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Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con

Mike Fleming

Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-ConPeter Jackson is coming to the end of a stay in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth that has dominated a quarter of the 53-year-old director’s life, right into middle age. The result: three Lord Of The Rings films and two installments of The Hobbit that have grossed $4.89 billion in worldwide box office.

By the time The Battle Of The Five Armies, the finale to The Hobbit trilogy, plays out, Jackson’s six films may reach $6 billion, and better the current hardware haul of 17 Oscars including Best Picture for Return Of The King, and 35 other noms. Unless James Cameron has something to say about it with his new Avatar trilogy, we may never see anything again in our lives to match Jackson’s cinematic accomplishment, all done with the same creative team.

If he’s feeling the weight of that, he wore it well at Comic-Con. Mostly, he battled jet lag after the long trip to San Diego from New Zealand, where the last film waits for him to finish. He’s tired enough when I enter his hotel room that he suggests I get in bed next to where he’s resting. Then he thinks better, unsure he can stay awake unless upright. I tell him I had the same problem the night before at a very funny live Chris Hardwick-hosted game show my son was desperate to see, only to nudge me again and again for snoring too loud. Our chat started with middle-age sleep apnea and moved to Middle Earth, how close The Beatles came to doing The Lord Of The Rings with Stanley Kubrick, and how Jackson will handle leaving Middle Earth, a place he almost didn’t get to visit at all.

JACKSON: So you almost ruined your son’s time by snoring? I once flew coach class from New Zealand to London, and my friends informed me they’d gotten a ticket for the theater at the West End stage. My friend had to elbow me because not only could they see me from the stage, they could probably hear me as well. When I worked as a newspaper photo engraver in the only job I ever had, many years ago, I’d get the train home to Pukerua Bay where I was staying with my parents. An hour ride, 16 stops and almost always I’d have automatic wake-up, seconds before we pulled into my station. Travel makes you tired more than anything, and Friday was my daughter’s 18th birthday and we celebrated here.

indexDEADLINE: One of those tiny gorgeous kids we watched grow up in glimpses during Lord Of The Rings films?
JACKSON: She was 3 when we made The Fellowship Of The Ring. Katie and Elijah Wood were talking today and they figured out she was 3 when he first met her. She’s 18. Kids, more than anything in life, chart time for us.

DEADLINE: Movies and sports do it, too. It’s easy to be cynical, but I am so charmed by these Comic-Con people and how the proceedings bring out the child versions of themselves. Total lack of cynicism. Do you get to appreciate that still?
JACKSON: There’s a certain reality to me going out now. I’d get six paces, no further, and it would be selfies, and nothing else. In the old days, people asked you to sign something, and half would be too nervous to ask. Now, there’s an aggression to it, like they want you as a trophy on their web page. It’s a social coup to nail you on their cell phone. It changed everything. I get six paces and then can’t walk another. But I went anyway, yesterday, found a way to walk all the way around the convention center.

DEADLINE: How did you manage that?
JACKSON: Oh, I got myself a secret identity. I became the Evil Jester. You can look at the photos on my Facebook page. Read More »

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Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ Teaser Tantalizes As Peter Jackson Mulls Even More Extended ‘Lord Of The Rings’

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 2:00pm PDT

Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ Teaser Tantalizes As Peter Jackson Mulls Even More Extended ‘Lord Of The Rings’There are tears ahead in Peter Jackson‘s third and final Hobbit flick, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. “There’s a lot of sadness and tragedy,” he told the Comic-Con crowd. “It’s always great when you can kill off some main characters.” The good news for Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit fans? There’s more footage Jackson might pack into a new extended version of his LOTR franchise.

“There are a few Legendary Pictures Preview And Panel - Comic-Con International 2014scenes that haven’t been seen from Lord Of The Rings, but not many. We might try to put them back in,” he said, although he said obstacles will make it difficult to get to his seven million feet of footage locked away in a WB vault. “It’s a big logistical thing which haven’t wrapped our heads around. But if there’s enough interest…”

Jackson and his Hobbit cast return this December with Battle Of The Five Armies, which sees the Hobbit films move toward more somber territory in alignment with the LOTR pics. “It’s not as comical as the first Hobbit movie and they’re progressively getting to tone of Fellowship Of The Ring,” said Jackson. He’s still in production on the pic’s CG-heavy war action sequences but brought a stirring, battle-heavy teaser that played twice for the Comic-Con crowd.
Read More »

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Box Office: ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Swings With $72.6M Weekend; ‘Boyhood’ Mans Up With Strong Per Screen

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 1:57pm PDT

Box Office: ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Swings With $72.6M Weekend; ‘Boyhood’ Mans Up With Strong Per ScreenUPDATED, Monday 1:57 PM: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, brought in, as we reported this AM a total take of $72.6M for the three-day weekend (which included $4.1M in Thursday late nights). This, after it took in $31.3M overseas so it has a worldwide total of $103M+ already and it has barely begun its international run.

The Matt Reeves-directed film had a wonderful Saturday and ended up with an A- CinemaScore so audiences loved it as much as the critics. Sunday moviegoing was off for all films, probably due to the World Cup Finals and the nice weather. Fox’s other film, How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a great hold from Saturday to Sunday but will be hit by Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue when it bows next weekend.  Apes should have at least two solid weeks of play before audiences look to Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to keep them entertained when it bows on August 1. Transformers: Age of Extinction — in its third weekend of release — crossed $200M on Saturday.

Sony opens Sex Tape next weekend in hopes of making it pop over its estimated $42M+ budget. I’ve seen it and yes, it starts out raunchy, but it is really funny and even, at times, hilarious. The guys will go to see a naked Cameron Diaz and the girls will go see tall drink of water Jason Segel, but it’s really for couples. Rob Lowe also co-stars in this film from the next generation Kasden — Jake — who directed the two in Bad Teacher.

The other movie opening next weekend is Universal’s horror film, The Purge: Anarchy. And, after seeing the one-sheet, I certainly hope they aren’t running those teaser one-sheets reminiscent of the Joker around the Cinemark Theater in Colorado where it will be in the marketplace during the two-year mark of the theater shooting. To me and others who suffered through that, it’s a hard image to look at … sort of like the geniuses who came up with The Strain one-sheets that people don’t want to see either. “Not for everyone.” Indeed. The Purge is bowing today and over the weekend in 14 overseas markets. The chart follows: Read More »

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TCA: USA Network’s ‘Dig’ Extends Hiatus To Assess Jerusalem Production Shoot

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 11:27am PDT

TCA: USA Network’s ‘Dig’ Extends Hiatus To Assess Jerusalem Production ShootA scheduled hiatus in production on USA Network‘s new series Dig has been extended a week while producers assess the situation and decide if they can continue to shoot the six-episode series in Jerusalem. ”This caught us off-guard and we are assessing,” Gideon Raff told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, of the violence in the region. The network is “looking at all options and hopefully things will calm down, and we’ll go back” to Jerusalem to shoot the remaining episodes. “If not, we’ll sort it out” he said, noting “Jerusalem is a key element in our show. We chose to shoot there because of its history.”

The action adventure drama, from Tim Kring and Raff — creator of the Israeli series on which Showtime’s Homeland is based — centers on Peter (Jason Isaacs), an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating a murder of an archaeologist, uncovers a conspiracy 2000 years in the making that threatens to change the course of history. The series is a production of Keshet Media Group for UCP in cooperation with the city of Jerusalem. Anne Heche co-stars. Read More »

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Oscar Watching: The First Sure-Fire Best Picture Nominee Has Just Arrived And It’s Only July – Let The Race Begin

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Oscar Watching: The First Sure-Fire Best Picture Nominee Has Just Arrived And It’s Only July – Let The Race BeginEmmy nominations may only have been released yesterday, and I know it’s still just July, but with the opening of Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood today I am declaring July 11th the new official start of the Oscar season (at least for this year) with a film that I predict will occupy one of those prized Best Picture slots when Academy Award nominations are announced six months from now. It’s a bold statement considering last year’s first of nine eventual Best Picture nominees, Gravity, wasn’t released until October 4th, and generally with few exceptions of late , most of the nominees still come in the Fall season (although 2009′s Best Pic winner The Hurt Locker actually debuted in late June of that year and rallied later in the game to take it all). Boyhood’s  distributor IFC Films also has not been a major player in the Best Picture races, but Boyhood producer John Sloss told me they have made a complete commitment to this film like no other.

boyhood__140507074117A top awards veteran consultant Cynthia Swartz and her Strategy P.R. have been on the movie for months, slowly positioning it for a run. Just last week IFC President Jonathan Sehring, who greenlit it and supported it for a dozen years, told our indie box office reporter Brian Brooks that the film is his favorite project of his entire professional career. “It’s not like anything I have ever been involved with and is my crowning professional achievement no matter how it performs,” he told Brooks. … Read More »

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Relativity Names Angela Courtin Chief Marketing Officer

By | Wednesday July 2, 2014 @ 11:59am PDT

Relativity Names Angela Courtin Chief Marketing OfficerAngela Courtin has joined Relativity Media in the company’s newly created Chief Marketing Office role. Courtin will lead marketing, branding, digital, and ad efforts in film, TV, and sports departments. She’ll also oversee all branding and ad campaigns across the company. The new gig starts effective July with Courtin reporting directly to Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and President Tucker Tooley as Relativity moves into a quiet back half of 2014 starting with today’s opener Earth to Echo, followed by The November Man (Aug. 27), limited release Hector and the Search for Happiness (Sep. 19), Michelle Monaghan romance The Best of Me (Oct. 17) and drama Beyond the Lights (Nov. 14).

Courtin joins the company following the May exit of Dana Precious, who spent a year as President of creative advertising and research. Precious joined Relativity in 2013 with Russell Schwartz, replacing Terry Curtin. Read More »

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‘Devious Maids’ Team Discuss Risk Taking, Spanking & Eva Longoria’s Directing

‘Devious Maids’ Team Discuss Risk Taking, Spanking & Eva Longoria’s DirectingImage (2) Awardsline-logo_use-this-one__140529211810-275x38.jpg for post 738599There is nothing more precious for a show creator in this day and age than the trust and the full creative support of a TV network.  At the Awardsline screening for Lifetime‘s Devious Maids Monday night, creator Marc Cherry revealed one kinky scene the network let him get away with. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Sacrament’, ‘The Case Against 8′, ‘Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon’, ‘Obvious Child’, More

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)The Edge Of Tomorrow and The Fault In Our Stars may reign supreme among new theatrical offerings this weekend, but a crowded pack of specialty newcomers will nip at their heels including documentaries, thrillers and more. Ti West’s The Sacrament will open, following up on 2011 feature The Innkeepers, while A24 bows its Sundance feature Obvious Child, Drafthouse Films opens Borgman and FilmBuff gets theatrical with Burt’s Buzz. Radius-TWC hopes to repeat its box office and award-winning triumph 20 Feet From Stardom with docu Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon. HBO Documentary will open its Sundance winner The Case Against 8 in theaters ahead of its small-screen debut later this month. Emerging Pictures is launching the weekend’s foreign-language newcomer Dormant Beauty and Well Go USA and MPI will bow Rigor Mortis and Willow Creek in limited runs beginning tomorrow.

The SacramentThe Sacrament
Director-writer: Ti West
Cast: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Kate Lyn Sheil, Gene Jones, Shawn Parsons, Donna Biscoe
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Filmmaker Ti West was looking to do something different from his previous feature, The Innkeepers, which opened in 2011. The thriller follows a news team in pursuit of a man as he travels to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering Eden Parish and meeting the community’s leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that things are not quite as they appear. “I wanted to something much more confronting and horrific,” said West, speaking from New Mexico where he’s working on his next project, the Western A Valley Of Violence. “I wanted to use a real event as the framework of the story and media brand.” The real event West is referring to is Jonestown, the infamous People’s Temple in Guyana headed by Jim Jones in which more than 900 people committed mass suicide in 1978. “I think it’s misunderstood. People just think about the mass [deaths] at People’s Temple,” said West. “[But] I think the circumstances are relevant today, but we’re desensitized to the violence because of the media.” West put together financing quickly and went right to location in Georgia. “I got the movie made over a treatment really,” said West. “I wrote the script with people in mind and wrote it to their strengths. At the end of the day we didn’t do much improvisation, but we were making a movie that wasn’t easy.” West said the production had a lot of “moving parts” so collaboration on the 18-day shoot was prohibitive “[Producer Eli Roth] gave me final cut and the final decision on casting,” added West. The Sacrament premiered at Venice and Toronto and is the fifth title he’s released via Magnolia. “It’s cool to have a company I get along with very well,” he said. “I get the feeling sometimes that we’re in this together which is great to have as an independent filmmaker.” The company will open Sacrament at Cinema Village in New York and The Carlton in Toronto. It will head to Charlotte, NC on June 12 with cities including LA, Portland, OR, Denver, Atlanta and Cambridge, MA opening June 13, with additional markets added throughout the month. Read More »

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Disney-ABC Sets Tyra Banks Syndicated Daily Talk Show For 2015

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 10:45am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Style: "bw222"Tyra Banks is returning to daytime with a new syndicated lifetime talk show for Disney-ABC set for a 2015 launch. The yet-to-be-named show will have the model-producer-TV personality leading a team of lifestyle experts as they tackle a range of topics – from fashion and beauty to home and entertaining to empowerment and individual enterprise – and will offer a cross-platform experience incorporating Banks’ social media reach of more than 28 million followers across all platforms. Broadcast from Los Angeles, the show will feature celebrities, popular web personalities, experts and everyday people as guests. It will be produced by Disney-ABC’s Summerdale Prods. with Banks as executive producer, and distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. “Tyra is an enormous and vibrant talent with widespread appeal and we’re eager to introduce her new lifestyle show that will incorporate her personal message of self-confidence to the syndication marketplace,” said Disney-ABC Domestic TV president Janice Marinelli. The show will be taken out to stations shortly. There are no agreements in place, but it is conceivable, given Disney-ABC’s close relationship with the ABC owned & operated stations, that they would be a leading candidate. The stations will have a vacancy this fall, following the end of another Disney-ABC syndicated daytime talk show, Katie, and most stations have not made long-term commitment for the hour, keeping it available for a new taker. Read More »

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Deadline’s Best TV Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday May 25, 2014 @ 5:14pm PDT

Catch up on the past week in TV news:

SpartacusSyfy Acquires Starz Drama ‘Spartacus’
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: Syfy has acquired U.S. basic cable rights to all 39 episodes of Starz’s Spartacus. That includes the three seasons of the swords-and-sandals drama as well as the six-part prequel Gods Of The Arena. Spartacus will make its Syfy debut June 26 and will air at 10 PM, following original series Defiance and Dominion.

Bill Hader To Create & Star In HBO Series
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to create and star in a new comedy series for the premium cable network. Hader is best known for his eight-season stint on SNL where he was one of the most popular cast members of the past decade, creating such memorable characters as NY club scene expert Stefon and Italian talk show host Vinni Vedechi and earning two Emmy nominations.

breaking-badEMMYS: AMC Launches ‘Breaking Bad’ FYC Billboard Campaign
By Dominic Patten
EXCLUSIVE: If you’re driving around LA today don’t be surprised to see Breaking Bad’s Walter White staring down at you. With a print campaign to follow next month, AMC is putting up Emmy consideration billboards in several locations around the city to remind voters that the now-completed show is still eligible to repeat its Best Drama series win last year. Read More »

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Mo’Nique & Khandi Alexander Join HBO Films’ Bessie Smith Biopic

By | Thursday May 22, 2014 @ 7:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

khandi6moniqueEXCLUSIVE: Mo’Nique (Precious) and Khandi Alexander (Scandal) will co-star opposite Queen Latifah in Bessie, HBO’s film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith (Queen Latifah). Written and directed by Dee Rees based on the life story of Smith, the project chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname Empress of the Blues. Mo’Nique will play Ma Rainey, one of the first professional blues singers billed as The Mother of the Blues. Ma Rainey (born Gertrude hbofilmsPridgett) was already well known when she met then-young Bessie. According to a popular story, which has been disputed, Rainey kidnapped Smith, making her join the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, and teaching her to sing the blues. Alexander will play Bessie’s older sister, Viola. By the time Bessie was nine, both of her parents and one brother had died, with Viola taking care of her siblings. Bessie is produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and the late Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Co., with Lili Fini Zanuck, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel serving as executive producer and Richard Zanuck also getting a posthumous exec producer credit.

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Magnolia Acquires ‘Life Partners’ Starring Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody

By | Friday May 16, 2014 @ 4:27pm PDT

magnoliaLogo (1)Magnolia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Susanna Fogel’s Life Partners, which world premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival. Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Adam Brody (Some Girl(s), The O.C.) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, American Horror Story: Coven) star in the comedy directed by Fogel and co-written by Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz. It tells the story of co-dependent best friends, straight Paige (Jacobs) and lesbian Sasha (Meester), who have spent the past 10 years acting more like wives than friends. Things take a turn when Paige meets Tim (Brody). As their relationship grows, the bond between Paige and Sasha inevitably shifts and eventually they must confront the question: Can their friendship survive growing up? Pic is produced by Red Crown Productions and Haven Entertainment.

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Cannes: Actors To Watch

Cannes2014_badgeThis is the first in my annual Cannes ‘To Watch’ series of profiles which highlight talent, executives and companies who have skin in the game, and are expected to do interesting work on the Croisette, over the next 10 days. First up are Actors from around the world and across the various sections:

SONJA RICHTER
sonja richterDenmark’s Sonja Richter first broke out at home in Open Hearts, Susanne Bier’s now classic 2002 Dogme movie that co-starred Mads Mikkelsen. She’ll be in Cannes this week with two films: Critics’ Week‘s When Animals Dream – opposite Mads’ older brother Lars Mikkelsen – and, in her first U.S. role, Tommy Lee Jones’ Competition pic The Homesman. Over the past 15 years Ricther has become quite well known at home working with such directors as Per Fly and Ole Bornedal and appearing in hit TV series The Killing. She was also in 2013’s biggest Danish movie The Keeper Of Lost Causes. But this Cannes double-whammy is new to the actress. “I’m excited and also a little nervous. I don’t know what I’m walking into,” she laughs. She’ll certainly be wearing two hats. In Jonas Alexander Arnby’s Danish werewolf pic When Animals Dream, Richter plays the openhearts protagonist’s mother, a woman who does not speak and barely moves. … Read More »

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Screen Media Springs For Jake Paltrow-Helmed Sci-Fi ‘Young Ones’

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 9:00pm PDT

young onesScreen Media Films has taken U.S. rights to Young Ones, the dystopian sci-fier from writer-director Jake Paltrow. Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee star in the film about ranchers (Shannon and Hoult) at odds in a desert wasteland where water has become the most precious commodity on the planet. Screen Media is plotting an October release for Young Ones, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and marks Paltrow’s second feature following 2007′s The Good Night. Tristan Orpen Lynch and Michael Auret produced the film, and Daniel Wagner, Robert Ogden Barnum, Marina Fuentes Arredonda, James Atherton, Peter Garde, Nathan Johnson, Tara Moross, Brian O’Shea, and Jan Pace are exec producers. Subotica, Spier Films, and Saint Shadow co-financed the film in association with BiFrost Pictures, Quickfire Films, Six Sales, and The Exchange. Screen Media’s Suzanne Blech and Seth Needle negotiated the deal with UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Fox 2014 Schedule: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ & ‘Mulaney’ Join Sunday Animated Block, ‘Glee’ Held For Midseason

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 5:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Fox Fall Schedule 2014Animation domination no more. Fox is abandoning its all-animated Sunday comedy block and reverting to a mix of live-action and animated comedies on the night, with Brooklyn Nine-Nine and newbie Mulaney joining The Simpsons and Family Guy. Meanwhile, for the first time since its launch, Glee is not on in the fall schedule for its final season. Here is Fox’s fall schedule, followed by analysis and description of the network’s new series.

FOX FALL 2014 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8-9 PM – GOTHAM
9-10 PM – Sleepy Hollow

TUESDAY
8-9 PM – UTOPIA
9-9:30 PM – New Girl
9:30-10 PM – The Mindy Project

WEDNESDAY
8-9 PM – Hell’s Kitchen
9-10 PM – RED BAND SOCIETY

THURSDAY
8-9 PM – Bones
9-10 PM – GRACEPOINT

FRIDAY
8-9 PM – Masterchef Junior
9-10 PM – UTOPIA

SATURDAY
7-10:30 PM – Fox Sports Saturday

SUNDAY
7-7:30 PM – NFL Game
7-8 PM – Bob’s Burgers
8-8:30 PM – The Simpsons
8:30-9 PM – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9-9:30 PM – Family Guy
9:30-10 PM – MULANEY Read More »

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OSCARS: Can Summer’s Awards Curse Be Reversed To Generate ANY Heat For Contenders In 2014 Race?

Pete Hammond

The Cannes Film Festival is getting underway next week and represents the Oscar_badge__140302212232first important stop of the year for what we hope will be Oscar-worthy movies. Of course most of those movies will not open until the fall when the usual glut of contenders descends on Hollywood. So far the 2014 pickings have been slim, but that is usually the case. There could be scattered nominations here and there for the likes of Noah, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie and last weekend’s art house opener Belle among the precious few movies so far in 2014 that have a chance of turning up somewhere on Oscar’s list. Mainly what we have seen so far is just preparation for the race and anticipation. The National Board of Review was the latest group to announce their dates this week and will vote early on December 2nd. The major guilds, Golden Globes and Oscars have already staked out their key dates.

normalheart5But before we get to fall (the earliest 2013 Best Picture nominee, Gravity, didn’t open until early October), we have a long hot summer to get through after the highs (and hopefully not too many lows) of Cannes are over. But Oscar pickings seem even more slim than usual from a survey of the summer months leading up to the fall festival trifecta of Venice, Telluride and Toronto. I remain hopeful, but what can you say about a season where the strongest Best Picture prospect — in terms of gravitas and quality —  is going to debut on HBO?

That pay network’s The Normal Heart from director Ryan Murphy has all the earmarks of a true Oscar player except for one thing: It’s not eligible since it’s not a theatrical release. Small detail, but I have a feeling that if HBO had decided to try for theatres first it could have figured strongly at the Academy Awards. Instead, this story set in the early days of the AIDS crisis and  penned first as a play by Larry Kramer, who wrote this adaptation, promises to sweep the Emmys in August in many categories including for actors Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Matt Bomer (the latter heartbreakingly standing out among a uniformly fine supporting actor cast). Emmy voters have already received the screener of the movie which doesn’t debut on HBO until May 25th. US-OSCARS-PRESS ROOMIt’s no wonder so many A-list actors are flocking to the small screen when a net like HBO offers a home for projects like this that have been so consistently rejected by movie distributors that it takes an iron will just to get them made. You could easily have imagined last season’s Oscar juggernaut, Dallas Buyers Club, going the same TV route as Normal Heart had its producers given up — particularly Robbie Brenner (with Rachel Winter) along with Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey persevering and virtually willing it into theatres leading to that Oscar triumph March 2nd.

Related: Hot TV Trailer: HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’

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2014-15 Fox New Series

By | Wednesday May 7, 2014 @ 12:13pm PDT

2014-15 Fox New Series
Dramas

BACKSTROM (originally piloted by CBS last season)
ORDERED STRAIGHT TO SERIES; 13 EPISODES
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox TV, Far Field Productions
TEAM: Hart Hanson (w, ep), Kevin Hooks (ep), Leif G.W. Persson, (ep), Niclas Salomonsson (ep), Mark Mylod (d, ep)
LOGLINE: From creator/executive producer Hart Hanson (BONES), BACKSTROM is a subversive and comic crime procedural about an unhealthy, offensive, irascible – albeit brilliant – detective who is brought back from exile to run the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Crimes Unit (S.C.U.). Detective Lieutenant EVERETT BACKSTROM is a man with no filter. After a five-year banishment to the traffic division for offensive behavior, he has returned from disgrace to lead Portland’s newly minted S.C.U. Tasked with navigating the city’s most sensitive and serious cases, he must solve each crime as he tries, and fails, to change his own self-destructive behavior. To no one’s surprise, Backstrom’s return is far from well-received, especially by his commanding officer, Police Chief ANNA CERVANTES (guest star Inga Cadranel, “Orphan Black”). Backstrom’s second-in-command and the person who actually supervises the day-to-day operations of the S.C.U. is Detective NICOLE GRAVELY. The ambitious and optimistic yin to Backstrom’s yang, she extends herself to the limit to counterbalance his erratic and controversial behavior. By her side is Detective Sergeant JOHN ALMOND, a tested veteran of the Bureau who doesn’t approve of Backstrom’s xenophobic antics; although he tries to find the light in people, when … Read More »

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2014-15 Fox Schedule

By | Wednesday May 7, 2014 @ 12:05pm PDT

2014-15 Fox Schedule
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8-9 PM – GOTHAM
9-10 PM – Sleepy Hollow

TUESDAY
8-9 PM – UTOPIA
9-9:30 PM – New Girl
9:30-10 PM – The Mindy Project

WEDNESDAY
8-9 PM – Hell’s Kitchen
9-10 PM – RED BAND SOCIETY

THURSDAY
8-9 PM – Bones
9-10 PM – GRACEPOINT

FRIDAY
8-9 PM – Masterchef Junior
9-10 PM – UTOPIA

SATURDAY
7-10:30 PM – Fox Sports Saturday

SUNDAY
7-7:30 PM – NFL Game
7-8 PM – Bob’s Burgers
8-8:30 PM – The Simpsons
8:30-9 PM – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9-9:30 PM – Family Guy
9:30-10 PM – MULANEY

Related: Fox New Series First Looks: Video

2014-2015 NEW SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

New Dramas – Fall

GOTHAM – Before there was Batman, there was GOTHAM. Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker? GOTHAM is an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist,” “Rome”), GOTHAM follows one cop’s rise … Read More »

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Animal Planet Renews ‘Ice Cold Gold’

By | Wednesday April 30, 2014 @ 10:09am PDT

animal-planet-logoAnimal Planet today announced it had renewed Ice Cold Gold for a third season. The Greenland-set gem-seeking series clocked about 800,000 viewers in its second season and helped the network boost its performance by 25% among 18-49 year old guys. Here’s how Animal Planet describes Ice Cold Gold:

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