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Oscar Watching: The First Sure-Fire Best Picture Nominee Has Just Arrived And It’s Only July – Let The Race Begin

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Oscar Watching: The First Sure-Fire Best Picture Nominee Has Just Arrived And It’s Only July – Let The Race BeginEmmy nominations may only have been released yesterday, and I know it’s still just July, but with the opening of Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood today I am declaring July 11th the new official start of the Oscar season (at least for this year) with a film that I predict will occupy one of those prized Best Picture slots when Academy Award nominations are announced six months from now. It’s a bold statement considering last year’s first of nine eventual Best Picture nominees, Gravity, wasn’t released until October 4th, and generally with few exceptions of late , most of the nominees still come in the Fall season (although 2009′s Best Pic winner The Hurt Locker actually debuted in late June of that year and rallied later in the game to take it all). Boyhood’s  distributor IFC Films also has not been a major player in the Best Picture races, but Boyhood producer John Sloss told me they have made a complete commitment to this film like no other.

boyhood__140507074117A top awards veteran consultant Cynthia Swartz and her Strategy P.R. have been on the movie for months, slowly positioning it for a run. Just last week IFC President Jonathan Sehring, who greenlit it and supported it for a dozen years, told our indie box office reporter Brian Brooks that the film is his favorite project of his entire professional career. “It’s not like anything I have ever been involved with and is my crowning professional achievement no matter how it performs,” he told Brooks. … Read More »

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EMMYS: Producer Don Mischer’s Show Nightmare – And Why The Golden Globes Can Thank ‘SNL’ For Its Emmy Love

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 1:59pm PDT
Pete Hammond

EMMYS: Producer Don Mischer’s Show Nightmare – And Why The Golden Globes Can Thank ‘SNL’ For Its Emmy LoveAfter this morning’s announcement of the Emmy nominations, Don Mischer, the veteran (and much awarded himself) executive producer of this year’s 66th annual Emmy Awards jokingly suggested to me that maybe there should be an awards show that only honors other award shows! God help us. We almost have that now. At the Emmys, the only awards show not eligible to win one of the golden winged statuettes is Emmy herself.

And what’s significant awards-show wise in this year’s lineup is how far the Golden Globes, of all shows, have come into industry respectability. Not only did it grab an Outstanding Special Class Seth-Meyers-bowed-Andy-Samberg-while-presenting-his-Golden-GlobeProgram nomination against the Tonys and the Oscars this morning, but it also landed a nod for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special. It will compete there again with the Tonys there but – OUCH – not perennial writing nominee Academy Awards; Ellen DeGeneres and her crew of writers who so memorably sent out for pizza and took selfies this year were snubbed this time out.

Of course the Globes have really smartened up in the writing department in the past couple of years with strong SNL influence and participation from hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as well as Seth Meyers among other members of the Lorne Michaels wolf pack.  Meyers may not have been nominated for his own newoscars-producers-blog630-jpg_043502 NBC late-night talk show, but this year’s Emmy host has a chance to win one  for his Globes writing gig, and that category WILL be presented this year on the primetime broadcast. Still in sheer numbers of nominations today, The Oscars lead the Tonys 8-7, with the Globes grabbing the aforementioned two. Impressively, Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who will be returning for a third consecutive stint on next year’s show, are competing directly against themselves in the Special Class category with their NBC musical special The Sound Of Music Live! And they also nabbed a nomination for their Lifetime miniseries, Bonnie And Clyde. Big day for that busy pair, who got Emmy love for all of their TV projects last season, even if critical reaction was mixed. Who’s laughing now? Read More »

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EMMYS: Online Voting Raises Turnout, Possibly Altering Race – And What Do Matthew McConaughey And George C. Scott Have In Common?

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 8:22am PDT
Pete Hammond

EMMYS: Online Voting Raises Turnout, Possibly Altering Race – And What Do Matthew McConaughey And George C. Scott Have In Common?History has a chance to repeat itself at the Emmy Awards on August 25th if Matthew McConaughey wins Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He would become the first – and only other male — to pull off an Oscar win and Emmy win in the same year since George C. Scott did it 43 years ago in 1971. Scott, who famously didn’t attend either ceremony, won the Best Actor Oscar for Patton on April 15th of that year and then less than a month later on May 9th pulled off the Emmy for Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for the “The Price” episode of ITV Saturday Night Theatre. Of course, McConaughey won the Oscar in March for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club. Both also won Golden Globes in their respective years too.

66th Primetime Emmy Awards NominationsAs everyone knows, Scott actually refused the Oscar and called the ceremony a “meat parade.” Goldie Hawn announced him as the winner by saying “Oh my God, it’s George C. Scott!” As I recall, when presenter Suzanne Pleshette opened the Emmy envelope that year she parodied that moment by saying, “Oh my God, it’s George C. Scott!” It should be noted that, unlike his unwanted Academy Award,  Scott never turned down the Emmy. He just didn’t show up for it and it was accepted instead on his behalf by Jack Cassidy.

This promises to be one of the most exciting categories at the Emmys this year, with the list of nominees announced this morning not producing a ton of surprises but offering a rich group of nominees featuring the TRIED (Downton Abbey, Mad Men, etc)the TRUE (Detective) along with the NEW (Orange Is The New Black, Silicon Valley, etc)The most astounding thing to me was to see Netflix really break through big-time with 31 nominations and within shouting distance of the traditional three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) and ahead of Fox. Read More »

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Oscars: Controversy Erupts Over New Documentary Branch Rules – Are Smaller, More Serious Films Being Pushed Out Of Race?

Pete Hammond

Oscars: Controversy Erupts Over New Documentary Branch Rules – Are Smaller, More Serious Films Being Pushed Out Of Race?The June 27th announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding new and tweaked rules for the 87th Academy Awards seemed pretty much by-the-numbers at the time, but in the days since has engendered controversy over a new requirement in the Documentary Feature category that now requires even stiffer regulations for a film’s seven-day qualifying run. Instead of the previous requirement of two shows a day without specifying times, the new rule calls for a minimum of four shows per day at theatres in LA and NY with screenings beginning between noon-10 PM including at least one “prime” show beginning between 6-10 PM. Sources at the Academy tell me this is an effort to get the films seen by the public in a theatrical setting.

“The main reason was to get those documentaries to be seen by paying audiences,” an Academy executive told me. “As you know a lot of those (qualifying runs ) movies are basically four-walled at 11 AM and nobody sees them in a theatre. So by allowing  four showings daily for a week it allows so much greater access for the consumer and the public to see these movies.” I am told the docu branch leadership was passionate about the change because “it really allows the movie fan to see documentaries with so much more opportunity.” It also reinforces the idea that these Oscar-qualifying films are indeed theatrical experiences, something the Academy has always been rightfully concerned about emphasizing in their annual competition. Read More »

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R.I.P. Kate Mantilini:Beverly Hills Haven For Oscar Voters And So Many Others

By | Saturday June 14, 2014 @ 4:47pm PDT
Pete Hammond

AN APPRECIATION: It not only was perhaps the most consistently popular and cool restaurant in Beverly Hills, Kate Mantilini which is located at mantilinithe corner of Wilshire Blvd and Doheny and just two blocks from the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, has in recent years become a key part of Oscar campaigning.  Sadly, due to a dispute over higher rent with a greedy landlord more interested in lining their pockets than in pleasing Hollywood,  Kate’s is closing its doors tonight after 27 years in the key BH location. The other Kate’s located in Woodland Hills remains open, but frankly it isn’t the same. This one was special.

6106528389_87d11b7f81The restaurant, founded in 1987 and owned by the Lewis family (Marilyn and Harry who also founded the famed Hamburger Hamlet chain and sons David, and Adam who has been running it since 2010) which is open late unlike just about every other place of its type in the area, became a real watering hole  for many Hollywood types like Mel Brooks  who has written his own obit for the place, and so many others.  It was almost impossible to go in there and not run into someone you know. It was really a hopping place, both at lunch , dinner and late night.  And it not only has been host to numerous premiere parties (including several for Matt Weiner and Mad Men, a Marilyn … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Focus Features’ ‘The Boxtrolls’ Aims To Join DWA’s ‘Dragon’ As Early Animated Oscar Bet (Video)

Pete Hammond

It looks like the 2014 Oscar race for Best Animated Feature is already heating up. Boxtrolls First Official TrailerDreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 opens today and could be No. 1 for the weekend. At any rate, it is getting such superlative reviews  (especially for a sequel) that it is already looking like a front-runner for that Oscar that was denied to the original in 2010, when it had to compete against the Disney/Pixar juggernaut Toy Story 3, which also benefited from a Best Picture nomination.  That movie of course was a second sequel and it obviously wasn’t hurt by the label. how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailerDWA has already started its campaign with mailings to various awards groups of the hardcover coffee table book The Art Of  How To Train Your Dragon 2 (I have already gotten two copies including one yesterday that came in a black leather backpack that looked suspiciously like Toothless, the star Dragon of the title).

With a sterling 92% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes, Dragon 2 is definitely in play and many pundits are already predicting it to win, even though it’s only June and there’s more to come including the latest from Focus Features, The Boxtrolls. Focus started its campaign for their animated film even earlier by sending select media a big toy box container with special slots for the various characters in the film starting with Eggs and Fish and the promise of two more shipments. Yesterday, a second shipment arrived containing Winnie and Shoe. Yes folks, the campaign has started in earnest. Here’s the first full trailer:

Laika, the Portland, OR-based animation studio behind Boxtrolls, received Oscar nominations for its first two animated features ParaNorman and Coraline, and now are hoping the third time is the charm with The Boxtrolls, which opens September 26 as the company’s third stop-motion release with Focus Features. Read More »

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Radius-TWC Promises “Surprising” Launch Against ‘Transformers’ For LA Film Fest Opener ‘Snowpiercer’

Pete Hammond
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Snowpiercers And Jersey Boys And Everything In Between

The Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off its 20th edition with the arty action pic from Bong Joon-ho. Deadline's Pete Hammond and Dominic Patten discuss what's in store at Hollywood's hometown fest leading up to Clint Eastwood's closing-night film just ahead of its box office bow.

Radius-TWC co-president Tom Quinn told me Wednesday night’s Los Angeles Film Festival opener Snowpiercer is going to 7ddd396b0cbae471e84f83c1797e9c96have a unique rollout when it launches against formidable competition, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, on June 27. Although that sounds like a suicide mission for another action-oriented picture, Quinn, speaking at the after-party, calls his film from Korean director Bong Joon-ho an “intelligent tentpole” made for a thinking audience who likes its thrills delivered with smarts. He says they will open in 10 markets and follow up the next week on about 150 screens. That’s chump change for the opening Paramount plans for Transformers, but Quinn and co-president Jason Janego were pumped by the LA Fest response and hope to gain attention with a series of premieres, including train trips (for a film that’s set on the ultimate train trip) to Seattle, San Francisco and Austin, plus four separate premieres across New York state. “And when this film, which only could have been made by Bong Joon-ho, opens on the 27th, the only place you will be able to see it in America is on a theater screen,” he said, emphasizing that the company — an offshoot of The Weinstein Company, which opens most of its films day-and-date with VOD — will not be making it 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival - Opening Night Premiere Of "Snowpiercer" - Red Carpetinstantly available for home viewing. “We are plotting a surprising and different way of opening this film,” he said while not committing to any specific date as to when it actually will be available on VOD.

I would guess the VOD date won’t lag too far behind, but Quinn clearly wants to get the word out first that this is a big-screen experience. You might recall that Radius released its Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom theatrically first and that worked out, as it became the top docu at the 2013 box office before hitting home screens.

After seeing the film, which also played the Berlin Film Festival, and LAFF2014which Harvey Weinstein pre-bought and later turned over to his Radius team (Quinn had worked with the director on The Host and Mother), I can say if ever there was a big-screen must-see, it’s this riveting story of the last humans alive after Earth is completely frozen-over and humanity wiped out — except for a few riding aboard a train that never stops and has every conceivable level of class, from its tail section to its super engine, as it continuously circles what’s left of the world. Although it is dark, grimy and claustrophobic, the director clearly knows how to make a classic train picture and his superb cast includes a hilarious Tilda Swinton, chewing the scenery like no one’s business, and Ed Harris in an extended cameo as the Master of this particular world. Both turned up for what was billed as the pic’s U.S. premiere. Read More »

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Tony Awards Show Sings Hollywood’s Praises While Oscar Producers Return The Favor At PGA’s Produced By Conference

Pete Hammond

Presenting the two directing prizes on Sunday night’s Tony Awards, Clint Eastwood, who was on the show because he has2014 Tony Awards - Show directed the film version of the Tony winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys (6/20), summed it all up for me. “It seems like producers and directors from the stage and from movies are always looking for good new material, and sometimes they don’t find it. Sometimes they have to take it from one another with The Bridges Of Madison Country (Eastwood starred in and directed the film) or Bullets Over Broadway going to musical plays, and I’m proud to say that we’re bringing Jersey Boys to the movies and that will be after nine successful years on Broadway,” he said in introductory remarks. It was an understatement as most of the evening’s winners, spread among a larger number of shows than usual, have deep ties to movies-jersey-boys-stillHollywood and that included Bridges which picked up a couple of key Tonys for its composer Jason Robert Brown, despite closing last month. There’s also Rocky (Best Scenic Design of a Musical), Aladdin (Best Featured Actor in a Musical), as well as the two big musical winners of the evening (each with four victories), A Gentlemen’s Guide To Love And Murder (winner of Best Musical and which is derived from the 1949 Alec Guiness film  Kind Hearts And Coronets), and Read More »

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Jane Fonda: Hollywood Royalty Gets AFI Life Achievement Award And Follows In Father Henry’s Footsteps

Pete Hammond
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Jane Fonda's AFI Life Achievement Award

Studio chiefs and top stars turned out to celebrate the two-time Oscar winner's career Thursday. The busy-again actress is the only daughter of a previous AFI honoree to receive the award. Her 'China Syndrome' co-star -- and fellow AFI Award legacy -- Michael Douglas presented it to her. Deadline's Pete Hammond and Dominic Patten discuss the big night.

It didn’t take long to bring up the controversial side of Jane Fonda during AFI‘s Lifetime Achievement Award tributeafilogo1 Thursday night. AFI Board Of Trustees Chairman Howard Stringer addressed the elephant in the room almost immediately upon taking the Dolby Theatre stage: “What not a lot of people know is that Jane Fonda attended the very first AFI tribute in 1973 to director John Ford. She didn’t actually make it into the ballroom AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute To Jane Fonda - Showthat night because she was out front picketing. That’s right, she was there to protest the appearance of one of that night’s presenters, Richard Nixon. Jane, what are we going to do with you?” he said to much knowing laughter and applause. A little while later, AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale picked up on the theme. “Yes, Jane picketed the AFI Life Achievement Awards. But it wasn’t the first time that she’d marched on AFI,” he said. “Some years earlier outside the gates of the AFI conservatory there was a protest led by Jane and another Life Achievement recipient, Shirley MacLaine. They were there to draw attention to the lack of women in roles in the AFI Conservatory and they were right. Their effort led to the establishment of  the AFI Directing Workshop for women which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary. And they also helped to ensure women were admitted to the AFI Conservatory where women have flourished over the years.”

2014 AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute - ArrivalsBut as it became abundantly clear this evening was much more than about Fonda’s well-known activism. It was about a film career that has brought her two Oscars from seven nominations — that started in 1960 with Tall Story and is still going strong all the way up to next September’s This Is Where I Leave You. Both are from Warner Bros and both show the remarkable career journey this daughter of a very famous star, Henry Fonda, and sister of another twice-nominated actor/writer/producer Peter Fonda, has taken. Among studio heads that included 20th’s Jim Gianopulos, Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and Disney’s Alan Horn, Warners’ Kevin Tsujihara was also there. Read More »

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EMMYS: With Balloting Set To Start Campaign Hits Fever Pitch – But Is It All Worth It? NBC’s Award “Wizard” Richard Licata Says Yes

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 4:23pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Emmy balloting starts Monday and continues through June 20, and you would have to be living under a rock — Emmyslogo_new__140311163244or somewhere other than Los Angeles or New York — not to be aware that we are in the midst of perhaps the most massive, widespread Emmy campaigning ever. Is it me or has this Emmy season even seemed to eclipse the Oscars in terms of the campaign for the golden statuette, even though there is no evidence that winning an Emmy has anywhere near the financial or prestige value of an Oscar.

Related: DeadlineNow: All The Drama Is In Emmy Best Drama Race (Video)

There are billboards , bus posters, social media, Q&As, online and print ads galore and it doesn’t stop there. On Friday night, FX is throwing a New Orleans-style feast and concert from Stevie Nicks to accompany an episode screening and Q&A of their miniseries hopeful American Horror Story: Coven. It’s just one of many such events Television Academy members have been invited to this season. And this kind Revolutionary True Detective HBO Emmy billboardof thing just seems to be proliferating year after year. Perhaps it helps that the TV Academy itself plays ball in this game. The group’s official Emmy Magazine, which goes to all 16,000-plus eligible voters, is chock full of ads both inside and outside. Just to get to the actual magazine itself you have to rip off a Good Wife snipe, get past a glossy four-sided fake cover for Big Bang Theory and other Warner Bros shows, and dispense with an elaborate insert and DVD promoting CBS reality shows. Once you hit the “real” cover which features Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, it actually opens immediately into a massive HBO Emmy campaign ad for True Detective followed by nine more pages of ads before even hitting the table of contents. (Oh, and did we mention Sleepy Hollow itself had a big screening event at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Monday?)

amc-breakign-bad-emmy-billboard__140519163938Of course the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences does none of that, but doesn’t prevent campaigning to its members during Oscar season. But, while being even-handed and playing no favorites, the TV Academy does realize some income from all those ads and even hired a new head of ad sales this year, Hollywood trade veteran Rose Einstein (it should be noted Deadline is also chock full of Emmy ads). Read More »

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EMMYS: Hammond On Miniseries Contenders And Lingering Controversies

Pete Hammond

Awardsline logo_use this oneMiniseries are coming of age again, at least according to the Television Academy, whose Board of Governors voted this year to once again give it a category of its own. This has been done from time to time depending on the health and general welfare of the miniseries format. For example, in 2011, the TV Academy felt longform television was dying on the vine and that there was just not enough entries to meet its “Rule of 14” (the minimum number of possible contenders needed to trigger a category). The networks were downsizing the form and, outside of the BBC and HBO, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest. But now, minis are exploding again and a new golden age seems to be on the horizon.

With minis roaring back on their own—they are still combined with movies in the acting, writing and directing categories—what will the landscape look like when nominees are announced July 10?

Not a Shoo-In
True DetectiveGoing into the competition, many pundits thought it was all wrapped up. HBO—which has had a streak of miniseries winners with John Adams, The Pacific, Band of Brothers and Angels in America—looked as though it had another slam dunk with its eight-part True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It won near-unanimous raves and appeared unbeatable, particularly since, with the mini/movie split, it would not be competing with … Read More »

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EMMYS: As Television Landscape Shifts, Categories Split

Pete Hammond
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Emmy Campaigning Heats Up

The inclusion of HBO's 'True Detective' into the Best Drama Series race has ratcheted up the tension in the category -- especially for fellow high-profile hopefuls like AMC's 'Breaking Bad' and 'Mad Men'. Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and Dominic Patten discuss.

Awardsline logo_use this oneOne of the bigger challenges facing the Television Academy’s Emmy Awards the past few years is keeping up with the constantly shifting TV landscape. In fact, in March the organization announced it was dropping the formal name by which it always has been known, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The powers that be chose to unload all that “arts and sciences” stuff and even considered dropping “television” altogether until it was decided the word can be used as a brand name to encompass all the delivery systems that are part of modern entertainment. Change is good and the TV Academy has a primetime awards committee working year round to address the latest needs and trends of the medium it represents.

John LeverenceOne of the biggest changes this year is that the miniseries/movie category has been split in two, though the mini/movie acting, writing and directing contests will remain combined. It recognizes the renewed interest in the miniseries format thanks to such hits as History’s juggernauts Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible, among many others. “We had a situation where there was a lack of minis and so we had a consolidation. But then the Board (of Governors) decided there would be a split in 2014 since it looks right now like they are solidly back,” says the TV Academy’s senior vp of awards John Leverence, who adds that this year the number of minis well exceeds the TV Academy’s “Rule of 14” (the number required to trigger a category). Read More »

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EMMYS: Hammond On The Renaissance Of Made-For-TV-Movies

Pete Hammond

Awardsline logo_use this oneThe Television Academy, by splitting miniseries and movies for the 2014 contest, has made it easier this year for the made-for-TV movie to compete. Outside of the occasional HBO film, the genre is usually at a disadvantage at the Emmys. Forced to face off directly with the more lavish miniseries form, these two-hour one-offs have had a difficult time holding their own. (Acting, directing and writing categories are still combined for minis/movies).  Occasionally a movie comes along that is so irresistible to TV Academy voters that it can’t be ignored. That was the case last year with HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which swept both Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies. In 2011, another HBO telefilm, Game Change, had similar success against the longform monsters, but it has not always been easy to beat the odds.

Frontrunner Status
normal heart mark ruffaloWith those two wins, TV movies are enjoying a bit of a renaissance—at least at HBO, which once again has the 800-pound gorilla in the race with Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play, The Normal Heart. The time finally seems right for this drama set in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Written 30 years ago and long in development as a feature film and then TV movie, this provocative and moving study about the human and political consequences of the HIV/AIDS outbreak finally found its way in front of the cameras, thanks in large part to Murphy, who promised the 78-year-old Kramer this movie would happen. In the same year that another decades-in-development-hell drama about the early struggle against AIDS, Dallas Buyers Club, won three Academy Awards—including best and supporting actor statuettes—it seems like kismet-style timing for a Normal Heart Emmy run. The fact that the TV movie still remains relevant and timely enhances the chances of a big win, and its backstory of a long and troubled road to the screen will only help it with voters. Kramer’s well-documented journey with the material should make him a frontrunner in the writing category, and Murphy has a good shot in directing. A superb cast also should score major nominations, including Mark Ruffalo for miniseries/movie lead actor, Julia Roberts (as a polio-stricken doctor) in supporting actress, and a plethora of supporting actors, including Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello (both appeared in the 2011 Broadway revival of the play), Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer, who in particular really socks home the role of The New York Times writer who becomes an early victim of the virus. Read More »

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OSCARS: Alexandre Desplat Hoping Sixth Time Is The Charm With ‘Philomena’ Nomination (Video)

By | Monday February 17, 2014 @ 12:28pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Alexandre Desplat earned his sixth Academy Award nomination for his lilting score to Philomena, but is the sixth time the charm for this most in-demand of film composers?  He’s never won even though his previous nominations generally all came with high profile films including two Best Picture winners, The King’s Speech and Argo as well as Best Pic nominees The Queen and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Another nomination came for the animated Wes Anderson film, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. The prolific musician is currently represented on screen with The Monuments Men (in which he also displays his acting chops in a small supporting role) and Anderson’s upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel which just won a major prize at the Berlin Film Festival. He starts recording the score for the May release, Godzilla in a couple of weeks. How does he do it all?  Here is a look at the working process of Desplat as he went about creating the score for Philomena:

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OSCARS: How The Adapted And Original Screenplay Races Could Go Down To The Wire

Pete Hammond

When it comes to predicting who will take home Oscars for adapted and original screenplay, don’t lookAwardsLine to the recent Writers Guild Awards for any significant clues. Usually the guild will give some indication of which way the winds are blowing among the scribes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though the 372-member writers branch has different criteria and eligibility rules than the more stringent 20,000-plus WGA membership. The WGAs differ from other guild awards in not nominating any movies not made under their basic agreement or within guild guidelines. That isn’t a huge factor this year, as the Academy matched the WGAs’ nominee list in original screenplay and chose three of the same adaptations (Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not allowed to compete in the WGAs). Lone Survivor and August: Osage County nabbed the other two nominations, although neither won. In fact, in a highly unusual result, the WGA winners, Her for original and Captain Phillips for adapted, have not been considered slam-dunks to pull off the same trick at the Oscars on March 2.

Related: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Writers Win 2014 USC Scripter Award: John Ridley, Solomon Northup

Spike-Jonze-Her-ss-14Phillips is listed as a 100-to-1 shot on betting website Gold Derby, … Read More »

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BAFTA Shakes Up The Race, But Everything Still In Play As Oscar’s Moment Of Truth Nears

Pete Hammond

Breathing a sigh of relief once again Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave pulled out another squeaker at the BAFTA Awards just as it did at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and the Producers Guild (where it tied Gravity). Going into the BAFTAs  with ten nominations  and favored status, as it was directed by Brit Steve McQueen and starred Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor,ee bafta it looked like a total shutout losing award after award and going 0 for 7 (including surprising losses for Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor) but finally BRITAIN-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM-AWARDS-BAFTAgetting on the board with Ejiofor’s Best Actor win and then pulling off Best Film shortly after in a ceremony that reflected the kinds of splits we have seen all season. At the Globes you may recall it went 0 for 6 before nabbing Best Drama Picture at the end of the evening. Somehow McQueen winds up on stage at the end of all these shows making an acceptance speech and that’s what counts.

Related: BAFTA Awards: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Wins Best Film But ‘Gravity’ Carries Most Weight With Six Total Nods; Chiwetel Ejiofor & Cate Blanchett Take Actor Wins; ‘American Hustle’ Scores 3 Including For Jennifer Lawrence

BAFTA Awards 2014This is an unusual year to say the least and the BAFTA win for 12 Years A Slave where it helps the most gives it bragging rights as Oscar voting is getting underway this weekend. But these kinds of narrow victories might be a little tension-headache inducing for Searchlight as it now heads to the Oscars in the tightest race in years. Slave was expected to do much better here than it did overall. The results indicate voting was all over the map.  BAFTA is important as there may be as many as 500 members that it shares in common with the motion picture Academy. The outcome really did nothing to add more clarity or certainty in a see-sawing Best Picture Oscar race with Gravity’s six BAFTA wins including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron and Outstanding British Film keeping it in strong contention.  Perhaps BAFTA voters thought they could offer up their own PGA-style split by giving these two films their own producing prize? Who knows?   Here’s the good news for Slave . The BAFTA Best Film winner has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture for the past five years a row. However in the four previous years before that streak it failed to match Oscar’s top winner, so into  which camp will Slave fall? Again, who knows? Makes things exciting though. Read More »

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Academy Hands Out First Oscars, But You Need To Be A Scientific Whiz To Win One Of Them

By | Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 1:01pm PST
Pete Hammond

One winner thanked “giant killer robots”. Another said, “When you see the next Michael Bay extravaganza it was all worth it”. And yet another called it “the Winter Olympics for geeks”.

the-academy-oscars-new-logo-1Welcome to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Scientific & Technical Awards which were handed out last night during a surprisingly entertaining ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I have been to just about every different conceivable kind of Academy function over the three decades I have been covering Oscars but this was my first time at this event which the Academy has been doing in one form or another since they started handing them out in the Oscars‘ fourth year, 1930-31. I guess I always thought this might be a rather dull sort of thing to sit through. I barely understand how to get my emails so imagine a ceremony that is all about honoring the ILM Plume System, the Flux gas simulation system, the Zeno application framework, a thesis on the fundamental concepts of deep shadowing technology, the design of the Pneumatic Car Flipper or the Flying-Cam SARAH 3.0 system? And that’s just for starters in a show that handed out a LOT of Technical 86th Academy Awards, Scientific and Technical Achievement AwardsAchievement certificates, Scientific and Engineering Plaques and even a couple of real Oscar statuettes toward the end of the evening (Peter W. Anderson won one of those as recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer award this year). But there was a lot of spirit in the room and judging from the whoops and hollers that went for five guys in tuxedos going up to accept for the development of the ASC Color Decision List technology you’d think they just won Best Picture. “When I was a kid nobody told me if I wanted to win an Academy Award I should study mathematics,” one winner said wryly. Like I said this was an entertaining evening, particularly considering the geek factor. And the clips were great too, going a long way to shedding light on just what these unheralded wizards do for the movie industry. Read More »

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OSCARS: Acting Races Head Into The Homestretch — So Who’s Got The Best Shot For The Gold?

By | Saturday February 15, 2014 @ 12:27pm PST
Pete Hammond

It’s a banner year for Oscar newcomers in the uber-competitive acting races. Outside of the veteran-AwardsLineheavy lead actress contest, 13 of the 20 nominees in lead and supporting are receiving either their first or second nominations. Considering how often the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tends to play favorites, it is good to see new blood. As voters enter the final balloting period before the March 2 ceremony, the guilds and other precursor awards have provided two fairly solid lead-category frontrunners—one of whom is a first-time nominee.

Related: SAG Awards: American Hustle Gets A Big Boost

matthewmccon1__131129221532-e1385763361431With wins at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey has leapt to the front of the pack in the incredibly tight best actor race, which has see-sawed all season. But storm warning ahead, Matthew: The all-important British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards are still to come on Sunday, and you didn’t even snag a nomination there, leaving an opening for your chief rivals: The Wolf Of Wall Street’s Leonardo DiCaprio, a four-time acting nominee looking for his first win; 12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor (who is British and a first-time Oscar nominee); and Nebraska’s Bruce Dern, enjoying his second nom. American Hustle’s Christian Bale, who won a supporting Oscar in 2011 for The Fighter, rounds out the category.
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OSCARS: Matthew McConaughey And Jared Leto Share Secrets And Challenges Of Bringing ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ To Life (Video)

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto have become the focus of Focus Features’ Academy campaign for Dallas Buyers Club with ads proclaiming “the year’s two most transformative performances are now its most honored”. Certainly it would be hard to argue with that as both won at SAG, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, not to mention just about a clean sweep for Leto among the many critics groups who dole out these kinds of honors. The awards haul have made them front-runners according to pundits, but both have been acting like they are running from behind, appropriate for a movie that took 20 years to get to the screen, that no one wanted to make, that was shot on a tight 24-day schedule for under $5 million and used only available light. Neither is leaving any stone unturned in bringing attention to the ‘little-film-that-could’ in this year’s Oscar race. McConaughey, for example turned up during Jay Leno’s last week on The Tonight Show and he will be doing Jimmy Kimmel and Queen Latifah’s talk shows next week in addition to Inside The Actors Studio and personal appearances for the Actors Fund in LA and NY. In this featurette the pair talk about working together and the challenges of bringing these unique roles to life.

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