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Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg & Tory Kittles Join HBO Films’ ‘Bessie’

By | Tuesday July 1, 2014 @ 1:00pm PDT

Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg & Tory Kittles Join HBO Films’ ‘Bessie’Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class, Fargo, Chef), Bryan Greenberg (Friends With Benefits, How To Make It In America) and Tory Kittles (True Detective, Olympus Has Fallen) have joined the cast of Bessie, HBO’s film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith (Queen Latifah). Written and directed by Dee Rees, the project chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname Empress of the Blues. Platt will play famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten, Greenberg will play renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond, and Kittles will play Bessie’s brother Clarence.
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Queen Latifah To Play Blues Icon Bessie Smith In HBO Films Biopic From Dee Rees, Lili & Richard Zanuck

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 12:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Queen Latifah Bessie Smith MoviebetsysmithHBO has greenlighted its next high-profile longform project, a film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith who will be portrayed by Queen Latifah. Written and directed by Dee Rees, the filmmaker behind the Sundance- and Indie Spirit Award-winning Pariah, the untitled film chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the hbofilmsnickname Empress of the Blues. The project, produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Company, is based on the life story of Smith and the biography Bessie written by Chris Albertson. The Oscar-winning duo of Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck executive produce with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel, while Hallie Foote serves as co-executive producer and Ron Schmidt as producer.

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Adam Shankman To Direct & Produce ‘Madame Rose’ Biopic For HBO Films

By | Tuesday March 18, 2014 @ 12:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

adamshankmanEXCLUSIVE: Rose Hovick has been called the ultimate stage mother, immortalized in the classic musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable, based on the memoirs of one of Hovick’s two performing daughters, Gypsy Rose Lee. Now HBO Films is looking to tell Hovick’s true story beyond the musical fable with Madame Rose, a movie in development, which has Adam Shankman (Hairspray) set to direct and executive produce.

roseWritten by Tristine Skyler, Madame Rose is based on the life story of Hovick, the indomitable mother of burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc, who would do anything to advance her daughters’ career in show business.  Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot are executive producing via their company Offspring Entertainment. The project is expected to draw top talent for the title role, which has been played in Gypsy‘s stage productions and movie and TV adaptations by such actresses as Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Rosalind Russell, hbofilmsTyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley and Bette Midler. Skyler, repped by CAA, Echo Lake Management and James S. Adams, wrote the horror thriller Innocence, slated for a summer 2014 release. Shankman and Gibgot, repped by UTA and Bloom Hergott, are currently in preproduction on New Line’s Mean Moms, eyeing a summer start.

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HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’ To Debut May 25

By | Thursday February 27, 2014 @ 10:23am PST

normalheart5The Normal Heart will premiere on Sunday, May 25 at 9 PM on HBO, the network said today. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts star in the HBO Films presentation based on Tony-winning Larry Kramer’s play. Kramer also penned the adaptation and Ryan Murphy directs the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, Corey Stoll, Finn Wittrock and BD Wong also star.

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Nicole Kidman To Star In And Produce ‘Reconstructing Amelia’ Film For HBO

By | Friday May 10, 2013 @ 3:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of her starring role in Hemingway & Gellhorn, which earned her Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations, Nicole Kidman is back in business with HBO Films on Reconstructing Amelia, a film adaptation of Kimberly McCreight’s best-selling debut novel recently published by HarperCollins. Kidman is set to star and executive produce the project, now in development, through her Blossom Films. Reconstructing Amelia centers on a workaholic single mother (Kidman) who, after her teenage daughter’s apparent suicide at her tony Brooklyn private school, attempts to reconstruct the events leading up to the girl’s death, drawing her into the world of teenage social media and revealing the secrets mother and daughter were keeping from each other. CAA-repped Kidman is executive producing with Blossom Films’ Per Saari. McCreight is with Resolution and Marly Rusoff.

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Hot TV Trailer: ‘Behind The Candelabra’

By | Tuesday April 9, 2013 @ 1:58pm PDT

The full trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra: The Secret Life Of Liberace has dropped and it’s quite a vision. It’s full of glitz, glamour, dazzling piano-playing and Matt Damon screaming “I don’t even have my own face”! Michael Douglas is set as the famed pianist and Damon as his lover Scott Thorson. Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe and Debbie Reynolds also star. The HBO movie airs on May 26. Check it out:

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Steve Carell & James Gandolfini To Star In HBO Movie About Feuding Paleontologists

By | Friday April 5, 2013 @ 8:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: After recently co-starring together in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Steve Carell and James Gandolfini are reuniting for another comedic movie, this time on TV. Carell and Gandolfini are set to star and executive produce HBO FilmsBone Wars. The project, now in development, is based on the real-life Bone Wars (aka the Great Dinosaur Rush) between Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and Othniel Charles Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale. Set during the post-Civil War birth of American science, the film is a sophisticated comedy about one of history’s most notorious feuds — the great dinosaur fossil race between paleontologists Marsh (Gandolfini) and Cope (Carell) — a decades-long competition that led to the discovery of more than 160 dinosaurs and their mutual downward spiral.

Search is underway for a writer to pen Bone Wars, which is executive produced by former Sopranos star Gandolfini and Alexandra Ryan of Gandolfini’s Attaboy Prods. and The Office alum Carell and Thom Hinkle of Carell’s Carousel Television. Gandolfini and his Attaboy banner have had constant presence at HBO since the end of The Sopranos. He developed a few projects including the original movie … Read More »

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Leonardo DiCaprio & Tom Hanks To Produce HBO Movie About Mikhail Gorbachev

By | Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 11:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films is developing Gorbachev, a movie about former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev from Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone. Gorbachev serves as a consultant on the project, which captures the dissolution of the USSR through his eyes. Gorbachev was the first and last President of the Soviet Union, serving from 1988 until the union’s dissolution in 1991. He ushered democracy into the Soviet block by introducing glasnost and perestroika and helped end the Cold War.

The movie, written by former Hell On Wheels showrunner John Shiban and executive produced by DiCaprio, Jennifer Killoran, Hanks, Goetzman and Industry Entertainment’s Keith Addis, stems from DiCaprio’s relationship with Gorbachev. The two met when the Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared in DiCaprio’s environmental movie The 11th Hour. Gorbachev later presented the actor with an environmental award at the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin. Appian Way and Addis originally developed the project with another writer, Paul Webb. Shiban came in with a new take. The pitch was taken to HBO, which came on board and brought in its go-to producers for marquee long-form projects, Playtone. In addition to Gorbachev, serving as consultants on the movie are Gorbachev’s long-time aide Pavel Palazhchenko, who started off as his … Read More »

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HBO Films Developing ‘The Man Who Walked Around The World’ Movie

By | Monday April 1, 2013 @ 5:26pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films is developing original movie The Man Who Walked Around the World. Robert Connolly (Underground: The Julian Assange Story) is attached to write and direct the project, based on  the book of the same name by David Kunst and Clinton Trowbridge. It chronicles the real life adventures of the Kunst brothers. Following the Apollo moon landing, David Kunst was inspired to walk around the world. On June 20, 1970, David and his brother John walked East out of Waseca, Minnesota with a pack mule named Willie Makeit. On October 5, 1974, David walked back into Waseca, Minnesota, from the west, to become the first person confirmed to have circled the land mass of the earth on foot. David started off the journey with his brother John Kunst who was killed by bandits in Afghanistan in 1972. David was then joined by his other brother, Pete, in a show of support, and the two completed the trip together. The Man Who Walked Around The World is executive produced by Ted Hope, Jonathan Ross, Glenn Rigberg and Anne Carey.

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Cate Blanchett To Star In HBO Adaptation Of ‘Cancer Vixen’

By | Tuesday March 12, 2013 @ 2:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films has set up the Marisa Acocella Marchetto memoir Cancer Vixen: A True Story as a star vehicle for Cate Blanchett. The actress will be an executive producer on the project alongside Maven Pictures partners Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray. They are meeting with writers but the prospect of having the Oscar-winning actress in the lead role makes this a priority project. Blanchett has been sweet on the book for some time.

The protagonist is a cartoonist for magazines like The New Yorker and Glamour with a supercharged Manhattan lifestyle who is about to get married but must re-examine her life through wit and her animation when she is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Blanchett is shooting the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men and is attached to Disney’s Cinderella, which Kenneth Branagh will direct. She’s repped by CAA.

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‘Bored To Death’ Film In The Works At HBO

By | Tuesday January 22, 2013 @ 12:45pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

HBO‘s noir comedy series Bored To Death, which ended its three-season run in Nov. 2011, is getting a second act as a potential movie to air on the pay cable network. HBO Films has put in development a Bored To Death film written by the series creator/executive producer, author Jonathan Ames.

While it had a relatively narrow appeal and attracted modest audiences, the Bored To Death series quickly achieved a cult status and developed devoted following by a group of core fans, while also earning largely positive reviews from critics. It also boasted one of the strongest casts assembled on a TV show with three actors who all have carried a theatrical movie: Jason Schwartzman as struggling novelist-turned-amateur sleuth Jonathan Ames, Zach Galifianakis as Jonathan’s comic book artist best friend Ray, and Ted Danson as Jonathan’s womanizing, pot-loving mentor George.

The movie will feature the same characters — Jonathan, Ray, and George — as they reunite to fight crime, commit crime, lose their minds, and fail-at-love in what is described as a Bored To Death feature-length slapstick adventure. The film is in very early stages, and there are no deals in place with Schwartzman, Galifianakis and Danson, but the actors have expressed their fondness for the show and desire to reprise their roles. Ames … Read More »

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Production Begins On HBO Films’ Drama ‘Mary And Martha’

By | Monday July 16, 2012 @ 1:30pm PDT

HBO Films president Len Amato announced today that Mary And Martha, starring Hillary Swank and Brenda Blethyn has begun production in South Africa and North Carolina. Directed by Phillip Noyce (Salt, The Quiet American) from a screenplay written by Richard Curtis, Mary And Martha depicts the journey of two mothers who bond over the mutual loss of their sons to malaria. James Woods, Frank Grillo, Ian Redford and Stephanie Faracy also star. Read More »

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HBO To Tell Timesman David Rohde’s Kidnap Tale ‘A Rope And A Prayer’

By | Monday December 5, 2011 @ 1:09pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films has hired war correspondent-turned-documentary filmmaker Greg Barker to helm A Rope And A Prayer, a film about the kidnapping by the Taliban of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times foreign correspondent David Rohde. Rohde wrote the book with his wife Kristen Mulvihill, a photo editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine. They had only been married two months when Rohde was taken into captivity by the Taliban in 2008 en route to an interview with a Taliban leader, in Afghanistan. She banged on the door of every journalist, politician and even the Taliban to try and free him. HBO also acquired Rohde’s five-part series written for the newspaper shortly after he and an Afghan colleague used a car tow line to drop from a wall and escape.

Michelle Ashford, whose credits include HBO’s The Pacific, is writing the script. Michael London and Janice Williams will produce for Groundswell Productions. Barker, who directed the docus Koran By Heart and Sergio for HBO, is repped by Gersh and Parallax Talent Management. ICM brokered the deal for Rohde and The New York Times.

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HBO Picks Up Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace Film Starring Michael Douglas & Matt Damon

By | Tuesday October 11, 2011 @ 10:06am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Steven Soderbergh’s long-gestating Liberace feature is headed to HBO. HBO Films has greenlighted for production Behind The Candelabra, which will be directed by Soderbergh. It takes a behind-the-scenes look at the tempestuous relationship between legendary entertainer Liberace, played by Michel Douglas, and Scott Thorson, his younger limo driver and live-in lover, played by Matt Damon. The actors had been attached to the project when it was a feature, which also had Richard LaGravenese writing and Jerry Weintraub producing. Weintraub will now executive produce, with Gregory Jacobs and Susan Ekins producing. Soderbergh will direct from a script by LaGravenese. “This is a story that’s going to surprise a lot of people,” said HBO Films president Len Amato. “It’s funny, heartbreaking and always fascinating, and we are delighted that Jerry and Steven brought the film to HBO.”

Weintraub and Soderbergh began working on the project 3-4 years ago. They acquired Thorson’s memoir Behind The Candelabra (My Life With Liberace) and hired LaGravenese to write a script. Douglas and Damon then came on board to star but the project, set at Warner Bros., was dealt a setback when Douglas had to take time off for cancer treatment. Meanwhile, Weintraub spent time working with HBO on the documentary about his career His Way and got the idea of setting the film there. “It is a great place, … Read More »

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Bette Midler Pulls Out Of Phil Spector Biopic

By | Tuesday July 12, 2011 @ 8:31pm PDT

UPDATED WEDNESDAY AM: Bette Midler has released this statement about exiting HBO’s Phil Spector biopic because of a herniated disc that may need surgery: “I am heartbroken to be forced to leave this terrific project, working with David Mamet & Al Pacino was a dream of mine; but the pain I am in has made my participation impossible. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for their kind understanding.”

EXCLUSIVE, TUESDAY PM: Today HBO Films’ Phil Spector biopic suspended production when co-star Bette Midler did not appear on set to begin filming scenes. The movie had been shooting for six days and Midler had appeared on three of them. Sources tell me she has a herniated disc and pulled out because of “doctor’s orders.” Two hours after call writer/director David Mamet addressed the crew saying that HBO and the insurance company were looking at recasting the part. HBO has confirmed to me it will. Midler had been about to play Linda Kenney Baden, a defense attorney who represented the music producer Spector (played by Al Pacino) during his first trial for murder. Barry Levinson is executive producing the film, which revolves around the relationship between Spector and Baden.

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HBO Casts James Gandolfini As Jersey Guy Serving Up Ribs And North Korean Diplomacy

By | Monday March 21, 2011 @ 2:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films has made a book and life rights deal so that The Sopranos star James Gandolfini can play another New Jersey guy. This time, he’s attached to play Bobby Egan, owner of a Hackensack rib joint who  became involved in back channel negotiations with North Korea to stop producing nuclear weapons. HBO Films has acquired the book Eating with the Enemy: How I Waged Peace With North Korea from my BBQ Shack in Hackensack, by Egan and Kurt Pitzer. The pic is a co-production between Tribeca Productions and Gandolfini’s Atta Boy Productions banner.

Egan, wanting to make a difference, started his unlikely diplomat role by knocking on the door of the North Korean Consulate near the UN and saying, “I want to be your friend.” That led Egan to live a double life out of Being There. Calling himself “Kim Jong Il’s guy in New Jersey,” Egan made four trips to North Korea. After he became the only Westerner appearing in North Korean politburo photos, he was initially considered a controversial figure in the US State Department. But he became a helpful conduit in backdoor nuke talks. In the end, his close friends in the North Korean consulate were recalled to their home country, the underground diplomacy stopped and Egan went back to running his rib joint. Hotchkiss and Associates made the deal.

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Julian Assange Movie In The Works At HBO

By | Friday January 21, 2011 @ 3:03pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Sundance: Universal Pictures Funding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Docu By Alex Gibney And Ex-Uni Chairman Marc Shmuger

EXCLUSIVE: Julian Assange might be getting the HBO film treatment. A movie about the controversial WikiLeaks founder is in early development at HBO Films. HBO is in discussions with frequent collaborator BBC about co-producing together the film, whose source material would include Raffi Khatchadourian’s June 7, 2010, article in The New Yorker No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency. The article was an in-depth look at Julian Assange and follows him and his Wikileaks operatives as they prepare to leak a 38 minute classified video filmed from inside of the cockpit of an U.S. Army Apache Helicopter.

The film project is being executive producer by Joshua Maurer and Alixandre Witlin of City Entertainment and David Stern of KippSter Entertainment who had optioned the article. Assange could not be hotter in Hollywood at the moment. Oscar-winning documentary director Alex Gibney just signed with  Universal Pictures to do a documentary about the Australian. HBO has not shied away from controversial figures as subjects of its original movies. Last year, it aired the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack, which earned star Al Pacino an Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Khatchadourian is with UTA.

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Who’s Adopted This Orphaned Cash Cow?

It’s hard not to root for a Depression era kiddie movie that costs under $9 million, showcases good clean fun for little girls, and stars Abigail Breslin, the Hayley Mills of her generation, as well as a great supporting cast of very funny adults like Wally Shawn, Jane Krakowski, Joan Cusak and Stanley Tucci. So it sucks that the studio for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl opening July 2 has now been killed off. Can Picturehouse successfully release a film when it’s shutting down? In this case, apparently yes thanks to Hollywood greed. Orphaned Kit Kittredge has been adopted by Warner Bros and supervised by New Line and groomed by HBO. But it’s Warner Bros who now controls the American Girl franchise and is already developing the next one (as a musical set in the 1970s). So let’s look back at all the people who have fought to parent this little pic.

Yes, it was initially set up at Walden Media, which is when Anne Peacock (Narnia) was hired. But then Walden reneged on the initial P&A commitment, so a furious Mattell pulled American Girl and placed it with HBO Films/Picturehouse. Picturehouse, of course, was set up by New Line and HBO. Then, last November, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne saw an early cut and had a secret meeting with Bill Nelson to essentially buy HBO out of the American Girl biz. HBO at the time was considering shutting down its film department so Nelson took the offer seriously. But Colin Calender became enraged and said absolutely no to any idea of a sale. It took all of one night for Nelson … Read More »

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