Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep filming together and singing. Who can resist? Not Disney any longer. It’s taken 16 months to get off the ground — ever since January 2012, when the studio sent out a press release announcing Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) would be directing Stephen Sondheim’s iconic 1987 Broadway musical Into The Woods as a feature film for Disney. A table read was held in NYC this past October featuring Donna Murphy, Megan Hilty, Christine Baranski, Allison Janney and quite a few other Broadway stars. Buzz of Streep’s interest first surfaced last summer and this past week Marshall confirmed in an interview to Playbill that she was “in” to the play the witch. Today Variety reported Depp’s interest. Now I’ve confirmed that Johnny and Meryl “almost have their deals wrapped up for the film,” according to sources. Marshall directed 2011’s Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 (which might have been more palatable as a musical because it stunk as the franchise’s fourquel) so he’s already Mouse friendly. The original musical with music and lyrics by Sondheim and book by James Lapine is about a childless baker and his wife who attempt to lift a family curse by journeying into the woods to confront the witch that put the spell on them. Along the way, they encounter classic fairy tale characters. Depp previously starred in the DreamWorks …
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Last year’s Academy Award® winners Meryl Streep, Jean Dujardin, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer will return to present on this year’s telecast, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.
“We are honored to have Meryl, Octavia, Christopher and Jean, last year’s Oscar winners in each of the acting categories, return to the Oscar stage,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Streep, who is the most nominated actor with 17 nominations, has won three Academy Awards®, including last year’s lead actress award for her performance in “The Iron Lady.” Dujardin won the award for his lead performance in the Best Picture winner “The Artist,” it was his first nomination. Spencer, also a first time nominee, took home the Oscar for her supporting role in Best Picture nominee “The Help.” Plummer, who has twice been nominated, won the award for his supporting role in “Beginners.”
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning).
These days stars will do just about anything to publicize their movies. Still it was a surprise that triple Oscar winner Meryl Streep on behalf of Hope Springs would agree to appear on Bravo embarrassment Andy Cohen‘s awful talk show Watch What Happens Live. She looked terrified the whole time. But when she was able to get a word in edgewise (which wasn’t often, Cohen being the ego-out-of-control brat he is), Streep answered a range of stupid questions during the half-hour that nevertheless gave some rare insight into what she really thinks of her various co-stars over the years.
She began the show joking that her bandaged hand was injured “trying to direct Tommy Lee Jones in a sex scene”. Presented with choices of Jack Nicholson (Heartburn), Robert Redford (Out Of Africa), and Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs Kramer), then forced to marry one, shag one, and kill one, Streep replied that she’d marry Bob, shag Jack, and kill Dustin. Asked for the first thing that came to mind when looking at the photos of more co-stars, Streep replied “Take off your sunglasses” to Nicholson, “Infallible” to Jones, “The King” to Clint Eastwood (Bridges Of Madison County), “Surprisingly good actress” to Roseanne Barr (She-Devil), “She’s right” to Shirley MacLaine. And when co-star Lindsay Lohan’s name came up for the little seen A Prairie Home Companion, Streep said softly, ”Aw, I pray for Lindsay.” Asked to name one bad film she made, …
Today Sony Pictures is doing the unthinkable. It is breaking, on a wide release of 2500+ screens, a dialogue-driven adult comedy/drama about the sex life (or lack of it) of a long-married couple both in their 60′s. And in the middle of August no less!
Sure it stars Meryl Streep, a bona fide box office draw even at her age, but it’s highly unusual and somewhat risky business to go this wide with a movie that is clearly aimed at the much older audience who is slow to show up no matter what the attraction. The studio is opening on a Wednesday in order to build some good word of mouth and reviews for its first weekend where it must face more typical summer flicks like Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and Warner Bros. The Campaign. Currently it stands at a decent 77% fresh for reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a good sign for a movie that would seem like it would be more indie-oriented fodder than summertime major studio fare.
With the August release though Sony is also getting a jump on awards season as this cast includes such Oscar favorites as 17- time nominee and 3- time winner Streep (most recently in February for The Iron Lady) as well as Supporting Actor winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), along with a deadpan Steve Carell as their couples therapist who counsels them at a week-long retreat on how to put the sexual spark back into their marriage. Of course Streep tends to get Oscar noms for just showing up on the set, while Jones was last nominated for Best Actor for 2007′s In The Valley Of Elah, a bit of a surprise then since his film was a boxoffice non-starter that had largely been written off at that point indicating the Academy likes him, they really like him. Both stars are getting strong reviews so far. Whether the strategy works at the boxoffice for this very Academy-friendly fare (official Los Angeles Academy member screening is Sunday night at the Goldwyn) remains to be seen but producers Todd Black and Guymon Casady told me they are just hoping the audience turns out, and happy they decided to go the studio route even though that wasn’t initially the plan.
In introducing Screenwriting award winner Nora Ephron at a Hollywood Film Awards ceremony a couple of years ago her good friend and admirer Steven Spielberg said, “Nora knows how so easily to make us laugh and to make us cry and embrace the human comedy of it all. And she does it without any bathroom humor.”
That was the great thing about this multi-talented writer/director/author who clearly had a knack for writing about men and women, particularly the latter, without ever trivializing them or reaching for the lowest common denominator in what passes for many studio-bred movie comedies today. And she did it all with so much style, sophistication, flair and wit. It’s the end of an era. The Hollywood in which Nora Ephron excelled seems to be passing quickly before our eyes.
Related: Nora Ephron Dies At 71
It’s interesting to note that in 1983 when she got her first feature film script produced, Silkwood (directed by Mike Nichols), there were hardly any women in real power positions in the studios. Slowly, but fortunately that changed because it enabled Nora Ephron to be able to make movies her way in the studio system, and for that we are eternally grateful.
In her greatest screen successes as a writer of her Oscar-nominated script for When Harry Met Sally (1989) and later sitting in the director’s chair as well for such huge …
More than 10 years in the making, an international treaty aimed at protecting actors’ rights is due to be signed in Beijing in the coming week. Backed by UN agency WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the treaty would extend economic and moral protection for film and TV performers. It’s geared more towards actors in emerging markets, or those where collective bargaining is not already in place. In many countries, actors whose work is sold overseas have no legal recourse for payment, nor do they have recourse if work is distorted in a way that could hurt their reputation. Ratification of the Beijing treaty by the 185 member countries would set a clearer international legal framework for those artists.
The treaty is backed by such stars as Meryl Streep, Sonia Braga and Javier Bardem. Bardem recently said, “Remuneration for the rights as an actor are very crucial. Not for people like me, but for that 90% of people that really have a serious problem making a living from what they are doing.” The treaty is designed in part to take a stance against piracy. In a recorded video message at the opening of the Beijing conference today, Streep said, “This is a pivotal time in the performers’ battle for intellectual property protection. While digital technology creates a wealth of new opportunities for performers, it also significantly increases the risk …
“Welcome to the longest night of Warren Beatty’s life,” said Sony honcho and AFI Board of Trustees Chair Howard Stringer as he opened the evening for the 40th Annual AFI Life Achievement Award to Shirley MacLaine last night at Sony Studios. Actually MacLaine’s baby brother Beatty seemed to be having a great time all the way through and even to the exclusive after-party which didn’t even get going until 11 PM. And so did everyone else at this “long overdue” tribute as presenter and 2004 recipient Meryl Streep put it, which drew a starry turnout including such MacLaine co-stars as Streep, Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Jennifer Aniston and many others.
It took a long time for the AFI to get around to MacLaine but it was definitely worth the wait as she told me at the after-party. There’s something rightly aligned with the planets about it happening now in 2012 she says. We’ll go with that even though this is a star who has worked with some of the earliest recipients of this award including William Wyler, Alfred Hitchcock, Gene Kelly, Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon and others.
MacLaine asked me, “Do you think it was too reverential?” Of course it was. That was exactly the point and how it could it not be when you are talking about a true survivor of the show business wars who has been at it for nearly 60 years. She told me her career is as hot right …
LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2012 — AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Meryl Streep will present Shirley MacLaine with the American Film Institute’s 40th Life Achievement Award – America’s highest honor for a career in film. The private black tie gala will be held at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City on June 7 and will air on TV Land on Sunday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. Streep, who was honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004, played MacLaine’s daughter in POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990).
The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival revealed its panel series as well as six new titles that will world premiere at the upcoming event. Narrative films Freaky Deaky and Future Weather as well as documentaries Portrait Of Wally and Once In A Lullaby: The PS22 Chorus Story will screen as part of the “Tribeca Talks: After the Movie” series, the documentary Wagner’s Dream will premiere as part of the festival’s new “Beyond the Screens: Globalize Your Thinking” series, and the narrative Knife Fight will have a screening with an extended Q&A.
UPDATE, TUESDAY 10:39 PM: All 15 Academy Awards auctioned tonight by Nate D. Sanders sold for $3,060,089 (which the auctioneer calls a record-breaking amount), a total about $1 million less than some estimates for the entire lot but impressive nonetheless. Getting top dollar was Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane going for $588,455 (about $300,000 less than what Orson Welles scripting statue went for in December), How Green Was My Valley’s Best Picture Oscar went for $274,520 while another Fox Best Picture, 1933′s Cavalcade garnered $332,165. The oldest of the Oscars in the lot for 1931′s Skippy fetched $301,973 while the two acting Oscars being auctioned also did well. Ronald Colman’s 1947 Best Actor statuette for A Double Life went for $206,250 and Charles Coburn’s supporting award for 1943′s The More The Merrier took in $170,459.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: Now that all of those Academy Award nominees who didn’t win on Sunday night have had a full day to lick their wounds, there is good news: If you hurry you can get in on today’s record sale (by Nate D. Sanders Monthly Auctions) and buy an Oscar statuette. See, things are already looking up. Of course, the Academy totally frowns on this Oscar fire sale but they can’t do anything about it since the awards on the block are all pre-1950 — the year the Academy changed the rules and forged agreements with winners that they (or their estates) must first offer to sell the Oscar back to Academy for $1 before putting it on the market.
In today’s lineup of gold men — which instantly doubles the number of Oscars ever auctioned on the free market — there are some pretty historically significant awards. They include a screenwriting Oscar won by Herman Mankiewicz for co-writing Citizen Kane (its only win in 1941; the matching Orson Welles Screenplay Oscar fetched $861,000 in December) and Best Picture Oscars for the 20th Century Fox films How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Cavalcade (1933), the latter the first Best Pic Oscar for the studio. There is also director Norman Taurog’s Oscar for 1931′s Skippy, which he won at age 32, making him still the youngest to win in the category. You might want to purchase the first-ever Special Effects Academy Award for 1938′s Spawn Of The North or a Black and White Cinematography award for the 1939 classic Wuthering Heights and a color one for 1948′s The Yearling. Art Directors might like Paul Groesse’s Color Art Direction award for 1949′s Little Women. This year’s losing composers might want to consider purchasing Hugo Friedhofer’s 1946 Scoring of a Dramatic Picture Oscar or even the Film Editing award for the same movie. Actors can choose between 1947′s A Double Life Best Actor Oscar for Ronald Colman or (probably less expensive) Charles Coburn’s 1943 Supporting Actor statuette for The More The Merrier, a title that describes the spirit of this whole lot of Oscars on the block. The auction ends at 5 PM (PT) today, but there is extended bidding beginning at 5:15.
In the end it was mostly predictable. The only stunning surprise of the 84th Annual Academy Awards was that somehow The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo came out of nowhere to win the Best Film Editing award, something no pundit I know of saw coming. But it served to stop the early momentum of Hugo, which at one point was leading front-runner The Artist 5 awards to 1. Was Harvey Weinstein nervous that there could be an upset brewing over his heavily favored film? No. When I caught up with him at the Governors Ball, he said he was just enjoying the show and not keeping tabs. Eventually Artist caught up and won all the big ones — the Oscars everyone was predicting including Best Picture, Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin in addition to music and costumes. I am told The Weinstein Company plans to expand the little-film-that-could to 2000 screens by next weekend in what should be a real test of Oscar’s drawing power at the boxoffice. So far after a little over three months the film has just grossed over $30 million domestically. Weinstein will hope to double that with an Oscar bounce.
Among those congratulating Weinstein was Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux, who proudly championed the film at last May’s fest, even switching it from out of competition to a competition slot, where it won the first Best …
OSCARS: Backstage At Academy Awards: ‘Artist’ Producer On Movie’s Color Version, ‘Artist’ Director On His Next Project & More
Brian Brooks, Diane Haithman and Anthony D’Alessandro are contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage
After his success with a silent film, how does French actor Jean Dujardin plan to transition back to talkies? “I’m not an American actor, I’m French,” the Best Actor winner said tonight backstage at the Academy Awards. “If I could make another silent movie in America, I would. But I’ll always be a French actor in America. Nonetheless, there are a few ideas I would like to develop.” Dujardin admitted that in the French portion of his acceptance speech he dropped the equivalent of the F-bomb.“I said thank you so much! It was amazing … uh, yeah, I guess I said that.” And as far as the whereabouts of his four-legged co-star Uggie, “He went to bed already,” Dujardin said.
“H-i-i-i-i-i,” drawled Meryl Streep when she finally showed up in the press room long after the show was over to talk about her Best Actress win for The Iron Lady. She was immediately asked to address her self-deprecating comments during her acceptance speech: “When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no. Oh, come on. Why her? Again?” Streep acknowledged she thinks she may be “pushing the tolerance” of the Academy and the fans after 17 nominations and three wins. “I understand ‘Streep Fatigue,’ I really do,” she later said. “Frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t override this tonight.” But getting another Oscar was thrilling, Streep said, adding that she might take a nip of whiskey like Thatcher to celebrate. “I thought I was so old and jaded, but they call your name and you just sort of go into a white light. I was like a kid again,” she said, joking that two of her fellow nominees “were not even conceived” when she won her first Oscar. She also said she was excited by the win of her Iron Lady makeup artists earlier in the evening “not for making a monster, but for making a human being.” Streep confirmed that she wore Ferragamo shoes, Margaret Thatcher’s favorite, to get into character. She did not meet Thatcher, noting, “the challenge was to imagine her present life.” Streep was asked how it felt to see herself for the first time in makeup as Thatcher. She said the change was so gradual there was no shock, but one thing was unnerving. “When we first had the old age makeup on, I saw my Dad. Maybe my Dad looked like Margaret Thatcher.”
By the time The Artist producer Thomas Langmann made his way backstage, there wasn’t much left to say about how très excited the cast, producers and creative team were about the film’s endless stream of awards culminating in a Best Picture Oscar. Langmann was asked about an earlier backstage comment by Artist costume designer Mark Bridges that the black-and-white film had been shot in color in case they were unable to sell it in black and white in some markets. Asked if he had any plans for that color footage, Langmann replied cheerfully, “No. Sorry, but no.” He spoke about producer Harvey Weinstein. “Harvey has been really good to us,” Langmann said. “I asked him to come a month before Cannes with a director and cast he’d barely heard of. But he came. I stayed in the screening room to see if everything was OK. He loved the movie and was laughing throughout. I saw in his eyes and attitude that he cared for the movie. He believed that we could possibly be here today. He’s the only distributor who could take this movie here today.” Weinstein was not The Artist‘s only good luck charm — Langmann acknowledged that he had a lucky coin in his pocket given to him by his daughter. As for the possible impact from the success of The Artist, the first silent movie to win a best picture Oscar since the first Academy Awards ceremony 83 years ago, “if The Artist can help another producer be audacious, this is a great thing,” Langmann said. “I’ve shown this movie to kids. Some had never seen a black-and-white movie and after five-10 minutes, they enjoyed it. Silence is a way of telling a story. It’s an experience and maybe it’s as great as a 3D experience.”
Beverly Hills, CA – Two-time Academy Award®-winning actress Meryl Streep will present at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today. Streep, who is nominated for her lead performance in “The Iron Lady,” has been nominated a total of 17 times – the most for any performer in Oscar history. She won a Supporting Actress Oscar in 1979 for her role in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and the Best Actress award in 1982 for her role in “Sophie’s Choice.”
Meryl Streep has been cast as pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston, and Julia Roberts will play her complicated adult daughter Barbara in August: Osage County, based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts. Deadline first reported the pairing on the project in 2010. John Wells (Shameless) will direct. August is a dark and humorous story of the of the Weston family women. The strong-willed characters’ lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. The Weinstein Company’s Harvey and Bob Weinstein made the announcement Wednesday about the project that will begin filming this fall. Commented Roberts, “After seeing Meryl Streep’s mesmerizing portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it has me even more excited and proud to co star with her.” Streep recently received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. She picked up a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award for her performance in the film also in release by TWC.
If there was any question before today’s British Academy Film Awards that The Artist was the film to beat for the Oscars, the results in London just cemented it, and in an impressive sweep that portends big things. It wasn’t just the expected awards for Picture, Director, Music Score, Costumes. It was also another Best Actor notch in Jean Dujardin’s belt following his all-important SAG win two weeks ago. It also scored less obvious BAFTA trophies for its black and white Cinematography and most surprisingly for director Michel Hazanavicius’ Original Screenplay, a category widely predicted to go to Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris. A writing award for a screenplay of a essentially dialogue-less movie surprised even Hazanavicius who has told me he expects to lose in this category to his idol, Allen. It just goes to show the amount of love this film has gotten, not only from critics but the industry where it has also won key PGA and DGA honors. BAFTA, like those groups has a large crossover of Academy members. As much as one sixth of the entire Academy voting bloc are also members of BAFTA.
Last year’s BAFTA winners for Picture , Actor and Actress (The King’s Speech’s Colin Firth and Black Swan’s Natalie Portman) all repeated at the Oscars although oddly Social Network’s David Fincher beat hometown boy Tom Hooper in the directing contest while King’s Speech co-stars Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter took Supporting awards only to lose …
Today’s 31st annual Oscar nominees luncheon was typically relaxed and collegial — a place where there were only winners, at least for today — and contenders could catch up with old friends who also just happen to be rivals in this year’s race.
So there were Best Actor nominees George Clooney and Brad Pitt walking into the ballroom together deep in conversation. And Best Picture producing nominees Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese walked up to the risers, arms around each other, standing together until Academy COO Ric Robertson called their names to come up onstage and get their nomination certificates. All the 150 (out of 188) of Oscar’s class of 2011 lined up more or less alphabetically for the annual “class photo” — starting with Transformers: Dark Of The Moon nominee Erik Aadahl and ending more than a half-hour later with Moneyball co-screenwriter Steven Zaillian. At my table, Hugo screenwriting nominee John Logan observed, “Scanning this stage how can you not be getting your heart beating?” Our table-mates included Academy Governor Paul Mazursky, Iron Lady makeup artist Mark Coulier, Moneyball sound-mixing nominee Ed Novick and past Academy President Arthur Hiller. Logan listened raptly as Hiller recalled the making of The Americanization of Emily and The Hospital, both written by screenplay god Paddy Chayefsky.
All the tables mixed nominees from various disciplines. Academy …
Hollywood has caught Q&A fever: I have now learned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences has plans to keep the Q&A spirit alive year-round and not just “in season”. Academy regulations loosening rules that previously forbid members from attending filmmaker Q&As were severely relaxed this year — particularly in the months leading up to nominations, when members could attend and even be served food and drink at receptions, a past no-no. Post-nomination Q&As are limited to screenings and nominees (or others connected to nominated movies) and members are allowed to appear at just two each, with no food or receptions. But the Q&A craze has spread, and I hear the Academy has decided to make them an option at their own weekend film programs starting in June at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. The programs (usually two on Saturday and two Sunday) give studios and distributors the opportunity to have filmmakers and actors appear after their movies for Q&As with members. Previously only films were shown, but this could increase overall attendance, a goal of the Academy’s to encourage seeing films on the big screen.
Argentine moviegoers are seeing Margaret Thatcher from a different, perhaps more sympathetic perspective after “The Iron Lady” opened Thursday in Buenos Aires, according to Reuters. Thatcher was reviled among Argentines for her role in the 1982 war with Britain over the Falkland Islands. Argentine opposition lawmaker Gabriela Michetti said the film humanizes Thatcher. “You can see her youth, how much she fought against obstacles in a man’s world and as a grocer’s daughter … It’s the first time I see her this way.” Ernesto Alonso as a young conscript fought in Las Malvinas, as the Falklands are known in Spanish. “She was the harshest symbol of the policies of the empire,” Alonso said. “It’s important to see the war through a movie and see what kind of legacy this kind of character leaves behind.”