Star Wars: Episode VII helmer JJ Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan celebrated Star Wars Day today by letting virtually nothing slip in a “video selfie” message from London, where the filmmakers are ensconced with their primary cast now in place. On Tuesday Abrams unveiled his Episode VII line-up of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill; Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Adam Driver (Girls), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, About Time), Oscar-nominated Max von Sydow, and UK actress Daisy Ridley; and Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker. While he spilled no major May the 4th announcements, Abrams promised more casting announcements are to come:
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BREAKING…The new Star Wars movie has a new screenwriting team. It was announced online today that Episode VII director J.J. Abrams and Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan will take over as scribes for the upcoming Disney project which is set to be released in 2015. The duo are taking over from Michael Arndt. The writer, who penned the screenplay for Hunger Games: Catching Fire and won an Oscar for writing Little Miss Sunshine, was named as the sole screenwriter on the pic early last November. Arndt was also said to be working on treatments for the other two planned new Star Wars films. “I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” states LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in a statement posted on Starwars.com Thursday. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”
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Here’s a reason for some of us to feel old. Could it really be 30 years ago since The Big Chill, the saga of yuppies reconnecting, pouring out angst and bed hopping to Motown songs? The Toronto Film Festival will bring back the cast and crew of a film that debuted at the festival in 1983. It will happen September 5. Wonder if the returning stars will include Kevin Costner, who played the friend who committed suicide, and who was famously cut out of the movie by director Lawrence Kasdan (who made it up to Costner in Silverado, The Bodyguard and Wyatt Earp). Here’s the official word:
TORONTO — The guests of honour at this party, unlike the one thrown in the film, will definitely be in attendance. Thirty years after its world premiere at the 1983 Toronto International Film Festival®, The Big Chill—and members of its cast and crew—is back.
To celebrate the The Big Chill’s 30th anniversary, TIFF is hosting a reunion of its own for the cast and crew as part of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. In attendance at the film’s anniversary screening: actors Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, Meg Tilly, Mary Kay Place and JoBeth Williams; director/writer Lawrence Kasdan; screenwriter Barbara Benedek; executive producer Marcia Nasatir; and producers Meg Kasdan and Michael Shamberg. The screening of a newly restored 4K version of the film will be followed by an extended Q&A with the cast and crew, moderated by Variety’s chief film critic, Scott
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Lawrence Kasdan has done something he never dreamed of: He’s gone indie and he doesn’t think he’s going back. The four-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter of such blockbusters as The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, The Bodyguard and Raiders Of The Lost Ark and writer-director of such acclaimed films as Body Heat, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, Silverado and Grand Canyon among others is back with Darling Companion. It’s his first new film in nine years (since 2003′s ill-fated Dreamcatcher) and the first time in a 30-plus-year career that he has worked without a net. A studio-bred filmmaker from the beginning, Kasdan says no studio would go near his latest project, co-written with wife of 40 years Meg Kasdan, and he totally gets it. That’s why at age 62 he decided he had to go it alone because Companion, aimed at older audiences the same age as its director, has got to be a true gem (considering the multi-Oscared cast) and rich, if rare, entertainment for that largely forgotten sector of the audience the industry routinely dismisses — and who can’t find anything to see starring people their own age. This kind of smart (by design), sophisticated adult comedy rarely comes along these days unless it’s got Woody Allen’s name on it, and even those are mostly populated with younger actors.
Related: Specialty B.O.: ‘Darling Companion’, ‘Downtown Express’, ‘Marley’, ‘Moth Diaries’
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EXCLUSIVE: Lawrence Kasdan and bestselling author Harlan Coben are teaming on a feature adaptation of Stay Close, Coben’s latest thriller novel which Dutton will publish March 20. Kasdan, who came to Sundance to watch yesterday’s premiere of son Jonathan Kasdan’s The First Time, will direct the film. Kasdan’s latest, Darling Companion, opens the Santa Barbara Film Festival on January 26th. In Stay Close, a past crime returns to devastate the lives of a photojournalist, a suburban mother with a hidden past, and a homicide detective obsessed with a series of unsolved disappearances. The Hitchcockian thriller plunges all three into a dark world of sex, secrets and shocking violence.
Both Coben and Kasdan told me that they expect to have a script ready by the time the book is published. It’s not the usual way a book by a big author like Coben is brokered. But despite the fact his last four novels debuted atop The New York Times Bestseller list, the only movie adaption of Coben’s work was 2006’s Tell No One, and that was a French film directed by Guillaume Canet. It wasn’t until after that film’s success that Warner Bros acquired remake rights, with Ben Affleck attached to direct, Chris Terrio writing and Kennedy/Marshall producing. All Coben’s books have been optioned repeatedly, only to languish in development hell.
“Everybody told me I was crazy to make that deal with Guillaume, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Superman is getting a new mom. Ayelet Zurer, the Israeli actress who starred in Angels & Demons and who played the wife of Avner (Eric Bana) in Munich, has been set to play the role of Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s Kryptonian mother, in Man of Steel. Production is underway on the Warner Bros/Legendary film. That role was originally going to be played by Julia Ormond. I was unable to find out why director Zack Snyder made the last-minute change, but I’ve confirmed that Zurer will start filming this week. Henry Cavill plays Superman, Russell Crowe plays Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El, and Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon also star. Zurer will next be seen starring in the Lawrence Kasdan-directed Darling Companion opposite Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Dianne Wiest for Sony Pictures Classics. She’s repped by IFA Talent Agency. Man of Steel is produced by Chris Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder and Emma Thomas.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is negotiating with Benjamin Walker to play the archangel Michael in Paradise Lost, the action epic battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem. Walker, who just wrapped the title role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, will go mano a mano against Bradley Cooper’s Lucifer in what I’m told is the war that began all wars. After being cast out of Heaven, Lucifer mounts an army that battles the forces of good, and the film will have cutting-edge visual effects that will make these battles resemble 300 meets Lord of the Rings — but with winged warriors. While Warner Bros is finalizing a release date, I’m told Paradise Lost is likely to reach theaters in fourth-quarter 2013.
Production will begin in January in Sydney, which will give Cooper time to star alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the David O Russell-directed The Silver Linings Playbook for The Weinstein Company.
Paradise Lost is a sprawling fantasy epic that has taken seven years of development to get right. It was originally scripted by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, with subsequent drafts by Stuart Hazeldine and Lawrence Kasdan, and the latest draft by Ryan Condal. Paradise Lost is being produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, and Vincent Newman (Red Dawn). The film’s logistics are still being worked out with Digital Domain, but the picture is likely to … Read More »