In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom assess the just-announced lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which competing films have serious Oscar hopes and which pics Pete can’t wait to see when he hits the Croisette for Deadline next month. Today also was the last day for would-be Emmy voters to make themselves eligible with the TV Academy, and Pete and David take a look at the Emmy campaigns that are heating up, while also grumpily acknowledging the first Oscar campaign of the 2015 season. Finally, Pete gives his take on the weekend’s notable movie debuts, including Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, the Woody Allen-John Tuturro collaboration Fading Gigolo and faith-based hit-in-the-making Heaven Is For Real.
Crew around Los Angeles are getting word that pre-production on Midnight Rider is starting up in a few weeks back in L.A. with Randall Miller at the helm. Deadline broke the news earlier this week that Miller and his Unclaimed Freight banner were trying to resume filming on the Gregg Allman biopic following the tragic death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in Georgia. The decision to continue with the film has prompted a flurry of tweets to Allman and has given rise to a new Facebook page called “I REFUSE to work on Midnight Rider” which the daughter of director John Frankenheimer said everyone should join.
Jones, 27, was killed February 20 in Wayne County, GA in a train collision during filming on the pic. Seven other crew members were injured and multiple investigations are underway to determine the responsible parties.
“Morally how can he continue, knowing that his decision cost Sarah Jones her life? He had the ability to say no,” said Frankenheimer, who works as a location manager. “As the daughter of a director and I know that the director is the final voice. And if the director and producer allow it to happen, they have to accept responsibility.” She added: “It infuriates me. I find it an affront to all of us. “He doesn’t deserve a crew of any kind. No one should agree to work on this film. I find it shameful. I cannot believe that this man has the chutzpah to do this. If you don’t speak up then that’s just as bad.”
Sara Vahabi, who worked on the Focus Features Oscar campaign for Dallas Buyers Club, has been promoted to VP at Los Angeles-based PR firm Karen Fried & Associates. Vahabi joined KFA in 2011 and has been part of the team that spearheaded campaigns that garnered a total of 18 Oscar noms. “With extensive experience both in Europe and the U.S., Sara brings the international strategic thinking necessary in an expanding global film market,” said Fried. “She speaks five languages and has worked and lived all over the globe which makes her even more valuable for clients’ specific needs today.” Vahabi has over 15 years of experience within special events and public relations and has collaborated on several international film campaigns. She moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to work for the Consulate General of Sweden, where she was in charge of promotional affairs with a focus on Swedish film. In 2008, she ran the Press Department at the Stockholm International Film Festival in her native Sweden. She also has handled publicity for films at Cannes, Palm Springs, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Speaking five languages … wow.
Cannes Film Festival: Could This Year’s Croisette Lineup Of Big Names And Academy Favorites Lead All The Way To Oscar?
So what does today’s announcement of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival lineup mean for Oscar?
Who knows except that out of competition entry How To Train Your Dragon 2 will almost certainly be nominated for Best Animated Feature. Other than that we will have to wait and see until we actually view the films in Cannes next month. But there are good omens in this lineup (which could still see one or two more titles added) if you look at the impressive group of actors represented in these films: Oscar winners Tommy Lee Jones (who directs the competition entry The Homesman), Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, and director Michel Hazanivicius are among the prominent names and past nominees like Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, Hailee Steinfeld, Berenice Bejo, Ryan Gosling (who is making his directorial debut) are also represented.
My colleague Nancy Tartaglione did a great job predicting who would make — or not make — the cut and wrote an exhaustive overview earlier. Now it’s time to look at the awards implications outside of those that will be handed out May 24th at the Palais. I look at Cannes as a soft start to Hollywood’s awards season. There’s no question of its importance as the granddaddy of all film fests and as a key worldwide launch for a movie that has got the goods, but in the end the May date scares off some distributors who, by launching their fall Oscar hopefuls on the Croisette may feel it ultimately hurts their chances — and more importantly their momentum.
That’s no doubt a key reason Warner Bros chose to hold back past Cannes competitor and favorite Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and Fox Searchlight did the same with Alexander Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman even apart from the usual reasons that they may not “be ready.” Last year Paramount decided at the last minute to take Alexander Payne’s Nebraska to Cannes even though he initially favored more postproduction time. Payne had competed once before with About Schmidt, headed the Un Certain Regard jury, and served on the main competition jury so he was a favorite of Cannes’ chief programmer Thierry Fremaux. The film ended up winning Best Actor for Bruce Dern but after Cannes the director “tinkered” with it and made it tighter before hitting the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day with his final cut. It went on to win six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Director and Actor after finally opening November 15 (it didn’t win any Oscars, though). It’s not the first time a filmmaker has made changes after their film was shown to the world’s press and reviewed in Cannes. The growing feeling among distributors is it is best to wait until the movie is really locked before risking exposure at this most visible of all festivals.
EXCLUSIVE: Ed Perkins’ documentary Garnet’s Gold has some serious pedigree — it’s from producer Simon Chinn, who won Best Documentary Feature Oscars for James Marsh’s Man On Wire in 2009 and for Searching For Sugar Man in 2013. Both of those riviting docus scored because of their laser focus on what made their subjects tick. That is the plan here with Garnet’s Gold, which has its world premiere tomorrow at the Tribeca Film Festival. The pic tells the story of Garnet Frost, who, 20 years ago, nearly died hiking by Scotland’s Loch Arkaig, surviving by sheer chance. His brush with death has lingered with him for years, particularly the wooden staff he discovered right before he was rescued. After much research, Garnet is convinced the staff is actually a marker for a fortune hidden nearly 300 years ago, and he returns to the wilderness in search of it. Of course he ends up searching for much more than just gold. Check out the trailer here:
The 2015 Oscars date was set last year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when they announced the 2014 date, which shifted a week owing to a conflict with the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. New today are dates for the nominations announcement — Thursday, January 15 — which gives voters about five weeks before final ballots are due February 17. The past couple of years members had six weeks to see everything and cast their ballots. The Governors Awards are set for November 8. Here is this season’s timeline:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the dates for the 87th Oscars. The Academy Awards presentation will air live on ABC on Oscar® Sunday, February 22, 2015. Key dates for the Awards season are:
Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Governors Awards
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Official Screen Credits and music submissions due
Monday, December 29, 2014
Nominations voting begins 8 a.m., PT
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Nominations voting ends 5 p.m., PT
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Oscar nominations announced
Monday, February 2, 2015
Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Friday, February 6, 2015
Final voting begins 8 a.m., PT
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Scientific and Technical Awards
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Final voting ends 5 p.m., PT
Sunday, February 22, 2015
87th Academy Awards begins 7 p.m., ET/ 4 p.m., PT
UPDATED Wednesday, 10:09 PM: After “a reconsideration” of its earlier hard stance against the Key Art for the documentary Fed Up citing ‘offensive language’, the MPAA’s advertising administration reversed its decision late Wednesday night and will now allow the art for the Radius-TWC docu without any alterations, a source close to the situation told Deadline.
So, TWC’s F U is OK. TY MPAA.
PREVIOUSLY, Wednesday, 5:07 P.M.: The MPAA has rejected the key art for Fed Up, a documentary film about the fast food and junk food industries which reveals how children and parents are being fed a bill of goods by food manufacturers. Distributor Radius-TWC has vowed to fight the decision on appeal. The poster featured here shows two M&M’s with the letters F and U next to each other. One wonders if they purposely pushed the envelope knowing that the poster might not pass muster with the MPAA, which cited the key art’s “offensive language.” Nothing like a good controversy to help marketing. Yeah, well, who cares, when the topic is about children’s health in this nation. ”If only Congress and the FDA cared as much about protecting Americans’ lives as the MPAA cares about suppressing our poster, we wouldn’t be facing the greatest health epidemic of our time,” said Radius-TWC co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego in a statement. The MPAA could not be reached for comment.
The film, which is executive produced by Katie Couric, who also narrates the film, is a Radius/TWC presentation after The Weinstein Company label acquired it this year at Sundance. It features several noteworthy people talking about sugar’s impact on the health of children. Included are former President Bill Clinton, Harvard Medical School associate professor in pediatrics Dr. David Ludwig, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, Sen. Tom Harkin, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, and food author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma). One of the producers of Fed Up is Laurie David, who also produced the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth.
Related: Hot Trailer: Food Docu ‘Fed Up’
Drafthouse Films‘ Evan Husney is stepping down from his post as Creative Director after nearly three years at the upstart distribution label. New York-based Husney, 27, will be shifting focus to producing and is working with directors Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) and Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) on their next features. Husney helped develop the specialty distro arm of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas from the ground up when company founder Tim League tapped him to run creative ops in 2011. Shortly thereafter Drafthouse Films scored an Academy Award nomination with one of its first acquisitions, director Michaël R. Roskam’s Belgian drama Bullhead, which vied for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Oscars. Last year Husney and the Drafthouse team mounted their second Oscar campaign in three years for Best Documentary nominee The Act of Killing, director Josh Oppenheimer’s critically-acclaimed documentary about Indonesian death squad leaders.
Since its inception the label has acquired a variety of specialty releases spanning genre, action, drama, comedy, foreign, and repertory titles, plucking often-challenging fare from the lineups of Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which League founded) and SXSW. “When [Drafthouse Films] started we wanted to acquire movies we loved and films we thought are great, utilize our backgrounds as programmers and approach distribution with a curatorial quality – a real cinephiles for cinephiles label,” Husney told me.
Are you kidding?
Did Paramount just officially start the 2014 Oscar campaign even as we are barely getting the Emmys off the ground and the Tonys are two months away? Uh, yes. Looks like it. One top studio exec (not from Paramount) forwarded me an email he got yesterday from the Paramount Awards Office that pronounced free admission starting April 15th - two by two for Academy members and a guest- to screenings of Noah at theaters nationwide – but only Monday thru Thursday since most theater owners usually don’t like to give up seats on the weekends, especially to rich and famous movie types.
Emmy season is revving up already even though the primetime awards show won’t be happening until the end of summer (Monday August 25th on NBC). But if you want to vote, the first major deadline looms tomorrow April 17, the last day to join the Academy, renew your membership or apply for hyphenate ballots in order to cast a ballot in this year’s contest. There is always a surge of interest in joining the Academy around this time of year. In fact, last season there was a substantial increase in membership, primarily in order to cast an Emmy ballot. It’s not uncommon to see applications coming in bulk from staffs of shows that want those nominations, but unless these hopefuls apply by Thursday they will have to wait until next year.
In addition to the deadline, the Television Academy (as it now calls itself – and full disclosure I am on the Board Of Governors representing Writers) just sent out a formal letter this week to the eligible membership (now well over 16,000 and climbing) regarding instructions for online voting, which is being instituted for the first time this season.
The heralded, award-winning 28-year-old franchise will begin to chronicle not only American masters but also “emerging American masters,” Michael Kantor said in a New York Times interview — industry speak for “targeting younger viewers.” The franchise will stop emphasizing important cultural figures important to the baby boom generation, Kantor told NYT, which got first crack at the news. The series will redefine the word “masters” to include profiles of people in industry. Ditto science. That said, the series already has profiled Albert Einstein, as well as I.M. Pei, Billie Jean King, Walter Cronkite, etc. — in addition to more traditional subjects such as Arthur Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
About 2.8 million people tuned in to Sunday’s Conan O’Brien-hosted MTV Movie Awards, a million fewer viewers (-27%) than last year’s show. The 2013 trophy show clocked 3.8 million total viewers — up compared to previous year’s 3.2 million even though big winner Jennifer Lawrence didn’t show up, and Parks And Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza got thrown out. Those who watched Sunday’s fan-voted awards saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire cop movie of the year, Mila Kunis hide her baby bump, Zac Efron lose his shirt and Mark Wahlberg score the MTV Generation Award — or, as he called it, the You’re Too Old To Come Back Award — and Eminem and Rihanna doing the TV debut of their hit “The Monster.”
Sunday’s show also was down by double digits in the network’s core 12-34 demographic, pulling a 2.6 compared with last year’s 3.4 — a 23% drop — and the previous year’s 2.8. In 2012, the MTV Movie Awards pulled in 3.2 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in 12-34. That had all been good news because 2012 was down a troubling 28% in the demo from the 2011 show. Additionally, last year’s show was up 45% among adults 18-34 and up 44% with adults 18-49 compared to ’12.
EXCLUSIVE: After cranking out two big hit comedies in Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, Sony Pictures is back in business with Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and John C. Reilly. The studio has closed a deal with Oscar-nominated In The Loop writer Jesse Armstrong to pen Border Guards. It’s a comedy that McKay is eyeing to direct, with Ferrell and Reilly playing two hapless but earnest friends who decide to give purpose to their lives by protecting America’s borders from illegal immigrants. In the process they find themselves accidentally stranded in Mexico without identification and must sneak back into the U.S. It’s only related to the previous films in that Ferrell and Reilly pair so well together.
Ferrell, McKay, and Kevin Messick are producing through Gary Sanchez Productions. Michael De Luca and Jonathan Kadin will oversee for Sony. The scribe, who’s repped by CAA, is a British comedy writer who with writing partner Sam Bain created the Channel 4 sitcoms Peep Show and Fresh Meat, and the Danny Boyle-directed series Babylon. Armstrong, who earned an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for co-writing In The Loop, also scripted a biopic on Republican strategist Lee Atwater for Gary Sanchez with McKay attached to direct. Ferrell is repped by CAA and Mosaic and John C. Reilly by WME and Framework.
On Thursday, Thierry Frémaux will unveil the lineup for the 67th running of the Cannes Film Festival. Speculation, comme d’habitude, has been rife for at least the past month as to which titles may make the trip to the Croisette. While one exec with movies in contention says, “It’s going to the wire this year,” some contenders are coming into sharper focus. Although nothing is confirmed until Frémaux says so, among the titles I hear consistently cited as near faits-accomplis are DreamWorks Animation‘s How To Train Your Dragon 2; the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard; Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher; Mike Leigh‘s Mr Turner; Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman; and David Cronenberg‘s Maps To The Stars. There are many, many more required to fill the Competition, Out-of-Competition, Un Certain Regard, Special Screenings and other sections. Here’s a primer for what’s looking likely, and what isn’t, to make the cut in an official category on Thursday:
We know that Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco is the opening-night film. French distributor Gaumont is planning a classic Cannes soirée which will follow the official screening and dinner on May 14. In other certainties, French debut feature Party Girl is opening the Un Certain Regard sidebar; a less showy title than 2013’s Bling Ring, but one that fits with UCR jury president Pablo Trapero’s take on the section this year. Jane Campion, the only woman ever to win a Palme d’Or (for The Piano in 1993), is president of the Competition jury whose other members will be revealed shortly.
Among the high-profile Hollywood titles expected is DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon sequel, which I hear is getting a special screening. The studio isn’t commenting, but DWA and Cannes have a long history – going back to when Frémaux took over the selection in 2001 and caused a stir by putting Shrek in the Competition. We’ve heard that Frémaux has put a full-court press on Paul Thomas Anderson to get Inherent Vice (Warner Bros) to the festival. But with a release date at the end of 2014, this could be a long shot, and some I’ve spoken with believe it won’t be ready for next month. Some wonder if Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys could make the trip. Eastwood has been to Cannes several times before and is esteemed by Frémaux who gave him the inaugural Lumière Prize in 2009 at the October festival he oversees in Lyon with Bertrand Tavernier. Although I’m told Jersey Boys isn’t a typical Cannes film, I wouldn’t fully rule it out — it’s also got a timely June release.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Commit To September Start For New Regency’s ‘The Revenant’
EXCLUSIVE: Leonardo DiCaprio has committed to star this September in The Revenant, a gritty thriller that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will direct for New Regency, for fall 2015 release through Fox. Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith co-wrote the script. DiCaprio had been attached to team with Gonzalez Inarritu, but he is attached to many projects; getting the star to commit off his Oscar-nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street performance is a big development for Arnon Milchan and Brad Weston’s game plan to make tasteful, star- and director-driven fare.
Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin, Keith Redmon and David Kanter will produce with Gonzalez Iñárritu, Milchan and James Skotchdopole. Brett Ratner and Paul Green are exec producers. The film will be co-financed by RatPac and Worldview Entertainment, latter of which just partnered with Regency and Fox Searchlight in the Inarritu-directed Birdman, which was just set for release on October 17.
An adaptation of the Michael Punke novel The Revenant: A Novel Of Revenge, Inarritu Gonzalez’s next film will star DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a 19th century fur trapper who gets mauled by a grizzly bear, and then is left for dead by cohorts who rob him. When he survives, he is as pissed as a bee-stung bear and sets out on a treacherous journey to exact revenge on those who betrayed him. Sean Penn had been circling as one of those bad guys, but he won’t be in the film.
There have been whispers that Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman is heading to Cannes. That’s not a bad projection to make, considering that his previous directorial oater The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada — which, like Homesmen was produced by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp — debuted on the Croisette in 2005. Adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s novel, The Homesman follows pioneer woman Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), who with the help of a claim jumper (Jones), escorts three insane women across Nebraska territory. I had the privilege in February of attending a scoring session for the film by Oscar-nominated composer Marco Beltrami with Jones in attendance. It’s the third time Jones has tapped Beltrami for his films, and with good reason: He savors the composer’s talent for designing and using eclectic instruments in his scores. In musically personifying the film’s crazed women against a windy landscape, Beltrami built what is akin to an Aeolian wind harp at his mountaintop Malibu studio. Beltrami’s homemade instrument consists of several feet of piano wire, connected between an old saloon piano atop a metal freighter, and a water tank atop a hill. As Beltrami plunked at the piano, his fellow musician took a huge bow to the piano wire. The result: a haunting, tinny, bellowing theme that rivals Ennio Morricone’s whistle tune from 1966′s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Beltrami’s music isn’t featured in the first trailer, however, it’s going to be a toss-up in terms of what is more sublime: His score or …
TV in general pretty much underperformed Sunday night, but the season premieres of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock Inside Man both surged over their previous season bows by double digits. The 9 PM Season 3 opener of Bourdain’s hybrid foodie travelogue — which visited Punjab, India — posted 325,000 persons 25-54, according to Nielsen’s Live+SD numbers, up 34% over last season’s September 15 bow. Parts Unknown was up against competition that included HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which snagged 6.3M viewers, Oscar nominee Spurlock’s episode at 10 PM, which saw him step into the role of paparazzo, drew 244,000 viewers in the demo — topping last year’s series premiere by 11%. The time slot wins are some welcome good news for CNN, which had which just suffered through one of the worst primetime quarters in its history. The network said last week that Parts Unknown and Inside Man are among the docu-type original series that are replacing Piers Morgan in the 9 PM weeknight slot.
New Regency Taps Brad Pitt, David Michod To Tell Gen. Stanley McChrystal Afghan Story ‘The Operators’
BREAKING: Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd will write and direct The Operators, which will be developed as a star vehicle for Brad Pitt. The project’s backed by Plan B, New Regency and RatPac Entertainment, and it was announced by Brad Weston, New Regency’s president and CEO. Pitt will produce along with his Plan B partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.
Based on the Michael Hastings book, The Operators focuses on the rise and fall of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. It portrays the backrooms and politics behind the war, and the high-stake maneuvers and the political firestorm that shook the country.
New Regency and RatPac made a multi-year producing partnership with Pitt’s Plan B late last year after Regency teamed with Plan B on the Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave. Michôd is repped by UTA and attorney Alan Wertheimer, Pitt and Plan B by CAA and Brillstein.