Man of the Year (2006) - News Poster

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USA buys rights to 11 Uni films

USA Network has snapped up cable rights to Universal Pictures' The Bourne Ultimatum and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry as part of an 11-picture deal with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

The deal also includes the theatrical titles The Hitcher, Alpha Dog, Smokin' Aces, Children of Men, The Good Shepherd, Breach, Ali G Indahouse, The Interpreter and Man of the Year.

Bourne, starring Matt Damon, was released Friday and made $69.3 million during the weekend. Chuck, which stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James, has made $91.8 million at the domestic boxoffice since its July 20 bow.

Sources said USA -- which, like the distributor and film studio, is owned by NBC Universal -- paid about $60 million for the package, with Bourne and Chuck accounting for $35 million-$40 million of that total. The network and distributor declined comment on the financial and other terms of the deal.

It's believed that the deals for Bourne and Chuck are 4 and 1/2-year agreements, with NBC Universal allowed to carve out broadcast windows for both titles. In addition, the distributor will be allowed to carve out second cable windows, though USA has exclusive rights to both titles for the first two years of the deals, according to sources.

Williams joins Travolta clan for Dis' 'Dogs'

Williams joins Travolta clan for Dis' 'Dogs'
Robin Williams has signed on to star opposite John Travolta in Old Dogs, a Walt Disney Co. comedy being directed by Walt Becker. Also joining the cast is Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, and daughter, Ella Travolta.

Dogs is a buddy comedy revolving around two best friends and business partners whose lives are turned upside down when they find themselves in the care of 7-year-old twins.

Disney bought the project in the summer from David Diamond and David Weissman as a pitch in a seven-figure deal. The duo also wrote the screenplay.

Tapestry's Andrew Panay, Peter Abrams and Robert L. Levy are producing.

Kristin Burr and Casey Wolfe are overseeing for the studio.

Williams next stars alongside John Krasinski and Mandy Moore in Warner Bros. Pictures' License to Wed. His recent credits include Man of the Year, RV, Night at the Museum and Happy Feet.

Williams is repped by CAA, MBST Entertainment and Manatt Phelps & Phillips.

'Lick' sticks for Levinson at Playtone

Barry Levinson has signed on to direct Larry McMurtry's Western Boone's Lick for Playtone.

Tom Hanks and Julianne Moore are attached to star in the long-gestating project, which centers on a headstrong woman (Moore) who drags her family on a rickety wagon from Boone's Lick, Mo., to the Wyoming fort where her husband lives. Her brother-in-law (Hanks) escorts her on the dangerous journey and along the way falls in love with her.

Diana Ossana, who won an adapted screenplay Oscar with McMurtry last year for Brokeback Mountain, penned the Boone's Lick script with the author-screenwriter and frequent collaborator.

Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing the film, which is aiming to start shooting in early fall.

Helmer Lasse Hallstrom originally was attached to bring the novel, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000, to the big screen.

Levinson, who most recently helmed Man of the Year for Universal Pictures, is in preproduction on 2929 Entertainment's What Just Happened, starring Robert De Niro. He is repped by ICM.

'Grudge' sequel tops b.o. with $20.8 mil weekend

'Grudge' sequel tops b.o. with $20.8 mil weekend
Sony Pictures' PG-13 horror film The Grudge 2 bowed to $20.8 million opening, less then reported Monday, but still handily claimed the top spot for the frame. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Pictures The Departed had a stronger-than-initially-reported hold with a $19 million take and a drop of 29%. Universal Pictures' Man of the Year opened to $12.3 million, a little under estimates but still good enough for the third spot. Overall, the weekend was up an impressive 26% from last year's opening when The Fog, released by Sony's Screen Gems, was the top grosser with a scant $11.7 million take. Total films grossed $110.9 million this weekend compared to $87.9 million last year at this time. The other shocker at the boxoffice was Gener8xion Entertainment's One Night With the King. Bowing in 909 theaters, the film centering on the life of biblical character Queen Esther earned an impressive $4.1 million for a solid per-screen average of $4,518.

'Grudge 2' seeing double

'Grudge 2' seeing double
Friday the 13th proved to be an auspicious date to release Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 as the horror film earned a solid $20.8 million at the North American boxoffice to become the studio's 12th No. 1 film of the year. Warner Bros. Pictures' The Departed held strong in its second week, falling only 38% as it brought in an additional $19 million. But Universal Pictures wasn't as lucky with Man of the Year; the Robin Williams starrer grossed a weak $12.3 million. Altogether, though, the boxoffice performed astronomically well compared with last year at this time. The top 12 films grossed $100.7 million compared with $71.5 million last year when Sony's release of Screen Gems' The Fog was No. 1 with an $11.7 million opening. The top 12 were up an estimated 40% compared with last year at this time.

'Grudge 2' seeing double

'Grudge 2' seeing double
Friday the 13th proved to be an auspicious date to release Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 as the horror film earned a solid $20.8 million at the North American boxoffice to become the studio's 12th No. 1 film of the year. Warner Bros. Pictures' The Departed held strong in its second week, falling only 38% as it brought in an additional $19 million. But Universal Pictures wasn't as lucky with Man of the Year; the Robin Williams starrer grossed a weak $12.3 million. Altogether, though, the boxoffice performed astronomically well compared with last year at this time. The top 12 films grossed $100.7 million compared with $71.5 million last year when Sony's release of Screen Gems' The Fog was No. 1 with an $11.7 million opening. The top 12 were up 40% compared with last year at this time.

'Grudge 2' seeing double

'Grudge 2' seeing double
Friday the 13th proved to be an auspicious date to release Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 as the horror film earned a solid $22 million at the North American boxoffice to become the studio's 12th No. 1 film of the year. Warner Bros. Pictures' The Departed held incredibly strong in its second week, falling only an estimated 31% as it brought in an additional $18.7 million. But Universal Pictures wasn't as lucky with Man of the Year; the Robin Williams starrer grossed a weak $12.5 million. Altogether, though, the boxoffice performed astronomically well compared with last year at this time. The top 12 films grossed an estimated $100.7 million compared with $71.5 million last year when Sony's release of Screen Gems' The Fog was No. 1 with an $11.7 million opening. The top 12 were up an estimated 40% compared with last year at this time.

'Grudge 2' seeing double

'Grudge 2' seeing double
Friday the 13th proved to be an auspicious date to release Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 as the horror film earned a solid $22 million at the North American boxoffice to become the studio's 12th No. 1 film of the year. Warner Bros. Pictures' The Departed held incredibly strong in its second week, falling only an estimated 31% as it brought in an additional $18.7 million. But Universal Pictures wasn't as lucky with Man of the Year; the Robin Williams starrer grossed a weak $12.5 million. Altogether, though, the boxoffice performed astronomically well compared with last year at this time. The top 12 films grossed an estimated $100.7 million compared with $71.5 million last year when Sony's release of Screen Gems' The Fog was No. 1 with an $11.7 million opening. The top 12 were up an estimated 40% compared with last year at this time.

'Grudge' tops Friday boxoffice with $9.7 million

'Grudge' tops Friday boxoffice with $9.7 million
Horror once again ruled at the boxoffice office, as Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 took the top spot on Friday. According to boxoffice tracking site, boxofficemojo.com, the spooky sequel, directed by Takashi Shimuzu and starring Amber Tamblyn took in an estimated $9.7 million in its first day in theaters. Comedy proved no match as Universal Pictures' Man of the Year, starring Robin Williams as a comedian who runs for president and directed by Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog), found itself in third with an estimated $4 million.

'Grudge' tops Friday boxoffice with $9.7 million

'Grudge' tops Friday boxoffice with $9.7 million
Horror once again ruled at the boxoffice office, as Sony Pictures' The Grudge 2 took the top spot on Friday. According to boxoffice tracking site, boxofficemojo.com, the spooky sequel, directed by Takashi Shimuzu and starring Amber Tamblyn took in an estimated $9.7 million in its first day in theaters. Comedy proved no match as Universal Pictures' Man of the Year, starring Robin Williams as a comedian who runs for president and directed by Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog), found itself in third with an estimated $4 million.

Sony has no fear with 'Grudge'

Sony has no fear with 'Grudge'
After this weekend, Sony Pictures might consider 12 its lucky number. The Culver City-based studio is likely to win the weekend at the domestic boxoffice with its horror sequel The Grudge 2, which would bring the company's run of No. 1 films this year to a dozen, a record that will be difficult for any studio to match. Universal Pictures will try to unseat the horror flick with the Robin Williams comedy Man of the Year, but that film is not expected to do the kind of business that would overshadow Sony's popular franchise. The week is also expected to be a strong one for the Warner Bros. Pictures holdover The Departed, which bowed to $26.9 million last weekend. With strong midweek numbers, the film shouldn't drop more than 50% in its second frame.

Man of the Year

Man of the Year
Man of the Year is a comedy about a comic who gets elected president of the U.S. -- or rather that's how the film starts out, only writer-director Barry Levinson gets sidetracked. He diverts his film into a political thriller with its own conspiracy theory, an improbable romance and a curious subplot that feels like an anti-smoking ad. Little wonder his bewildered star, Robin Williams, looks confused much of the time.

Levinson once built a fairly unstable comedy around Williams' manic personality in Good Morning, Vietnam, and everyone laughed so hard that few noticed. But here confusion and mixed messages work against a coherent viewpoint -- and laughs.

The film wants to focus on the intersection of media and politics, which Levinson did in his very similar though much better movie, Wag the Dog. For that matter, Warren Beatty's Bulworth does a superior job of satirizing the fallout from a political candidate who actually tells voters what he thinks with brutal honesty rather than stay on a message designed by political consultants.

One problem here is that those consultants must have sat by Levinson's computer as he wrote. He is oh-so-careful not to make a movie that is too liberal or too conservative. No real issue is at stake, and Iraq and the war on terror do not exist. The result is a generic political movie without any real politics. So Man of the Year will offend nobody but just as likely will entertain very few. Boxoffice does not look promising after the opening weekend.

A popular TV pundit/comic, Tom Dobbs (Williams), cracks one too many jokes about running for president, only to discover that the Internet effectively has drafted him as an independent candidate. When Tom decides to run, this throws his entourage -- his chain-smoking, pragmatic manager Jack Menken (Christopher Walken) and rumpled, crusty head writer Eddie Langston (Lewis Black) -- into a tizzy. The film then imagines that in the electronic age a comic like Tom can buy no ads and wage a campaign via celebrityhood and the Internet and still get on the ballot in 17 key states.

Meanwhile, an evil software company has sold the U.S. on a too-easy-to-be-true national voting system. (Let's ignore the fact voting systems are run by states, not the federal government.) A diligent software analyst, Eleanor Green (Laura Linney) -- discovers a huge glitch in the system only weeks before the election, a discovery that the firm's legal counsel, Alan Stewart (Jeff Goldblum), will go to any length to bury.

Tom then gets elected president because of the glitch. So the rest of the movie focuses not on the real story -- what would happen were an intelligent and political savvy comic to ascend to the Oval Office -- but rather on a third-rate thriller about a corporation trying to destroy, corrupt or smear a disgruntled employee. Throw in an unconvincing romance between Tom and Eleanor along with Jack's smoking-related illness and you've pretty much blunted any satirical sharpness.

This confusion is reflected in the movie's look. Cinematographer Dick Pope shoots in a documentary style as if this were All the President's Men. Yet designer Stefania Cella's sets are from that not-quite-real world of Wag the Dog.

Toward the end, Levinson inserts speeches into his dialogue, as if suddenly realizing his message is getting lost: In one instance, Eddie erupts into a diatribe about how TV makes everything feel credible, elevating a Nazi apologist and a Holocaust historian to the same debate platform before undiscerning cameras.

Williams fluctuates between his sentimental/serious side and outrageous manic comedy, so you never quite know who this character is. Linney and Goldblum are playing serious melodrama, while Walken and Black are Woody Allen-esque showbiz creatures, constantly urging their protege to stick to comedy.

Too bad Man of the Year didn't have the courage of its convictions -- to say something meaningful and shrug off the fallout from the outraged extremes of the political spectrum. A feel-good political satire is not what the nation needs at this moment.

MAN OF THE YEAR

Universal Pictures

Morgan Creek

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Barry Levinson

Producers: James G. Robinson, David Robinson

Executive producers: Guy McElwaine, David Coatsworth, Rob Fried

Director of photography: Dick Pope

Production designer: Stefania Cella

Music: Graeme Revell

Costume designer: Delphine White

Editor: Steven Weisberg, Blair Daily

Cast:

Tom Dobbs: Robin Williams

Jack Menken: Christopher Walken

Eleanor: Laura Linney

Eddie: Lewis Black

Stewart: Jeff Goldblum

Danny: David Alpay

Moderator: Faith Daniels

Running time -- 115 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

H'wood fest fetes Bullock, Cruz, Williams

H'wood fest fetes Bullock, Cruz, Williams
Robin Williams, Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock have been added to the list of honorees who will be feted at the 10th annual Hollywood Film Festival, the fest's founder and exec director Carlos de Abreu said Wednesday. At the kudos, to be bestowed Oct. 23 at the Hollywood Awards Gala Ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, Williams is set to receive the Hollywood Career Achievement Award. An Oscar winner as best supporting actor for his role in 1997's Good Will Hunting, Williams most recently starred in the dramatic thriller The Night Listener. He has three films about to open: Man of the Year, in which he plays a late-night talk show host who runs for president; the animated feature Happy Feet, in which he voices one of the penguins; and Night at the Museum, in which he will appear as Theodore Roosevelt opposite Ben Stiller.

Williams Fighting Alcoholism After 20 Sober Years

  • WENN
Williams Fighting Alcoholism After 20 Sober Years
Robin Williams has gone public with his latest battle with alcoholism following tabloid reports he checked into a rehabilitation facility last month after a drinking binge. The movie funnyman, who has been candid about his past drugs and alcohol abuse, reportedly started drinking again while filming The Big White in Alaska two years ago and now he's back in rehab seeking help. Tabloid reports suggest the Good Will Hunting star checked into the Hazelden Springbrook rehab facility in Oregon last month - and even celebrated his 55th birthday there on July 21. Williams' publicist Mara Buxbaum has confirmed the fact that the actor is indeed seeking help to control an alcohol abuse problem. She tells WENN, "After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the wellbeing of his family. He asks that you respect his and his family's privacy during this time. He looks forward to returning to work this fall to support his upcoming film releases." Williams hopes to be healthy again to promote Man Of The Year, which hits cinema screens in October. The Oscar winner follows fellow Hollywood star Mel Gibson, who entered a rehab facility last month following his drink-driving arrest in Malibu, California.

Agnew, Keller's 'Damned' finds production turf

Agnew, Keller's 'Damned' finds production turf
First-time scribes Jim Agnew and Sean Keller have sold the horror spec Damned to Fried Films/the Pantry, the production company founded by producers Rob Fried and Dan Keston. The story revolves around an all-American family that survives a plane crash only to descend into a backwoods nightmare of demon-fearing religious zealots. Fried and Keston are in postproduction on Weapons, a film about violence and racial tension in a suburban town. The film stars Nick Cannon and Paul Dano and was written and directed by Independent Spirit Award nominee Adam Bhala Lough. Fried's producing credits include New Line Cinema's The Man and Universal Pictures' upcoming Man of the Year, directed by Barry Levinson. Agnew and Keller are repped by Danny Sherman at Principal Entertainment and attorney Mark Temple.

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