Warner Bros gave exhibitors a sneak peek at Gravity at CinemaCon but this is the first trailer for the space pic starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in the two-hander about astronauts stranded in space after their space shuttle gets demolished during a spacewalk. The Alfonso Cuaron-directed movie will be released wide October 4 in 3D and IMAX after the studio pushed it back from its original November 2012 spot.
Even as tonight’s Governor’s Ball was winding down, Ben Affleck was still off in a corner of the room celebrating his Argo‘s most unlikely Best Picture victory in becoming only the second film in 80 years to win the top prize without even a nomination for its director. Affleck’s roller coaster ride has been remarkable this season and as he told me earlier this weekend, and tonight after the Best Pic triumph, it has been filled with hills and valleys, but it all came together at the Dolby Theatre when First Lady Michelle Obama (from the White House) opened the envelope and announced his film as the winner.
Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark
When he was left off the list of Directing nominees on January 10th he said he was really depressed, but that same night he won the Critics Choice Movie Award as Director and Best Picture, then the Golden Globe three days later, then the PGA, SAG, DGA, WGA and BAFTA honors to name a few. Suddenly Argo was the one to beat and it never wavered. Affleck’s emotional acceptance was heartfelt and perfectly described the personal journey of this actor turned first-rate director. And his acknowledgement of Steven Spielberg from the stage was a nice touch. He won, with Matt Damon, for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but this was different as Affleck told me and he was going to savor this moment as long as he could before moving on into the night. It was the same for Argo’s winning screenwriter Chris Terrio who also was hanging late at the Govs Ball even though he had to catch a flight back to his New York home where he is currently writing a new script based on the Greengrass story. As he was just exiting the Ball at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, he told me someone gave him advice that he should just try to enjoy this moment first. He seemed to have a hard time soaking it in, but he was going to give it at least this one night before getting back to work.
Argo, after vitually a clean sweep of awards season since the directing snub (which in retrospect could not have hurt), won a respectable three Oscars (also for Editing and Adapted Screenplay), tying Les Misérables for that number of Oscars. But the big winner of the night (if you can call it that) was 20th’s risky box office success Life Of Pi which nabbed four statuettes including a biggie, Best Director for Ang Lee. Had Affleck been nominated, he likely would have won since Best Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but for whatever reason in a year with an embarrassment of riches it somehow seems totally appropiate that there was a split and Lee was given this award. If anything, Life Of Pi was a directorial achievement like no other and this Oscar was acknowledgement of that. In fact, right after Affleck was snubbed, I predicted Lee would take it, and in the last couple of weeks it was apparent a tide was building for him among Academy voters. It became one of the easiest calls of the night despite the fact that many pundits were calling it for Lincoln‘s Steven Spielberg. At the Govs Ball, Lee, who has won two previous Oscars (for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director for Brokeback Mountain), told me this one means as much or probably more because of the extreme challenges Pi provided. He was clearly thrilled with it and I told him he becomes the first director since George Stevens in the 50s with A Place In The Sun (1951) and Giant (1956) to win two Best Director Oscars for two films that did not win Best Picture, a rare occurence.
When George Clooney received his eighth Oscar nomination as a producer of Argo – he shared producing credits on the Best Picture nominee with Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov — he marched into the Academy Award record books in a very unique way. It was the sixth different category in which he was nominated, an unprecedented feat for the 24 categories currently handed out each year. It’s also a nearly-unprecedented feat in all 85 years of the Oscars — but that’s with an asterisk and we’ll get to that.
Clooney knocked off three of those categories in 2005, the first year he was nominated for anything, with Directing and Original Screenplay (with Heslov) nominations for Good Night And Good Luck and winning Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. Then there were those Best Actor nominations he seems to get every other year: Michael Clayton (2007), Up In The Air (2009) and The Descendants (2011). That’s four different categories, to which he added a fifth in 2011, when he also was nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay race for The Ides Of March (with Heslov and Beau Willimon). This feat with five ties him with Warren Beatty, Stanley Kubrick, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen and Kenneth Branagh — however, only Clooney’s and Beatty’s noms all came in Oscar’s marquee top eight races (Picture, Writing, Acting, Directing). For the record, in addition to their writing, producing, directing and/or acting nods, Kubrick won in Special Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Branagh was nominated for a Live Action Short, Swan Song (1992); and the Coens have shared Film Editing nominations twice under their pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.
With Best Picture frontrunner Argo, the versatile Clooney has now passed them all in this particular — and particularly impressive — Oscar statistic. Although some could say acting, directing, writing and picture are just four categories, I would argue they are very specific disciplines which is why the Academy separates out lead and supporting acting as well as Adapted and Original Screenplays. I would also point out Beatty’s feat of earning Picture, Actor, Directing and Screenplay nominations in the same year — not once but twice (Heaven Can Wait, Reds) — is a Herculean feat in itself. He won the Directing Oscar for Reds as well as the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award and has 14 nominations in all, but none of them were in the Supporting Actor category and that’s where Clooney topped him. In fact, Beatty has yet to play a supporting role in any film.
So in terms of sheer numbers of categories nominated, is George Clooney now the King of the Oscars?
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Damon is negotiating to join The Monuments Men, the period drama that George Clooney will direct in January in Europe as a co-production between Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Damon joins what continues to be shaping up as an amazing cast. Besides Damon and Clooney, the film will star Skyfall‘s Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, Argo‘s John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban. Clooney and Damon did the Ocean’s Eleven movies together and Syriana.
The drama, which was scripted by Clooney and partner Grant Heslov, confronts the final chapter of Germany’s rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before they are destroyed.
George Clooney Sets Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin For WWII Drama ‘Monuments Men’
EXCLUSIVE: What a killer cast George Clooney has put together for The Monuments Men, the period drama he will direct in a co-production between Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Clooney will star with Skyfall‘s Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, Argo‘s John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban.
The drama, which was scripted by Clooney and partner Grant Heslov, confronts the final chapter of Germany’s rule, which came down to the absolute destruction of everything that makes a culture keep its standing, including the lives that are lost and the sacrifices that are made. All of this is in danger of being lost forever as Hitler and the Nazis try to cover the tracks of a murderous regime. A crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art that were stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
Fox has boarded Monuments Men, the Sony film that will star George Clooney and Cate Blanchett in a drama about an attempt to protect artwork stolen by the Nazis in WWII. Fox will distribute overseas while Sony will release stateside.
UPDATE: President Obama Thanks Katzenbergs For “Tireless” Support; Weinstein, MacFarlane & Clooney Also At Donor Dinner After LA Concert
2ND UPDATE, 9:37 PM: President Obama tonight thanked Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg for “being tireless and stalwart and have never wavered through good times and bad since my first presidential race, back when a lot of people still couldn’t pronounce my name.” Obama’s remarks about the DreamWorks Animation CEO and his wife came during the $25,000-a-ticket dinner for 150 donors at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown LA. Harvey Weinstein, newly named Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and George Clooney, who gave some shout-outs from the audience, were also there, according to the White House pool report. Clooney also spoke today at the 30 Days Until Victory concert at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live. Read the edited and condensed pool report from the dinner plus excerpts of the president’s remarks from the White House Press Office here:
W.H. Pool Report - Shortly after 8pm pool went through the lobby to an elevator at the adjoining Ritz Carlton and to the 24th floor, arriving at the aptly named WP24. Attendees seated at about a dozen round tables, 10 people per table, were finishing plates of dim sum as pool arrived in the dimly-lit room, with views outside blocked by dark curtains. Bold faced names spotted by poolers: George Clooney, newly-minted Oscars host Seth, and Harvey Weinstein — all at the same table closest to where POTUS spoke. POTUS entered the room at 8:25pm, along with Mayor Julian Castro, who made a brief introduction.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. First of all, you just heard from the future of the Democratic Party — the great Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. (Applause.) We’re so proud of him.
There are so many people I could thank tonight, so I’m just going to focus on three individuals. First of all, my unbelievable Southern California co-chairs — John Emerson and Ken Solomon. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) They have been tireless in their efforts. They have been unbelievable.
The other person that I want to acknowledge in particular — because I said this to them privately, I’ve got to say it publicly — Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg have been — (applause) — they have been tireless and stalwart and have never wavered through good times and bad since my first presidential race, back when a lot of people still couldn’t pronounce my name. (Laughter.) And I will always be grateful to them for just the incredible support that they’ve given. So thank you very much. (Applause.) Thanks, both of you.
Some of you are aware that — well, all of you are aware that Michelle and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. (Applause.) And the actual anniversary date was not that romantic. (Laughter.) There was some speculation as to whether this had an impact on my performance. (Laughter.) But I did make it up to her on Saturday. We went out to dinner, a date night. And it was a wonderful evening. It was a private room, because people kind of lean over and start listening if we’re in the booth next to them. (Laughter.) And Secret Service gets nervous. (Laughter.)
And we had this wonderful young waiter, and he brought us all our stuff, and he was patient with us as we were dawdling over the menu. And we were milking it for all it was worth because we don’t get out that often. But at the end of the dinner — it was very professional, very unobtrusive — but at the end of the dinner he just said, I wanted to just say how much I appreciate you because you saved my mother’s life — because my mother had a stroke, she wasn’t yet qualifying for Medicare, and because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to get her coverage that allows her to take her medicines and is keeping her alive. And it reminded me of why we do this. I am a fairly competitive guy. Clooney has played basketball with me. (Laughter.) And I don’t like to lose — especially not to actors. (Laughter.)
MR. CLOONEY: We were on the same team. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: We were on the same team. I put him on the team — and we did win.
MR. CLOONEY: That’s right, we did.
THE PRESIDENT: And so sometimes during the course of campaigns, we get caught up in the sport of politics, and the ups and the downs, and doing the this and the that, and how much money did we raise and how many doors have we knocked on. And all that’s important, but it is in service of that waiter, Anthony’s mom….
W.H. Pool Report – After the remarks concluded pool immediately ushered out and to the vans. Motorcade was rolling out of downtown at 8:45pm.
Given how much Republicans hate Hollywood in general, and George Clooney in particular because of his Obama fundraising and Democratic Party activism, you’d think any associations would be radioactive to the GOP. Nope. Stuart Stevens is currently Mitt Romney‘s chief campaign strategist, chief campaign ad maker, and chief campaign speechwriter. And yet Stevens was the political consultant for Clooney’s 2011 political movie The Ides Of March and 2003 political TV show K Street. In fact, Stevens has many Hollywood connections: he was a UCLA Film School grad student, a one-time fellow with the American Film Institute, and a credited TV writer on Northern Exposure, I’ll Fly Away, and Commander In Chief (also a consultant producer — see below.)
Stevens now has a bullseye on his back because of a new Politico article which is creating big buzz over the last 24 hours. It says Republicans are blaming Stevens for all the recent stumbles in Romney’s presidential campaign. It claims Stevens was responsible for the many rewrites to Romney’s RNC speech that left out mentions of Afghanistan or Al-Queda or troops serving in war zones. It also claims that Stevens arranged for Clint Eastwood’s rambling RNC speech with that chair. (Stevens ”loved the idea of the tough-talking American icon greeting the millions of viewers tuning in.”)
The 39th Annual Telluride Film Festival officially gets underway tonight. But the fest provided a “sneak preview” of its highest profile movie: director/star Ben Affleck‘s pulse-pounding true life thriller, Argo, which made its world debut this afternoon for patron and sponsor passholders and selected press. Although not announced as an official part of the Telluride lineup, it was strongly tipped to come here and Affleck introduced today’s screening: “You are the first paying people to see the film. I know you didn’t literally pay, but in my heart you did. This is actually one of the few film festivals that really is about seeing movies instead of just walking around and talking about them.” Judging from the reaction during the end credits as well as talk on the streets afterward, Warner Bros and Affleck not only have a hit but a slam-dunk major Oscar contender in several categories. At last February’s Oscars Governors Ball, this film was still in post. But a top Warners exec predicted to me that it could be the studio’s best shot at top Oscar attention in 2012. Looks like that bold prediction was right.
Jump-starting the long 6-month awards season, which officially begins with the Venice/Telluride/Toronto film festivals, this supremely well-crafted studio film is the kind that Academy members (and there were several on hand for this screening) eat up. “It’s got my vote as one of the 10,” a voter told me after the screening. It also shows the movie industry in a favorable light, which should further impress Oscar voters. So, unless I am crazy, expect nominations for picture (producers are Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov), director for Affleck, screenplay For Chris Terrio, and supporting actor for Alan Arkin and possibly Bryan Cranston. Affleck also could figure in the crowded actor contest. Other possibilities are editing, score (Alexandre Desplat), and Rodrigo Prieto’s stirring cinematography.
Related: Hot Trailer: Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’
Telluride has a recent tradition of debuting at least one solid Best Picture contender. Recent winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Artist all started their awards season right here in the Rockies. And Argo has already laid claim to one of those spots if reaction holds. Next stop is Toronto a week from today
EXCLUSIVE: Juliette Lewis is in negotiations to join August: Osage County. The actress would play the role of Karen, the self-deluding youngest daughter, in the dark family comedy …
My, the cast of characters that have aligned to the feature adaptation of Tracey Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County continues to get more impressive. Back in September, 2010, Deadline broke the story about the movie and that Harvey Weinstein had assembled a package where John Wells would direct Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts as the mother and daughter in the play. Now, Weinstein has signed Smokehouse Productions partners George Clooney and Grant Heslov to become producers. Here’s the announcement:
NEW YORK – June 18, 2012 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that George Clooney, Academy Award®-winning actor (SYRIANA) and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK., THE IDES OF MARCH), and Academy Award®-nominated producer/screenwriter Grant Heslov (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK., THE IDES OF MARCH) have signed on as producers of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, the upcoming screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts. Academy Award winners Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts star as mother and daughter in the film, directed by John Wells from Letts’ screen adaptation. Clooney and Heslov join Jean Doumanian Productions and Steve Traxler as producers. Claire Rudnick Polstein is the executive producer. The announcement was made by TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
Obama’s Next Dinner – Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie? Jay-Z & Beyonce? George Clooney Again? Who Would You Bring?
Two days before a big fundraiser at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house in New York, the Obama campaign today announced a new version of its popular and profitable lotto dinner. “We’re adding a twist to the upcoming Dinner with Barack: You not only have the chance to sit down for a meal with the President and a guest of your choice. You also get to help pick the President’s guest,” said the campaign in an online and email blast today. Like with the record-breaking May 10 fundraiser at George Clooney’s pad and this week’s big affair co-hosted by the Sex and The City star and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, potential attendees need only donate $3 to enter into the guest lotto. Like the Clooney and Parker events, there will of course likely be other guests who paid big bucks to be in the room — tickets for the Clooney dinner went for around $40,000 a pop. While they’ll cover the winners’ airfare and hotel, the campaign offered no date or location for this latest dinner. Maybe that’s the next fundraising twist — pick where to have dinner with the president. Bet they have great snacks down in the Situation Room.
BREAKING… 2:26 PM 5th UPDATE Before attending his publicly scheduled Thursday fundraiser, President Obama had a private early meeting this morning at the Beverly Hilton with a number of young Hollywood stars who are supporting his re-election. The meeting, which was keep off the official White House itinerary, had no media present. However celebs like Jessica Alba, The Avengers’ Jeremy Renner, Bryan Greenberg (pictured left with Obama), Jared Leto, Glee’s Dianna Argon, Tatyana Ali, Sophia Bush and Kal Penn, who quit Hollywood for a year to work for the administration, took to social media like Twitter to give POTUS shout-outs and post photos of themselves meeting Obama.
The President’s 9 AM Thursday morning fundraiser was at the View Park home of developer Charles Quarles and his wife. Tickets for that event are $2,500. All the money the President raised during his time in LA goes to the Obama Victory Fund. After the Quarles event, Obama left LA for more events in Las Vegas and then to head back to D.C. in the evening.
There’s more glitz money in the incumbant’s near future. The President and the First Lady will be in NYC on June 14 for a fundraiser at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house co-hosted by the Sex and The City actress and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Like the May 10 dinner at George Clooney’s house, the Parker/Wintour event will include a raffle for donors who give $3 to the campaign to win two tickets to attend. No word on how much the face value price of the tickets to Parker’s house are or how many people are expected. New York, like LA is fertile fundraising territory for the incumbent. Obama was in the Big Apple earlier this week fundraising with former President Bill Clinton and Jon Bon Jovi by his side.
4th UPDATE 9:10 PM
“I will not be singing tonight,” President Obama told the crowd tonight at Glee creator Ryan Murphy and his fiancé David Miller’s house. Obama made the joke after being introduced to the crowd of around 70 people by Murphy at the $40,000 per-couple fundraiser. Obama spoke for about 12 minutes starting at 8:15 PM and then took questions from the audience. That audience included HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo, Julia Roberts, CAA’s Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd, Glee star Jane Lynch and Reese Witherspoon. The President hit similar themes as he had at the LGBT gala earlier in the evening, talking about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the record of his first term. Obama left Murphy and Miller’s house at 9 PM. The motorcade drove by supporters out on the street and headed back to the Beverly Hilton where Obama is staying tonight.
Here’s the scene from the pool report:
The scene: outdoor interior courtyard paved in brick. Obama spoke framed by a white arch. Eight tables of 8 to 10 arrayed around a central fountain. Chairs draped in white. Very pleasant weather. Neighbors with impossibly well groomed lawns seemed not tons thrilled to see all the cars and have us tramp on their grass a bit.
Witherspoon, a fellow Harvard Law graduate of the president if you count Legally Blonde, was in a place of honor at one of the closer-in tables.