Eight years after Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” the Super Bowl half-time show has produced another controversy. During tonight’s show, headlined by Madonna, one of the guest singers, British rapper M.I.A., gave viewers the finger directly into the camera and NBC’s censors weren’t fast enough to obscure it. The network, which carries the Super Bowl this year, attempted to blur the gesture but was late by almost a second. “We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,” the network’s spokesperson said. “It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.” NBC also noted that it is the NFL and not the network that hires and produces the halftime show. The NFL used srronger language in its statement, putting the blame for the accident squarely on its broadcast partner. “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system,” the league said. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.” M.I.A., who according to accounts was PG during rehearsals, also seemed to drop an expletive (“I don’t give a s**t”) during the performance, but it wasn’t clearly audible. The incident is bound to bring back into the spotlight the “fleeting expletive” debate, which reached all the way to the Supreme Court. It may trigger a prolonged legal battle for the NBC stations — the Janet Jackson case was finally put to rest a couple of months ago after multiple rounds through the court system.
NBC Enlists Pete Berg And Madonna For Series Promo Blitz During The Super Bowl
Video: NBC’s Musical Brotherhood Of Man
NBC took to the Super Bowl to promote most of its shows. It was exactly two years ago that Betty White’s appearance in a Super Bowl commercial launched the red-hot new stage of her career. NBC is hoping that her luck would rub off its reality series The Voice, whose big-budget, Pete Berg-directed Super Bowl promo featured the 90-year-old actress. Jay Leno’s Tonight Show spot with Madonna came nowhere near the fun Super Bowl spot he did for rival David Letterman two years ago. NBC also used the big game to introduce new America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern, who behaved more like his outrageous shock jock persona than the thoughtful expert NBC brass have been touting. “Aside from his radio persona he is a very thoughtful, intelligent person,” NBC chief Bob Greenblatt said in January. “He is a huge fan of the show and wants to be a very good judge. … I don’t think he wants to be a shock jock judge. … AGT won’t become the Howard Stern Circus.” Judge for yourselves.
Madonna Comeback In Music, TV, And Film: 3-Album Deal With Interscope Worth $40M; First Album In 5 Years Coming Early March; Single Timed To ‘W.E.’ Film And Superbowl
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: Hollywood knows that, when it comes to Madonna, never count her down and out. Because few performers are as shrewd about their careers as this 53-year-old multi-hyphenate singer, actress, producer, and now film writer and director who has stayed buzz-worthy for three decades. I’ve learned that Interscope Records is releasing her new CD in late March – her first album in 5 years. And “Gimme All Your Luvin”, the first single, is coming out the last week in January just prior to her upcoming Super Bowl XLVI halftime appearance on February 5th. I’ve learned that’s the same week her upcoming Weinstein Company film, W.E., is now scheduled for a wide release on February 3rd. So it becomes clear why Harvey Weinstein delayed Madonna’s movie from December 9th in NY and LA: to take advantage of the early 2012 promotional hype which will surround her and provide him with free marketing. That’s especially useful after reviews of the film she directed and co–wrote about American-born Walllis Simpson’s historic affair with Britain’s King Edward VIII have been lukewarm at best and lousy at worst in the U.S. and UK. Weinstein cancelled its Oscar push. I can also reveal that the 3-album licensing deal which Madonna and Live Nation Entertainment just inked with Interscope Records is valued by my sources at $40M. It’s one component of a broad career comeback developed by Madonna, her long-time manager Guy Oseary, and Live Nation Entertainment executive chairman Irving Azoff.
The new look for Google’s popular video site is part of the preparation for the upcoming introduction of services featuring professionally produced content from providers such as Disney, Lionsgate, Madonna, Jay-Z, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, Thomson …
Presenting the Weinstein Company’s first official trailer for Madonna’s W.E. She directed and co-wrote with Alek Keshisian the drama about the historic romance between Wallis Simpson and Britain’s Prince Edward which is intertwined with a contemporary love story. It stars Abbie Cornish, Richard Coyle, James D’Arcy, Oscar Isaac, Annabelle Wallis …
EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.
The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.
“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.”
Harvey Weinstein just set a new air, land and sea world record for attending movie premieres. The Weinstein Company mogul managed to show up at three, count ‘em, three different premiere events in two different countries all on Monday night. “Yeah, this was some fun wasn’t it?” he deadpanned when I asked him about his landmark photo-op achievement.
Although he has been in Toronto this week, Weinstein had to go back to New York City on Monday night to attend the premiere of his company’s romantic comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker and opens nationwide Friday. Then it was right back to Canada and two more North American premieres: Madonna’s directorial outing W.E. and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus – and he made ito to both post-parties at Soho House. On one floor he was dining with Madonna and her exclusive guest list, then he did a walk-through one floor down at the Coriolanus preem. Then it was back up to the third floor, where he huddled with Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde, the stars of yet another Weinstein Company movie, Butter, which premieres here on Tuesday (I saw it in Telluride). I am told they will open the film for a one-week Oscar-qualifying run October 28 and reopen it sometime in early 2012.
As for the Madonna film, which was critically lambasted in Venice, the spin I got from one of its international reps was that it’s really not all that bad. It’s just that it’s not all that good either. There are some nice visual touches, but the material about the romance between King Edward and Wallis Simpson (written by the Material Girl herself) just isn’t all that compelling. My overall impression is that she is to be commended for trying something different with this British period piece, but for someone normally so edgy, this film very much lacks edge. It is undoubtedly an older person’s movie and facing a daunting commercial climb.
Before the film started (a half hour late), Madonna told the hometown crowd, “As you know I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, so I almost feel Canadian. Even when I have been arrested here I had a heck of a time,” she said. At the earlier Monday morning press screening, a paltry crowd of less than 100 reportedly showed up for their first opportunity to see her directing and writing effort. By the time it was finished, less than half remained in the massive 555-seat Scotiabank Theatre. But following the evening screening at the Roy Thomson Hall, the crowd gave Madonna a brief standing ovation before heading for the exits. But it wasn’t the kind of enthusiastic standing applause heard at the Machine Gun Preacher screening just one night earlier.
The signs are always the same when any studio knows it has a bomb. Executives won’t commit any opinion to email. Phone calls from them pledging to “explain everything” are promised but never come. The suits deny up and down any truth to the inevitable leaks about a troubled shoot or creative friction or bad buzz. But when the studio is financially on-the-fence like The Weinstein Co, and it acquired U.S. rights to Madonna’s first feature-length directorial effort W.E., and the subject matter is Wallis Simpson, and its debut is at the unforgiving Venice Film Festival, which has panned far bigger and more influential big names in filmdom — then not even the PR maestro Harvey Weinstein can downplay crushingly lousy reaction and reviews.
Fact is that the international press and its U.S. counterparts are having a field day killing Madonna’s movie in what can only be seen as the latest “Death In Venice”. Or maybe the more accurate way of saying this is “Death By Venice”. The Times of London claimed Madonna had made an inadvertent comedy “screamingly, inadvertently funny in parts [that] had ‘em rolling in the aisles at Venice” The Guardian review was truly vicious under the headline, “Madonna’s jaw-dropping take on the story of Wallis Simpson is a primped and simpering folly, preening and fatally mishandled”. Only the Daily Mail gave it a true thumbs-up. But my guess is that probably has more to do with that newspaper’s long and troubled history with Madonna, who in 2009 won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit again the Daily Mail and whose legal reps have been threatening the paper recently and repeatedly of more to come because of its nearly always negative coverage of her.
In fact, The Weinstein Co in June was strenuously denying the British tabloid’s article pronouncing W.E. a mess after detailing a secret NY test screening that reportedly left Harvey “thunderous and sour”. His minions claimed that the audience loved the picture and so did Weinstein, who had made Truth or Dare with Madonna and enjoyed a critical and financial success. The studio confirmed the pair had been working on W.E. for some time before that test screening, but wouldn’t confirm or deny reports that Harv was re-editing the picture to make it more commercially viable. That’s something he’s done to only mixed success in the past — earning him the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands”.
I do think The Weinstein Co was masochistic not only to send Madonna’s oeuvre to the film festival even if out of competition but also schedule it during the coming Oscar corridor.
Previously in Pete Hammond’s 3-part series:
Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, ‘The Help’ Among Early 2011 Oscar Contenders
Clooney, Clint, And Spielberg Put Major Studios Back Into Oscar Race
After looking last week at the potential awards landscape for the first eight months of 2011, and then at what Oscar-pedigreed films the major studios have in store for fall and holiday slots, it’s time to turn to the independent world, which has become such a key force in the season. For the majors, Oscars are nice but not vital. For the indies, award strategies are key and could mean the difference between a hit film or a miss. With little-pictures-that-could Best Picture triumphs in recent years like Crash, The Hurt Locker and last year’s The King’s Speech, indies have proven that with less money to spend, a savvy campaign and a little luck, the right film at the right time can grab the gold. Ever since the advent of screeners evened the playing field to some extent, it’s been a different ballgame. And the indies use the fall festival circuit (starting next week at Venice, followed by Telluride and Toronto) to start up the awards buzz. Already this year, indies like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick’s Cannes Film Festival winner The Tree of Life are seriously in the hunt for those prized Best Picture slots and, as detailed by the soon-to-be-released contenders from the companies below, they might not be alone among upstart pictures this year.
Here’s a look at what possible award contenders from the indie sector will be coming our way in the last four — and most crucial — months of the year.
The Weinstein Company
With The King’s Speech last year, the Weinsteins scored their first Best Picture triumph since the heady days of Miramax. Can they do it two years in a row with another British bio, The Iron Lady? Just about everyone agrees Meryl Streep’s still-unseen portrait of Margaret Thatcher in this Dec. 16 release will put her in strong contention to finally win that third Oscar, but can the movie score, too? Time will tell, although it would seem to be a better shot in the Actress category.
Harvey Weinstein had a big Cannes triumph with the crowd-pleasing black-and-white French-produced silent picture The Artist (Nov. 23), and it could have the same effect on the Academy audience that it did with the French, thereby leading to one of those Best Picture slots, even though the movie might not have enough “gravitas” to sneak in. The Weinsteins will get a good idea when the film launches in the English-speaking world next week on the fest circuit. Certainly Cannes Best Actor Jean Dujardin is a great bet for a nomination no matter what.
With a busy fall, the company is hoping Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh — who play Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn (Nov. 4) — will land acting kudos along with Ralph Fiennes (who also directed) in the title role of the contemporary Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus (Dec. 2). As his mother, Vanessa Redgrave is extraordinary in a beefy supporting turn. She should start getting the gowns for the awards circuit ready now.
Awards prospects are anybody’s guess for Madonna’s latest directorial stab, W.E. (Dec. 9), which with its storyline involving Wallis Simpson is certainly different for the pop star. And I hear there is the possibility of a late-season qualifying run for the Jennifer Garner film Butter that has been described as a Capra-esque comedy/drama set in the cutthroat world of competitive butter carving. Fest auds will see this first, and their reaction will probably weigh heavily in Weinstein’s decision to enter that other cutthroat competition.
Toronto: Pitt’s ‘Moneyball’, Madonna’s ‘W.E.’, Clooney’s ‘The Ides Of March’ Make Cut
Stillman’s ‘Damsels In Distress’ To Close Venice
With today’s announcement of the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival lineup (or at least the first phase of titles) and the imminent announcement Thursday of the Venice International Film Festival lineup, the buzzing about Oscar possibilities — at least as far as the all-important Fall Festival circuit is concerned — is off and running, even with five weeks to go before Venice and Telluride’s increasingly important Labor Day weekend festival get the six-month season off to its official launch. As for that latter fest, we will have to wait until Sept. 1, the day before it opens, to find out what potential Oscar goodies it might have in store.
There is indeed a pecking order in the way these announcements are made, and the reason Telluride does not go the splashy weeks-in-advance press conference route like Toronto (this year’s dates: Sept. 8-18) and Venice (Aug. 31-Sept. 10) do — as well as October’s New York Film Festival — is because it doesn’t mind keeping its lineup secret and not labeled as “World” or “North American” premieres in return for actually getting the movies and their filmmakers to attend the oh-so-cool movie geek fest (my fave) high in the Colorado mountains. Studios and distributors who participate in Telluride are sworn to secrecy as to their plans as usual (one publicist was even afraid to admit to me they weren’t going for fear of retribution), but that can’t keep us from some informed speculation which Oscar hopefuls will be making the trip there as well as to the other fests. Last year, you may recall Telluride was the first North American stop for The King’s Speech, 127 Hours and Black Swan among other big Oscar titles.
Strategies abound as to which festival is right for your film, and jockeying will continue long after these announcements and right up to festival time. A wrong decision can be deadly for a film’s potential marketing and awards campaign, which is why studios and distributors are so cautious about jumping into the early fall festival waters, particularly, as in many cases this year, where the film isn’t even scheduled until the holiday season.
Contrary to a UK tabloid article that pronounced the Madonna-directed W.E. a mess after a test screening that left Harvey Weinstein “thunderous and sour,” The Weinstein Company has dated Madonna’s directorial debut for Dec. 9. That means that it will be one of the pictures Weinstein pushes during Oscar season. Weinstein, who made Truth or Dare with Madonna, is bullish on the picture, I’m told. There was certainly a test screening. Weinstein was hardly demonstrative, especially since the woman sitting next to him incognito in black hat and sunglasses was Madonna. They’ve been working on the movie for some time, together. We’ll see how it all comes out. Just as intriguing is how Weinstein is going to handle the Oscar volume this year. Potentially, he’s got Oscar contenders in the black-and-white silent film The Artist that he bought right before the Cannes Film Festival, before the film became a rave on the Croisette; he’s got Iron Lady, with Meryl Streep playing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, also bought at Cannes; and the John Hillcoat-directed The Wettest County in the World, which is expected to be platformed for Oscar and released in early 2012. They will push Michelle Williams for her work as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, and there are also talks about The Weinstein Company acquiring This Must Be The Place, the Paolo Sorrentino-directed drama that would put star Sean Penn in the Oscar hunt. All those pictures were bought in Cannes. Here’s the W.E. announcement:
New York, NY, June 13, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to “W.E.,” Madonna’s directorial debut of a feature film. W.E. is a romantic drama co-written by Madonna and Alek Keshishian, produced by Madonna and Kris Thykier and executive produced by Scott Franklin (BLACK SWAN). It stars Abbie Cornish (LIMITLESS), Oscar Isaac (DRIVE), James D’Arcy (MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD), Andrea Riseborough (NEVER LET ME GO), Natalie Dormer (“The Tudors”), Richard Coyle (PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME), James Fox (SHERLOCK HOLMES) and Laurence Fox (“Inspector Lewis”). The announcement was made by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and President of Production Donna Gigliotti.
Spanning six decades, W.E. juxtaposes a contemporary love story with that of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
EXCLUSIVE: Management/production companies 3 Arts and Untitled Entertainment are in merger talks. I’m not certain they are going to join forces, but they are exploring it seriously. The potential mix of assets of the two companies is intriguing. 3 Arts — run by Erwin Stoff, Michael Rotenberg, Howard Klein, David …
Art imitates life as two of the Fox acting dynasty act together for the first time on the big screen in Madonna’s W.E. film. James Fox (Sherlock Holmes) plays King George V, while his real-life son Laurence plays unwilling heir-to-the-throne Bertie. …