Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.
Bart: Has there ever been a moment when there were more mixed messages out there about political correctness? Films like Tammy or 22 Jump Street all but burst with in-correctitude, yet the moment a celebrity or politician utters anything remotely off-color, the cadre of ‘crisis managers’ materializes with their ritual apologies. I don’t need Pharrell Williams’ ‘regrets.’ Permanently pre-pubescent Justin Bieber spends more time apologizing than performing. There’s even a new book out titled Sorry About That, recounting history’s most infamous apologies. My favorite is South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford’s eloquent statement when his adultery became public — “an affair that which has caused the stir that it has.”
Fleming: I found myself on the business end of a Deadline comment cadre when I suggested restraint on the summary firing of radio host Anthony Cumia for his nasty, sexist and borderline racist Twitter comments. I believe in second chances. To me, Cumia’s angry outburst was worth a suspension at most. Like Gary Oldman and Jonah Hill, each of whom fell on their swords a few weeks ago, Cumia did not commit a crime. Despite that, the PC knee-jerk instinct is to … Read More »
If you’re a young boy in need of someone to look up to, well, there’s no one like Bill Murray. While he played a flawed elder to Jason Schwartzman’s smart aleck ex-private school student in Rushmore, here we find Murray in the Walter Matthau-like curmudgeon role as St. Vincent de Van Nuys, who endearingly tends to Oliver, the young boy next door, by exposing him to horse track gambling, strippers and boxing. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St Vincent opens stateside on October 24 and stars Melissa McCarthy as Oliver’s straight-laced single mom, Chris O’Dowd as the boy’s Catholic School teacher and Naomi Watts hamming it up as Vincent’s stripper girlfriend.
To say that food trucks are the new means of movie and TV marketing — well, that’s just an understatement. About three weeks ago, NBC Universal and Fox drove around their donut trucks tubthumping Brooklyn Nine-Nine during the Emmy ballot period and now Warner Bros. is getting in on the action rolling out its apple pie vehicles to promote the July 2 feature comedy Tammy. Starring Melissa McCarthy and directed by her Groundlings alum hubby Ben Falcone, who is making his debut behind the camera, Tammy centers around a foul-mouthed woman who after losing her job and husband, decides to road trip with her hard-drinking, just as foul grandma played by Susan Sarandon. The whole apple pie tie-in connects to a plot point where Tammy holds up her former employer TopperJacks, a fast food joint, and collects some crust. The trucks have made stops on Good Morning America and Chelsea Lately. Follow @wbpictures and #GimmeSomePies to find out where the trucks stop.
Melissa McCarthy channels her comedic star power into Tammy, the upcoming Warner Bros summer comedy about a woman (McCarthy) pushed over the edge when she’s fired from her fast food job, finds her husband cheating, and becomes a fugitive on the run with her grandma (Susan Sarandon) bound for Niagara Falls. The July 2 pic will test McCarthy’s comedy reign that started with Bridesmaids and continued with last year’s Identity Thief and The Heat, and also marks her first foray into feature scripting alongside husband Ben Falcone, who co-wrote and directs in his helming debut. Check out the first trailer:
Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin is going from her three-season run on the espionage drama to tangling with spies on the big screen. She’s been cast in Fox’s female comedy Spy, writer-director Paul Feig‘s next pic with Bridesmaids and The Heat star Melissa McCarthy. Baccarin, who last year was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Showtime’s Homeland, will play Karen Walker in the pic which has been slated for a Memorial Day 2015 release. Feig is also producing for his Feigco Entertainment banner alongside Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and Jessie Henderson. Last week he added international stars Nargis Fakhri, Peter Serafinowicz, Bjorn Gustafsson, and Verka Serduchka to the cast, which also includes Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Miranda Hart. Filming began last month in Budapest.
Related: Allison Janney Joins Powerhouse Cast Of Paul Feig’s ‘Spy’
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EXCLUSIVE: It’s not White House Chief of Staff, but Allison Janney is back in government work with the Paul Feig-directed feature Spy. The Emmy-winning former West Wing actress will play top CIA agent Elaine Crocker in the comedy. Playing to the actress’ vast strengths, the character is described as tough but with a biting sense of humor. Janney joins a star-studded cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Miranda Hart. Showtime alum Morena Baccarin also joined the pic today. Spy started production in Budapest late last month. Fox is set to release it Memorial Day 2015. As well as directing, Feig wrote the script and is producing through his Feigco along with Chernin Entertainment and Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Jessie Henderson.
Related: Paul Feig Taps Offshore Talent For Melissa McCarthy ‘Spy’ Tale
The Spy role is far different from the recovering alcoholic, who’s also a mother, that Janney plays on CBS’ freshman Chuck Lorre comedy Mom, with Anna Faris. The actress, who also has a recurring role on Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, next will be seen on the big screen on July 2 in New Line’s Tammy, with McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. Janney is repped by Gersh and Thruline.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Feig has a knack for finding gem comediennes and he thinks he has got one in Miranda Hart. The British veteran has been set to join Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham in the untitled spy comedy that Feig is directing for Chernin Entertainment and Fox. Filming starts in Budapest on Monday and the film has been dated for Memorial Day weekend 2015·
The comedy marks the third collaboration for Feig and McCarthy, and he wrote the script, directs and produces through his Feigco Entertainment with Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Jessie Henderson. ”I’ve been a fan of Miranda’s for years and am so excited to bring her to the big screen,” Feig said. “I’m also hoping I’ll finally get back that lawnmower I loaned her last summer.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Statham has been working up a storm in serious films, but he’s taking time to go back to the comic roots that launched his career with Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. I’m told that Statham has met with director Paul Feig and that talks will start soon for him to join Melissa McCarthy in Fox‘s Susan Cooper. That comedy, which puts Feig and McCarthy back together after they did the hits Bridesmaids and The Heat, casts her as an unlikely secret agent. Statham will play a spy on the same side, if the deal makes. He’ll next be seen with James Franco in Homefront, and he just wrapped The Expendables 3. Statham is just beginning work on The Fast & The Furious 7. He’s repped by CAA and managed by Steve Chasman.
EXCLUSIVE: The gang is back together! Mike & Molly star Melissa McCarthy, her husband, actor-writer Ben Falcone, and fellow actor Larry Dorf, have sold a third consecutive comedy project, this time at Fox. The untitled single-camera comedy, written/executive produced by Dorf and exec produced by McCarthy and Falcone, centers on two mismatched guys who become stepbrothers when their parents get married. Mike & Molly studio Warner Bros. TV, which was also behind the trio’s previous efforts, is producing. McCarthy, Falcone and Dorf sold their first comedy project in 2011 when the half-hour penned by Falcone and Dorf was picked up to pilot by CBS. The trio was back at CBS last year with another multi-camera comedy co-written by Falcone and Dorf. McCarthy and Falcone are repped by CAA and The Schiff Co.; Dorf is with Paradigm and Odenkirk Provissiero.
Warner Bros has set Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) to guest in an upcoming episode of Mike & Molly. She’ll play JC Small, a literary icon and Molly’s idol, described as part JD Salinger with a touch of William Faulkner and a sprinkle of Gore Vidal with a beautiful mind and tortured soul. The famed novelist gives Molly a lesson in writing that neither she nor her family are soon to forget. Mike & Molly, starring Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardell, Katie Mixon, Swoosie Kurtz and Reno Wilson, returns midseason on CBS. Sarandon is repped by ICM Partners.
SUNDAY 10:30 AM, 7H UPDATE: It’s already crowded at the pre-Fourth Of July domestic box office which will need to expand in time to accommodate so many movies playing during the holiday. True, total filmgoing this weekend went down -8.5% from a year ago for only $192M. But studios are scrambling to see when the last time all Top Five movies made more than $20+M for the 3-day weekend. On Friday, the order of finish changed hour by hour but then fixed firmly for Saturday and apparently Sunday. Pixar/Disney’s huge hit from a week ago Monsters University is still the strong #1 as families crave toons. But the real story is this weekend’s newcomers: Twentieth Century Fox’s The Heat debuted a big #2 as fan favorite Melissa McCarthy again sets off R-rated fireworks with audiences. But Sony Pictures’ White House Down really disappointed in #4, opening a third less than Hollywood expected and ensuring its high cost will make it impossible to earn out. But the studio is still hoping for a 4x holiday-aided multiple. Both pics received ‘A-’ CinemaScores from audiences to help word of mouth. Top Ten numbers for the weekend are:
1. Monsters University 3D (Pixar/Disney) Week 2 [Runs 4,004] G
Friday $14.2M, Saturday $17.5M, Weekend $46.1M (-44%), Cume $171.0M
Great weekend hold. Easily stayed #1 after the +23% Saturday kiddie bump. But window for family fare will be fleeting once Universal’s sequel Despicable Me 2 hits North American marketplace wide on July 3rd. Foreign grosses still to … Read More »
When Melissa McCarthy didn’t lash back after New York Observer film critic Rex Reed’s out-of-bounds review of Identity Thief back in February — in which out of the blue and most cruelly he called the actress “tractor-sized” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success” — Deadline’s Mike Fleming did. (So did her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, who ended a Twitter post on the matter thusly: I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go fuck himself”.) McCarthy, the most on-fire female comedic actor going right now (she just booked another biggie today, the DreamWorks Animation pic B.O.O. opposite Seth Rogen), finally broke her silence on the topic. It came today in a NY Times interview tied to her Fox movie The Heat, co-starring Sandra Bullock, which opens June 28. From the NYT:
When Ms. McCarthy was asked about the review over lunch in April, her characteristically cheerful tone evaporated. In a softer voice, she said her initial reaction to reading it had been “Really?” and then, she said, “Why would someone O.K. that?”
Without mentioning the name of its author, Ms. McCarthy said: “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and
… Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa McCarthy has signed on to voice the role of Watts in B.O.O (Bureau Of Otherworldly Operations), the DreamWorks Animation film that has been scheduled for June 5, 2015 release. B.O.O. is a super secret government agency dedicated to protecting humans from evil hauntings. Agents are themselves ghosts. Two new agents, Jackson Moss (voiced by Seth Rogen) and his oddball partner Watts (McCarthy) uncover a plot by the agency’s Most Wanted Haunter to destroy B.O.O. They must use every trick in their arsenal to defeat his powerful ghost army and save Earth from a ghostly fate. The film is based on an original idea by director Tony Leondis. The film is being produced by Maryann Garger (Astro Boy and Flushed Away) and written by Tom Wheeler (Puss In Boots). Life Of Pi’s Gil Netter is exec producer. McCarthy soon opens opposite Sandra Bullock in the Paul Feig-directed The Heat and has the Ted Melfi-directed St. Vincent de Van Nuys, and Tammy, which she wrote with husband Ben Falcone. She’s repped by CAA and The Schiff Company.
Four days after Sony slotted the Cameron Diaz-Jason Segel comedy Sex Tape for July 2, 2014, Warner Bros has lit the fuse on a potentially explosive faceoff with Melissa McCarthy. The Identity Thief star’s latest road-trip raunchfest Tammy will hit theaters that same Independence Day weekend, setting up an intriguing showdown. McCarthy stars in the New Line pic as a woman who loses her job and discovers her husband is cheating, then hits the highway for a bout of self-discovery along with her grandmother, a cussin’, diabetic boozehound. Mark Duplass last month landed a key role in the flick, which was written by McCarthy and hubby Ben Falcone; the latter stepped in as director for TV veteran Beth McCarthy-Miller, who was to make her feature helming debut. Tammy also stars Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd.
EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Watts is in talks to star in St. Vincent De Van Nuys, the film that Ted Melfi will direct from his script for The Weinstein Company, Chernin Entertainment and Don Cheadle’s Crescendo. Watts will join Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. Watts will play a Russian prostitute who develops a close relationship with the title character (Murray), a cantankerous guy who becomes a chief influence on an angelic 12-year old boy whose hardworking single mother (McCarthy) foists child care duties on Murray’s character. The project, which Chernin Entertainment developed for two years with Melfi’s Black List script, has been compared to As Good As It Gets or even TWC’s recent Silver Linings Playbook for the way it mixes comedy and human pathos. Watts is coming off an Oscar-nominated performance in The Impossible. Every age appropriate hot actress in town chased this role. She’s repped by CAA and Untitled.
Melissa McCarthy teetered in sky-high platform heels and took a few pratfalls in her second Saturday Night Live hosting gig. But it was Game Of Thrones‘ Peter Dinklage who stole the show with his Weekend Update cameo. Meanwhile, not a single mention was made of NBC‘s Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon late night saga (orchestrated by SNL‘s own Lorne Michaels):
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa McCarthy is getting some company on the road in her starring vehicle Tammy. The New Line comedy has cast Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The Mindy Project) in a key role in the pic about a woman (McCarthy) who loses her job and discovers her husband is cheating, then hits the asphalt with her foul-mouthed grandmother. She meets a man (Duplass) on her trip and they develop a strange relationship. McCarthy wrote the script with husband Ben Falcone, who will direct, taking over for original helmer Beth McCarthy-Miller. Duplass just wrapped Open Road’s JFK drama Parkland and the Universal-Blumhouse horror Mercy, based on a Stephen King short story. He also stars in, produced, and co-wrote the upcoming Peachfuzz for Blumhouse, is starring in and exec producing the indie The One I Love, and is gearing up for a spring shoot on his HBO pilot with brother Jay Duplass, Togetherness. Duplass is repped by ICM.
Vince Vaughn, who co-stars with Owen Wilson in Fox’s The Internship, which is due out June 7, will return as Saturday Night Live host April 13 with musical guest Miguel. NBC made the announcement today and confirmed that Melissa McCarthy returns as host April 6. She scored high ratings and rave reviews when she hosted back in October.