Kevin Kline gets the French Kiss-off from Maggie Smith in BBC Films dramedy My Old Lady, which Cohen Media Group is releasing stateside September 10. Pic stars Kline as a down and out American who moves to Paris to claim a house willed to him by his estranged father. There he discovers he must wait for the current tenant, a spunky nonagenerian (Smith), to pass before he can assume ownership per French law.
Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as Smith’s daughter in the U.S./UK co-production which marks writer-director Israel Horovitz’s debut. Producers are Gary Foster (Sleepless In Seattle, Community), Rachael Horovitz (Moneyball), David C. Barrot, and Nitsa Benchetrit. Check out the trailer: Read More »
Tom Rothman‘s newly launched TriStar Productions is charging ahead with The Lady In The Van, adapted from playwright and writer Alan Bennett‘s memoir about the elderly vagrant who parked her van in his driveway one day and stayed there for the next 15 years. The project reunites Bennett with BAFTA- and Tony-winning director Nicholas Hytner, who helmed the critically acclaimed film adaptations of Bennett’s plays The Madness Of King George and The History Boys and directed the first staged adaptation of Lady In The Van in 1999. Downton Abbey‘s Maggie Smith originated the titular role in the critical and commercial West End hit and will also star in the film.
This is the third project to be greenlighted by the revamped TriStar under former Fox head Rothman, who worked with Hytner on The Crucible, The Madness Of King George, and The History Boys. His interest in the Lady adaptation was piqued while visiting Hytner for the 50th anniversary celebration of London’s National Theatre, which Hytner recently exited as Director. “I asked him what he was going to do for his first next act – he said he thinking of making this. I started pursuing it then,” Rothman told me. Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
This year’s Emmy race for drama supporting actor shapes up as an intriguing battle between a couple of past winners and an actor who goes in as the sentimental (and perhaps prohibitive) favorite. The latter would be Jonathan Banks, nommed for Breaking Bad and building momentum as the man to beat. Of course, he’ll need to upend his fellow Bad man Aaron Paul, a four-time nominee and two-time victor for his work as mini meth mogul Jesse Pinkman. Then there is the man standing in the way of both, past winner Mandy Patinkin of Homeland. Also nominated (for the third consecutive year) is Peter Dinklage for Game Of Thrones (a winner in 2011), along with Bobby Cannavale for Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter.
Why He Could Win: The buzz is with Banks and his world-weary hitman Mike Ehrmantrait, even though he was hit himself as season five wrapped. His last nom came 24 years ago (for Wiseguy). Why He Could Lose: Banks’ castmate Aaron Paul has already won two of these things. Plus, he’s been off the show (and out of sight) for a year.
Mundial Selling Simón Bolivar Epic ‘Libertador’ IM Global and Canana joint venture, Mundial, has boarded international sales for Libertador starring Carlos‘ Edgar Ramirez and Danny Huston. The Alberto Arvelo-directed film is scripted by Timothy Sexton and tells the life story of Simón Bolívar who was instrumental in Latin America’s struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire. María Valverde, Imanol Arias and Gary Lewis also star. The film is produced by Winfried Hammacher, Ana Loehnert and Arvelo, and co-produced by Jose Luis Escolar. Ramírez and Maria A. Guerrero Rocca are exec producers. Libertador is South America’s largest independent production and was shot in 13 different locations between South America and Europe. Read More »
The acclaimed actress says she’s never watched Downton Abbey. Why not? “Because it’s frustrating. I always see things that I would like to do differently and think, ‘Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?’” It looks like Smith, who says she’ll watch “when it’s all over” is more than a match for Steve Kroft in the 60 Minutes interview that airs Sunday. Asked about her reputation for not suffering mediocrity, she says “You’re trying to say that I am what everybody says… I’m scary and I understand that totally. Old people are scary and I have to face it, I am old and I am scary and I am very sorry about it but I don’t know what you do”. Indeed.
Downton Abbey ended its official Season 3 run on the UK’s ITV Sunday night with an average 10.1M viewers and a 39.1% share. The score marked a high for the season which had previously peaked in the overnights on October 21. With an overall average of 9.7M viewers, the third season has become the highest-rated for the period drama – Season One averaged 8.4M and Season Two had 9.5M. The show now take a hiatus from British screens until Christmas Day when a 2-hour special will air (though I’m told it will not have a holiday theme). That follows a similar pattern to last year when a Christmas movie tied up some loose ends at the Grantham estate. However, there’s no plan this year to screen the movie for local media as much of the cast including Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay and Lesley Nichol will be in the U.S. on a press tour ahead of Season 3′s January 6 PBS debut.
Questions continue to swirl around the possibility of a fourth season as core actors including Stevens see their stars rise. He’s currently on Broadway opposite Jessica Chastain in The Heiress and recently toldThe Wall Street Journal, “I think we’ll have to wait and see really,” about a fourth season. “You do feel a certain obligation to shows that raise your profile like Downton has. But there are definitely other exciting opportunities out there.” Downton creator Julian Fellowes told me in May that he envisioned the show going on for at least four seasons. He’s now commented to The Telegraph, “I think I’d be surprised if there was not a fourth series.” ITV, which has the final word on whether another season goes forward, ordered Season 3 at just about this time last year. Read More »
Seven-time Best Actor Oscar nominee and two-time winner Dustin Hoffman waited a long time to make his feature directing debut. Here’s the trailer for Quartet, in which the arrival of a new diva stirs up trouble in a home for retired opera singers. Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith star in the December 28 release from The Weinstein Company.
Maggie Smith On Playing Older Women And Making Movies For “Grown-Ups” Downton Abbey keeps commanding strong ratings during its third season run on the UK’s ITV with Sunday night’s intense episode pulling in an audience of about 9.46M and overtaking lead-in The X Factor. Meanwhile, the Dowager Countess herself, Dame Maggie Smith, looked far spryer in person Monday morning at a London press conference for Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet. Asked how she felt about the fact that she’s often cast in roles of much older women, she demurred, “I’m just glad to get any role, the fact that they’re all 90…” She said she suspects it started with 1991’s Hook in which she played Granny Wendy. “I think it was Peggy Ashcroft who couldn’t do it and I was suggested. They asked how old I was and somebody said 92.” She was in her mid-50s at the time. Also on the subject of age, Smith said she was happy to see more films about “grown-ups” as with her last feature The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. “It seems to me there’s a sort of change in what audiences want to see. I can only hope that’s correct because there are a lot of people my age around.” She cited Cocoon and Driving Miss Daisy and said films for and about older people “always seem to be fairly successful. It’s a bit baffling as to why everybody has to be treated as if they were five years old.” Told there exists a sandwich named after her at a Venice, Italy restaurant, she asked, “Is it ham?”
Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’ Breaks Records In Spain Juan Antonio Bayona has broken a series of records in his home country including the biggest opening weekend in Spanish history with tsunami drama The Impossible. The three-day weekend tally was 8.985M euros ($11.64M) and the four-day take was 10.285M euros ($13.32M), according to distributor Warner Bros. The film also had the biggest Friday in history and the tied for the biggest Thursday with The Simpsons Movie at 1.3M euros ($1.68M). The Impossible stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami Read More »
ITV1′s serial-killer drama Appropriate Adult leads this year’s Arqiva British Academy Television Awards nominations with four including lead actor for Dominic West and lead actress for Emily Watson. BBC One’s Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch is also among the top mentions, scoring nods for the acting duo of Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Downton Abbey, however, came up with only one nomination: for Dame Maggie Smith who plays the formidable Dowager Countess. The ceremony will take place in London on May 27. Nominees in the major categories follow; full list to come: Read More »
Maggie Smith has informed writer Julian Fellowes she would like for the third season of Downton Abbey to be her last, according to the Daily Mail, which added that he had persuaded her to stick around for the Christmas special. Smith plays the acid-tongued Dowager Countess. Britain’s ITV drama, which airs on PBS’ Masterpiece in the United States, is filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire and at Ealing Studios in London. A source told the Daily Mail that “Maggie has asked Julian to write her character out. She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high. She thinks that three series is enough.” Smith, 77, won an Oscar for the title role in the 1969 movie The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie and a Supporting Actress Oscar for Neil Simon’s 1978 California Suite, but she’s probably better known for her work in the Harry Potter movies and for another Fellowes film, Gosford Park.
There’ll be a host of fresh faces at Downton Abbey when the show comes back to the UK’s ITV later this year. Details are slight for the moment, but I’ve confirmed Ed Speleers has joined the cast as new footman Jimmy. Speleers, known for 2006′s dragon adventure Eragon, will next be seen with Timothy Spall and Jessica Szohr in the horror comedy Love Bite. Other recent staffers to join the Grantham estate include War Horse‘s Matt Milne as Alfred, a footman who’s also the nephew of is-she-or-isn’t-she-evil lady’s maid O’Brien. Newcomers Cara Theobold and Lucille Sharp are also on board as maids. In January, Shirley MacLaine signed on to play mother to Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora Grantham — and a foil for Maggie Smith’s irrepressible Dowager Countess.
Regarding the contract status of Smith and Dan Stevens (who plays Matthew Crawley on the series), the official line is that seasons 4 and 5 have not been addressed, nor ordered, nor written. (I’ve also heard that Dame Maggie isn’t in the habit of signing contracts until the last minute anyway.) Still, some cast members including McGovern, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery are said to have signed for those seasons, according to our pals at TVLine. In response to the contract reports, the show released a statement: “We are currently filming series three of Downton Abbey in which all the cast have returned. ITV have not yet commissioned a fourth … Read More »
The press releases are flying over the transom and since the deal-making has been a bit slack. Here are a few tidbits.
* Grosvenor Park will once again lend money to film productions, forming UK-based EIS Film Fund to disperse $100 million each year for productions. Grosvenor Park fled from the film-financing scene in 2008, when the economy and the independent film business hit the rocks. The target is films with budgets ranging from $10 million to $30 million. Grosvenor Park will also produce senior, gap and tax lending collateralized by territorial distribution sales and production tax incentives, which was how the company lended to films in the past. “Now is an optimal time to re-enter the film-lending space given the strength of the marketplace and the current industry dynamics as evidenced by a resurgence of sales activity at the most recent film markets,” said GP’s Don Starr.
* Morgan Creek has become a co-financier on Universal’s remake of The Thing. The studio releases Morgan Creek’s films in the U.S. including the upcoming Jim Sheridan-directed Dream House, which stars Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz. The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic and it’s directed by Matthijs van Heijningen and produced by Strike Entertainment partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman. Read More »
His eponymous FX comedy may have been snubbed in the best comedy series category, but comedian Louis C.K. still managed to become the most nominated person at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards with four noms, sharing the honors with The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Louis C.K. was nominated in the lead comedy actor category for his role on FX’s Louie, in the writing for comedy series category for penning the Poker/Divorce episode of the show, as well as in two Variety, Music or Comedy special categories for his Epix comedy special Louis C.K.: Hilarious — for writing and for editing. Three of Schaffer and Taccone’s four nominations were in the Original Music and Lyrics category, in which The Lonely Island’s Schaffer, Taccone and Andy Samberg have a regular presence, often in tandem with Justin Timberlake, having won an Emmy together for Dick In a Box. This year, Saturday Night Live is completely dominating the category with four of the six nominations: three for Schaffer, Taccone and Samberg’s digital music videos I Just Have Sex, Jack Sparrow and their latest collaboration with Timberlake, 3-Way, and one for the song from host Timberlake’s opening monologue. Schaffer and Taccone’s fourth Emmy nomination is in the writing for VMC series category for their staff-writing duties on SNL.Read More »
Touchstone has a new trailer out for Gnomeo and Juliet, the animated feature that will be released February 11. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are the title characters, and Jason Statham, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith and Patrick Stewart round out the voice cast.