Come rain or come more rain, the Oscars‘ red carpet show will go on, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences insisted this evening. Despite a freak winter rain storm causing flooding and power outages throughout L.A. County, organizers anticipate no disruption for the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday in Hollywood despite most forecasts calling for more showers. “We’ve been monitoring weather patterns for weeks,” AMPAS communications chief Teni Melidonian said. “We have this covered literally and figuratively.” To ensure that Jennifer Lawrence and other nominees reach the front door of the Dolby Theatre without getting wet, the Academy has unleashed an army of workers to cover the exposed red carpet. The only area that will be exposed Sunday is on the street where the limos will be dropping off their precious cargo. The plan is to have dozens of Academy staffers on hand with umbrellas to provide the needed cover. “We would prefer viewers at home to see sunshine, but otherwise nothing will be different for the red carpet show than any other year,” Melidonian said.
EXCLUSIVE: Big news on the MLK movie front. Paramount is in final negotiations to acquire domestic distribution rights to Selma, a feature drama about Martin Luther King‘s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement, and none other than Oprah Winfrey has boarded the project as producer. Paramount is tying down U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to the film. Ava DuVernay, who came aboard the project in July, rewrote the original script by Paul Webb and slipped it to Winfrey, who sparked to DuVernay’s rewrite. We’ve been waiting for a strong cinematic tribute to the iconic civil rights leader, and this remarkably becomes the second MLK project that Winfrey is involved with. Her Harpo also is behind a seven-part HBO miniseries America: In the King Years. Selma is on a much faster track. The plan is to get rolling in front of cameras as soon as possible. Lining up a domestic deal and a name of Winfrey’s caliber were key to getting the ball rolling, and when the deal makes production is expected to start right away. Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson are already aboard as producers.
Winfrey’s presence both on and off the screen was a big reason Lee Daniels’ The Butler traveled so well overseas. The Butler has grossed $167.7 million to date — more than $50M of that internationally. This gives Selma a leg up on the other two major features that are percolating. Oliver Stone last month saw a script rewrite on his MLK biopic rejected by DreamWorks and Warner Bros, and it caused him to back out of the project. Meanwhile, Paul Greengrass still isn’t ready to move on his biopic Memphis that he plans to make with Scott Rudin.
Studios’ failed effort in 2012 to promote the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) made it clear: Big Media companies had better not mess with Silicon Valley. Too many people love the Internet, and they’ll crush anyone deemed to be a threat to the medium by its biggest service providers including Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Netflix. That’s why Comcast needs to make peace with tech companies as the cable giant promotes its planned $42.5B acquisition of Time Warner Cable — and suggests that the new interconnection deal with Netflix is the first of many agreements with tech world Goliaths. If they’re unhappy, then they may embolden Washington regulators reviewing the TWC acquisition to demand a long list of concessions –and under extreme circumstances could even block the deal.
While terms with Netflix weren’t disclosed, the agreement will ensure that Comcast’s broadband customers receive, as the companies put it, “a high-quality Netflix video experience for years to come.” Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner says this morning that he’d be “surprised” if the Comcast-Netflix agreement “was not conditional on a tacit (if not explicit) agreement by Netflix not to lobby regulators” to demand detailed promises to protect Internet access. Others, including Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil, are waiting to hear about additional terms with Netflix, including a promise to add the service to Comcast’s set top box so subscribers don’t have to switch to a different input when they want to watch the streaming service on their TV sets.
8:25 PM ET: NBC’s walk up to the Closing Ceremony is its one-hour docu on Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding which, Kerrigan tells Bob Costas when it’s over, was difficult to watch and “doesn’t matter” any more, in re whether Harding knew in advance about the plan to club Kerrigan in the knee. Seems about right. It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings this debbie-downer lead-in pulls for NBC.
8:28 PM ET: Bob Costas plugging Rio Summer Games, eating up precious minutes. Does this mean we won’t get the see the Closing Ceremony’s honoring of Russian authors Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Checkhov and others too numerous (and tough to spell) to mention?
8:35 PM ET: Al Michaels, Chris Collinsworth, and Vladimir Pozner are hosting. Little girl Luba — Love to her friends — from Opening Ceremony is back, and two clowns are guiding a flying boat into the arena. Why a clown, Pozner asks, rhetorically. In Russia, he explains, “the clown is the hero.” Dancers on the floor of the arena, who are dressed in tin foil-y caftans, are soon to go into the Olympic ring configuration you’ve probably already …
Costume Designers Guild Awards: Patricia Norris Wins For ’12 Years A Slave’, Suzy Benzinger For ‘Blue Jasmine’, Trish Summerville For ‘Catching Fire’, TV Winners ‘Downton Abbey’; ‘House Of Cards’, ‘Behind The Candelabra’
AwardsLine Deputy Editor Anna Lisa Raya provided on-scene coverage tonight.
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS AND SPEECHES: 12 Years A Slave’s Patricia Norris and Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s Trish Summerville nabbed top film awards tonight at the 16th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards. Norris won the Outstanding Period Film Award while Summerville scored the Outstanding Fantasy Film Award. The win clearly vaults Oscar-nominated Norris into frontrunner status. She was not present but her son Patrick accepted on her behalf. “She guaranteed me this wouldn’t happen. I’m kind of a little nervous but she gave me a few things to say in case it did happen. She’s honored that the Costume Designers Guild has recognized her. She thanks you and I appreciate you. I can’t wait to give this to her,” he said. Blue Jasmine’s Suzy Benzinger took the third film award of the night for Outstanding Contemporary Film.
On the TV side, Caroline McCall took the Outstanding Period/Fantasy category for Downton Abbey. This was her second straight win in the same category. Ellen Mirojnick won Outstanding Made for Television Movie or Miniseries for Behind The Candelabra and Tom Broecker took the Outstanding Contemporary Television Series honor for House Of Cards.
In other awards, writer/director/producer Judd Apatow received the Distinguished Collaborator Award for his support of costume design in such work as Freaks And Geeks, Girls, Bridesmaids and the Anchorman films. Jonah Hill made a surprise appearance to present the award to Apatow. “I wouldn’t necessarily think of Judd for the costume design in his films, it’s not the first thing to come to mind,” Hill said, before adding that Apatow’s work resonates because it’s about real people wearing real clothes. “That’s an artform. That’s real life. That’s what Judd does.” Apatow gave shout-outs to the many costume designers with whom he’s worked. “So many amazing people throughout our careers. Thank you so much and thank you for making us look good and making these characters come alive.” Veteran costume designer April Ferry (Maverick, Elysium) received the Career Achievement Award. “I absolutely love what I do and for me there’s no other way. Over the last 30 years I’ve traveled to ancient Rome all the way to the future and beyond. If you’re lucky, like I’ve been, you work at the seat of your pants with wonderful people,” Ferry said in accepting her award. The Distinguished Service Award went to Sharon Day, a guild delegate and former executive board member. Amy Adams was honored with the Lacoste Spotlight Award, which recognizes an actor whose roles have been intrinsically tied to costume design. Adams most recently stunned in a sexy, glamorous 1970s-era wardrobe in American Hustle, for which she’s nominated for a best lead actress Oscar. “I’m just really, really lucky to have had relationships with costume designers thorughout the years. You’ve been magicians, you’ve been my therapists, you’ve been my friends. Thank you for allowing me to turn your visions into art,” Adams said.
Host Joshua Malina kicked off the evening. “I’m Joshua Malina, and I’m a 42 Reg. I have a 32 inch waist and a 30 inch inseam. Yes, I said 30 inches. Don’t judge, we’re all God’s creatures,” he joked. “We’re here to celebrate the collaboration of costume designers and directors and actors. There’s also the talented cutters, and seamstresses, the dye-ers, the shoemakers. We’re all here together tonight and so far, getting along nicely,” he said.
Here’s the complete list of winners.
Bruce Dern Calls It A “Geezer’s Dinner”, But Oscar Nominees Show Up In Force At AARP’s Movies For Grownups Awards
The Oscar luncheon has become a lynchpin for other events and award-related activities since so many nominees are in town for the occasion. It’s a last-gasp attempt to get them out to as many events as possible before final ballots go out Friday. The Dallas Buyers Club group, the Wolf Of Wall Street and several others had AMPAS Q&As lined up Monday evening. But perhaps the biggest event — judging by the Oscar-nominated star power it drew – was AARP‘s 2014 Awards Gala on Monday night saluting Movies For Grownups. Their mission as they say is to “honor outstanding writing, acting and filmmaking with distinct relevance to the 50-plus audience”. Considering the average age of Oscar voters, this is a good place to be seen. Among the winners were 12 Years A Slave as Best Movie For Grownups, Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron as Best Director, Nebraska’s Bruce Dern and Philomena’s Judi Dench as Best Actor and Actress, 20 Feet From Stardom for Best Documentary, and Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for their Before Midnight screenplay. Susan Sarandon received the life achievement award from presenter Melissa McCarthy. Best Buddy Picture was CBS Films’ Lost Vegas with star Morgan Freeman and director Jon Turtletaub on hand. Best Grownup Love Story appropriately went to Nicole Holofcener for the terrific and sadly Oscar-overlooked Enough Said.
Related: 86th Academy Awards Nominees Photo
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Love & Air Sex’, ‘Kids For Cash’, ‘Afternoon Of A Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq’, ‘Cavemen’, ‘The Attorney’, ‘The Pretty One’
The weekend is offering a bounty of Specialty newcomers, though most will likely see out their releases in a niche capacity. Tribeca Film is bowing Bryan Poyser’s Love & Air Sex, combining a contest with a not quite real simulation to accompany its roll out. SenArt and Paladin are teaming for a unique release for Kids For Cash in Pennsylvania, while fellow doc Afternoon Of A Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq will go a more traditional route. Well Go USA is doubling up with Cavemen and The Attorney, though there should be very little audience overlap, while Dada will open The Pretty One in limited release. Also opening this weekend is Drafthouse Films’ Field In England. The specialty distributor will open the film in select cities theatrically as well as on VOD/digital platforms.
Love & Air Sex
Director-writer: Bryan Poyser
Writers: David DeGrow Shotwell, Steven Walters
Cast: Ashley Bell, Zach Cregger, Sara Paxton, Michael Stahl-David, Addison Timlin, Marshall Allman, Justin Arnold
Distributor: Tribeca Film
Director-co-writer Bryan Poyser debuted his latest film in his hometown, Austin, at last year’s SXSW Film Festival. The comedy centers on Stan who attempts to alleviate his broken heart by flying to Austin for the weekend, hoping to “accidentally” run into his ex-girlfriend Cathy. When he arrives, he finds his best friends Jeff and Kara in the middle of their own vicious breakup. “It’s a script that came to me through Preferred Content and optioned through a couple of writers,” said Poyser.
Peter O’Fallon has been tapped to direct TNT’s action-drama pilot Agent X, starring Sharon Stone. Penned by William Blake Herron, it centers on America’s first female Vice President, Natalie Maccabee (Stone), and her secret weapon, Agent X (Jeff Hephner). This marks the 14th pilot O’Fallon has directed, with 11 of the previous 13 ordered to series, including A&E’s The Glades and FX’s The Riches. CAA-repped O’Fallon spent the past two years as showrunner of FX comedy series Legit, which he co-created.
Berlin Briefs: Nicolas Cage In Talks For ‘Men With No Fear’; Tom Berenger Stars In Western ‘Lonesome Dove Church’
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Writer-director Paco Cabezas’ heist thriller Men With No Fear is coming to Berlin’s European Film Market this month, with Nicolas Cage in negotiations to star and The Exchange setting a deal to finance and sell worldwide rights. Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor of Bad Hat Harry Productions are producing. The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a smalltime neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge.
Fox is using the super precious Super Bowl real estate to push for two new and two current series. The biggest attention is given to event series 24: Live Another Day with a series of teasers leading to a trailer (we’ll post it immediately after it airs), with the upcoming Seth MarFarlane-produced Cosmos revival also getting a promo, along with sophomore drama The Following and reality veteran American Idol. Here is the promo for Cosmos: A Space Odyssey, in which Fox and its partner on the science show National Geographic are hailed as “the bravest networks.” You can also check out what’s coming up on The Following this season.
Looking to build on the success of its TNT drama Falling Skies, Amblin TV is teeing off another alien drama, which just received a pilot order at ABC. Titled The Visitors, the project is based on a Ray Bradbury short story called Zero Hour. Amblin TV is co-producing with Dawn Olmstead’s Grady Girl. Olmstead found the short story and brought it to Amblin TV, which developed it with writer Soo Hugh, who has worked on Amblin’s The River and Under The Dome. The Visitors chronicles the race against the clock to defeat an unseen alien enemy out to destroy the world using our most precious resource against us. ABC Studios is producing. Olmstead and Hugh are exec producing along with Amblin’s Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey and Steven Spielberg. Olmstead, who was just named head of development for Universal Cable Productions, has two other pilots: Bravo’s Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce and Lifetime’s The Lottery. Amblin TV recently received a series order at Fox for Red Band Society and has Ed Burns’ TNT pilot Public Morals.
On Eve Of MLK Day, Will Adultery Keep Epic Dr. King Movie Off The Big Screen?
By Mike Fleming Jr. – Oliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back.
Fleming On 2014 Sundance Forecast: Thriving Indie Biz Makes Appetite Strong; Un-Commercial Slate Could Limit Big Deals
The Sundance Film Festival market gets underway tonight, and it could start with a bidding bang for Whiplash, seen here first as a short and now a feature starring Miles Teller as a drummer trying to survive his ruthless school band conductor (J.K. Simmons). Then again, buyers could find it’s not the second coming of Precious, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, or last year’s gem Fruitvale Station. It will still sell if that happens, it will just take longer, with its prospect for a meaningful theatrical release dimming with each passing day.
More than any recent year in memory, this Sundance program might well have been programmed by Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid screenwriter William Goldman, because of how the fest follows his famous adage about Hollywood that “Nobody knows anything.” It’s harder than usual to predict this fest’s breakout films because nothing jumps off the page as a can’t-miss. How does that make buyers feel? One buyer likened himself and his competitors as being like a bunch of old men on a beach, with shorts, black socks, and metal detectors, combing the sand for that diamond ring someone dropped amidst the beer can pull tops and other debris. “You’ve got to cover the whole beach or you’ll miss something,” he said. “On paper, a lot of these films have good casts and potential until you see them, get disappointed and find something in the little movie which has no stars, and is much harder to market,” the distributor said. “There are so many buyers here and so much competition, you really have to be on your toes and see everything.”
There is a sense of deja vu here for the number of past Sundance directors returning with projects (they include Zach Braff, Mike Cahill, Richard Linklater, Lynne Shelton, Gregg Araki and Jake Paltrow), but also because of programming decisions which seem to increasingly bring the fest back to its origins of prizing smaller left-of-center fare.
Golden Weekend: ‘American Hustle’ One Of Many Films Taking Advantage Of Pre-Globe And SAG Q&A Circuit (Video)
Second only to Academy Awards week , the days leading up to tonight’s Golden Globes are chock-full of enough industry happenings and parties to drive a contender crazy. And though I spoke to many Globe voters over the weekend at these events I couldn’t get much of a consensus about what actually might win tonight, which is somewhat out of the norm for a show that’s usually a little more predictable.
What is predictable is this is one weekend that really brings the stars out. It started Friday with the AFI Awards Lunch and accelerated from there. Saturday alone there were plenty of destinations with the Film Independent Brunch at BOA, the BAFTA tea at the Four Seasons, Paramount’s packed pre-Globes party at Chateau Marmont, The LA Film Critics banquet, an Australian party, a CBS party and on and on. Globe nominees and awards contenders were hustling from one to another. At the crowded, star-studded BAFTA party I saw Cate Blanchett‘s publicist trying diligently to get the popular (and mobbed) Blue Jasmine nominee out of the room and back on the road. “We’ve got three more things to go to after this, ” she said. Even more impressive, the stars and filmmakers have been working in several Q&As between all the pre-parties for awards consultants taking advantage of having talent in town for the weekend. Even though the Oscar nomination and Golden Globe polls closed Wednesday, it hasn’t stopped campaigners or slowed down the volume of Q&As aimed at getting those votes. You’d think talent might get a few days off from this particular circuit, but with SAG voting in full swing, and other guild contests going into Phase 2 it’s apparently still prime time. Most important, the Academy’s more stringent restrictions on Q&As for Phase 2 don’t go into effect until Thursday after nominations are announced so studios don’t have to use up one of their precious four Q&A slots allowed from January 16 through end of balloting in late February and can still get some free bang for their buck. As one consultant told me: “We’re still not limited by the number of Q&As we can do. I think it’s a new trend to take advantage of everything going on around the Globes.”
Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.
Although Lee Daniels is better known for art-house fare such as 2009’s Precious, for which he earned an Oscar nomination for best director, he has found his biggest box office success with this summer’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which so far has earned more than $116 million domestically. After working on edgier fare — directing 2012’s The Paperboy and producing 2001’s Monster’s Ball and 2004’s The Woodsman — Daniels says he can’t really explain the commercial success of the film. The experience of telling the story of a White House butler has left Daniels humbled and grateful to the film’s biggest champion, the late Laura Ziskin.
AwardsLine: How did this project start?
Lee Daniels: It started with (Sony co-chairman) Amy Pascal, who read an article in the Washington Post, and she told the late Laura Ziskin that she should option the story. Laura started talking to directors, and it came to me.
AwardsLine: How did you shape the material?
Daniels: At first, it was more of a history lesson than the family story. What I wanted to create was a heart, and that really was the father-son story.
EXCLUSIVE: In her first screen starring turn since the ferocious portrayal as an abusive mother in 2009′s Precious won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Mo’Nique has joined Isaiah Washington in the Patrik Ian Polk-directed Blackbird, an adaptation of the novel by Larry Duplechan. Deadline revealed last fall that Washington took the lead in this indie off his turn as the DC sniper in Blue Caprice got him a Gotham Award nom. The pic just shot in Hattiesburg, MS.
Mo’Nique is also exec producer with her husband, Sidney Hicks, through Hicks Media. Newcomer Julian Walker plays the star singer in the church choir who feels like a misfit in his high school and struggles with his sexual awakening and the realization he is gay, something that doesn’t land well in a religiously conservative small Mississippi town. This coincides with his younger sister going missing and his parents splitting up. Mo’Nique plays another character who’s not going to win mother of the year awards: the youth’s heartbroken mom, who blames her son’s lifestyle revelation for his sister going missing. Washington plays his supportive father trying his best to help his son’s transition to manhood.
From Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron to American Hustle’s David O. Russell to Inside Llewyn Davis’ Joel and Ethan Coen, writer-directors seem to dominate this season. And with so many in the race, there’s likely to be at least some overlap when Oscar nominations in the screenplay and directing categories are announced January 16. But these two categories can also be sources of surprise.
Last year saw the directors branch come up with one of the most astonishing twists of fate in Oscar history by trading Bens—Ben Affleck for Benh Zeitlin. Affleck was considered a frontrunner for Argo, but he was completely snubbed by his fellow helmers. Instead, the directing branch threw a curve ball into the race by nominating Zeitlin, the director of the indie darling Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Although Argo did go on to win best picture (and Affleck received a statuette for that as a producer), it became only the second film in modern times to achieve that feat without a directing nom, the other being Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. It makes you wonder what the quirky branch has in store this year.
OSCARS: Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs Reflects And Looks Ahead With Focus On Education And Diversity
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
Papal elections have nothing on the secrecy surrounding the selection of presidents for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The absence of white smoke notwithstanding, what goes on behind those closed doors? But the elevation of Cheryl Boone Isaacs to the Academy’s top spot in July has generated only acclamation. There are two important reasons for this: With decades in the industry and years of devoted service to AMPAS, Boone Isaacs is well qualified to lead the Academy as it faces new challenges. And because she is both African-American and a woman, she is a uniquely visible symbol of the organization’s stated commitment to diversity.
“It feels great, absolutely wonderful,” Boone Isaacs says about her election, sitting outside the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills. “I’ve been involved here for a long time. This is a terrific organization, which is constantly changing and evolving. I’ve loved movies my whole life—as have most of us in this business.”
Though it’s still early into her presidency, Boone Isaacs already is focused on increasing member engagement and expanding the Academy’s youth education initiatives. “Young folks know actors, but they don’t really understand the collaboration and community it takes to produce a motion picture—and the job opportunities there are. It also helps them see movies in a different way—appreciating the collaboration and what it takes to achieve the look and sound of a film,” she explains.
Anthony D’Alessandro is an AwardsLine contributor.
In the 1970s, Columbia Pictures then-president Peter Guber was given a script for a film starring Woody Allen. “I called my boss David Begelman and said, ‘There has to be a mistake,’ ” Guber recalls. “There’s not a laugh in it!” The film was The Front (1977), and it was a stark departure from Allen’s comedy writing and standup days, preceding Annie Hall by a year. In the film, directed by Martin Ritt, Allen stars as a New York deli clerk who ghost writes for blacklisted scribes. The poster featured Allen throwing up his hands in a “What me, worry?” pose with the tag line, “America’s Most Unlikely Hero.”
“After seven minutes, the preview audience wasn’t laughing anymore,” Guber recalls. “The film didn’t associate with Woody Allen’s brand of comedy. The audience had an expectation going into the theater.” Critics were divided over The Front, and the film’s box office didn’t hit the $20 million to $30 million take of Allen’s other films, considered big by ’70s standards.
Fast-forward several years, when Bill Murray followed up his role in the 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters with a dramatic turn in The Razor’s Edge, based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novel about a World War I vet who goes off the grid to India. The film was slaughtered at the box office and also by critics, such as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert, who blamed Murray for the movie’s dullness.