The Contenders 2013: The Emotional Story Of How Laura Ziskin Fought To Get ‘The Butler’ Made Right Down To Her Dying Moments (Video)

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 10:53am PST
Pete Hammond

One of the most poignant moments to come out of last Saturday’s Deadline event THE CONTENDERS was the story relayed by screenwriter Danny Strong and co-producer Pam Williams demonstrating the late Laura Ziskin‘s unbridled  passion for getting Lee Daniels’ The Butler to the screen against all odds. As one of … Read More »

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Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken Becomes New Regency Production President

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken is leaving the studio to become president of production for New Regency. It is the latest move in a restructuring of the company since Arnon Milchan reemerged as an active chairman and installed … Read More »

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HAMMOND: Oscars Post-Ratner – What Now

Pete Hammond

SHOCKER: Brett Ratner Out As Oscar Producer

The Brett Ratner situation is a sad mess all around. Sad for Ratner, sad for the Oscar show that he was to co-produce, and sad for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences. The Academy in the past has weathered its share of nightmares surrounding the show, but never something quite like this. In 1967, an AFTRA strike nearly KO’d the telecast until the walkout was settled just three hours before showtime. Similarly, a WGA strike in 2008 was threatening until it was settled a few days before the airdate. In 1968, the show was nearly cancelled after Martin Luther King’s assassination but postponed for two days instead. In 1981, the Oscars were delayed a day after President Reagan was shot. As for participants, actors have refused to accept the statuette for myriad reasons, and winners have gone to political extremes in their speeches, but the Ratner situation is a new one for AMPAS.

The interesting thing is that outcries for Ratner’s ouster targeted the Academy even though Ratner’s offensive remarks were made during appearances in support of his new film Tower Heist for Universal (Friday night’s Q&A at the Arclight, where he uttered the gay slur, and Monday morning’s radio phone interview with The Howard Stern Show, where he made derogatory comments about women.) His words had nothing directly to do with the Oscars, yet it points to the power of the Academy Awards as an iconic symbol.

Ratner was an unorthodox choice to produce the Oscars. But he was part of a movement begun by the Academy last year with the selection of hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco to make the show more young, hip, and different. Hathaway and Franco bombed. But I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with Ratner for this year’s TCM Classic Movie Film Festival in April and found him exceptionally bright, informed, and savvy. I think this real movie fan would have produced a great show. I know he had great ideas for it. Despite his terrible judgment and stupid actions this week, I am sorry we won’t get the chance to see what he might have done. Ratner already was shaking things up. He changed talent bookers by hiring Melissa Watkins Trueblood over 38-year Oscar booking veteran Danette Herman, who is now just a consultant. The writing staff also is all new, and many are Ratner cronies; I doubt they’ll stay on board. That’s not a huge problem since the Academy hasn’t officially announced the team yet.

On the other hand, host Eddie Murphy also has his writers attached and they will stay on board — if Eddie stays on. Murphy, co-starring in Ratner’s Tower Heist, has appeared on many talk shows lately saying how much he is looking forward to hosting the Oscars as well as giving props to Ratner, who talked him into taking the gig. There is some media speculation that, with Ratner gone, Eddie will follow him out the door. I see that as highly unlikely — and I also don’t think Ratner himself would let that happen. Granted, Ratner’s exit caused a big ripple inside Hollywood. But Murphy’s exit would be a high-profile PR nightmare inside and outside Hollywood, creating the impression to the general public that the Oscars is in complete chaos.

So what happens now? Read More »

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Details Of Laura Ziskin’s Memorial Service

By | Friday June 17, 2011 @ 11:51am PDT

Friends, family and colleagues who worked with and loved Laura Ziskin will celebrate her extraordinary life and career on Tuesday, June 28 at 5 PM at Sony Pictures Studios. RSVP’s required by Friday, June 24 to (310) 244-4141. Parking will be accommodated in the Overland Parking structure. All guests should … Read More »

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Amy Pascal On Laura Ziskin’s Passing

By | Monday June 13, 2011 @ 10:50am PDT

Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal has released a statement on the passing of veteran producer Laura Ziskin. The two women worked together on many pictures that included the Spider-Man franchise, but their relationship was both personal and professional:

“Laura

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R.I.P. Laura Ziskin

By | Sunday June 12, 2011 @ 8:17pm PDT

She died peacefully at her home tonight surrounded by her husband, screenwriter Alvin Sargent, her family, and her friends after a long and courageous and public bout with breast cancer. She was 61. In Hollywood where women rarely make it … Read More »

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Sony Titles Pic ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ Issues First Shot Of Andrew Garfield As Webslinger

Mike Fleming

CULVER CITY, Calif., February 14, 2011 – Columbia Pictures announced today that the title of the next Spider-Man film will be The Amazing Spider-Man.The studio simultaneously released a photo of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, the first shot of Garfield

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Laura Ziskin Awarded 2011 Visionary Award By Producers Guild

Mike Fleming

The Producers Guild of America has named Laura Ziskin to receive its 2011 Visionary Award. The honor will be presented at the 22nd annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony January 22. Ziskin is being honored not just for a body of … Read More »

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Precious Time Left For ‘Selma’ To Mobilize As Director Lee Daniels Makes ‘Butler’ Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While Precious director Lee Daniels continues to wait for financing to mobilize on the Civil Rights drama Selma, he has closed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to rewrite and direct The Butler. The Laura Ziskin-produced drama is based … Read More »

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