UPDATES with more casting news, below: The New Group, an off-Broadway standard bearer, heads into its 20th season in a new home further west on 42nd Street with a lineup that will feature Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) in her directing debut and the world premiere of a new play by and starring Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network). The season also includes the return to the stage of Dianne Weist and Holly Hunter.
The company leaves 42nd Street’s Theatre Row to take up residence a block west in the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center complex, which has in a short time become one of the city’s premiere theater destinations, noted for its $25 ticket policy, live-jazz-accompanied cafe and open space bookstore. The season will kick off in October with a revival of David Rabe’s seminal Vietnam-era drama Sticks And Bones, with Holly Hunter and Bill Pullman playing a black-comedy riff on iconic American TV couple Ozzie and Harriet. Their world is turned inside out when son David returns home from the war. New Group artistic director Scott Elliott will direct. Joseph Papp’s original 1971 production moved to broadway and won the Tony Award for best play of 1972.
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Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest and Oscar-nominated Rosie Perez have joined the cast of indie drama Five Nights In Maine. David Oyelowo stars in the pic as a man reeling from the tragic loss of his wife who visits his estranged mother-in-law (Wiest) in Maine seeking answers. Maris Curran scripted and is directing. Teyonah Parris, Stephen Henderson, and Hani Furstenberg fill out the cast. Carly Hugo and Matt Parker are producing for NY-based prod co Loveless alonsgide Curran and Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon Productions banner. Project earned backing from the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grant as well as a Cinereach grant. CAA is repping domestic sales. Read More »
Can a PBS documentary actually have a major impact on this year’s Oscar race?
That’s the question I asked writer-director-producer Robert Weide, whose two-part American Masters portrait of Woody Allen begins airing on PBS stations November 20-21. Of course this is perfect timing because Sony Pictures Classics is launching a major Oscar campaign on behalf of what has turned out to be Allen’s most successful film ever, Midnight In Paris, which so far has a domestic gross of $55 million, is critically acclaimed, and is on every pundit’s list of potential Oscar players this year.
Weide is an 11-time Emmy nominee and three-time winner for directing Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as various showbiz docus on W.C Fields, The Marx Brothers and Lenny Bruce (a feature doc for which he also earned an Oscar nomination in 1998). He has tried for decades and finally got unprecedented access and cooperation from Allen and his associates and colleagues in the making of this remarkable documentary on all things Woody. But if you think this was all calculated to impact the Oscars, think again. For SPC, it is just a happy coincidence.
“Listen, when I approached Woody, he was still shooting [2009's] Whatever Works with Larry David, and then I was on the set with him for You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, thinking that that would be, sort of, the most current film at the time of the release,” Weide … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is going for some serious acting firepower on the Noah Baumbach/Scott Rudin drama The Corrections. The pay cable network has Oscar winner Chris Cooper in negotiations and two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest set for the two leads in the project based on Jonathan Franzen’s book, which is yet to be formally greenlighted to pilot. The award-wining 2001 novel revolves around the troubles of an elderly Midwestern couple, to be played by Cooper and Wiest, and their three adult children — roles that are now being cast — as they trace their lives from the mid-20th century to “one last Christmas” together near the turn of the millennium. Baumbach and Franzen co-wrote the adaptation, with Baumbach set to direct the pilot. Rudin, who had been developing the project for a decade, originally as a feature, is executive producing with Baumbach and Franzen. ICM-repped Wiest, whose previous HBO series role on In Treatment earned her an Emmy, will next be seen in The Odd Life Of Timothy Green and Lawrence Kasdan’s Darling Companion. Cooper, repped by Paradigm and Untitled, will next be seen in The Muppets. His most recent TV gig was a co-starring role in the 2003 HBO movie My House In Umbria, which landed him an Emmy nomination.
EXCLUSIVE: Superman is getting a new mom. Ayelet Zurer, the Israeli actress who starred in Angels & Demons and who played the wife of Avner (Eric Bana) in Munich, has been set to play the role of Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s Kryptonian mother, in Man of Steel. Production is underway on the Warner Bros/Legendary film. That role was originally going to be played by Julia Ormond. I was unable to find out why director Zack Snyder made the last-minute change, but I’ve confirmed that Zurer will start filming this week. Henry Cavill plays Superman, Russell Crowe plays Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El, and Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon also star. Zurer will next be seen starring in the Lawrence Kasdan-directed Darling Companion opposite Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Dianne Wiest for Sony Pictures Classics. She’s repped by IFA Talent Agency. Man of Steel is produced by Chris Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder and Emma Thomas.