EXCLUSIVE: I’ve watched the first five hours of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and it took that many hours for me to get past the unequivocal exit of Michael Pitt’s Jimmy Darmody character. Pitt has committed to star in The First, a new feature film about the life of Hollywood legend Mary Pickford that will begin production in 2013. He will play Owen Moore, Pickford’s first husband. Ryan Simpkins has been cast to play a young Pickford. Lily Rabe was already set to play Mary Pickford in her salad years.
Rabe and Pitt will join filmmakers Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia and their partner Said Zaharoui in Toronto next week. They will co-host an opening night party September 6th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The party is meant to fete the memory of the Toronto-born Pickford and create awareness for the film, which will be produced by Pacino and DeLia’s Poverty Row Entertainment, and directed by DeLia. The event will also be hosted by Poverty Row partners Paramax Films and Monde Ouest from Paris, as well as Toronto’s Windsor Arms Hotel, which was built in 1927 and is often associated with Pickford’s heyday. Rare footage of the esteemed actress from the Pickford Foundation archives will be on display during the celebration.
“I got to know Julie and Jennifer while they were in Toronto working on ‘Billy Bates,” said TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey. “We met a couple of times in TIFF Bell Lightbox while our Mary Pickford exhibition was on. Just by chance they checked out the show, learned that Pickford was born a Toronto girl and before you know it I hear they’re working on a movie about her. I love that our Pickford show was the spark that got this movie off the ground. I can’t wait to see it – with any luck, back here in the Lightbox.”
The film covers Pickford’s life from a woman’s point of view as she rose to powerhouse status in a male-dominated fledgling business. Pickford, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith, created United Artists to be their own stomping grounds where they could be bosses instead of employees.
Determined to show it is more than just a one trick – or is that one night - pony the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences opened up its extensive, and impressive, film vaults for the press on Tuesday and provided clear proof they are also running a world class archival and preservation program for film and digital and other materials. As the Academy’s Managing Director of Programming, Education and Preservation Randy Haberkamp said, “this is what we do the other 364 days of the year” in a demonstation that the organization is about much more than just Oscar night. As a preview of what film fans will get a chance to see on September 10th (for invited guests) and 11th (the public) and in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study located on Vine St. in Hollywood, Academy officials led by Haberkamp showed off the impressive space that used to be an ABC television studio and is now housing three floors of vaults and storage areas for the approximately 400 restoration projects and other programs the Academy sponsors each year. The 10th anniversary event called Inside The Vaults will also feature the Los Angeles premiere of the Archive’s newly restored print of the 1920 The Mark Of Zorro as well as the rare Mary Pickford short The New York Hat (1912). In relation to the latter, the Academy and the Mary Pickford Foundation are partnering on a multi-year initiative to promote the “legacy of Pickford and the silent film era”. Pickford was one of the founders of the Academy. Artifacts from her career including letters and photos will be displayed, including a 1959 letter in which she discussed her plans and support for a Hollywood museum. Haberkamp said at long last the Academy is trying to make her dream come true with the creation (in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) of a permanent Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The museum project is currently in the midst of a major fundraising drive and expects to reach the next leg of its goal with Board approval on October 16. Bob Iger, along with Governors Tom Hanks and Annette Bening are leading that financial effort.
During Tuesday’s tour the Academy showed off some of the potential pieces the museum will contain including the earliest wood motion picture cameras used by Pickford and Charlie Chaplin as well as the latest acquisition donated to the Academy: A coat, hat, wig and props trunk that belonged to Harpo Marx and given to the Acad by his son Bill Marx who once served as the comedian’s prop master. Read More »
Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia’s Poverty Row Entertainment and producer Said Zahraoui have set Lily Rabe to play Mary Pickford in their untitled upcoming movie based on Eileen Whitfield’s biography “Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood.” Josh Fagin is writing … Read More »
Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia’s Poverty Row Entertainment and producer Said Zahraoui have acquired rights to Eileen Whitfield’s Mary Pickford biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The producers are developing a feature (untitled for the moment) about … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Is a fight over the right to use the name and work and trademark of America’s Sweetheart heading to court? An announcement posted April 2nd by the 10-year-old Mary Pickford Institute of Film Education claims its yearly funding of $500,000 was “yanked by its long time … Read More »