20th Century figures seem to be the rage, from Colin Firth’s King George VI in The King’s Speech to Michelle Williams’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn to Meryl Streep’s upcoming turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The next figure to watch out for: actress-turned-Monaco princess Grace Kelly. Shortly after his agents began circulating the Arash Amel script Grace of Monaco, producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam has agreed to fully fund a $15 million project that is now out to directors and will soon look for an actress to play Princess Grace. The film covers a half year period in 1962, when French leader Charles De Gaulle and Monaco’s Prince Rainier III were at odds over Monaco’s standing as a tax haven. France gave Monaco six months to reform its tax laws, and the situation escalated. By that time, Kelly (33 at the time) had given up her acting career to become a full time princess, and the film details her political manuevering behind the scenes to save Monaco. The CAA-repped Amel scripted the Aaron Eckhart-starrer The Expatriate. Who should play Princess Grace?
As the Oscar race hits the home stretch, the battle for supremacy is heating up. First Mark Zuckerberg showed up on Saturday Night Live last week to help tout The Social Network alongside host Jesse Eisenberg. Now The King’s Speech, which has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards and took home last weekend’s top DGA and SAG honors, has found its own special audience — none other than Queen Elizabeth. This comes from the Weinstein Company:
New York, NY, February 4, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) is honored to learn that Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, has enjoyed a private screening of THE KING’S SPEECH, as reported by Duncan Larcombe, Royal Editor, in today’s edition of The Sun. The film, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, tells the story of Her Majesty’s father, King George VI, as he struggles to overcome a crippling speech impediment while grappling with his sudden, unexpected ascension to throne and the mounting danger of Nazi Germany. THE KING’S SPEECH stars Colin Firth as King George VI, Geoffrey Rush as the King’s speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
THE KING’S SPEECH has been seen and admired by many notable public figures, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who hosted a private screening at his home over the Christmas holidays; Prince Andrew; Lord and Lady William Astor; Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill; and Edwina Sandys, the granddaughter of Winston Churchill (portrayed in the film by Timothy Spall).
Over the course of its four days, the Telluride Film Festival has certainly become a key early player in setting at least part of the table for Hollywood’s awards season. I have seen numerous Academy voting members wandering in and out of the state-of-the-art screening venues around town getting an early look at some films certain to be contenders — and some that clearly won’t. Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty), this year’s co-producer (with Don Mischer) of the Oscars, has even come here to check out potential movies he will likely be showcasing come February 27th and was lining up all day long soaking up the cinema. At last week’s Emmys he was frequently caught on camera in the booth during the show (which Mischer also produced) so I asked him what he learned from that experience. “Fast. Fast. Faster,” was his instant answer expressing the reality that you gotta keep the show moving like a speeding train. He’s infectiously enthusiastic about the task he’s been given this year and at Sunday night’s festival party was already talking up possibilities for musical numbers from films he’s seeing. “Of course we have to see what the actual nominees are going to be first,” he laughed. Minor detail.
One film strongly Oscar-buzzed at that party, on the gondolas and just about everywhere you go in Telluride this weekend is The King’s Speech, The Weinstein Company’s historical drama about King George VI’s stuttering problems and his relationship with the Australian speech therapist who gave him strength and ultimately a lifelong friendship. It was unveiled to one of this fest’s rare standing ovations for the first time anywhere here this weekend. Colin Firth is George and Geoffrey Rush is the therapist in director Tom Hooper’s outstanding film that can count on major awards love after it opens this Thanksgiving holiday, at least if the praise Telluriders are giving it is any indication.
One person leaving Monday’s screening said, “It makes up for all the bleakness,” referring to the great number of dark films showing at this year’s fest. Both stars and Hooper were surrounded by well-wishers at last night’s packed party. Firth and Rush are sure-thing nominees and the film itself is a strong Best Picture prospect to say the least. Harvey’s back in the Oscar game with this one, no doubt.
Firth was the subject of packed major tributes here Sunday night and Monday morning. (At this fest, the honoree gets feted twice.) “That’s something I’m genuinely not ready for. I don’t know what that’s gonna be like,” he said referring to the double dose of love when we sat down for a pre-first tribute interview. He says his virgin Telluride experience has been extremely gratifying in every way. “It feels more like a community than a festival, It’s not a market or a press-feeding frenzy. It’s so pure. This one seems to be just for the love of film. It doesn’t get better,” he says. Firth notes he and Rush have been stopped everywhere, getting applauded in bars and restaurants or just crossing the street. Telluride is certainly providing the actor a nice ego boost, if nothing else, but he’s genuinely thrilled to see the reaction to his performance.