Specialty distributor Drafthouse Films opened shop in 2010 and scored a surprise Oscar nomination with its third release, the Belgian Best Foreign Pic contender Bullhead. Now Drafthouse is back in the awards game with Joshua Oppenheimer’s startling Indonesian genocide documentary The Act Of Killing, a provocative pic backed by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris that has already racked up dozens of awards and made the Oscar documentary shortlist in a notably competitive year for nonfiction. Oppenheimer’s film profiles the celebrated death squad leaders responsible for mass murders in 1960s Indonesia as they flamboyantly re-stage their crimes for the camera in Hollywood-style re-enactments — and, in one killer’s case, start to grasp the severity of their actions. The film’s brutal themes required such a careful touch that Drafthouse’s considered awards approach began the moment they won a hard-fought bidding war for the film. But how do you market a film with protagonists like these and win over traditional-minded Academy voters with such a non-traditional message?
OSCARS: Drafthouse Films Embracing Risks – And Hoping For Change – With Genocide Documentary ‘The Act Of Killing’
Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden has joined the cast of Universal and Focus Features’ erotic adaptation of EL James‘s Fifty Shades Of Grey. She’ll play Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey, the adoptive physician mama of emotionally damaged billionaire Christian Grey and his siblings Mia and Elliot. Dr. Grace Grey is the pediatrician who cares for 4-year-old Christian when his birth mother (or “the crack whore,” as Fifty Shades readers may know her) dies. She’s also the one who inadvertently introduces Christian to his cougar lover Elena from whom he learns his BDSM ways. Harden recently wrapped Woody Allen‘s Magic in the Moonlight and stars on HBO’s The Newsroom and ABC’s Trophy Wife. Jamie Dornan has been set to play Christian opposite Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in the pic directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, which will now hit theaters February 13, 2015.
2013 Gotham Awards: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Short Term 12,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club’; Lee Daniels Talks Racism: “I Became Very Angry At White People”
The Coen brothers‘ Inside Llewyn Davis won Best Feature tonight at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards but lost some of the spotlight to presenter Lee Daniels, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks. Kicking off awards season in NYC, the trophy show propelled the CBS period folk music drama and Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and docu The Act of Killing toward the Oscars. The raucous audience at Cipriani Wall Street chattered so loudly during Daniels’ tribute speech his The Butler star Forest Whitaker that he tried to shush them with a few f-bombs. “Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the f*ck up,” admonished Daniels. He wasn’t the only presenter to complain onstage about the Gothams crowd, as Julie Delpy threatened to set herself on fire to get their attention while presenting another tribute, to Before Midnight helmer Richard Linklater.
Big wins went to Fruitvale Station, which nabbed Best Breakthrough Director and Actor for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. Dallas Buyers Club star and Oscar hopeful Matthew McConaughey won the Gothams’ inaugural Best Actor award and accepted via iPhone through co-star Jared Leto with his signature “All right, all right, all right.” Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress honors, boosting the SXSW winner’s awards profile. Presenting Best Documentary, Morgan Spurlock took a shot at public television (“PBS: We pay more money than IFC”) before presenting the Gotham to Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar hopeful The Act of Killing.
Host Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) struggled with the ambivalent room early on with a roast of the indie scene: “To the people from L.A. or abroad, I hope you’re enjoying your tiny hotel room you had to pay for out of pocket because Magnolia or IFC wouldn’t pony up.” Riffing on the night’s nominees, he quipped, “A common theme in this year’s movies are the horrors we inflict upon one another – slavery, war, folk music… .” Unfortunately for Kroll, he was upstaged by New York Mayor Bloomberg. “Independent filmmakers and New York have a lot in common… We both want Harvey Weinstein to be nice to us.” Boosting local filmmaking versus runaway production to neighboring Canada while presenting the tribute to his Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Bloomberg joked, “For the record: the mayor of Toronto and the mayor of New York do not have a lot in common.”
DragonCon’s Ed Kramer Pleads Guilty To Child Molestation Charges; DA Predicts “We’ll Have Him In Prison Eventually”
Back in February Deadline went behind the boycott of popular Atlanta sci-fi convention DragonCon, whose co-founder Ed Kramer avoided trial on child molestation charges for over a decade while receiving income from the annual fan fest. This morning in Gwinnett County, GA, the embattled Kramer pleaded guilty to three counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 34 months under house arrest — instead of the 20-year term recommended by the Gwinnett County DA’s office. It’s the latest apparent break for Kramer, whose health complaints led to numerous delays in a 13-year series of evasive legal motions believed to have been financed by his reported $150K per year (in 2011) shareholder cash flow from DragonCon. But as Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter explained to Deadline today, “We wanted a resolution of the case and the victims wanted a resolution of the case and they agreed to the recommendations.” Under the court’s nine-condition agreement, if the 52-year-old Kramer violates even a single term he could land back in prison for up to 60 years. Those include failing to pay each victim a $100K restitution, violating his house arrest, or coming in contact with any person under the age of 16. “I believe he’ll violate his probation and we’ll have him in prison eventually,” said Porter, who has been on the Kramer case since 2005. “I think he’ll most likely try and figure out a way to come in contact with children, and that’s where I’ll get him.”
Roseanne Barr Slams NBC, Anderson Cooper & Hollywood In Twitter Rant: “I’m Never Going To Work In Television Again”
Roseanne Barr might not be heading back to primetime after all, according to the comedienne’s own Thanksgiving weekend Twitter rant. Earlier this year NBC set Barr to develop and star in a new sitcom co-written with Nurse Jackie showrunner Linda Wallem, but in a series of Tweets over the holiday Barr made her discontent with that project known. “I’m never going to work in television again. I’m never going to even attempt it,” she Tweeted. Without naming Wallem specifically, Barr wrote of a female showrunner who disappeared on her for seven weeks and turned in a script she didn’t like:
“[The] development process went like this: show runner disappeared for 7 weeks-never returned any calls from me-I was told she ‘goes in2 a cave’. I was also told that this was ‘her process’-and that the result would be fantastic. I asked why I had been removed totally from the process. They had less than no interest in including me in the development of a show that was built on ‘my brand’. It was horrible, but I kept on bc i kept on bc I had 2 C it thru-out of a bizarre interest in the insane outcome. The script didn’t resonate with me-I tried 2 b kind about it There were hardly any jokes in the script, and I didn’t connect with the characters at all. My family told me 2 quit-I kept on trying.”
4TH UPDATE 10:20 PM: The Santa Clarita office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department just issued an update on the fatal car accident involving actor Paul Walker, declaring that “speed was a factor in the solo vehicle collision” and listing the car involved as a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. According to sources, the man behind the wheel was Roger Rodas, a friend of Walker’s and owner of Always Evolving, a Valencia-based performance shop for high-end vehicles, who listed Porsche Carrera GT as one of his top 3 favorite cars of all time on the company’s web site. The two, who shared a love for cars, are believed to have gone for a ride at the end of the charity event for Reach Out Worldwide, which both Walker and Always Evolving supported.
3RD UPDATE: The shocking death of 40-year old actor Paul Walker has begun to overwhelm a holiday weekend in Hollywood, and studios that worked with the easygoing star are reaching out with statements. Walker recently wrapped Brick Mansions, the remake of the parkour-heavy French action film Banlieue 13 that Relativity will release next November 27. He grew close with Relativity president Tucker Tooley, who said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Paul Walker. Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend. Our hearts go out to his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Others who worked with the model-handsome star said that he loved surfing, loved his daughter Meadow, and that he was an animal lover. Despite his financial success from the Fast & The Furious franchise, Walker lived a relatively modest and simple life and did not get caught up in the trappings of being a movie star. He was a likeable young man who was devoted to his family. His full name was Paul Walker IV, and his father, grandfather and great grandfather all bore the same name.
Universal Pictures, where Walker made the Fast & Furious movies he was best known for, hasn’t yet disclosed how this tragedy will impact the movie that is now in production. Of Walker, the studio said in a statement: “All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”
2ND UPDATE: Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was riding as passenger at the end of a charity event for Reach Out Worldwide at the time of his death, according to an update to his Paul Walker‘s official Twitter and Facebook page: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW”
— Paul Walker (@RealPaulWalker) December 1, 2013
PREVIOUS 6:58 PM: Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker has died, his rep team has confirmed. He was 40. TMZ first reported Walker was one of two passengers killed in a car crash in Santa Clarita County, California. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff department has confirmed to Deadline that a fatal collision occurred Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM on Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia where two victims inside a vehicle engulfed in flames were pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the collision is under investigation.
A group of 150 current and recent writers, producers, and associate producers working at reality TV producer Sharp Entertainment filed today for an National Labor Relations Board election to join the Writers Guild of America East. They seek to establish basic standards including health care, minimum rates, overtime compensation, grievance procedures, and fair credits. The union-seekers are staffers at Sharp’s Pawn Stars, Doomsday Preppers, Fatal Encounters and other programs. Sharp’s hit nonfiction shows include Property Wars and Man Vs. Food. “We’ve come to see union representation and collective bargaining, both at Sharp Entertainment and throughout the industry, as our best chance at building sustainable careers. [A] strong majority of producers and APs working at Sharp Entertainment have now signed union cards designating the WGAE as our collective bargaining agent,” organizers wrote in an open letter.
‘Anchorman 2′ PR Blitz Rolls On: Ron Burgundy Lands Gig With Canada’s TSN, Ponders ‘Doctor Who’: Video
Paramount‘s marketing team must be working overtime brainstorming PR stunts for their Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; now they’ve landed Ron Burgundy (AKA Will Ferrell) a gig on Canada’s The Sports Network. “Legendary broadcaster Ron Burgundy will join the network’s team of broadcasters beginning in December,” TSN announced Friday, with details of Burgundy’s new post to be revealed live during Sunday’s Grey Cup. Paramount’s got just under a month to pack in the promo gags before Anchorman 2‘s December 20 bow. Earlier this week Burgundy stopped by Conan to riff on Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s recent headline-making news. Today Paramount released a brief Burgundy video to capitalize on this weekend’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary mania:
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures International Production, a division of Universal Pictures International, has acquired the feature pitch Isle of Immortality from newcomer Adam Chanzit. The China-set action adventure in the vein of National Treasure will be …
EXCLUSIVE: Beverly Hills-based Ringleader Studios (The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes) has acquired rights to adapt Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel The Space Vampires for television. The intergalactic sci-fi tale previously got the feature film treatment in Tobe Hooper’s …
Giancarlo Esposito To Direct & Star In Slavery Drama ‘Patriotic Treason’; Ed Harris To Play Abolitionist John Brown
EXCLUSIVE: Revolution‘s Giancarlo Esposito has lined up historical drama Patriotic Treason as his next directing project, with Oscar-nominated Ed Harris set to star as radical abolitionist John Brown. Adapted by Oscar nominee Jose Rivera (Motorcycle Diaries, On The Road) from Evan Carton’s 2006 book Patriotic Treason: John Brown And The Soul of America, the film centers on the controversial figure known for his 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry. Brown hoped the attack would ignite a slave uprising. Instead it left 11 dead and led to Brown’s capture, after which he was found guilty of treason and hanged. Political enemies considered Brown a madman and a terrorist but the notoriety of his violent attacks are credited with sparking the Civil War. The Emmy-nominated Esposito will also star in Patriotic Treason as Frederick Douglass, the freed slave-turned-abolitionist and orator who declined to join Brown’s Harper’s Ferry attack.
The spectacle of Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits atop two speeding Volvo semis has gotten over 33M YouTube views in a week. Here’s Channing Tatum going for a little viral Van Dammage on the set of 22 Jump Street with a nice bit of free promo for Sony’s 2014 sequel (and its craft service carts):
And here’s the JCVD original: