‘Oklahoma’ Restoration Launches TCM Film Fest As Classic Hollywood Gets Ready For Its Closeup

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 11:05am PDT
Pete Hammond

share“You need to show more re-releases. You need to show the great old movies in your theatres,”  director Christopher Nolan told exhibitors at their CinemaCon convention a couple of weeks ago, but sadly no one in that crowd applauded the sentiment. I thought of that as I attended last night’s kickoff  of  TCM’s 5th Annual Classic Film Festival, a nirvana for movie lovers. At least this is still a place you can see “great old movies”  in theatres and in pristine condition. And people from around the U.S., and even the world travel to Hollywood for the opportunity. For that Nolan should at least be thankful.

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival - Opening Night Gala And World Premiere Of The Restoration Of "Oklahoma!"This edition got underway Thursday night with the World Premiere of a stunning TODD AO restoration of the 1955 musical OklahomaStar Shirley Jones joined TCM host Robert Osborne (a “rock star” to the TCM crowd that comes from everywhere for this four-day smorgasboard of movies) for a pre-screening Q&A at the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX.  It was the first film for the Oscar-winning star who just turned 80 last week.  It’s probably safe to say the movie didn’t even look this good when it originally premiered almost 60 years ago  thanks to14682 20th Century Fox’s 8-month effort (led by restorer Schawn Belston) to bring it back to life in the same 30 frame per second TODD AO format in which it was made. Fox is releasing this film and several other Rodgers And Hammerstein musicals in a Blu-ray box set later this Spring.  The TODD AO process was sort of an answer to the 3D craze of the 50′s and in this incarnation it actually feels at times like you are watching some scenes (like a runaway horse sequence) in 3D without glasses. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Jon Hamm In ‘Million Dollar Arm’

By | Tuesday December 24, 2013 @ 9:46am PST

With his career as a sports agent circling the drain, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) swings for the fences: He heads to India in the hope of finding a cricket player who can pitch in the major leagues. There he finds a pair of 18-year-olds (Madhur Mittal and Suraj Sharma) who have never left their villages and brings them to the U.S. for training. Culture shock and family-type bonding ensue. Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi and Bill Paxton co-star in director Craig Gillespie’s Million Dollar Arm. Written by Tom McCarthy, the Disney pic opens May 16, when Major League Baseball — and the summer movie season — will be in full swing. Here’s the pitch:

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Paul Walker’s Manager Matt Luber Looks Back On 18 Years Growing Up Together

By | Thursday December 5, 2013 @ 12:42pm PST
Mike Fleming

Paul Walker Manager Fast & FuriousEXCLUSIVE: When they help build a Hollywood star career, agents and managers know it can all end in a moment. That usually comes in the form of a phone call, informing them that client has dropped them for another rep. While that is hard to bear, I have been imagining how much worse it has been for Luber Rocklin Entertainment’s Matt Luber. His 18-year run with Paul Walker ended with a Saturday phone call as Luber and his daughter were leaving a sports bar to attend a college football game in Phoenix. That is when Luber learned that Walker had died instantly at age 40 in a tragic car crash.

Related: ‘Fast & Furious’ Star Paul Walker Killed In Car Crash

Understandably, much of the press coverage since has focused on the fast car that spun out of control with Walker riding shotgun, and the repercussions for Fast & Furious 7, which was halfway done and on a Thanksgiving holiday when Walker attended a charity event in Southern California and climbed into a Porsche driven by his friend, Roger Rodas. Less plentiful have been the details on who Walker really was. And how a guy that handsome, and one of the drivers of Universal’s most lucrative billion-dollar Fast & Furious franchise, managed to keep his private life largely private. Mindful that Luber is mourning his friend and signature client of nearly two decades, I asked him to help fill out that part of the picture. While he often found it hard to find the words during our conversation, Luber felt it was worth talking about who this guy really was.

Related: Universal Formalizes ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Postponement

lubWhat became clear is that a major reason Walker had something of a stealth career was, he just had no interest in playing the movie star game, and relished operating under the radar. He liked acting in movies, sure, but he did not want to be defined by that. If there was one indelible example of this for Luber, it came early in their run together, when Walker was close to landing the lead role of Superman for Warner Bros. This was a job that would bring an oversized payday for a young actor, with sequel options that potentially would set him up forever.

“This was a mega-payday we were looking at, and I get a call from him in my office,” Luber recalled. “He tells me, ‘Get me the F out of here. I am standing here in these boots, I’m wearing a cape, tights and I’ve got an S on my chest. I’m leaving. I’m not doing it. I’m not wearing the boots, I’m not wearing the S. I’m not doing any of it, so get me the F out of here.’ And that was the end of the Superman screen test.”

Losing the chance to commission a big salary like that is certainly enough to tax any manager’s patience. But Luber by then had become one of Walker’s closest friends. And he couldn’t help but admire his buddy’s instincts for knowing what was right for him, and making hard choices on what was not. Becoming defined globally as a superhero was not at all what Walker wanted.

paulw“Paul had his priorities clear, always,” Luber told me. “So if there was a sick relative in Oregon, which there was, he was going to bypass a big meeting with a director that would have gotten him a certain great role. If someone close to him was in need, that was more important. It wasn’t always easy for me, but I was proud of him that his heart was in the right place. If something involving close friends and family was going to get in the way of a picture, sure we’d always have the conversation, but the way he balanced friendship with business, you always knew Paul was going to choose the former over the latter. The reason you didn’t see him in the cameo in Fast & Furious 3? Paul was dealing with an ailing grandfather. There was no changing his mind on these things. It caused us some stressful moments, but these were definitely things we could joke about later.” Read More »

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Showtime’s ‘Inside Comedy’ Season 3 To Spotlight Jimmy Fallon In Walk-Up To ‘Tonight’ Takeover

By | Tuesday December 3, 2013 @ 9:48am PST

Showtime today officially announced a third season pick-up for Inside Comedy, debuting Monday, February 3 at 11 PM ET, and will do its part jimmy_fallonto plug Jimmy Fallon’s takeover of  NBC’s Tonight show later that month. Fallon is among those who will be featured; his late night competitors on the other broadcast networks are not listed in today’s announcement.

Zach Galifianakas, Jonah Hill, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, & Bette Midler are among those who will be featured in the next season of 10 half-hour episodes of the interview series from David Steinberg and Steve Carell. Also scheduled to be interviewed by host Steinberg: Alan Arkin, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Belzer, along with more names to be announced.  Carell and Steinberg will continue to serve as executive producers with Vance DeGeneres and Charlie Hartsock for Carousel Productions, as well as Alan Zweibel.

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Andy Tennant Signs With Paradigm, Has Shirley MacLaine, Jacki Weaver, Alan Arkin Circling ‘Wild Oats’

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 4:20pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Shortly after director Andy Tennant signed with Paradigm, the agency has set him to direct Wild Oats, a comedy that has Shirley MacLaine, Jacki Weaver and Alan Arkin in talks to star. The film, about a widow who receives an unexpected windfall check because of a computer glitch and goes on the run from the law, is a cross between The Bucket List and Thelma And Louise.

The film will be distributed domestically by The Weinstein Company with Sony releasing overseas. Pic is written by Claudia Myers and Gary Kanew, and produced by Blythe Frank and Kip Konwiser, with Michael Mailer executive producing. Production begins in late November in Puerto Rico and Chicago.

Tennant most recently had been repped by CAA, where Robert Bookman was part of his rep team. Bookman signed him at Paradigm with Valarie Phillips. Tennant is lawyered by Steve Warren.

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R.I.P. Marc Merson

By | Wednesday October 2, 2013 @ 7:30pm PDT

Oscar- and Emmy-nominated producer Marc Merson died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 82. Merson is best known for producing the features Doc Hollywood, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter and Leadbelly. On the TV side he produced several series including Kaz and We’ll Get By and TV movies Riding High and Hickey. He received an Oscar nomination in 1970 for producing the short People Soup, starring Alan Arkin. In the 1960s, he produced a musical version of Shaw’s Androcles And The Lion with songs by Richard Rodgers for NBC and the Emmy-nominated The Love Song Of Barney Kempinski, scripted by Murray Shisgal and starring Arkin, for the ABC Stage 67 series.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Grudge Match’ Starring Robert De Niro & Sylvester Stallone

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 4:55pm PDT

Henry “Razor” Sharp and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen fought twice back in the day; each won once, but the tiebreaker never happened. Fast-forward 30 years and the bitter enemies — played by cinema-ring Hall of Famers Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro — will settle things in Grudge Match. Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, John Bernthal and Kim Basinger co-star in the Warner Bros film from director Peter Segal. Here’s the first trailer for the Christmastime release scripted by Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman:

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R.I.P. Bernard “Bernie” Sahlins

By | Sunday June 16, 2013 @ 8:48pm PDT

The writer, director, and comedian who co-founded the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago in 1959 died Sunday, reports the Chicago Tribune. He was 90. Sahlins, along with Second City partners Paul Sills and Howard Alk, created the comedy institution that turned out alumni including Alan Arkin, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, and John and Jim Belushi. Award-winning Sahlins also opened Toronto’s Second City Theatre and co-founded The University of Chicago’s Off-Off Campus and The International Theatre Festival of Chicago. He executive produced the troupe’s foray into Canadian television, SCTV, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

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Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.

Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.

* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” Read More »

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#1 ‘Oz’ Holds For $281.8M Worldwide Cume; Halle Berry In #2 ‘The Call’ Beats Carell-Carrey In #3 Bomb ‘Burt Wonderstone’

SUNDAY 8 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Jetlagged from traveling but home at last. Let’s start with the domestic bad news because that’s what Hollywood craves. New Line’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (3,160 theaters) is a complete disaster despite no fresh comedy at the multiplex since Identity Thief opened five weeks ago. This is Warner Bros’ 5th straight box office dud, continuing what has been an abysmal beginning of the year. Despite Warner Bros’ Best Picture Oscar win for Ben Affleck’s Argo, the studio’s woes began with Gangster Squad in January and continued with Bullet To The Head and Beautiful Creatures through February, and festered with the $200 million flop Jack The Giant Slayer on March 1st. Now the studio is counting on May to deliver big grosses again with The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, and the much anticipated Man Of Steel. Any hope for an upside because of the casting of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey (who’s in the Witness Protection Program in the trailers) is gone even with a modest $32M production budget. Those stars should have delivered at least a $20M if not $30M opening. Instead their pic only maxed $10.3M for its first weekend after grossing only $3.7M Friday and $4.1M Saturday. And, remember, that includes 1,800 Thursday late shows, too. Even worse, pic scored a ‘C+’ CinemaScore which will hurt word of … Read More »

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OSCARS: Hammond’s Down-To-The-Wire Predictions For 2013 Winners & Losers

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 7:45pm PST
Pete Hammond

Can’t we just end all this suspense about winners or losers and call it one massive tie this year? The 2012 crop of Oscar nominees, and films in general, is so impressively dense with quality it seems a shame the Academy has to pick just one winner in each category. But that’s the name of the game we play this time of year, and with ballots going out just as I had to turn this piece in, it is still a fluid situation as to just what the final results will be. With so many movies spread across many categories that are genuine contenders, a split vote resulting in some surprising twists and turns is possible, even though the various guild awards give strong clues about industry sentiment. If the past is any indication, I am aware some readers might take these predictions as gospel and bet the farm on it in their Oscar pools, so I offer a disclaimer before we begin. I am not responsible for any monetary loss you might incur, nor do I expect 10% of any winnings. I am just trying to read the winds of Oscar after several months of analyzing every tea leaf. Here is where I have a hunch it stands, but please note I have made a few tweaks since the original version of these predictions were published in last week’s print edition of AwardsLine (I switched in production design and makeup/hairstyling). Results at BAFTA, WGA, and several other guild award shows have now been taken into account since then, but it is all still a crap shoot in one of the craziest Oscar years in memory.

BEST PICTURE

All season long, this has been about as wide open a race, and as competitive a field of contenders, as we have seen in many years. With nine nominees, the same number as last year, it has taken a while to figure out a surefire winner. But with key awards from the PGA, DGA, WGA, BAFTA and SAG, in addition to best picture honors at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, Argo has clearly emerged as the frontrunner, a remarkable turn of events considering its director, Ben Affleck, was snubbed by the Academy’s directing branch Jan. 10. Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. The big question is, can the Warner Bros. juggernaut maintain momentum and win Oscar’s top prize, even without that directing nomination? If so, it would be only the second film to win without a directing nom, following Driving Miss Daisy’s feat at the 1990 ceremony. With the best picture category holding the strongest possibility for success among Argo’s seven nominations, could it actually win here and nowhere else? Not likely, but it’s possible, especially in a year in which I think the Academy will be spreading the wealth. Lincoln, with a leading 12 nominations (a good, if not always correct, indicator), Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi are probably still in the mix here as well but…

The Winner: Argo

The Competition: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

BEST DIRECTOR

With the quirky director’s branch going out of their way to snub DGA nominees Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and DGA winner Ben Affleck, we know for sure we can’t count on the usual spot-on correlation between the DGA winner and the eventual victor in this category. Affleck actually would have been my prediction to win here, but, alas, he’s not even nominated, which means voters might very well be splitting their vote for director and picture this year — certainly not unheard of in recent years but increasingly rare. As directors of the two films with the most nominations, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln and Ang Lee for Life of Pi, are the likely frontrunners, with Silver Linings Playbook’s David O. Russell coming up on the outside. If initial frontrunner Lincoln has been eclipsed in the Best Picture race, this is the place voters could come to kneel at the Spielberg-ian altar. Or not. Lee’s triumph in even managing to bring the “unfilmable” Pi to the screen just screams “directing”, and that could play very well here.

The Winner: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

The Competition: Michael Haneke, Amour; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR

This is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose at this point. Playing such a well-known biographical figure is, of course, a big plus. But Day-Lewis brought a lot to the table and remains the guy to beat in an impossibly fine field of contenders. Day-Lewis’ biggest drawback is that he has already won this prize twice, and a third would be unprecedented for lead actors in Oscar history. Also no actor has ever won an Oscar for playing a U.S. president, another potential first. The Academy might want to reward equally deserving newcomers to the category like Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper instead, but judging from the pile of precursor awards Day-Lewis has already won, it looks like you can bet a very large pile of $5 bills that he will make Oscar history with honest Abe.

The Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

The Competition: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Actor/Best Actress Race Handicap

BEST ACTRESS

I got this one wrong last year when Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) beat Viola Davis (The Help), and this is another tough one. The race for lead actress is hotly competitive, with both Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain claiming other early awards and also impressing with strong performances (Naomi Watts is magnificent in The Impossible, but that film got no other nominations, putting it at a disadvantage here against four other actress nominees from Best Picture contenders). Plus, never underestimate the so-called “babe factor” (thanks to the Academy’s dominant male membership) that this category often, but not always, favors. A win here for either one could be a chance to give either of their movies an important award, while shutting them out elsewhere. The real wild card in this race is 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, whose performance in the foreign language film Amour has been widely praised and admired, particularly by her fellow actors, who comprise the Academy’s largest voting block. As the oldest Best Actress nominee ever (she actually turns 86 on Oscar Sunday), she could trigger a sentimental factor and a feeling that the others will have another shot someday. SAG champ Lawrence probably has the edge and is where the smart money’s going, but a split in this very fluid category could provide one of the evening’s most interesting stories. So going way out on a limb…

The Winner: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

The Competition: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Read More »

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OSCARS: The Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Chris Terrio | Argo

Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 article in Wired magazine based on declassified documents about the remarkable clandestine Iran hostage-rescue caper.

Ben Affleck and Chris TerrioBut this hardly gave Terrio a blueprint for a screenplay that deftly blends Hollywood satire with a historical international crisis. Terrio says his biggest fear was that the Hollywood scenes of the Argo screenplay would slide the movie too far into show-business farce.

RELATED: OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

However, a passage in Mendez’s book gave him license to go there in one case. “In Tony’s book”, Terrio says, “there’s a passage in it where Tony’s describing being with (makeup artist) John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to … Read More »

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OSCARS: The Supporting Actor/Actress Races

Pete Hammond

This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously nominated. Unlike the marquee lead races, not a single newcomer has been invited to the supporting party. In fact, all five supporting actor nominees are past winners, a rare occurrence that proves Feb. 24 will indeed be veterans’ day at the Dolby Theater. And though there is a strong frontrunner emerging for the women, the male race is one of the most wide open in years, with no one taking the lead to date and the outcome a real question mark. So how did they all get here? Here’s the rundown.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin | Argo

This veteran actor got his first lead actor Oscar nomination in 1966 for his film debut in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. And then a second just two years later for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. But it was a near-record 38 years before Arkin returned to Oscar’s inner circle, finally winning a supporting actor prize for Little Miss Sunshine. Now, six years later, he is back in contention as the Hollywood film producer in Argo, and the reason is simple: He not only gets the best lines, he’s playing … Read More »

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Big BAFTA Best Film Win Sends ‘Argo’ Into Oscars With Huge Momentum

Pete Hammond

Actual betting on the Oscars is outlawed in the U.S.. But it is permissible in England – and afterBAFTA today’s British Academy Awards show which just wrapped in London, people would be wise to put some pounds on Argo‘s Best Picture Oscar chances. In what is becoming a familiar sight every weekend, Ben Affleck once again was in the winner’s circle at BAFTA, and along with Best Film he also took Best Director, a prize for which he is famously not nominated at the Oscars even though his movie has 7 nominations – just as it did at BAFTA. So add another strong precursor award to the Argo stockpile that now includes PGA, DGA, SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards. Last night, it also added an honor for Chris Terrio’s adaptation at the USC Scripter Awards. (Terrio wasn’t there to accept; instead he was in London for the BAFTAs where he lost to David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook – the only award that film picked up.)

Related: BAFTA Winners: ‘Argo’, Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Emmanuelle Riva

So how reliable is BAFTA as an Oscar predictor? Pretty good in recent years, although spotty sometimes in acting categories. But the two organizations  have several hundred of the same members, and last year BAFTA and Oscar matched … Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

By | Saturday February 9, 2013 @ 7:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

With a best actor Oscar nomination for his very first film, the comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and a second one for the drama The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter just two years later, Alan Arkin got off on the right foot early in his career. It would be 38 years later before he got a third nomination, and it turned out the third time was the charm when he won best supporting actor for Little Miss Sunshine. But don’t think the long wait to get to Oscar’s stage mattered much to Arkin. He has a tough time dealing with the whole idea of competition between actors and is happy just letting his work speak for itself. This versatile actor, who is now 78 years old, is still going strong all these years after getting his start as a founding member of The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago. Memorable performances in films as varied as Catch-22, Wait Until Dark, The In-Laws, Glengarry Glen Ross, Edward Scissorhands, and so many others have marked a long career that seemed to win a second life after the Oscar. His fourth nomination is for Argo, in which he plays the ultimate insider Hollywood producer, Lester Siegel, who is called upon to use his expertise in a very different and important way. In typical … Read More »

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OSCARS: Nominees Lunch Spreads Good Vibes As Balloting Is Set To Begin This Week

By | Tuesday February 5, 2013 @ 2:49am PST
Pete Hammond

Unquestionably one of the highlights of any awards season is the feel-good, everyone’s-still-a-winner Oscar Nominees Luncheon, which was held Monday at the Beverly Hilton. Academy Award nominees gather together and get to meet each other in a pressure-free zone — except for the huge press turnout to cover their arrivals (there are also press conference-style interviews and poolside one-on-one opportunities for TV cameras afterwards for some of the higher-profile nominees). Basically all they have to do is report to the risers set up in the Hilton’s International Ballroom as their name is called for the big group photo of the Oscar Class of 2012.

Related: 85th Academy Awards Nominees Photo

This year, rather than going alphabetically, the Academy summoned nominees by the table number they were sitting at. The table where I was lucky enough to be invited happened to be No. 1, smack dab in front of those risers, and so nominees Denzel Washington (Best Actor, Flight), producer Kathleen Kennedy (Lincoln), costume designer Colleen Atwood (Snow White And The Huntsman), and Makeup and Hairstyling contender Howard Berger (Hitchcock) were first to be called and had to stand the longest before the shot was taken. Actually, the roll call was bookended with longtime colleagues Kennedy — who was first up — and Lincoln director Steven Spielberg, who was dead-last (just after 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis, who got a rip-roaring reception when her name was announced).

Overall, 16 of the acting nominees (excluding Emmanuelle Riva, Alan Arkin and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and four of the directors (Michael Haneke is directing an opera in Europe) were in attendance, along with approximately 140 others who showed up and really seemed to have a good time at the annual affair, where the nominees also get their official certificate and a sweatshirt. Another acting contender, Daniel Day-Lewis came down with the flu and was very disappointed he couldn’t make it I am told. Like Day-Lewis, I also heard Quentin Tarantino was really bummed he couldn’t attend due to a bout with the flu. Seems to be rampant these days. Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 2

By | Saturday February 2, 2013 @ 2:00pm PST

The second in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.

Silver Linings Playbook

What the Academy says:  8 nominations (Picture: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon; Directing: David O. Russell; Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper; Lead Actress: Jennifer Lawrence; Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro; Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver; Film Editing: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers; Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell)

What the public says: $71.4M domestic boxoffice; $19.8M international (as of Feb. 1)

What Pete Hammond says: Because it is a comedy, albeit one laced with drama, Silver Linings Playbook is at a disadvantage right out of the starting gate because comedies don’t traditionally win best picture Oscars. But this critically acclaimed story about two broken people who are trying to get their lives back together benefits from a passionate base of admirers, and that’s key Read More »

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SXSW 2013: Line-Up Includes Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ U.S. Premiere & ‘Bates Motel’ Pilot Preview

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:02pm PST

It’s not The Avengers 2 but Joss Whedon’s other new movie is making its stateside premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Much Ado About Nothing, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year, joins 108 other feature films at the March 8-16 fest in Austin, SXSW announced today. Along with the previously announced world premieres of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, and the reimagined Evil Dead, this year’s SXSW has an on-stage interview with sometimes Austin resident Matthew McConaughey, new films from John Sayles and Nick Cassavetes, a preview of A&E’s Bates Motel pilot, a documentary about home movies from the Nixon White House and, Austin being Music City, a lot of music movies. Here are SXSW’s descriptions of the movies, panels and other events unveiled today:

NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.

Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Joss Whedon
Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing. Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese (U.S. Premiere)

Read More »

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Screen Actors Guild 2013 Awards: ‘Argo’ Cast, Daniel Day-Lewis In ‘Lincoln’, Jennifer Lawrence In ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, Anne Hathaway in ‘Les Miserables’, Tommy Lee Jones In ‘Lincoln’, ‘Downton Abbey’ Cast, Bryan Cranston In ‘Breaking Bad’, Claire Danes In ‘Homeland’, Julianne Moore In ‘Game Change’, Kevin Costner in ‘Hatfields & McCoy’, ‘Modern Family’ Cast, Tina Fey & Alec Baldwin In ’30 Rock’

By | Sunday January 27, 2013 @ 6:19pm PST

UPDATED WITH ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES: The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were televised tonight on TNT and TBS live from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The casts of Warner Bros’ Argo, PBS’ Downton Abbey, and ABC/Twentieth TV’s Modern Family won. Lead Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis for DreamWorks’ Lincoln noted that an actor murdered Abraham Lincoln. ”So it’s only fitting that, every once in awhile, an actor tries to bring him back to life again.” For lead Actress, Jennifer Lawrence for The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook won and so did Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables and Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln for Supporting Actor. Is this all a precursor for the Oscars? The SAG Award — called ‘The Actor’ — is presented for outstanding performances in motion pictures and primetime television. The winners for performances in 2012 including the distinctive ensemble awards and the stunt ensemble honors are chosen by two separate film and television nominating panels, each comprised of 2,100 members from across the U.S. that were randomly selected this spring. All eligible voting members of SAG-AFTRA cast ballots by January 25th.

The show kicked off with “I Am An Actor” speeches, a legacy from when the Screen Actors Guild Awards first came on the scene in 1995 and Angela Lansbury’s introductory speech at the ceremony was such a hit that it launched a tradition that has become a highlight of the annual show. This year’s Actors Stories were from Jane Krakowski, Chris Tucker, Helen Hunt, Hal Holbrook, Alfre Woodard, Darren Criss, and Sofia Vergara. Helen Hunt: “I’ve been a waitress, a cuckoo clock, a quarterback and a sex surrogate. I’m Helen Hunt and I’m an actor.” But the funniest was Sofia Vergara who joked that growing up in a traditional Catholic home, her father told her that if she did anything artistic, “I was going to look like a hooker. I told him, “With these huge boobs I inherited, I already look like a hooker.”

This year’s 49th annual Life  Achievement Award was presented to TV/movie legend Dick Van Dyke who looked amazingly young but told the cheering and standing crowd, “That does an old man a lot of good. Such a thrill.” He noted that both Carl Reiner and Mary Tyler Moore were both sick with flu and therefore absent. “I’m looking at the greatest generation of actors in the history of acting. You’ve all lifted the art to another place now. If I can refer to you as my peers, I’m a happy man.”

SAG-AFTRA Co-Presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Riordan appeared onstage together during the show. “Hello Mr. President,” Howard said to Reardon. “I couldn’t resist. Landmark year for SAG awards, not just 19th time, but first time since” the two unions united. [...After a bruising multiyear battle.] Now that’s done, Reardon called SAG-AFTRA “the newest strongest union for entertainment and media”.

Jeff Margolis is executive producer and director and his Jeff Margolis Productions produces the awards telecast in association with SAG-AFTRA. Kathy Connell has produced the Screen Actors Guild Awards since its inception and is also SAG-AFTRA’s assistant national executive director of awards and national programming. The Awards Committee for Screen Actors Guild — Chair JoBeth Williams, Vice Chair Daryl Anderson, Committee members Scott Bakula, Shelley Fabares, Paul Napier and Woody Schultz — oversees all stages of the production.

On the scene are Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond, Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, and Deadline/Awardsline contributor Diane Haithman:

SAG AWARDS WINNERS

THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
ARGO (Warner Bros. Pictures)
BEN AFFLECK / Tony Mendez
ALAN ARKIN
/ Lester Siegel
KERRY BISHÉ
/ Kathy Stafford
KYLE CHANDLER
/ Hamilton Jordan
RORY COCHRANE
/ Lee Schatz
BRYAN CRANSTON
/ Jack O’Donnell
CHRISTOPHER DENHAM
/ Mark Lijek
TATE DONOVAN
/ Bob Anders
CLEA DUVALL
/ Cora Lijek
VICTOR GARBER
/ Ken Taylor
JOHN GOODMAN
/ John Chambers
SCOOT McNAIRY
/ Joe Stafford
CHRIS MESSINA
/ Malinov

Ben Affleck talked about “the incredible people in Argo, they spoke English and Farsi. One thing that those who spoke Farsi have in common with us is that they wanted to kill to make this movie better. And that’s what actors do all over the world, everyday. We are in your debt.”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Abraham Lincoln – LINCOLN (Touchstone Pictures)

Daniel Day-Lewis thanked “all my brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors Guild” and offered his “deepest respect to my fellow nominees.” He said he was sorry that Joaquin Phoenix and fellow cast members who gave their Lincoln characters the “kiss of life” weren’t there. Day-Lewis thanked Leonardo DiCaprio and Liam Neeson for their support. But he unexpectedly drew a big laugh by saying that he set out to perform the role with the Hippocratic oath in mind: “First, do no harm. But then it occurred to me that an actor murdered Abraham Lincoln.  So it’s only fitting that, every once in awhile, an actor tries to bring him back to life again.”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER LAWRENCE / Tiffany – SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (The Weinstein Company)

Jennifer Lawrence beamed: “Oh my god! This is incredible. Thank you so much. I want to thank MTV, but I’ll explain that in a moment. I earned my SAG card when I was 14. I did an MTV promo Super Sweet Sixteen. I remember receiving the card in the mail. It made me a professional actor, putting me in a category with all of you and now I have this naked statue in front of me. It’s an un-describable feeling.  I want to thank David O Russell. You made a movie for your son so he wouldn’t  feel alone and misunderstood. And I can speak on behalf of all us: you helped so many sons and daughters. Bradley, my performance wouldn’t be good without you. And Harvey, I don’t even know what to say. You’re a rascal. You’ve nourished the filmmakers that nourish me.”
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