EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a bit of fun gossip surfacing in Golden Globes weekend. Whenever Quentin Tarantino completes a new script, it’s an event accompanied by great fanfare, partly because his scripts are so damned fun to read. The drums have begun beating on his next film. Here’s what I am hearing. None of it is entirely confirmed but I believe it. It is definitely a Western, and the working title I’m hearing is The Hateful Eight. Tarantino has finished a draft, and is in the process of showing it to a handful of actors he wants for the picture. He usually does this, gets feedback and goes back in and hones his work. I’m so far hearing he’s got two actors in mind.
One isn’t a surprise: Christoph Waltz, whom Tarantino helped transform from an Austrian character actor into a two-time Oscar winning star of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. The other name I’m hearing is Bruce Dern. I sure do hope the latter is true. Here is a guy who, at the age of 77 and after a career worth of distinguished mostly supporting performances, has emerged as a Best Actor frontrunner in Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska. I sat with Dern recently, and he is as razor sharp as ever and has an encyclopedic memory for … Read More »
The cover story of the current New York Times Magazine tells the story of a lobster fisherman who fell overboard in the middle of the night 40 miles offshore and the frenzied efforts to rescue him. Rachael Horovitz, Jason Blum and Harvey Weinstein will produce A Speck In The Sea for The Weinstein Company. Here’s the release:
New York, NY (January 10, 2014) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired the film rights to writer Paul Tough’s (HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED) New York Times Magazine article “A Speck in the Sea.” The piece, which ran as the magazine’s cover story last Sunday, will be produced for the screen by Rachael Horovitz (Academy Award® nominated for MONEYBALL and Emmy and Golden Globe Winner for GREY GARDENS) along with Jason Blum and Harvey Weinstein. Bob Weinstein will executive produce the project, with TWC creative executive Julie Oh overseeing development.
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One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.
It was a year that saw the Weinsteins and Warner Bros clash over the title of The Butler and then get into the ring again for The Hobbitsequels. 2013 also witnessed the first fired Walking Dead showrunner wanting to take a bite out ofAMC for his piece of the cable blockbuster, a Ray Donovan EP nailed by the feds in a big-time gambling scheme right out of the Showtime Hollywood fixer series and a monster of a legal drama in the making as Legendary Pictures tried to swat some seasoned producers off its Godzilla reboot. In the end, with those cases and more, the Hollywood legal landscape of 2013 proved to be a stringent reminder of why they call it show business and not show friends.
With money and rights at the basis of most of the disputes, the complaints and motions were as numerous as locusts and as prevalent as rats, with many of them spilling over into 2014 and perhaps beyond. Just ask Barry Diller and Les Moonves as streaming service Aereo and CBS and other broadcasters suit up for a potential Supreme Court winner-takes-all showdown next year. Or Prospect Park as it fights ABC in a $125 million suit over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live while having to contend with a complaint from co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz seeking a declaratory judgment from the court over non-compete clauses in his contract with the company. Sure, sometimes weapons are lowered like when Paramount and asset management firm Content Partners reached an undisclosed settlement on December 12 in their $45 million film financing slate dust-up after three years going at it in the courts. With a pivotal hearing looming, that was realpolitik in action as the sudden deal allowed the studio to sidestep dragging JPMorgan Chase, which corporate parent Viacom has significant banking dealings with, into the protracted case despite the blessing of the presiding judge. However, with the grinding duration of a lot of the legal disputes in this town, such resolution is rare, even when the end seems in sight.
Look for instance at Warner Bros and the seemingly never-ending Superman heirs’ rights battle. After a string of seemingly conclusive legal wins this year, WB and subsidiary DC Comics now could face more Krypton courtroom drama in 2014. On December 10, the co-creators heirs’ attorneys Marc Toberoff and Keith G. Adams petitioned the 9th Circuit for either a rehearing by the panel that found in the studio’s favor on November 21 or by the full court itself. If that effort fails, they could take the matter to the SCOTUS. Even with all the billings that O’Melveny & Myers get to make to WB after years of litigation, the sharp-elbowed Daniel Petrocelli and Matthew Kline must want to be able to declare a super-lawyer victory and move on – after all, they also have the Trouble With The Curve copyright suit to handle for the studio and a February 24 hearing on a summary judgment motion in that case by plaintiffs Ryan A. Brooks and Gold Glove Productions to fend off. Read More »
Harvey Weinstein got a surprise at the 18th Capri-Hollywood Film Festival in Capri, Italy. Weinstein was presented with an unexpected award during a ceremony that followed the Monday premiere of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom which he exec produced. Dubbed “Mr. Oscar” by festival founder and director Pascal Vicedomini, Weinstein was brought up onstage to accept the prize. A reportedly stunned Weinstein told the crowd: “What Pascal doesn’t realize is that I’m not actually Jewish, I’m Sicilian. And I have some friends who are going to visit him in the middle of the night to repay him for calling me up on stage tonight.” Idris Elba and Naomie Harris were awarded Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress prizes during the ceremony for their work in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Their awards were previously announced.
EXCLUSIVE: After this week’s L.A. premiere of August: Osage County, Harvey Weinstein is prepared to make two proclamations as the film launches into a crowded Oscar season. “When it comes to Oscars, I’ll take bets on this movie, it’s going to be a surprise and a sleeper, but it’s gonna be there,” he said. His second proclamation: “I’m never again going to rush to play a movie festival anymore, until the movie is locked,” Weinstein said. “We rushed to get a version of August: Osage County because we wanted the heat of Toronto. It wasn’t finished and it has created a disconnect.”
Weinstein, George Clooney (a producer with Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov) and Tracy Letts (who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play into the John Wells-directed film) called me to dispel a misperception they hope will not become a problem: that because of slight changes between the Toronto version and the final cut, this was a problem picture. In this case, the early version of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts-starrer had a slightly different ending than it does now. The finished film is a bit longer and more polished and contains over its closing credits ”Last Mile Home”, a moving acoustic song that Kings Of Leon wrote for the film. “Our worst review has been three stars, but forevermore in the age of the Internet you read that reaction was mixed in Toronto and it colors people,” Weinstein said. “There’s something in the air and the way to take it out of the air is for the three of us to combat it.” I won’t give away the ending here, but it involves how things are left between a dysfunctional family matriarch (Streep) and the daughter (Roberts) in danger of following in her bitter footsteps. Besides Toronto, there were test screenings and the usual back and forth that resulted in what the three said is the best version of the film, the one they showed this week.
Related: Toronto: Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences? Read More »
BREAKING The Weinstein boys are back at Miramax. Colony Capital principal Tom Barrack Jr and The Weinstein Company co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein have set an alliance that will exploit the creative properties in the library that the brothers left behind when they exited Disney. The deal will span 20 years and multiple titles for films, TV series and live stage productions. Qatar Holding and Miramax will finance these, with TWC steering development and distributing domestically while Miramax distributes internationally. Qatar Holding and Colony Capital bought the Miramax library in 2010 for around $660 million.
They’ve been successful librarians, but now Colony Capital needs the talent relationships and development expertise of the Weinsteins to become content generators. “Sure, we own the intellectual property in the library, and most of the intellectual properties in development, but we didn’t have the art form. If I called Quentin Tarantino and said, I have a great idea how to do a Pulp Fiction TV series, chances are it would be a very short conversation,” Barrack told me. “The ability to take all these threads and sew them into a tapestry, is really the magic elixir. We’ve all decided it’s time for a quantum leap and that’s why we’re all together.” Read More »
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Hollywood is mourning the loss today of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. Here are some of the thoughts on his passing:
Idris Elba, portrayed Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom:
“I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth; I only feel honored to be associated with him. He is in a better place now. What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Related: Mandela Death Brings News Schedule Changes
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, U.S. distributor of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom:
“One of the privileges of making movies is having the opportunity to immortalize those who have made a profound impact on humanity. We count ourselves unspeakably fortunate to have been immersed in Nelson Mandela’s story and legacy. It’s been an honor to have been granted such proximity to a man who will go down as one of history’s greatest freedom fighters and advocates for justice. I have had the privilege of spending time with President Mandela and I can say his sense of humor was as great as his optimism. We are deeply saddened by his loss; our hearts go out to his family and the entire South African nation.”
Morgan Freeman, portrayed Mandela in Invictus:
“Today the world lost one of the true giants of the past century. Nelson Mandela was a man of incomparable honor, unconquerable strength, and unyielding resolve—a saint to many, a hero to all who treasure liberty, freedom and the dignity of humankind. As we remember his triumphs, let us, in his memory, not just reflect on how far we’ve come, but on how far we have to go. Madiba may no longer be with us, but his journey continues on with me and with all of us.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Just over 12 hours after tonight’s screening with President Obama of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at the White House, Harvey Weinstein will be back at the Executive Mansion to talk film again. This time the Weinstein Company co-chairman will be with First Lady Michelle Obama at 10 AM PT for the Careers In Film symposium she is hosting Friday. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and One Chance director David Frankel will join Obama and Weinstein. Naomie Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom, also will be participating. The filmmakers’ discussion will be moderated by Gayle King. Coogler also will be joining the Obamas, Harris, Weinstein and Mandela director Justin Chadwick and star Idris Elba at the screening tonight, I’ve learned. The Friday event is designed to teach high school students from Washington DC, NYC and Boston about the film industry. Read More »
Reporting from Lyon:
After tonight, the Lumière Festival taking place here in Lyon might adopt the subtitle, “The Quentin Tarantino Festival of Love.” Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux and Lumière Institute president Bertrand Tavernier created this festival five years ago in the city that is the birthplace of cinema. This year, the fest gave its big Lumière Prize to Tarantino. A ceremony that lasted more than 2.5 hours was rife with song, dance, montages, and a lot of laughter mixed in with tears. This prize is “an act of admiration,” Frémaux said. “A way to tell people that we love them and to talk about their films.” He also dreams of this award being considered the ‘Nobel of Cinema’. “When we suggested Quentin Tarantino for the prize, we knew people would say he’s very young. But Albert Camus was only 44 when he won the Nobel for literature.” When Tarantino shouted at the end of the night, “Vive le cinema!,” no one in the room thought the 50-year-old was undeserving.
Tarantino blew into town unexpectedly on Monday when the fest kicked off and has been soaking it up ever since. It’s his kind of festival, stuffed with retrospectives, tributes and restored versions of Hollywood and world classics. Tonight, it was his turn to be feted. He was surrounded by friends and collaborators including longtime producers Lawrence Bender and Harvey Weinstein as well as actors from his films like Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Mélanie Laurent and Uma Thurman, who presented the award to her Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director.
Tarantino was nearly speechless when he accepted the prize at the end of the night, “I don’t really have words for how I feel right now. This may be one of the first few times that’s ever happened to me,” said the normally loquacious director. “This is just a very, very overwhelming experience,” he said.
The Amphitheater at the Lyon Palais de Congrès was packed to the rafters with 3,000 invitees – many of whom were locals who paid for the chance to celebrate Tarantino, and maybe pick up a QT-shirt specially designed for the event. Tarantino is almost god-like for French moviegoers, so it’s no surprise. I saw Pulp Fiction in a Paris movie theater on a random night in 1994 – after it had won the Palme d’Or – and have never seen an audience whoop and holler in such a way. Fast-forward to the first Kill Bill and I remember being at a premiere screening at the Grand Rex theater in Paris where the reception was just as rapturous. Tarantino had introduced the film but he also stuck around to watch. Read More »
Harvey Weinstein was a late addition to the official program of the Zurich International Film Festival which kicked off September 26th. He took part in the Masters series – and did not disappoint. He said Saturday that this year’s Oscars race is “the most competitive season I’ve ever seen.” Of course The Weinstein Company is still figuring out what to campaign other than Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniels’ The Butler which have already released and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Stephen Frears’ Philomena, and John Wells’ August: Osage County still to come. According to Screen Daily, Weinstein explained why he decided to postpone Olivier Dahan’s Grace Of Monaco to spring 2014. “The only reason is because it just wasn’t ready… The score wasn’t ready, a lot of things weren’t ready… Also we’ve played no festivals on that movie, so it’s hard to get into an Oscar race without at least some festival exposure.” The studio also pushed back James Gray’s The Immigrant to 2014. Meanwhile, Weinstein admitted that the title battle with Warner Bros over The Butler gave it millions of dollars of free publicity and estimated that 40% of the film’s audience was because of the war. Uncharacteristically, Weinstein praised Oscar-buzzed competition like Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave from Fox Searchlight and called Alcon Entertainment/Warner Bros’ Prisoners “the best film I’ve seen all year – not counting our own films”. Weinstein also confirmed … Read More »
Iran Reopens Its Film Industry Body After 20 Months
Iran has reopened the House of Cinema, its main film industry guild. The move comes nearly two years after it was closed, the BBC reported, citing state news agency Irna. Per the report, Deputy Culture Minister Hojatollah Ayoubi said the decision indicates new President Hassan Rouhani’s support for films. The January 2012 closure of the body was decried by prominent filmmakers, including Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi (A Separation). At a reopening ceremony, Ayoubi reportedly said, “When a cultural issue — like the one about the House of Cinema — becomes a political one, that is (because) the situation was not managed properly.” Read More »
A little more than a year after he was arrested for threatening to kill members of the families of Harvey Weinstein and Ryan Kavanaugh unless he was paid millions, Vivek Shah today was given a stiff sentence behind bars by a federal judge. The 26-year-old West Hollywood actor was given seven years and three months for his $122 million extortion scheme involving the two producers as well as Playtone Co’s Gary Goetzman, Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky and others. Shah sent letters to Weinstein and the Relativity Media boss last summer demanding $4 million and $11.3 million, respectively, be wired to offshore accounts if they didn’t want their loved ones harmed. Despite an elaborate plan of false IDs, anonymous websites and several U.S. Postal Service accounts, the FBI picked up Shah on August 10 in Chicago. “It was an extraordinarily brazen crime, and I’m pleased, for the victims’ sake, that we were able to put a stop to it so quickly,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia in a statement today.
Related: Harvey Weinstein Helps FBI Foil Extortion Plot
Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.
Related: Toronto: TWC’s Epic ‘Mandela’ Debuts To Standing Ovation
All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
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UPDATE: The concert film played strongly at Toronto, with a standing ovation at its conclusion.
EARLIER: After burning the midnight oil collaring the music-themed John Carney film Can A Song Save Your Life?, Harvey Weinstein will try to rebound tonight for more music when he engages in a panel discussion after tonight’s premiere of 12.12.12 with James Dolan and John Sykes (his accomplices in organizing the concert that raised $50 million for victims of Hurricane Sandy) and documentary producers Amir Bar-Lev and Meghan O’ Hara. The pic chronicles the televised concert that was pulled together very quickly and headlined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Adam Sandler, Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Kanye West. The film premieres 8 PM at the Winter Garden Theater.
Related: All Nighter Ends With Weinstein Co In Exclusive Talks For ‘Can A Song Save Your Life’
Not everything goes smoothly, even at as efficiently organized an event as the Toronto International Film Festival. After this afternoon’s 3 PM press screening for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom had to be cancelled when the film went down 40 minutes in, all eyes were on the 6 PM premiere at Roy Thomson Hall hoping another calamity would not follow and jinx the movie. No problems there and the press screening was rescheduled for 10:15 PM Saturday night. Still that’s a drag for critics who would now just have to start over. This is why publicists chew their fingernails off.
Nevertheless, the actual premiere screening went off without a hitch and earned a nice standing ovation at the end of the two-and-a-half hour biopic of Nelson Mandela. The filmmakers literally flew into Toronto just yesterday saying they hadn’t even seen this cut yet. Boasting another two performances to add to the list of Oscar-contending portrayals this year – Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as his wife Winnie – this beautifully shot and realized epic takes us into the world of Mandela from 1942 at the beginning of his activism all the way to his election as president after being released from his Robben Island prison cell after 27 years. It is those prison scenes where the film really comes alive and Elba gets a chance to shine. That he does, in a towering portrayal of the man who stays in the headlines lately because of his frail health (he just went home from the hospital this week). Read More »
Sixty-plus years after The Catcher In The Rye began the public’s fascination with enigmatic author J.D. Salinger, a new documentary and book are ready to spill some secrets about him. Just keep them to yourselves, please. The Weinstein Company is teaming with publisher Simon & Schuster for a new campaign called “Uncover the Mystery but Don’t Spoil the Secrets”, which asks people not to reveal details from the movie and book — both titled Salinger – because of their “revelatory and confidential nature”. The film has only been allowed to be screened by a select group of press and insiders, the Weinstein Co. said, and those seeing it before its theatrical release are being asked to sign nondisclosure agreements. If the tactic sounds familiar, think back two decades. “Back in 1993, when Miramax released The Crying Game, we asked journalists and moviegoers not to reveal the film’s secret to their friends,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “With Salinger, we have a similar situation: The joy of this documentary is discovering information that, until now, has been kept under wraps for decades.” Shane Salermo co-wrote the book with David Shields and directed the docu, which began production in 2004. It opens September 6.
Related: Shane Salerno’s JD Salinger Biography Eyes Global Windfall
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Scorsese is lending his support to the upcoming Weinstein Company release of The Grandmaster, the film directed by Wong Kar Wai. Scorsese will lend his name in presentation of the kung fu film, and above the line it will read Martin Scorsese Presents The Grandmaster when TWC releases the film theatrically in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto on August 23 and nationwide on August 30. Wong has directed such films as Chungking Express, 2046 and My Blueberry Nights, and The Grandmaster stars Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, and Chang Chen and is executive produced by Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison. The film opened the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. “Wong Kar Wai has turned martial arts into a modern dance,” Scorsese said.
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UPDATED: The Weinstein Co. and Electus‘ Marco Polo series is on the move. I’ve learned that Netflix has made an offer for a 9-episode order to the original drama about the 13th century explorer. According to sources close to the negotiations, there is no deal in place yet because Harvey Weinstein also is considering a feature version of the project, which is fully financed, and is deciding between the two options. Marco Polo originally was set up at Starz, which gave it a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January 2012. The series was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. I hear the potential series will film in Malaysia. Seven scripts already have been written, with casting on track to begin right away for a production start in the first quarter. The Weinstein Co. and Electus took out the project after it was released to them by Starz, the pay cable network confirmed.With the delays caused by the efforts to film in China, Starz has built a full slate for 2014 with 50 hours of original programming, making it difficult to find space for another series. Read More »
UPDATE SATURDAY 2:30 AM: Ignore those media stories claiming Miramax and The Weinstein Co are in talks for a potential merger. Even while on vacation I can tell you definitively they’re overblown. I’ve learned a merger is impossible because of The Weinstein Co‘s structure. As I first reported Friday, what is true is that Colony Capital/Miramax chief Tom Barrack and Harvey Weinstein just spent time in St Tropez conferring about ways to work together because of lots of joint venture opportunities. Such co-productions would give Harvey access to his most coveted projects from his Miramax heyday which is why he wanted to buy it back from Disney in 2010. The Weinstein Co and others are courting Miramax because its cash flow will exceed $160 million this year. “So all of the production groups would like to plug into this free cash flow with their development pipeline,” my insider said Friday.
EXCLUSIVE … FRIDAY 1 PM: Hollywood needs more production and financing right now. So the good news is that Miramax is about to become a movie/TV player ”big time” under Colony Capital chief Tom Barrack’s direct oversight following Richard Nanula’s exit. “There will be some big announcements in the next 60 days of productions and joint ventures,” one of my sources says. I’ve learned that first up is this project: Miramax and Starz have agreed to develop and cofinance a one-hour TV series based on the critically well-received 1997 Miramax film Copland. The pic’s scripter-director James Mangold is executive producing the TV show with Cathy Konrad and Adam Fields. Mangold and Bryan Goluboff (The Basketball Diaries, 2008′s In Treatment) are writing the pilot. Read More »