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Albert Brooks Joins ‘A Most Violent Year’

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 1:29pm PST
Mike Fleming

albertEXCLUSIVE: Albert Brooks has been set to star with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year, the J.C. Chandor-directed drama that was just acquired for domestic distribution by A24 at the Sundance Film Festival. Shooting on the film is just getting underway. Co-financed by Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the drama takes place in New York in 1981, a year in which the city had one of its highest tallies of violent crime. An immigrant and his family are trying to grow their heating oil business and their ambition collides with the crime element.

Related:  Sundance: A24 Acquiring ‘A Most Violent Year’

Brooks will play Isaacs’ character’s attorney. The film is produced by Before The Door’s Neal Dodson and Washington Square Films’ Anna Gerb and Chandor, the filmmaker’s partners on All Is Lost and Margin Call. Participant’s Jeff Skoll is involved in producing capacities as well. Read More »

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Albert Brooks Lends Voice To ‘The Little Prince’

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 3:46pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Already booked to reprise in the Finding Nemo sequel, Albert Brooks has just signed on to the voice cast of The Little Prince. He joins James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Giamatti in Paramount’s animated pic. Brooks will play one of the film’s villains. Brooks, who played the heavy in Drive and most recently starred in This Is 40, has been driving Twitter traffic with a feed that made national news. He mostly uses Twitter to make humorous observations — like the recent one about the record-setting swim from Florida to Cuba: “Diana Nyad is going to be so pissed when she finds out there was a flight”– but Brooks got serious and prescient with a suggestion that the U.S. and Russia join hands to go over and take the chemical weapons out of Syria, among other things. It became the very thing those nations began discussing, and Brooks got ink on Capitol Hill for it. Brooks is repped by WME and managed by Herb Nanas.

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Albert Brooks Hooks Deal To Reprise In ‘Finding Nemo 2′

By | Tuesday February 12, 2013 @ 9:39am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Albert Brooks has closed a fat deal to reprise the voice Marlin in Finding Nemo 2 for Disney‘s Pixar. The sequel has been long in the works; Deadline told you last July that the studio got the original’s helmer Andrew Stanton back in the fold (I’d heard that the studio will also give him another live-action shot after his disastrous live-action debut on John Carter), and Ellen DeGeneres came back shortly after. It took much longer to hook Brooks, who continued his renaissance as an actor in the Judd Apatow-directed This Is 40, following his turn as bad-ass Bernie Rose in Drive.

Brooks is also working on another novel, this coming after his first, Twenty Thirty: The Real Story Of What Happened To America, became a bestseller. It’s unclear though when he will next write and direct another one of those personal comedy vehicles for himself he used to do, like The Muse and Lost In America. He’s repped by WME and manager Herb Nanas.

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Hammond: From ‘Tinker Tailor’ To Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, Oscar Talk Is Everywhere

Pete Hammond

‘Tis the season. Studios and distributors are pulling out all the stops to bring attention to their big awards contenders. The drumbeat has been so loud since Thanksgiving that it’s not uncommon to be invited to 4 or 5 sceenings, parties, events, and Q&As in a single night. I get the feeling everyone is pushing a lot harder this year than ever before because of relaxed pre-nomination Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rules and the feeling that the race is wide open. And with ballots due by Sunday for LA Film Critics, Critics Choice, and Golden Globe awards, AFI Top 10, and others, the crush was heavy this week.

Witness Focus Features’ push for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Gary Oldman and cast including Colin Firth and key crew have been in town doing one screening after another to packed Industry crowds for the likes of SAG, BAFTA, DGA guild awards. A post-premiere party Tuesday night drew swarms of Academy members while Oldman and company held court. A Sunday cocktail party attended by Oldman and director Tomas Alfredson was attended by members of the Los Angeles Film Critics, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and guild members just in time to get exposed to these potential nominees before casting their ballots.

The  Tinker Tailor contingent is pretty thrilled about their own reviews and current 86% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes plus the industry reaction. At a KCET/American Cinematheque post-screening Q&A Saturday, Oldman was presented with a career achievement Lumiere award. The actor is known … Read More »

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OSCARS: Stellar Work By Veterans May Keep Upstarts Out Of Supporting Actor Race

Pete Hammond

Although there are some young Hollywood turks trying to break through in an ‘Extremely Large and Incredibly Close’ race for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, 2011 may eventually become known as the year of the veteran. Acting legends with decades of iconic screen performances and Oscar winners dominate the field of frontrunners in one of Oscar’s most crowded and intriguing categories. With names like Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Ben Kingsley, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Albert Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hanks and Robert Forster in the mix, the pedigree of contenders for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is formidable indeed. But could a relative newcomer like Jonah Hill or Patton Oswalt swoop in and take the whole thing? Here are the major players.

FRONTRUNNERS
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, BEGINNERS

Plummer turns 82 this month and is enjoying a major resurgence in a film acting career that goes back to 1958, when he made his debut in Stage Struck. Since then his fine screen roles have often been eclipsed by his own stage-struck ways with a number of memorable performances in the theater including a couple that won him Tony Awards. He only just received his first Oscar nomination two years ago for The Last Station, but with his touching role as a 75-year-old widower who finally decides to come out of the closet, he may grab the actual statuette this time. An effective, if small, supporting role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo only adds to his chances.

MAX von SYDOW, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
With a life spent before the cameras for over 60 years, the 82-year-old von Sydow is an acting legend whose work ranges from several landmark Ingmar Bergman films to the harrowing Exorcist. Yet like Plummer (who is just eight months his junior), he incredibly has been Oscar-nominated only once, for 1987’s Pelle the Conqueror. But his touching and completely wordless performance as a distant grandfather in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close could finally be his ticket to the Kodak stage.

KENNETH BRANAGH, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Another acting icon, Laurence Olivier, is also part of this year’s supporting race — but in this case he is being channeled by none other than Olivier fan and student Kenneth Branagh, who portrays Olivier in 1956 as he was directing and starring with Marilyn Monroe in The Prince And The Showgirl. Branagh has tackled many Olivier screen roles like Henry V and Hamlet (he even directed the remake of Olivier’s Sleuth), but taking on the actual persona of the man himself was particularly challenging and puts him — and his mentor — right back in the Oscar race.

BEN KINGSLEY, HUGO
Already an Oscar winner for 1982’s Gandhi, Kingsley effectively takes on the role of film pioneer Georges Melies in Martin Scorsese’s valentine to the early days of movies. With a total of four nominations split evenly between lead and supporting categories, Kingsley is an Academy favorite who once again creates a memorable character, one with great meaning for the filmmakers who will be voting. Will being the only serious candidate in a 3D movie also separate him from the pack?

ALBERT BROOKS, DRIVE
Until now Brooks was only known for comedy — those he wrote and directed and those he starred in. He was even previously Oscar-nominated for his hilarious supporting turn in 1987’s Broadcast News. But none of his previous work prepared critics and audiences for his nasty, villainous Bernie Rose in the noirish thriller Drive. But his brilliant interpretation and cool new screen persona should deservedly win him a second Oscar nomination.

BRAD PITT, THE TREE OF LIFE
Pitt is a double threat this year. He’s already won the New York Film Critics award given for both Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, and ever since its debut in Cannes, Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner has sparked Oscar buzz for Pitt’s effectively low-key change-of-pace and critically acclaimed work as a 1950s-era father. Could he become one of those rare thesps who score both supporting and lead actor nominations in the same year? Don’t bet against it.

JONAH HILL, MONEYBALL
Pitt’s co-star in Moneyball who was best known for his antics in movies like Superbad enjoyed his first taste of awards buzz for shedding several pounds and shrewdly underplaying the whiz-kid genius who comes up with an inexpensive formula to create a winning baseball team. Going head to head with Pitt, Hill proved he could hold his own just as he did in last year’s lesser-known Cyrus.

KEVIN SPACEY,  MARGIN CALL
Although the film was well-received at its Sundance debut, Margin Call was not considered a major awards contender, even by its own distributor. That has changed with several early awards and Oscar talk for two-time winner Kevin Spacey, who has spent a lot more time in recent years running London’s Old Vic rather than on his own film career. A change-of-pace performance won raves and could put Spacey back in the front row at the Oscars.

PATTON OSWALT, YOUNG ADULT
Perhaps best known as a stand-up comedian and the voice of the lead rat in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Oswalt is quickly establishing his credentials as a serious actor, first in the critically acclaimed indie film The Big Fan and now on a larger scale as a lonely man whose life was defined by an unfortunate incident in high school. His scenes opposite Charlize Theron are awkward, funny, poignant and memorable. Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘The Artist’ Is NY Film Critics Circle Best Picture; Meryl Streep Best Actress For ‘Iron Lady’, Brad Pitt Best Actor

New York Film Critics Jump The Gun, Unveil New November Awards Voting Date

The NY Film Critics Circle has just bestowed its Best Picture award for 2011 to Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent film The Artist, putting the Weinstein Co drama squarely in the race for the Best Picture Oscar. The NYFCC announced its winners today via its Twitter feed. Hazanavicius also won Best Director from the critics group. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for the Weinsteins’ The Iron Lady, the first shot fired in what is sure to be a heated awards-season race in that category. Brad Pitt picked up the Best Actor nod for his work in Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, while Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin won Best Screenplay for Moneyball. Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life had a good day, also nabbing wins for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and for Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain, who also was noted for her work in The Help and Take Shelter. Here’s the final list:

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Foreign-Language Film: A Separation
Best Actor:
Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
Best Actress:
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Tree Of Life, The Help and Take Shelter)
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks (Drive)
Best Nonfiction Film: Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Best First Feature: Margin Call
2011 Special Award: Raoul Ruiz (posthumous)
Read More »

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Hot Red Band Trailer: ‘Drive’

Mike Fleming

Just in time for Comic-Con, FilmDistrict has unveiled a red band trailer for Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed drama that stars Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Carey Mulligan. Is it me, or does Gosling seem very much like Steve McQueen-esque in one of those 70s movies and Brooks like one of those heavies that McQueen bumped up against?

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Albert Brooks In Talks For Judd Apatow Pic

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Albert Brooks is negotiating to join the untitled comedy that Judd Apatow wrote and will direct for Universal Pictures. The film will star Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, who are reprising the roles they played in Knocked Up. I’m told that Brooks is in talks to play Rudd’s father in a film that will also feature Megan Fox. It’s an interesting pairing, Brooks and Apatow, because they are both writer/directors whose comedies have a very auteurish voice. Brooks most recently played a mobster you don’t want to cross in Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling.

Brooks also has a May publication date on 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, a novel that will be published by St. Martin’s Press. That book takes a serious look at what might happen in 20 years, when cancer has been eradicated and life expectancies have been pushed up to 110, rendering 70 the new middle age. Brooks is repped by WME and managed by Herb Nanas.

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FilmDistrict Drives To First Big AFM Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In the first major deal of the American Film Market, FilmDistrict has acquired North American distribution rights to Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver and is targeted for death after a heist goes wrong. Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks round out a strong cast. FilmDistrict was started by GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington and run by Peter Schlessel and veteran distribution exec Bob Berney. They hatched the company to generate or acquire films with strong casts that can play on between 1500 and 2000 screens. Drive certainly fits that bill. The film is about two weeks from wrapping and has a budget under $30 million despite shooting in Los Angeles. FilmDistrict will look to release in late summer or early fall, 2011. Michel Litvak’s Bold Films financed the picture with Odd Lot Entertainment ‘s Gigi Pritzker, Linda McDonough and Bill Lischak. Marc Platt is producing with Bold and Odd Lot. Several indie companies chased the film including Summit and Lionsgate, and WME Global’s Graham Taylor closed the deal. Read More »

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R.I.P. Monica Johnson

By | Tuesday November 2, 2010 @ 10:57am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Comedy screenwriter and novelist Monica Johnson died yesterday at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles after losing her battle with esophageal cancer. She was 64. Johnson, considered a pioneer for women in comedy, co-wrote with Albert Brooks some of his best films such as Real Life, Modern Romance and Lost in America. Johnson was the sister of comedy writer Jerry Belson who died of cancer in 2006. Johnson is survived by her only daughter Heidi Johnson and her 7th husband Charles Lohr. Here is a wonderful bio Johnson wrote a few weeks ago for her website that went live today.

Monica Johnson spent her early years in medical and dental assistants’ school, with solid determination to marry a dentist. (She would have gone for an MD but had no self esteem.)

Then she got a lucky break: nepotism. Her brother introduced her to the world of comedy, and she hasn’t looked back, except for occasionally when she catches her coat in the door.

She has received many nominations and awards for writing comedy, TV and movies, starting with an Emmy winning episode for Mary Tyler Moore. She then went on to write and produce Laverne and Shirley – a job she hated because producing meant having to show up somewhere on time. She was a consultant on numerous TV shows, including It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

Most of her writing has been in movies.  With her friend Albert Brooks she co-wrote Real Life, Modern Romance, Lost in America, Mother, and The Muse.  She also wrote Jekyll and Hyde Together Again with her brother Jerry Belson, and Americathon (both of which actually got made) and dozens of other films that should have but didn’t.  She has won best screenplay awards from the New York Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics, and national film critics. There is much in her writing career that she can’t recall because she has lost all her memory because of environmental toxins.

Read More »

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Albert Brooks Plays Badass Role In ‘Drive’

By | Thursday August 26, 2010 @ 4:34pm PDT
Mike Fleming

This is a seminal year for Albert Brooks. After completing an ambitious science fiction novel 2030: The Real Story of What Happens To America and setting it to be published next May by St. Martin’s Press, Brooks has signed on for his first screen turn as a truly dangerous badass.

Brooks has joined the cast of Drive, the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed adaptation of the James Sallis novel that stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston. Gosling plays a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver and gets in over his head. Brooks will play Bernie Rose, a transplanted New York mobster who comes to L.A. and is not to be messed with. Now, Brooks played on the wrong side of the law in Out of Sight, but let’s face it, he was a wimp. Had Bernie Rose been the screenwriter issued a “walk on” pass to meet Steven Spielberg in The Muse? Had Julie Hagerty gambled away Bernie Rose’s nest egg in Lost in America? Fuggedaboutit.

Brooks, who last directed 2005’s Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, will jump into the Drive role after spending the better part of two years working on his debut novel. It takes a serious look at what might be happening 20 years in the future, when cancer has been eradicated and life expectancies have been pushed up to 110, making 70 the new middle age. That creates overpopulation and a simmering resentment … Read More »

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