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EMMYS: ‘Devious Maids’ Second Life After Its Death At ABC; Creator Marc Cherry Q&A

By | Saturday June 7, 2014 @ 3:47pm PDT

Awardsline logo_use this oneOnce a broadcast network rejects a TV pilot it has shot, it’s not common that the show will go on to live a second life on another network.  Such was the fate of Marc Cherry‘s Devious Maids, the second series he developed with ABC following his Sunday cornerstone Desperate Housewives.  It seemed like a surefire programming choice for the alphabet network’s fall 2012 season.  But in June 2012, network executives’ minds changed. Here Cherry recounts the resuscitation of Devious Maids on Lifetime, how the show became a flagship for Latino actresses and the longevity of dramedies, such as his previous hit Desperate Housewives, at the Emmys.      

Marc CherryDEADLINE: How did Devious Maids  come together? What sparked your interest in adapting the Mexican soap opera Ellas son…la Alegria del Hogar?
MARC CHERRY: I got a call from my agent that this consortium of producers known as Oasis Entertainment. They buy different formats from countries around the world. They had this show about maids from Mexico and they brought it to me thinking I could do the American version. I took a look at it. They showed me a five minute sizzle reel to catch me up to speed on the show, and it looked a lot like Desperate Housewives, so I actually passed because I already did this show.  A few days went by and I kept thinking about the show and it brought back a lot of Devious Maids memories when I was working in Bel-Air as Dixie Carter’s personal assistant.  I would go to her home every day, Monday-Friday, and I was 25, so I had just moved to Hollywood. And it was interesting, because it was the first time in my life, having grown up upper middle class in Orange County, that I was the help, for lack of a better phrase. There were a lot of people working in her home – there were two housekeepers, a cook, a chauffeur, a yoga instructor – actually a comically, crazy household that deserves its own sitcom.  It was an entertaining place to be. I love Hal Holbrook and Dixie, they were dear to me. It started a full circle thing in my head, and many years have past, and now I have people who work in my home. I’ve seen these issues from both sides, there’s nothing quite like working in someone’s home because you are exposed to the most intimate parts of their life. It’s not a workplace like an office building, college or police station. It’s something more intimate and delicate. I thought, ‘I have a perspective on this.’ Read More »

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EMMYS: Tony Awards Host Hugh Jackman Is A Magnet For Auds & Emmys

By | Saturday June 7, 2014 @ 1:17pm PDT

The 2014 Tony Awards Nominations CeremonyHugh Jackman will host the 68th annual Tony Awards tomorrow, much to the delight of CBS, which has broadcast the event since 1978. There’s no better superstar than Jackman to entice viewers to the telecast with his crossover, triple-threat appeal.

Awardsline logo_use this oneIf the Tonys have retained their stature as the class act of televised awards events—since 1967, the show has won 27 Emmy awards—much of the credit of late goes to three-time host Jackman and his ability to convey the specialness of live theater to an audience whose actual experience of Broadway is bound to be limited. Read More »

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EMMYS Q&A: Anna Chlumsky Of ‘Veep’ On Playing It Straight

By | Friday June 6, 2014 @ 5:21pm PDT

Christy Grosz is an Awardsline contributor.

Anna Chlumsky Veep Emmys 2014Occasionally she still gets recognized on the street for her starring role in 1991’s My Girl, but Anna Chlumsky is better known these days for HBO’s Veep, in which she plays the Vice President’s chief of staff Amy Brookheimer, an all-business problem-solver who spends much of her time keeping VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) out of political hot water. Chlumsky, who received a supporting actress Emmy nom last year, also took a left turn to appear on NBC’s Hannibal this season. “I was happy to do something completely different. It stretches you just enough,” she says of her role as ill-fated FBI trainee Miriam Lass. Here, she speaks about working with Veep showrunner Armando Iannucci and the luxury of being pickier about roles.

AWARDSLINE: You worked with Armando Iannucci previously on In The Loop. What has your experience been like on Veep?
ANNA CHLUMSKY: We’re unlike any television show that I’ve heard of (because) we actually workshop the episodes first. Awardsline logo_use this oneWe all get into a room with the writers and read whatever draft we’ve got of each episode. Then after we read the draft, we get up on our feet and we work out scenes. Improv goes into those sessions and the writers are just furiously taking notes. A lot of times that stuff will end up in the production draft and (then) onscreen. So it’s all about collaboration, which is probably the reason why I have vowed that I will follow Armando Iannucci anywhere. It’s just the most delicious way to work. Read More »

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EMMYS Q&A: Andy Samberg Of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ On Modern Comedy

By | Friday June 6, 2014 @ 4:01pm PDT

Andy Samberg Brooklyn Nine-Nine Emmys 2014Four months after Andy Samberg’s departure from Saturday Night Live, Parks And Recreation co-creators Michael Schur and Daniel Goor lassoed him to anchor their police comedy pilot Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which airs on Fox. Much like his SNL alter egos — such as his cocky Nicolas Cage and the accountant Mort Feingold — Samberg’s Detective Jake Peralta is a goofy, affable, outspoken guy who breaks the Awardsline logo_use this onerules and somehow, despite his attention deficit disorder, always gets his man (by the seat of his pants). Like previous SNL peers, Samberg shot for the big screen but with mixed results, from the Adam Sandler misfire That’s My Boy to the well-received Celeste And Jesse Forever. However, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s bumbling detective fits the actor like a glove. In January, Samberg walked away with a Golden Globe award for best comedy actor for the role, immediately gaining awards-season traction as the contender to watch.

AWARDSLINE: Was there any hesitation about returning to TV since most SNL alums graduate to feature films?
ANDY SAMBERG: I never gave it a second thought. As soon as Mike (Schur) and Dan (Goor) asked, I knew I was going to do the show. I respect their work so much. I had people like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to look to in terms of seguing from SNL to TV. And as far as staying in the world of movies, I had Steve Carell and Tina, who were both making movies and starring in TV shows at the same time.

Related: EMMYS Q&A: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Co-Creator Michael Schur On Comedic Cops

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EMMYS Q&A: Matthew McConaughey On Following Oscar With The Game-Changing HBO Series ‘True Detective’

By | Wednesday June 4, 2014 @ 4:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

tueWhen movie stars go cold, the smart ones can find their way back. For Robert Downey Jr, that meant an Iron Man screen test so overwhelming that skeptical studio execs had no choice but to hire him. Ben Affleck scripted his own second act as writer and director and won the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. When we look back on how Matthew McConaughey sprang himself from rom-com prison by taking creative risks in small edgy films, his transformation won’t simply be pegged to the performance as AIDS activist Ron Woodroof that won him the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey’s second wind is a one-two punch capped off by his Emmy-caliber performance as the tightly coiled fatalistic cop Rustin “Rust” Cohle opposite Woody Harrelson in HBO‘s groundbreaking 8-episode drama series True Detective. Among other things, McConaughey explains here how patience was key to turning around a stalled career and how patience allowed him to let a complicated character percolate over a time span four times longer that he gets in feature films.

Related: Bart & Fleming: Are Features Losing Their Prestige Mojo To TV?

TRDEADLINE: True Detective is a high-water mark in this golden age where pay and cable TV series are as good or better than what we see on movie screens. Still, it’s chancy for a movie star to say yes to a TV Read More »

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‘Mad Men’ Cast & Matthew Weiner Reflect On Half Season & Bert Cooper’s Final Dance Number

By | Wednesday June 4, 2014 @ 12:54pm PDT

Mad Men castAMC should just forget about airing the final season of Mad Men on TV next year and release all the episodes in big theaters nationwide. Time and again during Emmy season, whenever Mad Men is shown on the big screen — such as Awardsline’s screening of the midseason finale “Waterloo” last night at the Landmark Theatre — it’s like watching a big summer film with a large audience. Last year at a TV Academy screening, there was a large gasp from the crowd when young Sally Draper walked in on her Dad bedding the neighbor, and last night was no exception with a hilarious uproar spurred from Pete Campbell’s excitement and Jim Cutler’s bristling over news of the ad firm’s latest merger.

Awardsline logo_use this oneFollowing the screening last night to a jam-packed theater, Deadline’s Dominic Patten led a panel with close to the entire Mad Men top players in attendance sans Jon Hamm and John Slattery: Christina Hendricks (Joan), Elisabeth Moss (Peggy), January Jones (Betty), Jessica Pare (Megan), Vincent Kartheiser (Pete), Kiernan Shipka (Sally), Robert Morse (Bert Cooper) and, of course, creator Matthew Weiner.

Related: ‘Mad Men’ Midseason Finale Surges In Live+3 Ratings
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EMMYS: Overlooked Veterans Vie For Another Chance At Emmy Glory

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 3:51pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Awardsline logo_use this oneIn May 2002, NBC’s Friends was coming off its eighth season, which chronicled Rachel’s pregnancy. Whether it was the resurgence of the Rachel/Ross storyline or the nation’s yearning for laughter following the 9/11 attacks, it was one of Friends’ most successful seasons, drawing its largest audience in four years. While Friends was embraced by Friendsviewers in a big way, the popular comedy seemed causa perduta where the Emmys were concerned. For its first seven seasons, Friends only had earned three Emmys (for supporting actress Lisa Kudrow, guest actor Bruce Willis and directing). In 2001 it missed a nom in the best comedy series category, after two consecutive mentions and four overall, and recorded its fewest nominations in any season with five. But the following year, voters gave the show a second look with 11 nominations, as well as wins for best comedy series and best actress in a comedy series for Jennifer Aniston. Read More »

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EMMYS: ‘The Americans’ EP Joel Fields, Actor Matthew Rhys On Livin’ The Spy Life

By | Tuesday June 3, 2014 @ 1:50pm PDT

Awardsline logo_use this one“Since (creator) Joe Weisberg isn’t here tonight, I can say that this show is actually based on his personal story,” quipped executive producer Joel Fields about the historical basis for their FX show The Americans which follows two KGB spies posing as American parents in the 1980s (Weisberg is a former CIA officer).  Fields, in addition to cast members Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich and Annet Mahendru were in attendance at Awardsline’s Monday night screening of The Americans season two finale “Echo”, moderated by Deadline’s Dominic Patten.

awardsline americansThe show, which earned two Emmy noms last year (for main title music and guest star Margo Martindale), is on a hot streak in the pre-Emmy nom phase. The Television Critics Association recognized The Americans for best drama and achievement in drama (Rhys) noms, while the Critics Choice Television Awards lauded it with a slew of above-the-line noms including drama, actor-drama (Rhys), actress-drama (Keri Russell) and supporting actress (Mahendru).
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EMMYS: Awardsline Screening Series Launches With Starz’s ‘The White Queen’

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 11:30am PDT

White Queen, Colin Callender, Janet McTeer, Dominic PattenThe Awardsline Emmy Screening Series kicked off last night with the first episode of the Starz-BBC miniseries The White Queen, “In Love With The King.”  The series tells the story of three women  – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anna Neville–  vying for the hand of King Edward IV in 1464 against the backdrop of the War of the Roses. Executive produced by Colin Callender and adapted from Philippa Gregory’s books, White Queen has been such a success for Starz that a sequel, The White Princess, is AwardsLine.LogoBWalready in the works. White Queen has generated the largest female audience for any Starz series as well as three Golden Globe noms for best miniseries, lead actress Rebecca Ferguson (Elizabeth) and supporting actress for Janet McTeer.

In a conversation with Deadline’s Dominic Patten following the screening at the Landmark Theatre, Callender commented on the resonance of the show. “The reason why Starz wanted to do it was because it shows history from the point of view of women,” he said. “I think the female audience wants to see a show that reflects their lives with complexity and embraces the complications in their lives.”

Related: Nellie Andreeva’s Q&A With ‘White Queen’s Colin Callender

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EMMYS Q&A: Bill Hader

By | Friday August 30, 2013 @ 12:11pm PDT

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.

If there are large shoes being left behind on Saturday Night Live this coming season, they belong to Bill Hader. For seven seasons, he’s been the impersonator extraordinaire, hitting high notes with his take on Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and Vincent Price to name a few, but also with his non-celeb eccentrics such as Italian TV host/motor mouth Vinny Vedecci and, of course, effeminate “Weekend Update” New York City correspondent Stefon (whose Anderson Cooper wedding send-off was actually planned a year in advance by Hader). Unlike some SNL alums who overstay their tenure on the show and segue to limited opportunities, Hader is departing in his prime and looking at blue skies. Similar to Steve Carell in the wake of The Daily Show, Hader is delicately balancing the comedic persona he carved on SNL with dramatic feature roles in The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His And Her and with Kristen Wiig in The Skeleton Twins as well as voice-over fare in the Hulu series The Awesomes and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2. He already has a 2009 Emmy win for best animated program (under 30 minutes) under his belt as a producer on South Park; however, his recent Emmy nomination for best supporting comedy actor comes as his second in a row for SNL. Hader spoke with us about his departure from the show, its comedic mechanics and what lies ahead.

Related: EMMYS: Comedy Lead Acting Handicap Read More »

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EMMYS: AwardsLine’s Pre-Nom Profiles

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 5:06pm PDT

There are five AwardsLine Emmy issues scheduled for this year — three have come out ahead of today’s 5 PM PT deadline to submit nominations ballots for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, and two more are due in August after the nominations are announced July 18. Here are links to AwardsLine’s stories we’ve posted to keep you satisfied until nomination day.

Drama
Drama Series Overview

At a glance, this list of probable contenders for the drama Emmy will look a lot like last year’s. AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad are back. So are PBS’ Downton Abbey, HBO’s Game Of Thrones and, of course, 2012’s winner, Showtime’s Homeland. But also included among the frontrunners this year — as if the broadcast networks didn’t have a hard enough time getting any noms! — is Netflix’s first entry, House Of Cards. How will the wildcard fare against the cablers?

Profiles
Kurt Sutter On ‘Sons Of Anarchy’
David Benioff & D.B. Wiess On ‘Game Of Thrones’

Andrew Lincoln On ‘The Walking Dead’
Monica Potter On ‘Parenthood’
Julian Fellowes On ‘Downton Abbey’
Robin Wright On ‘House Of Cards’
Corey Stoll On ‘House Of Cards’

Vera Farmiga on ‘Bates Motel’
Kevin Bacon on ‘The Following’
Kerry Washington on ‘Scandal’
Read More »

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OSCARS: Governors Ball Preview

By | Saturday February 23, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor

After the elation (or heartbreak) of Hollywood’s most coveted awards ceremony, 1,500 guests will flock to the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the top level of the Hollywood & Highland complex to let it all hang out at the storied Governors Ball, the Academy’s official Oscar after-party.

No real Oscar to flaunt? Grab a Patron and Ultimate Vodka cocktail, rimmed with 10-karat gold while you nibble on Wolfgang Puck’s signature smoked-salmon Oscars, coated in dill creme fraiche and topped with caviar. Still craving gold? Pluck one of 5,000 mini chocolate Oscars, wrapped in shimmering gold foil—or snag one of 50 statuette-sized chocolate Oscars (they’re made from Cacao Barry’s 64% semisweet). Pastry chef Sherry Yard will also have 30 pounds of edible gold dust on hand to sprinkle on truffles, bon bons, and macaroons.

RELATED: OSCARS: Hammond’s Down-To-The-Wire Predictions About 2013 Winners & Losers

Academy governor Jeffrey Kurland, an Oscar-nominated costume designer whose lengthy list of feature credits includes numerous Woody Allen films, Erin Brokovich, Inception, and Ocean’s Eleven, will return for his fourth year as chair of the Governors Ball, overseeing decor and menu, as well as designing the staff attire. Kurland is also responsible for the evening’s entertainment, which this year will include a performance from Michael Feinstein.

RELATED: 4th Update: 2013 Oscars Party Roundup

Returning for her 24th consecutive … Read More »

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OSCARS: Red Carpet Is Fashion’s Runway

By | Friday February 22, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST

Monica Corcoran Harel is an AwardsLine contributor

If all roads once led to Rome, then most fashion runways now merge into the Red Carpet. For the past decade or so, celebrity stylists have cherry-picked the fashion runways for the very best frocks for their A-list clients on awards nights. In essence, you would first see a gown on Kate Moss and then on Cate Blanchett. But more recently, the trend is for actresses to show up to the Oscars in ready-to-wear or one-of-a-kind couture gowns that haven’t yet debuted at fashion week or the European shows. In many instances, the Red Carpet is the new runway. Case in point: The one-shoulder black-and-white column gown that Claire Danes wore to the SAG Awards came from Givenchy’s pre-fall 2013 collection. “In an effort to trump other celebs, it’s become about wearing something that hReasn’t even been seen on the runway yet”, says Cameron Silver, a fashion expert known for his serrated wit and the author of the new style encyclopedia, Decades: A Century Of Fashion. “The system is so out of control”. By system, Silver means the big, greasy machine in which actresses and designers make exclusivity deals. Though no star or stylist will speak on the record about such dalliances, it’s been suggested that anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 can come sewn into the hem of a red-carpet gown … Read More »

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OSCARS: Hammond’s Down-To-The-Wire Predictions For 2013 Winners & Losers

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 7:45pm PST
Pete Hammond

Can’t we just end all this suspense about winners or losers and call it one massive tie this year? The 2012 crop of Oscar nominees, and films in general, is so impressively dense with quality it seems a shame the Academy has to pick just one winner in each category. But that’s the name of the game we play this time of year, and with ballots going out just as I had to turn this piece in, it is still a fluid situation as to just what the final results will be. With so many movies spread across many categories that are genuine contenders, a split vote resulting in some surprising twists and turns is possible, even though the various guild awards give strong clues about industry sentiment. If the past is any indication, I am aware some readers might take these predictions as gospel and bet the farm on it in their Oscar pools, so I offer a disclaimer before we begin. I am not responsible for any monetary loss you might incur, nor do I expect 10% of any winnings. I am just trying to read the winds of Oscar after several months of analyzing every tea leaf. Here is where I have a hunch it stands, but please note I have made a few tweaks since the original version of these predictions were published in last week’s print edition of AwardsLine (I switched in production design and makeup/hairstyling). Results at BAFTA, WGA, and several other guild award shows have now been taken into account since then, but it is all still a crap shoot in one of the craziest Oscar years in memory.

BEST PICTURE

All season long, this has been about as wide open a race, and as competitive a field of contenders, as we have seen in many years. With nine nominees, the same number as last year, it has taken a while to figure out a surefire winner. But with key awards from the PGA, DGA, WGA, BAFTA and SAG, in addition to best picture honors at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, Argo has clearly emerged as the frontrunner, a remarkable turn of events considering its director, Ben Affleck, was snubbed by the Academy’s directing branch Jan. 10. Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. The big question is, can the Warner Bros. juggernaut maintain momentum and win Oscar’s top prize, even without that directing nomination? If so, it would be only the second film to win without a directing nom, following Driving Miss Daisy’s feat at the 1990 ceremony. With the best picture category holding the strongest possibility for success among Argo’s seven nominations, could it actually win here and nowhere else? Not likely, but it’s possible, especially in a year in which I think the Academy will be spreading the wealth. Lincoln, with a leading 12 nominations (a good, if not always correct, indicator), Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi are probably still in the mix here as well but…

The Winner: Argo

The Competition: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

BEST DIRECTOR

With the quirky director’s branch going out of their way to snub DGA nominees Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and DGA winner Ben Affleck, we know for sure we can’t count on the usual spot-on correlation between the DGA winner and the eventual victor in this category. Affleck actually would have been my prediction to win here, but, alas, he’s not even nominated, which means voters might very well be splitting their vote for director and picture this year — certainly not unheard of in recent years but increasingly rare. As directors of the two films with the most nominations, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln and Ang Lee for Life of Pi, are the likely frontrunners, with Silver Linings Playbook’s David O. Russell coming up on the outside. If initial frontrunner Lincoln has been eclipsed in the Best Picture race, this is the place voters could come to kneel at the Spielberg-ian altar. Or not. Lee’s triumph in even managing to bring the “unfilmable” Pi to the screen just screams “directing”, and that could play very well here.

The Winner: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

The Competition: Michael Haneke, Amour; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR

This is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose at this point. Playing such a well-known biographical figure is, of course, a big plus. But Day-Lewis brought a lot to the table and remains the guy to beat in an impossibly fine field of contenders. Day-Lewis’ biggest drawback is that he has already won this prize twice, and a third would be unprecedented for lead actors in Oscar history. Also no actor has ever won an Oscar for playing a U.S. president, another potential first. The Academy might want to reward equally deserving newcomers to the category like Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper instead, but judging from the pile of precursor awards Day-Lewis has already won, it looks like you can bet a very large pile of $5 bills that he will make Oscar history with honest Abe.

The Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

The Competition: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Actor/Best Actress Race Handicap

BEST ACTRESS

I got this one wrong last year when Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) beat Viola Davis (The Help), and this is another tough one. The race for lead actress is hotly competitive, with both Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain claiming other early awards and also impressing with strong performances (Naomi Watts is magnificent in The Impossible, but that film got no other nominations, putting it at a disadvantage here against four other actress nominees from Best Picture contenders). Plus, never underestimate the so-called “babe factor” (thanks to the Academy’s dominant male membership) that this category often, but not always, favors. A win here for either one could be a chance to give either of their movies an important award, while shutting them out elsewhere. The real wild card in this race is 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, whose performance in the foreign language film Amour has been widely praised and admired, particularly by her fellow actors, who comprise the Academy’s largest voting block. As the oldest Best Actress nominee ever (she actually turns 86 on Oscar Sunday), she could trigger a sentimental factor and a feeling that the others will have another shot someday. SAG champ Lawrence probably has the edge and is where the smart money’s going, but a split in this very fluid category could provide one of the evening’s most interesting stories. So going way out on a limb…

The Winner: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

The Competition: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Read More »

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OSCARS: The Original Screenplay Nominees

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 6:31pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine. Paul Brownfield and David Mermelstein are AwardsLine contributors.

Amour

Auteurs wouldn’t be auteurs if they weren’t enigmatic, especially when it comes to deconstructing details of their oeuvre. “Let the film speak for itself” is often the motto, and for Amour director and screenwriter Michael Haneke, that’s not too far from his own credo. However, he’s not completely inaccessible when responding to the audience’s fervor for his work.

“It’s very difficult for me to say, it was so long ago, I can’t remember”, Haneke told AwardsLine when asked if there were one particularly challenging scene to write for Amour. “Generally, when it comes to screenwriting, I can say that if it’s flowing, you enjoy it. If not, it’s far less pleasant. But there’s always ambivalence—the struggle to put something there on a blank page when there was nothing there before. If it’s successful, you’re happy; if not, you’re depressed”.

In writing the story of 80-year-old husband Georges who contends with his dying wife Anne’s debilitated state, Haneke was spurred by a beloved aunt’s long and painful battle with a degenerative condition. For the director, the story of the elderly couple’s struggle was a universal tragedy versus a tragic drama “about a 40-year-old couple who is coping with a child dying of cancer”.

In researching the script, Haneke met extensively with medical specialists who work with stroke victims. … Read More »

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OSCARS: The Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Chris Terrio | Argo

Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 article in Wired magazine based on declassified documents about the remarkable clandestine Iran hostage-rescue caper.

Ben Affleck and Chris TerrioBut this hardly gave Terrio a blueprint for a screenplay that deftly blends Hollywood satire with a historical international crisis. Terrio says his biggest fear was that the Hollywood scenes of the Argo screenplay would slide the movie too far into show-business farce.

RELATED: OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

However, a passage in Mendez’s book gave him license to go there in one case. “In Tony’s book”, Terrio says, “there’s a passage in it where Tony’s describing being with (makeup artist) John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to … Read More »

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OSCARS: Directing Nominees On The Process

Michael Haneke | Amour

Oscar pedigree: He has two nominations this year for screenwriting and direction. Previously, 2009’s The White Ribbon received two noms for best foreign language film and cinematography.

Birds and death: “The pigeon. You can’t direct a pigeon. At most, you can entice it to move it a certain way by placing corn on the ground. But even then, it won’t obey your instructions. Of course I’m joking when I say that. The most difficult scene in the film is the one in which (Georges) suffocates (his wife). The scene is preceded by a 10-minute monologue. And Jean-Louis Trintignant had a broken wrist at that time, so we had to shoot around that. And Emmanuelle Riva was concerned about her safety physically. So it was difficult for everyone involved”, says the Amour director.

No shame: When directing Emmanuelle Riva’s nude shower scene in which she is assisted by a healthcare worker, Haneke explains: “As a director, it wasn’t difficult for me. It was far more uncomfortable for her. But it was clear from the beginning that it was necessary to shoot this scene—to capture the fragility of her situation. My job as a director was to make sure I didn’t betray her, that she wasn’t shown critically or depicted in an unpleasant light, but just to show what people in such situations have to go through”.—David Mermelstein

RELATED:Read More »

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OSCARS: Nominated Film Editors Break Down Key Scenes

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 5:00am PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

The film editing race is both diverse and expected. All five nominated films are also up for best picture, and the individual editors range from three-time Oscar winner Michael Kahn to several first-time nominees and one nominee, William Goldenberg, nominated for work on two separate films. We talked with the nominated editors and asked them to run through a key scene from their films—one that was crucial to making the picture work, either from a tone perspective or a more technical one. The results were as diverse as the nominated films themselves.

WILLIAM GOLDENBERG | ARGO

Goldenberg says Argo’s incongruous quality was epitomized in an often bizarre sequence that cuts from the elaborate table-read of the fake screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the houseguests trying to entertain themselves in their long isolation to Iranian forces frightening hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran with a mock execution.

“When I read the script, I thought this was a scene where if we can make this work tonally, the movie will work”, says Goldenberg. “Because it’s all these different tones colliding together, and if all these expositions can work as a scene, then I think what we’re trying to do with the movie will be successful”. Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Tim Burton

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 1:04pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine

In the final stretch before the Oscar ballot deadline, there’s still hope that voters remain undecided in the animation category. Though Disney has cornered the Oscar slot with three titles, its Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton, stands as an island against the epic Brave and the existential crisis comedy of Wreck-It Ralph. The film is an auteur’s youthful dream short, once buried by the studio that has resuscitated it as a 3D stopmotion feature — the first in black and white. This Frankenstein homage about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life is signature Tim Burton. Many will argue Burton is overdue for an Oscar. He was nominated in the animated category for 2005’s Corpse Bride. His 1994 absurdist biopic Ed Wood garnered a supporting actor win for Martin Landau (as Bela Lugosi) and best makeup, while 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street won best art direction and earned noms for Johnny Depp as best actor and for Colleen Atwood’s costumes. Another appealing Burton attribute for Oscar voters is that he remains an iconoclast among big-studio directors working today — he’s a visual artist with a spooky canon that appears alienating with its deep subtext but lures the masses with its fanciful spins on children’s tales such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. AwardsLine recently spoke to Burton about his career and Frankenweenie’s place in it.

AwardsLine: Why was this the best time to make Frankenweenie as a stopmotion feature. You could have conceivably made it in 1993 instead of Nightmare Before Christmas.
Tim Burton: All these projects take a long time. I remember when I first designed Nightmare, it took about 10 years to get that in place because nobody really wanted to do stopmotion, and in a way, there weren’t a lot of facilities that were doing it. We did the Frankenweenie short many years ago, and I never really planned on it being anything else. Over the years, I just kept kind of thinking about the relationship with my dog, but also other monster movies, the kids and teachers from my school, and even the downtown places in Burbank. A lot more thoughts came into Frankenweenie, Read More »

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