Stuart Vaughan, a theater director who shared Joseph Papp’s passion for Shakespeare and staged several of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural productions with such stars (and future stars) as Al Pacino, Colleen Dewhurst, Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Sheen, died of cancer June 10 at home in High Bridge, NJ, the New York Times reported today. He was 88.
His partnership with Papp went back to the Shakespeare Festival’s first productions at an outdoor amphitheater on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 1956 Papp hired him to stage Julius Caesar and The Taming Of The Shrew. The latter production resulted in Dewhurst’s celebrated performances as Katherine (a role Papp originally promised to his wife). The next year, when the festival moved to a temporary stage in Central Park, Vaughan directed Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Romeo And Juliet and Macbeth. These were all long before Papp built the Delacorte Theatre to present Free Shakespeare In The Park (1962) and the festival’s permanent complex, the Public Theater, in the old Astor Library in the East Village (1967). Read More »
The UK’s revived Icon Film Distribution is adding to its release slate with four pick-ups from Cannes. IFD acquired JC Chandor’s A Most Violent Year with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain; Equals by Drake Doremus with Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart; The Legend Of Barney Thompson starring Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone and Emma Thompson; and It Follows, the horror pic from David Robert Mitchell that ran in Critics’ Week. IFD is showing itself a savvy buyer and recently released animated feature Postman Pat: The Movie which has grossed over $4M in its first 10 days. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Barry Levinson, a card-carrying member of the WGA for 40 years, has resigned over what he termed “reprehensible” treatment he was given in an arbitration of screen credit for the adaptation of the Philip Roth novel The Humbling. Levinson, who hoped to share credit with Buck Henry and Michal Zebede, said he didn’t quit because things didn’t go his way. He did it to protest the dismissive treatment he received after he read three opinions by the anonymous writers who acted as arbitrators. One that denied him credit had completely mixed up facts in the written decision, citing passages that didn’t make the shooting script, and even some that only appeared in Roth’s novel. When Levinson asked the WGA to request that the arbitrator be asked to reconsider the decision and get it right, or else be replaced, the WGA dismissed Levinson’s request. That is why he quit.
Millennium Films has acquired worldwide rights to the Barry Levinson-helmed The Humbling, based on the Philip Roth novel. Al Pacino, Diane Wiest and Greta Gerwig star in the story of an an aging actor who has an affair with a lesbian woman half his age at a secluded country house in Connecticut. The relationship takes unusual turns as people from their past surface and chaos ensues. Cast also includes Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgewick, Dan Hedaya, Nina Arianda, and Billy Porter. Pic is currently in post‐production and will be available for U.S. distribution when it is finished. The Humbling continues the collaboration of Levinson and Pacino, who also produce alongside Jason Sosnoff at Levinson’s Baltimore Pictures. Kristina Dubin and Ged Dickersin are exec producing. Co‐producers are Gisella Marengo, Monika Bacardi and Andrea Iervolino.
EXCLUSIVE: Al Pacino has returned to ICM Partners, rejoining the agency almost exactly a year after he left to join CAA. Pacino’s exit came right after the agency restructured and longtime head Jeff Berg left to start the agency Resolution. Berg had been part of the team that repped Pacino, along with John Burnham and Adam Schweitzer. They signed the iconic actor after his agent Rick Nicita left to join Morgan Creek, prompting Pacino to end a 22-year run at CAA. ICM Partners has settled down under its new structure and Burnham and Schweitzer have gotten Pacino back. Nicita is his manager. Pacino is involved in many of the same projects, including a date to play the late Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in the Edward R. Pressman-produced Brian DePalma-directed Happy Valley, a film about how Paterno’s rep as college’s winningest coach was tarnished by a scandal in which his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of and eventually convicted of child molestation perpetrated under the noses of athletic department heads that included Paterno. Pacino also stars as a decadent rocker in the Dan Fogelman-directed Imagine, and plays the title character in the David Gordon Green-directed Manglehorn.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Get ready for the Michael Douglas awards parade. First up: The Primetime Emmys. To be sure, he’s the overwhelming favorite for this year’s movie/miniseries lead actor for his universally acclaimed performance as Liberace in Behind The Candelabra. He was so good that it overshadowed even the work of a superstar like Matt Damon in the same film (where he played the pianist’s young lover Scott Thorson). Al Pacino also is nominated for his portrayal of convicted murderer Phil Spector in the biopic of the same name, along with Benedict Cumberbatch for the mini Parade’s End and Toby Jones for the Alfred Hitchcock drama The Girl. Notably, all five nominees are honored for HBO projects. On the actress side, Jessica Lange is up for lead (instead of last year’s supporting) in FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum, which puts her in the unusual position of having the opportunity to win Emmys in back-to-back years for the same series in different categories. However, Lange’s foes for movie/mini lead actress have a combined 25 nominations and 7 wins to their credit. Two of them are chasing their first victories: Elisabeth Moss for Sundance Channel’s Top Of The Lake and Sigourney Weaverfor the since-canceled USA Network mini Political Animals. Then there’s Laura Linney, also switching categories for Showtime’s The Big C: Hereafter; and Helen Mirren as lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden in Phil Spector.Read More »
Deadline’s Mike Fleming revealed May 1 that Worldview Entertainment would finance and produce David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn with an offer going out to Al Pacino for the lead role. Pacino has now signed to play A.J. Manglehorn, an aging, ordinary guy in a small town who’s more than meets the eye. Here’s the official release on the title that’s likely to be a hot seller in Cannes:
May 14, 2013 (Cannes)—Academy Award winner Al Pacino has signed on to star in David Gordon Green’s drama, “Manglehorn,” financed and produced by Worldview Entertainment. Pacino will play the lead character of A.J. Manglehorn from a screenplay written by Paul Logan, based on an original story by Green and Logan. This is Worldview’s second collaboration with Green and his production team, following the drama, “Joe,” starring Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage. Worldview CEO, Christopher Woodrow, and COO, Molly Conners, will produce alongside Lisa Muskat and Green. Worldview’s Maria Cestone, Sarah Johnson Redlich and Hoyt David Morgan will executive produce alongside Todd Labrowski, Brad Coolidge and Melissa Coolidge for Dreambridge Films, which is making an investment in the film. Jody Hill and Danny McBride will executive produce for Rough House.
“Manglehorn” is the story of an eccentric man who tries to come to terms with a past crime that cost him the love of his life. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in the early fall in Los Angeles. London-based WestEnd Films will handle international sales and introduce the film to foreign buyers this week in Cannes while CAA, who arranged financing for the film, is repping domestic rights.
EXCLUSIVE: Well, that didn’t take long. Benjamin Bratt has stepped in to voice the villain Eduardo in Despicable Me 2. He replaces Al Pacino, who exited the project over creative differences with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. He’s getting to work right away on a film that Universal is counting on for a major summer release that begins July 3. Despicable Me 2 is the fourth film from Illumination Entertainment and the sequel to its 2010 hit Despicable Me, one of Universal’s most profitable films ever, with north of $540 million worldwide on a $69 million budget. The sequel is directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, and scripted by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, with Illumination founder Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy producing. Bratt, whose credits include Snitch, La Mission, The Woodsman and Traffic, is repped by WME, Circle of Confusion and attorney Robert Myman.
EXCLUSIVE: Here is a shocker. Al Pacino and Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have parted company on Despicable Me 2. Pacino had long ago signed to provide the voice of the film’s villain, Eduardo, in the follow-up to the 2010 hit. The surprise here is timing: the film has a July 3 release date, and this occurred on the first weekend of summer film releases. Pacino had done a lot of the voice work, but ultimately his last-minute exit came down to creative difference. The studio and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination are in the process of landing someone to take over and I’m told there is time to get all this done and not imperil the film’s release date. Animation makes that much easier; no re-shoots.
The studio confirmed Pacino’s exit, and gave me this statement: “Over the production of Despicable Me 2, there were creative differences between us and Al Pacino, who had been cast as the voice of Eduardo in the film. We have mutually decided with Al to replace the voice of Eduardo with a new actor. Universal and Illumination thank Al for his many contributions to the process and look forward to a new actor bringing this memorable character to the screen upon its release this summer.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Worldview Entertainment has committed to finance and produce Manglehorn, which David Gordon Green will direct from a script he wrote with Paul Logan. I hear they are going out to Al Pacino for the lead role of A.J. Manglehorn, an aging, ordinary guy in a small town who nurses his sick cat, squeezes out a conversation with the local bank teller every Friday, and eats at the same place every day. But there is more to Manglehorn than meets the eye: he’s an ex-con who, 40 years ago, gave up the woman of his dreams for a big “job”. He now obsesses daily over the choices he made. After a dramatic effort to start over, Manglehorn faces a terrifying moment and is unmasked as a guy with a very, very dark past.
This figures to be a hot sales title at Cannes, and in a pitch to potential buyers, Green describes Manglehorn “as the story of a guy who gave up the love of his life for a life of crime and now he regrets it as the world crumbles in front of him. His profession as a locksmith is symbolic of a guy who’s trying to find the key to put his life back together. It’s a love story, the choices you make in your youth and the situations you set up for yourself: you end up sitting alone at the dinner table talking to a cat! I do think there is a beautiful humor in this.” Read More »
HBO‘s Phil Spector has its first full trailer (replete with some pretty fabulous wigs). Al Pacino plays the music producer who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson. Helen Mirren is defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden who represented Spector during his first trial. David Mamet wrote and directed the biopic that centers on the relationship beween Spector and Baden. Barry Levinson exec produced and HBO will air the movie on March 24 at 9 PM.
Endemol Taps Former FremantleMedia Exec To Oversee Asian Operation In the latest in a string of executive appointments, Big Brother producer Endemol has named Fotini Paraskakis managing director of its Asian operations to oversee creative, production and format sales activities across the region. The exec joins from FremantleMedia Asia where she was director of content for all of the company’s formats in the region including Idols, Got Talent and X Factor. As Endemol looks to expand in Asia, its recent projects there include a first series of Fear Factor and a second season of The Money Drop for Astro in Malaysia; a third season of Your Face Sounds Familiar on Hunan Satellite TV in China and the return of Deal Or No Deal and the launch of The Money Drop in the Philippines. Read More »
It intrigues me that Christopher Walken’s latest film — which just signed for North American release by Steelyard Pictures — is titled The Power Of Few. I’ve never heard of this distributor, and maybe the film is a cinematic treat, but I’m reasonably certain this movie will come and go with little fanfare. The title is memorable because it summarizes perfectly how I wish iconic actors like Walken would run their careers. I was thinking about this over the weekend, when I again watched Django Unchained and observed how the whole movie changed from the moment that Samuel L. Jackson first came into view as the awful plantation slave patriarch Stephen. I find it one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen in the last five years, a villain to rival any Spaghetti Western antagonist ever, and am amazed how Jackson disappeared into a fully fleshed character as completely as Daniel Day-Lewis did with Lincoln and Joaquin Phoenix did in The Master, and Denzel Washington did in Flight. All three of those guys got nominated for Oscars, and Sam did not, even though it’s his best performance since Pulp Fiction. It’s easy to say it came down to Christoph Waltz’s Best Supporting Actor nomination (Leo DiCaprio was also snubbed), but I think a factor is that Jackson works so often that Oscar voters discount his great performances because it’s just one of the seven films he did in that calender year. Contrast that to Day-Lewis. When he works, you know it’s a special event, there is high anticipation and he either wins or gets nominated almost each and every time out.
To me, Walken is in the same class as Jackson, and so is Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, and so would Sean Connery and Gene Hackman if anybody could coax those guys out of retirement. Kevin Costner is knocking on the door as well.
De Niro got an Oscar nom for Silver Linings Playbook, and it seemed to work in reverse; it seemed to help that this was the first movie in a long time where the material wasn’t beneath his vast talent, and that he proved he still had it.
As for Walken, I was at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Martin McDonagh-directed Seven Psychopaths last fall, and observed something rare. Gifted with dialogue from In Bruges‘ McDonagh, Walken had people cheering to just about every line he delivered, in his singular style. I wish guys like him would save themselves for just the really good stuff (like De Niro and Pacino in Heat and De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook), instead of leaving a trail of cinematic turds along the way. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: For my part, Martin Scorsese can’t make enough movies. But he’s trying. Scorsese, who is completing The Wolf Of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio, just held a reading of Steve Zaillian’s script at the Tribeca Film Center for The Irishman, the mob drama based on the Charles Brandt book I Heard You Paint Houses. The film is about mob hit man Frank Sheeran. Robert De Niro, who’ll play the lead character, was there, as was Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, also expected to take part. Project is set up at Paramount, but several financiers were there looking to invest.
I’m told by Scorsese’s camp that this is something Scorsese likes to do to make sure the picture is making proper progress. But they assure me he’s not making The Irishman next. Scorsese’s holding fast to his dream of making Silence the next film he directs. Scorsese, who almost had the Shusaku Endo book project together several times, is auditioning actors and is looking to start production on the film in mid-2014. Given De Niro’s resurgence in Silver Linings Playbook, how can we wait that long to see the actor get back in business with Scorsese?
EXCLUSIVE: The Scarface team of director Brian De Palma and Al Pacino are re-teaming for Happy Valley, the working title of a film that will tell the story of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Paterno’s legend was undone by revelations he and others in the football program were aware that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting children, and did little to stop it, supposedly fearing bad publicity for the powerhouse gridiron program they presided over. Wall Street producer Edward R. Pressman has optioned the bestselling book Paterno by Joe Posnanski. Dave McKenna (American History X and Blow) is making a deal to write the script. The Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation is backing the project.
Pacino became attached to play Paterno when a package including the book was shopped by ICM last fall. Pressman will produce with Pacino’s manager, Rick Nicita, who was part of that original package. They are keeping a somewhat low profile on the focus of the film for now. “Happy Valley reunites the Scarface and Carlito’s Way team of De Palma & Pacino for the third time and I can’t think of a better duo to tell this story of a complex, intensely righteous man who was brought down by his own tragic flaw,” said Pressman in confirming the deal to Deadline.
Paterno’s fall from grace was Shakespearean and when he died shortly after his firing, many felt it was from a broken heart as much as cancer. He was in the twilight of a coaching career that left him the winningest coach in college football history, an iconic and beloved campus figure. Until his former defensive coordinator Sandusky was revealed to be a prolific pedophile, something that Paterno had been told about. While he informed an administrator, they did not call police, even after a graduate assistant and future assistant coach witnessed Sandusky in an encounter that looked like an act of sodomy with a child in the locker room showers. Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Phil Spector is, in a sense, being retried in the court of artistic expression in the HBO biopic Phil Spector that debuts this spring featuring the typically impressive HBO pedigree: Al Pacino in the title role as Spector and Helen Mirren as his co-star. Oh, and David Mamet as writer-director. At the afternoon TCA panel promoting the film, defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, who defended Spector in his first trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and served as a consultant on the film, remains unconvinced that her client did in fact commit the crime. “It was not proven,” she believes, “and to some degree that’s what this movie explores. What does reasonable doubt mean in a jury trial? Mamet, too, remains unconvinced of Spector’s guilt. “All I knew when we started the project is that he was a freak who killed some girl,” he said. But by the time he finished watching a documentary about Spector, Mamet admits he had changed his tune, to the point where he was almost equally convinced that Spector was extremely bright, misunderstood — and quite possibly not guilty. But his marching orders were “don’t indict the victim,” so he worked to make sure that was the case. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Iconic actor Al Pacino has rejoined CAA. Pacino, who’d been repped at that agency for around 22 years by Rick Nicita, leaves ICM Partners. It would be difficult to bash that agency for the job it did with Pacino, who is in the middle of a precedent-setting salary run starring on Broadway in Glengarry Glen Ross. That now-famous deal paid $125,000 per week to Pacino at the start of its run, against 10% of gross; a deal extension has pushed that up to a potential 36% of gross that positions him to earn as much as $250,000 per week at the end of his run, a remarkable figure for a straight play. The agency also packaged the Phil Spector HBO pic that David Mamet wrote and directed, and which HBO broadcasts March 15 with Helen Mirren also starring. They also attached Pacino to play Penn State coach Joe Paterno in a movie about his rise and fall from grace, a film that is still taking form.
Now, Pacino’s rep team at ICM Partners was fractured recently with the exit of Jeff Berg, the former longtime head of that agency who was very involved in Pacino’s career. Pacino also rejoined Nicita after he left Morgan Creek and became a manager. So it’s a homecoming at CAA for the two of them.
The official opening of the Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross has been pushed from November 11 to December 8, following canceled rehearsals as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Playbill reports. The review release date for the Al Pacino-starring production of David Mamet’s Pulitzer-winning play is December 10, although the show has been in previews since October 19. Bloomberg notes that in the week ending October 28, Glengarry was “by far Broadway’s top-selling play,” grossing $1.1M. Lead producer Jeffrey Richards told Bloomberg rehearsals were “truncated” when some of the actors couldn’t make it to the theater in the wake of the superstorm. He also said the show isn’t ready to be “frozen” (the point at which no more changes will be made). Producers are extending the limited run through January 20 and have added additional performances. Bloomberg recently reported that Al Pacino is receiving a minimum of $125,000 a week and also is entitled to 5% of profits for the run of the drama. Read More »