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17 items from 2007


Reitman has the jump on Cody's 'Body'

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

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the respective director and writer of Fox Atomic's buzzed-about feature Juno, are joining forces again.

Reitman and producing partner Dan Dubiecki are coming aboard to produce Jennifer's Body, Cody's comedic horror movie recently set up at Atomic.

Fox Atomic pre-emptively picked up the Cody spec last month with Transformers star Megan Fox on board to star. Mason Novick also is producing.

Reitman and Dubiecki will produce through their shingle, Hard C, which is housed at both Fox Searchlight and Atomic.

"We're here because Diablo's voice and our voice align," Dubiecki said.

Body tells the story of a cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a Minnesota farming town. Her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshiping rock band responsible for the transformation.

Throwing horror onto the Hard C slate isn't that much of a stretch for the company, which was built on the success of Thank You for Smoking and is developing the comedy Bonzai Shadowhands with Rainn Wilson at Searchlight. »

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Reitman has the jump on Cody's 'Body'

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

CORRECTED 6 p.m. PT Nov. 15, 2007

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the respective director and writer of Fox Atomic's buzzed-about feature Juno, are joining forces again.

Reitman and producing partner Dan Dubiecki are coming aboard to produce Jennifer's Body, Cody's comedic horror movie recently set up at Fox Searchlight.

Fox Atomic pre-emptively picked up the Cody spec last month with Transformers star Megan Fox on board to star (HR 10/23). Mason Novick also is producing.

Reitman and Dubiecki will produce through their shingle, Hard C, which is housed at Fox Searchlight.

"We're here because Diablo's voice and our voice align," Dubiecki said.

Body tells the story of a cheerleader who is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a Minnesota farming town. Her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshiping rock band responsible for the transformation.

Throwing horror onto the Hard C slate isn't that much of a stretch for the company, which was built on the success of Thank You for Smoking and is developing the comedy Bonzai Shadowhands with Rainn Wilson at Searchlight. »

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99 Francs

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

PARIS -- Adapted from Frederic Beigbeder's novel of the same title -- one of the biggest French best-sellers of recent years -- and starring the very bankable Jean Dujardin (Brice de Nice, 0SS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies), Jan Kounen's 99 Francs represents a scathing -- for France -- satire on the advertising industry, one that is likely to do excellent business in its home territory.

Dujardin plays Octave Parango, whizz-kid creative director of the advertising agency Ross and Witchcraft whom we first meet standing on the roof of a skyscraper in driving rain apparently bent on committing suicide. In voice-over -- there is a great deal of VO and direct address to camera -- Octave explains that he is the master of the world, the man who decides today what Joe Public will want to buy tomorrow. And that he is a very bad lot indeed.

He then leads us through the stages of his career, presenting his colleagues -- fellow creator Charlie (Jocelyn Quivrin), finance director Jeff (Patrick Mille), girlfriend Sophie (Vahina Giocante) -- and CEO Alfred Duler (Nicolas Marie), of his leading client, a major dairy products manufacturer.

Quite how bad a lot he is becomes rapidly apparent as the film watches him snort large quantities of cocaine and vent his cynical wit on all around him. When Sophie informs him that she is pregnant with his child, he proves incapable of producing an authentic human response. But he is lucid enough and decides finally to rebel, notably by sabotaging the launch of a new brand of yogurt.

Comparable with last year's Thank you for Smoking, Jason Reitman's acerbic take on lobbyists for Big Tobacco, 99 Francs is strong stuff for France where advertisers traditionally wield considerable influence among television broadcasters who in turn have a major say as regards which movies get made.

Kounen, working from a script by Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Laveine with some impromptu input by Dujardin, pulls few punches in his portrayal of advertising agencies as dens of narcissistic, coke-fueled opportunists on the make. Having made 30 or so ads himself, mostly in England, he presumably knows something of what he is talking about. His approach is not always subtle, and cliche is always lurking, but the movie is constantly inventive and the jokes score more hits than misses.

Some of the humor will fall flat with non-French audiences, but the movie is also dotted with references to well-known movie directors such as Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar-Wai and Federico Fellini. Kounen is more interested in effects than in narrative clarity. The reality status of a number of scenes appears problematic -- real, pastiche, publicity or drug-induced fantasy? -- though in this the movie reflects the novel.

The pace is fast and furious. Since Kounen deploys the techniques of advertising the better to debunk them, he risks burdening the spectator with sensory overload. But it's all good fun with real bite, and France's best-known yogurt manufacturer will not be best pleased to see its brand name lightly disguised as Madone.

99 FRANCS

Film 99 Francs, Pathe, Arte France Cinema

Credits:

Director: Jan Kounen

Writers: Nicolas Charlet, Bruno Laveine, Jan Kounen

Producer: Ilan Goldman

Director of photography: David Ungaro

Production designer: Michel Barthelemy

Music: Jean-Jacques Hertz, Francois Roy

Costume designer: Sylvie Ong, Claire Lacaze

Editor: Anny Danche

Cast:

Octave Parango: Jean Dujardin

Charlie: Jocelyn Quivrin

Jeff: Patrick Mille

Sophie: Vahina Giocante

Tamara: Elisa Tovati

Duler: Nicolas Marie

Jean-Christian Gagnant: Dominique Bettenfeld

Running time -- 100 minutes

No MPAA rating

»

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Reitman's YouTube attachment

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

NEW YORK -- Google's YouTube will hold a short film contest that will be judged in part by director Jason Reitman.

The Hewlett-Packard-sponsored competition, dubbed Project Direct, will start on Oct. 7 and will be accepting entries until Nov. 9. The videos must be between two and seven minutes in length and feature a character facing "a situation above his or her maturity level," among other guidelines.

Reitman, director of the 2005 Fox Searchlight release Thank You For Smoking and the upcoming Searchlight film Juno, will judge the initial entries along with a panel and will narrow the field down to 20 videos. The YouTube community will then vote on a winner, which will be revealed on Dec. 5.

The winner will spend nine days at a "top international film festival" where they will meet with Fox Searchlight executives. He or she also will receive a $5,000 debit card and have the video played on YouTube's homepage.

The competition is open to residents of the U.S., U.K., Brazil, Canada, France, Italy and Spain, and the videos must be in English or have English subtitles. »

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Murphy joins Pacino in 'Dali' portrait

13 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Cillian Murphy is stocking up on his paint brushes in order to star opposite Al Pacino in Dali & I: The Surreal Story for Room 9 Entertainment. Andrew Niccol is directing while Room 9 partners David O. Sacks, Daniel Brunt and Michael R. Newman produce.

The movie, which will span the 1960s-80s, follows the time in Dali's life when most of his great work was behind him and he became more flamboyant. Dali (Pacino) also developed a mentor-protege relationship with a young art dealer named Stan Lauryssens, who will be played by Murphy.

The part of Gala, Dali's wife, has yet to be cast.

Room 9 originally acquired the project as a spec written by John Salvati, based on Lauryssens' autobiographical book Dali and I. Niccol rewrote the script.

Dali is scheduled to begin shooting in early 2008 on location in Spain and New York.

Daniel Brunt is overseeing the project at Room 9, which was behind Jason Reitman's award winning Thank You For Smoking.

Murphy most recently starred in Danny Boyle's Sunshine and Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley. He is currently shooting Beeban Kidron's Hippie Hippie Shake for Universal Pictures/Working Title. »

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U.S. fare speaks to Toronto in fest lineup

23 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Related story: Three at fest headed to IFC

Related story: Christie's digital gets screen billing

TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday unveiled its most American-friendly lineup in years, capped off with new titles from Renny Harlin, Paul Schrader and Robin Swicord.

Toronto boasts no official competition. But the Hollywood contingent booked for the twice-nightly gala screenings at Roy Thomson Hall looks set to turn the high-profile venue into an industry shindig.

Among the six new gala titles are Harlin's "Cleaner", a Sony Pictures Entertainment thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson as a cop-turned-crime scene cleaner; the Richard Attenborough-directed love story "Closing the Ring", starring Shirley MacLaine, Mischa Barton and Neve Campbell; and Schrader's "The Walker", a ThinkFilm release starring Woody Harrelson and Lauren Bacall that comes to Toronto by way of Berlin, Cannes and Sydney.

Also joining the Roy Thomson Hall party are two Sony Pictures Classics releases: Kenneth Branagh's Michael Caine-Jude Law starrer "Sleuth", which first bowed in Venice, and Swicord's "The Jane Austen Book Club", starring Jimmy Smits, Amy Brenneman and Maria Bello. Also booked for a gala is French director Alain Corneau's "Le Deuxieme Souffle", starring Daniel Auteuil and Monica Bellucci.

Those titles join such earlier Roy Thomson Hall entries as Julie Taymor's "Across the Universe", Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream", Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton", Gavin Hood's "Rendition", Terry George's "Reservation Road" and Aristomenis Tsirbas' "Terra".

Toronto, which in recent years has stepped up efforts to make its festival more Hollywood friendly, also has included 28 U.S.-produced films in its 50-strong Special Presentations sidebar.

The latest Special Presentations titles include the Michael Moore documentary "Captain Mike Across America", Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," Melisa Wallack and Bernie Goldmann's "Bill", Gillian Armstrong's "Death Defying Acts" and Jason Reitman's "Juno", the follow-up to "Thank You for Smoking", which was a Toronto festival breakout hit two years ago.

Also joining today are the latest works from Jonathan Demme, Alison Eastwood, Brian De Palma, Thomas McCarthy and Anand Tucker.

Toronto will unspool 352 films between Sept. 6 and 15 -- 261 features and 91 shorts. The lineup includes 101 world premieres and 108 North American premieres, many of which will bow in Venice before jumping the pond to Toronto. In addition, 71 of the films are directorial debuts.

The festival lineup promises a strong French contingent, including a dozen titles arriving in Toronto with U.S. distribution deals in hand.

High-profile French titles looking for U.S. distribution include Amos Gitai's "Disengagement", Claude Chabrol's "La Fille Coupee En Deux", which will bow in Venice, and Eric Rohmer's "Les Amours D'Astreet et De Celadon," another North American premiere by way of Venice.

John Kochman, executive director of Unifrance USA, said the strong French presence in Toronto is due primarily to festival co-directors Piers Handling and Noah Cowan remaining "unreconstructed Francophiles" eager to program French titles in their event.

Other new titles announced Wednesday include Wayne Wang's "The Princess of Nebraska" and "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers," both portraits of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Wang will bring the two indie titles films to the festival's Masters program.

Toronto added eight more documentaries to its Real to Reel section, including films by Paul Crowder and Murray Lerner, Olga Konskaya and Andrea Nekrasov, Julian Schnabel, Ran Tal, Philippe Kholy and Grant Gee.

In addition, the previously announced "Body of War", co-directed by Ellen Spiro and talk show legend Phil Donahue, will see its premiere accompanied by a live performance by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, who wrote original songs for the Iraq documentary.

The festival has its usual complement of films about war and political protest that, according to festival co-director Noah Cowan, reflect a "seriousness of purpose and a real sense of drive to tell political stories."

"In many ways, the body of films recalls the American independent movie of the 1970s," he added.

American auteur films including Alan Ball's "Nothing Is Private", a drama about sexual politics and bigotry set against the backdrop of the 1991 Gulf War, De Palma's war drama "Redacted" and Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" reflect anti-war "provocation," Cowan said.

Toronto's lineup also includes a surprising number of crime-themed dramas, including Alexi Tan's "Blood Brothers", a drama about three friends taking on a life of big-city crime; Comeau's fugitive drama "Le Deuxieme Souffle"; Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," a thriller about a botched robbery; Brad Furman's "The Take", about the aftermath of an armored car heist; and Ira Sachs' "Married Life", a drama about a husband who kills his wife to spare her the shame of divorce.

Cowan said that the crime-themed movies this year recall the '70s-era vigilante movies that coincided with Vietnam.

"When the U.S. is faced with wars that are frustrating in their inability to be totally understood, that comes out in their films," Toronto's top programr said.

"Just as the 1970s, there's films that reflect paranoia about government and police corruption and which come from a frustration and rage about what's happening in the world," he added.

Other Toronto highlights announced Wednesday include talks by President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, an update on Bill Maher and Larry Charles' anti-religion documentary and a briefing on the ongoing crisis in Darfur courtesy of International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and Don Cheadle.

Toronto is set to open Sept. 6 with Jeremy Podeswa's "Fugitive Pieces" and close 10 days later with another Canadian film, Paolo Barzman's "Emotional Arithmetic".

A complete list of titles screening at Toronto follows:

Galas:

"Across the Universe", Julie Taymor, U.S.

"L'Age Des Tenebres", Denys Arcand, Canada

"Blood Brothers", Alexi Tan, Taiwan/China/Hong Kong

"Caramel", Nadine Labaki, Lebanon/France

"Cassandra's Dream", Woody Allen, Britain

"Cleaner", Renny Harlin, U.S. »

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Recognition 'wonderful,' Wolf says

20 July 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Dick Wolf was happy for Law & Order: SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay's nomination for lead actress in a drama series. "It's wonderful to think that people are starting to recognize the consistent level of acting that takes place on all three ('Law & Order') series," he said. "It's hard for procedurals to get Emmy nominations because they're not showy; they're more about the story." NBC's "SVU" also garnered noms for guest stars Marcia Gay Harden and Leslie Caron.

Sally Field initially found out about her Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama series from her teenage son. "He ran into the house yelling, 'Mom, you were nominated, ' " said Field, who garnered her seventh Emmy nomination for her role as Nora Walker on ABC's freshman series "Brothers & Sisters." Field, who would follow the news by going about the day in her normal fashion -- commuting to work from Malibu to Burbank -- said it's the devotion to her family that her character has, despite everything that she thinks she has, that resonated with audiences. "It's about a mother who has gone through some changes and loves her children more than anything. It's about love, hate and all that's involved with these people you are bound to for your entire life." Field added that she hasn't really tapped into what it is about playing this particular character that stands out from the myriad others she has played. "I really won't know that 'til I'm sitting on the porch some day," she said. But when asked how she'd celebrate her Emmy win, Field replied with one word: "Work". "I'm glad to be working", she said.

The prolific Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of Fox's American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, both of which scored nominations Thursday, said the news of his nomination was "delightful, isn't it? I'm really happy with it. The live finale of 'So You Think You Can Dance' is tonight, so it's a tough day!" Idol, nominated 29 times since its 2003 start and with no wins to date, is a team effort, he said. "The worst thing is when you're not nominated. It's sort of a ritual and it's terrific and fantastic to be nominated and we don't think, 'We're going to win!' Each year, we say it can't be 'The Amazing Race' again and then we go congratulate 'The Amazing Race.' It's a shame we all start with the same 'A' vowel. My ass is always half off of the seat when they start to read the winner and you hear the 'Aaaa' sound." Remarking on the previous season of Idol, Lythgoe said, "With 'Idol Gives Back, ' we really went to town and had some good mentors: the editors, the camera teams, the director, Bruce Gowers, who doesn't know what's going to hit him every week." Shooting for four days in Africa and locations in the U.S. like New Orleans he said, "was like two finales and we were continuing to do the show and a lot of hard work went into it." Next up, Fox's "The Search for the Next Great American Band."

After receiving a nomination for supporting actor in a comedy series, Neil Patrick Harris has decided it is time to start acting like a star. "I've decided to be an absolute monster on-set," he said. "Or at least, now, my monstrous behavior is well justified." The co-star of CBS' How I Met Your Mother said he is still numb to the good news. "It's such a communal experience working on a show," he said. "We're all big fans of each other. We have great writers, and there are a lot of people that made it happen. To get a nomination reflects the show's worth." The former child actor is thrilled to be acknowledged for his work in an adult role. "It's a different chapter. It's nice to commit to a part and take a big strong stab at it and take recognition for it." Next up, Harris will appear as himself in New Line Cinema's Harold & Kumar 2 and participate in reading of The Marriage of Bette and Boo, which he hopes will lead to more theater work. "I love doing stage, and it complements the sitcom well," he said. "It's a nice way to keep flexing your muscles."

There are a lot of perks that come with an Emmy nomination, but The Office co-star Rainn Wilson said he is most excited about the title. "Now anytime anyone mentions my name they're going to say 'Emmy-nominated Rainn Wilson ... table for two.' " Wilson, who is shooting Fox Atomic's The Rocker, a film about a heavy metal drummer who gets a second shot at fame with his nephew's high school band, said he felt stunned and grateful when everyone from producers to publicists called to tell him about his nomination for supporting actor in a comedy series for the NBC show. Wilson said it's only a matter of time before his character, Dwight, has his unmistakable face on Mount Rushmore. "I was at an airport, and a baggage handler showed me a text on his phone that said, 'I can and do cut my own hair, ' which is a Dwight quote. He said, 'My daughter and I send Dwight quotes back and forth.' I'm iconic!" Until he returns to The Office set Aug. 6, Wilson is writing a film for Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking), in which he will star as a down-and-out ninja.

Mary-Louise Parker said that she was just glad it wasn't an emergency when the phone rang at 5:45 a.m. Thursday at her Los Angeles home. Instead, it was her publicist notifying her of her new status as a double Emmy nominee -- for lead actress in a comedy series for her role as the pot-dealing mom Nancy Botwin on Showtime's Weeds and for lead actress in a miniseries or movie as Zenia Arden on Oxygen's The Robber Bride. "It was really early here", Parker said. "Honestly, I was completely surprised -- I'm always surprised." Parker said she's also amazed that her Weeds character has gone over so well with audiences. "I'm not really sure why -- I really thought people were going to object to the ('Weeds') character and find her controversial," Parker said. "A lot of people must smoke pot or something because nobody has really objected to it." To celebrate, Parker is taking part in a Southern California summer tradition: "I'm taking my boy to Disneyland tomorrow," she said. "I guess I'll get some extra cotton candy or something."

Tim Daly was driving to work to shoot the first day of ABC's Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice when his publicist called to tell him about his nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series as J.T. Dolan on HBO's The Sopranos. "It was a total surprise. I didn't even know the nominations were coming out," Daly said. "I know it's very cliche, but the people with whom I share this nomination are just unbelievable." Daly, who comes from a clan of esteemed actors, chalked up his first nom to the family genes. "My father (James Daly) was nominated for an Emmy, and my sister (Tyne Daly) has won a million, so it's one of the happy side effects of the congenital disease in my family I guess," he said. "It's certainly better than a sharp stick in the eye." He said that he would be looking forward to September's Emmy ceremony. "I don't think of acting as a competition sport. It's just nice for people to be acknowledged and to see people in a nice suit," Daly said. "Beyond that, it's all sort of silliness."

Anna Paquin was lying in bed having her coffee, watching a little TV and checking e-mails when the phone rang early in the morning. "I was curious to why someone was calling," said Paquin, who was nominated for supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for her role in HBO's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee but didn't even know the Emmy noms were being announced. "After I found out I thought, 'OK, that's really awesome.' That's the best way to find out about something so nice -- for it to be unexpected." Paquin, who recently finished shooting the HBO pilot True Blood, said she was proud to be a part of the docudrama that garnered 17 nominations, including nods for fellow castmembers Aidan Quinn and August Schellenberg. "I'm so glad a story is out there that took the viewpoint of one of the many Native Americans who were influenced by such tragedies," she said. »

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'Smoking,' 'Sherrybaby' top Prism awards

25 April 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Fox Searchlight's Thank You for Smoking and IFC's Sherrybaby were honored Tuesday with Prism Awards, presented annually by the Entertainment Industries Council for accurate depictions of drug, alcohol and tobacco use, addiction and mental health issues.

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly was presented the Larry Stewart Leadership & Inspiration Award, which honors activities that reflect "the kind of leadership that is needed for the industry to address these issues."

EIC chief executive Brian Dyak said Reilly "helps set the example for what the industry can do to help get life-saving messages across to the public."

Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers took home the Heritage Award for their telefilm Starting Again and "excellence in portraying substance abuse before the advent of the Prism Awards." And HBO was bestowed the Prism President's Award for a "comprehensive, multiplatform documentary programming initiative on addiction."

A complete list award recipients follows:

Feature Film -- Wide Release

Thank You for Smoking

(Fox Searchlight Pictures/Room 9 Entertainment/Content Film)

Feature Film -- Limited Release

Sherrybaby

(IFC Films/Sherry Films/Big Beach Prods. /Elevation Filmworks/Red Envelope Entertainment)

Film Festival

Shelf Life

(Cinequest/Needs More Nudity Prods.)

Original DVD

Most High

(Netflix/2nd Act Films)

Comedy Series Episode

Family Guy -- Deep Throats

(Fox Broadcasting Co./20th Century Fox Television/Fuzzy Door Prods.)

Comedy Series Multi-Episode Storyline

Desperate Housewives

(Episodes: One More Kiss/We're Gonna Be All Right/Thank You So Much/There's Something About a War/Silly People/There Is No Other Way/"Could I Leave You?"/Everybody Says Don't/Don't Look at Me)

(ABC Entertainment/Touchstone Television/Cherry Prods.)

Performance in a Comedy Series

Judith Light, Ugly Betty

Drama Series Episode

ER -- Reason to Live

(NBC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Television/Amblin Television/Constant C Prods.)

Performance in a Drama Series Episode

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

House

(Episodes: Fools for Love/Que Sera Sera/Finding Judas/Merry Little Christmas)

(Fox Broadcasting Co./NBC Universal Television Studio/Heel & Toe Films/Bat Hat Harry Prods./Shore Z Prods.)

Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

Rene Auberjonois, Boston Legal

Jayne Brook, Boston Legal

Daytime Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

All My Children: JR's Alcoholism

(ABC Entertainment)

Daytime Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

Maurice Benard, General Hospital

TV Movie or Miniseries

Augusta, Gone

(Lifetime Television/Robert Greenwald Prods./ Nightstar Prods.)

Our Very Own

(Starz!/GADA Films / Miramax Films)

Performance in a TV Movie

Keith Carradine, Our Very Own

Allison Janney, Our Very Own

»

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Buckley's 'Broker' finds screen gods

6 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Christopher Buckley's Wall Street satire God Is My Broker is being brought to the big screen by Edward R. Pressman Film Corp., Polsky Films and Stephen Belafonte's WhiteShark Films, with screenwriter Peter Himmelstein set to adapt the novel.

Buckley (Thank You for Smoking) sold Pressman the rights to his 1998 book, which centers on an alcoholic stock broker who gives everything up and joins a monastery. But when the monks' vow of poverty begins to take a financial toll, the former broker uses his old skills to save them, turning his new home into a frightning parallel of the world he desperately tried to escape.

Pressman, Alan and Gabe Polsky and Belafonte will produce the project. Pressman Films' Alessandro Camon and Sarah Ramey will serve as executive producers.

Himmelstein is finishing production on his feature writing and directing debut, the black comedy/thriller The Key Man, starring Jack Davenport, Brian Cox and Hugo Weaving.

Broker is the first project of the new production outfit Polsky Films. »

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Aaron Eckhart Lands Two-Faced Role

21 February 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Thank You For Smoking star Aaron Eckhart will play Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins. Dent is Gotham City's district attorney and a Batman ally who goes insane after half of his face is disfigured by acid. Known as Two-Face, he chooses to do good or evil by flipping a coin. Tommy Lee Jones played the character in 1995's Batman Forever. Ray Oscar winner Jamie Foxx recently rubbished reports he would play Dent alongside Christian Bale's Batman. The sequel, directed by Christopher Nolan, is set to be released next summer. The actor is next set to be seen in drama No Reservations opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones and recent Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin. »

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Eckhart joining 'Dark Knight' cast

16 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Aaron Eckhart is in final negotiations to play Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. Pictures' sequel to Batman Begins.

In Batman lore, Dent is the district attorney of Gotham City and an ally of Batman. After half his face is disfigured by acid, Dent becomes the insane crime boss known as Two Face. He chooses to do good or evil by flipping a coin. Tommy Lee Jones played the character in 1995's Batman Forever.

Knight sees Christopher Nolan back in the director's chair with Christian Bale reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are also returning. Heath Ledger joined the cast last summer, signing up to play the sardonic and murderous villain the Joker.

The script was written by Nolan's brother, Jonathan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. Producing are Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan.

Eckhart is riding high these days thanks to his acclaimed performance in Thank You for Smoking, which nabbed him Golden Globe and Spirit Award nominations. »

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WGA drafts 'Sunshine,' 'Departed' for awards

12 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The WGA shone a bright light on "Little Miss Sunshine" on Sunday night, bestowing upon the indie comedy its best original screenplay award, while Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" grabbed best adapted screenplay laurels to maintain its own Oscar momentum.

"Sunshine", a Fox Searchlight release written by Michael Arndt, overcame fellow category nominees "Babel", "The Queen", "Stranger Than Fiction" and "United 93". "Departed" -- a Warner Bros. Pictures release with a screenplay by William Monahan and based on the motion picture "Infernal Affairs" (written by Alan Mak and Felix Chong) -- bested "Borat", "The Devil Wears Prada", "Little Children" and "Thank You for Smoking".

Arndt thanked his agent and producers for helping him achieve "the screenwriters' dream of seeing their words up on the screen uncompromised and undiluted."

In Oscar's original screenplay category, "Sunshine" is going against a similar field but with "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Pan's Labyrinth" subbing for "Stranger" and "United 93". Academy voters also will select from an adapted screenplay field in which "Departed" squares off against similar movies as figured in the WGA's same category but with "Notes on a Scandal" replacing "Prada".

The WGA held simultaneous ceremonies at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City and at the Hudson Theatre of the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York. Writer-actor Robert Wuhl presided at the WGA West's gala and actress-writer Tina Fey at the WGA East event.

At least a couple of the studio executives sprinkled throughout the Century City audience wondered whether any of the speakers would mention the WGA's impending talks for a new film and television contract, which expires in October. They didn't have long to wait.

In his welcoming remarks, WGAW president Patric Verrone joked that he would not subject the crowd to long speeches about "the guild's determination to work with our sister unions to preserve health and pension benefits," but then he went on in rapid-fire fashion to list other issues like new-media compensation that would figure in the talks. He also made a point of noting that the executive directors of the WGA, SAG and the DGA were on hand and seated together.

But the remarks served more as comic relief than a call to action. "There will be plenty of time for rambling diatribes at our town hall meetings once negotiations start," Verrone added.

Verrone also trumpeted a previously unannounced honorary award, bestowing the 2007 Robert Meltzer Award, to 12 former writer-producers of "America's Next Top Model". The WGAW president said the dozen were being lauded for "bravery" in striking the reality program in an unsuccessful bid to gain WGA union status. »

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10 make cut for ACE noms

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

Members of the American Cinema Editors have cut together an assembly of 10 nominees in two film categories for next month's 2007 Eddie Awards recognizing outstanding editing.

Making the dramatic feature film cut are Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise for Babel, Stuart Baird for Casino Royale, Thelma Schoonmaker for The Departed, Lucia Zucchetti for The Queen and the triumvirate of Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson for United 93.

In the comedy feature heat, the nominees are Mark Livolsi for The Devil Wears Prada, Virginia Katz for Dreamgirls, Pamela Martin for Little Miss Sunshine, Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and Dana Glauberman for Thank You for Smoking.

In the documentary competition, the nominees are Jay Cassidy and Dan Swietlik for An Inconvenient Truth, Patrick McMahon and Carrie Goldman for Baghdad ER and Samuel D. Pollard for Part 1 of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."

The nominees for miniseries or motion picture for noncommercial television are Beverley Mills for HBO's Elizabeth I, Part 1, Curtiss Clayton and Lee Percy for HBO's Mrs. Harris, and Trevor Waite for A&E's "Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act, Part 1."

Best-edited miniseries or motion picture for commercial television earned nominations for Sue Blainey, Sarah Boyd and Stephen Semel for ABC's Lost: Live Together, Die Alone, Geoffrey Rowland, Eric Sears, Bryan Horne, David Handman and Mitchell Danton for ABC's "The Path to 9/11, Part Two," and Heather Persons for TNT's The Ron Clark Story.

In the half-hour series for television race, the contenders are Jon Corn for HBO's Entourage: Sorry Ari, Lance Luckey for NBC's My Name Is Earl: Number One, and Dean Holland and David Rogers for NBC's The Office: Casino Nights.

The one-hour series nominees for commercial television are Leon Ortiz-Gil for Fox's 24: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Conrad Gonzalez, Keith Henderson and Steve Michael for NBC's Friday Night Lights: Pilot, and Edward Ornelas for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy: It's the End of the World."

All eight film, television and documentary category winners will be disclosed during the editors' 57th annual awards ceremony Feb. »

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'Borat' Nominated for WGA Award

15 January 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen has garnered a surprise nomination from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) for his spoof documentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan. Despite losing out at with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts on Friday, the controversial comedy has earned the show's star and co-creator recognition in the category of Adapted Screenplay, where it will compete against The Devil Wears Prada, Little Children, Thank You For Not Smoking and The Departed. The award for Original Screenplay sees nominations for Little Miss Sunshine, Stranger Than Fiction, United 93, and Brad Pitt's new movie Babel, as well as The Queen starring Dame Helen Mirren. The winners will be announced at awards ceremony on February 11 in New York and Los Angeles. »

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10 make cut for ACE noms

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

Members of the American Cinema Editors have cut together an assembly of 10 nominees in two film categories for next month's 2007 Eddie Awards recognizing outstanding editing.

Making the dramatic feature film cut are Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise for Babel, Stuart Baird for Casino Royale, Thelma Schoonmaker for The Departed, Lucia Zucchetti for The Queen and the triumvirate of Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson for United 93.

In the comedy feature heat, the nominees are Mark Livolsi for The Devil Wears Prada, Virginia Katz for Dreamgirls, Pamela Martin for Little Miss Sunshine, Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and Dana Glauberman for Thank You for Smoking.

In the documentary competition, the nominees are Jay Cassidy and Dan Swietlik for An Inconvenient Truth, Patrick McMahon and Carrie Goldman for Baghdad ER and Samuel D. Pollard for Part 1 of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."

The nominees for miniseries or motion picture for noncommercial television are Beverley Mills for HBO's Elizabeth I, Part 1, Curtiss Clayton and Lee Percy for HBO's Mrs. Harris, and Trevor Waite for A&E's "Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act, Part 1."

Best-edited miniseries or motion picture for commercial television earned nominations for Sue Blainey, Sarah Boyd and Stephen Semel for ABC's Lost: Live Together, Die Alone, Geoffrey Rowland, Eric Sears, Bryan Horne, David Handman and Mitchell Danton for ABC's "The Path to 9/11, Part Two," and Heather Persons for TNT's The Ron Clark Story.

In the half-hour series for television race, the contenders are Jon Corn for HBO's Entourage: Sorry Ari, Lance Luckey for NBC's My Name Is Earl: Number One, and Dean Holland and David Rogers for NBC's The Office: Casino Nights.

The one-hour series nominees for commercial television are Leon Ortiz-Gil for Fox's 24: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Conrad Gonzalez, Keith Henderson and Steve Michael for NBC's Friday Night Lights: Pilot, and Edward Ornelas for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy: It's the End of the World."

All eight film, television and documentary category winners will be disclosed during the editors' 57th annual awards ceremony Feb. »

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WGA screenplay noms include comedies

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

The WGA Awards announced nominations for adapted and original screenplays Thursday featuring most early Oscar best-picture favorites but also more comedies than other guilds' recent feature-film noms.

Nominations in the original screenplay category went to "Babel", written by Guillermo Arriaga, Paramount Vantage; "Little Miss Sunshine", written by Michael Arndt, Fox Searchlight Pictures; "The Queen", written by Peter Morgan, Miramax Films; "Stranger Than Fiction", written by Zach Helm, Sony Pictures Entertainment; and "United 93", written by Paul Greengrass, Universal Pictures.

Adapted screenplay noms included:

  "Borat", screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer, story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines and Todd Phillips, based on a character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, 20th Century Fox;

  "The Departed", screenplay by William Monahan, based on the motion picture "Infernal Affairs", written by Alan Mak and Felix Chong, Warner Bros. Pictures;

  "The Devil Wears Prada", screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger, 20th Century Fox;

  "Little Children", screenplay by Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, New Line Cinema; and

  "Thank You for Smoking", screenplay by Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, Fox Searchlight Pictures. »

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'Queen' anointed in Toronto

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

TORONTO -- The Toronto Film Critics Assn. on Tuesday chose Stephen Frears' The Queen as the best picture of 2006.

The royal drama dominated the voting, with Helen Mirren earning best actress for her portrayal of a frosty Queen Elizabeth II facing the emotionally charged death of Princess Diana, Michael Sheen winning best supporting actor for his performance as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Peter Morgan taking the screenplay award.

Frears split the best director nod with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their Belgian drama L'Enfant, winner of the Palme D'or at the year's Festival de Cannes.

The other multiple winner this year was Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, who picked up the best documentary feature and best Canadian film citations for Manufactured Landscapes, a film shot in China about the world and work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky.

Other TFCA awards saw Sacha Baron Cohen winning best actor for his star turn in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and Cate Blanchett earning best supporting actress honors for Notes On a Scandal.

Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking was the critics' pick for best first feature, while George Miller's Happy Feet earned top honors in the animated feature category. »

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