An insider tells me that, at the most recent and always secret Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences‘ Board Of Governors meeting, president Hawk Koch ”went around the room asking if ‘anybody is friends with Nikki Finke?’ before beginning”. Gotta say, Hawk made my day.
EXCLUSIVE: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences COO Ric Robertson is taking what’s being internally called a “sabbatical” from June through August. I have learned this is an unusual paid leave even though the Academy is complaining about a financial crunch. Normally, its staff are restricted to 30 days of unpaid leave (and then only with approval). “He has worked here for 31 years. Doesn’t he deserve it?” an insider told me. “He didn’t tell us what he’ll do. Maybe work on his golf game.” Robertson’s upcoming sabbatical has prompted AMPAS staff to wonder whether he will be pushed out and/or look for another job. In April 2011, he was passed over for Bruce Davis’ executive directorship and now reports to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson, who was brought in over him. Insiders tell me that Robertson was primarily responsible for this year’s online voting debacle, which Hudson dumped in his lap when the Academy finally decided to implement Oscar balloting electronically — something Robertson and Davis resisted for prior years. (Grumbles one insider: “Dawn gives him anything messy that she doesn’t want to deal with or anything that means a lot of real work or anything that has a potential for failure, like the electronic voting.”)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved rules for the 86th Oscars®. The most significant change affects the Animated Feature Film category.
In this category, the new rule designates a maximum of two award recipients, one of whom must have a producer credit. The director and/or key creative individual shall continue to be a recipient, and in the circumstance of a two-person team with shared and equal director credit, a third statuette may be awarded.
Previously announced rules changes for the 86th Academy Awards® include allowing members to see the nominated documentary shorts and foreign language films either at a theatrical screening or on DVD. Prior to the final round of voting, the Academy will provide members with DVDs of the nominated films in five categories: Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film, and Live Action Short Film.
Los Angeles, CA, Monday May 20, 2013 – Martin Scorsese will present Mel Brooks with the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award – America’s highest honor for a career in film. The private black tie gala will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on June 6
The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans.
Hammond On Cannes: Wet Fest’s Official Competition Finally Heats Up With Coen Brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
The first purely American entry in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival competition (opening nighter The Great Gatsby was Out of Competition), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen‘s terrific Inside Llewyn Davis had its first press screening Saturday night to strong response and big buzz on the very rainy Croisette. This tale of a talented folk singer unable to balance art and commerce, and who never quite hits the big time in the late ’50s/early ’60s emerging folk scene, is pure Coen Brothers with a winning mixture of brilliantly observed comedy and darker moments that give it an edge most reminiscent of Coen movies like Barton Fink, which won the Palme d’Or on their first try at Cannes in 1991. Joel Coen also took the Director award that year and again for The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) among the seven previous times they have been in the Cannes competition. 1994′s The Hudsucker Proxy, 1996′s Fargo, 2000′s O Brother Where Art Thou, 2004′s The Ladykillers and 2007′s No Country For Old Men represent their other numerous chances to reap a second Palme d’Or since Barton Fink but none of them did the trick.
Judging from initial reaction, at least among the press, Inside Llewyn Davis probably makes them an early front-runner for that second Palme. We say early since the film doesn’t have its official black tie premiere at the Palais until Sunday night, only the fourth day of the competition. But with its superb acting including leading man Oscar Isaac as the morose but oddly engaging Llewyn and a great supporting cast including Carey Mulligan, John Goodman (just great), Justin Timberlake, Stark Sands and a scene-stealing cat (or cats? – you’ll see) among others, plus the Coens’ knack for catching this era in all its glory, I suspect this will remain a contender for the entire week of debuts to come.
Kinky Boots and Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike are among the big winners of the 79th Annual Drama League Awards announced today in New York City. Kinky Boots took Distinguished Production of a Musical and Vania And Sonia And Masha And Spike was named Distinguished Production of a Play. Other winners include Pippin, Distinguished Revival of a Musical; and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Distinguished Revival of a Play. Nathan Lane received the Distinguished Performance Award, presented by Debra Messing. Others honored include Bernadette Peters who nabbed the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award; Madison Square Garden Entertainment and the Rockettes received the Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award and Jerry Mitchell was honored with The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing. Click over for the complete list:
Following a relatively new tradition they started a few years ago, The Weinstein Company on Friday night brought together a group of buyers, partners and press to preview its 2013 slate and meet filmmakers and stars. Although Harvey Weinstein never once mentioned the word “Oscar”, you can tell that’s definitely what he is thinking with a diverse mix of prestige projects that should give the awards-happy company lots of campaign fodder for 2013. He said after a rocky start the company has had a very good last four years and for 2012 made more than they ever did at Miramax. He also made a plea to the international audience gathered for the presentation at the Majestic Hotel for the continued independence of European filmmaking, especially in light of problems with the European Cultural Initiative. “We can’t let Europe be the same like the United States. What’s great about European movies is they are different and as long as they reflect their culture there will always be special movies like Amour, which we didn’t release last year, and so many movies like that. So keep your eye on the newspaper when this stuff comes up for votes or things we can do to influence it, I think it’s very important,” he said.
After the 40-minute reel led by the August 16th release The Butler and ending with the long-gestating Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Weinstein told me, “It’s a very eclectic, hard-hitting lineup that I am really proud of. What am I going to say? I feel very confident about this year”. Though he may not have been directly making an Oscar-season pitch (thankfully that’s still many months off even for Harvey — well, maybe not), he did make an overt plea for his official competition entries Only God Forgives and The Immigrant when introducing Cannes jury member Nicole Kidman, star of the December 27th release Grace Of Monaco. “We have a member of the jury with us tonight and she has to go for a jury meeting to hopefully decide which movie of mine wins the Palme d’Or. I have certainly given Steven (jury president Spielberg) enough money over the years,” he said to big laughs.
Listen to (and share) episode 26 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond featuring our awards columnist speaking from the Cannes Film Festival with host David Bloom. They discuss the festival’s opening days, including an exuberant Warner Bros. party worthy of Jay Gatsby; hanging out with Martin Scorsese as he seeks support for some Silence; a surprisingly candid Chinese competition entry and other films to watch for in this Fortnight.
Hammond On Cannes: Jury Takes Center Stage As Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg And Ang Lee ”Worship” Each Other
Once rivals for Oscar in February and now fellow jurors in Cannes, Ang Lee called Steven Spielberg his “hero” as Spielberg praised Lee’s Life Of Pi, which won Best Director over Lincoln. This mutual lovefest took place as the jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival was introduced to the world’s press this afternoon. Spielberg, who said he hasn’t served on any festival jury since 1974 (the beginning of his feature film career) is President and has been asked many times but said the timing was finally right. “I’ve been so consistently at work, especially in the spring months directing, that every time I’ve been approached to be on the jury I’ve been working so I suddenly found myself with an open year, and so that’s why this all came together this year. I am honored I was invited,” he said. Spielberg has been to Cannes many times before with films like E.T. and most recently, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
Asked about being on the Cannes panel with Spielberg after defeating him for the Oscar almost three months ago Lee said, “Steven and I are good friends. I worship him. I don’t know how he looks at me, but I worship him. I don’t think any result would change how I feel about him or even myself. He’s my hero.” Spielberg responding seemed at a loss for words. “I don’t know how to answer that, except to say Ang and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve never ever been competitors, we’ve always been colleagues and that will just contiinue. And certainly I worship Life Of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.”
After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz. Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.
As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).
Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.
As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.
ASIFA-Hollywood, the International Animated Film Society, announced key dates for the 41st annual Annie Awards, which are set for Saturday, February 1, 2014. Call for entries will begin September 2 for TV and film productions released in the U.S. …
BAFTA handed out its TV prizes tonight in London with Olivia Colman taking two awards, one for supporting actress for BBC miniseries Accused and the other as actress in a comedy program for Olympics sitcom Twenty Twelve, which was also named best sitcom. Colman will soon be seen by U.S. audiences in ITV’s recent hit drama Broadchurch. Ben Whishaw was best actor for Neal Street Productions co-production with NBC Universal and WNET Thirteen/BBC Two, Richard II (Hollow Crown), and top comedy actor was Steve Coogan for Sky Atlantic‘s Welcome To The Places Of My Life. The best drama series was the BBC’s Last Tango In Halifax while HBO‘s Girls was named best international show. Coming into the evening, the BBC and HBO’s Hitchcock film The Girl was among the most nominated programs, but went home empty-handed. Downton Abbey had no nominations. A full list of winners follows:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently opened up first-round Oscar voting to the entire documentary branch and abandoned the previous system of allowing a small committee to determine the short list of eligible films. This radically curtails the influence of the documentary branch governors. Interesting, because last month an accusation of political bias in the documentary branch was lodged against the Academy – specifically, in an April 16th letter from Gerald Molen who produced the controversial right-wing documentary 2016: Obama’s America (as well as the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List). Molen’s missive was sent to Academy President Hawk Koch and documentary branch governors Rob Epstein, Michael Apted, and Michael Moore who is also a member of the AMPAS Board Of Governors. Molen questions why 2016: Obama’s America was ignored for an Academy Award nomination even though it was last year’s second highest grossing political documentary (behind only Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.) Molen wrote:
“I find myself wondering if it was excluded for ‘other’ reasons…”
“I have tremendous respect for Michael Apted as a creative and talented filmmaker but putting him with Rob Epstein and Michael Moore as the gatekeepers in charge of which films get nominated in the documentary category seems patently absurd…
“While Mr. Moore is a distinguished filmmaker, he holds a strong partisan view representing what Gallup tells us is only 21 percent of the population. Even if he were able to keep his personal philosophy out of the equation, you can certainly understand why the larger American constituency (pegged at 40%) would question the exclusion of a well-made and popular film that fails to reflect his views. Even if only in perception, this assumed bias will serve (in my opinion) only to injure the Academy…
“All up and coming filmmakers deserve to be recognized for their creative sensibilities and should not be punished because the messages of their films fail to fit the dogma of what some believe is politically correct.”
Hawk replied on behalf of the Academy:
May 8, 2013 (Los Angeles, CA) - The 15th Annual Young Hollywood Awards celebrating emerging young talent will partner with The CW Network to broadcast this years Red Carpet event on Thursday, August 1 (8-10 PM). The announcement was made today by Jay Penske, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Penske Media Corporation (PMC), owner and Executive Producer of the award show [and Deadline Hollywood], and Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW. The 15th Annual Young Hollywood Awards will be held in Los Angeles, and the host and nominees will be unveiled in June.