Broadway‘s John Golden Theatre was SRO Friday evening with invited guests and fans who’d scored tickets through a lottery to hear directors Mike Nichols and Jack O’Brien talk movies — specifically Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967), Nichols’ freshman and sophomore efforts following an extraordinary run of Broadway hits that included Neil Simon’s Barefoot In The Park and The Odd Couple. The first film earned him an Oscar nomination for best director; with the second film, he took home the statuette.
The conversation, which was being filmed for HBO, began a day earlier, in private, and covered his years as half of the comedy team of Nichols and May (whose 306-performance Broadway run beginning in October 1960 had taken place in this same theater) and his collaborations with Simon and others. And it will pick up again in private on Monday, dealing with his years working both sides of the continent. But Friday night, the subject was filmmaking, a career Nichols practically fell into by accident.
“Who the hell are you, and how did you know you could do a film?” O’Brien asked, only half-kiddingly after a brief introduction. O’Brien — himself one of the theater’s most intelligent and crystalline directors (with Nichols he shares a special affinity for the work of Tom Stoppard) — explained that after recently publishing his autobiography, he’d encouraged Nichols to do the same. Out of Nichols’ demurral came the idea of filming the conversations; the timing is fortuitous, coming just a day after the announcement that Nichols will film an adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, starring Meryl Streep as a diva in the mold of Maria Callas, beginning after the turn of the year.
Stephen Frears‘ untitled Lance Armstrong film is currently shooting on location in Europe with Dustin Hoffman set to come along for the ride once production moves to the U.S. for the final stages. Lee Pace (The Hobbit trilogy) has also boarded the movie. Hoffman and Pace are joining Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet and Jesse Plemons in the film about disgraced Tour de France champion Armstrong. Foster plays the cyclist with O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh. Trance‘s John Hodge wrote the screenplay based on sportswriter Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong. The film charts Armstrong’s rise through the 1990s and early 2000s, his battle with cancer and his dominance of pro cycling. It also follows Walsh who was at first charmed by Armstrong, but ultimately became an integral figure in exposing the doping rife within the sport. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing as are Kate Solomon and longtime Frears collaborator Tracey Seaward — who most recently worked with the director on Philomena. Studiocanal is fully financing and will distribute in its own territories.
Francois Girard (The Red Violin) directs the Informant Media feature which Dustin Hoffman has signed on to topline. Pic tells the story of troubled 11-year-old Stet, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who ends up in a school choir butting heads with Choir Master Carvelle (Hoffman), who pushes the boy to find his creative heart and soul in music. Young members of the renowned American Boychoir School will appear in the film, with Alfred Molina set to play fellow teacher Drake and Kathy Bates cast as the school’s headmistress. Source Code‘s Ben Ripley penned the script and Judy Cairo, Carol Baum and Jane Goldenring will produce. Informant’s Michael A. Simpson and Eric Brenner are exec producing with Ripley. John Papsidera is co-producing and casting the picture in a worldwide search for a musically and dramatically gifted young thesp to play Stet. Read More »
Esio Trot will see Dustin Hoffman play Mr Hoppy, a retired bachelor who harbors a secret passion for his neighbor, Mrs Silver (Judi Dench). Unfortunately, she lavishes all her affection on Alfie… her pet tortoise. Directed by Dearbhla Walsh, a 2008 Emmy winner for Little Dorrit, the BBC One commission will be produced by Hilary Bevan Jones’ Endor Productions and BBC One. Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, who previously worked together on comedy series The Vicar Of Dibley, reteamed to handle the adaptation. The 90-minute movie starts shooting in London next spring. Red Arrow International, whose parent company holds a majority stake in Endor, will sell worldwide.
Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have completed their roster of presenters for Sunday’s show with a pair of Hollywood heavyweights. Three-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson last presented a montage of previous Best Picture winners at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008. He’ll be back on stage this Sunday as will two-time winner Dustin Hoffman, who last handed out a prize in 2006. The official release follows: Read More »
Seven-time Best Actor Oscar nominee and two-time winner Dustin Hoffman waited a long time to make his feature directing debut. Here’s the trailer for Quartet, in which the arrival of a new diva stirs up trouble in a home for retired opera singers. Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith star in the December 28 release from The Weinstein Company.
Maybe David Letterman will talk about it when President Obama appears on The Late Show September 18th. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the recipients this morning. Letterman joins actor Dustin Hoffman, the rock band Led Zeppelin, blues great Buddy Guy, and ballerina Natalia Marakova as the 2012 Annual Kennedy Center Honorees. While Led Zeppelin is being honored as a band, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, guitarist Jimmy Page, and singer Robert Plant will each receive a medallion. The night before the gala, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host a State Department dinner for the seven individuals who then sit with President Obama and First Lady Michelle during the December 4th ceremony. The President and Mrs Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, at the White House prior to the gala.
For the 35th year, the honors will be broadcast by CBS as a two-hour primetime special on December 26th. George Stevens Jr, who co-created the honors in 1978, returns to produce and co-write. He was just tapped to receive an Honorary Oscar this year.
“With their extraordinary talent, creativity and tenacity, the seven 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees have contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.
They famously co-starred as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the 1976 classic All The President’s Men. And Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival they were together again – sort of. In an odd coincidence, both Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman unveiled their latest directing efforts in back to back North American premieres. At 10 PM in another theatre nearby, Redford with little fanfare and no other cast members present presided over the North American premiere of his new all-star drama The Company You Keepwhich Sony Pictures Classics will release next year. While Hoffman hosted the world premiere of the senior comedy Quartetand then conducted with the cast a post-screening Q&A filled with laughs and behind-the-scenes intel.
Quartet about a retirement home for opera stars features Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly as seniors who refuse to go gently into that good night. They were all in Toronto for the debut at the Elgin Theatre, and the crowd-pleasing film will be released by The Weinstein Company in December in time to qualify for Oscars. Read More »
“I’m here to get nominated,” laughed Dustin Hoffman (who is making his directorial debut at age 75 with the 2012 Weinstein release, Quartet) as he took the stage at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual lunch to present grants to non-profit entertainment related organizations and scholarship programs. It was meant as a joke but clearly there is some truth to it, as this luncheon, held today at the Beverly Hills Hotel, often draws a lot of awards hopefuls to accept the generous grants in front of virtually the entire HFPA membership. If you’re a film or TV contender it certainly doesn’t hurt to be seen in this room. Awards consultants and PR Execs eagerly cooperate with the HFPA to get a strong turnout of contenders at this early pre-season kickoff to yet another awards race. Among the many PR types present you heard the same phrase over and over, “well here we go again”.
Among those presenting the total of more than $1.2 million to some 40 organizations today in addition to Hoffman were Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), John Travolta (Savages), Don Johnson and Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), Jennifer Lawrence(Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games), Jack Black (Bernie), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Kelsey Grammer (Boss) and Carla Gugino (Political Animals). Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) opened the proceedings for the Foreign Press group by joking that ”the 40 grants are as diverse as the people sitting in this audience today”. Read More »
On Wednesday, Deadline revealed that The Weinstein Company was acquiring the Dustin Hoffman-directed comedy Quartet. TWC just confirmed it with this release.
New York, NY – May 4, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired U.S. and Latin American rights to Dustin Hoffman’s QUARTET from HanWay Films. The comedy stars Maggie Smith (HARRY POTTER franchise, GNOMEO AND JULIET), Billy Connolly (GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, THE LAST SAMURAI), Michael Gambon (HARY POTTER franchise, THE KING’S SPEECH) and Pauline Collins (ALBERT NOBBS, FROM TIME TO TIME). QUARTET, written by Sir Ronald Harwood, marks the directorial debut of Hoffman. QUARTET tells the story of Reggie (Courtenay), Wilf (Connolly) and Cissy (Collins) who reside in Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers. Each year they stage a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday, which also raises funds for the home. Reggie’s ex-wife Jean (Smith) arrives at the home and creates tension, playing the diva part but refusing to sing in the concert.
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company is negotiating to acquire U.S. and Latin America distribution rights to Quartet, the Dustin Hoffman-directed comedy that stars Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and Pauline Collins. The script was written by Ronald Harwood. The deal is upwards of $3 million, I’m hearing.
This was a stealth pursuit by TWC’s Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser, but that cover was blown when an acquisition screening scheduled for this evening was abruptly scrapped, with rumors that a buyer paid $4 million for the film. I expected this film to surface closer to Cannes, but TWC doesn’t like to wait, something that worked out when Weinstein acquired Best Picture winner The Artist on the eve of 2011 Cannes. In Quartet, Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred reside in a home for retired opera singers and each year they stage a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. Reggie’s ex-wife Jean arrives at the home and creates massive disharmony, playing the diva part but refusing to sing.
The deal is being closed by WME Global’s Graham Taylor. TWC is planning a qualifying run in awards season. The acquisition was done based on reading the script, and viewing a trailer for the film. TWC’s London-based Negen Yazdi and business affairs exec Talia Houminer are tying up the deal right now. The film marks the directorial debut of Hoffman, who though uncredited had a hand in … Read More »
Multi-territory distributor Alliance Films has announced the acquisition of 16 titles to go out via Alliance Films in Canada, Aurum Producciones in Spain and Momentum Pictures in the UK and Ireland. Last week, I exclusively reported from the EFM on Momentum’s acquisition of François Ozon’s In The House and Regis Roisnard’s Populaire for the UK and Ireland. Included in that report were pick-ups of other buzz titles like Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man and Steven Soderbergh’s Bitter Pill in what Alliance SVP of acquisitions and production Robert Walak told me was a better than expected market. Among the additional films Alliance has now confirmed acquiring are Jean Dujardin’s infidelity comedy The Players and Catherine Hardwicke’s erotic thriller Plush with Evan Rachel Wood for the UK and Ireland and Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet with Maggie Smith, Read More »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
HBO’s new series Luck is about horse racing, but at today’s TCA panel, the sport in question was prize-fighting — whether reported friction between the strong personalities involved in the show led to ego clashes behind the scenes. The contenders: Stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, pilot executive producer/director Michael Mann and pilot executive producer/writer David Milch. All four acknowledged their reputations for being difficult, but insisted that peace reigns on Luck. Concerning rumors of contention on the pilot set, Mann said: “It’s ridiculous.” He explained, “There’s a time when any director wants the set to himself” and said a request to have non-participants step away at one point “got contorted into something else.” After the session, Mann said testily, “We’re not four difficult people. People who are insecure don’t have strong egos. We’re good at what we do, so we don’t have insecurity.” Read More »
HBO over the weekend released a teaser trailer for its upcoming Michael Mann-David Milch horse racing drama series Luck, which stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Luck is slated to premiere in January.
The press releases are flying over the transom and since the deal-making has been a bit slack. Here are a few tidbits.
* Grosvenor Park will once again lend money to film productions, forming UK-based EIS Film Fund to disperse $100 million each year for productions. Grosvenor Park fled from the film-financing scene in 2008, when the economy and the independent film business hit the rocks. The target is films with budgets ranging from $10 million to $30 million. Grosvenor Park will also produce senior, gap and tax lending collateralized by territorial distribution sales and production tax incentives, which was how the company lended to films in the past. “Now is an optimal time to re-enter the film-lending space given the strength of the marketplace and the current industry dynamics as evidenced by a resurgence of sales activity at the most recent film markets,” said GP’s Don Starr.
* Morgan Creek has become a co-financier on Universal’s remake of The Thing. The studio releases Morgan Creek’s films in the U.S. including the upcoming Jim Sheridan-directed Dream House, which stars Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz. The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic and it’s directed by Matthijs van Heijningen and produced by Strike Entertainment partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros drama Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first in a awhile who hasn’t been corrupted by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The chief, a Purple Heart recipient at Normandy, is the one who starts the Gangster Squad, a crack team designed to bring down organized crime. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos and Anthony Mackie star.
Nolte stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior, and he just wrapped the Taylor Hackford-directed action film Parker for FilmDistrict opposite Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis. Nolte is about to begin work on the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep opposite Redford and Shia LaBeouf, and he also stars with Dustin Hoffman in the David Milch/Michael Mann HBO series Luck.
EXCLUSIVE: Mimi Leder has signed on to direct All Quiet on the Western Front, an adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s WWI novel that was previously turned into the 1930 film that won a Best Picture Oscar and another for director Lewis Milestone. The novel is about the intense and terrifying action of 1918 trench warfare that traumatizes a young and idealistic German soldier on the Western front. The script is by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. They will produce through their Sliding Down Rainbows Entertainment shingle. They have also come up with part of the funding, Leder told me.
Leder, whose feature credits include Deep Impact and The Peacemaker, just completed directing the season finale of Luck, the HBO series that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, with Michael Mann and David Milch exec producing. She hadn’t read the novel or seen the original film when she was sent the WWI script by Stokell and Paterson, but was struck by how the themes of disillusion and loss of humanity during ferocious fighting hadn’t lost its relevance despite the period setting. Read More »
Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Peter Sarsgaard, Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek will star in Very Good Girls, a film that will be financed by Ealing Metro International and Prescience. They will shop the film here at Cannes. The film will be directed by Naomi Foner, who wrote the script. The film follows two teenage girls through a summer spent in New York City. After they graduate high school, each becomes determined to lose her virginity, and things get complicated when they fall for the same charismatic street artist.
The girls will be played by Fanning, who’s been working on the conclusion of the Twilight Saga films, and Olsen, who made a splash at Sundance as the star of Martha Marcy May Marlene. Gale Anne Hurd and Hawk Koch produce, and production starts in September. CAA put together the funding and is repping North American rights with Ealing Metro.
Here is a first look at HBO’s upcoming horse racing drama series Luck from Michael Mann and David Milch. Set to premiere in the fall, it stars Dustin Hoffman and co-stars Dennis Farina, John Ortiz and Nick Nolte. Joan Allen and Michael Gambon are recurring.