Another piece of the Oscar-season puzzle was unveiled Sunday night when Sony held the first major screening of David O. Russell‘s American Hustle at the Cary Grant Theatre on the Culver City lot. The packed crowd was largely made up of SAG and a few Academy members, plus select press. Since this and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street (which begins screening at the end of the month) have been the two remaining question marks before we have a clear view of the complete competitive landscape, the unveiling of this one was hotly anticipated. It was definitely the place to be. In fact, one New York-based consultant working on the film flew in Sunday afternoon specifically for the screening and flew back on the red-eye immediately afterwards.
If rivals were hoping it would be a bust, or at the very least a disappointment, I hate to bring them the bad news. Although formal reviews are verboten until early next month, I can say that from my vantage point, Russell — whose last two films Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and The Fighter (2010) were nominated for Best Picture and Director, as well as taking some acting Oscars — has another winner with a film that will have strong appeal particularly in the actors branch and at SAG. I also think, even in this fiercely contested year, Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing and Costume nods could be in the cards along with any number of possibilities for its superb ensemble including lead actor Christian Bale, lead actress Amy Adams, supporting actors Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, and supporting actress Jennifer Lawrence. Especially Lawrence; she is simply dazzling as Bale’s wife, a total knockout scene-stealer throughout. If she hadn’t already won last year as Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook, there is no doubt she might be unbeatable here. At 23 years old and the star of this weekend’s all-time November record breaker, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, she may well become the frontrunner anyway to take back-to-back Academy Awards after this performance is seen. It’s prime Oscar bait. The actors, including voters I spoke to afterward, were clearly blown away. In fact the entire cast — which also includes a terrific unbilled one-scene cameo from Robert De Niro, who was nominated last year for Silver Linings — will certainly figure heavily for the SAG Outstanding Cast of a Motion Picture award. One person connected to the film to whom I spoke said early reaction had been on the mixed side, but I couldn’t detect that at this screening. It was all upbeat. Time will tell. Read More »
Vice-President Joe Biden’s office today tweeted this photo of him meeting with Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell and actor Bradley Cooper. The duo, whose Oscar nominated movie is about people dealing with mental health issues, were in Washington to help announce introduction of the Excellence in Mental Health Act to Congress. The bi-partisan bill was drafted in response to the shootings last year in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado. The legislation’s goal is to expand access to mental health services across the nation. Russell was scheduled to be in LA for a WGA panel Thursday night but dropped out for the meeting with the Veep.
Related: Showbiz Groups Pledge “To Seek Meaningful Solutions” On Gun Violence
Others include writer-directors Ira Sachs (Keep The Lights On), Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet) and Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight). The 12th annual Film Independent Directors Close-Up series will be held on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning February 6 at the Landmark West Los Angeles. Panelists will discuss specific aspects of directing, including sound, writing, cinematography, casting and eliciting compelling performances from actors. Click over for this year’s schedule and topics: Read More »
Talk about a high degree of difficulty. David O. Russell, trying to find laughs in a love story where one of his Silver Linings Playbook protagonists is bipolar and fresh from a stint in a mental institution, and the other is freshly widowed with more than a few problems of her own. It was daunting enough that it held back a seasoned pro like Sydney Pollack, the late filmmaker who controlled the Matthew Quick novel along with his partner Anthony Minghella and Harvey Weinstein, Pollack couldn’t find a way to crack it, but he found the writer/director who was a perfect match for the material. Russell, who has had a number of well publicized fits of anger on movie sets himself and who raised a child with bipolar issues, connected with the subject matter in a way probably few writer/directors could. Here he explains how he pulled it off and how it would have been an inferior film if he gone 15 rounds in the Oscar-nominated The Fighter as a tune-up.
DEADLINE: Silver Linings Playbook started with Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella. How did they draft you?
RUSSELL: Well, I only spoke to Sydney. I never spoke to Anthony about it. Sydney just thought he wasn’t sure it could be pulled off. He had the obvious concerns. When you are dealing with delicate subject matter like this, and when you have moments that are so disturbing, can it be that emotionally intense and delightful? Can it be all of those things? That was the question. I kind of knew right away that I had a good shot because I had lived with some of their issues, which are inherently funny as much they are heartbreaking.
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EXCLUSIVE: Game Change writer Danny Strong, The Fighter director David O. Russell and Oscar winner Robert De Niro have teamed for a legal drama series inspired by a famous New York father/daughter lawyer duo, which has sold to CBS. The project hails from De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Prods. and CBS TV Studios. Strong is writing, Russell is set to direct, with the two executive producing alongside De Niro, Rosenthal and Diane Nabatoff. The drama is inspired by the father-and-daughter defense attorneys Murray and Stacey Richman. It will center on a fictionalized version of the Richmans’ Bronx firm, where clients as notorious on the street as they are on Page Six.
In the almost 50 years of practicing law, Murray Richman, nickname “Don’t Worry Murray,” has worked for clients ranging from hip-hop stars like Jay-Z to the upper echelon of the Genovese and Lucchese crime families to former NY Governor Eliott Spitzer’s escort procurer. In addition to his cases, Murray is famous for his courtroom quips, like “I love a murder trial — one less witness to worry about” and “I’ll be brief… I’m already short.” (He is 5’6″). Below is documentarymaker Errol Morris’ video … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ice Cube and his Three Kings director David O Russell are in talks with New Line to re-team to create a potential franchise. Cube will play a plainclothes detective who’s quick on the trigger in an R-rated raw drama that’s thematically a throwback to those 70s revenge films like the Harry Callahan movies that starred Clint Eastwood. The deals are underway and the idea was hatched by Russell and New Line chief Toby Emmerich, and they brought it to Cube. Russell will produce with Cube and his Cube Vision partner Matt Alvarez. Jeff Kwatinetz manages Cube. They are still working out the beats of the story, but Russell and Cube were eager to work together again, in another edgy, R-rated adult drama that is an homage to those 70s pictures like Dirty Harry and Death Wish. While Cube is most readily identified with Los Angeles, the tough cop’s locale hasn’t yet been determined.
Russell might co-write it, but New Line will likely bring someone else in to get the project started. Russell is coming off a re-team with Cube’s Three Kings costar Mark Wahlberg, who stars with Christian Bale in The Fighter, the Relativity Media-funded drama which Paramount Pictures releases on December 10. Russell is has several projects including Old St. Louis with Vince Vaughn and he just came on to rewrite and direct for Sony an adaptation of the Playstation … Read More »
This has truly turned out to be the indie film shoot from hell. The political comedy Nailed, directed and co-written by David O. Russell and starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal, was shut down by IATSE on Friday for the same reasons as before: crew not getting paid. I can’t imagine why anyone would do business with David Bergstein’s Capitol Films again because of all the financing turmoil…
David Bergstein/ThinkFilm Sued for Fraud
Capitol Films Cash Crunch: SAG Demands Meeting With Owner David Bergstein
David O. Russell Film Shut Down 3rd Time
Jake & Jessica Sidelined Again: IATSE Shuts Down David O. Russell Film
IS THIS A MELTDOWN? More Big Actors And Directors Caught In Capitol Crunch
5TH UPDATE: ‘Nailed’ Tip Of The Iceberg: Capitol’s Money Woes On More Films
4TH UPDATE: ‘Nailed’
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Either this indie is horribly cursed, or Capitol Films is completely busted, or both. I’m told that IATSE today ordered its members off the political comedy Nailed because the crew haven’t been paid. There are no plans to resume filming until next Thursday at the earliest. This is the 2nd time IATSE has moved to protect its union members, but only after the Screen Actors Guild first sounded the alarm bell over Capitol Films’ cash crunch and instructed its actors to leave the set earlier this month. ”Many of the crew are pissed-off at the IA for waiting so long to get involved. And, now that shooting is 1/2 completed, the question is why, since the IA refused to get involved sooner, are they flexing their muscles now?” one insider asked. True, it’s been start and stop, start and stop, again and again. Isn’t the saying that after three strikes, you’re out? But people still believe in the pic. Amazingly, both co-stars Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal are hanging in even though these shutdowns are a major pain in the ass for them and Russell and everyone else connected with the movie. I’m told the production is officially one week behind schedule, and this latest debacle will push it back two weeks. What a mess. (That is, unless the Academy Awards or at least the Spirit Awards start a new category for Best Tortured Indie Pic…)
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EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that, this time around, it’s IATSE who has put the screws to the Capitol Films indie film Nailed because its crew members weren’t being paid. The pic’s union members had been begging IATSE for weeks to get involved over all the payroll irregularities. Friday was supposed to be the deadline set for the crew to get paid since there was a promise of a loan being made by then. But IATSE apparently lost its patience with all the smoke-and-mirror promises so today the union ordered its crew to walk off the production. (Most have lost three weeks’ worth of pay.) This also means director David O. Russell and stars Jake Gyllenhal and Jessica Biel are sidelined yet again since this is the second shutdown since the pic began shooting April 15th and was halfway through principal photography in Columbia, South Carolina. The first time was when the Screen Actors Guild told the actors to walk off the film because cash-crunched Capitol Films had made insufficient deposits with the thesp union. This also doesn’t bode well for other Capitol Films currently shooting or about to start shooting. What a mess… Since I have to take a personal day today, I will have much more coverage of Capitol Films tomorrow…
IS THIS A MELTDOWN? More Big Actors And Directors Caught In Capitol Crunch
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I’m told the Directors Guild is getting involved same as the Screen Actors Guild vis a vis the indie Nailed and Capitol Films’ financing woes. (Previous, ON SET DRAMA UPDATE: SAG Orders Actors On David O. Russell Film To Leave)
EXCLUSIVE! 3rd UPDATE: See new details about Capitol Films below. I’m told by knowledgeable sources that David O. Russell’s indie political comedy Nailed which began filming in April was shut down by the Screen Actors Guild on Friday because of insufficient funds on deposit with the guild. I’ve also learned the Columbia, S.C. shoot is in trouble with both IATSE and Teamsters, and some of those union members have left the beleaguered $25 million budgeted production. Rumors also are circulating that the state of South Carolina could withdraw its incentive monies because of the financing problems. Filmmakers hope to resolve the cash crunch and re-start shooting next week since principal photography is only at the halfway point. “I am confident we will finish,” an insider on the pic just told me. “The financing on this like most indies is based on bank loans and bridge loans. This is a matter of waiting on the bridge loan. Hopefully, it will all be resolved.”
But new information coming my way says David Bergstein’s Capitol Films behind the pic is troubled. In 2006, he acquired a leading UK-based international sales company which over the years had built a good reputation in the movie biz and made a wide range of commercial and critical successes, including Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. But now I’m hearing from NYC film financing circles that “a shitload of people are owed a lot of money,” in the words of one expert in the field. “I heard this week that his major financing source, a hedge fund, has shut down and left him in the lurch.”
The filmmakers were able to get in a … Read More »
SATURDAY UPDATE: ON SET DRAMA: SAG Shuts Down David O. Russell Film.
All new details…
FRIDAY PM: Details are sketchy, but sources tell me that David O. Russell’s risque political comedy Nailed has been put on hold while shooting in South Carolina because of a “cash crunch” that’s causing problems with SAG, IATSE and the Teamsters. Co-stars Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal (the pic also stars James Marsden, Catherine Keener, and Tracy Morgan) “are waiting to see if the movie will continue. It’s kind of amazing, really,” one source with insider knowledge about the production told me Friday. There are a lot of rumors circulating, and I’m trying to separate what’s fact and what’s fiction. But I can confirm the pic’s predicament is solely related to its financing, not to its helmer. True, the temperamental director is known for turbulent shoots especially when it comes to actors. Already on Nailed, Jimmy Caan quit two weeks ago after he and the helmer couldn’t agree on the best way for the actor to choke to death on a cookie during a scene. Russell also had well-documented differences with George Clooney (the two came to blows on the set of Three Kings) and Lily Tomlin (profane exchanges on the set of I Heart Huckabees… See my previous Lily ‘Liberated’ By … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Filmmaker David Lowery moved up the filmmaker food chain with his latest feature, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, opting to ditch a micro-budget plan for one that included stars and more resources. Still, the film is hardly a big budget production though the production team has created a latish summer release that IFC Films hopes will lure audiences hungry for story-driven drama. Women are the main audience target for Sony Classics’ two weekend releases, Austenland and The Patience Stone, titles it picked up out of Sundance and Toronto respectively after witnessing reaction by females audiences following their premieres. A SXSW Interactive participant discovered the allure of filmmaking and took on a documentary about the annual Burning Man event, deciding on a DIY-esque release strategy. And French filmmaker Gilles Legrand used his fascination of wine and the peculiarities of France’s inheritance laws into a father-son drama also set for limited roll out Friday.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Director-writer: David Lowery
Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine, Kennadie Smith
Distributor: IFC Films
Producer Jay Van Hoy of Parts and Labor served as a shorts juror at the SXSW Film Festival in 2011, the same year filmmaker David Lowery’s short Pioneer, took home the Narrative Short prize. Perhaps even better, Van Hoy got to know the film’s producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston as well as Lowery. Cut forward to the Sundance Producers Lab, where Van Hoy served as an adviser where Halbrooks and Johnston were attending with a project that would become Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. “Even at SXSW I told them if they need any help to let me know,” said Van Hoy. “We all clicked. The film was ambitious, even at a lower budget, but it’s a great script so we decided to come on board…It all came together pretty quickly considering independent film schedules.” “I had made [my previous film] St. Nick for $12K and had an inkling I could do Saints for something like $25K,” said Lowery. “But the advisers [at Sundance] told them that doing the micro-budget thing is a great plan B and you know you can do it, but why not spend a little bit of time formulating a plan A and see if you can make it just a little bit bigger.” Read More »
Considering the pedigree of director and cast and its December 25 release date through Sony, the David O Russell-directed American Hustle figures to be a big Oscar contender. The studio has been quiet until now, but released a teaser trailer that was part of an interview that Russell gave to Good Morning America. Feels like everyone in the film has either won or been nominated for Oscars in the past couple years, with Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. It also feels very much like one of those great Martin Scorsese crime sagas set in the 1960s and ’70s. Here is is:
Filming on David O Russell‘s American Hustle was suspended Friday amid the Boston manhunt. But the ’70s-set corruption pic is going back into production on Monday, a Sony spokesperson tells me. Pic reunites Russell with his Silver Linings Playbook stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro as well as The Fighter‘s Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Production began March 8 and filmed in Worcester until last Wednesday when the pic moved to the Boston area.
Related: David O Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ Halts Production Because Of Boston Manhunt
David O Russell will also receive the Spirit of Independence Award at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which is set for June 13-23 and opens with Pedro Almodovar’s comedy I’m So Excited!” In his role as guest director, he will host a special screening of his 1999 pic Three Kings that will also include a discussion with the filmmaker about his body of work, which most recently included writing and directing Silver Linings Playbook, which landed seven Oscar nominations. Russell also will attend the 12th annual Filmmaker Retreat at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, CA, a gathering of festival filmmakers and other invited artists. Passes for the fest go on sale today.
Russell’s currently making American Hustle, which stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jack Huston and had to shut down production today in Boston owing to the manhunt for the marathon bomber.