The Oscar winning director, the studio and screenwriter Mark Boal say the First Amendment protects them in use of elements of Jeffrey Sarver’s life in The Hurt Locker. “By any reasonable measure, the film must be considered a ‘transformative’ work of artistic expression that is protected by the First Amendment,” they said in an 87-page brief (read it here) submitted earlier this week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief goes on to say that there are only “generic similarities” between Sarver and the William James character played by Jeremy Renner in the 2008 film. This case may sound familiar. The former US Army explosive technician Master Sargent had his initial invasion of privacy 2010 suit against Bigelow, Boal and others dismissed in October 2011. At that time, Sarver was ordered to pay $187,000 in lawyers’ fees to Bigelow, Boal, Summit and the Hurt Locker production. The former Master Sgt. appealed that ruling last November. In his own brief (read it here) filed on July 2 against Playboy as well as Bigelow, Boal and others, the veteran claimed that the film’s use of his life was not transformative at all, that it violated his right of publicity and First Amendment rights have to balanced against his own right of privacy. Bigelow, Boal and Summit’s lawyers disagree. “Appellant cannot state a cause of action for false light invasion of privacy because the Film does not portray James in a light that would be highly offensive to a reason person,” said the brief submitted by the defendants earlier this week. The movie and Sarver do have a real history besides these lawsuits. As a writer for Playboy, Boal was embedded with Sarver’s company in Baghdad for two weeks in late 2004. The writer featured both Sarver’s professional and personal life prominently in the subsequent 2005 article. That article became the basis for The Hurt Locker movie. Boal, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Hurt Locker, worked with Bigelow again on Zero Dark Thirty, her upcoming film on the hunt and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Sarver’s appeal suit also includes allegations of defamation, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud. As well, Sarver claims that U.S. District Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen “certainly lost sight” of the “guideposts when she ruled as a matter of law” that his privacy concerns “lacked minimal merit.’” Sarver is represented by Michael R. Dezsi of the Law Office of Michael R. Dezsi in Detroit as well as Nathan Dooley and Erik Louis Jackson at the LA offices of Cozen O’Connor. Summit Entertainment is represented by David Halberstadter and Rebecca F. Ganz of LA firm Katten Muchin Rosenman. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are represented by Dale Kinsella and Jeremiah Reynolds of Santa Monica-based Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Hunt For Bin Laden Pic Hit With Protests In India, Gets Working Title ‘Zero Dark Thirty’: Reports
Members of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad group stormed the set of Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Osama bin Laden film in the Indian city of Chandigarh today, protesting the portrayal of Muslim culture in India, according to reports. Bigelow’s crew had been shooting there for four days although the director is understood not to have been on set during the unrest. Bin Laden was killed by a Navy SEAL team in Abbottabad, Pakistan last year, but unable to shoot there, the Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures film is instead using Chandigarh as a stand-in for Lahore — and the Hindu radicals are against the filmmakers portraying their sworn enemy Pakistan on Indian soil. (Since 1947, Muslim Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India have fought 3 wars and remain wary of one another.) Vijay Bhardwaj, a leader of the VHP, told Reuters, “We will not let them put Pakistani flags here and we will not let them shoot for the film.” A member of the crew told AFP that talks had been held with the Hindu protestors to try to defuse the situation. “Nothing has been shut down. We are still filming and will continue to do so,” the person said.
EXCLUSIVE: Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow from a script by Mark Boal, Harold Perrineau‘s role is being kept secret as with other cast in the film. Kyle Chandler, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton …
EXCLUSIVE: Kyle Chandler is the latest name to join the ensemble of the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for Osama bin Laden. That hunt culminated with the fatal shooting last year of the Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’ve heard that Chandler will be playing a CIA agent, but nobody has confirmed any of the cast Deadline has revealed on the film, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The Mark Boal-scripted drama for Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures stars Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez. The picture is moving forward even as the Pentagon announced it is investigating charges made by Rep. Peter King that Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker tandem Bigelow and Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama administration in preparing the script. Sony Pictures has dated the film for release on December 19, deliberately steering clear of the presidential elections.
OSCARS: ‘J. Edgar’ Campaign Rolls Into High Gear With Eastwood, DiCaprio, Watts, Hammer At Packed Screenings, Q&As
With its splashy world premiere as the opening-night film of AFI Fest on Thursday and a series of Q&As and receptions, Warner Bros’ campaign for J. Edgar — one of its big Oscar hopefuls — swung into high gear this week. In addition to the hoopla around the premiere, director Clint Eastwood did a DGA screening and discussion with Academy directing governor and fellow DGA and Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow on Tuesday night; stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer appeared for a Q&A in front of a packed-to-the-rafters SAG audience on Wednesday night (I moderated that one); and on Friday they all appeared for yet another screening, Q&A and reception at the LA County Art Museum. The latter was a prelude to Saturday night’s inaugural Art + Film gala, where Eastwood is being honored. Warners plans many more voter opps like these in the coming weeks.
First reviews of the film that opens next week are mixed to good depending on what you read and who you talk to (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 57% fresh, but only seven reviews are up so far). But it is done in classic and classy Eastwood style and, whatever the ultimate commercial and critical fate of the film, it is absolutely clear DiCaprio has a strong stake on a Best Actor Oscar nomination. As the complex and controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, DiCaprio ages from his 20s to late 70s with seeming ease and has some heavy dramatic scenes — including one in which he dons his dead mother’s dress and another fight/kiss encounter with Hammer, who expertly plays his constant companion Clyde Tolson (and could be a Supporting Actor contender himself). Older Academy voters who remember Hoover should particularly respond to this well-crafted look at his complicated personal and professional life.
BREAKING: New York-based congressman Peter King has called for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s cooperation with the untitled movie that The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are making about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt and eventual kill of 9/11 terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The request came after a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd reporting that the film — which was acquired at auction by Sony Pictures before a script was completed — received cooperation and help in describing a mission that was classified. The filmmakers have just released the following statement:
“Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.” Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.
The Walt Disney Co. has reversed course and withdrawn its applications to trademark SEAL Team 6, the name of the elite Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy filed its own …
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Sony Pictures is negotiating to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt for Osama bin Laden. Mark Boal, Bigelow’s partner on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, is finalizing a script that changes the film from a drama about an unsuccessful attempt to hunt the Al Qaeda leader into a methodical hunt that culminates in his death. The film is being fully financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Production will start in the early fall and the pic will be ready for release in 2012.
Deadline pegged the Bigelow-Boal film — formerly titled Killing Bin Laden – as a potentially hot project the night that President Barack Obama interrupted programming to announce that the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center had finally been located and killed. It most certainly has worked out that way. The project was far along at this point, and they were talking to actors like Joel Edgerton even before bin Laden was killed. Sony’s Amy Pascal has been aggressive about the film since that night, and the studio and others heard the pitch from Boal right before buyers headed off to the Cannes Film Festival.
EXCLUSIVE: Megan Ellison has won an auction for the rights to make at least two more installments of The Terminator franchise, with Fast Five’s Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to star. The deal came down to Ellison’s Annapurna Films and Lionsgate, which seemed to have had the project sewn up until she came forward with a dramatic bid. The auction at the time was for a guarantee for at least half of the $29.5 million paid by hedge fund Pacificor to pull the franchise out of bankruptcy. Unclear what the winning amount was, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the $20 million mark. CAA brokered the deal.
Deadline revealed the two finalists in the auction on Wednesday, and I’m told that the deal closed late Thursday. Ellison, the daughter or Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and sister of Paramount-based Skydance producer/financier David Ellison, is winging her way to Cannes right now. She has a lot going on here.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow in recent weeks has been preparing and starting to cast an indie movie with the working title Kill Bin Laden, while another movie project about the hunt for the Al Queda terrorist leader at a major Hollywood studio stalled back in 2006. Given tonight’s startling news, it’s clear that these may be the timeliest film projects in recent Hollywood history. And judging from tonight’s showbiz phone calls coming into Deadline about Osama bin Laden’s death, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie studios are anxious to bring these projects to the big screen as soon as possible, updated with the details behind tonight’s successful military mission. Have you seen those spontaneous cheering crowds that formed tonight outside Washington DC’s White House and in NYC’s Times Square as well as around major American cities and small towns? If a patriotic film about this story can tap into these feelings of first helpless horror and then widespread frustration and then successful closure, it could be a real winner at the box office.
Bigelow and Mark Boal, her collaborator on The Hurt Locker, have been mobilizing their film to go into production as their follow-up to that Best Picture Academy Award winner. Their movie as planned was based on an earlier unsuccessful mission to try to kill the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack on America as he hid in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But now they’ve certainly got a celebratory ending to that dramatic story with tonight’s announcement that the U.S. conducted a military operation that killed Bin Laden. Mind you, reps for Bigelow have told me previously that this movie isn’t specifically about the Al Qaeda leader. A lot of details about this film are stilll sketchy and secret, but I’ve heard that Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle chief Larry Ellison, is ready to fund it. I heard as recently as Friday that Bigelow and Boal were courting Joel Edgerton for the lead actor. Edgerton had been on the short list for two Universal Pictures movie projects in the works, The Bourne Legacy and Snow White And The Huntsman.
Meanwhile, back in 2006, Paramount Pictures optioned Jawbreaker, a book by U.S. intelligence operative Gary Berntsen about the December 2001 American-led military mission to hunt and kill Bin Laden right during the opening stages of the 9/11-prompted invasion of Afghanistan that the author as the CIA pointman had helped coordinate with Special Operations Forces. The heavily vetted book detailed how close those forces came to finding and executing Bin Laden in the rugged mountains of Tora Bora until they were pulled back after a decision was made to let Pakistan tribal leaders lead the search — a decision experts felt helped Bin Laden get away. The studio hired The Path To 9/11 scribe Cyrus Nowrasteh