Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp And Millennium Entertainment Heading To Altar?

By | Saturday October 12, 2013 @ 9:26am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I am hearing that Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp is the lead horse in the quest to acquire Millennium Entertainment, the distribution arm of Avi Lerner‘s Nu Image/Millennium Films empire that was put on the selling block last April. The division, which is run by Bill Lee, retained Los Angeles-based investment bank Salem Partners in April to broker a deal. Lerner owns 60% of the company, Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media has a 20% stake and the hedge fund Prentice Capital owns the other 20%. I’m told that there might be one or more other bidders in the mix, but it looks like the deal is EuroCorp’s for the taking and that they are close. Besides a distribution operation, Millennium owns a film library with 665 titles and, according to the company’s release announcing the sale last April, has strong relationships with big three theater chains AMC, Regal and Landmark as well as retails outlets like Walmart, Target, iTunes, and Netflix, and cable systems for its VOD-centric titles. Recent films on the release schedule include What Maisie Knew, the Michael Shannon-starrer The Iceman, the Shia LaBeouf-starrer Charlie Countryman, the James Franco-directed As I Lay Dying and the Woody Allen-starrer Fading Gigolo, directed by John Turturro.

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Telluride: Robert Redford Tribute – “I Just Keep Going”

By | Friday August 30, 2013 @ 11:34am PDT
Pete Hammond

The undisputed star so far of the 40th Telluride Film Festival, Robert Redford received his second packed-to-the-rafters tribute this morning on top of the mountain at the Chuck Jones Cinema (each tributee must do two of these here — the Coen brothers and T Bone Burnett are up next tonight and Saturday morning). Considering he just went through the two-hour program 14 hours earlier and this one started at 9 AM, Redford was in great form and perhaps more introspective about his life and career than I have heard him in this kind of setting. At Friday night’s version of the tribute he was presented with the festival’s Silver Medallion (by surprise guest Ralph Fiennes, who starred in his Quiz Show). Of course Redford is being talked about in a big way for the Best Actor Oscar for his tour-de-force one-man starring role in J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, so a look back at his remarkable career can’t hurt. Although it wasn’t mentioned this morning, Redford incredibly has only been Oscar-nominated once as an actor, for the light-hearted The Sting (1973). He does have Oscars for his 1980 directorial  debut, Ordinary People and an Honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance.

The first hour was devoted to a wide-ranging clip-by-clip look at his acting career beginning with the live TV production of The Iceman Cometh to such iconic film roles as Barefoot In The Park, The Candidate, Downhill Racer, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Sting, Three Days Of The Condor, All The President’s Men, The Electric Horseman, Brubaker, The Natural and Out Of Africa. Of his nine films as a director the only clip shown was for A River Runs Through It which starred a young Brad Pitt — the one actor along with George Clooney whose career trajectory seems closest to Redford’s consistently intelligent and high-wattage movie star course over the last half century. Read More »

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Ray Liotta Joins ‘Kill The Messenger’

By | Thursday August 15, 2013 @ 10:34am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ray Liotta has signed on to play a pivotal role in Kill The Messenger, the Michael Cuesta-directed drama about Gary Webb, the journalist who bared a CIA link to coke trafficking in the US as a way to funnel money to the Nicaraguan Contras. Webb was subsequently discredited by a smear campaign which ruined him and he eventually committed suicide. Jeremy Renner plays Webb, and Liotta will play a retired CIA agent who is secretly interviewed by the journalist and who corroborates the CIA’s involvement. Liotta most recently starred in The Iceman and The Place Beyond The Pines. He’ll next be seen in The Identical with Ashley Judd, Muppets Most Wanted and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. He is repped by UTA and Untitled.

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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Way, Way Back’ Slides Into A Hot Holiday Opening

By | Sunday July 7, 2013 @ 9:37am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsFox Searchlight‘s The Way, Way Back made a splash as the 4th of July holiday weekend rolled on, opening in 19 theaters Friday and grossing an estimated $572K for hot $30K PSA. Not bad going up against the huge debut of Despicable Me 2 and the left-over blockbusters crowding the multiplexes. As one industry insider said to me Sunday, “Fox Searchlight just knows how to open movies.” Magnolia Pictures bowed doc Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me in a pair of showings. The film rallied a good number of fans of the ’70s-era band it spotlights to come out, grossing $21K. Millennium‘s Stuck In Love, however, debuted with less traction though in a fairly hefty 21 theaters. The feature grossed just over $38K for a $1,816 average. And in expansion RADiUS-TWC‘s doc 20 Feet From Stardom shot well past the 7-figure threshold. The crowd pleaser will likely be the highest-grossing doc of 2013 in the next week as it continues its momentum. CBS FilmsThe Kings Of Summer also hit the $1 million mark in its sixth frame. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Almodovar’s ‘I’m So Excited’ Leads New Indies; ‘Museum Hours’ Bows OK

By | Sunday June 30, 2013 @ 10:52am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsPedro Almodovar‘s boozy sex comedy I’m So Excited lead an otherwise unremarkable host of newbies in the Specialty Box Office. The feature, which opened the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this month, bowed in 5 locations in New York and L.A., grossing over $100K for a three-day winning $20,546 average. Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours debuted two runs, grossing almost $30K for a decent $14,718, while Tribeca Films’ doc How To Make Money Selling Drugs rolled out in 5 theaters, grossing over $15K. IFC Films’ Byzantium opened with a $3K average in 6 theaters, followed by Drafthouse Films’ A Band Called Death ($2,193 PSA) and Roadside’s Redemption, which floundered with a $959 average albeit in 19 runs.

Insiders speculated over whether the latest feature from Spanish maestro Almodóvar would pass muster from his fans and the art house crowd. The speculation will still linger. Opening weekend numbers were decent although not, to take a cue from the film, orgasmic. Almodovar’s much darker last film The Skin I Live In boasted more recognizable stars and bowed with a $37,187 average in 6 theaters, a figure topped by Broken Embraces in 2009 ($53,556 PSA in 2 runs). 2006′s Volver averaged $39,540 in five theaters on its way to nearly a $12.9 million cume in the U.S. Excited has not flown the way of his most recent films, however, opening in the summer and bowing out of the usual Almodovarian Cannes debut. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Unfinished Song’ Croons Atop A Ho-Hum Weekend

By | Sunday June 23, 2013 @ 9:17am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsA number of specialties opened the first (official) weekend of summer, but nothing really popped. TWC‘s Unfinished Song managed reasonable numbers, opening in two locations with a $13,846 average, easily winning the numbers game in a ho-hum weekend otherwise dominated by the studios. Cohen Media Group‘s The Attack, meanwhile bowed in three theaters, grossing over $26K for an $8,784 PSA, while Magnolia‘s Danish produced A Hijacking opened 7 runs, grossing $42,500 ($6K-plus average). Samuel Goldwyn‘s wine doc Somm sipped a $4,500 average, although it was the number one documentary on the iTunes charts and fellow doc Downloaded took in $2,500 in one theater.

Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave starter Unfinished Song found some traction among audiences seeking alterna-fare on the big screen. It played the Paris Theater in NYC and the Landmark in L.A. TWC noted Sunday that the film had “the biggest jump of any other movie from Friday to Saturday,” so perhaps word-of-mouth is giving the title a boost. “The picture plays really well and is counter programming against the bubble gum fare out there now,” noted Erik Lomis about the film. Unfinished Song will continue its trek into the top markets in the weeks ahead. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Bling Ring’ Sparkles With A Haute Debut

By | Sunday June 16, 2013 @ 10:30am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsSome said that opening opposite a juggernaut like Man Of Steel would be box office suicide, but not everyone went for the obligatory tentpole. After a splash earlier this year with Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers ($263K opening, 3 theaters in March) A24 once again found box office gold with youth gone awry formula, this time via Sofia Coppola‘s The Bling Ring. The Cannes Un Certain Regard debut opened in just five theaters, grossing $210K. The distributor was clearly pleased, noting that Bling is Coppola’s highest opening since Oscar-winning Lost In Translation. Said A24 Sunday: “Sofia Coppola’s latest and greatest has certainly entered the zeitgeist and we look forward to capitalizing on this great success as we expand nationwide next weekend. It is the highest opening for a Sofia Coppola film since Lost in Translation and played to sold-out crowds in NY and LA on Friday and Saturday with the highest per screen average of the weekend.” Read More »

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‘Goodfellas’ Unite! Ray Liotta Joins Exec Producer Martin Scorsese In ‘Revenge Of The Green Dragons’

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 7:13am PDT
Mike Fleming

Ray Liotta has joined Revenge Of The Green Dragons, the thriller helmed by Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, with production beginning in New York. The triad thriller is executive produced by Martin Scorsese and is fully financed by IM Global’s prolific genre label Octane. Scorsese’s Best Picture Oscar-winning The Departed was a remake of Lau’s Hong Kong gangster film Infernal Affairs. Liotta will play the lead New York detective responsible for investigating the brutal gang and bringing them to justice. He is coming off The Iceman, The Place Beyond The Pines and Killing Them Softly. Also joining the cast are Justin Chon and Harry Shum. The film’s based on Fredric Dannen’s New Yorker article about the terror spree inflicted by the Green Dragons, the gang of Asian youths in Chinatown.

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Specialty Box Office: Whedon’s ‘Much Ado’ Soars; ‘Dirty Wars’ Opens Decent

By | Sunday June 9, 2013 @ 10:49am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsJoss Whedon‘s Much Ado About Nothing clearly ruled the Specialty Box Office this weekend. Opening in 5 theaters, the Roadside/Lionsgate release gave the 4-century-old play some 21st century adulation, grossing over $183K in 5 theaters for a $36,680 average. Whedon broke box office records last year with The Avengers and will likely do so again with his second round with the franchise, but the versatile filmmaker has clearly shown his filmmaking chops outside the big summer tentpole. Sundance Selects debuted its timely Dirty Wars in 4 runs, also opening solid. The distributor said it played sold out shows in all venues and called the launch a “promising start.” This weekend’s limited release newcomers were plentiful, though most others opened soft at best. Oz pic Wish You Were Here bowed in 11 theaters, averaging $2,338, while Kino Lorber’s You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet opened in two locations, averaging $3,500. Cinedigm’s Violet & Daisy, meanwhile, debuted in 17 locations, with a very slight $602 average, taking in over $10K. The film will move into the top ten markets next weekend. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Hannah Arendt’ & ‘The East’ Debut Solid, ‘Frances Ha’ Still Strong In Expansion

By | Sunday June 2, 2013 @ 5:29pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline specialty film contributor:

Zeitgeist Films’ Hannah Arendt and Fox Searchlight’s The East bowed strong over the weekend, reigning atop a half dozen newcomers among the Specialties. In one theater, Arendt grossed a hefty $31K, bringing its five day take to $45,502 (the film opened Wednesday), while Searchlight opened The East in four locations, taking in $75,628 for a $18,907 PSA. Also opening with some gusto was CBS Films’ The Kings Of Summer. The Sundance debut features a little-known cast, but managed a $58K weekend gross for a $14,500 average. Magnolia’s Shadow Dancer opened comparatively more mild with $10,200 in a pair of locations, while Variance’s The History Of Future Folk took in $6,100 from one run. Related: Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The East’, ‘The History Of Future Folk’, ‘Hannah Arendt’, ‘The Kings Of Summer’

NEW
Axe Giant: The Wrath Of Paul Bunyan (Cinema Purgatorio) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $770
The East (Fox Searchlight) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $75,628, Average $18,907
Hannah Arendt (Zeitgeist Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $31K, Cume $45,502 (Wed Opening)
The History Of Future Folk (Variance Films) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $6,100
The Kings Of Summer (CBS Films) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $58K, Average $14,500
Shadow Dancer (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $10,200, Average $5,100

Returning / 2nd Weekend
Before Midnight (Sony Classics) Week 2 [5 Theaters] Wkd $430,542, … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Before Midnight’ Bows With A Bang’; 4-Day Estimates

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsUPDATE 2:00 PM: Sony Pictures ClassicsBefore Midnight has struck box office gold Memorial Day weekend. The start of the summer 2013 blockbuster season will be for Fast & Furious 6 to celebrate, but Midnight clearly resonated with audiences searching for an alternative. The film, directed by Richard Linklater, opened in 5 theaters grossing $321,914 and averaging $64,383. In 2004, Warner Independent debuted Before Sunset in 20 theaters, averaging $10,971. That film went on to gross $5.82 million domestically. “We think the reputation of this film stands on its own whether you’ve seen those or not,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “So it has the benefit of being related to those films, but it also has the benefit of being the finest of the three.” SPC will take Before Midnight wide June 14th. In other openers, Sony Classics also opened Fill The Void in three locations. That film took in $79,164, averaging a solid $26,388.

Last weekend’s specialty box office winner Frances Ha held steady in its second weekend. IFC Films added 56 theaters in its second weekend of release, grossing $708,000 for a $11,800 average. Noted IFC Films: “Frances Ha expanded to the top 20 markets to fantastic results this Memorial Day weekend. Initial runs remained very strong with minimal drops signifying the comedy’s positive word of mouth. The new markets were also excellent buoyed by phenomenal reviews (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and an extensive advanced screening program. Frances Ha will continue its aggressive platform release as the film will open the top 50 markets this weekend.”
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Specialty Box Office: ‘Frances Ha’ Triumphs As Fellow Newcomers Take A Nose Dive

By | Sunday May 19, 2013 @ 10:12am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsIFC FilmsFrances Ha had the last laugh this weekend, opening solid in a pair of theaters each in New York and Los Angeles. The critically well-received feature directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig grossed $134K, averaging $33,500. It came fairly close to his last feature, Greenberg, which averaged $39,384 when it opened in March 2010 in three locations. But that film, which also starred Gerwig, also included Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Juno Temple. Frances Ha inched out Baumbach’s acclaimed 2005 Best Screenplay Oscar-nominated The Squid And The Whale in terms of first weekend PSA. That film opened in four runs, averaging $32,461. Frances Ha‘s fellow newcomers, however did not fare nearly as well.
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Specialty Box Office: Sarah Polley’s ‘Stories We Tell’ Opens Strong; ‘Mud’ Sticks

By | Sunday May 12, 2013 @ 9:59am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsCanadian filmmaker/actress Sarah Polley‘s documentary Stories We Tell is leading the pack of specialty releases among titles reporting early Sunday afternoon ET. The Venice/Telluride/Toronto ’12 debut, which headed into release with strong word of mouth and festival acclaim, grossed a solid $31K in two locations and saw its grosses shoot up Friday to Saturday by a spectacular 172%. The feature, which is a personal account of Polley’s family, received a 92 score on Metacritic and 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The opening is in the range of openings of last year’s doc hits Searching For Sugar Man from SPC ($9153 a screen opening on 3 screens in NY/LA, $3,657,684 final gross) and Queen Of Versailles from Magnolia ($17,109 a screen opening on 3 screens in NY/LA, $2,401,999 final gross), which is right where we want to be,” said Roadside Attractions Sunday.

The film will head into 20 runs in the top 7 markets next weekend.

Also opening with decent numbers is Zeitgeist’s doc One Track Heart: The Story Of Krishna Das, which took in $7,500 in one Manhattan theater. IFC Films’ comedy/thriller hybrid Sightseers languished with a $4,200 average in its debut in two runs, while Anchor Bay’s No One Lives opened in an ambitious 53 theaters but only scraped together an $866 average.
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UPDATE: Michael Shannon To Reteam With ‘Mud’ Helmer Jeff Nichols On Warner Bros Project

By | Wednesday May 8, 2013 @ 5:21pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Took awhile, but I’ve gotten clarity on this Jeff Nichols Warner Bros project, and it was worth the wait. Michael Shannon, the Boardwalk Empire star who turned in a powerhouse performance in Nichols’ Take Shelter and appeared more recently in Mud, will star in Midnight Special, which Nichols wrote and will direct at Warners. Described to me as a contemporary science fiction chase film, the pic will be produced by Sarah Green and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, with Glen Basner and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos the exec producers. Shannon just played a hitman in The Iceman, and he plays General Zod in the Superman reboot Man Of Steel, so he is absolutely on the Warner Bros radar. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Iceman’ Scores Cool Opening, ‘What Maisie Knew’ Solid

By | Sunday May 5, 2013 @ 9:48am PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsMillennium Entertainment’s The Iceman warmed over the specialty box office this weekend despite the Iron Man 3 juggernaut. The film averaged a cool $23,287 from four runs and that wasn’t the only good news for the distributor. Millennium also bowed What Maisie Knew in one location, grossing $23,268. The duo were among a large number of specialty newcomers this weekend, though they did by far the best among titles reporting. Pantelion’s Cinco De Mayo: La Batalla averaged $3,500 from 20 runs, while SPC’s Love Is All You Need averaged $9,739 from its initial four theaters opening. Cannes 2012 debut Post Tenebras Lux took in $5,525 in one theater, while the weekend’s new doc Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s grossed $38,294 for a $9,574 average in four theaters. Meanwhile IFC Films’ French-language Something In The Air bowed in three theaters, averaging a slight $5K.
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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Kiss Of The Damned’, ‘What Maisie Knew’, ‘The Iceman’, ‘Generation Um…’, ‘Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s', ‘Dead Man’s Burden’, ‘Something In The Air’, ‘The Happy House’

By | Thursday May 2, 2013 @ 5:20pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Specialty Box OfficeFollowing last week’s hefty rollout of new Specialty films, the coming weekend is also awash in a large number of diverse titles that will hit the limited release slate, including titles with stars, soon-to-be stars and big screen novices. Xan Cassavetes will open her drama/thriller Kiss Of The Damned via Magnolia this weekend with a cadre of French vampires. Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard star in Millennium Entertainment’s What Maisie Knew. The distributor is doubling up this weekend, also bowing The Iceman with Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta and David Schwimmer, while Keanu Reeves stars in Phase 4′s Generation Um… Cinedigm will open indie Western Dead Man’s Burden from newcomer Jared Moshé, starring Barlow Jacobs, Clare Bowen and David Call, while First Run Features’ The Happy House will also be looking for its niche among the weekend’s new titles. IFC Films will bow veteran French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’ latest, Something In The Air, while doc Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s joins the weekend’s packed lineup.

Kiss Of The Damned
Director-writer: Xan Cassavetes
Cast: Joséphine de La Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida, Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing

Xan Cassavetes initially had the idea for Kiss Of The Damned after touring a house some years ago. The home eventually became the venue for the thriller/drama which revolves around a vampire, Djuna, who resists the advances of Paolo, but soon gives into their passion. “I went through the house and the nature of its setting felt so transitory — it’s a weekend house and it’s the setting for a transitory vampire,” said Cassavetes. “I looked at the house a year and a half before writing the screenplay.” After working on other projects, Cassavetes recalled the house and wrote the screenplay for Kiss Of The Damned in only three weeks. She and her team were able to put together the financing elements from previous films. “I wanted French actors because the movie has the flavor of a beautiful European flavor,” said Cassavetes. “I also wanted relatively unknown actors because I thought it was more powerful to buy into that.” Read More »

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‘The Avengers’ Cast To Present At Oscars

By | Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 7:30am PST

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Marvel’s The Avengers cast mates Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will present together on the Oscar stage, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.

“We are happy to re-unite the Avengers cast to present on our show,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Audiences who enjoyed the year’s biggest box office hit will be excited to see these terrific actors back together again.”

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Sundance: Five Producers To Watch

By | Friday January 18, 2013 @ 1:35pm PST

One day in, the Sundance Film Festival is already packed with producers gauging audience reaction at screenings and meeting with potential distributors. As the sale today of Twenty Feet From Stardom to Radius/TWC shows, this is where the art of the deal becomes reality. This year’s festival sees some producing veterans return and some relative newcomers put their shingle out. Here are a few worth noting and watching both at Sundance and afterward.

Related: Mike Fleming’s Sundance 2013 Preview

Stephenie Meyer, Austenland: Though she’s been a producer on all the adaptations of her best-selling The Twilight Saga books, Meyer is branching out to other material this Sundance. Premiering today, Austenland is the first project from Meyer’s Fickle Fish production company. The Jerusha Hess-directed film is an adaption of Shannon Hale’s novel about an obsessed Jane Austen fan’s search for love and visit to a theme park based on the famous author. Meyer is producing with Gina Mingacci, and Robert Fernandez and Dan Levinson are executive producers.

Related:
Sundance: Five Directors To Watch
Sundance: Five Actors & Actresses To Watch

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R.I.P. Conrad Bain

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 11:20am PST

Conrad Bain, who played wealthy widower and adoptive father Phillip Drummond on the TV comedy Diff’rent Strokes, died Monday. He was 89. Bain passed away of natural causes at his home in Livermore, CA, his daughter Jennifer Bain tells The Associated Press. Bain made his New York theater debut in 1956 as Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh at the Circle in the Square. He eventually ventured into TV, including the role of Dr. Arthur Harmon in the comedy Maude starring Bea Arthur which aired on CBS from 1972-1978. From Maude he went on to play his most famous role on Diff’rent Strokes, as the adoptive father of two young brothers played by Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. The series aired for seven seasons on NBC (1978-1985) and one season on ABC (1985-1986). Before his roles on Maude and Diff’rent Strokes, Bain had appeared occasionally in films, including A Lovely Way To Die, Coogan’s Bluff, The Anderson Tapes, I Never Sang For My Father and Woody Allen’s Bananas. He also played the clerk at the Collinsport Inn in the 1960s TV show Dark Shadows.

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