The Roundabout Theatre Company has set Alan Cumming to play Emcee and Michelle Williams to make her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in a limited run revival of Cabaret. Sam Mendes is directing and Rob Marshall is co-directing and choreographing, returning to the roles they played in the 1998 production that won the Tony Award. The book is by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, based on the John Van Druten play and stories by Christopher Isherwood. Since Cumming starred in that version, the new wrinkle here is Williams, the three-time Oscar nominee who’s coming off Oz The Great And Powerful.
The Weinstein Co. closed a multi-territory deal in Cannes for Suite Française, produced by eOne and TF1 DA. Principal photography started this week on the WWII drama that will shoot in Brussels and Paris. Michelle Williams, Mathias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas and Sam Riley were already aboard with Margot Robbie (The Wolf Of Wall Street), Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger) and Alexandra Maria Lara (Rush) now joining the 15M euro project. It’s adapted from Irene Nemirovsky’s novel about a young French woman who falls for a German officer in Nazi-occupied France. Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) penned the adaptation with co-writer Matt Charman.
Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen star Take This Waltz, a romantic triangle written and directed by Sarah Polley. From Magnolia Pictures.
Harvey Weinstein’s films received a remarkable 16 Oscar nominations this morning. That beats his 13 noms last year but not Sony Pictures’ 21 or paramount’s 18 this year. Then again The Weinstein Company is a helluva lot smaller. Ten of its noms were for the French black-and-white silent film The Artist, which is clearly the one to beat for Best Picture. In his first statement about the Oscar nomination haul, Weinstein said: “The art of performing in a silent movie is a lost process, and I have to thank the director and brilliant ensemble of actors in The Artist. We wouldn’t be here today without their talent. The Artist is a love letter to classic American cinema, and today the Academy gave us a love letter back.
“Special congratulations also goes to Meryl Streep from The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh from My Week With Marilyn, and to all of our other film nominees including best documentary Undefeated. Today is a great day for celebrating creative courage, visionary talent, and the power of independent cinema to inspire, to entertain, and to move people in all kinds of new and exciting ways.”
The Best Actress race is hot this year.
The Artist was the Boston Society of Film Critics’ choice for Best Picture. Brad Pitt was voted Best Actor for Moneyball and Michelle Williams was honored as Best Actress. In supporting categories, the hottest comedy actress at the moment, Melissa McCarthy, won for Bridesmaids and Albert Brooks took a prize …
Across town, as President Barack Obama was drawing every celebrity not in contention for awards this season, the 15th annual Hollywood Awards Gala was taking place at the Beverly Hilton. All of the Oscar hopefuls who agreed to show up to accept an award were there in their Monday finest as this was a place to be seen if you want an ego boost at this early point in the season.
With 19 above- and below-the-line categories to plow through, this was a surprisingly fun show that, if it didn’t already exist, Hollywood would have to find some way to invent. Billed as the ”official” kickoff to awards season (if you don’t count all those film festivals we’ve just been through), The Hollywood Awards were created — and basically chosen — by executive director Carlos de Abreu, who, with Janice Pennington, founded the gala and accompanying film festival. They are the result of a months-long negotiation between him and the studios and distributors, who are using this early opportunity to get key positioning for the players they hope to advance during the long awards season leading ultimately to Oscar. The only caveat is that to get the award, you have to agree to show up.
This year, de Abreu has his pulse on some real contenders and handed out acting awards to — among many others — Michelle Williams, George Clooney and Christopher Plummer, who all could realistically be considered close to frontrunners in their respective categories.
A real highlight of the show was when Marilyn Monroe’s Oscar-nominated Bus Stop co-star Don Murray showed up to present Hollywood Actress of the Year to Williams, who plays the iconic star in The Weinstein Company’s My Week With Marilyn. “I’m the last of the the on-screen lovers of Marilyn Monroe, and I still just happen to have a body that actually works, ” the 82-year-old actor said to much laughter. “Michelle re-created moments I was so intimately familiar with as I spent 14 months working with Marilyn. There’s not one thing in this film that’s not truthful. It was a revelation. Michelle’s performance made me appreciate Marilyn Monroe so much more.”
Williams, noticeably nervous, said her friends always wanted to see her win a award so she could basically sweat through the experience. She did well though, closing with a touching perception about Monroe. “It seems to me that all Marilyn Monroe wanted was to be taken seriously as an actress, and she studied so hard and never really got there,” she said, adding that it was ironic Williams herself could get this kind of recognition that so eluded the star she played.
EXCLUSIVE: After a rousing response to the New York Film Festival premiere of My Week with Marilyn last Sunday, The Weinstein Company has added the film to this weekend’s Hamptons International Film Festival. My Week With Marilyn will screen …
Is Marilyn Monroe finally headed toward that Oscar nomination which eluded her during the actress’ all-too-short film career? In an odd twist of fate, yes. With the world premiere Sunday night of The Weinstein Company’s My Week With Marilyn at the New York Film Festival, another presumed awards contender is out of the gate. And if I were Meryl, Glenn, Charlize, Viola, or any other lead actress Oscar hopeful, I would be nervous: Michelle Williams as Marilyn is that good. Sexy, vulnerable, fragile, alluring, seductive, delectable, complex, and all things in between, she nails it and certainly has claimed a spot among the top five if not frontrunner status for the Oscar itself. She also flawlessly sings a couple of Monroe standards as bookends for the film. Marilyn herself never managed to get any kind of Oscar recognition. Now, oddly, Monroe and her unique appeal could figure strongly in the 2011 Best Actress race as channeled through Michelle Williams.
I saw the film Sunday night at a small last-minute screening in Beverly Hills timed to coincide with its New York premiere. (Sony Classics did the same thing for Carnage when it opened NYFF over a week ago, just as Fox Searchlight did when The Tree Of Life premiered in Cannes.) It makes us die-hard West Coasters feel included in the hoopla, I guess. At the very least it’s smart Oscar strategy: an Academy acting branch member I talked to afterwards was totally under Williams’ spell.
The movie due for release November 4th is directed by British tv producer/director Simon Curtis. It is, along with Midnight In Paris, The Artist and The Descendants, one of the most purely entertaining films I’ve seen so far this year. I would imagine it will have great appeal for the same voters who supported Weinstein’s Best Picture winner The King’s Speech last year. But realistically its best shot is in performance and some below-the-line categories like Costume Design and Art Direction. I have to confess that, after seeing some selected footage that was shown at the Weinstein party in Cannes last May, I had my doubts about Williams as Monroe. But those concerns were completely erased in the context of the entire film where she gets to show three distinctly different sides of the star without ever drifting into impersonation. Williams had doubts, too, when she was making the film last year in England. When I did a phone interview with her between takes and talked about her nominated turn in Blue Valentine, I asked about playing Marilyn. But she fumbled through an answer and could not articulate what it meant then, much like the real Monroe when she was making the real film-within-the-film.
The Weinstein Company is expecting to make an Oscar Best Actress push for Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn, which is set for a November 4 release. She stars as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh is Laurence Olivier. So, does Harvey Weinstein have a campaign on his hands?
[flv image=”http://www-deadline-com.vimg.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/mwwm_dt1_100411111007154622.jpg” …