To a distributor launching a prestige film in the fall, a berth in the first weekend of the Toronto Film Festival is like finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar. Toronto organizers want to do just that for the Ted Melfi-directed comedy St Vincent before its October 24 bow, and they also want to turn the premiere into a celebration honoring the work of its star, Bill Murray. Here’s the challenge: Nobody has been able to get hold of him. He has no agent, he’s got an attorney who’ll try to reach Murray, but even that is a problem because he apparently doesn’t have a cell phone. If this sounds far fetched, remember that Sony held up its Ghostbusters relaunch plans for about two years, waiting and hoping Murray would read the script and sign on (it’s unclear if he ever read it, but the studio got the message that he wasn’t interested in ghost busting and finally moved on). This St. Vincent is an exceptional project, and it’s a tour de force for Murray.
Melfi wrote it with input from Jack Nicholson, and when that iconic star said he just didn’t want to work anymore, he suggested Melfi chase Murray. I wrote in depth about how elusive Murray was, and then how spectacularly generous and engaged he became when he read Melfi’s script and sparked … Read More »
Zooey Deschanel just tweeted this photo from the set of Bill Murray-starrer, Barry Levinson-directed Rock The Kasbah. Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan and Danny McBride also star in the pic about a a down-on-his-luck rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. After finding himself abandoned in Kabul, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young village girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan’s version of American Idol, the wildly popular Afghan Star. Do you recognize these dudes?
“Don’t cross the streams” can mean something entirely different than it in 1984, right? Sony Pictures is dialing up the wayback machine for a 30th anniversary (!!) reissue of Ghostbusters, the ectoplasmic effects-a-ganza that drew bigger crowds than even Indiana Jones that summer. While we wait for Ghostbusters 3, a 4K restoration of the horror comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis will re-haunt theaters for one week only starting August 29. Gather up Gozer and Zool, unwrap a 35-foot Twinkie, put on your legwarmers and re-live the mid-Reagan era with this flashback trailer. Just don’t come crying to us if “Who ya gonna call?” — or maybe even “I Want a New Drug” — gets Superglued to your gray matter. You’ve been warned:
If you’re a young boy in need of someone to look up to, well, there’s no one like Bill Murray. While he played a flawed elder to Jason Schwartzman’s smart aleck ex-private school student in Rushmore, here we find Murray in the Walter Matthau-like curmudgeon role as St. Vincent de Van Nuys, who endearingly tends to Oliver, the young boy next door, by exposing him to horse track gambling, strippers and boxing. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St Vincent opens stateside on October 24 and stars Melissa McCarthy as Oliver’s straight-laced single mom, Chris O’Dowd as the boy’s Catholic School teacher and Naomi Watts hamming it up as Vincent’s stripper girlfriend.
Bill Murray, aka “The Murricane,” is blowing through Berlin this week on what’s become a sort of one-man comedy tour — and a fun distraction from a thus-far quiet market. Yesterday, he was out in support of Wes Anderson’s opening-night film The Grand Budapest Hotel, riffing that he worked for “low wages and stale bread,” and today he was tickling buyers’ funny bones at a brunch for Rock The Kasbah. Murray shared a stage this morning with QED International’s Bill Block and director Barry Levinson, who were clearly pleased that the movie sold to Open Road for the U.S. just last night. But busy Murray wanted to make something very clear, “I don’t like to leave my house. I am a lazy person and I don’t like to work. But when I work, I work very hard… Did I mention I don’t like to work? I don’t like to be here right now. I like you all very much, but this work thing is crap.”
Regardless, shooting starts June 2 in Marrakech on the pic that also stars Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Shia LaBeouf and Zooey Deschanel. Murray plays a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When he ends up abandoned in Kabul, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan’s version of American Idol. The collaborators said this morning that an authentic Afghan singer is being sought for the part of the girl while there will be a lot of Cat Stevens songs and the classic eponymous Clash tune, natch. Read More »
BREAKING: Open Road Films is loading its slate with strong pre-bought ensemble pics. Just a day after it pre-bought rights to the John Hillcoat heist thriller Triple Nine, the distributor has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Rock The Kasbah, the Barry Levinson-directed comedy that stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Shia LaBeouf and Zooey Deschanel. The pic, scripted by Mitch Glazer, is being financed by QED International and Venture Forth and Open Road’s Tom Ortenberg sealed the deal with QED’s Bill Block. Block, Venture Forth’s Jacob Pechenik, Shangri-La Entertainment’s Steve Bing and Glazer are producing the film, which starts production in June. Brian Grazer and Tom Freston are executive producers.
Murray plays a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When Richie finds himself in Kabul, abandoned, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan’s version of American Idol, the wildly popular Afghan Star.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel screened for the press here in Berlin this afternoon before officially opening the event tonight in competition. Reactions were greatly positive — one journalist at the film’s press conference looked about to cry over its beauty — although official reviews won’t appear until later this evening. Stars Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan and Tilda Swinton attended the press conference to talk about the movie that follows the adventures of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The nostalgic Euro caper involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune.
With NBC setting Peter Pan as follow-up to its hugely successful live musical The Sound Of Music, speculation has been rampant who would play the boy that never grows up. In announcing the title and Peter Pan Live‘s premiere date, Dec. 4, NBC boss Bob Greenblatt wouldn’t elaborate on who will follow The Sound Of Music star Carrie Underwood as headliner of Peter Pan, other than to dismiss rumored names like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Cue airborne Bill Murray singing his heart out in a all-out performance of I’m Flying on tonight’s Late Show With David Letterman. His message to NBC casting execs: “I’m the guy.”
EXCLUSIVE: In a rare small-screen stint, Bill Murray has joined the cast of HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, the miniseries based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Adapted by Jane Anderson and directed by The Kids Are All Right’s Lisa Cholodenko, the mini tells the tale of a seemingly placid New England town fraught with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, as chronicled through the eyes of Olive who is tough on the outside but has a strong moral center. She’s played by Frances McDormand, and Murray is playing Jack Kennison, a local widower whom Kitteridge befriends.
Richard Jenkins plays Olive’s husband, and John Gallagher Jr, Rosemarie DeWitt, Zoe Kazan, Jesse Plemons, and Cory Michael Smith also star. The miniseries is a co-production between Playtone and As Is, with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman exec producing with McDormand and Anderson. Steven Shareshian is co-exec producer and David Coatsworth. McDormand optioned the material when it was in galley form, and it really has turned into something exceptional.
Murray just wrapped the Ted Melfi-directed St. Vincent De Van Nuys, as well as the George Clooney-directed Monuments Men, and the Wes Anderson-directed The Grand Budapest Hotel. He’s part of the cast of Cameron Crowe’s film as well. He’s lawyered by David Nochimson.
BREAKING: Bill Murray will star in Rock The Kasbah, with Barry Levinson directing a script by Mitch Glazer. The film is being backed and produced by QED’s Bill Block, Venture Forth’s Jacob Pechenik and Shangri-La Entertainment’s Steve Bing. They will shop the film to international distribs at Toronto. Pic tells the story of a burned-out music manager who goes to Afghanistan on the USO tour with his last remaining client. When he finds himself abandoned, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice, who stows away with him back to Kabul to compete on the popular television show, The Afghan Star, Afghanistan’s equivalent of American Idol. “Bill Murray and Barry Levinson are the perfect team to capture the lunacy, heartbreak and hope of this story. I’m ecstatic,” said Glazer. Levinson is repped by ICM Partners, Elaine Goldsmith Thomas and Barry Hirsch. Glazer is repped by WME and Melanie Cook.
Twenty years ago tomorrow, Bill Murray was David Letterman‘s first guest as the late-night host moved to CBS after 11 years on NBC. On August 30, 1993, Murray was promoting Groundhog Day and spray-painted “DAVE” on Letterman’s desk to christen Late Show With David Letterman. Tonight, the actor and SNL vet arrives on the Ed Sullivan Theatre stage in a Rolls, sporting a Liberace getup complete with cape and poodle. Here’s a clip:
Bill Murray, the first guest on David Letterman’s Late Show when it premiered on CBS August 30, 1993, will visit the show to celebrate its 20 years on the network Thursday. It’ll be a nice break for the media from The Summer of Jay Leno, as the NBC late-night host continues to dominate in the demo this summer while taking his last last lap before being replaced — again — on The Tonight Show — this time by Jimmy Fallon. Murray also was Letterman’s first guest on Late Night when it debuted on NBC in 1982 — making Letterman the longest-running late-night TV host in history at 31 years and counting.
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa McCarthy will soon be offered the female lead in St. Vincent De Van Nuys, the film that Ted Melfi will direct from his script for The Weinstein Company and Chernin Entertainment, with Bill Murray in the starring role. This is a role that all the top comic actresses chased, and it should give McCarthy a chance to show some of her colors as an actress after playing vulgar characters in Identity Thief (which grossed over $116 million domestically) and when she next opens opposite Sandra Bullock in The Heat, helmed by her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.
Murray plays the title character, a cantankerous train wreck of a neighbor who takes under his corrupt wing the 12-year-old son of a struggling single mother who has moved in next door. McCarthy is the choice to play the single mother and she campaigned hard for this. The project, based on Melfi’s Black List script, has been compared to As Good As It Gets or even TWC’s recent Silver Linings Playbook for the way it mixes comedy and human pathos. Much the way that Jennifer Lawrence Skyped an audition that got her the Oscar-winning role in Silver Linings Playbook even though David O Russell initially thought she might be too young, McCarthy auditioned for this role and her work put her atop the list and will win her this job.
McCarthy will first make Tammy, which she’s directing with her husband and co-writer Ben Falcone. She’s got time from her series Mike & Molly, so the scheduling right after July 4 fits into her wheelhouse.
Of the single mom’s decision to entrust Murray’s character with her son, Melfi called it “the worst parenting decision ever made by this single mom, but she works two shifts at the hospital and the guy next door seems harmless enough.” Melfi told me this when TWC acquired his Black List script, which he’d spent two years developing with Chernin Entertainment. “The relationship transforms both the man and the boy and even though he teaches the kid everything about his decadent lifestyle, from fighting to drinking, gambling and how to cheat lie and steal. And the 12-year-old has such a pure soul that he only extracts the good from all this.”
Melfi makes his directorial debut on the $13 million budget movie, which became a big priority all over town when Murray agreed to play the title character. Shooting begins in July. The film will be produced by Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping, Melfi, Fred Roos and Don Cheadle who is producing via Crescendo Prods. TWC production president Dylan Sellers is overseeing it. Read More »
Moonrise Kingdom amounted to Wes Anderson at his best. It was a relate-able story of first love, injected with Anderson’s playful wit, his sense of the absurd, and his singular visual style. The result was a $66 million worldwide gross and one of the year’s big specialty film hits. Since making his debut on Bottle Rocket, Anderson has honed a highly original voice that has sometimes hit the crossover bulls eye (Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) and sometimes is confined to a smaller core audience (The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). On a train ride in Germany where he was prepping his next film The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson talked about how he learned to be confident in and satisfied with his unique voice.
DEADLINE: Moonrise Kingdom was one of your most appealing films, and it crossed well beyond your usual core audience. When you place your stories in these quirky visual worlds, how important is it to provide issues or emotions that are universal? ANDERSON: My experience of how these stories are laid up is different for each movie. I hope people will be moved by, gripped by, or entertained by these films, but it’s a crap shoot. I don’t even know if I’ve succeeded until, literally, when the movie goes beyond New York and L.A., and screens are added and the film really starts to reach … Read More »
Oscar hopeful Hyde Park On Hudson with Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt is this weekend’s highest profile debut in the specialty market. There’s also In Our Nature with Jena Malone and John Slattery, and Robert Carlyle headlines California Solo in a role written with him in mind. The late Ernest Borgnine stars in The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez in a role that turns the idea of celebrity upside-down. Plus Elizabeth McGovern stars in Cheerful Weather For The Wedding that her Downton Abbey fans will likely appreciate. On the non-fiction front, a re-mastered 3D version of The Art Of Flight hits AMC Theatres for one night only in select markets followed by a campaign for screenings via Tugg.com, the online marketing platform that allows moviegoers to push collectively for a theatrical booking in their area.
Hyde Park On Hudson
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Richard Nelson
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Elizabeth Wilson
Distributor: Focus Features
Focus Features and Film 4 waited a year to see if Bill Murray would take the role of America’s longest serving president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in a story written by Richard Nelson that observes the little known story about the relationship the four-term President had with a distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney) who lived near his mother’s Hudson Valley, NY retreat. The story revolves around that relationship coinciding with a historical visit by the British monarchs George VI and Queen Elizabeth before the dawn of World War II. “It’s the fourth movie we’ve worked on with Bill,” said Focus Features CEO James Schamus. “Taking on a role like this – there’s no safety net. You either have to do it or not. It took him about a year to come on board, but once he commits, it’s 100 percent and he’s all in.” The film was shot in the UK with Roger Michell at the helm and with British co-financing. Schamus noted the terrain looks similar to the Hudson Valley and the relatively plentiful estates outside London made finding the right setting easier than it might have been in New York. “We couldn’t get approval at the actual Roosevelt mansion,” Schamus said of the movie, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival after a Telluride screening over Labor Day weekend. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company is in final negotiations to finance and distribute St. Vincent De Van Nuys, which has to be the hottest $13 million budget movie to come down the pike in some time. Numerous studios have chased this one, especially after Bill Murray agreed to play the title character. Ted Melfi wrote the script and will make his feature directorial debut, with production to begin next June. The film will be produced by Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping, Melfi, Fred Roos and Don Cheadle.
Murray will play a cantankerous train wreck of a neighbor who takes under his corrupt wing the 12-year old son of a struggling single mother who has moved in next door. “It’s the worst parenting decision ever made by this single mom, but she works two shifts at the hospital and the guy next door seems harmless enough,” said Melfi. “The relationship transforms both the man and the boy and even though he teaches the kid everything about his decadent lifestyle, from fighting to drinking, gambling and how to cheat lie and steal. And the 12-year old has such a pure soul that he only extracts the good from all this.” Read More »
Although Bill Murray is beloved for his work in comedy classics like Ghostbusters, Stripes, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, and others, it was 2003’s Lost In Translation that really cemented his reputation as a serious actor, earning him the Golden Globe, British Academy Award, Independent Spirit Award, and several best actor honors from critics groups including Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. He also earned his one and only Oscar nomination for the film, losing to Sean Penn in Mystic River, though many regarded him as the favorite that year. Now with his performance as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson, a comedy-drama focusing on the odd relationship between Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley over the course of a weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of England made a visit to the United States, Murray is once again generating strong awards buzz for this unexpected turn as one of America’s greatest presidents.
AwardsLine: You are a great actor, but I never saw you as Franklin Roosevelt. Did you see yourself in the role right away? Bill Murray: I don’t think I ever did, either. I was a little surprised to be asked, and then I read the script, and I thought, I can do this. Even though it’s reaching, it’s kind of a good reaching, where you have to push yourself. (Director) Roger (Michell) was helpful. He was very attentive to what I was doing. And there are scenes that are just so joyous to play, like the scene with the King (of England) and the library. It couldn’t get any better. Read More »