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