EXCLUSIVE: The long-aborning musical adaptation of John Berendt’s Georgia-drenched best-seller Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil moved closer to reality with a reading last week overseen by Rob Ashford and cast that included Tony Goldwyn (Scandal), Leslie Uggams, Peter Cincotti, Jessica Molaskey, Michael Park and Jake Robinson (The Carrie Diaries, upcoming in HBO’s The Leftovers and NBC’s Odyssey). Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) is the writer; composer and sound designer Mark Bennett is overseeing the the score, which will use standards and lesser-known songs from the American songbook, notably from such Johnny Mercer-lyrics as “In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening” as well as more contemporary Southern rock, blues and gospel. I’m told that the reading went so well that a formal two-week workshop is set for September, with dates to be announced.
The Los Angeles Film Festival ended Thursday night on a high note (a really high note, in fact) at LA Live with the premiere of Clint Eastwood‘s movie version of the smash Broadway jukebox musical, Jersey Boys which has been running nearly a decade — and with no end in sight. The film, which I thought was terrific but very different from what I saw on stage, will almost certainly goose the sales of the play. The conventional wisdom used to be that when a movie came out, the live show was toast. But in recent years Chicago, The Phantom Of The Opera, Mamma Mia!, and even Rock Of Ages have flourished on Broadway long after their film counterparts have come and gone. I expect no different from Jersey Boys; in this case there might even be more interest since both are really different animals telling the same story. And what a story it is. So far, critical reaction has been divided down the middle, but I guess it all depends on your life experience. Eastwood isn’t exactly known for doing musicals (and let’s not remember his acting role in 1970′s flop Broadway transfer Paint Your Wagon, where he sang “to the trees”). But he has a strong musical sense (having directed the Charlie Parker biopic, Bird and scored many of his own films as well as being a well-known jazz aficionado). This story of the rise to stardom of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons from the tough neighborhoods of Jersey has been given grit and …
Tony Awards Show Sings Hollywood’s Praises While Oscar Producers Return The Favor At PGA’s Produced By Conference
Presenting the two directing prizes on Sunday night’s Tony Awards, Clint Eastwood, who was on the show because he has 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 Hollywood 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 …
Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Kate Mara, Will Ferrell, Carole King Sign On For Tony Awards Telecast
Wolverine will get plenty of star-power backup during the Tony Awards telecast by CBS on June 8. The 68th ceremony will include appearances by Carole King, subject of Best Musical contender Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Tony nominee Audra McDonald (Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill), Zachary Quinto, the only cast member of Best Revival nominee The Glass Menagerie to have been overlooked by the nominators, and Clint Eastwood, whose film adaptation of Broadway superhit Jersey Boys is about to hit screens. Other top-tier talent signed for the show: Bradley Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell, Liev Schreiber, Emmy Rossum, Kate Mara, Zachary Levi, Lucy Liu, Patricia Clarkson, Leighton Meester, Ethan Hawke, Zach Braff, Matt Bomer, Anna Gunn, Gloria Estefan, Fran Drescher, Wayne Brady, Emilio Estefan, Kenneth Branagh (about to open off-Broadway in the title role of the Scottish play), Tony Goldwyn, Vera Farmiga and Alessandro Nivola. Hosted by Hugh Jackman, the Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 8.
Here’s the first trailer for Clint Eastwood‘s adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway smash about legendary early-rock group the Four Seasons. Warner Bros’ Jersey Boys has taken a serpentine road to the big screen. It originally was at Sony before Graham King signed a multi-year deal with Warners in September 2012 and moved the project over with him. John Lloyd Young — who won a Tony for his role as Frankie Valli — Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza star as the boys in the band, with Christopher Walken playing a notorious mobster. Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice wrote the screenplay and musical book, with song music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe. The GK Films pic opens June 20. Have a look — and especially a listen:
CinemaCon: Warner Bros Brings Out Heavy Star Power To Court Theater Owners – Eastwood, Depp, Freeman, Sandler, Tatum Hit Vegas
If CinemaCon delegates were waiting for a busload of movie stars to show up at the convention, Warner Bros granted their wish this afternoon delivering, by far, more star power to the stage of the Caesars Palace Colosseum Theatre than the other studios combined. Clint Eastwood, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy , Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis were among the names who were trotted out by the studio to the delight of theater owners in the audience. But sometimes it gets awkward up there. Tatum and Kunis just read their lines off a teleprompter, and Depp couldn’t seem to figure out if he had any. Usually at these things he just walks across the stage and waves. Sandler actually was quite funny, bantering with a very pregnant Barrymore, who was still in tears she said over the preceding clip from Godzilla. Eastwood managed a standing ovation and, in talking about the very high-decibel sound levels of the film clips, charmed his way through a brief introduction to footage from his forthcoming musical Jersey Boys.
The heavy star presence distinguished Warners’ turn in the spotlight, the last of the major studios to come to bat, in a presentation that was otherwise very corporate in its approach. Warners had much to crow about and clearly knew it after coming off a record $5.03 billion year, 10 Oscars and a personal-best 21 nominations. It also had a 2013 summer that produced another record: All seven releases earned more than $100 million each. And Warners touted early results in 2014 as being just as promising, with The Lego Movie earning $400 million worldwide so far and the sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire already up to a symmetrically perfect $300 million. Whether the studio can continue on this kind of roll is anyone’s guess as it has a year ahead that’s almost totally lacking in bread-and-butter sequels.
UPDATE, 3:50 PM: Well that didn’t take long. After a brief hearing on Monday in which Judge Dale Fischer said she was “inclined” to toss the multimillion-dollar Trouble With The Curve copyright infringement lawsuit, the federal judge today has pretty much done just that. “Defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment re similarity is GRANTED, Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment re similarity is DENIED, Plaintiffs’ motion for continuance is DENIED, and the motion to strike the FAC is GRANTED,” said Fischer in a 10-page memorandum (read it here) “All other outstanding motions are DENIED as MOOT,” the judge added.
Today’s order essentially frees Warner Bros and others from plaintiff Ryan Brooks and his Gold Glove Productions’ October 1 119-page complaint that claims that the idea for the Randy Brown-written 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic was stolen. Brooks had said that Curve actually came from a script he had paid another scribe to have written. “Anyone who knows me, knows my journey, how hard I’ve worked, and continue to work. And it’s incredibly disappointing that someone with money and malice can wreak such negativity,” said Brown to me after the order from Fischer came down today. Brown, along with WB, Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, talent agencies UTA and Gersh and others, was named as one of the defendants in the case – Clint himself was not.
Warner Bros has some real trouble with the experts that the plaintiffs in the multi-million dollar Trouble With The Curve copyright lawsuit have been using. Real trouble. Like throwing them and the whole case out of the game trouble for submitting “sanctionable” reports and not knowing what they are talking about. “Rather than show triable fact issues on the evidence defendants actually offered, plaintiffs seek a hearing on other uncited evidence, calling it a fraud. Such claims are irrelevant and recklessly false,” says WB legal team in a scathing reply brief filed Saturday in federal court (read it here). “The Court need not address these sideshow attacks to grant this motion or bring this wasteful case to its much needed end.” WB adds.
The studio wants Judge Dale Fisher to grant their December 4, 2013 motion to toss the complaint that Ryan A Brooks and his Gold Glove Productions filed on October 1 over the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams pic. Naming a whack of defendants including WB, Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions and talent agencies UTA and Gersh in his multi-claim filing. Brooks alleged that the baseball movie credited to screenwriter Randy Brown was in fact lifted from a script written by one Don Handfield for him years beforehand. Late last month, Brooks’ attorney Gerard Fox responded to WB’s …
It must have seemed like the Man With No Name was riding to rescue once again. Clint Eastwood likely saved a choking man’s life when he jumped into action and performed the Heimlich maneuver on him. It happened at a volunteer dinner on the eve of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach. The tourney’s director, Steve John, told the Carmel Pine Cone a piece of cheese got lodged in his throat and he couldn’t breathe. “It was as bad as it could have been,” he said. “But Clint came up behind me, and he knew exactly what to do. He … lifted me right off the ground.” Eastwood — the 83-year-old former mayor of nearby Carmel and a part owner of the renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links — told the Pine Cone it took “three good jolts” to clear John’s airway. “I looked in his eyes and saw that look of panic people have when they see their life passing before their very eyes,” he said. “It looked bad.” As part of the Pebble Beach ownership group, Eastwood helped select John to his current executive post. “Clint saved my life,” he said. You’ve got to ask yourself one question, Steve: Do I feel lucky?
Manager Leonard Hirshan, who represented Clint Eastwood from his days in television to his turn as a multi-Academy Award-winning filmmaker, died on January 31 at his home in Beverly Hills. The cause of death for the longtime former William Morris agent was Merkel cell carcinoma. He was 86. Hirshan was a longtime William Morris agent — he spent 50 years at the agency and at one point was head of the agency’s motion picture group. He represented Elvis with Colonel Tom Parker, Walter Matthau, Sophia Loren, Eva Marie Saint, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Edward G. Robinson. He passed away with his two daughters, Karen Hirshan and Sarah Dey Hirshan, by his side. He and Eastwood were close and have what is likely the longest business relationship in Hollywood; they celebrated birthdays together; they were there for each others’ marriages; and Hirshan celebrated Eastwood’s triumphs such as when the filmmaker won Best Picture and Best Director for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby and even traveled overseas to visit the set of Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers. He was fiercely loyal to his clients and an extremely private person — except to speak proudly about the daughters and granddaughters he loved.
A native of New York City, Hirshan began in the mailroom of William Morris Agency’s NYC offices in April 1951 and quickly moved up the ranks to agent when be began representing then-unknown Saint. Hirshan pushed to land her a role in On The Waterfront which was her first film and earned her an Academy Award for supporting actress. In 1955, he moved to Hollywood, where he began very long-term relationships with Jack Lemmon and Matthau. Hirshan negotiated Presley’s deal for his very first feature film, Love Me Tender. In 2001, Hirshan left William Morris to form Leonard Hirshan Management where he continued to be the exclusive agent and manager of Eastwood. In meetings at William Morris, he would often say to the younger agents: “Get a piece of paper and a pencil and write this down.” He taught many agents about the business and negotiation skills. “He was a good mentor to me and the best negotiator I ever met and a true friend. Recently, we had lunch at the Soho House with (former agents) John Ptak, Bob Shapiro, Steve Kenis, Rick Nicita, and Fred Specktor,” said longtime friend Fred Westheimer, who worked with him for about 45 years at WMA. “This is a shock.”
The lawsuit over the 2012 Warner Bros baseball pic Trouble With The Curve just lobbed a potential legal bombshell. In a filing today (read it here), plaintiff Ryan A Brooks and his Gold Glove Productions say they have “clear and convincing proof that Defendants’ testimony and other alleged evidence rests upon fraudulent documents and things.” Citing a digital investigator looking at computer disks submitted by Warners in the case, Brooks’ lawyers claim that there is “clear evidence that the date/time stamps of the disks were manipulated to present inaccurate information about date of creation.” Despite the allegations, the studio wasn’t giving any ground. “The lawsuit is reckless and a waste of time and money. The allegations are false,” a WB spokesperson told me. Warner Bros released Trouble With The Curve in September 2012 and the pic grossed $35.8 million domestically and almost $50 million worldwide.
The filing today in federal court opposed Warner Bros’ December 4 motion for summary judgment to get the breach of contract and contract infringement case tossed. In an initial multimillion-dollar filing on October 1, Brooks alleged that the Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams pic credited to screenwriter Randy Brown was in fact written by one Don Handfield. Pushing back, WB said in December that it has “extensive, indisputable evidence” that Brown completed a number of drafts of what became the film and pushed to have the suit dismissed. Late last year, the studio submitted evidence to that end. That’s when plaintiff’s lawyer Gerard Fox brought aboard former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent Trevor Reschke as his digital investigator.
Global Showbiz Briefs: U.S. Filmmakers Support Iceland Film Biz; MTV Has ‘Ex On The Beach’ For UK; More
U.S. Filmmakers Lend Support To Iceland’s Film Industry
In early November, Iceland’s government announced plans to cut funding to the Icelandic Film Centre by about 40%. The news was met with upset within the industry, especially given that film production turnover has grown 248% since 2010, according to industry reports. That was driven by a number of Hollywood pics that shot locally including Oblivion, Prometheus and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and HBO’s Games Of Thrones. Film trade orgs have said the effect of the cuts would hurt the local economy and result in 200 job losses. The country’s film bodies have now received a statement of support signed by filmmakers including Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky and Terrence Malick. “We, the undersigned, have had the great pleasure of working on one or more film projects in Iceland,” the statement reads. “In our view, the Icelandic film professionals we’ve worked with are of the highest standard. The expertise that they bring to the table – not only as filmmakers but as invaluable advisors on Icelandic practices, customs and locations – has brought immeasurable benefits to the work that we do. We stand with them, and with the entire film community in Iceland, in their efforts to maintain the current levels of government support for filmmaking, and thus we urge the Icelandic government to reconsider their current plans to cut the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund.”
MTV Preps ‘Ex On The Beach’ For Spring UK Bow
MTV has commissioned reality series Ex On The Beach, which is set to premiere in the UK in the spring. It then will roll out across MTV’s international network, excluding the U.S. The series is produced for MTV UK by Whizz Kid Entertainment and was shot on location in southern Europe. It sees eight single men and women invited to enjoy a luxury vacation in the belief they are being set up for a holiday romance. Instead, as MTV cameras watch, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends of cast members arrive unexpectedly. Each ex will have a different motive for appearing, from winning their partner back to exacting revenge after a breakup. Ex On The Beach is exec produced by Steve Regan, Lisa Chapman and Suzanne Readwin.
The legal battle over who actually wrote the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic Trouble With The Curve today hit fastball territory. Just a couple of days after Warner Bros threw back in a motion to have Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions’ multimillion dollar copyright infringement case against them tossed, the plaintiffs are now seeking a summary judgment of their own. “While often the issues related to these types of claims of copyright infringement raise factual issues requiring a full trial, the evidence presented herein as relates to these specific claims of intentional infringement weighs so heavily in favor of such a finding that it can fairly be said that no reasonable juror could find to the contrary,” says the motion filed today in federal court in LA (read it here). Along with the motion, the plaintiffs filed a number of declarations today asserting their case. Among other things, the declaration from Brooks (read it here) notes that it was an October 5, 2011 piece by my colleague Mike Fleming Jr on Eastwood joining a project called Trouble With The Curve that alerted him to the film and its supposed similarity to the scripts that he owned. Eastwood is not named as defendant in the the initial October 1 12-claim filing but WB, UTA, Gersh, director Robert Lorenz, screenwriter Randy Brown and Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions …
The only real surprise here is what took the studio so long. Warner Bros on Wednesday formally swung back at the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic Trouble With The Curve. To continue the ballgame lingo, the studio doesn’t think the court should even step up to the plate to claims by Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions, first filed October 1, that the idea for the Randy Brown-written film was stolen — WB wants the case thrown out. “The Warner Defendants’ motion for summary judgment should be granted and this case should be brought to a halt before defendants have to incur any further costs in defending it,” says the motion (read it here) filed Wednesday in federal court. “The Warner Defendants appreciate that early summary judgment motions are not the norm, but this case calls out for it, especially given the salaciousness of the complaint and Plaintiffs’ abject refusal to face the reality — attested to by various third-party witnesses — that Mr. Brown wrote TWTC in the 1990s.” Brooks is seeking tens of millions in his case as well as all the profits for the film. Curve came out in September 2012 and was a middling success with $35.8 million grossed domestically and about $50 million worldwide.
The Clint Eastwood-directed Jersey Boys will hit the big screen on June 20, 2014, and Live By Night, the next movie written and directed by Ben Affleck, will be released on Christmas Day 2015. Warner Bros made the scheduling announcement today. The new date for the Broadway adaptation is the latest in a long ride for the musical, which was originally at Sony before Graham King signed a multi-year deal with Warners in September 2012 and moved the project over with him. At the time a Christmas 2013 date was penciled in. Now it will be released wide on a date that so far includes Sony/Screen Gems’ sequel Think Like A Man Too. Live By Night is Affleck’s follow-up to Best Picture Oscar winner Argo. Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing. Affleck will also produce and star in the adaptation of epic period crime novel by Dennis Lehane, who also was the author of Affleck’s first directorial effort Gone Baby Gone.
You’ve got one week to drop your case or we’ll go after you for malicious prosecution. That in a nutshell is what an email today from a lawyer for Warner Bros told the attorneys for plaintiff Ryan A Brooks in his copyright suit over the 2012 Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic Trouble With The Curve. Still Brook’s lawyer Gerald Fox says he has no intention to end the suit. “This is typical big firm bullying,” he told me today. “If that’s the best they can do I’ll see them in court.” Thursday’s email from lawyer Matthew Kline of the L.A. offices of O’Melveny & Myers is WB’s first legalish response to a multi-million dollar 12-claim complaint filed on October 1 against WB, UTA, Gersh, director Robert Lorenz, screenwriter Randy Brown and Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions among others. Eastwood himself is not named. However, in the suit, Brooks claims Curve actually came from three of his copyrighted scripts about college baseball written by actor Don Handfield based on the plaintiff’s knowledge of that world. Handfield, who Brooks later had a biz falling out with, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Officially WB or the other defendants have not responded to the suit through the courts. The studio will only say that “the lawsuit is reckless and the allegations false.” …
Writer Sues Warner Bros And Others Claiming They Stole Idea For Clint Eastwood’s ‘Trouble With The Curve’
Ryan A. Brooks filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California claiming that Warner Bros’ Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams baseball pic Trouble With The Curve came from three of his copyrighted scripts and a concept reel from Brooks’ production company. Among the defendants named in the 119-page suit (read it here) is Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions, several Warner Bros divisions and talent agencies UTA and Gersh. It alleges that the script of the 2012 movie credited to Randy Brown was actually penned by Don Handfield, whom Brooks had contracted on a work-for-hire basis along with his wife Tressa Difiglia Handfield to help him write Omaha, also a baseball movie with a father-daughter story at its center. “The copyrighted scripts and concept reel bear more than a striking resemblance to Trouble With The Curve“, said Gerard P. Fox, who is representing Brooks and his company Gold Glove Productions.
Missed them first time round? Check them out:
Squash Those Petitions! Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
By Mike Fleming Jr - OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Naming New Film Marketing Team; Russell Schwartz And Dana Precious In, Terry Curtin Out
By Nikki Finke - EXCLUSIVE: I understand that New Line veteran Russell Schwartz is already signed to become President of Theatrical Marketing. And Marvel veteran Dana Precious is in final talks to assume the newly created position of President of Creative Advertising and Research.
Fox Makes Epic First-Look Deal With Online Venture For Film-Centric Journalism
By Mike Fleming Jr - EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has made a two-year first-look pact with Epic, a fledgling online platform designed to be a catalyst for film-centric investigative longform journalism that had formerly been the domain of national magazines.
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Sets ‘Act Of Valor 2’: Scott Wiper To Write/Direct About SWATs
By Nikki Finke - EXCLUSIVE: Relativity and the Bandito Brothers scored a #1 domestic opening when they brought Act Of Valor about U.S. Navy SEALS to the big screen in February 2012 and grossed over $70M all in.
Clint Eastwood In Negotiations To Direct ‘American Sniper’ For Warner Bros
By Nikki Finke - I’ve learned that Warner Bros wants to fast-track production for the first quarter of 2014 and is in “tentative negotiations” with Clint Eastwood to direct.
‘The Butler’ #1 Again, ‘Mortal Instruments’ #3, ‘The World’s End’ #4, ‘You’re Next’ #6
By Nikki Finke - As Summer 2013 …
I’ve learned that Warner Bros wants to fast-track production for the first quarter of 2014 and is in “tentative negotiations” with Clint Eastwood to direct. This is after Steven Spielberg this month took American Sniper out of his crosshairs, after declaring in May that he would next helm the film about decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, with Bradley Cooper playing the marksman. DreamWorks joined Warner Bros in a co-production when Spielberg said he would direct the script by Jason Hall. Both Spielberg and DreamWorks pulled out completely so there’s no extra expense to Warner Bros. American Sniper has Cooper not only starring but producing with Andrew Lazar and Peter Morgan. Eastwood is prepping to direct the movie version of Jersey Boys for Warner Bros. Production on that film will start at the end of August on the studio lot and is produced by Graham King and Rob Lorenz.
(Nikki Finke is currently on vacation.)