It was obviously another huge night for AMC, which took home the most prestigious Emmy prize of Outstanding Drama Series for the 5th time in the last six years, this time for long overdue Breaking Bad. Inside the Governors Ball following the …
The rushed nature of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be addressed at a Governors meeting I am assured by someone who said, quite correctly, “we need to stop turning this thing into a track meet”. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board of Governors repping the Writers Branch). Certainly there was concern during last night’s 3 hour and 40 minute marathon in which winners were given 45 seconds from the time they left their seat in the cavernous Nokia Theatre to reach the stage and make a speech. For many the orchestra started playing them off even before they could get comfortably into the thrust of their thank-yous. One female winner changed her shoes just so she could charge the stage. One poor overweight winner for The Voice had a choice of either pulling up his loose tux in a confused moment where the clock was ticking or dropping his Emmy. He did the latter and broke it, but at least didn’t reveal his underwear. It was that kind of night.
You can’t envy Executive Producer Spike Jones Jr who has to edit this show down to about an hour and 40 minutes plus commercials for its broadcast next Saturday on the 3-week-old FXX. And considering the very dirty material of some presenters such as (a hilarious) Triumph The Insult Comic Dog (voiced by SNL‘s Robert Smigel) and particularly a very unfunny and out-of- control Gilbert Gottfried, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had better hope there are a few more X’s after the FXX logo to accommodate the blue humor.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The movie/mini grouping is a diverse collection that has a bit of an apples-and-oranges feel. That’s certainly been the case since the TV Academy voted to combine the made-for-TV movie and miniseries categories into one two years ago. It resulted in wins for PBS’ Downton Abbey two years ago and the HBO docudrama Game Change in 2012. This time, only two actual movies made the nomination cut: The HBO biopics Behind The Candelabra and Phil Spector. The other four are miniseries, including FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum along with Sundance Channel’s Top Of The Lake, History’s entry The Bible and USA Network’s soapy Political Animals. The Liberace pic Candelabra has to be seen as the overwhelming favorite.
If any project stands a chance to derail Behind The Candelabra, it’s this one, due in large part to its graphic horror presentation, eye-popping effects and acting work that resulted in four performers getting nominated. People who work in television also tend to relate to tales of insane asylums.
There remains some question over whether American Horror Story should even be in this category, seeming more like a regular series than a true mini. And horror remains a niche that rarely wins a top prize.
Miniseries, the format long thought dead or dying, dominates the combined Outstanding Movie or Miniseries category on this morning’s Emmy nomination list. Basic cable shows from the likes of FX, History, USA and Sundance Channel are using “miniseries” projects to make a strong showing against the perennial strength of HBO, which scored big as usual with its one-off , movie star-laden films Behind The Candelabra and Phil Spector which received an impressive total of 26 nominations between them. There is also a particularly strong group of past Oscar winners competing for Emmy gold in this year’s group.
Related: EMMYS: 2013 Nominations By Series
But leading the pack again, with the same number of nominations — 17 — it received last year is FX’s franchise American Horror Story: Asylum. In fact Asylum leads ALL shows in any category. Although widely thought to have been launched as a regular series after its pilot was picked up on FX in the 2011-2012 season, creator Ryan Murphy successfully lobbied the TV Academy and got its board to approve its Miniseries designation. It gives the show — in which the cast changes characters and stories each season — a much better chance at Emmy success than it would have had competing in the super-competitive Drama Series category, where many thought it belonged (the vote was very close in approving this switch ). American Horror Story picked up two Emmys out of those 17 nods last year and obviously hopes to up the ante on the second go-round. This is obviously the “miniseries” that keeps on giving to FX, far outshadowing the network’s criminally under Emmy-appreciated series Justified, Sons Of Anarchy and critically acclaimed newbie The Americans just to name three. Sometimes the line between Miniseries and Drama Series is a thin one. Downton Abbey won the Movie/Mini category two years ago but now competes in Drama Series where it lost to Homeland last year.
Global Showbiz Briefs: TF1 Demotes ‘Dallas’; ‘Behind The Candelabra’ To Open Deauville Festival; More
The Rise And Fall Of ‘Dallas’ In French Primetime
The new reboot of Dallas debuted with three episodes on June 22 on France’s TF1, for an average 3.6M viewers. But the second set of episodes lost about 1M sets of eyeballs, leading the channel to move the rest of the first season out of the first part of primetime and relegating it to 11:15 PM starting July 6. The network has not commented on its plans for future seasons, though it has rights to the second and third for a total of 30 episodes. Per French trade Le Film Français, those seasons could be moved to a TF1 affiliate. The original Dallas was a phenomenon in France, where reruns have aired for years. It even had its own French lyrics to the famous opening theme song. Translated, they go like this: “Dallas, your ruthless world glorifies the law of the fittest; Dallas, under your relentless sun the only thing you fear is death; Dallas, homeland of the dollar and oil…” (Here’s a YouTube video for the curious.)
‘Behind The Candelabra’ To Kick Off Deauville Fest
The Deauville Festival of American Film has set Steven Soderbergh‘s Behind The Candelabra as its opening-night movie. Stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will be on hand as will Soderbergh, who will also deliver a masterclass at the French fest. Producer Gale Anne Hurd will be the subject of a tribute. The festival, which runs a competition for U.S. indies and helps launch the European campaigns of studio pics, runs August 30 to September 8 in Normandy.
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
For some people, Rob Lowe will forever be associated with that group of young actors who emerged in the mid-1980s and remain known as the Brat Pack. But a more considered look at Lowe’s career reveals a steadily evolving performer, now 49—one who has grown from matinee idol to more mature leading man and, most recently, character actor. That last distinction finds its fullest expression thus far in Lowe’s commandingly creepy portrayal of Dr. Jack Startz, the pill-pushing plastic surgeon who handily holds his own opposite Michael Douglas’s Liberace and Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson in Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic swan song, Behind The Candelabra.
Related: EMMYS: Movies/Miniseries Overview
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
When word first leaked that square-jawed, macho Michael Douglas would star in a biopic of Liberace, the swanning pianist famous for garish costumes and flashy keyboard antics, many feared the worst. But HBO’s Behind The Candelabra, directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on a memoir by Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon), is anything but an exercise in misguided casting. Instead of camping it up, Douglas, who remains best known for his Oscar-winning turn as Wall Street lizard king Gordon Gekko, embraces his inner queen in an audacious and vulnerable performance.
AwardsLine: How were you first approached for the role of Liberace—and what appealed to you about the part?
Michael Douglas: It’s wild. It goes all the way back to 2000, when I was doing Traffic with Steven. One day he says, “Ever thought about playing Liberace?” I thought he was messing with me. But a couple of times on the set I did an imitation, just for fun. Then seven years later, he called and said, “I’m going to be sending you something.” It was the book Behind The Candelabra by Scott Thorson. Jerry Weintraub had acquired it for Steven, Richard LaGravenese had written the screenplay, and Matt Damon wanted to play Scott. It was a great screenplay with a wonderful character for me to eat up the scenery. My whole career has been me playing contemporary characters, so I welcomed the chance to get behind a figure from a different era. It was like painting on a clown face rather than wiping my face raw for a part. It even required appliances and hairpieces and all that.
Related: EMMYS: Movies/Miniseries Overview
There is probably no group of Emmy categories that has been more battered and bruised over the years than those of movies and miniseries. In addition to being combined into a single category in 2011, movies and miniseries almost lost their separate supporting categories earlier this year, but the TV Academy jettisoned the rule change before it ever went into effect. And some anti-movie/mini TV Academy execs have even proposed eliminating movie/minis from the Primetime Emmy telecast, creating a separate show that could be sold to HBO or another cable channel with a vested interest in the format. Nevertheless, the movie/mini category has seen both ratings and production increase in the last two years, which is fortunate for one simple reason: Movies and minis give the Emmy show true star power. Past winners include prestigious performers like Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Jessica Lange and, last year, Kevin Costner and Julianne Moore. Plus, the contenders change every year, as opposed to regular programming categories like comedy and drama, which often honor the same shows and performers year after year. So now that movies and minis are back in full force, who are the likely frontrunners to triumph this year?
Related: EMMYS Q&A: Michael Douglas
Global Showbiz Briefs: Liberace Biopic Goes Global; New Abuse Charges Hit BBC; CNN Shuts Baghdad Bureau; Bolero Buys ‘Tulpa’
HBO Books Deals For ‘Behind The Candelabra’ Around The World
HBO Enterprises has lined up a number of international distribution deals for the recently premiered movie Behind The Candelabra. The Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon has sold to A Company Filmed Entertainment (Central Europe), ARP (France), DCM (Germany, Switzerland), Dutch Filmworks (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Entertainment One (United Kingdom), First Distributors Ltd. (Hong Kong), Hollywood Entertainment (Greece), Lusomundo (Portugal), Medusa (Italy), Shaw Renters Pte Ltd. (Singapore), Ster-Kinekor (South Africa), Svensk Filmindustri (Scandinavia), United King Films (Israel), Village Roadshow (Australia) and Tohokushinsha Film Corporation (Japan). The first foreign theatrical release will be June 7 in the UK.
BBC Gets 150-Plus New Sex Abuse Or Harassment Cases Since October
The BBC says it has received more than 150 new allegations of sexual abuse and harassment since the Jimmy Savile case broke in October. The UK pubcaster said 36 of the new accusations came from people who were younger than 18 at the time of the alleged abuse. The broadcaster would not comment on any specific cases — made by more than 80 people, about half of whom still work at the BBC — but it said in a statement that it was “appalled” by the allegations. “We have launched a series of reviews that aim to understand if there are any issues with the current culture of the BBC or the historic culture and practices from as far back as 1965,” the statement said, “to see what lessons can be learned to prevent this happening again.”
Steven Soderbergh’s look at the tempestuous secret love affair between Liberace and his onstage driver hit some high notes for HBO on Sunday. Helmed by the Oscar-winning director, Behind The Candelabra was watched by 2.4 million viewers on Sunday at 9 PM. That’s the most viewers an HBO original movie premiere has garnered since 2.6 million watched Something The Lord Made on May 30, 2004. Candelabra also did considerably better than HBO’s last biopic, on record producer Phil Spector. Starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, the film about Spector’s first trial for the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson pulled in 754,000 viewers in its 9 PM airing on March 24. Overall, Phil Spector had 1.039 million viewers over two plays on March 24. Across two plays Sunday, Candelabra had a total of 3.5 million viewers watching the 9 PM and 11 PM broadcasts.
An HBO film? A VOD movie? Competing for the Palme d’Or, all seriously in one of the last bastions of pure cinema, the Cannes Film Festival‘s main competition? Oui!
With HBO’s Behind The Candelabra and Radius-TWC‘s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives from Cannes darling Nicolas Winding Refn, a new day — and date — has dawned here. And in all these cases, huge movie stars who might not have considered anything but a traditional theatrical release and all the trimmings that go with that are suddenly here with projects that — while also possibly traveling the theatrical route, too — will simultaneously, or even first, be seen on smaller screens. This might have been considered sacreligious in the Cannes of old, but in this ever-changing film industry it’s the way of the future, at least partially.
HBO made a big splash Tuesday night with its extremely well-received Steven Soderbergh-directed movie Behind The Candelabra, the story of a very closeted Liberace and his relationship with a young man that has become one of the best-reviewed films here. Its Oscar-winning stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon hit the Palais Grand Theatre’s red carpet, won raves and immediate awards talk here, even though one person said of the film’s Palme d’Or chances, “I can’t imagine Cannes giving an award to an HBO movie”. Really? Well, who could have imagined Cannes, a few years ago, actually embracing HBO and letting it compete at the big table which is exactly what Candelabra is doing. Many observers here think Douglas is in fact the frontrunner for the Best Actor prize for his uncanny portrayal of the uber-flamboyant Liberace. I would go as far to say that Douglas and Damon, who plays his young lover Scott Thorson (the man who wrote the expose upon which the film is based), would easily have been nominated for Oscars had this gone theatrical instead of cable in America (it will be in theaters internationally). Instead the film, which HBO begins airing Sunday in the U.S., and its stars will just have to settle for sweeping the Emmys, as it most likely will do. That it also represents what Steven Soderbergh says is his final film for the foreseeable future could actually increase his Palme d’Or chances in my view, perhaps as a message that he shouldn’t quit so soon. How ironic that no major studio or distributor wanted the film when it was initially pitched. But HBO jumped at the chance. Douglas for one is extremely grateful. He even had to hold back tears and got very choked up trying to thank his colleagues during the Cannes press conference yesterday for waiting for him while he underwent his cancer treatments.
So as their movie hits TV screens in America, could Soderbergh or his film be winning a prize in Cannes the same day? Stranger things have happened, but that would be a first.
Steven Soderbergh tonight unveils what he says is his final feature film Behind The Candelabra. The film explores the secret father/son/lover relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his valet Scott Thorson. It’s playing in competition here at Cannes, even though HBO will premiere it in the U.S. on Sunday before it gets a traditional overseas theatrical release. If that seems complex, it fits Soderbergh, a true maverick who has always been up for putting himself on the line for disruptive, groundbreaking fare. That began with sex, lies, and videotape. The movie won the Audience Award at Sundance and the Palme d’Or at Cannes before grossing nearly $25 million in 1989 and earning him an original screenplay Oscar nom. It is viewed as the picture that turned indie film into a viable business. “He is the father of this movement,” said Harvey Weinstein, who distributed the film. “Before him, there was no independent movie that did more than $5 million. This was the one that went out, almost wide, in the summer — where they said these films could not play — and broke the art house ghetto.” An Oscar (for directing Traffic) later, and a career that spanned every genre and enterprising release strategy (he aroused the ire of theater owners by road testing the day-and-date release platform that is now a Sundance deal staple), the 50-year-old Soderbergh talks with Deadline about Behind The Candelabra, indie economics and more.
DEADLINE: All week, I’ve heard people here debate whether Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will lose possible Oscar nominations because the film plays first on HBO, before a more traditional international theatrical rollout. You intended it originally to be an indie feature. Explain the gyrations that ended up with this unusual release strategy.
SODERBERGH: We were trying to get the last $5 million to finish it off. The movie cost $22 million and change. We’d raised $18 million foreign and we just needed this piece. Superficially it would seem like a no-brainer, but when you look at the realities of the economics of putting a movie into wide release, you have to gross $65 million-$75 million just to get out. People just didn’t have that appetite for this kind of material.
DEADLINE: How different were things back when you conceived it as an indie and took several years to get to it and get a script by Richard LaGravanese?
SODERBERGH: There’s no question in my mind that if it had been five years earlier that we’d probably would have gotten it. But the pressure has gotten so extreme. I talk to people at the studios about it all the time. Somebody told me last week that they are doing a better job controlling movie costs but that marketing costs keep moving at a trajectory faster than everything else. Another terrifying thing is, you used to be able to bank on stars. If you had certain elements in a certain kind of movie, you could bank on doing X. Now you are guaranteed nothing.
After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz. Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.
As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).
Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.
As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.
A lot of the buzz coming into today’s unveiling of the Cannes Film Festival’s 2013 Official Selection was spot on, although there were a handful of curveballs in the mix. One exec said to me after the announcement, “It’s a wise and balanced selection” that deals with the “eternal problem of how you recognize the talent of directors who are in a league of their own and deserve their spot, and how you open up to newcomers.” There’s a blend of the two this year with potentially more to come as further titles will be added once the Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week sidebars announce their lineups Monday and Tuesday. As I noted last week, the studios will have a muted presence in Cannes. Warner Bros is represented with opener The Great Gatsby, and it was confirmed today that Paramount’s Alexander Payne pic Nebraska will run in Competition.
Payne’s black-and-white father/son drama had recently been tipped to head for the fall circuit, but instead fest chief Thierry Frémaux said today that he’d seen it “48 hours ago” and announced its inclusion. FilmNation is handling international. This is Payne’s second time to the big party after 2002’s About Schmidt (although he was in Un Certain Regard as part of omnibus Paris, Je T’Aime in 2006). In a widely expected move, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis showed up on the Competition roster. They won the Palme d’Or in 1991 for Barton Fink. CBS Films picked up Llewyn Davis in February and StudioCanal, which financed, is selling international.
A reluctant Steven Soderbergh was convinced by Frémaux to move to the Competition with Behind The Candelabra after originally saying he’d prefer another slot. Frémaux remarked today that Soderbergh is known for his particularly laconic emails and after the fest director wrote a diatribe on why he should accept a competition berth, Soderbergh responded by email with a simple “Yes.” It’s a nice bookend for Soderbergh, whose first film, Sex, Lies And Videotape, won the Palme d’Or in 1989 and since he has said Candelabra will be his last film before retirement. The movie debuts on HBO in late May and HBO Enterprises is selling overseas. Two films that were expected for the competition but ended up in official Out of Competition slots are Guillaume Canet’s ensemble drama Blood Ties and J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost. The latter stars Robert Redford, who Frémaux confirmed would be in Cannes. That pic is getting an October 25 release in the U.S. via Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
A little over a month ago, we pulled together our primer for what films we might see in the Cannes Film Festival’s official selection this year. The festival’s Thierry Frémaux will announce the bulk of his picks Thursday morning in Paris — he usually leaves a few surprises for later. Nothing is confirmed until he unveils the lineup, although the fest threw a curveball by announcing late Wednesday night French time that Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring would open the Un Certain Regard sidebar; it had indeed been expected to figure somewhere in the mix. Below is a recap and update on the possibilities to make the final cut, or not, in an official category.
Among titles considered near shoo-ins are the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives. The Coens are Cannes favorites who haven’t been in competition since 2007’s No Country For Old Men. Winding-Refn won the Cannes directing prize in 2011 with Drive and there is a lot of heat on this Thailand-set follow-up which reteams him with Drive‘s Ryan Gosling.
As for other English-language films, J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, a man vs. nature drama we hear boasts a tour de force performance from Robert Redford, continues to have strong buzz. Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties starring Marion Cotillard, Clive Owen, Zoe Saldana and Mila Kunis is another that’s mentioned quite a bit as is James Gray’s Lowlife, which also stars Cotillard. If Jim Jarmusch landed a slot with vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive as is tipped, it would mark his 10th time in selection. French helmer Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy Picard with Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric, and based on the George Devereux book Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian, is another we hear about with more frequency. Steven Soderbergh’s HBO Liberace movie Behind The Candelabra looks destined for a special berth.