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VIDEO: Did Sacha Baron Cohen Paint His Masterpiece With Charlie Chaplin Stunt?

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 6:36am PST
Mike Fleming

RELATED: Britannia Awards: Sacha Baron Cohen Kills – LITERALLY? – And Steals The Show

We gave short shrift yesterday to the video of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s acceptance speech, when he took the stage to accept the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence In Comedy. And then murdered the wheelchair-bound 87-year old Grace Collington, right after the unsuspecting audience was told she appeared in Chaplin’s 1931 film City Lights as a 5-year-old.

Is this more outrageous than when Baron Cohen promoted Bruno by giving Eminem an aerial tea-bagging at the 2009 MTV Awards, or when, as The Dictator, he dumped an urn on red carpet interviewer Ryan Seacrest and told him that if anyone asks who you are wearing, you can say Kim Jong Il? Baron Cohen is most certainly keeping the spirit of Andy Kaufman alive, and I think that this week he set the bar to a level even he will be hard pressed to top. Here is his Britannia stunt in two segments, and below that is his MTV Awards and Oscar handiwork.

Here is Baron Cohen’s Eminem stunt, followed by his Oscar appearance, before he was hauled off by security:

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UPDATE: Kerry Washington To Host ‘SNL’ On Nov. 2 As New-Cast Kerfuffle Continues

By | Wednesday October 16, 2013 @ 9:45am PDT

UPDATED, 9:45 AM: Kerry Washington found herself in the middle of Saturday Night Live’s new-cast kerfuffle this morning when the NBC late-night show announced it had booked her to make her hosting debut on November 2. SNL may have first approached ABC’s Scandal star last season, and booked her weeks ago, but the timing of SNL‘s announcement raised eyebrows this morning, putting her at the epicenter of the latest media storm over SNL’s performers. In case you were off the grid yesterday, SNL cast member Kenan Thompson made some news when he told TV Guide that, yes, it’s the show’s sixth consecutive year without a black female cast member because, turns out, there are just no black female comics out there who are qualified for the gig. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” When asked how the show plans to handle any spoofs of black female celebrities (a FLOTUS gag, maybe?) Thompson responded, “I don’t know. We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe [Jay Pharoah] will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it.”

Maybe they can do a FLOTUS sketch on November 2!

Thompson’s interview managed the impossible, driving from the media’s mind all thought of Miley Cyrus’ turn as Twerking Michele Bachmann on SNL’s second episode this season, as their attention returned to the casting  controversy that made headlines when the show’s newbies were unveiled. While there is some diversity among the newcomers (Noel Wells, for instance is half-Tunisian/Hispanic), critics complain they’re too white — and especially lacking in black comediennes, which, the press in numbers pointed out yesterday, continues SNL‘s dismal track record on that score. Washington, who plays a hot-shot Washington, D.C. “fixer” having an affair with POTUS on ABC’s Shonda Rhimes hit Scandal, is known to be pretty outspoken and may wind up weighing in on the subject. Or not. If she doesn’t,  there’s always Eminem, who’s returning for his sixth appearance as SNL’s musical guest that night. Read More »

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Top Hip-Hop Agent Cara Lewis Leaving WME; Will Kanye West And Eminem Follow?

By | Tuesday December 6, 2011 @ 1:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Cara Lewis, a dominant agent in the hip-hop sphere, will leave WME at the end of the month when her contract expires. Lewis spent 23 years at WMA and WME, and her client list includes Kanye West, Eminem, B.o.B, Big Boi, Common, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Ne-Yo, Pitbull, Soulja Boy, the Roots and Tinie Tempah. Music touring has become an increasingly important segment for agencies, so this one will be interesting to follow. A source close to Lewis confirmed she’ll leave, saying they just couldn’t come to terms on a new deal.

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MGM Ordering Up ‘Killer Pizza’

By | Tuesday November 8, 2011 @ 3:52pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: MGM is in talks to acquire Killer Pizza, an Adam Green-scripted adaptation of the Greg Taylor book about a 14-year old boy who lands a summer job at a pizza joint that is actually a front for a monster hunting enterprise. Rafaella De Laurentiis is producing with 1492 Pictures and CJ Entertainment. 1492 Entertainment’s Chris Columbus brought it to MGM after meeting with the brass there and sensing the studio’s appetite for Gremlins and Goonies-type fare, and Killer Pizza fit that bill. After a long period of being frozen, MGM has become an active buyer, recently partnering with Sony on the Antoine Fuqua-directed Eminem-starrer Southpaw after DreamWorks let that project go. The company also acquired Where’s Waldo, which had been developed as an animated film property by Illumination Entertainment. APA and Industry rep the writer and CAA repped the book.

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Will MGM/Sony Bid KO Competition For Eminem Boxing Drama ‘Southpaw?’

By | Wednesday October 19, 2011 @ 3:07pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing a bid made by MGM–with Sony Pictures distributing–is now the frontrunner for Southpaw, the Antoine Fuqua-directed boxing film that will star Eminem. The other suitors in the ring on this have been Alcon Entertainment and Summit Entertainment. There was no comment from the parties involved. Deadline revealed in August that DreamWorks had dropped out of the  boxing drama that had Eminem poised to return to the screen for the first time since 2002′s 8 Mile, and Fuqua directing a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. Suitors were all over it, quickly. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who bought the project as a pitch last year and who worked closely with Eminem and his team on 8 Mile while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere. Several outlets were impressed by the script and how it was a custom fit for the tribulations overcome by Eminem after he became a big hip hop star. Eminem will play a fast-rising welterweight boxer who brawls his way to the title, only to see his world crash down around him due to a tragedy. The drama is about his fight to reclaim past glory for himself and his young daughter. Sutter told me at the time that the project was partly inspired by Eminem’s own struggles that inform his music and mirror his … Read More »

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Eminem-Antoine Fuqua Boxing Drama ‘Southpaw’ Dropped By DreamWorks But Still Seeking To Answer Bell

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has thrown in the towel on Southpaw, the boxing drama that has Eminem returning to the screen for the first time since 2002′s 8 Mile, and Antoine Fuqua directing a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The plan was to start in January. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who worked closely with Eminem and his team on 8 Mile while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere and that’s what they are trying to do. Maybe DreamWorks was concerned the market is crowded with  brawler films after The Fighter and the upcoming Gavin O’Connor-directed mixed martial arts drama Warrior, or maybe the studio’s cautious after its big bet on Cowboys & Aliens didn’t pay off. (I’m sure it’s coincidence that Snider once unplugged the Fuqua-directed version of American Gangster before putting the picture back together with Ridley Scott). But given the appetite of a crop of distributors looking for wide release product, I’d be surprised if this one, which is fully packaged, doesn’t get off the canvas quickly. Read More »

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Q&A: Brian Grazer And Ron Howard On 25 Years Together As Imagine Partners

Mike Fleming

UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have reached a milestone unusual in Hollywood: partners for 25 years. When they first got together, Grazer was a TV producer. Howard, after growing up on the small screen in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, had only directed a couple of TV movies and the low budget Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto. Grazer and Howard have been at it together ever since, building a company that over 25 years has been one of the most consistent generators of content. Their TV series output includes 24, Parenthood, Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights; their movies have grossed $13.5 billion worldwide. That includes A Beautiful Mind, which won Howard the Academy Award for Best Director. Grazer and Howard shared Best Picture Oscars that night as well. Not everything they’ve done has succeeded, of course. They they took their company public and repurchased the shares; they helped launched and fold the online venture Pop.com; their most recent film together, the adult comedy The Dilemma, was a misfire that created controversy over the inclusion of the word “gay” in a trailer. They’ve had way more hits than misses.

In honor of Imagine’s Silver Anniversary, Deadline invited Howard and Grazer to look back over their quarter century together, and into a future that includes something never tried before by anyone in Hollywood. They’re adapting Stephen King’s 7-novel series The Dark Tower into a film trilogy, and a limited run TV series in between. It has pushed the envelope enough that their longtime home studio, Universal  Pictures, postponed a planned late summer start until next year and asked the filmmakers to cut the budget. Some question the studio’s resolve on such a massive undertaking. The studio has to green light the film by next month or the rights revert to Imagine, Akiva Goldsman and King, who are determined to make it regardless.

DEADLINE: Not many marriages of any kind last 25 years in Hollywood. What is most important about the anniversary?
HOWARD: It’s such a challenging time to get movies made. And yet, look at all we have coming out. Tower Heist, the Gus Van Sant movie Restless, J Edgar with Clint Eastwood and Leo DiCaprio, Cowboys & Aliens, this big broad appeal four quadrant fantasy adventure story with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. With The Playboy Club getting on the air, and Parenthood getting picked up, I’m proud we’re doing what we’ve always done. A wide variety of projects that got made because we care and put in the energy to get them done in light of how difficult it is these days.

DEADLINE: I’ve watched filmmaker partnerships fail because of jealousy, ego, greed, or lack of sustained success. Why have you avoided those pitfalls?
HOWARD: The bi-coastal relationship!

DEADLINE: Simple as that?
HOWARD: Because I’m in New York, we’re not forced to stare at each other’s faces 24/7. But I think that’s not really it. We love what we’re doing, we have fun doing it and our sensibilities are in sync. In a business that can create so many feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, I learned to trust in that. Brian is smart and cares about me doing well and feeling good about what I’m doing. It’s a partnership built on support. It has been that way since the beginning.
GRAZER: It works because we have similar tastes and not only gravitate toward the same material but also what lives inside the core of the movie it becomes. We’ve done, and Ron has directed, all kinds of genres. We have a common interest in the humanity aspect of a movie, regardless if it’s a comedy or a drama. We also share a similar work ethic.

DEADLINE: When you cover all genres, does Imagine have a wheelhouse? For a company looking to last, is it advisable to have one?
HOWARD: The process is what gets Brian and me excited, whatever the genre. Not specializing has given our company a sense of flexibility and adaptability to whatever the market or the zeitgeist is suggesting. We’ve always respected each other as creative people. If Brian loves something and I don’t quite get it, I’ll tell him that but I’ll never try to impede the progress. He’s the same with me. With Apollo 13, I  wasn’t sure the genre would work, because space films hadn’t done that well. Brian was instantly so excited about it, and made me realize we were onto something. 8 Mile, I don’t know anything about rap. This was something he understood. I didn’t know how to make that movie, but I recognized a great idea. Whenever the two of us get excited, on films like Splash, Night Shift and Parenthood, those have resulted in the building blocks of the company. I’ve always liked TV  but I phased it out for awhile and it was Brian’s perseverance that has made us strong in both TV and films. Independent companies are rarely strong in both.
GRAZER: What we’ve do is agree on the moral center of a project, but nobody’s better at finding the language of a particular movie than Ron. He’s got a grasp of understanding  new vocabularies, whether it’s the The Da Vinci Code, fantasy like Cocoon or Splash, or Backdraft and The Grinch. He is great at inhabiting a world and completely understanding and expressing its language. In A Beautiful Mind, he entered that world and understood the medical science of mental illness. So there have been times where he led the charge, and I was drawn in by his excitement.

DEADLINE: What was the last hard conversation or professional disagreement you can remember?
HOWARD: I can’t think of one offhand, but even when we have disagreements, I can’t think of a case where one of us ever said, ‘Oh, please don’t do this.’ If there’s a lot of passion from one or the other, then the support of the company is going to be there. Read More »

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DreamWorks Teams With Eminem And Kurt Sutter For ‘Southpaw’

By | Monday December 13, 2010 @ 3:26pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a preemptive acquisition of Southpaw, a pitch for a star vehicle for Eminem (Marshall Mathers) that will be written by Sons of Anarchy creator/exec producer Kurt Sutter. Like in Eminem’s 2002 screen starring debut 8 Mile, Southpaw will be fueled by the struggles that inform Eminem’s music and mirror his life. Eminem will play a fast-rising welterweight boxer who brawls his way to the title, only to see his world crash down around him due to tragedy. The movie is about his fight to reclaim past glory.

The pitch was bought in the room by DreamWorks co-chairman/CEO Stacey Snider, who got first crack because she championed 8 Mile when she was Universal Pictures chief. The film will be produced by Eminem’s Shady Films’ managers and producing partners Paul Rosenberg and Stuart Parr, and Alan and Peter Riche of Riche Productions. The deal comes as Eminem’s comeback album, Recovery, just got 10 Grammy Awards nominations.

Sutter, who just completed the third season of his FX series, said the project was borne out of his observation of Eminem’s struggles. “I took meetings with Marshall’s producing partners over the past 7 years, looking for something to do together,” Sutter told me. “I know he’s very selective and doesn’t do a lot. But he shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested … Read More »

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