Catch up with the best of this week’s film stories on Deadline:
The Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers
By Dominic Patten - In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me…
AFM: Schlock Still Rocks In Santa Monica
By Dominic Patten – Allow me to butcher a Mark Twain quote and say that rumors of schlock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated…
Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Partner Jack Giarraputo Plots Retirement
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: This week, Jack Giarraputo has been telling associates at studios like Sony and Paramount that he will retire after he finishes producing the Warner Bros. comedy Blended, and after that the Chris Columbus-directed Pixels for Sony.
Facts Be Damned! How Traffic Trumped Factual Reporting On Tom Cruise-Mark Wahlberg Non-Story
By Mike Fleming Jr. – The digital age has made entertainment industry coverage more exciting, but the race to post and the hunger for eyeballs leads to increasingly shameful reporting of innuendo and flat-out falsehoods. Read More »
A visibly pensive Mark Wahlberg threw his hat into the Best Actor race Tuesday night at AFI Fest, where the star of Peter Berg’s intense military drama Lone Survivor took the stage reluctant to go through the usual actorly rigamarole. Wahlberg plays Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the only member of SEAL Team 10 to make it home from the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission in Afghanistan in which 19 soldiers died. “For us to talk about what we went through up on that mountain is just so fake and so false considering what these guys did and what they went through,” he told moderator/AFI Fest Director Jacqueline Lyanga after the film’s TLC Chinese Theatre premiere where he, Berg, and Luttrell sat for an emotional Q&A. “Seeing the movie again tonight reminded me of what Marcus went through. Having a family and having a wife that I love more than anything, and having four kids I’d do anything to protect — or in my case, provide for — it hit me, the fact that those guys will never see their families again. For actors to sit there and say, ‘Oh, I went to SEAL training’ … I don’t give a fuck what you did. You don’t do what these guys do. For somebody to sit there and say my job is as difficult as somebody in the military – how fucking dare you?”
A more cynical Oscar-watcher might read Wahlberg’s declaration as self-serious awards-season posturing. But the AFI Fest audience — including servicemen, Luttrell’s own team members, family, and friends mixed in with the usual industry crowd — applauded the sentiment. Luttrell’s Texas charm and dashes of levity certainly helped raise the mood. He shared his initial apprehension at any filmmaker Hollywoodizing his 2007 bestseller Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 and recalled how he and Berg first met on the set of the director’s Hancock. Read More »
Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes). Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).
At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy), both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception). As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time. Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). Read More »
The 2013 AFI Fest opening night at Hollywood’s famed, newly IMAX’d Chinese Theatre was as AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said “practically perfect in every way” — thanks in no small part to nabbing the North American premiere of Disney’s surefire Oscar contender Saving Mr. Banks. It was a no-brainer on AFI and Disney’s part to launch this holiday release (it opens domestically December 13) which chronicles the turbulent relationship of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers during the the making of that 1964 musical classic which had its premiere at the very same theatre a half century ago. Director John Lee Hancock noted that in his opening remarks: “My life just keeps folding around. Just like in Mary Poppins it seems what happened has happened before. Fifty years ago there was a premiere here for Mary Poppins. About a year ago we were here filming the re-creation of that premiere, and now here we are again so it all just feels right,” he said. By the way, Poppins itself returns to the Chinese when AFI Fest hosts a red-carpet screening Saturday with stars Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Oscar-winning composer Richard Sherman attending.
Related: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ World Premieres In London – Can It Be Heading For Oscar Night?
Disney chair Alan Horn was taking congrats for the film he actually inherited when he came to the studio, and production president Sean Bailey was also singled out for praise in making this happen. Of course stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were there, but both skipped the Hollywood Roosevelt after-party where Sherman was the main attraction. I told Horn this is a word-of-mouth movie if ever there was one and should be a big hit for the studio. How it fares in the Oscar race will be interesting considering the last three Best Picture winners — Argo, The Artist and The King’s Speech — all seem to be films that make audiences feel good about themselves with the former two having a special Hollywood connection just like this one. Banks seems to fit the same bill that Oscar voters have been responding to recently, effortlessly blending laughs, tears, comedy, drama and emotion. This was my second viewing in three weeks (I saw it at a small screening shortly before it had its world premiere at the London Film Festival) and it holds up. Hanks and Thompson are slam-dunk nominees here and the film has many possibilities — but it is facing weightier fare in frontrunners 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips (another film with Hanks, which could make him a double nominee this year). Read More »
The AFI Fest has rounded out its list of Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings with an impressive list of awards contenders that will include one more big get: Universal’s world premiere November 12th of the gritty and gripping Afghanistan war film Lone Survivor directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Walhberg in the true story. The film gets a qualifying run in December before going wide January 10th. Getting the prime Friday night slot that was originally announced for the world premiere of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher before that film was pushed later into 2014, is the Los Angeles premiere of The Weinstein Company’s anticipated August: Osage County, which had a raucous World Premiere screening at the Toronto Film Festival. Finally, the 1987 Best Picture winner, Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, gets unveiled as another Centerpiece Gala in its new 3D version (do we really need that, Bernardo? I liked it the way it was). Additionally refugees from other fall fests — including Spike Jonze’s Her, Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, Jordorowsky’s Dune, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Past, Philomena and the Donald Rumsfeld docu from Errol Morris, The Unknown Known – will be presented as Special Screenings. The AFI Fest takes place mainly at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and runs Nov 7-14 when it closes with Inside Llewyn Davis. Opening night should be special: Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks with its North American premiere in the same theatre where the subject of the film, Mary Poppins, debuted in 1964 and is featured prominently at the end of the movie. Here’s the official release about this morning’s additions: Read More »
Related: OSCARS: ‘Foxcatcher’ Latest Film To Drop Out Of Race
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, September 30, 2013 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today additional red carpet Centerpiece Galas at AFI FEST presented by Audi, including the World Premiere of Scott Cooper’s OUT OF THE FURNACE; Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, accompanied by a Tribute to Bruce Dern; and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, directed by and starring Ben Stiller and produced by AFI Conservatory alumnus Stuart Cornfeld, recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal at the AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony held last June. All galas will be presented in the historic TCL Theatre.
As previously announced, the North American Premiere of SAVING MR. BANKS (DIR John Lee Hancock) is the Opening Night Gala and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (DIR Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) is the Closing Night Gala. The Guest Artistic Director is Agnès Varda. The previously announced FOXCATCHER Premiere is no longer part of the AFI FEST program, due to the shift of the film’s release date to 2014.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: We are just about done with the jockeying that places Oscar-bait films in prime slots at prestige festivals. Here’s one to keep an eye on: I’m hearing that the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis will be the AFI Fest‘s Closing Night Gala on Thursday, November 14. The movie, which stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake, won the Grand Prix when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. The film was also just set for a slot at the New York Film Festival before CBS Films releases it starting December 6. It follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. I saw it at Cannes and like the best Coen Brothers efforts, it is funny and moving in the most unexpected places and is a real breakout vehicle for Isaac as the folk singer hoping he’s good enough to be a leading voice in a burgeoning musical movement. The music is rich, and it’s the fourth collaboration that Coens have had with Oscar-winning music producer T Bone Burnett.
Related: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Folk Concert Set
Here’s the most recent trailer: Read More »
“It has all been leading up to this night,” AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt pre-screening reception for the AFI Fest closing film, the official World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. It was actually first presented in “unfinished” form at the New York Film Festival, a fact that didn’t bother Gazzale. “We ask the studios ‘how can we help you with your movie? We were thrilled to get it as our closing’,” he said and felt this was a very big deal. It made nice bookends for the festival that opened with Hitchcock and now was closing with Lincoln.
It was indeed a big deal with virtually the entire principal cast turning out. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner and most of the key crew were there. DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, Participant’s Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll and Disney’s Bob Iger also attended, along with many others.
Spielberg was excited to see the long gestating project finally premiere at the Chinese Theatre. The film, which details Lincoln’s battle with Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is ironically relevant to today’s fractured Congressional fights and the director thinks the post-election timing is perfect, especially with looming debates about several hot button issues. “I didn’t want to see this released in front of the election or see it politicized”, Spielberg told me. “I think now it can almost be a kind of cleansing for the country”. Read More »
The festival is doing a surprise screening of Sony/MGM’s James Bond pic Skyfall tonight at 9:15 PM PT at Grauman’s Chinese. The press screening for the film was last night, and the movie’s been around (it already is out in … Read More »
AFI Fest 2012 continued Sunday with the World Premiere of DreamWorks Animation’s holiday biggie and Oscar hopeful, Rise Of The Guardians, and if the buzz generated by this screening is any indication DWA should have a hit on … Read More »
“Good Evening,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said as he welcomed guests to AFI Fest 2012 with the famous salutation of Alfred Hitchcock. And it did indeed turn out to be a very good evening for both AFI and their opening-night film, Hitchcock. The last of the major fall film festivals, AFI Fest can boast just like other recent fests (Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York) that it has put another major Oscar contender into play in the ever-increasing list of potential nominees.
With the world premiere of Hitchcock at the Chinese theatre Fox Searchlight has a solid contender in several acting categories along with some below-the-line contests and, depending how things pan out, even Best Picture. Time will tell on that: It’s never easy for showbiz stories to make the Best Picture cut because industry voters don’t always take movies about their own as seriously as loftier subjects, but on the heels of last year’s Best Pic, The Artist maybe that’s changing. And what Hitchcock really is at its core is a remarkable love story. ”Just wait until you see this one,” a smiling and confident 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos told me as he grabbed some popcorn before the film rolled. He had reason to be happy. Read More »
A total of 136 films have made the cut for AFI Fest 2012, which opens November 1 with Hitchcock and closes November 8 with Lincoln. Here are the World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight and Shorts sections unveiled today:
Related: AFI Fest 2012 Sets Galas Lineup Read More »
The American Film Institute’s annual festival announced its Centerpiece Galas today, with Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, Walter Salles’ On The Road, DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians and Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone starring Marion Cotillard landing the prime spots. AFI Fest‘s Special Screenings lineup includes Silver Linings Playbook and Amy Berg’s West Of Memphis. They join the already announced opening-night film Hitchcock and the closing film Lincoln at the festival, which runs November 1-8 in Hollywood and just tapped Bernardo Bertolucci as guest director. The full lineup comes Monday. Here’s the official list of films from the festival:
Related: Mel Brooks To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award Read More »
This makes for a pretty solid awards-season bookend for AFI Fest, which last week announced that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be the closing-night film. The world premiere for Hitchcock comes ahead of the film’s November 23 wide release. The festival runs November 1-8, and the event’s full … Read More »
Organizers the American Film Institute announced today that AFI Fest 2012 Presented By Audi is set for November 1-8 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres at the Hollywood & Highland Center, the Egyptian Theatre of … Read More »
With last night’s conclusion of the annual AFI Fest in Hollywood, the curtain finally fell on the 2011 fall film festival season. So the question remains, has an Oscar frontrunner emerged after two months on this circuit? AFI previously was held in the spring but smartly repositioned itself to November several years ago. The significant side benefit of that is the fest has a shot at having an impact on awards season — not to mention AFI gets the pick of the litter in terms of prolific contenders. That strategy has worked again this year: the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar was the opening-night film and the closing-night selection was Steven Spielberg’s CGI animation contender The Adventures of Tintin, which made its North American premiere last night at AFI. Neither of these directors is necessarily known for putting his films widely on the fest circuit, but you can’t deny that hitting the fests can be a good strategy.
The last four Best Picture winners — No Country For Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech — were all major festival players, finding their footing on the circuit then sailing smoothly into Oscar’s heart. This year, likely best pic possibilities that began at one fest or another include The Artist, Moneyball, The Descendants, The Ides Of March, Midnight In Paris and now J. Edgar. But there is an even larger number than usual of those skipping the circuit and trying other strategies to get the Academy’s attention. That list includes The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, Young Adult, The Help, The Iron Lady and In The Land Of Blood And Honey.
Stuck somewhere in the middle is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which tried to catch the wave at the New York Film Festival by showcasing a “work in progress.” The results of the gambit ultimately were mixed opinions toward the film — at least in that form. Then, when the film was completed, Paramount skipped the opportunity to show it at AFI and decided to go in another direction (at the same time the fest was going on across town) by unveiling it almost simultaneously to L.A.-based critics, bloggers and members of the Academy. Reaction was upbeat and the film, which opens November 23, is now being talked about as a Best Picture contender, something that didn’t happen after its New York screening. Read More »