Christy Grosz is an Awardsline contributor
When director Ryan Murphy met with choreographer Michael Arnold, the first question Murphy asked was, “So how did you get into this line of work?” That might have been merely an ice-breaker had Arnold been tapped to work on Murphy’s Fox series Glee, but this job was about re-creating the uninhibited sex-fueled parties of 1970s-era Fire Island for HBO’s The Normal Heart. After performing as a dancer in more than a dozen Broadway musicals, Arnold has parlayed his flair for movement into a new career as a sex-scene choreographer. The short answer about how he got started is the usual Hollywood networking story—albeit with a splash of Oscar gold—when a friend of a friend was looking for some help on Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. “I got a call from (executive producer) Georgia Kacandes, and she said, ‘We’re going to do this gay orgy scene and it’s not really in Marty’s wheelhouse,’” says Arnold, who ultimately worked on two other scenes in the film, including the somewhat infamous bachelor party plane ride to Las Vegas. Read More »
The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning semi-autobiographical play, chronicled the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York. After a Broadway revival in 2011—which featured Joe Mantello and Jim Parsons—small-screen visionary Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) took on the huge task of adapting a movie version for HBO. Whether his Heart racks up Emmy noms doesn’t matter. Murphy did what he set out to do and made Kramer proud. Here, he opens up about the importance of the film—both to himself and to history—and also of how he and his cast of all-stars (Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Parsons, reprising his Broadway role) handled the script’s racier material.
AWARDSLINE: Was there a sense during production that something important was happening?
RYAN MURPHY: Yes. This was a 30-year journey, and there was a huge responsibility to get it right. I never have been involved in any production where there was absolute silence on the set. These sets always felt like church in that we all felt we were there (with) a combined energy to get the thing right. We wanted to do it for Larry (Kramer), and we wanted to do it for history. We wanted people to see this story and not forget.
AWARSDLINE: How much pressure did you feel during the casting process to match the right actor to each role?
MURPHY: Larry was … Read More »
The Cannes Film Festival is getting underway next week and represents the first important stop of the year for what we hope will be Oscar-worthy movies. Of course most of those movies will not open until the fall when the usual glut of contenders descends on Hollywood. So far the 2014 pickings have been slim, but that is usually the case. There could be scattered nominations here and there for the likes of Noah, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie and last weekend’s art house opener Belle among the precious few movies so far in 2014 that have a chance of turning up somewhere on Oscar’s list. Mainly what we have seen so far is just preparation for the race and anticipation. The National Board of Review was the latest group to announce their dates this week and will vote early on December 2nd. The major guilds, Golden Globes and Oscars have already staked out their key dates.
But before we get to fall (the earliest 2013 Best Picture nominee, Gravity, didn’t open until early October), we have a long hot summer to get through after the highs (and hopefully not too many lows) of Cannes are over. But Oscar pickings seem even more slim than usual from a survey of the summer months leading up to the fall festival trifecta of Venice, Telluride and Toronto. I remain hopeful, but what can you say about a season where the strongest Best Picture prospect — in terms of gravitas and quality — is going to debut on HBO?
That pay network’s The Normal Heart from director Ryan Murphy has all the earmarks of a true Oscar player except for one thing: It’s not eligible since it’s not a theatrical release. Small detail, but I have a feeling that if HBO had decided to try for theatres first it could have figured strongly at the Academy Awards. Instead, this story set in the early days of the AIDS crisis and penned first as a play by Larry Kramer, who wrote this adaptation, promises to sweep the Emmys in August in many categories including for actors Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Matt Bomer (the latter heartbreakingly standing out among a uniformly fine supporting actor cast). Emmy voters have already received the screener of the movie which doesn’t debut on HBO until May 25th. It’s no wonder so many A-list actors are flocking to the small screen when a net like HBO offers a home for projects like this that have been so consistently rejected by movie distributors that it takes an iron will just to get them made. You could easily have imagined last season’s Oscar juggernaut, Dallas Buyers Club, going the same TV route as Normal Heart had its producers given up — particularly Robbie Brenner (with Rachel Winter) along with Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey persevering and virtually willing it into theatres leading to that Oscar triumph March 2nd.
Related: Hot TV Trailer: HBO’s ‘The Normal Heart’
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“To win a war, you have to start one.” This HBO telefilm arrives nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway. Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts star in the adaptation directed by Ryan Murphy and scripted by Kramer. Set in NYC during the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early ’80s, The Normal Heart follows gay activists and their allies in the medical community as they try to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic. HBO already is looking into a sequel. The telepic, which co-stars Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Stephen Spinella, Corey Stoll, Finn Wittrock and BD Wong, bows May 25 on the premium channel. Here’s the first full trailer:
Here’s the official trailer for the film that until last week was known as Can A Song Save Your Life? The Weinstein Company picked up the comedy after an epic bidding war following its Toronto premiere, and now it’s set to close the Tribeca Film Festival. The newly retitled Begin Again stars Mark Ruffalo as Dan, a fired music exec who stumbles upon his second chance in Gretta (Keira Knightley), who gets cut loose by her musician boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) after he signs a major-label deal. Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, Catherine Keener and Levine’s former The Voice colleague CeeLo Green also star in the film from writer-director James Carney (Once). Begin Again‘s tour of theaters starts July 4. Have a look and a listen:
Sony Pictures Classics confirmed that it has acquired distrib rights to Infinitely Polar Bear, starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, the film that marks the directorial debut of Maya Forbes (who also scripted the autobiographical story). The film, set in the 1970s, follows an eccentric father who tries to win back his wife by taking responsibility for their two young, hard-to-handle daughters. Sony will distribute the picture in North America, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Read More »
Paper Street Films and Park Pictures have just gotten underway in Providence on Infinitely Polar Bear, with Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana starring in a drama about a manic depressive father who tries to win back his wife by taking responsibility for their two free spirited daughters. Maya Forbes wrote the script and is directing, inspired by true events from her childhood. Her scripting efforts include The Rocker, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3. Wally Wolodarsky; Benji Kohn, Austin Stark and Bingo Gubelmann from Paper Street Films and producing with Park Pictures’ Sam Bisbee and Galt Niederhoffer from Park Pictures. Bad Robot’s JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk are among the exec producers. Paper Street is responsible for Happythankyoumoreplease and Park Pictures for Robot & Frank. ICM Partners is repping domestic, and Aldamisa Entertainment has foreign.
There’s been so much Hulk talk lately. The direct-to-DVD film from Marvel - Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United - was originally slated for an April 23 release date but now won’t come out until December 3. Much has been made of the rumors of World War Hulk or Planet Hulk being adapted into live action films. Then Mark Ruffalo tweeted this week that he won’t play Hulk again until The Avengers 2. All of which is just creating more speculation around a third standalone Bruce Banner/Hulk movie this time with Mark Ruffalo. The latest to weigh in is Joss Whedon who tells Deadline:
I didn’t actually read World War Hulk so I’m not sure how I’d adapt it.
Mark and I loved the Hulk and went over and over the concept of rage and how it should manifest, and that part of it was fascinating to both of us. But when it comes time for the Hulk he has to put on the silliest damn pajamas you ever saw, a tiara made of balls, and a bunch of dots on his face and growl around like an idiot. The real heart of the experience ultimately becomes playing Banner, and the thing that people fell in love with was Banner because I think Mark has you from the first time he shows up.
The Hulk is the most difficult Marvel property because it’s always about balance. Is he a monster? Is
… Read More »
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
After the huge success of Disney and Marvel Studios‘ The Avengers, the continuation of the Marvel movie universe has been a fait accompli. In addition to Iron Man 3 and the sequels to Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, already planned prior to The Avengers, several new films exploiting lesser known Marvel Characters, most notably Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant Man have been greenlit. Left untapped is a third attempt to make a successful Incredible Hulk movie, particularly noticeable after Mark Ruffalo‘s performance as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers emerged as that film’s most celebrated success. There’s been a wave of speculation and rumor that a Ruffalo-starring Hulk film is under consideration, but that conversation can be put to rest – for now – as Ruffalo took to Twitter to pour cold water on the prospect. “A lot of folks have been asking about the Next Hulk. The next time you see my Hulk it will be in the Avengers2. No plans for stand alone.” In a follow up to that tweet, he did make it clear that the door isn’t closed, adding “I am not giving up on another stand alone HULK. But it’s not in the works right now. One never knows what the future will bring.” Regardless, it would seem, for now, that a new Hulk film is not in the cards. Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
HBO announced this afternoon at TCA that it has greenlighted The Normal Heart, an original movie adaptation of the Tony-winning Larry Kramer play that will star Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo in the key roles and co-star Matt Bomer. The film is being written by Kramer, while Ryan Murphy is set to direct and executive produce along with Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante Di Loreto. It’s slated to begin production later this year in New York City for a slated 2014 debut on the premium network. The play tells the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. Roberts will play Emma Brookner, the paraplegic physician who treats several of the earliest victims of the disease. Ruffalo will play Ned Weeks, who witnesses first-hand the mysterious disease that has begun to claim the lives of many in his gay community and starts to seek answers. Bomer will play Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned’s lover.
The Normal Heart has had a long, tortuous path toward becoming a film. Barbra Streisand was involved at one point. Kramer became increasingly frustrated and was worried it might never come to pass. This version was announced in 2011 as a feature with Murphy, who optioned the rights to the play, directing, Ruffalo starring … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Moneyball helmer Bennett Miller is putting together the final casting pieces for Foxcatcher, the Annapurna Pictures-funded drama that stars Steve Carell as paranoid schizophrenic heir Jon DuPont, who created a training center for wrestlers and murdered Olympic grappler Dave Schultz. That wrestler will be played by Mark Ruffalo, and Sienna Miller will play his wife, Nancy. Channing Tatum is playing Schultz’s brother, Mark, in the tragic tale.
Marvel execs are notoriously tightlipped and no formal announcements have been made. But now SVP Marvel licensing Paul Gitter tells Forbes magazine that he and his colleagues have been “pleasantly surprised by the phenomenal response” to the Hulk already &mdash&; even before The Avengers opened. “His sales are up in a major way. We repositioned him from where he was always misunderstood to now depicting him in a more heroic and aspirational manner.” Now fanboys have their first look at Mark Ruffalo’s iteration of the Hulk and they like what they see. Gitter says Marvel “will spin him off to a stand-alone program next year,” which Forbes says is “presumably supported by another big budget franchise movie in 2015. The entertainment studio is also exploring ways to promote Hulk as a ‘corporate icon’ similar to MetLife’s usage of Peanuts’ Snoopy, with Hulk’s image conveying a message about channeling strength to overcome workplace challenges.” This is a marked change from what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told Collider recently. “…Every time I see a good take or a good storyline or read some good pages, I think, ‘Oh should we make a movie about this?’ But with the Hulk we’re gonna play it very carefully. We had varying degrees of success on those first two movies, so we’re not gonna say, ‘Oh we did it! Another one!’ We’re gonna be smart about it and play it out. There are no plans right now to do another Hulk. Hulk might be just the special guest in Avengers movies, who knows?” Feige also told The Huffington Post that Marvel put “everything they had and everything they were going for into Hulk’s appearance in Avengers” so it’s “mission accomplished at this point.” According to Collider, a Hulk TV series is in development by Guillermo del Toro and Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick that would develop the original story of Bruce Banner in his mid-20s, and Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television, recently confirmed that the live-action show is in active development at ABC.
Related: ‘AVENGERS’ BOX OFFICE: Is This Hollywood’s Biggest Ever – Or Not? Read More »
IM Global Brings Katherine Heigl Film ‘The Happytime Murders’: Berlin
Just ahead of next week’s European Film Market in Berlin, Fortissimo Films has come aboard thriller Monsoon Shootout, handling international rights outside India/South Asia, France and Germany. The film, executive produced by Senna director Asif Kapadia, is the feature debut of Amit Kumar, who picked up a couple of awards for his short The Bypass. Shootout follows a rookie cop who has to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on his first assignment. Three different scenarios are explored based on the decision he makes. Currently in post, the film will be ready for a spring/summer delivery. A UK/India production, Shootout is produced by Trevor Ingman of Yaffle Films and co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Martijn de Grunt, Arun Rangachari and Shahnaab Alam in association with Arte France. Kapadia and Lee Stone are executive producing. …
Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson are set to star in the romance movie Can A Song Save Your Life?, which John Carney (Once) wrote and is directing. Judd Apatow is aboard as executive producer. Exclusive Media’s Tobin Armbrust will oversee production on the film, which will shoot in June. Exclusive is handling international sales and will unveil the film in Berlin. The plot centers on a woman (Johansson) who moves with her boyfriend to New York to pursue music careers. After he dumps her for … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: WME has just signed Tom Hiddleston, who reprises his Loki character from Thor in the upcoming Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers. Hiddleston, who was last repped in the U.S. by ICM, had a year in which he also starred in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, as well as Steven Spielberg’s upcoming War Horse. All the agencies were after him. In The Avengers, Hiddleston’s Loki takes on Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Hiddleston continues to be repped by UK agents Mikey Symons and Christian Hodell, and manager Jon Rubenstein.
EXCLUSIVE: Dave Franco has joined the cast of Now You See Me, which is his second straight movie for Summit Entertainment. Franco joins Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman and Isla Fisher in the Louis Leterrier-directed drama about a team of FBI agents that track a group of illusionists pulling off daring bank heists during their performances. Franco plays one of the Four Horsemen, as the illusionists bill themselves. Franco, the younger brother of 127 Hours star James Franco, is currently shooting Warm Bodies for Summit opposite Nicholas Hoult, John Malkovich and Teresa Palmer. Franco will next be seen starring in 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, which Sony releases March 16. Miles Levy and Paradigm made his deal.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has made a deal to develop the Oscar-nominated comedy The Kids Are All Right as an hour-long series. Lisa Cholodenko, who co-wrote and directed the Focus Features release, will write the pilot script. I’m told that it will continue the adventures of the five main characters. They were the same-sex partners (played in the film by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), their son and daughter (played by Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska) and the biological father of the kids/sperm donor who surfaces and tears the family apart (played by Mark Ruffalo in the film). Deals are still being worked out, but Cholodenko will be exec producer alongside the film’s original producers, Antidote Films’ Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Gilbert Films’ Gary Gilbert and Maven Pictures’ Celine Rattray. Cholodenko is repped by Cinetic.
Marvel Studios has released its first full trailer for The Avengers, its Joss Whedon-directed dream teaming of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and team leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who team up against Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who emerged as a villain in the first Thor film. Whedon has the fanboy cred and they’ve done nothing here to dampen enthusiasm for a film that Disney releases May 4, 2012.
I’m hearing that How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders has emerged as the front runner for the role of SHIELD Agent Maria Hill in the Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers and that a deal could be done before the weekend is out. The role has been the subject of high speculation since Samuel L. Jackson gave it up in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that he would be reading as Nick Fury alongside five actresses vying for an unidentified female sidekick role. That audition happened yesterday. Reports had V’s Morena Baccarin, Jessica Lucas and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as other candidates. Smulders wasn’t completely unknown to Whedon. In fact, he liked her as a candidate for Wonder Woman when he was working on that superhero film. Deadline has learned that the role is Maria Hill, who in the comics was the ruthless interim executive director of SHIELD, who was not above blackmailing and bullying superheros to get her way. She was eventually supplanted in that top job by Tony Stark aka Iron Man. As with all Marvel movies, the deal comes with a pile of options for appearances in future superhero films. She’s repped by UTA and Roar. Marvel Studios starts production in April, which presumably falls into Smulders’ TV hiatus on the CBS sitcom.
The Avengers will be released by Disney May 4, 2012, and it shapes up as … Read More »