screening the series as sources, it also shed light into this year's voting process.

According to the site, the drama finalists are ABC's Boston Legal, Grey's Anatomy and Lost; NBC's Friday Night Lights and Heroes; Fox's House and 24; Showtime's Dexter; and HBO's Rome and The Sopranos. The comedy finalists, according to the site, are ABC's Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty; NBC's My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs and 30 Rock; CBS' Two and a Half Men; HBO's Entourage and Extras; and Showtime's Weeds.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which oversees the Primetime Emmy Awards, declined comment on the accuracy of the lists.

It is unclear whether ATAS is planning to launch an investigation into the sources of the leak. But in a statement, the academy pointed out that all Emmy judges are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Farino devotes 'Year' to Par

Paramount Pictures and Plan B Entertainment are putting their faith in Julian Farino. The helmer is attached to direct The Year of Living Biblically for the studio.

Jay Reiss is adapting the screenplay from A.J. Jacobs' nonfiction book "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Obey the Bible as Literally as Possible."

For the book, Jacobs immersed himself in the rules of the Old and New Testament. The book is scheduled to be published in October by Simon & Schuster.

Paramount's Pam Abdy is overseeing Year of Living Biblically for the studio.

Farino has become an in-demand director after helming episodes of Entourage, The Office, Rome and Big Love. He recently signed on to direct his first studio project, the Cameron Diaz-Ashton Kutcher starrer What Happens in Vegas, for 20th Century Fox.

He is repped by Endeavor.

Reiss is repped by Endeavor and Management 360.

Diaz, Kutcher hit jackpot in Fox's 'Vegas'

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher are teaming up for a Las Vegas-based romantic comedy.

The duo is in negotiations to topline What Happens in Vegas ..., which Julian Farino is directing for 20th Century Fox. Dean Georgaris is producing via his Penn Station shingle, as is Mosaic's Michael Aguilar.

The story is set in motion following a night of debauchery in Vegas, when two strangers (Diaz and Kutcher) discover they have gotten married and one of them wins a huge jackpot with the other's quarter. In trying to determine the rightful beneficiary of the winnings, the duo embarks on a series of plots to undermine the other, falling in love along the way. Dana Fox wrote the screenplay.

Emma Watts is overseeing for the studio.

Farino, repped by Endeavor, is one of the primary directors of HBO's Entourage and also has helmed episodes of the premium network's Big Love and Rome as well as NBC's The Office. He also directed the 21st century version of BBC's "7Up" and recently wrapped 14Up.

Kutcher, repped by Endeavor, most recently starred in the Coast Guard adventure movie The Guardian; his most recent rom-com was Guess Who with Bernie Mac.

Fall season taking on foreign air

It's crunch time for TV studios' business affairs departments, but this year it seems as if they're spending as much time preparing work visas for the shows' stars as they do closing deals for new series.

A trend that emerged during the pilot-casting season comes into focus this week when the networks pick up their new series: Foreign actors are playing the leads on a staggering number of new dramas next season.

There have been a few here and there -- Brit Hugh Laurie of House and Australian Anthony LaPaglia of Without a Trace, both Emmy winners for their roles on the shows -- but never quite like this. It's across the board on every network, and it's massive.

Almost all new drama series with a single lead that will premiere next season -- a total of eight shows -- have a foreign actor playing the role of an American. Even two iconic Hollywood characters, Jamie Sommers of The Bionic Woman and Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise, will be played by British actresses Michelle Ryan and Lena Headey, respectively.

NBC picked up five one-hour series for next season, the ensemble dramedy Lipstick Jungle, the action comedy Chuck and a trio of single-lead dramas, Bionic Woman, Journeyman and Life, all three of which are toplined by British actors: Ryan, Rome star Kevin McKidd and Band of Brothers star Damian Lewis, respectively.

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who compared Lewis to Laurie at the network's press conference Monday, had been joking that NBC should be nominated for BAFTAs, the British TV awards.

Castings: Bierko plays by Fox 'Rules'

In the latest round of major pilot castings, Craig Bierko has been cast as the lead in Fox's comedy The Rules of Starting Over for director Bobby Farrelly, and Rome star Kevin McKidd has been tapped as the lead in NBC's drama Journeyman.

In addition, Zachary Levi has landed the title role on NBC's drama Chuck for director McG, Mark Valley is set as one of the two leads on NBC's comedy Business Class, "ER" co-star Shane West has joined Fox's Supreme Courtships and Jane Lynch has come on board NBC's comedy Area 52.

* Rules, from 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a thirtysomething newly single man (Bierko) and his recently divorced friends.

Bierko, who has been recurring on ABC's Boston Legal, recently was seen in the feature For Your Consideration.

Rashida Jones also has been cast in the pilot, playing a partner at a law firm looking for a decent guy. She recurs on NBC's The Office.

* Journeyman, from 20th TV, is an epic fantasy about a man (McKidd) who travels back in time to fix people's lives, but by recalibrating the past, he sometimes alters the future.

'Jumper' shoot had rare access to Coliseum

'Jumper' shoot had rare access to Coliseum
ROME -- 20th Century Fox's Jumper -- which tells a story about a time traveling teenager -- has boldly gone where no other major film has gone: inside Rome's ancient Coliseum.

Director Doug Liman was granted an unprecedented three days of access to the first-century structure, including underground chambers rarely visited by tourists. The filming took place earlier in December but was first announced over the weekend.

The permissions carried some restrictions: filming could only take place around dawn and dusk, and no artificial lighting was allowed.

The project is part of a newly open attitude toward film from Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, a film buff and one of the founders of the RomaCinemaFest, which held its first edition in October. In the past, even films set in Roman times -- such as Ridley Scott's Gladiator or the HBO series Rome -- had to make do without shots inside the Coliseum.

Though this is unprecedented access for a film, the Coliseum has been used sparingly for concerts and dramas in recent years.

Salem in HBO ring with Crusades mini

HBO is back in business with writer Kario Salem, who won an Emmy for penning the channel's 1997 biopic Don King: Only in America.

Salem is developing a miniseries about the Third Crusade, the 12th century clash between Islam and Christianity, told through the eyes of their respective leaders, Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.

"This is not some dry historical costume drama," Salem said. "This is a personal story. I think it of it as a medieval gangster epic."

The project would be a co-production between HBO and U.K.'s Channel 4, with executive producers attached who are longform veterans at HBO: Tony To (From the Earth to the Moon) and George Faber (Elizabeth).

"Tony has been there with me from the beginning on this," Salem said of To, whose credits also include Band of Brothers. Salem also has worked with HBO before, receiving an Emmy nomination for another biopic, The Rat Pack.

Salem is particularly enthused about offering a fresh angle on the storied life of Richard the Lionheart, best known from the classic The Lion in Winter.

HBO is no stranger to the sword-and-sandal genre, having finished work on two seasons of the series Rome, which returns to the channel next month.

HBO, 'Elizabeth' top Creative Arts Emmys

The HBO movie Elizabeth I topped the winners list during the 58th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards with a total of five wins, including nods for casting, art direction and costumes. The cable network's Baghdad ER and Rome followed with four wins apiece during the ceremony, held Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Overall, HBO was the big winner of the night with 17 awards, followed by ABC with 10 and NBC with eight.

'The Simpsons' Wins Ninth Animated Emmy

  • WENN
Animated comedy hit The Simpsons won the best animated program at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday - the ninth time it has been awarded the prize. An episode of the show, entitled "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story," beat a controversial episode of South Park, in which The Church Of Scientology and follower Tom Cruise were mocked. Simpsons producer Al Jean said in his acceptance speech, "This is what happens when you don't mock Scientology." Other winners at the ceremony, which celebrates technical achievement in television, included UK/US-made drama Elizabeth I, which scooped five prizes, US Army documentary Baghdad ER, and Rome, which took home four awards each. The Creative Arts Emmys precedes the main Emmys, which will take place in Los Angeles next week, hosted by Conan O'Brien.

HBO, 'Elizabeth' top Creative Arts Emmys

HBO, 'Elizabeth' top Creative Arts Emmys
The HBO movie Elizabeth I topped the winners list during the 58th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards with a total of five wins, including nods for casting, art direction and costumes. The cable network's Baghdad ER and Rome followed with four wins apiece during the ceremony, held Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Overall, HBO was the big winner of the night with 17 awards, followed by ABC with 10 and NBC with eight.
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