Listen to (and share) episode 16 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch, With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks from London with host David Bloom about a series of UK-based stories the past several days, including the very big audiences that turned out for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary celebration on the BBC, BBC America and in dozens of other countries; what the BBC has planned at Christmas time for the newest doctor in Doctor Who, and the much-awaited third season of Sherlock; Oscar winner Emma Thompson’s long look back with BAFTA at her career so far, even as her latest film, Saving Mr. Banks, builds its own awards buzz; and Pinewood Shepperton, busy counting its cash after a strong quarter, presses for approval of a major expansion of its London facilities amid a serious studio capacity crunch that’s turning away work in the city.
Emma Thompson Mulls “Hierarchical” Hollywood, Ang Lee’s Brutal/Funny Notes, Oscars & More In BAFTA Career Chat
Following in the recent footsteps of her Saving Mr Banks co-star Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson sat down in London on Sunday afternoon for a trip down memory lane. At a BAFTA Life in Pictures event at the British Academy’s headquarters, Thompson spoke of the important role that comedy played in her early career, and touched on her collaborations with the likes of Merchant Ivory, Richard Curtis and Ang Lee. The Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter also peppered in some stark feelings about Hollywood.
Thompson has steadily worked across borders since the 90s and while she feels there’s no real difference between great actors in the States and Britain – “Dustin Hoffman is as exquisite as Anthony Hopkins” – the star system in Hollywood “is not a good system.” Thompson called it “hierarchical” and said it was “just revolting for people who are actors to become grand and unattractive to watch.” She recalled that while working on Last Chance Harvey, Hoffman had been stuck in traffic one day and, so concerned with being late to set, ran there in his socks once he’d arrived at the location. “Those are the people you want to work with. You find some young actors who really can’t be bothered and you think well, let someone else do it,” she said to the largely British crowd. Thompson noted that “some of the most intelligent people” she knows live in Hollywood, but lamented that the town “always finds a way to make you feel bad.” At parties, there’s “always some bit that’s penned off that you’re not allowed into,” she mused, adding that it’s the “better than/less than judgment you’re making upon yourself and others that Hollywood is particularly good at and that’s the one thing I really hate.”
Santa Barbara, CA – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will honor actor, screenwriter and producer Emma Thompson with the Modern Master Award at the 29th edition of the Fest, which runs January 30 – February 9, 2014, it was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. The Tribute will take place on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at the historic Arlington Theatre and is sponsored by Adobe.
The Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. Established in 1995, it was created to pay tribute to an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her multi-faceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry. Thompson joins an illustrious group of past recipients including Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron.
Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes). Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).
At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy), both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception). As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time. Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent).
The 2013 AFI Fest opening night at Hollywood’s famed, newly IMAX’d Chinese Theatre was as AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said “practically perfect in every way” — thanks in no small part to nabbing the North American premiere of Disney’s surefire Oscar contender Saving Mr. Banks. It was a no-brainer on AFI and Disney’s part to launch this holiday release (it opens domestically December 13) which chronicles the turbulent relationship of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers during the the making of that 1964 musical classic which had its premiere at the very same theatre a half century ago. Director John Lee Hancock noted that in his opening remarks: “My life just keeps folding around. Just like in Mary Poppins it seems what happened has happened before. Fifty years ago there was a premiere here for Mary Poppins. About a year ago we were here filming the re-creation of that premiere, and now here we are again so it all just feels right,” he said. By the way, Poppins itself returns to the Chinese when AFI Fest hosts a red-carpet screening Saturday with stars Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Oscar-winning composer Richard Sherman attending.
Disney chair Alan Horn was taking congrats for the film he actually inherited when he came to the studio, and production president Sean Bailey was also singled out for praise in making this happen. Of course stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were there, but both skipped the Hollywood Roosevelt after-party where Sherman was the main attraction. I told Horn this is a word-of-mouth movie if ever there was one and should be a big hit for the studio. How it fares in the Oscar race will be interesting considering the last three Best Picture winners — Argo, The Artist and The King’s Speech — all seem to be films that make audiences feel good about themselves with the former two having a special Hollywood connection just like this one. Banks seems to fit the same bill that Oscar voters have been responding to recently, effortlessly blending laughs, tears, comedy, drama and emotion. This was my second viewing in three weeks (I saw it at a small screening shortly before it had its world premiere at the London Film Festival) and it holds up. Hanks and Thompson are slam-dunk nominees here and the film has many possibilities — but it is facing weightier fare in frontrunners 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips (another film with Hanks, which could make him a double nominee this year).
Global Showbiz Briefs: Adopt Films Acquires ‘Zurich’ For U.S.; Mongrel Media Bringing ‘Bethlehem’ To Canada; More
Adopt Films Picks Up ‘Zurich’ For U.S.
New York-based Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to Frederik Steiner’s Zurich. The drama had its world premiere at the HOF Film Festival in Munich last month and is scheduled for a wide theatrical release in Germany in the spring. Zurich is Adopt’s third German acquisition in two years following Christian Petzold’s Barbara and Caroline Link’s Exit Marrakech. The film is about a bright, independent-minded 20-year-old woman who’s had cystic fibrosis since birth. After watching her brother suffer through the same disease, she hatches a plan to travel to a private clinic in Zurich where she can end her life legally. Newcomer Liv Lisa Fries stars with Kerstin de Anna and Lena Stolze. The original screenplay is by Barbara te Kock. The movie will go out in the U.S. next summer.
London Film Festival: Disney’s ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ World Premieres – Can It Be Heading For Oscar Night?
Could Disney finally be on track for a Best Picture Oscar winner of its own making? Who knows, but judging from the very enthusiastic reaction to the world premiere tonight of Saving Mr. Banks at London’s Odeon Leicester Square theatre on the closing night of BFI London Film Festival, it’s off to a good start. Deadline’s International Editor Nancy Tartaglione reports there was about four minutes of sustained applause as the end credits began and word at the Old Billingsgate after-party was unanimously upbeat with premiere-goers loving it. Initial reviews also seem to be strong. Before the film rolled an organist onstage warmed up the first-nighters with the score for Mary Poppins, the film that serves as the inspiration for this tale of how Walt Disney led a two-decades-long quest to bring notoriously reticent P.L. Travers’ classic book to the screen. Director John Lee Hancock, producers Alison Owen and Ian Collie and stars Colin Farrell, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson and Emma Thompson were then introduced to the crowd. Thompson remarked, “it’s very moving to have the film premiere in London… so let’s watch the damn thing”. There’s even a reference to the Leicester Square theatre in the movie.
Venice Film Festival Rounds Out Lineup, Adds Carrie Fisher To Jury
The 70th Venice Film Festival’s lineup is complete with the addition of five titles including Une Promesse, writer-director Patrice Leconte drama starring Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman, and Richard Madden, which will screen Out of Competition. The fest also announced that the collective film Venezia 70 – Future Reloaded — composed of 70 short films lasting 60 to 90 seconds made by 70 directors from all over the world to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the festival — will be the second opening film at the inaugural ceremony. Also, Carrie Fisher and Mexican director Amat Escalante have been added to the International Jury. The fest runs August 20 to September 7.
‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Set For Closing Night At BFI London Film Festival
The 57th BFI London Film Festival will close with the European premiere of Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks. Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in John Lee Hancock’s drama about the effort to bring Mary Poppins to the screen. The fest, which runs October 9-20, will open with the continental bow of another Hanks film, the Somali pirate drama Captain Phillips from director Paul Greengrass.
As it increases its investment in original British fare, Sky has acquired Parthenon Media Group to establish an international distribution arm within the company. Parthenon founder and CEO Carl Hall will oversee the new business. Sky has said …
The UK’s Sky Arts, which earlier this year announced it would triple its budget, has commissioned a series of one-off original TV dramas and comedies that will fall under the Playhouse Presents label. Among the notable projects, Walking The Dogs sees Emma Thompson play Queen Elizabeth in a comedy-drama about an intruder who made his way into her bedroom in 1982. Walking The Dogs is based on the night Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace, entered the Queen’s boudoir and chatted with her for a while until the police took him away. The title refers to Fagan’s window of access – a guard who was supposed to be positioned outside the Queen’s door was out walking her dogs. Eddie Marsan (Tyrannosaur, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) and Russell Tovey, who has a role in the Emma Thompson-penned Effie, are co-stars. Other shows just announced by Sky Arts, part of the BSkyB group of channels, will include such British talent as David Tennant, Olivia Williams, Stephen Fry and Hayley Atwell along with some non-Brits like Stellan Skarsgard and Harry Shearer. The latter is starring in Nixon’s The One, a verbatim account of Richard Nixon’s
EXCLUSIVE: Dakota Fanning will star in the title role of Effie, the Emma Thompson-scripted period biopic about the unfortunate marriage between Euphemia Gray and the famed critic John Ruskin in 1850s London. Richard Laxton (An Englishman in New York) is directing. Though the teenager was gorgeous, Effie’s husband never consummated the marriage over five years because Ruskin was for some reason disgusted by her body. After suffering through a loveless marriage and browbeating by her in-laws, Effie fell in love with Ruskin’s protégé, painter John Everett Millais.
Greg Wise will play Ruskin, and Tom Sturridge will play Millais. Thompson plays Lady Eastlake, who takes Effie under her wing when it was clear the union was destroying the young woman. Julie Walters and Derek Jacobi play Ruskin’s parents, and Edward Fox is in talks to play Lady Eastlake’s husband, Sir Charles Eastlake. He was the main patron of the Royal Academy, which held sway over what constituted fine art. He was already fed up with Ruskin and his radical ideas before that love triangle rocked the art community. Production will begin Oct. 17 in Scotland, London and Venice. The film’s being produced by Don Rosenfeld with Andreas Roald. They raised the $10 million budget through private equity.
Men in Black 3 is casting up. I’m told that Emma Thompson will be taking a lead role of Oh, the head of MIB. She’ll join Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin in the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed film for Sony Pictures Entertainment. She’s negotiating. Principal photography begins in mid-November.