Between 1974 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the young Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II and 1991 when he was contending for Best Actor in Cape Fear, Robert De Niro was nominated six times and won two Oscars (1980′s Raging Bull was the other one) in a span of 17 years. But remarkably it has now been 21 years since that last Academy Award shout-out in ’91, a long Oscar dry spell for the man many consider our greatest living film actor. With the release in November of David O. Russell’s critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook, De Niro is genuinely contending for his first Oscar nomination in over two decades as the obsessive compulsive, sports-betting Philadelphia Eagles fan, and father Pat Sr.
Already nominated for Critics Choice Movie Awards and SAG Best Supporting Actor honors, De Niro is favored to repeat the feat on January 10th when Oscar nominations are announced, and although he is pleased about the buzz for his performance, he isn’t getting his hopes up as he told me when we spoke over the weekend in a rare interview. “Of course I am happy about it all and the reception, but I don’t want to expect much because I don’t want to be disappointed. I have had a lot of experience over the years and then you expect and you think and it never happens. So all I try to do is be even-keeled about stuff,” he says. Read More »
Remember the 1971 movie Shaft? Ben Affleck doesn’t want you to—at least, not while you are watching his 2012 movie Argo, set in the turbulent 1979-80 era of the Iranian revolution and the Iran hostage crisis.
In creating the look of Argo — the stranger-than-fiction true story of a covert mission to help six Americans flee Iran by posing as a Canadian movie crew — director/star Affleck was adamant that the design team create an authentic ’70s look without falling into disco-era extremes of fashion and style.
“Costume designer Jacqueline West shared with me the goal of not having the ’70s thing upstage the movie,” Affleck explains. “I didn’t want to have just fur coats and bell bottoms — Shaft —to communicate the period. It’s a period that could very easily be exploited for comedy, so have you to be really ginger about what you do. There’s a laugh waiting behind every haircut.”
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has extended the deadline for members to vote for Oscar nominations by one day to Friday, January 4, 2013, 5.p.m. PT. (The original date was Thursday, January 3, 5 p.m. PT). Members may vote online or submit a paper ballot. Any votes received after the deadline will not be counted.
“By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible,” said Ric Robertson, Academy COO. “We’re grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process.”
In order to accommodate the extension and maintain security, the online voting system will be closed for two hours only (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT) on Thursday, January 3. The system will re-open at 7 p.m. PT on January 3 and remain available to members until 5:00 p.m. PT January 4.
ST. LOUIS, MO and NEW YORK, NY –– DECEMBER 31, 2012 –– Charter Communications and The Walt Disney Company today announced a comprehensive long-term distribution agreement to deliver Disney’s robust lineup of top quality sports, news and entertainment content to Charter TV customers across televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and internet-enabled televisions. The renewal agreement supports the companies’ mutual goal to deliver the best video content to customers across multiple platforms. Launch of content across these new distribution platforms is planned to begin in the first half of 2013.
Nearly 10 years after The Lord Of The Rings trilogy wrapped its record-breaking run with a best picture Oscar and more than $3 billion in worldwide ticket sales, director Peter Jackson has done the last thing he expected: He got the band back together for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “I came away from Lord Of The Rings with 266 days of shooting three movies and thought I’d never do that again in my life,” says Jackson. “Then we sat down at the first production meeting on The Hobbit, and I flipped to the last page of the schedule, and it was 266 days! It was exactly the same length of time! And I just said, ‘I cannot believe I find myself back at this place again.’ ”
The first in a new trilogy adapting the first book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Middle Earth mythology, Jackson and his crew’s steady hand on The Hobbit offers reassuring creative continuity while pushing the technical envelope by adding stereoscopic 3D and, most controversially, shooting at 48 frames per second.
The new agreement is with the National Cable Television Cooperative, which negotiates programming deals for more than 950 small to mid-sized cable systems. The announcement is similar to ones that NBCUniversal recently made for agreements with companies including Cablevision, Mediacom, Suddenlink and Verizon. It’s described as a “multi-year agreement” — without specifics including financial terms. It embodies NCTC’s first retransmission consent deal for NBC and Telemundo owned stations as well as pacts for all NBCUniversal’s national cable networks including USA, CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen, and NBC Sports Network. Terms also cover ”rights to carry the Olympic Games, as well as on-demand content from NBCUniversal’s cable and broadcast network portfolio, and access to live channels across multiple platforms, both in and out of the home,” the companies say. NCTC EVP of Programming Judy Meyka, Executive Vice President of Programming adds that the group “had over 80 members participate in delivering the 2012 Olympics to multiple platforms, demonstrating that members have both the capability and interest in serving customers on new platforms. Including retransmission consent for NBC and Telemundo owned stations is another valued addition to this agreement.”
The biggest media industry bankruptcy ever will end today after four years with Tribune’s chief creditors — Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co – empowered to run the Chicago based broadcasting and newspaper power. The reorganization values the company at about $4.5B. The new management is expected to look for buyers for its assets which include 23 television stations and major metro dailies such as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. The company will close on a $1.1B senior secured term loan, which will be used to pay off creditors, and a $300M asset based revolving credit facility to fund its operations. It also will have a new board that consists of CEO Eddy Hartenstein, Oaktree’s Bruce Karsh and Ken Liang, former Disney exec Peter Murphy, former Yahoo and News Corp exec Ross Levinsohn, lawyer Craig Jacobson, and former Fox and Discovery exec Peter Liguori. He’s widely believed to be in line to take the top job at Tribune. Today’s release says that the board will meet “in the next several weeks” and Hartenstein “will remain in his current role until that time.” The plan to emerge from bankruptcy ensures that creditors and vendors “will be receiving payment in full—100% recovery of what they are owed,” Hartenstein says. “These long-term relationships are very important to the company and we are pleased to be successfully resolving these obligations.” Tribune ran into trouble after 2007 when real estate … Read More »
Oscar-winning sound editor Mike Hopkins drowned in an accident while he and friends were rafting in the Tararua Range in northern New Zealand. Hopkins, 53, was found dead by a helicoptor rescue team after an inflatable craft capsized on the Waiohine River on Sunday afternoon, according to The OneRing.net blog. His rafting companions, a man and a woman, survived. Police told the Australian that all three people were wearing life jackets, wetsuits and helmets and it appeared that Hopkins ran into trouble after they were thrown from the craft in a fast flowing current. Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn won Academy Awards for Sound Editing on director Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and King Kong. Hopkins, pictured on left with Van der Ryn, first worked for Jackson as sound designer for the director’s 1992 horror-comedy Braindead. It was the first of several collaborations over the next 20 years. Hopkins also worked on Heavenly Creatures as well as The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Hopkins and Van der Ryn were also nominated for sound editing on the first of the Transformers movies. Hopkins was also nominated for five British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. Hopkins film credits also include ADR or dialogue editor on Public Enemies, Valkyrie, Kung Fu Panda and Dreamgirls. Hopkins is featured in this YouTube video about the sound design for The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers:
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.
“I think she had to be in there for 20 minutes before I yelled action.” Quentin Tarantino is referring to the time that Kerry Washington spent in the “hotbox” — a hole in the ground on a plantation where slaves were sent when they tried to escape. It’s where Washington’s character Broomhilda is locked up when her husband, Django (Jamie Foxx), arrives at Candyland — the vast Southern estate owned by her owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Her voice parched from screaming and her body weakened, Broomhilda doesn’t know that Django has come to rescue her with the help of dentist-cum-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).
“Kerry is very game to make things as real as possible,” says Tarantino, who as Waltz points out, can often inspire actors with their characters’ back stories, “Leaving her in the box for 30 seconds and then yelling action wouldn’t work. Nor would sticking her in the box for hours. But 10 minutes in the box could feel like 30. The idea was for Kerry to become disoriented, lose track of time in there, and contemplate what eight hours in the box would feel like. She could yell or scream.”
“But there was a safe word,” adds Washington, “so that the crew knew when I was panicking as a person, and not as an actor. This is how a lot of the film went — taking the reality as far as we could.” Read More »
Moonrise Kingdom amounted to Wes Anderson at his best. It was a relate-able story of first love, injected with Anderson’s playful wit, his sense of the absurd, and his singular visual style. The result was a $66 million worldwide gross and one of the year’s big specialty film hits. Since making his debut on Bottle Rocket, Anderson has honed a highly original voice that has sometimes hit the crossover bulls eye (Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) and sometimes is confined to a smaller core audience (The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). On a train ride in Germany where he was prepping his next film The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson talked about how he learned to be confident in and satisfied with his unique voice.
DEADLINE: Moonrise Kingdom was one of your most appealing films, and it crossed well beyond your usual core audience. When you place your stories in these quirky visual worlds, how important is it to provide issues or emotions that are universal? ANDERSON: My experience of how these stories are laid up is different for each movie. I hope people will be moved by, gripped by, or entertained by these films, but it’s a crap shoot. I don’t even know if I’ve succeeded until, literally, when the movie goes beyond New York and L.A., and screens are added and the film really starts to reach … Read More »
When we think of Anthony Hopkins, psychopaths may spring to mind. After all, the Welsh actor won an Oscar in 1992 for playing Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, a career-defining role. But of course there’s much more to Hopkins than playing brilliant fictional villains. He’s also displayed a knack for portraying complicated historical figures. In addition to playing Hitler (on TV) and William Bligh, the actor has earned Oscar nominations for playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995) and John Quincy Adams in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997). Now, Hopkins has assumed the role of Alfred Hitchcock in Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, which chronicles the development and making of Psycho.
AwardsLine: What attracted you to playing Alfred Hitchcock? Anthony Hopkins: The project originally came to me eight years ago. I met the two producers and thought, Yes, it’s interesting. But who wants to see a film about Alfred Hitchcock? Plus, I didn’t want to put on weight, having just gotten fit. So it never happened. But then it came back around. Sacha Gervasi now had it, and he had such passion and blatant enthusiasm for it. He had no experience directing actors, and I thought that would be a challenge. So I decided to just jump in. Read More »
Sony Pictures-MGM’s 23rd James Bond pic Skyfall became the 14th film ever to reach $1 billion globally, with a domestic cume of $289.6 million and $710.6 million internationally. Sony, which a month ago posted the studio’s best-ever performance at the box office with $4 billion worldwide, announced Skyfall‘s latest milestone today. Skyfall is the third pic this year to hit $1 billion globally, after Disney/Marvel’s The Avengers ($1.5B) and Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight Rises ($1.1B). Skyfall, by far the highest-grossing James Bond movie, is still going strong (No. 11 this weekend with $4.6M domestic), and has yet to bow in China.
Defiant CNN host Piers Morgan added more fire to his public fight with gun supporters in a column published in the Daily Mail.
Morgan has been at odds with gun advocates since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook massacre, which prompted the British journalist to launch an aggressive pro-gun control campaign on his show, clashing with gun lobbyists, including his verbal spat with Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt whom Morgan told on the air, “You are an unbelievably stupid man.” Morgan’s gun control crusade led to a White House petition by gun advocates asking for Morgan’s deportation because of his “hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment.” The petition has garnered more than 91,000 signatures to date, prompting Morgan to quip on Twitter, “Still only 90,000 Americans have signed the White House petition to deport me. That leaves 310,910,00 who presumably want me to stay.”
He went further in his column. ”I will not stop in my own efforts to keep the gun-control debate firmly in people’s minds, however much abuse I’m subjected to,” he wrote. Read More »
Sony/Columbia Pictures’ limited-run engagement of Zero Dark Thirty showed impressive stamina, and the studio’s specialty market distributor Sony Pictures Classics also had great news for Amour but not so great news for newcommer West Of Memphis in three-day estimates for the pre-New Year’s weekend, while Focus Features debutPromised Land bowed modestly. Columbia Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty averaged a muscular $65K per location in its sophomore weekend in 5 theaters compared with $82K per cinema last weekend. Sony Classics’ Palme d’Or winner and Oscar short-listed foreign-language hopeful Amour held steady in three theaters in its second weekend, averaging a very strong $20K vs. its $23,554 average debut. Specialty market newcomers Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand headed into 25 theaters, averaging $7,606, while Sony Classics’ doc West Of Memphis managed a slender $2,771 per run in 5 cinemas. SPC’s other non-fiction offering Searching For Sugar Man, now in its 23rd weekend of release, passed the $3 million milestone this weekend. An additional newcomer, Adopt Films’ Tabu, took in $5,300 in one theater. Read More »
Academy award winning filmmaker Irving Saraf died December 26 at his home in San Francisco. Saraf, 80, succumbed to ALS, which he battled for the last three years. He is the father of Peter Saraf, producer of such films as Little Miss Sunshine and partner with Marc Turtletaub in the film financier/production company Big Beach. Irving Saraf was a long time fixture in the Bay Area film community. After helping to start the Special Projects department at San Francisco public television station KQED, Saraf formed Fantasy Films for Saul Zaentz. With his second wife, Allie Light, Saraf made the Academy Award winning docu, In The Shadow of the Stars and the Emmy award winning Dialogues With Mad Women.
Born Ignatz Szcharfertz in Lodz Poland in 1932, Saraf and family fled the Nazis in 1939 when he was 7. The family eventually settled in Palestine, where Saraf took the Hebrew first name of Itzhac. He was one of the first citizens of the new nation of Israel. He changed his name to Saraf while in Israel and adopted Irving after emigrating to the U.S. in 1952 to attend San Francisco State University at age 20. After falling in love with movies, he transferred to UCLA and graduated with a degree in cinema.
At the fledgling public television station KQED, he made films all over the world on political and literary subjects. That included traveling to Cuba to co-direct a film on Fidel Castro, and … Read More »
SUNDAY 1:30 AM, 2ND UPDATE: It’s a big holiday weekend, up from last year. Full analysis later today as the holiday box office reveals blockbuster successes and epic fails. For now MGM/New Line/Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey crossed $200M domestic in 15 nights Friday on its way to $225M. Overseas, Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth epic playing in 62 territories has an international cume of roughly $400M going into Sunday. That’s about $600M worldwide and still climbing. Surprisingly, Working Title/Universal’s Les Misérables placed behind Quentin Tarantino’s controversial Django Unchained from The Weinstein Company, quite a feat for an R-rated pic. ”We are having a really big day on Django!” a TWC exec gushes to me Saturday. “From what I can tell, it looks like we will be very close to Hobbit.” Yowza! Meanwhile, Tom Hooper’s musical slips to #3 but crossed $100 million worldwide Saturday in 9 days. Playing this weekend in 8 international territories — Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Hungary and Spain – its overseas gross is $36.6M going into Sunday. Combined with the expected U.S. total of $67M, the worldwide cume should be $115+M by then. And Sony Picures’ platforming Zero Dark Thirty made another $325K this weekend with a $65K per screen average for a $1.4M cume from just 5 theaters. Here are the Top Ten films based on weekend estimates:
1. The Hobbit (MGM/Wwarner Bros) Week 3 [Runs 4,100] PG13
Friday $10.7M, Saturday $11.3M, Weekend $31.5M, Est Cume $221.3M
2. Django Unchained (Sony/Weinstein) Week 1 [Runs 3,010] R
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $11.2M, Weekend $31.0M, Est Cume … Read More »
Hugh Jackman has carved out an image as a major movie star who can easily switch gears from action to drama to comedy and all things in between. But until now the man who made Wolverine a household name has never done a movie musical. That’s a bit surprising since Jackman also happens to be a classically trained musical star outside of movies. He’s starred in stage classics like Oklahoma!, won a Tony on Broadway as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz, an Emmy for hosting the Tonys, and worldwide recognition for his singing and dancing as host of the Oscars. He recently did a one-man musical show on Broadway, and that’s one of the reasons he says he is even in Les Misérables and making his long-overdue debut as star of a musical on the big screen.
AwardsLine: Would you consider this to be one of the toughest screen roles you’ve done? Jackman: For sure. There is not an element that really wasn’t the toughest. One of the reasons I did the Broadway show was to make sure I was vocally fit to not only sing it, but sing it all day long, wake up the next day, and have another 12 hours of it. I put on 29 pounds from beginning to end. Tom (Hooper) told me, “I want people to worry, I want your friends to think you’re sick.” The physicality, the emotional (aspect) acting-wise, was tough.
AwardsLine: You rarely see musicals of this size anymore. Jackman: That’s true. It’s a big risk. I’m not surprised it’s taken 27 years to get there. Read More »
It’s not likely that any of the 60 million theatergoers who saw the musical Les Misérables would have thought the stage production limiting, but they weren’t charged with taking the longest-running musical, set in 1800s France, and blowing it out to larger-than-life size. In what was described by Working Title producers as a “deceptively difficult” adaptation, director Tom Hooper assembled a team that included his longtime production designer Eve Stewart and veteran costume designer Paco Delgado to create a factually accurate world, sprinkled with the magic and fantasy of the beloved musical.
But what no one on the team knew going in was that all singing (and the film is 99% singing) would be shot live. This posed interesting challenges for determining locations, given sound considerations and the desire to use very little CGI. “But,” says Stewart, who was nominated for an Oscar for Hooper’s The King’s Speech, as well as 1999’s Topsy-Turvy, “new ideas are usually the best ones,” so the constraints didn’t narrow her scope as she scouted locations for 20 weeks. She eventually settled on a pristine mountain range in the south of France; the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in England (where the HMS Victory is moored); an 18th-century rope factory in Kent (the timbers of which were so old that the crew was barred from lighting candles, so imitation flickering lights had to be used); the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich; the River Avon in Bath; as well as a set crafted at Pinewood Studios in London. In each location, Stewart’s crew had to eliminate squeaky floorboards and door hinges, and horses had to be fitted with rubberized hooves. The only location Stewart didn’t have to adapt was Boughton House in Northamptonshire, which dates back to the 17th century and is dubbed the “English Versailles,” where the wedding scene was filmed.
Veteran character actor Harry Carey Jr., who appeared in numerous TV shows and movies including nine of director John Ford’s classic Hollywood Westerns, died December 27 at age 91 in Santa Barbara, Reuters reported. A frequent supporting player or sidekick in John Wayne films, including Ford’s 1948 outlaw film 3 Godfathers and 1949 western She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. In all, he made 11 movies with Wayne. In a career that encompassed more than 90 movies, others directed directed by Ford include The Searchers (1956), Wagon Master (1950) and Rio Grande (1950). Carey was born in 1921, the son of silent film star Harry Carey and his actress wife, Olive. Carey grew up on his parents’ cattle and horse ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley. The family’s ties to Ford dated to the director’s earliest Westerns — Carey’s father appeared in some of Ford’s silent films in 1917. During World War II the younger Carey worked with Ford on training and propaganda films for the U.S. military. He joined his father as a regular performer in the John Ford Stock Company. Carey Jr. was reported to be the last surviving member.
The actor’s first feature film with Ford, 3 Godfathers, featured Carey, Wayne and Mexican-born actor Pedro Armendariz as cattle rustlers and bank robbers who care for an orphaned baby boy. Carey’s father starred in Ford’s original 1919 version. Carey’s initial movie association with Wayne was Howard Hawks’ … Read More »