EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lawrence has been tapped to star opposite Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in the David O Russell pic formerly known as American Bullshit, the drama written by Eric Singer and Russell about the ’70s FBI sting operation Abscam that took down a bunch of U.S. congressmen. That puts Lawrence back in business with Russell and Cooper, her cohorts on The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook that landed them all Oscar nominations; she already has won the SAG Award and a Golden Globe for the role. She will play Bale’s wife in the Abscam movie, which is being produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle through Atlas Entertainment, which developed the film at Sony Pictures. The ensemble is being fully financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Ellison also is producing and has been developing the script.
Others include writer-directors Ira Sachs (Keep The Lights On), Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet) and Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight). The 12th annual Film Independent Directors Close-Up series will be held on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning February 6 at the Landmark West Los Angeles. Panelists will discuss specific aspects of directing, including sound, writing, cinematography, casting and eliciting compelling performances from actors. Click over for this year’s schedule and topics:
Scoop hounds like myself love to lock filmmakers into projects and move on in search of the next splashy headline. A look at some recent big director developments, and at the tortured road several directors traveled before getting Oscar nominations this morning, shows that good movies really do find their way into the right hands, even if it takes forever to happen.
Among today’s Best Director nominees, Steven Spielberg only found the handle on Best Picture nominee Lincoln after he trashed an earlier version and labored more than a decade; David O Russell got Silver Linings Playbook because Sydney Pollack could not figure out how to meld humor with mental problems; Ang Lee got to crack the challenging Life Of Pi — which recently became the highest-grossing film in his career — after previous tries by Dean Georgaris and M. Night Shyamalan ended in futility. None of this is as dramatic as, say, when Spielberg traded Martin Scorsese Cape Fear in exchange for Schindler’s List, but it is intriguing how the moves of one major director impacts another, how the right guy for the picture usually ends up in the director’s chair, and why patience can be a virtue.
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning).
Between 1974 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the young Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II and 1991 when he was contending for Best Actor in Cape Fear, Robert De Niro was nominated six times and won two Oscars (1980′s Raging Bull was the other one) in a span of 17 years. But remarkably it has now been 21 years since that last Academy Award shout-out in ’91, a long Oscar dry spell for the man many consider our greatest living film actor. With the release in November of David O. Russell’s critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook, De Niro is genuinely contending for his first Oscar nomination in over two decades as the obsessive compulsive, sports-betting Philadelphia Eagles fan, and father Pat Sr.
Related: OSCARS Q&A: David O. Russell
Already nominated for Critics Choice Movie Awards and SAG Best Supporting Actor honors, De Niro is favored to repeat the feat on January 10th when Oscar nominations are announced, and although he is pleased about the buzz for his performance, he isn’t getting his hopes up as he told me when we spoke over the weekend in a rare interview. “Of course I am happy about it all and the reception, but I don’t want to expect much because I don’t want to be disappointed. I have had a lot of experience over the years and then you expect and you think and it never happens. So all I try to do is be even-keeled about stuff,” he says.
Talk about a high degree of difficulty. David O. Russell, trying to find laughs in a love story where one of his Silver Linings Playbook protagonists is bipolar and fresh from a stint in a mental institution, and the other is freshly widowed with more than a few problems of her own. It was daunting enough that it held back a seasoned pro like Sydney Pollack, the late filmmaker who controlled the Matthew Quick novel along with his partner Anthony Minghella and Harvey Weinstein, Pollack couldn’t find a way to crack it, but he found the writer/director who was a perfect match for the material. Russell, who has had a number of well publicized fits of anger on movie sets himself and who raised a child with bipolar issues, connected with the subject matter in a way probably few writer/directors could. Here he explains how he pulled it off and how it would have been an inferior film if he gone 15 rounds in the Oscar-nominated The Fighter as a tune-up.
DEADLINE: Silver Linings Playbook started with Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella. How did they draft you?
RUSSELL: Well, I only spoke to Sydney. I never spoke to Anthony about it. Sydney just thought he wasn’t sure it could be pulled off. He had the obvious concerns. When you are dealing with delicate subject matter like this, and when you have moments that are so disturbing, can it be that emotionally intense and delightful? Can it be all of those things? That was the question. I kind of knew right away that I had a good shot because I had lived with some of their issues, which are inherently funny as much they are heartbreaking.
Robert De Niro on Saturday night became the latest recipient of the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence In Film at a Black Tie gala at Bacara Resort. The award is presented annually by the legendary actor to benefit the Santa Barbara …
Back in March, Deadline revealed that David O Russell had Christian Bale poised to star in the drama he was putting together, under the title American Bullshit. Shortly after, we told you that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures was stepping up to finance the film. All of it got confirmed today. Here is the release:
(LOS ANGELES, CA) OCTOBER 5, 2012 – Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams will be joined by Christian Bale in David O. Russell’s ensemble drama. Russell’s penning the film’s screenplay with Eric Warren Singer, based on Singer’s original script.
The upcoming film marks the director’s first time working with Renner (two-time Academy Award nominee), and his second collaborations with Bale (Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor for “The Fighter”), Adams (three-time Academy Award nominee including “The Fighter”) and Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”). David O. Russell¹s acclaimed “Silver Linings Playbook” garnered the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has made a deal with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures for international rights on two untitled film projects that will be directed by Spike Jonze and David O Russell, respectively. As she often does with auteur fare, Ellison stepped up to fully fund both films, as she did with the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed The Master, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.
American Bullshit Hits The Fan: David O Russell Clarifies His Role, And The Prospect Of Reuniting With Christian Bale
UPDATE, 5 PM: David O Russell has clarified his relationship with American Bullshit. Sounds like it’s not totally bullshit, but it’s not real, either. But it also sounds like if it does …