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OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

By | Saturday February 9, 2013 @ 7:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

With a best actor Oscar nomination for his very first film, the comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and a second one for the drama The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter just two years later, Alan Arkin got off on the right foot early in his career. It would be 38 years later before he got a third nomination, and it turned out the third time was the charm when he won best supporting actor for Little Miss Sunshine. But don’t think the long wait to get to Oscar’s stage mattered much to Arkin. He has a tough time dealing with the whole idea of competition between actors and is happy just letting his work speak for itself. This versatile actor, who is now 78 years old, is still going strong all these years after getting his start as a founding member of The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago. Memorable performances in films as varied as Catch-22, Wait Until Dark, The In-Laws, Glengarry Glen Ross, Edward Scissorhands, and so many others have marked a long career that seemed to win a second life after the Oscar. His fourth nomination is for Argo, in which he plays the ultimate insider Hollywood producer, Lester Siegel, who is called upon to use his expertise in a very different and important way. In typical … Read More »

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Oscar Buzz Increases As Ben Affleck, George Clooney Celebrate ‘Argo’s’ Hollywood Premiere

By | Friday October 5, 2012 @ 10:27am PDT
Pete Hammond

After extremely successful film festival launches in Telluride and Toronto, Warner Bros. thriller and big Oscar hopeful, Argo (10/12), finally hit Hollywood last night with a West Coast premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. And a big postparty bash at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool drew not only the cast and key creatives from the film but also the real people behind the 1979-set Iran hostage drama. They included Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who came up with a novel plan to rescue six American hostages stuck in the Canadian embassy in Tehran by creating a fake Hollywood movie for which they posed as members of the production team. Ben Affleck directs and stars as Mendez in the film which he also produced with Grant Heslov and George Clooney (who initially optioned the material and was originally planning to direct and star himself before he got busy on other projects and Affleck came aboard).

I talked to numerous Academy and HFPA members who were invited and reaction, in a word, was ecstatic. As he was leaving the party, Affleck, getting lots of praise from the crowd, said the reaction made him happy. It should. Warners was smart to specifically invite a big contingent of awards voters and bloggers for the launch. It’s a strategy Harvey Weinstein perfected with his premieres and it makes a statement, ‘we … Read More »

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Lionsgate Skeds ‘Stand Up Guys’ With Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin

By | Tuesday September 4, 2012 @ 11:51pm PDT

Christopher Walken Alan Arkin Al Pacino Stand Up Guys Movie
Lionsgate‘s new partner Summit Entertainment has had box office success with this genre of older actors movies aimed at older audiences (like Red). Now the studio has dated its assembly of three Academy Award winners for the action dramedy Stand Up Guys which will open on January 11, 2013 in moderate release after an awards-qualifying run in December. Fisher Stevens is directing Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in Noah Haidle’s script about retired gangsters who reunite for one epic night. Lakeshore Entainment will produce with Tom Rosenberg, Sidney Kimmel, Jim Tauber, and Gary Lucchesi.

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Ben Affleck’s Latest ‘Argo’ Debuts Big As Major Oscar Contender: TELLURIDE

Pete Hammond

The 39th Annual Telluride Film Festival officially gets underway tonight. But the fest provided a “sneak preview” of its highest profile movie: director/star Ben Affleck‘s pulse-pounding true life thriller, Argo, which made its world debut this afternoon for patron and sponsor passholders and selected press. Although not announced as an official part of the Telluride lineup, it was strongly tipped to come here and Affleck introduced today’s screening: “You are the first paying people to see the film. I know you didn’t literally pay, but in my heart you did. This is actually one of the few film festivals that really is about seeing movies instead of just walking around and talking about them.” Judging from the reaction during the end credits as well as talk on the streets afterward, Warner Bros and Affleck not only have a hit but a slam-dunk major Oscar contender in several categories. At last February’s Oscars Governors Ball, this film was still in post. But a top Warners exec predicted to me that it could be the studio’s best shot at top Oscar attention in 2012. Looks like that bold prediction was right.

Jump-starting the long 6-month awards season, which officially begins with the Venice/Telluride/Toronto film festivals, this supremely well-crafted studio film is the kind that Academy members (and there were several on hand for this screening) eat up. “It’s got my vote as one of the 10,” a voter told me after the screening. It also shows the movie industry in a favorable light, which should further impress Oscar voters. So, unless I am crazy, expect nominations for picture (producers are Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov), director for Affleck, screenplay For Chris Terrio, and supporting actor for Alan Arkin and possibly Bryan Cranston. Affleck also could figure in the crowded actor contest. Other possibilities are editing, score (Alexandre Desplat), and Rodrigo Prieto’s stirring cinematography.

Related: Hot Trailer: Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’

Telluride has a recent tradition of debuting at least one solid Best Picture contender. Recent winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Artist all started their awards season right here in the Rockies. And Argo has already laid claim to one of those spots if reaction holds. Next stop is Toronto a week from today Read More »

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Dimension Films Acquires ‘Wild Oats’

By | Monday April 9, 2012 @ 2:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

New York, NY, April 9, 2012 – Dimension Films continues its acquisitions streak with the pick up of the road-trip comedy WILD OATS featuring a talented cast including Academy Award® winner Shirley MacLaine, Academy Award® nominee Jacki Weaver and Academy Award® winner Alan Arkin . The film is directed by Howard Deutch who helmed the classics PRETTY IN PINK and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, and recently worked at HBO directing shows such as BIG LOVE and HUNG. Claudia Myers and Gary Kanew penned the script which has been described as a spunky comedy that is a cross between SIDEWAYS and THELMA AND LOUISE.

WILD OATS tells the story of a retired widow (Shirley MacLaine) who hits the jackpot when she receives a Social Security check mistakenly made out for $900,000 instead of $900. She and her best friend (Jacki Weaver) then take off for Las Vegas, only to become media sensations and fugitives from justice.

“Howard Deutch has directed some great classics and the cast is extraordinary,” said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company. “This is a clever and offbeat comedy that is sure to entertain.”

“I consider it a great opportunity and honor to work with this amazing cast, which has created some of the greatest work in recent memory,” said Deutch.

The film is produced by Blythe Frank, Agathe David-Weill and Alexander Tabrizi, with Michael Mailer and Mike Dolan executive producing.

The deal was negotiated for Dimension Films by Andrew Kramer, President, Business and Legal Affairs; and by Jack Gilardi of

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Toronto: Shirley MacLaine Set, Alan Arkin And Vera Farmiga Talking ‘The Locals’

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 8:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Shirley MacLaine is set to star and Alan Arkin and Vera Farmiga are negotiating to star in the Sue Kramer-directed indie feature The Locals. The film puts a contemporary spin on the Romeo and Juliet tale by injecting a Jewish/Italian twist. Kramer wrote the script. eOne Entertainment is selling foreign territories, and production starts in the Bronx later this fall.

“These two cultures have so much in common,” Kramer said. “Love of gab, love of food, they talk with their hands, and they feed you with guilt.”

The film will be produced by Grow Pictures’ Jill Footlick, Curious Pictures’ Marina Grasic and Kramer through her Bella Films banner. Curious is co-financing with private-equity partners and UAS. John Hadity will be exec producer alongside Movie Package Company’s Shaun Redick and Ray Mansfield. Kramer is repped by WME and Brillstein, MacLaine and Arkin by ICM, and Farmiga by CAA.

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Ben Affleck’s Next Directorial Effort Tells Tale Of Iran Hostage Rescue Mission

By | Saturday September 3, 2011 @ 4:40pm PDT

Ben AffleckWarner Bros has revealed details about Ben Affleck’s next feature directing effort. Argo, which has just begun principal photography, sheds light on the real-life covert operation to rescue a group of Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Six of the 52 Americans taken hostage during Iran’s revolution managed to flee and find refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. The risky mission to rescue them before militants discovered their whereabouts was carried out by CIA exfiltration specialist Tony Mendez, and was not made public for decades. Affleck is portraying Mendez in the thriller, which also stars Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman. Scribe Chris Terrio, who is on board to pen another Affleck directorial project, the Harlan Coben adaptation Tell No One, wrote the screenplay based on a selection from Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise.

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TOLDJA! ATO Pictures Acquires ‘Thin Ice’

By | Tuesday July 19, 2011 @ 10:10am PDT
Mike Fleming

Back in March, Deadline broke the story that ATO Pictures was near a deal to acquire US rights to The Convincer, the Karen Sprecher-directed dark comedy that made its debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The distributor has changed the title to Thin Ice, but has just confirmed the deal. Here’s the official announcement:

New York, NY (July 19, 2011) – ATO (Art Takes Over) Pictures announced today that it has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to THIN ICE (formerly titled THE CONVINCER) starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, Lea Thompson, David Harbour and Bob Balaban.

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Sundance Film ‘The Convincer’ Nears ATO Distribution Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The impressive volume of distribution deals for 2011 Sundance Film Festival fare is about to expand again. I’m told that ATO Pictures is wrapping up a deal for US rights to The Convincer, the Karen Sprecher-directed dark comedy that stars Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup. It’s Fargo-style caper-gone-awry tale in which a conniving insurance salesman (Kinnear) thinks he has found a way to fortify his bank account and get his wife back. He sets out to scam a retired farmer (Arkin) out of a rare violin worth $25,000. A lot goes wrong and blood and dead bodies ensue. Produced by Werc Werk Works, the film was scripted by the director and her sister Jill, who also did Clockwatchers together. CAA is repping the film.  ATO, which was hatched by Johnathan Dorfman, Temple Fennell and musician Dave Matthews, distributed George Hickenlooper’s final film Casino Jack and recently acquired The Woman in the Fifth.

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