A pair of flicks that were shut out at the Oscars on Sunday lead the field for the erstwhile music network’s film nods. American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street snagged eight noms apiece for the 23rd MTV Movie Awards. Close behind are The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with seven and We’re The Millers with six, including a coveted Best Shirtless Performance nom for Jennifer Aniston. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Dallas Buyers Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, This Is The End and Best Picture champ 12 Years A Slave are next with four apiece. Conan O’Brien will serve as host of this year’s festivities, which air live on April 13 at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. The show — which last year switched from its longtime post-Memorial Day date to April — again relishes is such signature categories as Best Kiss, Best Scared-As-S**T Performance and #WTFMoment, The telecast is exec produced by Jesse Ignjatovic. Here are the nominees:
Here we are again after the Golden Globes, Mike Fleming and Anita Busch taking on the task of play by play during the most wide-open Oscar race we can remember. Even on the party circuit, industry insiders who usually have a grasp of who’ll walk away with Oscars were evenly torn between Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D masterpiece Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Then again, there were so many terrific films that got Best Picture nominations, and all of them have at least a puncher’s chance at an upset.
That includes American Hustle, where David O Russell co-wrote the Best Original Script nominee with Eric Warren Singer and got tour de force performances and nominations for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Perfs so strong there was no room on the nomination roster for perennial Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner. The film is up for 10 awards, and has grossed over $240 million on a $40 million budget.
Then there is The Wolf Of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving the most emphatic and complete performance of a great career, and Jonah Hill right there with him as his crazy con man sidekick. The film is up for five nominations, including Martin Scorsese for directing a terrific adaptation from The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire vet Terence Winter.
Indie Spirit Awards: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Takes Best Feature And Dominates With Five Wins; McConaughey & Blanchett Top Actors
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS AND REACTIONS: The 29th annual Independent Spirit Awards ended up more like a cast party for Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave, which won five of the seven categories for which it was nominated today — including Best Feature and Best Director for Steve McQueen. The strong showing for the slave drama gives the pic plenty of momentum headed into tomorrow night’s Oscars, the marquee event in a long awards season in which 12 Years has been one of many films ebbing and flowing buzz-wise along with Warner Bros’ Gravity ahead of what’s being called one of the more wide-open Academy Awards in a long while.
Dede Gardner, a producer on the pic with her Plan B partner Brad Pitt, thanked the many people involved in making the movie (including Pitt for “getting the movie made when he said he would”). She also thanked the descendants of the film’s subject Solomon Northup. “It’s a reminder to care-take our freedom,” she said.
With most of the big studio pics in the Oscar Best Picture race sitting it out today with the focus on indie fare under a tent on the beach in mostly rain-free Santa Monica, it allowed others to shine. Dallas Buyers’ Club‘s acting duo of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Best Male Lead and Supporting Male, respectively. Cate Blanchett continued her hot streak winning Best Lead Female for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, making her a solid favorite to win tomorrow night. Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Female for 12 Years. That pic rounded out its wins with a Best Screenplay nod for John Ridley and Best Cinematography for Sean Bobbitt.
The Weinstein Company also had a good day during the ceremony, hosted by Patton Oswalt. Best Documentary went to the distrib’s 20 Feet From Stardom, whose subjects performed today, and Best First Feature went to writer-director Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station, which started its fruitful awards-season at Sundance 2012 when TWC acquired it for $2 million.
Oswalt presided over one of the most memorable parts of the show, when a black drone flew in and delivered the scroll announcing Nyong’o's win. Later, after Blue Is The Warmest Color won Best International Film, Oswalt came back out onstage covered in blood. ”Don’t touch the drone,” he quipped.
The weather, such an issue during the blustery and wet 2011 Spirit Awards, held for most of the day, with rain beginning to fall just as Blanchett reached backstage after her acceptance speech. ”There’s a storm coming,” she said to the press. “It was nice knowing you all in case we’re swept away.”
The Spirit Awards will be shown tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on IFC. But here’s how the day went down, with on-scene coverage by Deadline’s Pete Hammond, Dominic Patten and Anthony D’Alessandro and contributor Diane Haithman.
The Location Managers Guild of America will hold its first-ever Location Managers Guild Of America Awards on March 29 at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills. Winners in six categories spanning film, TV and commercials will be announced, and the guild will bestow honorary awards including the Eva Monley Award, presented to an industry pro who has demonstrated above and beyond support of the work of location professionals; a humanitarian award; and a lifetime achievement award. Here are the noms:
FIRST ANNUAL LOCATION MANAGERS GUILD OF AMERICA AWARDS
Outstanding Achievement by a Location Professional – Feature Films
Ilt Jones (Iron Man 3)
John Latenser V (Nebraska)
Rick Schuler & Steve Mapel (Her)
Andrew Ullman & Lori Balton (Saving Mr. Banks)
David Velasco (American Hustle)
Outstanding Achievement by a Location Professional – TV Programs
Robert Boake (Game of Thrones)
Patrick Burn (House of Cards)
Christian Diaz de Bedoya (Breaking Bad)
Caleb Duffy (Behind the Candelabra)
Veronique Vowell (Scandal)
OSCARS: Producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Play It Safer This Year With Star-Studded Show Led By Ellen
Some people were surprised when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 2013 Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron back to run the 2014 telecast. After all, that was the Seth MacFarlane-hosted show that caused controversy (“We Saw Your Boobs,” anyone?). You have to wonder what he might have done with 12 Years A Slave or The Wolf Of Wall Street this year! The reviews, though, were mixed to negative (I actually liked the attitude MacFarlane brought — different), with critics saying the show had too many musical segments and a James Bond tribute that, other than Shirley Bassey’s rendition of “Goldfinger,” fell flat. But it scored well in the ratings and actually added a lot of previously missing young males to the typically female-driven viewing demographic. Zadan and Meron return this year in triumph after single-handedly reviving the live Broadway musical The Sound Of Music with their smash-hit version that starred Carrie Underwood and aired on NBC in December. Critics balked at that, too, but who’s laughing now? (Peter Pan is the next live musical they will do for NBC). Perhaps in a bid for more universal appeal, the producers are bringing back past Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres for what promises to be a much safer, more female-friendly telecast. Ellen is, well, Ellen, and very likable, so you know what you’re getting. The ABC …
Image Awards: Kevin Hart Named Entertainer Of The Year; Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Kerry Washington, LL Cool J Honored
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:
OSCARS: A Look Back On The 50th Anniversary Of Sidney Poitier’s Historic Win – How Far Have We Come?
The 1963 Oscar ceremony marked a significant milestone in the history of the Academy Awards—and for African-American actors. Sidney Poitier took the best actor prize for Lilies Of The Field, an “Amen” moment, to quote the best picture nominee’s famous song, if ever there was one. Until Poitier, only Hattie McDaniel, who won best supporting actress in 1939 for Gone With The Wind, held the distinction for any African-American actor, and it would take another two decades after Poitier’s seminal win for it to happen again (when An Officer And A Gentleman’s Louis Gossett Jr. won a supporting statuette in 1982). After presenter Anne Bancroft opened the envelope and excitedly read Poitier’s name, he bounded to the stage as the orchestra played “Amen” and he famously called it, “a long journey to this moment.” Poitier said he didn’t expect to win, and many predicted Tom Jones star Albert Finney would take it. (Neither Finney nor the other nominated actors—Paul Newman (Hud), Richard Harris (This Sporting Life) and Rex Harrison (Cleopatra)—were in attendance, but that was not uncommon in Oscar’s earlier days.) After all, Tom Jones would prove to be the evening’s big winner, taking best picture and three other Oscars.
Fox recently cleared some prime summer 2015 real estate for its reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, now it appears to have its actors. After a long search — Chronicle‘s Josh Trank was announced as the director at the 2012 Comic-Con — Fruitvale Station breakout Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller (Divergent), Kate Mara (Transcendence) and Jamie Bell (Nymphomaniac) are working on deals to star as the ’60s-spawned superhero quartet. The deals aren’t in cement yet, but Jordan and Bell look pretty solid. The roles as they stand would be Jordan as Johnny Storm (aka the Human Torch), Teller as Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Mara as Sue Storm (the Invisible Woman) and Bell as Ben Grimm (the Thing). The latest script is from X-Men: Days of Future Past scribe Simon Kinberg.
OSCARS: Harvey Weinstein On His Dark Horse Best Picture Candidate ‘Philomena,’ And, Well, Everything Else
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.
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is set as a lead in Fox’s drama project Red Band Society, from Amblin Television and ABC Studios. Based on the acclaimed Spanish series Polseres Vermelles by Albert Espinosa, Red Band Society is a coming-of-age drama that explores with dark humor the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. Spencer will play Nurse Jackson, who works in the pediatrics ward. She’s an excellent, intuitive nurse and a tough customer who doesn’t put up with any crap from anyone. Red Band Society, written by Margaret Nagle, has a “series prototype” order under Fox’s new development model, which involves a pilot and backup scripts. his marks the first series regular role for Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help. Earlier this season, she was attached to a Murder, She Wrote reboot at NBC and received a slew of pilot offers in the past couple of weeks before deciding on Red Band. Spencer most recently was in Fruitvale Station and next will be seen in the James Brown biopic Get On Up and Black And White opposite Kevin Costner. She is repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman.
EXCLUSIVE: Ahna O’Reilly (The Help, Fruitvale Station) is set as the lead in the CW drama pilot Identity, exec produced by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. Written by Corinne Brinkerhoff, Identity centers on Mia (O’Reilly), a grounded, whip-smart but restless young New Yorker who finds her world upended when she learns she needs an organ transplant to survive and her only living relative is a newfound half-brother from a wealthy and powerful family in Charleston, SC. She connects with the family only to find they’re the target of a CIA investigation, and the agency wants her as their newest informant. Her loyalty and morality are tested as she slowly builds a case against the family who saved her life. CBS Studios, K/O Paper Products and Scripted World are producing. O’Reilly is repped by WME, Luber Roklin and Felker Toczek.
EXCLUSIVE: Paradigm‘s longtime production department co-head Frank Balkin, who reps below-the-line talent, has left the agency for a partnership at 3-year-old Worldwide Production Agency – but Paradigm is refusing to let Balkin out of his contract. Nonetheless, Balkin is currently working out of the WPA offices as the dispute continues. At the same time, Paradigm is answering Balkin’s office phone saying that they are taking messages for him. Threats of litigation have been levied as Paradigm has apparently insisted he return to the agency, but progress has been made to let him out. I called Paradigm and asked about this about two weeks ago. At that time, Balkin was still working out of the Paradigm offices and the talent agency said they were hoping to work it out with him. Oh well. It’s unclear what Paradigm is hoping to get but commissions if the agent has already bailed. He had been with Paradigm for over a decade.
Berlin Briefs: Vera Farmiga Pirouettes To ‘Prima’; ‘Your Right Mind’ Adds Clea DuVall; ‘Take Down’ Casts Up; Buyers Like ‘Someone You Love’; Sophie Nélisse To Play ‘Gilly Hopkins’; More
Vera Farmiga has signed on to star in relationship comedy Prima. Even Greenberg wrote the script and is directing the film that was previously known as Dance Of The Mirlitons. The film is prepping for a March start and centers around a 12-year-old girl who shocks everyone when she is accepted into a prestigious school for dancers. While she learns that to get to the top, she must kill or be killed, her mother struggles to acclimate to her posh stomping grounds. The Allegiance Theater’s Daniel Dubiecki and Lara Alameddine are producing along with Karine Martin under her Mediamax banner. Highland Film Group has worldwide sales here in Berlin. Farmiga is repped by CAA, Jon Rubinstein of Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Jodi Peikoff of Peikoff Mahan.
Principal photography is currently underway on another Highland Film Group pic, Ami Canaan Mann’s Your Right Mind with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes starring. Joining the cast are Clea DuVall, Sheryl Lee, Emily Alyn Lind and Ryan Bingham. Canaan Mann wrote the script about a modern-day traveling folk singer who puts his dreams of becoming a successful musician on hold when he meets a former country singer fighting for custody of her daughter. Molly Hassell is producing with Canaan Mann and John Jencks. Jon Avnet, Rodrigo Garcia, Highland Film Group’s Arianne Fraser and Delphine Perrier, and Main Street Films’ …
Open Road Acquires Domestic On ‘Triple Nine;’ Michael B. Jordan, Aaron Paul, Gal Gadot, Michael Pena Join Killer Cast
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films has just completed a deal to pre-buy domestic distribution rights on Triple Nine, the John Hillcoat-directed heist thriller, which begins production this summer with a killer cast. Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, Breaking Bad and Need For Speed‘s Aaron Paul, Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman film) and End Of Watch‘s Michael Pena are in talks to join previously announced 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Out of the Furnace’s Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet. Hillcoat, who just helmed that distinctive Super Bowl spot for Coke, wrote the script with Matt Cook. Open Road will release the film in 2015.
The rights deal comes on the eve of the European Film Market, where Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales for the project and will sell select territories in Berlin. In the drama, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.
Box Office: ‘Ride Along’ No. 1, ‘Frozen’ Sing-A-Long No 2. As It Skates Around ‘That Awkward Moment’
OPENING: That Awkward Moment (FOCUS) took third as Frozen skated around it Super Bowl Sunday; Labor Day (PAR) soft in seventh place. NOTEWORTHY: Ride Along (UNI) is No. 1 for third weekend in a row while the studio’s Lone Survivor, crossed $100M. The Nut Job now has a total cume of $49.9M and American Hustle becomes director David O. Russell‘s biggest grosser to date with a total cume: $133.4M.
4TH UPDATE, 1:15 PM: Frozen, in its 11th weekend out of the box, ended up taking the No. 2 spot over the Zac Efron comedy That Awkward Moment, which had the most heat from the 12- to 16 year-olds interested in seeing it, however, it was an R-rated film. Brilliant marketing move by Disney to coax family audiences back in with a sing-a-long version of Frozen. This picture won’t stop playing, despite the fact that another animated family film, The Nut Job, also went into the market three weeks ago (it’s No. 4). All films were down just a smidgen from yesterday’s estimates. Here’s the top 20:
1). Ride Along (UNI), 2867 theaters (+108) / 3-day Cume: $12M (-43% from previous weekend) / Per screen average: $4,199 / Total Cume: $92.6M / Wk 3
2). Frozen (DIS), 2,754 theaters (-3) / 3-day Cume: $8.9M (-2%) / Per screen: $3,244 / Total Cume: $359.6M /Wk 11
3). That Awkward Moment (FOCUS), 2,809 theaters / 3-day Cume: $8.7M / Per screen: $3,112/ Total Cume: $8.7M / Wk 1
4). The Nut Job (OPRD), 3,472 theaters (0) / 3-day Cume: $7.2M (-40%) / Per screen: $2,096 / Total Cume: $49.9M Wk 3
5). Lone Survivor (UNI), 3,285 theaters (+123%) / 3-day Cume: $7M (-45%) / Per screen: $2,160 / Total Cume: $104.7M / Wk 6
6). Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (PAR), 2,907 theaters (-480) / 3-day Cume: $5.3M (-42%) / Per screen: $1,827 / Total Cume: $38.8M / Wk 3
7). Labor Day (PAR), 2,589 theaters / 3-day Cume: $5.1M / Per screen: $2,003 / Total Cume: $5.1M / Wk 1
8). American Hustle (SONY), 2,216 theaters (-88) / 3-day Cume: $4.1M (-41%) / Per screen: $1,877 / Total Cume: $133.8M / Wk 8
9). I, Frankenstein (LGF), 2,753 theaters (0) / 3-day Cume: $3.7M (-56%) / Per screen: $1,364 / Total Cume: $14.7M / Wk 2
10). The Wolf Of Wall Street (PAR), 1,607 theaters (-197) / 3-day Cume: $3.4M (-38%) / Per screen: $2,116 / Total Cume: $103.9M / Wk 6
11). August: Osage County (TWC), 2,319 theaters (-92) / 3-day Cume: $2.9M (-41%) / Per screen: $1,273 / Total Cume: $31.5M / Wk 6
12). Gravity (WB), 1,132 theaters (-128) ) / 3-day Cume: $2M (+2%) / Per screen: $1,823 / Total Cume: $264M / Wk 18
13). 12 Years A Slave (FSL), 1,172 theaters (-59) / 3-day Cume: $1.4M (-29%) / Per screen: $1,231 / Total Cume: 45.8M / Wk 16
14), Dallas Buyers Club (FOCUS), 1,052 theaters (-58) / 3-day Cume: $1.3M (-33%) / Per screen: $1,296 / Total Cume: $22.5M / Wk 14
15). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (WB) , 933 theaters (-352) / 3-day Cume: $1.2M (-42%) / Per screen: $1,324 / Total Cume: $254.2M / 8
16). Her (WB), 803 theaters (-522) / 3-day Cume: $1.1M (-48%) / Per screen: $1,481 / Total Cume: $21.2M / Wk 7
17). Nebraska (PARVANTAGE), 875 theaters (-93) / 3-day Cume: $1.1M (-26%) / Per screen: $1,306 / Total Cume: $13.6M / Wk 12
18). Saving Mr. Banks (DIS), 1,075 theaters (-585) / 3-day Cume: $1M (-49%) / Per screen: $995 / Total Cume: $81M / Wk 8
19). Devil’s Due (FOX), 1,290 theaters (-1,254) / 3-day Cume: $1M (-63%) / Per screen: $802 / Total Cume: $14.7M / Wk 3
20). Philomena (TWC), 567 theaters (+62) / 3-day Cume: $965K (-10%) / Per Screen: $1,702 / Total Cume: $27.3M / Wk 11
WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards; ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Veep’ & ‘House Of Cards’ Score On TV Side
UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: The 66th annual WGA Awards were handed out tonight in “simultaneous” ceremonies on both coasts — the WGA West is at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and the WGA East at the Edison Ballroom. Like last year, the NY crew announced its main awards well ahead of the LA ceremony. In the end, Billy Ray was the somewhat surprising winner of the Adapted Screenplay award for Sony’s Captain Phillips while Spike Jonze took the Original Screenplay honor for Warner Bros’ Her. If the time snafu sounds familiar it is; last year the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour, meaning award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickled into the WGAW audience to ruin the suspense. Tonight, word began filtering into the JW Marriott of the main winners about 2 hours into the show. Ray and Jonze, who were in LA, came to the podium a good 40+ minutes after their awards were unveiled at the Edison and pretended to look surprised — all of the final big awards seemed to lose steam as most in the room new the winners.
On the TV side, Breaking Bad won both the Best Drama and Episodic Drama categories for the second time in three years and the third consecutive Best Drama trophy for the series’ final installment. House Of Cards picked up the first WGA Award for Netflix, taking the New Series honor. The streaming service led the network pack this year with six nominations as the guild amended its rules this year to allow eligibility for Netflix series that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Veep won its first major series award with its Comedy Series win tonight over the likes of Modern Family, which was looking to take back the crown after losing last year to FX’s Louie. The fellow HBO comedy Veep launched, Girls, won the New Series award last year.
“Every writer deserves the kind of luck I’ve had. I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips,” said Ray, who was also nominated for an Oscar. “Capt. Phillps wrote this story, I just wrote it down.” The feature film competition this year was almost as interesting for what’s not in the running vs. what is. The most notable absences were Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave and fellow nominees Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena – the guild only includes screenplays that were produced under its signatory agreements. Ray’s win probably vaults him into the conversation with 12 Years.
Said Jonze, also an Oscar nominee: ”This is a high honor coming from the Writers Guild. … It’s a high honor coming from writers. In a way this is like an award for pain. A specfic pain that writers know. The highs and lows of sitting there by yourself. I thank you guys for that.”
Related: 2014 WGA Award Nominations
EXCLUSIVE: Forest Whitaker is in negotiations to helm The Shack, the adaptation of the bestselling William Paul Young novel that Summit Entertainment acquired in April 2013. Whitaker would also play a supporting role in the movie, which is being written by John Fusco and produced by Gill Netter and Brad Cummings. The logline: In the aftermath of a devastating personal tragedy, Mackenzie Allen Philips receives a mysterious note in his mailbox inviting him to The Shack. The letter is signed Papa, his wife’s nickname for God. Mack responds and finds himself in the presence of God, and a life-transforming journey of truth, forgiveness, and ultimately acceptance. The book was a global hit after it was self-published in 2007. Lionsgate Motion Picture president Michael Paseornek is overseeing the pic with Matthew Janzen and Bree Bailey.
Whitaker, the Oscar winner who most recently starred in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and was a producer on Fruitvale Station, is in the process of lining up what to do next. He is also in discussions to join Liam Neeson in Taken 3, which Olivier Megaton will direct. His own directing credits include 2004′s First Daughter starring Katie Holmes, 1998′s romantic drama Hope Floats and 1995′s Waiting To Exhale adapted from Terry McMillan’s novel. Whitaker is repped by WME.
COMMENTARY: The Weinstein Company’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein made some bold statements Friday on CNN to Piers Morgan about backing away from violent content. He spoke about his own children and how he no longer wanted to feel like a hypocrite. “The change starts here,” the man who produced Quentin Tarantino’s violent Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and D’jango Unchained told Morgan. “It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would still make a movie like Lone Survivor, which is a violent but accurate portrayal of our American military and their dedication to serving this country. “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it,” he said. “I can’t do it.” Weinstein’s statements came only days after a fatal shooting of the father of a 3-year old in a Florida theater during a screening of Lone Survivor who was killed while texting his little girl by a supposed “good guy with a gun,” a 71 year-old former police captain.
“The insensitivity that the average person has now because of violence is because people have become so used to it. It’s an obsession as well as almost an addiction. It’s a cheap way of getting an audience, more people shot and more explosions, but it’s at the expense of the story,” said one entertainment marketer with 35 years of experience. “Abject violence has proven successful, and as long as it is, it will be produced because it’s profitable. It’s the accepted way of life rather than asking is this the right thing to do?”
The question is, of course, how Harvey is going to reconcile being in business with Tarantino. The filmmaker has made a lot of money for the company with violent fare. And therein lies the conundrum that all studio heads and TV executives face. I’ve interviewed several executives over the past few weeks and many have said privately that they think the gun violence — especially in video games — has gotten out of control. However, they also say they have an obligation to their shareholders to make a profit and violence sells. There will always be violence in movies, just as there is violence in the Bible and in the plays of William Shakespeare. But, Weinstein is trying to tip the scales; to shift Hollywood from glorifying violence in films, to showing the true human cost and destructiveness of it.
The Weinstein Company did just that when it released Fruitvale Station last year. The film does contain gun violence, but it’s told from the point of view of the victim of gun violence. And that, in itself, is unusual and powerful. When Weinstein said, “The change starts here. It has already for me,” I thought of Fruitvale. Produced by Forest Whitaker and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogler, you come to care about this boy, see him with his little girl, understand him as a father and a son before he is murdered. It was passed over by the Academy this past week for Oscar noms, but it shouldn’t have been. It did win the Producers Guild’s Stanley Kramer Award. Stanley Kramer, of course, was the patron saint of bringing social issues to the foreground with films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Fruitvale was the first film I saw in a theater (a large screening room) after the Aurora, CO shooting where my cousin’s daughter was among many murdered by a gunman at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. During the emergency room scene, I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes and sobbed. The film depicts the true face of violence — a very realistic depiction of how gun violence destroys a family. It was made for under $1M and brought in $16.7M at the box office is and still bringing in money in its ancillary markets.
25th Annual PGA Awards: First-Ever Tie For Best Motion Picture — ‘Gravity’ And ‘12 Years A Slave’; ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Modern Family’ Take Top TV Awards; Winners List
UPDATED WITH WINNERS AND BACKSTAGE REACTIONS: The Producers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton ended with a stunner: The first tie for the top film prize in the PGAs’ 25-year history. Gravity and 12 Years A Slave shared the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. The award for Gravity catapults the Warner Bros picture squarely into the Best Picture Oscar race, whereas up until now, it seems that 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle were the front-runners. Deadline’s Pete Hammond will post an analysis of the awards later tonight.
On the TV side, AMC’s now-wrapped Breaking Bad won The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama, and ABC’s Modern Family took the Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy, for a fourth consecutive year. The wins mirror last night’s SAG Awards and the Emmys. Breaking Bad also won the Golden Globe last week, but rookie Brooklyn Nine-Nine took the comedy prize.
If it weren’t for Jeff Robinov, former president of Warner Bros Motion Picture Group, Gravity would not have gotten made. The picture that stars Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock and George Clooney got shoved aside by Universal after Angelina Jolie dropped out. Enter Robinov, who took the project under his wing and was its behind-the-scenes champion.