‘The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete’ Underway With Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Jeffrey Wright And Anthony Mackie

By | Monday July 23, 2012 @ 12:35pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete Jennifer HudsonState Street Pictures has teamed with iDeal Partners on The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete. The George Tillman Jr-directed film stars Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Jeffrey Wright, and … Read More »

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Anthony Mackie In Step With ‘Runner Runner’

By | Thursday May 17, 2012 @ 3:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mackie is in talks to join Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck in Runner Runner, the New Regency drama to be directed by Lincoln Lawyer helmer Brad Furman. Production begins next month.

The drama revolves around the world of offshore … Read More »

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Laughter, Tears, And A Group Flip Off At 2012 Sundance Awards Show

By | Saturday January 28, 2012 @ 8:52pm PST

Sundance Awards 2012: ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ And ‘The House I Live In’ Win Grand Jury Prizes, ‘The Surrogate’ Cast

Tonight’s Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony was an emotional roller coaster. The event began characteristically late with a parade of Sundance staff taking to the stage with a tiara and an apology from Festival Director John Cooper who said that actress Parker Posey wouldn’t emcee as originally scheduled because she had taken ill. “She was going to be the Sundance Queen,” Cooper said while displaying her regalia for the evening. As a last minute stand in, Black Rock director Katie Aselton took over for Posey.

Then the light mood turned dark as a large picture of indie maverick Bingham Ray who died here earlier in the week flashed on the screen. The room went silent and Cooper read from a eulogy put together by Ray’s longtime poker buddies: Magnolia Pictures chief Eamonn Bowles, Sony Classics SVP Tom Prassis, Sawyer Studios head Arnie Sawyer, and producer Ben Barenholtz. Cooper choked back tears and had to stop briefly to regain his composure. Afterward, there was quiet applause. And the show went on.

Without Posey the onstage antics were minimal. Most winners skipped acceptance speeches after Cooper advised, “Just say thank you and go on,” and Aselton added, “Really, nobody really cares…”

But then director Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwie: Never Sorry) collected her Special Jury Prize claiming she was “too nervous to say much”. She gave some quick thanks — and then asked the audience to lift a hand and give the finger en masse. She took a photo and explained, “I’ll send this to Ai Weiwei” – a gesture in support of China’s most famous visual artist who has been in and out of house arrest.
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Toronto: Anchor Bay Acquires U.S. Rights To ‘Ten Year’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Anchor Bay Films has picked up U.S. distribution rights to Ten Year, the Jamie Linden-directed drama that premiered at 2011 Toronto Film Festival. The film will be released next spring. Anchor Bay has been negotiating for this for the … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Man On A Ledge’

Mike Fleming

Summit Entertainment has released a trailer for Man on a Ledge, the drama that stars Sam Worthington as a disgraced ex-cop who climbs out on a ledge on the roof of a Manhattan hotel to protest his innocence. It’s clear from the trailer there is more going on here than … Read More »

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2011 Toronto: ‘Shame’ Will Start Dealmaking Flurry, But Buyers Wait To Be Blown Away

Mike Fleming

Last year’s Toronto Film Festival started slow for acquisitions, but finished with a flurry of modest distribution deals that served notice the specialty film business had finally pulled out of its nosedive. This year’s festival hasn’t started and … Read More »

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Nick Nolte Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros drama Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first … Read More »

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Oscar Isaac Is ‘Bourne’ Again In Robert Ludlum Thriller Spinoff

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Not long ago, newcomer Oscar Isaac tested for Tony Gilroy and the lead role in Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and made such a strong impression that the director seriously considered giving the actor the lead role that went to … Read More »

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FilmDistrict Near U.S. Distribution Deal For Ryan Gosling-Nic Refn ‘Only God Forgives’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a low-seven-figure minimum guarantee deal, FilmDistrict has acquired U.S. rights to Only God Forgives, a drama that will reteam Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn with Ryan Gosling. Several distributors were in the mix, but FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel had … Read More »

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Legendary Pictures Mounts Jackie Robinson Biopic, Dick Cook Is Exec Producer

Mike Fleming

Legendary Pictures has announced it has made a deal to collaborate with the estate of Jackie Robinson and his widow Rachel on a feature biopic about the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman who broke Major League Baseball’s color line. Brian Helgeland will write the script and direct the film. Legendary chairman Thomas Tull will produce and Jon Jashni will be exec producer. Notably, Dick Cook, who has been quiet since leaving as Walt Disney Studios chairman, will be an exec producer on the film, which will be made under Legendary’s overall deal at Warner Bros. Cook is on the Legendary board and he and Tull have become close. They are also big baseball fans, which led to Cook involving himself in the picture.

Hollywood has long been interested in bringing Robinson’s story to the screen. Spike Lee once tried to direct a version with Denzel Washington in the lead role. And Robert Redford has for years tried to tackle the story from the vantage point of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed Robinson and put him on the team. Redford has long wanted to play the role of Rickey. The project was stalled for years, though it recently got ink that it was resuscitated, mainly on the basis of Redford saying he still wanted to play the role, though there was no indication of who would fund it. Read More »

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Anthony Mackie And Dominic Cooper Staking Out ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Fox is negotiating with The Devil’s Double star Dominic Cooper to play Abe Lincoln’s mentor Henry, the mysterious ageless guy who teaches Abe to kill bloodsuckers. The studio had been in talks with Joaquin Phoenix for … Read More »

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Why Jimi Hendrix Movie Won’t Get Made

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A promising package for a feature film on guitar god Jimi Hendrix looks dead — confirmed as recently as of today. Even though it had financing from Legendary Pictures, and a directing commitment from Oscar-nominated Paul Greengrass, and The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie poised to star. The pic wen belly up earlier this year because Experience Hendrix, gatekeeper for the dead musician’s music rights, refused to authorize the film out of fear it could hurt the music catalog.

Legendary Pictures and its chief Thomas Tull certainly aren’t the first to be interested in filming the story of Hendrix, who died in 1970 at age 27 and recorded just four albums. But is still considered the greatest rocker to ever plug in an electric guitar. Among the actors who reportedly wanted to play Hendrix at one time or another are Outkast’s Andre 3000, Eddie Murphy, and Will Smith. But each approach was rejected by the Hendrix estate, which is currently controlled by Janie Hendrix, the adopted daughter of Hendrix’s late father. Tull went ahead anyway in 2009 and paid Max Borenstein to write a script. There was reason to be optimistic: aside from co-financing films like Batman and Watchmen, Tull had the street cred of having financed the documentary It Might Get Loud, with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge, and Jack White. Tull and producer Bill Gerber figured they’d bring a package to the Hendrix estate. The script landed The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 helmer Greengrass, and they approached Mackie to play Hendrix.

Unfortunately, the estate rejected the package earlier this year. A statement from Experience Hendrix president/CEO Janie Hendrix to me today is as follows: ”Legendary proceeded without our permission, direction or involvement. It didn’t ‘fall apart,’ it never was. When we do the Jimi Hendrix feature film bio, we will be involved and in control from the beginning.” But producer Bill Gerber counters: “To say we proceeded without permission isn’t fair. Thomas Tull couldn’t have been more generous and eager to collaborate with the estate. He was ready go finance their version of Jimi’s story, he got a script that made The Black List and brought Paul Greengrass to the party. It boggles the mind.”

Legendary Pictures wouldn’t comment, but I’ve heard the filmmakers were told that the estate feared the movie could potentially hurt sales of the Hendrix backlist, which is what supposedly happened after Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors. (A spokesman for the estate denies this was the reason they rejected the film). The Hendrix movie could have been made anyway; while the estate controls such seminal Hendrix tunes as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady, and Voodoo Child, it doesn’t control songs written by others which Hendrix performed. That includes The Star Spangled Banner (which Hendrix played so memorably at Woodstock – see video); Wild Thing (Jimi set his guitar aflame when he sang the tune in the 1967 docu Monterey Pop), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and All Along the Watchtower. Read More »

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Elizabeth Banks Joins ‘Man On A Ledge’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Banks will play the female lead in Man On A Ledge, the Asger Leth-directed Summit Entertainment drama that stars Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell and Anthony Mackie. Banks will play an NYPD crisis negotiator who tries to talk a suicidal detective (Worthington) off a ledge. She has a past relationship with the ex-cop, who was framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Script was written by Pablo Fenjves, with Darkest Hour‘s Chris Gorak doing a rewrite and Red‘s Erich and Jon Hoeber doing a final polish. Read More »

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Paramount And Tom Cruise Test Actors For ‘Mission: Impossible 4′s Young Lead

Mike Fleming

This week, Paramount Pictures and director Brad Bird will begin testing actors to star alongside Tom … Read More »

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Dan Pritzker Strikes Up Orchestra For Silent Film ‘Louis,’ And Today Wraps ‘Bolden!,’ A Film He Began Shooting In 2007

By | Wednesday July 28, 2010 @ 8:48am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Dan Pritzker, son of Hyatt Hotels magnate Jay Pritzker and a fixture on the Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans, might not seem that different from all the high net worth individuals who’ve turned the film industry into their … Read More »

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