EXCLUSIVE: Idris Elba is in final negotiations to perform the role and provide the voice of the killer tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s live-action take on The Jungle Book. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film is a mix of live action and VFX that is being overseen by Rob Legato, whose VFX credits include Avatar, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Hugo and Titanic, the latter two of which won him Oscars. The studio has bolstered its creative team by setting as its production designers Alex McDowell (Man Of Steel, Rise Of The Guardians) and Chris Glass heading a team of concept artists that includes Michael Kutsche (Alice, Oz, Maleficent), Iain McCaig (Star Wars), and Justin Sweet (Chronicles Of Narnia). The story team is headed by Iron Man‘s David Lowery, who’s working around the clock with seven full-time illustrators, with Legacy Effects participating in creature design and rigging.
Disney is moving very quickly as it is in a race with Warner Bros on versions of Rudyard Kipling’s public domain title. The rival project is still looking for a director after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu dropped from the project. Read More »
Sky Arts HD is getting ready for its annual Playhouse Presents series which returns to the channel this May. The showcase is devoted to one-off comedies and dramas with talent lined up this year to include Matthew Perry, Billie Piper, Ben Wishaw, Mark Strong, Jo Brand, Simon Callow, Cara Delevingne, Lindsay Duncan, Kevin Eldon, Jane Horrocks, Daniel Mays, Sylvia Syms, Ashley Walters, Jason Watkins and Richard Wilson. Previous editions have had such names as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson, Idris Elba and David Tennant. This year also involves the writing talents of Oscar-winner Peter Straughan, among others. Perry, who’s prepping his Odd Couple pilot at CBS, will make his UK TV comedy debut with The Dog Thrower, the story of a man who finds fame, then infamy, when he starts throwing his dog. It’s produced by Runaway Fridge. Among the other offerings, Piper and Whishaw will star in Foxtrot from Sprout Pictures, about a gang heist gone wrong; Syms and Delevingne play unlikely friends in Timeless, a story of love, loss and hope, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and produced by Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow; and Strong will star as a tormented movie actor in the Straughan-penned Nosferatu In Love from Bonafide Films.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the crime drama True Detective, the critically acclaimed eight-episode limited series he directed for HBO starring Matthew McConaughey-Woody Harrelson, Cary Fukunaga is in the middle of a pitch that Fox has bought pre-emptively for mid-six figures. It’s untitled, and it’s set in a contemporary wartime context. And it will be written by Nicole Riegel — who, like Fukunaga, came from the Sundance Labs program and whose script Dogfight was a Black List choice. The deal went down Friday night, with Riegel (who just signed with CAA off all this heat) writing this as a vehicle for Fukunaga to direct. He also will produce with Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar. Fox’s Kira Goldberg and Emma Watts are point on the project.
Related: Fox, Chernin Buy Pitch From Black Listed Twin Scribes
It isn’t uncommon to hear that industry people like cutting-edge series on pay and basic cable, but HBO’s True Detective has reached a level of acclaim you don’t often hear. It is also unusual to see one director, Fukunaga, direct every episode. He will stay on as exec producer but will not direct episodes of Season 2 as creator/showrunner Nic Pizzolatto figures out the new storyline in the Anonymous Content-produced series. On the feature front, Fukunaga has several irons in the fire, and next directs his script Beasts Of No Nation, with Idris Elba starring … Read More »
Kevin Hart was named entertainer of the year tonight at the NAACP‘s Image Awards aired live on the East Coast on TV One. Forest Whitaker was named best actor and Angela Bassett best actress for their respective roles in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Black Nativity. Best picture award went to 12 Years A Slave. Kevin Hart was named best actor in a comedy series for Real Husbands of Hollywood and LL Cool J took the best actor in a drama series prize for NCIS: Los Angeles. Kerry Washington was named best actress in a drama series for Scandal. The award for best actress in a comedy series went to Wendy Raquel Robinson for The Game. Scandal and Real Husbands Of Hollywood took nods, respectively, for best drama and comedy series.
Oprah Winfrey honored Nelson Mandela with a tribute. Forest Whitaker received the NAACP Chairman’s Award. And Paris Barclay and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American Presidents of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, respectively, were inducted into the Image Awards Hall of Fame. The complete list of winners follows: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Mandelas will be coming to the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have invited Nelson and Winnie Mandela‘s daughters Zindzi and Zenani to attend the Oscars where U2 will be performing the Academy Award-nominated song, “Ordinary Love” from the film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Bono and U2 were personal friends of their father, and have been working in the Anti-Apartheid movement through their music since the late 1970s when the girls were only in their teens. In a statement the girls said, “This is especially meaningful to us because of how much our father loved watching movies. This song was inspired by the beautiful letters that my father and mother exchanged while he was imprisoned at Robben Island.”
In addition to the U2 performance the Academy has previously announced all the other nominated songs will also be performed live (by Pharrell Williams, Karen O and Idina Menzel) along with musical performances from Bette Midler and Pink. The Oscars will be held on Sunday March 2nd and aired live on ABC.
Meanwhile, the 45th annual NAACP Image Awards held tonight in Pasadena added a surprise tribute to the late South African leader with Oprah Winfrey leading the honors. Mandela star Idris Elba is set to join Winfrey in the tribute which will also … Read More »
Each year, Harvey Weinstein has taken time out from his Sundance buying frenzies to do an Oscar-season interview that touches on his Academy hopefuls, all the films he bought in Park City, and politics. Well, January’s Sundance couldn’t have been duller — outside of his multiplatform arm RADiUS, The Weinstein Company made zero buys there for the first time in forever — but so much has happened since that we needed a catch-up call to get it all in. Here, Weinstein touches on everything from watching Philomena get the Best Picture Oscar nomination over higher-profile TWC films to Quentin Tarantino’s leaked The Hateful Eight script to his battle with Warner Bros over The Hobbit gross points, to the NRA. And, just as he came out of Toronto with the big acquisition in Can A Song Save Your Life?, Weinstein walked away from Berlin with The Imitation Game, the drama about genius British mathematician Alan Turing, whose work cracking the Nazi Enigma Code made him a bona fide WWII hero but who later was prosecuted for being homosexual, chemically castrated and eventually committed suicide.
DEADLINE: We started this interview at the tail end of Sundance and you uncharacteristically hadn’t bought a single movie. You went right to Berlin and paid a record $7 million for U.S. rights to The Imitation Game. What happened?
WEINSTEIN: One of the things I’ve never been great at is discipline, but we just didn’t feel like there was anything we had to have at Sundance. We decided that, like with Can A Song Save Your Life? at Toronto, we wanted the movie. Imitation Game was a project all of us followed, and those 20 minutes gave that zeitgeist feeling to me, David Glasser, everyone on our team. Negeen Yazdi, who runs our English office, tracked this one so hard that it was like she was trying to break the Enigma Code.
DEADLINE: How hard is it to make such a big commitment based on a 20 minute compilation of scenes?
WEINSTEIN: It was easier in that we all knew the script and could see the level of performance Morten Tyldum got in his first English language film. Alan Turing is not outwardly very sympathetic. He’s brilliant, but the way that Benedict Cumberbatch played him showed us these guys found the right level of vulnerability, genius and the arrogance of the character, too. We felt after reading the script that you could get this wrong, from the tone to the casting. The reason we didn’t make it ourselves was, it felt like a near impossible walk on a tightrope. Morten walked the tightrope. And Keira Knightley is so brilliant in Can A Song Save Your Life and she was helpful and loyal in pushing it our way that we wanted this huge run she is about to have to be with us.
Related: Bong Joon-Ho And Harvey Weinstein Reach Truce On ‘Snowpiercer’
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Oprah Winfrey will be honoring Nelson Mandela with a tribute during the 45th NAACP Image Awards, the NAACP and TV One announced today. That news came along with a list of the second group of presenters confirmed to participate at the February 22 awards. Idris Elba, Vin Diesel, Terry Crews, Nia Long, Naomie Harris, Morris Chestnut, Chadwick Boseman, Tyrese Gibson, Ed Asner, and Ben Vereen will join previously announced Lupita Nyong’o, Tyler Perry, Michael Ealy, Tony Goldwyn, Arsenio Hall, Regina Hall, Octavia Spencer, Archie Panjabi, Dennis Haysbert, Rickey Smiley, Nicole Beharie, and Lou Gossett Jr. Anthony Anderson hosts the awards, which will be broadcast live from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22 at 9 PM/6 PM ET/PT on TV One.
Alive Alone, the Thunder Road produced drama that Protagonist Pictures is selling, was originally announced in Cannes with Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts starring. Schoenaerts has had to pull out for personal reasons, and now boarding are Idris Elba and Sam Worthington for a March start. The New York-set drama marks the feature helming debut of Khurram Longi. He’ll direct form his own script which featured on both the Black List and the UK Brit List. Elba stars as an ex-detainee of Guantanamo Bay working as a taxi driver, and Rapace plays a prostitute on the run from a feared crime boss (Worthington). When their worlds collide, they unexpectedly find salvation in one another. Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk is producing with Rapace acting as executive producer. Michael Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures is financing and Protagonist is selling here in Berlin. Elba is repped by WME; Longi, Rapace and Worthington by CAA.
Related: Cannes: Protagonist, Thunder Road Set Matthias Schoenarts, Noomi Rapace For ‘Alive Alone’
EXCLUSIVE: The European Film Market has been a bit sparse, with things perking up with Open Road’s acquisition of Rock The Kasbah. I’ve heard that pre-buy deal amounted to a $2 million minimum guarantee, a 10% gross deal for Bill Murray and a 1200-screen release commitment. If there is going to be action in Berlin, it might well be through the sizzle reels or other pre-buys.
The script stage projects being introduced in Berlin that seem most promising are the Daniel Craig-starrer The Whole Truth, the Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed Roberto Duran biopic Hands Of Stone with Edgar Ramirez playing the legend, Robert De Niro his trainer and Usher his rival Sugar Ray Leonard; the Nima Nourizadeh-directed American Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg and Stewart; the Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer Blood Mountain, about an Army ranger who must bring a terrorist to custody after his unit is wiped out in Pakistan; the Oren Moverman-directed Time Out Of Mind with Richard Gere; the Natalie Portman-directed A Tale Of Love And Darkness; Selma, the Ava DuVerney drama that stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr; the David Gordon Green-directed The Line with Chris Pine; the Anton Corbjin-directed Life with Robert Pattinson; and the Paolo Sorrentino-directed In The Future with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. A lot of these are being teased at Berlin, and will lead to sales at Cannes.
As for the sizzle reels, today is a big day with footage screenings of Imitation Game with Cumberbatch, and The Search, which is Michel Hazanavicius’ follow-up to The Artist. Here are the sizzle reels that have buyers hot and bothered: Read More »
British talent shop Ken McReddie Associates is rebranding. The name change to The Artists Partnership is intended to “reflect the kind of company we have become” and “the way that our agents work with our clients,” says CEO Roger Charteris. Charteris and the Marcus Evans Group took over the agency five years ago and recently set up literary and development departments run by Robert Taylor. The development department is working as a partner and co-producer with clients on projects across theater, film and TV. The agency has also begun working with writers and directors. The Artists Partnership’s client roster includes Idris Elba, Emily Blunt, Jack Huston, Jeremy Irons, Diane Kruger, Kim Cattrall, Harvey Keitel and Aneurin Barnard as well as such UK TV talent as David Suchet, Reggie Yates and Call The Midwife‘s Jenny Agutter.
Will Packer Productions, coming off the opening-weekend box office success of the producer’s Universal Pictures action comedy Ride Along, has hired UTA motion picture literary agent Barbara Dreyfus as head of motion pictures. She is one of the first key hires for Packer’s new shingle, which launched in October when he inked a three-year, first-look producing deal with the studio and set up operations on the lot. Dreyfus spent the past 13 years at UTA repping writers, directors and producers, and before that was an agent at ICM where she spent eight years in the motion picture literary department. She began her agent career at the InterTalent. “I’m thrilled to have Barbara on my team,” Packer said. “Her impeccable taste in material and great relationships across the creative community will be key assets as we establish and expand our Will Packer Productions brand. Additionally, she shares my passion for quality commercial material.”
As part of the deal, Dreyfus’ clients will remain in the UTA fold repped by their UTA agent teams. Read More »
‘Sherlock’ Season Finale Ratings Tops Weekend In UK
A roundly lauded finale for Season Three of Sherlock was the weekend’s most-watched TV program in the UK. The modern detective series’ third installment, entitled “His Last Vow,” drew 8.77M viewers for a 32.1% share, according to the overnights. While it was possibly the best-reviewed episode of the current season, it also was the lowest-rated. Last week’s 90-minute turn, “The Sign Of Three,” had brought in 8.84M viewers and the January 1st opener, “The Empty Hearse,” was the show’s most-watched episode ever at 9.2M on BBC One. In March last year, star Benedict Cumberbatch said there would be a fourth series of a three more episodes. At a BAFTA screening and panel discussion last week, Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat said the next season will be made “as quickly” as possible. Season 3 kicks off in the U.S. on PBS on January 19.
UK’s BBFC Changes Its Movie Ratings Criteria
After a spending nearly a year polling more than 10,000 members of the British public, the UK ratings board is tweaking its guidelines. Beginning February 24, the BBFC will give greater weight to the theme and tone of a film, especially around the 12A and 15 certificate levels (12A is similar to PG-13 in the U.S. and 15 means suitable only for 15 and overs). The board will also pay particular attention “to the psychological impact of horror” and strong visual details like gore. The BBFC has previously shown itself to be squeamish: In 2012, Lionsgate UK shaved seven seconds off The Hunger Games when it appeared the board was going to stamp it with a 15 certificate. Fixes were made in four scenes of violence and one showing details of injuries. It secured the 12A with a warning that it had “occasional gory moments.” While the BBFC will be stricter with language at the U level (equivalent to an MPAA G), it will also be more flexible about allowing very strong language at the 15 rating. “Context, not just frequency, is the most important factor in how language in films is perceived by the public,” the BBFC said today. Further, the group’s findings show that the public is notably concerned about the sexualization of girls in mainstream films and about risks to vulnerable adolescents, including what some described as the onscreen ‘normalization’ of behaviors which parents consider inappropriate. According to findings of the poll, 95% of parents with children under 15 say they check the BBFC rating before watching a film and 89% of moviegoers ratings important. The most complained-about film over the past four years was 2012′s The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. Eleven percent of moviegoers polled thought it had received too low a rating at 12A and should have been given a 15. Read More »
The NAACP’s 45th annual Image Awards are set for February 22 and will air live on the East Coast On TVOne and tape-delayed in the West from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The Weinstein Company leads the film noms unveiled today with 17 thanks to three films on the Best Picture list (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Fruitvale Station), followed by 12 Years A Slave distributor Fox Searchlight with seven. Rounding out the best film noms is Universal’s sequel The Best Man Holiday. BET and CBS lead the nominees in the TV categories with 19 and 16, respectively, followed by ABC with 15 and HBO with 13. Here’s the full list of noms — they span TV, film, books and music — which were announced during TVOne’s presentation at the TCA winter press tour in Pasadena:
Related: Broadcast Film Critics To Celebrate 2013′s Historic Output Of Black Cinema
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NBC announced this morning Matt Lauer will host Going For Gold — and yet, it’s not a Sochi Olympics walk-up. It’s a celebrity-studded walk-up to the network’s broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards, is an NBC News production, and will air Friday at 8 PM. If it’s Sochi Olympics walk-up you’re looking for, NBC will broadcast Shaun White: Russia Calling on January 25 — an hour-long program examining how the two-time gold medal winner balances work and play while prepping for the Games. It is not produced by NBC News, instead by Shaun White Enterprises, with Shaun White exec producing, and promises, modestly, to be “a rare inside look into the challenges and sacrifices that are made in order to be the best in the world.”
From NBC’s Going For Gold announcement: Read More »
Although there was plenty of star wattage at the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival Saturday night there was even more electricity than usual because some genuine rock royalty was in attendance. U2′s Bono and The Edge were on hand to accept the Sonny Bono Visionary Award, which acknowledged their major humanitarian work as well as their iconic musical contributions to the world. The award was well-timed as, like the rest of the honorees, they also have a song that is making waves this awards season. And it’s a very personal one. The band, and particularly Bono, had a long friendship with Nelson Mandela — who died December 5 — and their work in the anti-apartheid movement goes back to their beginnings as a band in the 1970s. And now they have written a song, “Ordinary Love” for the film of his life story, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. The Weinstein Company is hoping it will get the Oscar recognition that has eluded U2 before. They currently have a Golden Globe nomination for it, their sixth, with one win for 2002′s “The Hands That Built America” from Gangs Of New York.
Related: Oscar Contenders Hit The Desert As Hollywood’s Awards Season Moves to Palm Springs
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As one battle-weary awards publicist said, “Here we go again. Three months later, same drill.”
Not quite, but close. Wasn’t it just October when we saw Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o hit the stage at the Beverly Hilton to accept their preordained Hollywood Film Awards at the Hollywood Film Festival? Yes, but that was then and this is now. And the pre-Oscar train has moved to the desert right smack in the middle of nomination voting period (ballots are due Wednesday). So in its 25th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival‘s Awards Gala has taken on even greater importance – and urgency - if the long red carpet, rows of fans, and numbers of studio reps on hand is any indication. ”This is a red carpet that is second only to the Golden Globes,” PSIFF Board Chairman Harold Matzner said before Fox Searchlight’s upcoming May release Belle officially opened the fest Friday night. Speaking Saturday night to the crowd of 2000 black tie and gowned locals gathered for this glittery affair, which is sponsored by Cartier and features a giant stage and full orchestra as big as the Academy Awards at the Palm Springs Convention Center, he said $2.4 million had been raised for the non-profit PSIFF Society and educational programs. Not bad, but as far as Hollywood is concerned it’s also … Read More »
Ahead of today’s WGA Award nom for its adapted screenplay, August: Osage County picked up Best Film of the Year and two other awards at the Italian event. The 18th annual Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival also honored the Weinstein Co pic’s Meryl Streep as Best Actress and gave its cast the Acting Ensemble of the Year nod. “I am thrilled by this news,” Streep said in a statement. “We all are very proud of this edgy and dark film and are grateful for the recognition and the honor of this award. … Thank you, mille grazie.” Osage co-star Chris Cooper also received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom won three Capri, Hollywood awards, including Best Actor for Idris Elba, and American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave each picked up two.
Related: Meryl Streep, Margo Martindale & Abigail Breslin Talk ‘August: Osage County’: Video
Harvey Weinstein got a surprise at the 18th Capri-Hollywood Film Festival in Capri, Italy. Weinstein was presented with an unexpected award during a ceremony that followed the Monday premiere of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom which he exec produced. Dubbed “Mr. Oscar” by festival founder and director Pascal Vicedomini, Weinstein was brought up onstage to accept the prize. A reportedly stunned Weinstein told the crowd: “What Pascal doesn’t realize is that I’m not actually Jewish, I’m Sicilian. And I have some friends who are going to visit him in the middle of the night to repay him for calling me up on stage tonight.” Idris Elba and Naomie Harris were awarded Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress prizes during the ceremony for their work in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Their awards were previously announced.
Oprah Winfrey Network has secured the network television rights to Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom from The Weinstein Company, the network announced this morning.
OWN has licensed the first broadcast window, behind pay TV, starting in 2017. The movie, based on the 1995 book Long Walk To Freedom, and former South African President Nelson Mandela, chronicles Mandela’s early life, coming of age, education and 27 years spent in prison before becoming President, and rebuilding the country’s once segregated society. Idris Elba (Prometheus, Luther) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.
OWN, a joint venture between Winfrey’s Harpo company and Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery Communications, also recently licensed the first broadcast window behind pay TV, also beginning in 2017, on The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in which Oprah was among the cast – her first movie role in 15 years. OWN president Erik Logan, in the announcement, said Mandela “was Oprah’s hero” and the inspiration behind her school in South Africa.