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UPDATE: Todd Field, Searchlight Jump Into Bowe Bergdahl Fray After ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Stake Out Pic

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 1:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Todd Field, Searchlight Jump Into Bowe Bergdahl Fray After ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Stake Out PicUPDATE, 1:24 PM PT: Looks like there might be competing feature projects about recently freed POW Bowe Bergdahl. Just after breaking a story that Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are working on a film about the Army private who left his base in Afghanistan and was captured, Deadline has learned that Fox Searchlight has acquired America’s Last Prisoner Of War, an investigative article on Bergdahl by Michael Hastings, the late Rolling Stone reporter who died at age 33 in a car accident in Los Angeles last year. I’m hearing that Todd Field, the director of In The Bedroom and Little Children, is also involved. I will tell you more when I know it. Hastings was a hard-charging journo whose profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who ran the war in Afghanistan and who was depicted in the article as openly mocking the White House— was brought home and resigned.

mark-boal-kathryn-bigelow-image__121126060622PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 12:39 PM PT: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer/producer Mark Boal, the team behind the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker and Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, are in the early planning stage on another timely Middle East-set feature project. They are developing a feature based on the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for five years after he left his base in Afghanistan. The project is taking root with Boal’s recently launched Page One shingle, which has backing from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. She produced Zero Dark Thirty with Boal and Bigelow and will get first look at the script that Boal will write.

I’m not exactly sure what form the movie will take, but I’ve heard that the filmmakers quietly have been tracking the story for several years with a possible movie in mind. Bigelow and Boal have proved very changeable and able to adapt to developments in real time. They were ready to shop a script about a futile search for Osama bin Laden when President Obama announced that SEAL Team Six had killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Boal, a well-connected journalist who was embedded with troops in the Middle East, went back to his sources, altered course and he and Bigelow told the story of the painstaking but ultimately successful hunt for the 9/11 mastermind. Read More »

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Over The Cannes Transom: Worldview On Mel Gibson Pic, Aaron Paul & Helen Mirren In ‘Eye In The Sky’, ‘The Master Cleanse’ Gets Cast And Kickoff, More

Mike Fleming

MELGIBWhile we’re out chasing news, the press releases keep coming. Deadline broke news last March that Mel Gibson would star in the Jean-Francois Richet-directed Blood Father, and the news today is that Worldview Entertainment will co-fi and produce the drama, which Peter Craig adapted from his novel. Gibson will play an ex-con who reunites with his estranged wayward 16-year old daughter to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her. Filming just started. Cannes2014_badgeWild Bunch will handle international sales here and CAA is repping domestic…

Kathryn Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty backer Annapurna’s Megan Ellison are reteaming on an adaptation of The True American, a nonfiction book by journo Anand Giridharadas that has Tom Hardy is set to star. Bigelow will direct and produce the film through her production shingle, First Light. The deal was announced here at Cannes. Like Zero Dark Thirty, this has 9/11 overtones. In the volatile days following that terrorist attack in New York, a self styled American terrorist named Mark Stroman murdered two immigrants in Texas, nearly killing a third man he shot in the head. That victim, Raisuddin Bhuiyan, was a former Bangladesh Air Force vet who set up a new life as the owner of a Dallas convenience store.

Entertainment One announced that Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul are joining Colin Firth in Eye In The Sky, a drone warfare drama that Gavin Hood is directing.

Johnny Galecki, Chloë Sevigny and Anjelica Huston have been cast in The Master Clense, a fantasy horror comedy to be produced by Bron Studios and Gilbert Films that will be the feature debut of writer-director Bobby Miller. Production is set to begin in July in Vancouver. After holding onto heartbreak for several years, Paul (Galecki) decides to restart his life, joining a spiritual retreat designed to cleanse negative toxins from his body. But the cleanse releases something far greater than everyday toxins and traumatic experiences. XYZ Films is introducing the pic in Cannes, and WME Global arranged financing and is repping North American rights.

86th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsGlenn Close has boarded The Wife, committing to star in scribe Jane Anderson’s adaptation of the bestselling Meg Wolitzer novel. Swedish director Björn Runge will direct the pic. The book is a sharply observed drama about the unraveling of a marriage during a couple’s journey to the Nobel Award ceremony in Stockholm. The film will shoot primarily in Stockholm in both English and Swedish and production is planned for winter/spring 2015. Read More »

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Tom Hardy To Star In Kathryn Bigelow’s Post-9/11 Tale ‘The True American’

By | Wednesday May 14, 2014 @ 7:38pm PDT

tom-hardy__140404055255 Kathryn Bigelow The Oscar-winning director will helm an adaptation of The True American starring Tom Hardy. Anand Giridharadas wrote the newly published nonfiction book, which is set in Texas in the days following the September 11 attacks. Self-styled “Arab slayer” Mark Stroman murdered two immigrants, but a third man survived being shot in the head during the spree: Rais Bhuiyan, a Muslim immigrant and Bangladesh Air Force veteran, who was working at a Dallas-area convenience store as he established 9780393239508_198himself in America and worked to have his attacker spared from execution. Annapurna’s Megan Ellison, who worked with Kathryn Bigelow on Best Picture Oscar nominee Zero Dark Thirty, acquired rights to the book and will produce, with Matthew Budman exec producing. W.W. Norton & Company published The True American: Murder And Mercy In Texas last week.

Hardy most recently starred in Locke and The Dark Knight Rises and has a number of projects in the works including Child 44, Mad Max: Fury Road, Splinter Cell and Elton John biopic Rocket Man. True American will be Bigelow’s first film since helming Zero Dark Thirty. She won a directing Oscar for 2008′s The Hurt Locker.

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BAFTA Los Angeles To Honor Kathryn Bigelow And Sir Ben Kingsley At 2013 Britannia Awards

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 9:12am PDT

Los Angeles, August 5, 2013 – The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles® (BAFTA Los Angeles) is pleased to announce it will honor Academy® and BAFTA Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and Academy® and BAFTA Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley at the 2013 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards presented by BBC AMERICA on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. For the second year in a row, the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards will be broadcast on BBC AMERICA, airing in primetime November 10, 2013 at 8pm ET as a two-hour special including footage of the Britannia Awards Red Carpet.

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Sundance Institute Announces Directors & Screenwriter Fellows

EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford.  The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
Read More »

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Alcon Sets Ericson Core To Helm ‘Point Break’ Remake

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 6:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Patrick SwayzeEXCLUSIVE: Ericson Core, the cinematographer who made his feature directorial debut on Invincible, has been set by Alcon Entertainment partners Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove to direct Point Break, the remake of the 1991 action thriller that starred Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. Shooting begins at year’s end and Alcon will release through its Warner Bros output deal.

Any way you cut it, the director of this film is stepping into big shoes. The original was helmed by Kathryn Bigelow, who later won the Oscar with The Hurt Locker and who most recently helmed Zero Dark Thirty. Kosove and Johnson will produce the remake with Michael De Luca, John Baldecchi, Chris Taylor and Kurt Wimmer. The script was written by Wimmer, whose script work includes Salt and Law Abiding Citizen. RGM Media principal Devesh Chetty and investor John McMurrick, Chairman of Marloss Entertainment, will be exec producers.

They’re setting the remake in the world of international extreme sports, and an undercover FBI agent infiltrates a criminal ring. If done right, this one could work again. The original story was pretty far-fetched (I recall Reeves jumping out of a plane without a parachute to chase down Swazye, who had a parachute), but for me it is one of those movies where, if I am clicking channels and come across it, I’ll stop and watch at any point of the movie.

Core, who’s repped by Gersh Agency’s David … Read More »

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Post-Oscars, Senate Intelligence Committee Closes ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Probe

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 4:40pm PST

It appears the Senate Intelligence Committee probe into Zero Dark Thirty is over. A Congressional aide today confirmed to Reuters that the Committee led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Carl Levin (D-Mich) has dropped its inquiry into Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated film. The negative campaign from Capitol Hill had plagued the pic in the months leading up to the 85th Academy Awards, where Zero Dark Thirty went home without winning any major awards Sunday night. The Senate Intelligence Committee launched its public battle against the film in December when members issued a letter to Sony Pictures head Michael Lynton that called the film “grossly inaccurate”. The committee subsequently called for an investigation into the propriety of access given by the CIA to Bigelow and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Mark Boal, whose film depicts CIA operatives employing enhanced interrogation practices on detainees. At a WGA nominees panel this month, Boal accused his politician detractors of using Zero Dark Thirty as a “publicity platform”: “You’re talking about an institution that has lower approval ratings than head lice and cockroaches in the American public”, he said, “so I think anything they can do to, in some cases, avoid the issues that they’re voted in to do, they’ll do”.

The Osama bin Laden pic was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best … Read More »

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Does ‘Argo’s’ WGA Victory Seal The Deal For Oscar?

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 11:11pm PST
Pete Hammond

Tonight’s Writers Guild of America awards show brought further clarity to this year’s topsy turvy awards race but it also brought some embarrassment to the guild. Is there any reason the WGA can’t coordinate the so-called “simutaneous” ceremonies between east coast and west coast so that winners aren’t being tweeted thoughout the room at L.A.’s JW Marriott Hotel Ballroom a full hour before they are announced to the local crowd gathered for the main awards show?

Anyone with a Blackberry or iPhone knew that Argo and Zero Dark Thirty won their respective Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay awards long before the actual winners in Los Angeles even knew thanks to word leaking out of the New York WGA East show. Argo’s scripter Chris Terrio told me he had no idea until it was announced in L.A . that he had won even though that announcement came fully an hour and a half after it was blasted across several websites including Deadline. He said he wondered if something was up when other winners on stage referred to tweets they had received indicating they had won but he never checked. Director Ben Affeck stayed home with the family but told Terrio he would be closely following events on the WGA’s live streaming site. Obviously he had reason to be happy.

Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal told me his phone wasn’t working but he … Read More »

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‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Too Risky For Pakistan Theaters, But It’s Popular On Pirated DVD

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 12:58pm PST

Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty will not be released theatrically in Pakistan, where the film is largely set. The film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, who was tracked down hiding out in the Pakistan town of Abbotabad, is too much of a risk for local distributors, according to Mohsin Yaseen of Cinepax, the largest exhibition chain in the country. Speaking to the BBC, Yaseen said, “The movie had some controversial scenes in the story related to Pakistan… For us it’s not possible to bring it here. It did affect our business, but, you know, it’s better to be safe than showing that film.” Local censors had previously demanded so many cuts on another film Cinepax had acquired which involved bin Laden, that Yaseen said the company “thought it best to just keep away from” Zero Dark Thirty, and other distributors have agreed to do the same, The Telegraph reports. The film is not going unseen in Pakistan, however. A pirated DVD is “very popular in Islamabad,” according to the BBC with locals even setting up home cinemas to screen it.

Related: Michael Moore Weighs In On ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

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Kathryn Bigelow Answers Tough ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Questions – On Comedy Central: Video

By | Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 11:51am PST

Kathryn Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal are doing the media tour thing to defend their depiction of torture in the Oscar-nominated military drama — and how those tactics might have led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. The Senate, for one, wants to know more about where that information came from. Bigelow was supposed to be on The Colbert Report two weeks ago but backed out — she apologized to Stephen Colbert during yesterday’s show, saying “I was spooked by the Senate investigation.” Her carefully worded answers suggest “spooked” isn’t too far off. Funny that it took Comedy Central to bring out Bigelow’s most candid interview yet — and kudos for Colbert for asking strong questions about the filmmakers’ primary sources, whether Bigelow believed they were spun by the government, and what she thought about potentially being called before Congress.

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Did Oscar Voter Who Spoke Out Against ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Run Afoul Of Academy Rules?

By | Friday January 11, 2013 @ 5:35pm PST
Pete Hammond

In case you are wondering if Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences member David Clennon ran afoul of official Academy rules regarding member behavior when he spoke out against Zero Dark Thirty at a media event today, he did not. Clennon said “I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called war on terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category… I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

The Academy’s rules about member conduct do not extend to the First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech, even if someone like Clennon invokes his voting intentions to make a political point. The only time a member can seriously jeopardize their Academy standing is if a member or someone involved in a competing film makes disparaging remarks about another competing film or person such as The Hurt Locker producer Nicholas Chartier did in 2010 when he sent multiple emails urging members not to vote for Avatar which was also a Best Picture nominee that year. The Academy revoked his tickets to the Oscars but ultimately did not take the step … Read More »

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David Letterman Joins Boo-Bird Chorus Over Kathryn Bigelow Oscar Snub

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 5:40pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Add David Letterman to the outcry over today’s exclusion of Zero Dark Thirty‘s Kathryn Bigelow from the Best Director Oscar nomination roster. While the film is up for Best Picture and four other major awards, I’m told that on tonight’s Late Show With David Letterman, Dave calls Bigelow’s exclusion “a travesty.” That’s tame compared to some of the reactions around town. Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna Pictures financed the film, demanded a recount and called it “So fucked up” in a Tweet. LA Times critic Kenneth Turan called Bigelow a casualty of “the bullying power of the United States Senate and an undeserved loss for Zero Dark Thirty in general and director Kathryn Bigelow in particular.” Now, I thought Letterman swore off movies after his work in Cabin Boy, but I’m told he’s a big fan of Zero Dark Thirty. He had Jessica Chastain on the show early this week and Bigelow guested last night. Here’s a clip of what she had to say about the controversy last night:

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HAMMOND ON OSCARS: Still A Wide Open Race Despite Stunners

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 10:33am PST
Pete Hammond

Let’s throw “conventional wisdom” out the window regarding this morning’s Oscar nominations. In a year when there are so many genuine contenders for the Oscars‘ Best Picture, the Academy has thrown a wrench into the proceedings, instantly cementing early frontrunner status for Lincoln and Life Of Pi along with the “little engine that could” Silver Linings Playbook while dampening prospects of winning the big prize for three other perceived major contenders Zero Dark Thirty (the controversial critical darling), Les Miserables and Argo. All three of those films’ directors were snubbed after winning DGA nominations earlier this week. Did these Best Picture nominees direct themselves?

Related: OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations

The biggest shock waves at the Academy this morning were clearly over the omission of Ben Affleck‘s direction of Argo and Kathryn Bigelow‘s absence for Zero Dark Thirty. Both are still nominees as co-producers of their Best Picture-nominated films, but this has to sting. Instead, Silver Linings’ David O. Russell reversed his snub at DGA and BAFTA with a strong showing where it counts, and wildcard Michael Haneke of Amour (which did exceptionally well for a foreign-language film including a Best Picture and Foreign Language nod) got those spots along with the true shocker of the directing nominees, Beast Of The Southern Wild’s Benh Zeitlin. His tiny Sundance sensation and offbeat film defied expectations earning key Directing, Picture, Screenplay and Actress (for youngest nominee in the category ever, Quvenzhane Wallis). Some people were sure they were mistaken when they heard Zeitlin announced instead of Affleck after the first name Benh was called out. But the Oscars are always known for throwing surprises into the mix. Much like that Wizard of Oz, Oscar has spoken. As Academy COO Ric Robertson (who is also an Academy voter) told me, “I guess we really, really liked Beasts Of The Southern Wild’!” With Zeitlin’s directing nod, that’s an understatement. It is his first movie, by the way, so congratulations Benh, and sorry Ben.

Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy? Read More »

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OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 5:53am PST

Some Oscar dreams flourished and some were dashed with this morning’s announcement of the 85th annual Academy Award nominations. Academy voters can be as harsh as they can be predictable, and some snubs seem designed to sting. Thankfully some take it with a degree of humor. “I just got snubbed for a flu shot at CVS,” tweeted Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindelof today. Here are some of the directors, films and actors who got left out today even though they might have deserved better.

Related: OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations

Kathryn Bigelow The Zero Dark Thirty director was the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker– she won’t be repeating that feat this year even though her film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden was nominated for Best Picture. “Kathryn Bigelow was robbed. So f—ed up. #recount,” tweeted ZD30 producer Megan Ellison after the nominations were announced Thursday.

Leonardo DiCaprio – He got a Supporting Actor nomination from the Golden Globes for his Calvin Candie in Django Unchained but nothing today — cast mate Christoph Waltz got the nod.

Marion Cotillard – No Best Actress for her Rust and Bone performance?

The Intouchables A big hit at home and France’s submission for Best Foreign film, this comedy-drama Weinstein released movie got treated like an untouchable.

Ben Affleck No Best Director or Best Actor for Argo. Really? Even though it got a Best Picture nomination?

Related: OSCARS: Nominations By Studio & Distributor

Skyfall Yes it’s a James Bond movie. But, as the PGA recognized, it is a Sam Mendes-directed Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem. It would have been a nice addition to the tribute the Academy plans for the Bond movies’ 50th anniversary during the Oscarcast, but Oscar himself was neither shaken nor stirred beyond Adele’s best song nom.

Cloud Atlas Not even a technical nomination? The Academy must have really hated it.

John Hawkes – His performance in The Sessions made this past nominee seem a sure thing for a Academy Award nomination – what happened Oscar?

Rise Of The Guardians That must have really hurt over at DreamWorks Animation this morning.

Related: OSCARS: Nominations By Picture

Quentin Tarantino – The Golden Globes gave the Django Unchained helmer a nomination and the Academy gave the movie itself a Best Picture nomination today but no Best Director for Quentin? Too much controversy?

Perks Of Being A Wallflower If any movie called out for Best Adapted Screenplay, it was this coming of ager directed and written by Stephen Chbosky based on his own acclaimed 1999 novel. And yet Oscar offered no perks at all.

Christopher Nolan Holy Oversight, Batman! Even though Inception was nominated for Best Picture in 2010 and he’s picked up a pair of writing noms, The Dark Knight Rises director has never received a nomination for his helming work — including on the hugely successful Batman franchise. And just like with 2005’s Batman Begins and 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan was again left off the Best Director list. Read More »

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After Gotham Victory Lap, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Moves To D.C.; Will It Withstand Controversy Through Oscar Season And Beyond?

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 5:49pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: There were a few Amnesty International protestors outside, but Kathryn Bigelow got a warm greeting at the Newseum in D.C. for the premiere of Zero Dark Thirty. After she was introduced by MPAA head and former Senator Chris Dodd, Bigelow (named a Best Director finalist by the DGA today) touched on the torture controversy only peripherally in her opening remarks. Said Bigelow: “We had no agenda in making this film and were not trying to generate controversy,” she said. “Quite the contrary. Mark and I wanted to present the story as we understood it, based on the extraordinary research that Mark did. All of us were affected by September 11th, 2001 and the events that followed.  Among other things, it catalyzed the greatest manhunt in history.  Many of us know how it ended. Perhaps nobody knows every detail of how it happened.  We tried to bring this story to the screen in a faithful way. As a director, I make a film, and then it is up to the audience to interpret.  Each person will have their own experience with the film. This was a momentous part of our nation’s history and we wanted to illustrate the ambiguities, the contradictions, and complexities of this 10-year search. There is a tremendous debate going on about various aspects of the hunt, some of which are depicted in this film.  One thing is clear, at the end of the day it took a selfless team of individuals, many of whom we will never know or meet, to carry out this mission.  As filmmakers, we hope that this film honors their work and sacrifice.”

EARLIER, 5:22 PM: After keeping quiet for a week as three U.S. senators called Zero Dark Thirty “grossly inaccurate” and pro-torture, Oscar-winning filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal spoke out last night in the friendly confines of the New York Film Critics Circle that had voted their film the best of 2012. Tonight, the pair heads into more hostile territory for a premiere in Washington D.C., where their film has been sharply criticized for depicting a terror suspect who, after being waterboarded, gives up information that eventually leads the CIA to Al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Read More »

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Bad News For Weinstein As Major Studios Take Over DGA Race: Analysis

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 11:18am PST
Pete Hammond

This morning’s just-announced DGA Award nominations are good news for the major studios and bad news for Harvey Weinstein. With Ben Affleck for Warner Bros’  Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Universal’s Les Miserables, Ang Lee for 20th Century Fox’s  Life Of Pi and Steven Spielberg for Disney/Dreamworks Lincoln, it was a clean sweep for the majors — a continuing roaring comeback in Oscar contenders for the big boys who the past two years have watched The Weinstein Company take Best Picture (and top DGA) honors with small indies like The Artist and The King’s Speech. Clearly, even as their focus is on money-making blockbusters and popcorn entertainment, the majors are no longer sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the Oscars and seem fully invested in the process this year at least.

Related: DGA Award Nominations Announced

It’s highly unusual since the advent of the Miramax takeover of  Oscar seasons the past quarter century to see no independent contender in a strong position. But, at least as far as the DGA is concerned, that’s the story here, along with the fact that four of the five nominees are past DGA- and Oscar-directing winners, with Affleck the only newcomer to the DGA club after directing only his third feature film (he is an Oscar winner for co-writing Good Will Hunting). Bigelow and Hooper both won in the last three years and have made a quick return to the golden circle. Spielberg, meanwhile, is the Big Kahuna of the DGA as he is a three-time winner (The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) and now 11-time nominee as well as winner of the guild’s Life Achievement Award. Lee’s enormously impressive technical feat in bringing what was thought to be an unfilmable book, Life Of Pi, so successfully to the big screen is clearly something that appealed to the sensibility of directors, so his nomination was definitely expected.  This will make for one of the tightest and most interesting directing races in years at the DGA. Read More »

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U.S. Senators Slam Sony For ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Torture Scene: “Grossly Inaccurate”

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 4:08pm PST

UPDATED: Deadline has obtained a copy of a highly critical letter that Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and two other senators sent today to Sony Pictures’ boss Michael Lynton about the torture scene in Zero Dark Thirty. In the letter, Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin call the Kathryn Bigelow-directed film “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.” The senators’ letter tells Sony that “with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.” In response, Sony has pointed to a statement from Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal released last week that said in part: “We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes.”

Bigelow and Boal last week went on ABC’s Nightline to defend their film against claims the filmmakers were given classified information by the Obama administration that aided in making the movie.

Zero Dark Thirty, which is being released today, already has cleaned up on the awards-season circuit, having won Best Film honors from several critics organizations and snagging four Golden Globe nominations.

Here’s the senators’ full letter:

December 19, 2012

Mr. Michael Lynton

Chairman and CEO

Sony Pictures Entertainment

10202 W. Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Dear Mr. Lynton:

We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.

We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events” and there has been significant media coverage of the CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden. Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.

Zero Dark Thirty is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.

Pursuant to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of records from the Intelligence Community. Based on that review, Senators Feinstein and Levin released the following information on April 30, 2012, regarding the Usama Bin Laden operation:

  • The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the Usama Bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier’s identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which Usama Bin Laden was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.
  • Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.
  • The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating: “…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.”

Read More »

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National Board Of Review Best Film: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Katheryn Bigelow‘s hunt-for-bin Laden pic has won the National Board of Review‘s Best Film honor, its second victory in three days after New York Film Critics Circle voted it the year’s top film Monday. Bigelow also repeated her NYFCC Best Director win and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica Chastain won Best Actress from the group, comprised of a select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics and students who watch more than 250 films throughout the year. The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook also showed well in today’s announcement, taking Best Actor for Bradley Cooper and Best Adapted Screenplay for writer-director David O. Russell. Leonardo DiCaprio won Best Supporting Actor for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Compliance‘s Ann Dowd won Best Supporting Actress.

Zero Dark Thirty has been under the microscope from the beginning, with some groups claiming that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were given access to classified documents by the Obama administration while making the film, which chronicles the manhunt that led to the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden in a Navy SEAL raid. The filmmakers have denied they received such info. The Sony war drama, which stars Chastain, Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton, will be released in the U.S. on December 19 and now has plenty of momentum as awards season kicks into high gear. Bigelow and Boal’s previous film, the war drama The Hurt Locker, won six Oscars in 2010 including Best Picture, and made Jeremy Renner a star.

Last year, the NRB voted Hugo its Best Film, with the Martin Scorsese 3D fantasy going on to earn an Oscar nomination.

The National Board of Review’s awards will be handed out January 8 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City in a gala hosted by Meredith Vieira. Here is the complete list of today’s winners, which includes the NBR’s top lists of films in several categories in alphabetical order:


Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY

Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, ZERO DARK THIRTY

Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, DJANGO UNCHAINED

Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, COMPLIANCE

Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, LOOPER

Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Best Animated Feature: WRECK-IT RALPH

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, ARGO Read More »

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NY Film Critics Circle: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Named Best Film; ‘Lincoln’ Wins Multiple Honors

By | Monday December 3, 2012 @ 12:10pm PST

The New York Film Critics Circle has named Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty its film of the year in voting going on right now in New York. The group also named Zero‘s Kathryn Bigelow its best director for the hunt-for-bin Laden war drama. In 2009, the NYFCC went with Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker as Best Film and Bigelow as Best Director — the same eventual results as the Oscars. The film’s director of photography Greig Fraser also won in today’s voting by New York-area film critics. Awards will be handed out  January 7.

It’s the latest twist for Zero Dark Thirty, which has come under criticism from various groups that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were given access to classified documents by the Obama administration while making the film, which chronicles the manhunt that led to the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden in a Navy SEAL raid. Bigelow and Boal went on Nightline last week to deny they received classified info. “I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified materials; to my knowledge, I never received any”, Boal told Martha Raddatz.

The Sony pic, starring Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton, will be released in U.S. theaters December 19.

Other winners today included Lincoln, which saw a Best Actor win for Daniel Day-Lewis, Supporting Actress for Sally Field, and Best Screenplay for Tony Kushner. Rachel Weiss won the Best Actress nod for The Deep Blue Sea. Michael Haneke’s Amour continued its fall hot streak with a Best Foreign Language Film win, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie was named Best Animated Film.

The NYFCC The critics group, which is announcing winners today via its Twitter feed, last year moved out ahead of the awards pack by doling out honors November 28, a controversial move because in the rush to come before rivals the National Board of Review and the LA Film Critics it wasn’t able to see Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, which ended up with a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Now they’ve moved back a week to today, with the National Board winners due Wednesday and the LA critics voting Sunday. Here’s the NYFCC winners as they’re announced: Read More »

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