In her first major TV series gig, Oscar winner Jane Fonda is joining Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama series in a recurring role. The series, set behind the scenes at a fictional cable news network, stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski and Sam Waterston. According to TVLine, which broke the news, Fonda will play Leona Lansing, the CEO of the cable news network’s parent company whose corporate concerns often conflict with the reporting of the news. Fonda knows a thing or two about heads of cable news networks — she was married to one, CNN founder Ted Turner.
UPDATED: Has Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama series, known as More As This Story Develops gotten an official title? That’s according to TV Newser, which says the show will be titled Newsroom. That indeed is the top choice for …
UPDATE: ‘The Artist’ Is NY Film Critics Circle Best Picture; Meryl Streep Best Actress For ‘Iron Lady’, Brad Pitt Best Actor
“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).
The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.
Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.”
Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.
Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.
As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.
Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
It’s official: HBO has picked up Aaron Sorkin’s hourlong cable news network pilot to series. The now untitled drama (formerly More As This Story Develops), which has been a virtual lock for a series order, centers …
EXCLUSIVE: The Chateau Marmont, which for the past 80 years has served as the backdrop of major events in Hollywood history and the lives of its famous inhabitants, will now take front stage in a miniseries from The Office star John Krasinski and Aaron Sorkin. Oscar winner Sorkin will write the mini, now in early development, which will be based on the book Life At The Marmont by former Chateau Marmont co-owner Raymond R. Sarlot and Fred Basten. Krasinski, who has been the driving force behind the project, and Sorkin will executive produce with Chateau Marmont’s current owner Andre Balazs and his daughter Alessandra. Krasinski is also expected to play a role in the as-yet-untitled miniseries, which will tell the interconnected stories of the people who frequented the famed Hollywood landmark over several generations. Since the 1930s, the building, originally built as an apartment complex in the late 1920s and then converted into a hotel, has been the epicenter of Hollywood, attracting film and television actors, literary greats and rock stars. Its guest list through the years has included Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Erol Flynn, Stan Laurel, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Tate, Hunter S. Thompson, Heath Ledger, Keanu Reeves and Lindsay Lohan. Greta Garbo attended parties there during her movie star days and later stayed at the hotel during her seclusion period, James Dean auditioned for Rebel Without a Cause there, Howard Hughes stayed in the attic and spied on women at the pool, F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack at the hotel, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis recorded and Lily Allen wrote a song there, and Sofia Coppola set and filmed Somewhere at the Chateau Marmont. And then there is the event the hotel is most closely associated with: John Belushi’s 1982 death of a drug overdose in one of the garden bungalows.
Olivia Munn and Alison Pill have now completed their negotiations for supporting roles in Aaron Sorkin’s drama pilot for HBO tentatively titled More As This Story Develops. The project …