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Toronto Film Fest Will Close World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:40am PDT

Toronto Film Fest Will Close World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get PerchesUPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.

Alan Rickman Kate WinsletA Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”

In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet)  —  a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.

Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list: Read More »

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NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With Competition

NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With CompetitionNBC and cable networks led by USA “were trading at a 20% discount to our competition” in the cost-per-viewer of ad sales before the recent upfront market, NBCU chief Steve Burke told analysts this morning. “We’re now at about a 10% discount.” Comcast‘s entertainment arm says it bucked a trend in the upfront — seen as generally down 5% vs last year — as it benefits from the growing popularity of its shows, and a decision to sell broadcast and cable ad inventory together. “If the industry was down 5% and we were up 10%, that’s a 15% difference vs what we would have done” if NBCU had sold broadcast and cable separately. “It’s a swing of $750M” that will go “a long way toward closing monetization gap.”
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Venice Days Sidebar Includes Shawn Christensen, Laurent Cantet, Kim Ki-Duk

Venice Days Sidebar Includes Shawn Christensen, Laurent Cantet, Kim Ki-DukAhead of Thursday’s announcement of the Venice Film Festival competition lineup, the parallel Venice Days section has presented its roster. As previously noted, Kim Ki-duk’s revenge drama One On One will open the section out of competition. The Korean helmer’s Pieta won the Golden Lion in 2012. Closing the section is Alex De La Iglesia’s documentary about Argentine football great Lionel Messi. Titled Messi, the film uses reconstructions, archival material and interviews to trace the player’s rise to stardom. Among the competition titles is the world premiere of Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet’s Return To Ithaca. Set in Havana, the film sees five friends reflect on their past and future. The section also hosts the international premiere of Shawn Christensen’s SXSW drama Before I Disappear with Emmy Rossum, Fatima Ptacek, Paul Wesley, Ron Perlman and Richard Schiff. It’s based on Christensen’s 2013 Oscar-winning short film Curfew. Click over for the full Venice Days lineup: Read More »

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Michael Caine Joins Vin Diesel’s ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 9:14am PDT

Michael Caine Joins Vin Diesel’s ‘The Last Witch Hunter’Lionsgate confirmed this morning what Vin Diesel has been saying over the weekend while doing press for Guardians Of The Galaxy: that Michael Caine has come aboard The Last Witch Hunter, the supernatural action film starring Diesel and Rose Leslie and directed by Breck Eisner. Summit is releasing the pic, about an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who partners with his natural enemy, a female witch, to stop the covens of NY from unleashing a plague on humanity. Caine recently wrapped Paolo Sorrentino’s The Youth opposite Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz and his upcoming pics include Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Matthew Vaughn’s The Secret Service. He is repped by ICM Partners, Jackoway Tyerman and 42 in the UK. Read More »

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Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not Quality

By and | Sunday July 20, 2014 @ 9:25am PDT

Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not QualityFlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

Bart: Like  7th grade boys staring in the mirror, corporate CEOs these days keep asking themselves, “Am I big enough?” What scares them is the prospect of becoming a takeover target, and there’s been a rush of takeover talk lately —Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner being the most dramatic. Size means safety in the corporate universe and Time Warner became vulnerable by ridding itself of Time Inc., AOL and Time Warner Cable — the latter becoming a target for Comcast. With giants like Google, Apple and Amazon looming, CEOs are scared they can’t measure up, but the folks who should really be frightened are the creatives and their audiences. Bigness means giant fees for bankers and profits for shareholders, but the impact of the monoliths is easy to read — a universe of corporate plodding, tentpoles and sequels.

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Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 3:49pm PDT

Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.

But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.

What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:

Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »

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UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert Murdoch

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 6:46am PDT

UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert MurdochUPDATE. 6:46 AM: Time Warner confirms that it rejected 21st Century Fox‘s acquisition offer saying its board concluded that remaining independent “will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.” Fox said it would pay $32.42 in cash plus 1.531 of its own non-voting shares for each Time Warner share. Directors don’t like the plan, in part because it involves “significant risk and uncertainty as to the valuation of Twenty-First Century Fox’s non-voting stock and Twenty-First Century Fox’s ability to govern and manage a combination of the size and scale of Twenty-First Century Fox and Time Warner.” The board also notes that there would be “considerable strategic, operational, and regulatory risks” to a deal.

21stcenturyfox1__131014203730-275x122PREVIOUS, 4:39 AM: Time Warner’s up nearly 20% in pre-market trading after The New York Times and CNBC reported that the media giant recently rejected an $80B takeover proposal by Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox. The bid could “put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry,” the Times says. Fox COO Chase Carey met with Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in early June offering $85 a share — 40% of it in cash — a 25% premium at the time. The proposal said that the combined companies could save at least $1B by TimeWarnerlogoblueeliminating duplication. Fox, which owns Fox News, offered to sell CNN to avoid antitrust problems, and indicated that it would maintain Time Warner’s studio and cable network operations, as well as most of its best execs, according to the reports. The Time Warner board seriously considered the proposal but rejected it, in part because the offer included nonvoting shares. Nonetheless, “Rupert Murdoch is ‘determined’ to buy Time Warner,” CNBC reports, citing unnamed sources. Murdoch is said to have enlisted Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to advise him while Time Warner has Citigroup.

Fox says that it “can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – Recap

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – RecapUPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Jeffrey_Katzenberg_118299588Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).

On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the H2013-07-11t154703z_2111664344_gm1e97b1tzw01_rtrmadp_3_sunvalley-conference_Fotorerb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.

The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.

So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.

Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That Read More »

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EMMYS: Overall Nominations By Network

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 7:08am PDT

EMMYS: Overall Nominations By NetworkOnce again, HBO led all networks in Emmy nominations this year, and it wasn’t even close. Here’s a look at HBO’s noms haul in the past decade, followed by a breakdown in who got what this year.

Emmy Nominations HBO Chart 2004 to 2014

 

NOMINATIONS BY NETWORK

HBO – 99
CBS – 47
NBC – 46
FX Networks – 45
ABC – 37
PBS – 34
Netflix – 31
FOX– 30
AMC – 26
Showtime – 24
Comedy Central – 21
FOX– 30
Lifetime – 17
National Geographic Channel – 15
Starz – 11
Discovery Channel – 10 Read More »

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Primetime Emmys: Full List Of Nominees

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 5:53am PDT

Primetime Emmys: Full List Of NomineesThe 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced this morning at the TV Academy in North Hollywood. Netflix fared well with Best Series nominations in both comedy and drama categories, with Orange Is The New Black in the former and House Of Cards in the latter. HBO fared well with noms for rookie Silicon Valley and Veep on the comedy side and Game Of Thrones and True Detective on the drama side. Both of that series’ stars, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrleson, received nods in the actor category, as did Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm. The AMC show is back in the drama race with Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey rounding out the category. On the comedy side, the top category includes reigning champ Modern Family, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and FX’s Louie.

Here’s the full list of noms:

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

Louie
FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. and FX Productions

Modern Family
ABC • Picador Productions and Steven Levitan Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television

Orange Is The New Black
Netflix • Lionsgate Television for Netflix

Silicon Valley
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Judgemental Films, Alec Berg, Altschuler Krinsky works, and 3 Arts Entertainment

Veep
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Dundee Productions

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad
AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Downton Abbey
PBS • A Carnival Films/Masterpiece Co-Production in association with NBC Universal

Game Of Thrones
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions

House Of Cards
Netflix • Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in association with Media Rights Capital for Netflix

Mad Men
AMC • Lionsgate Television

True Detective
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Neon Black, Anonymous Content, Parliament of Owls and Passenger Read More »

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Tech Stocks Slammed On Weak Day For The Market

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 1:22pm PDT

Tech Stocks Slammed On Weak Day For The MarketPerhaps it’s due to profit taking ahead of earnings season. Or maybe investors became scared early this morning when Samsung said that it expects its Q2 earnings to come in far below analyst expectations due to weakening demand for its mobile products. Whatever the reason, or reasons, traders pummeled tech stocks today in the second day of declines after the market hit an all-time high last week. The tech-heavy NASDAQ fell 1.4% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was -0.7% to 16,907 after crossing the 17,000 mark for the first time last week. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index slipped 1.1%. Among the tech companies we watch, Pandora was -7.3% followed by Twitter (-7.0%), Facebook (-3.9%), Netflix (-3.4%), Amazon (-2.9%), Yahoo (-2.8%), and AOL (-2.5%).

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Life Itself’, ‘Me And You’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘The Girl On The Train’

By | Wednesday July 2, 2014 @ 4:18pm PDT

Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Life Itself’, ‘Me And You’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘The Girl On The Train’Perhaps the most beloved film critic will get his starring spotlight on the big screen this holiday weekend. Filmmaker Steve James, one of many directors who was discovered in part because of Roger Ebert and his partner (and rival) Gene Siskel, looks at Ebert’s life in Life Itself, which opens July 4 in select cities via Magnolia Pictures. The doc will go up against a trio of studio blockbusters over the long weekend along with the latest from Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci, Me And You, which will open as the fourth Italian film under an initiative with Emerging Pictures. A re-release by Janus Films will be the weekend’s “largest” Specialty release. Acclaimed 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night will roll out into 100-plus theaters with more cities expected into July. And thriller The Girl On The Train will open with two runs from Monterey Media.

life itself posterLife Itself
Director: Steve James
Subjects: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Ava DuVernay, Errol Morris, Ramin Bahrani, A.O. Scott, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Filmmaker Steve James first met Roger Ebert at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 where his doc Hoop Dreams debuted. Ebert and Gene Siskel championed the film, which went on to receive an Oscar nomination the following year. “Like many, I had a relationship with him though he didn’t with me. I watched the show when I first fell in love with movies,” said James, referring to Siskel and Ebert’s show At The Movies. “I had hoped to one day make them as well.” James had formed a professional relationship with Ebert and that status remained so up to his involvement with the big screen version of Life Itself, which is based on the 2011 memoir penned by the critic about his life. Read More »

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Movie Academy Invites 271 New Members

Movie Academy Invites 271 New MembersThe Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”

The 2014 invitees are:

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Online Video Ads Don’t Threaten Traditional TV: Study

By | Thursday June 26, 2014 @ 5:30am PDT

Online Video Ads Don’t Threaten Traditional TV: StudyHere’s a fun fact that summarizes RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank’s conclusion from his thorough examination this morning of the video ad marketplace — and the potential threat that digital poses to broadcast and pay TV: An entire week of YouTube is roughly as valuable to major advertisers as a single, first-run episode of The Big Bang Theory. “Is The Big Bang Theory a big show? Yes,” Bank says. “Does its scale threaten the fabric of the rest of the TV advertising ecosystem? We do not think so.” That’s one reason the analyst says the market isn’t a zero-sum game, and is big enough to support growth in digital and traditional video ad sales.

It’s an important issue for investors. Many are becoming wary about conventional TV’s prospects as the ranks of people who watch video on their smartphones, tablets, and PCs grow. Last year was the first in which people spent more time with digital devices including their phones than they did with TV, and the gap between the platforms will continue to grow. No wonder advertisers also are looking seriously at digital, which companies including Google, Yahoo, and AOL encouraged at their NewFront presentations. Sales to national and local Web video providers have grown an average of 20.6% a year since 2009 vs 4.9% a year for national and local TV.
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Imagen Award Noms Unveiled

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 1:21pm PDT

Imagen Award Noms UnveiledThe Imagen Foundation is out with the nominations for its 29th annual awards that honor portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in TV and film. Up for Best Primetime Television Program are FX’s The Bridge, NBC’s Chicago P.D. and Law & Order: SVU and ABC Family’s The Fosters and Switched At Birth. Nominees for Best Picture are A Miracle In Spanish Harlem, After School, Cesar Chavez, Coyote and Sleeping With The Fishes. Trophies will be handed out August 1 at the Beverly Hilton, and the Imagen Awards will air as an hourlong special on PBS SoCal (date TBA). Here is the complete list of this year’s nominees: Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Lucky Them’, ‘Night Moves’, ‘The Grand Seduction’, ‘Filth’, ‘We Are The Best!’, ‘Before You Know It’, ‘Emoticon ;)’

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 4:35pm PDT

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)The likes of Maleficent, A Million Ways To Die In The West or X-Men haven’t completely scared away the Specialties hoping to slice a bit of box office cash from those who go against the grain. Some of this week’s slew of newcomers even have a number of stars to boost their chances. Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church star in IFC Films’ Lucky Them, while Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard are in Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves via Cinedigm. Taylor Kitsch goes indie in eOne’s The Grand Seduction and James McAvoy front’s Filth from Magnolia. The distributor is also rolling out Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s festival favorite We Are The Best! and Indican is bowing Emoticon ;). And the doc of the weekend goes to PJ Raval’s Before You Know It spotlighting LGBT senior citizens with release partner The Film Collaborative.

Lucky Themluckythem
Director: Megan Griffiths
Writers: Huck Botko, Caroline Sherman (original idea), Emily Wachtel
Cast: Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church, Oliver Platt, Ryan Eggold, Nina Arianda, Ahna O’Reilly, Lynn Shelton, Johnny Depp
Distributor: IFC Films

Writer and producer Emily Wachtel had worked on the script for what would be Lucky Them for over a decade. Fellow producer Amy Hobby joined the project several years ago for the story that originally was destined to shoot in New York with a different director. The project changed coasts, added Megan Griffiths at the helm and scored a name cast with persistence paying off in the end on one star. The drama centers on a rock journalist who is assigned to explore her own past. “We met Megan [Griffiths] in Seattle and realized it felt better to shoot there,” said Amy Hobby. “Once she was on board a bit of money came in. Plus in winter you can get the best crew.” Emily Wachtel suggested Toni Collette as a lead and Thomas Haden Church’s role as Charlie was written for him specifically. Read More »

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Jane Fonda To Keynote 2014 UCLA Commencement Ceremony

By | Thursday May 29, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

Jane Fonda UCLATwo-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda will deliver this year’s commencement speech to UCLA‘s School of Theater, Film and Television grads on Friday, June 13. Fonda made her screen debut in 1960′s Tall Story and went on to star in over 40 films including comedy classics Cat Ballou and 9 to 5. Dramas They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Julia, The China Syndrome, On Golden Pond, and The Morning After nabbed her Academy Award nominations, while her turns in Klute and Coming Home won her the Oscar.

The actress, producer, author, and fitness icon recently boarded Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, which reunites her with Michael Caine. She’ll share words of wisdom with UCLA’s class of 2014 along with this year’s Distinguished Alumnus honoree Darren Star, who dramatized LA’s elite teen set with Beverly Hills, 90210 and brought the soapy shenanigans of the city’s twentysomethings to life in Melrose Place. Read More »

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R.I.P. Helma Sanders-Brahms

helma-sandersbrahmsProlific German filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms passed away in Berlin on Tuesday following a long illness. She was 73. The director, screenwriter and producer was born in 1940, and began her career as a model and TV presenter. In 1969, she met Italian giant Pier Paolo Pasolini on a movie set where he told her, “You are going to make films!” She stuck around the set and later said it helped her discover her love of the craft. She ultimately became a key representative of German post-war film, directing both narrative features and documentaries. Eight of her works screened at the Berlin Film Festival including 1980′s Deutschland, Bleiche Mutter (Germany, Pale Mother) which premiered in competition. Just this year, the now classic film, narrated by a German woman who tells the story of her parents before, during and after World War II, was screened in a digitally restored version as part of the Berlinale Classics section. Her other credits include 2008′s Geliebte Clara; 1997′s My Heart Is Mine Alone; 1975′s Under The Beach’s Cobbles; and 1976 TV drama Shirin’s Wedding. Sanders-Brahms was known for exploring political and social issues in her films including topics like feminism, immigrant workers and German history. “Helma Sanders-Brahms was a radical and committed filmmaker who had a lasting impact on German cinema,” said Berlin Film Fest director Dieter Kosslick. She was “a tremendous director.” Under former Festival Director Moritz de Hadeln, she was … Read More »

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Cannes: Directors To Watch

Cannes2014_badgeBelow are profiles of a group of five directors who are generating buzz up and down the Croisette. They are a mix of relative newcomers with varied backgrounds and one veteran theater director making his return to celluloid. Reflecting the diversity of the lineup at Cannes this year across all of the sections, there is only one director from the main competition (and it’s a woman) with the rest in Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight.

JONAS ALEXANDER ARNBY – When Animals Dream, Critics’ Week
jonas alexander arnbyDanish helmer Jonas Alexander Arnby’s When Animals Dream features a young woman who turns into a werewolf, but the director says simply: “We wanted to do a coming-of-age film about a girl who develops from A to B.” The young woman, Marie, is an outsider in her small coastal community. The townspeople live in fear of her and her wheelchair-bound mother, who suffers from a mysterious illness. When Marie discovers her body changing, she begins searching for answers concerning her family’s hidden past. There is a loud amount of buzz around this movie that debuts in Critics’ Week on Monday and is being sold by Gaumont. Arnby told me last week that he shot in a part of northern Denmark where it is “very windy and cold and religious.” He says it’s one of the most exotic places in Denmark, but has never … Read More »

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