Oscilloscope Laboratories has taken North American rights to the Elle Fanning-John Hawkes starrer Low Down. Pic tracks the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany as seen through the eyes of his daughter Amy-Jo, who watched as her father struggled with heroin addiction in the 1960s and 1970s. Helmed by longtime DP Jeff Preiss in his feature directorial debut, Low Down premiered at Sundance in January where it won the fest’s cinematography award, and its next stop on the festival circuit is June’s BAM CinemaFest in New York. Topper Lilien scripted with Amy-Jo Albany from her memoirs, with Red Hot Chili Peppers rockers Anthony Kiedis and Flea throwing their weight behind the project as exec producers. Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Taryn Manning, Glenn Close, Flea, and Caleb Landry Jones also star. Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Productions and Mindy Goldberg of Epoch Films produced the film. Amy-Jo Albany, Burton Ritchie, Win McCormack, Flea, Kiedis, and Daniel-Konrad Cooper are executive producers. UTA Independent Film Group’s Bec Smith negotiated the deal with attorney Linda Lichter on behalf of the filmmakers.
After lengthy negotiations, John Hawkes and Michael Cera have signed on to topline How And Why, FX Networks‘ half-hour comedy pilot from Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. How And Why tells the story of Goodman Hesselman (Hawkes), who can explain how and why a nuclear reactor works but is clueless about life. After losing his gig hosting children’s science show How And Why, he tries to start over with a new show in a little TV market in the middle of nowhere when he encounters the supernatural world. Cera plays Mendelson, Goodman’s new boss at the studio. Even though they legally cannot use any part of How And Why, Mendelson is confident they will replicate the show. Produced by FX Productions, the pilot will film this spring in North Carolina. Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) wrote the script and will direct the pilot, which he is executive producing with Anthony Bregman. Cera, repped by ICM Partners, Thruline and Lichter, Grossman, most recently wasseen in Netflix’s revival of Arrested Development. Oscar nominee Hawkes, repped by Innovative, Thruline and Morris Yorn, starred in HBO’s Deadwood.
Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal & Jason Clarke In Talks To Star In ‘Everest’ For Working Title
EXCLUSIVE: Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke are in discussions to star in Everest, a mountain climbing disaster film that The Deep helmer Baltasar Kormakur will direct. He’s the one that’s putting the cast together and is aiming for a November shooting start. Universal Pictures and Emmett/Furla Films are in discussions to co-finance the project. Kormakur already has worked with Universal and Emmett/Furla’ Randall Emmett and George Furla: He directed 2 Guns starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg that Uni releases August 2. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce Everest, based on the 1996 disastrous expedition to scale Mount Everest. Three different expeditions were hit by a sudden blinding storm and by the time it was all over, eight climbers died. The tale was first made famous by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, his first-person account of being among the lucky ones to make it back down the mountain. This film will be sourced from various books and interviews with survivors.
Freestyle Releasing and Freestyle Digital Media have acquired theatrical and DVD/VOD rights to the Julia Dyer-directed drama The Playroom and has slated a February 9, 2013 release date. Set in the suburbs during the 1970s, Playroom tells the story of the Cantwell family, who are trying to find their way in a world changing too fast for their liking. John Hawkes (The Sessions) and Molly Parker (Dexter) star as the hard-drinking parents of Maggie (newcomer Olivia Harris), who is grappling with her parents’ flawed choices. The film, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, was produced by Stephen Dyer and Angie Meyer. The deal was negotiated by Freestyle CEO Susan Jackson and Head of Acquisitions Chris Charalambous, and Bill Straus of BGP and Jonathan Gray of Gray, Krauss Stratford des Rochers.
Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor.
Writer/director Ben Lewin’s boldly endearing film The Sessions is the true story of quadriplegic journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, who, at 38 years old, set about losing his virginity by hiring a sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt. Veteran actor John Hawkes plays O’Brien in the film, embracing a physically and emotionally challenging role. In a recent interview with AwardsLine, Hawkes discussed the challenges of embodying a character who can’t move his body.
AwardsLine: How did this script come to you and how daunting—or not—was playing a man whose only movement was limited to the neck up?
John Hawkes: I’d had some luck with the film Winter’s Bone and after that I got sent some scripts to consider. I hadn’t seen a character like this before—and that was the daunting part. Mark O’Brien lived in an iron lung from 6 years old on and only had 90 degrees of movement with his head. I wasn’t interested in him being more of an able-bodied Mark O’Brien and was glad the script wasn’t written that way. Disabled sex isn’t something we talk about a great deal, and I’m always interested in subjects I don’t know about.
Fox Searchlight brought its Sundance pickup and Oscar hopeful, The Sessions, to the Toronto International Film Festival today to kick-start the film’s October launch. (Now set for October 26 but very possibly moving up a week to the 19th). Last January, the film debuted under the title The Surrogate and immediately sparked early 2012 awards talk, particularly for the performances of John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. It’s a small but surprisingly funny and ultimately quite touching film that drew so many big laughs at today’s Elgin Theatre screening the dialogue was drowned out during some scenes, usually those between Hawkes and William H. Macy. There were three standing ovations for the director and principal stars, a very enthusiastic response to be sure.
Fox Searchlight Co-Presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley were there and said after the Sundance sale no cuts were made to the film and none requested by the MPAA in order to get the ‘R’ rating (for some explicit but tastefully shot sexual content).
Gilula notes that with so many movies competing for attention at TIFF it’s tough for a movie that debuted at Sundance or Cannes. Media, he says, just want to spotlight the newest movies even though this one doesn’t even open until next month. At this point it is the mini-major’s only fall/holiday release, and it’s hoping to build strong word of mouth and awards attention. The studio is still trying to determine whether to push Hunt for lead or supporting. (The Oscar winning star of As Good As It Gets could probably slip comfortably into either slot.) Fox Searchlight also have summer releases Beasts Of The Southern Wild and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on their potential awards plate. And there still is the possibility of a last-minute contender coming in December if they decide to rush Hitchcock.
Here’s the trailer for the Sundance hit acquired by Fox Searchlight, with John Hawkes as a paralyzed man who is determined to lose his virginity. Helen Hunt and William H. Macy co-star. Screened at Sundance as The Surrogate and based on a true story, the movie written and directed by Ben Lewin is slated to open October 26th:
EXCLUSIVE: The Surrogate has breathed some life into the so far sluggish Sundance acquisitions market. Following a heated bidding battle among multiple distributors since the film debuted midday today at the Eccles Theater, I’m told that Fox Searchlight is on the verge of closing a $6 million deal for world rights. The Ben Lewin-directed drama stars John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy. Hawkes stars as a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, who decides he no longer wants to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. CAA is negotiating the deal.
FX’s pilot Outlaw Country is undergoing a retooling. The original script, written by Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz, has been given a rewrite by Goldin, Abramowitz and Outlaw Country‘s executive producer/co-showrunner David Manson. There will be substantial reshoots, which will be directed by actor-helmer Adam Arkin. Arkin is stepping in for the original pilot’s director Michael Dinner, who would’ve done the reshoots had he not been busy with another FX pilot he is directing, Powers. There won’t be major recastings on the project, a crime thriller/family drama set against the backdrop of Southern organized crime and Nashville royalty that stars Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett, Mary Steenburgen and John Hawkes. I hear a couple of small new roles have been added and another small part, played in the original pilot by Lisa Blount, will be recast following the actress’ death.
Getting Outlaw Country off the ground has been a long and arduous process. FX greenlighted the project to pilot last April and filmed the pilot last fall. The network has showed faith in the drama — FX president John Landgraf recently listed Outlaw Country, along with Powers, as candidates for a series launch in the winter. Also proving FX’s commitment to the Nashville-set Outlaw Country is its major additional investment in the project in the form of a rewrite and extensive reshoots. In addition to getting paid for the new pilot, the cast also have had their options extended …
LOS ANGELES, CA (May 5, 2011) – Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross are in negotiations to join the cast of DreamWorks Studios’ “Lincoln,” it was announced today by DreamWorks partners Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider. Also in negotiations to join the film are David Costabile, Byron Jennings, Dakin Matthews, Boris McGiver, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, and David Warshofsky. This group joins the previously announced casting of Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field in the Spielberg directed film about the 16th President of the United States.
Based on the best-selling book, Team of Rivals, by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the screenplay has been written by the Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Award winner, and Academy Award nominated writer Tony Kushner. It will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg.
The film will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.
Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones will play Thaddeus Stevens, a Republican leader and powerful congressman from Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stevens was a staunch supporter of abolishing slavery and was critical to writing the legislation that funded the American Civil War.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known for his roles in “Inception,” “(500) Days of Summer,” and next year’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” will take on the role of Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son of President Lincoln and the only one
Sony Pictures Classics bought North American, Australian and New Zealand rights to Higher Ground, the directorial debut of actress Vera Farmiga that made its debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. She stars with John Hawkes (Oscar-nominated for Winter’s Bone), Donna Murphy and Joshua Leonard. The film is an adaptation of This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, by Carolyn S. Briggs, who wrote the script with Tim Metcalfe. It’s a study of a woman’s internal struggle with the primary love relationships in her life over two decades. The child of a traumatic divorce, she and her partner dedicate their lives to God and a small hippie church, but some of the machinations of that church give her pause. CAA brokered the deal.
Sony Pictures Classics partners Michael Barker and Tom Bernard and exec Dylan Leiner add another acquisition title to what proved to be a bountiful Sundance. They made preemptive buys of the Michael Shannon-starrer Take Shelter and the Morgan Spurlock documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. At the festival, they bought the John Michael McDonagh-directed The Guard, the Irish action comedy which stars Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.
Analyzing today’s 26th Annual Independent Spirit Award nominations, I would say Winter’s Bone, the film that led with the most nods, is also the one to beat, particularly after its triumphs at Monday night’s Gotham Awards where it took the Best Ensemble and Best Feature awards. It is the kind of movie that personifies “indie spirit” and seems to have so much heat in that regard that several Oscar nominations could also be in the picture. It’s generally thought that, for the Best Actress Oscar, the race may come down to Annette Bening vs Natalie Portman, but at the Indie Spirits the front runner is most likely Winter’s Bones’ Jennifer Lawrence with her co-stars Dale Dickey and John Hawkes figuring as viable potential winners in their respective supporting categories as well. Place your bets.
Winter’s Bone led the indie Spirit race with 7 nods, along with The Kids Are All Right, Black Swan, and 127 Hours all nabbed Best Feature nominations. And it’s entirely possible, at least according to current conventional wisdom, that the same quartet will land four of the 10 Academy Awards Best Picture slots as well. This time around, there’s perhaps the closest correlation between the Spirits and Oscar’s Best Picture race seen in years. Which would indicate that, despite the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s attempt to broaden the field in the category to include more commercial entries, the indie spirit …
EXCLUSIVE: I hear The Sopranos alumna Jamie-Lynn Sigler has been tapped to star opposite Sherry Stringfield as the lead in Lifetime’s untitled Josh Berman pilot. In another key pilot casting, former Deadwood co-star John Hawkes is set to star in FX’s drama pilot Outlaw Country.
Lifetime’s untitled drama pilot from Drop Dead Diva creator/executive producer Josh Berman, from Sony Pictures TV, is a closed-ended drama set in San Diego, which centers on police detective Molly Collins (Stringfield), married mother of two on the verge of divorce, who, along with her partner Brooke Kross (Sigler), investigate the city’s most high-profile crimes while navigating their divergent personal lives. This is one of 3 pilots Lifetime greenlighted in June, along with Against the Wall and Exit 19. If the pilot goes to series, it will mark Sigler’s first regular series gig since The Sopranos. She recently recurred on HBO’s Entourage and ABC’s Ugly Betty.
Outlaw Country, from Fox TV Studios and FX Prods., is a crime thriller/family drama set against the backdrop of southern organized crime and Nashville royalty. It focuses on 4 main characters, played by Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett, Mary Steenburgen and Hawkes. Grimes plays twentysomething Eli Larkin, a half-cowboy, half-modern guy who tries to get out of the crime ridden life he has grown accustom. Bennett plays twentysomething Annabel Lee, a gorgeous country singer who is living in the shadow of her overprotective mother (Steenburgen). …