Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Although Paramount is represented in Toronto this year by its Sundance pickup and awards hopeful Like Crazy (10/28), which will have its premiere here Tuesday night, and also by Steven Spielberg’s motion capture animated film The Adventures of TinTin (12/23), for which they will have preview showings Monday (the same 8-minute reel seen at Comic-Con), they are apparently already thinking about the 2012 awards season.

I have learned that the studio has dated The Sopranos creator David Chase’s anticipated and now untitled feature writing and directorial debut to open in the heart of next year’s awards season — on October 19, 2012. The film, known during production as Twylight Zones, will be released with the Paramount Vantage label. It was shot earlier this year, is now in post and is a suburban-set 1960s-set story about a group of friends in New Jersey who form a garage band in order to pursue their rock dreams. It stars Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald, Molly Price, John Magaro, Lisa Lampanelli, Jack Huston and most notably reunites Chase with his Emmy-winning Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who plays a post-war, post-Depression Era parent who has worked hard to give his son everything he didn’t have but now feels some jealousy about the free-wheeling life the boy gets to experience. Growing up as a New Jersey teen in the 60s, Chase himself pursued similar musical dreams, so the story obviously has a major personal connection for him. Oscar winner Mark Johnson (Rainman) produces with Chase, and another Sopranos actor, Steven Van Zandt, serves as executive producer and music supervisor.

There was some buzz that Paramount might try to bring the film into this year’s awards season, but instead I am told the studio has decided to hold it for next year’s pack of hopefuls. Paramount’s current awards-season dance card is crowded with four animation entries and another upcoming 2011 hoped-for Oscar player in Jason Reitman’s Charlize Theron drama Young Adult, which is skipping the fall festival circuit and will open December 9. With past successes in Toronto like Thank You For Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air, this is the first time one of Reitman’s films has gone AWOL from TIFF,  although Reitman has been seen around town this week.

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