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Broadway Says “Wilkommen” to Michelle Williams, Tony Race; Definitive Tennessee Williams; Introducing The Riedel Watch

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 8:30pm PDT

DeadlineColumnsThe last new production of the 2013-14 Broadway season opened Thursday night with the familiar visage of Alan Cumming in whiteface, peering through the slotted entrance to the Kit Kat Klub in the revived revival of Cabaret. With his eyes blacked, his lips pursed and his nipples peeking from behind braces, the Scottish actor looks little changed from the Emcee role he began essaying under the tutelage of director Sam Mendes in 1993 at London’s Donmar Warehouse (and nothing at all like Cummings’ cunning Eli Gold of The Good Wife).

Cabaret02_605x329The other current draw is the Sally Bowles of Michelle Williams, game, gamine but miscast in her Broadway debut. Playing an almost-good siren can be tougher than playing the real thing. Williams just might be too fearless and fresh-faced to get under Sally’s brittle skin. Nevertheless, the Roundabout Theatre Company is hawking tickets to the solid production through next year.
TonyAwardsThe Tony nominations will be announced Tuesday morning (yes, we’ll be there), with some 44 new productions in the running. More important than that number is the amount of money — I’ll put it at least $60 million — riding on the choices of the 30-odd nominators (some odder than others, to be sure) and the 800-plus voters. This is, after all, the season in which $85 … Read More »

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Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams In ‘Cabaret’ Revival From Sam Mendes And Rob Marshall

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 2:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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Margot Robbie, Ruth Wilson, Alexandra Maria Lara Join Weinstein Co.’s ‘Suite Française’

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. Read More »

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Cannes: Michelle Williams, Joel Edgerton Star in Remake Of ‘The Double Hour’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Michelle Williams and Joel Edgerton are set to star in The Double Hour, a remake of the 2009 Italian film of the same title. Joshua Marston, helmer of Maria Full Of Grace, is writing and will direct. Silver Reel Entertainment and Lotus Entertainment have partnered to finance and sell in Cannes. It’s a psychological thriller that tells the story of two lovers who find themselves victims in the midst of a dangerous and well planned robbery. Indigo Films’ Nicola Giuliano, Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee and Journeyman Pictures’ Paul Mezey are producing.

The original, directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and produced by Giuliano, premiered in competition to critical praise and awards at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival. Silver Reel’s Claudia Blumhuber, Lotus Entertainment’s Bill Johnson and Jim Seibel, Giulio Marantonio, John Powers Middleton, Jacob Pechenik and Florian Dargel will executive produce. UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are co-repping domestic rights. Marston is represented by WME and Anonymous Content, Williams by CAA, Edgerton by CAA and Shanahan Mgmt.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Take This Waltz’

By | Friday May 25, 2012 @ 4:53pm PDT

Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen star Take This Waltz, a romantic triangle written and directed by Sarah Polley. From Magnolia Pictures.

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Oscars Q&A: Michelle Williams On How She Morphed Into Marilyn Monroe

By | Sunday February 12, 2012 @ 10:49am PST

Playing a Hollywood icon is playing with fire for a performer, especially when that person is Marilyn Monroe. The more popular the personality, the higher the stakes as critics and audiences expect no less than their lofty expectations. But portray a starlet too aggressively and the false notes are apt to screech — see Faye Dunaway’s over-the-top Joan Crawford in 1981’s Mommie Dearest. It takes an actress who can echo without any frills. Like Marlon Brando losing himself in another sphere, Michelle Williams metamorphosed into the sexual innocence, pain and squeaky cadence that is the legendary star in The Weinstein Co.’s My Week With Marilyn, without leaving any residue from her process behind on screen. Williams spoke with Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alessandro about the transformation which brought her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress as well as a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

AWARDSLINE: What were the challenges in moving between the three faces of Marilyn Monroe: The movie star, the vulnerable Norma Jean and the actress who plays Elsie in The Prince And The Showgirl?
WILLIAMS: I thought about that for a while. Should I separate them in my mind? But they’re all coming from Norma Jean. So I looked at them as facets of her personalities rather than splitting them up. It’s more organic to move from one … Read More »

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Inside Oscar Nominees Luncheon: Hammond

By | Monday February 6, 2012 @ 7:09pm PST
Pete Hammond

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 … Read More »

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Presenters Set For DGA Awards

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 11:34am PST

LOS ANGELES – DGA President Taylor Hackford today announced the presenters for the 64th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards. The ceremony, to be hosted by director/producer/actor Kelsey Grammer, will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2012 in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles.

The slate of confirmed presenters for the DGA Awards includes:
Michael Apted
Berenice Bejo
Jessica Chastain
George Clooney
Jon Cryer
Laura Dern
Jean Dujardin
Taylor Hackford
Tom Hooper
Stana Katic
Ben Kingsley
Kathleen Robertson
Octavia Spencer
Betty Thomas
Michelle Williams
Owen Wilson
Deborah Ann Woll

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OSCARS: Harvey Weinstein On His 16 Noms

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 8:46am PST
Mike Fleming

Harvey Weinstein OscarHarvey 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.

Oscars 2012 — Read More Reactions To Academy’s Nominations

“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.” Read More »

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OSCARS: Epic Battle In Banner Year For Lead Actresses

Pete Hammond

OSCARS: Best Actor Race Pits Veterans Vs. “Sexiest Men Alive”

The Best Actress race is hot this year.

That isn’t always the case as the paucity of realistic contenders in this category often reflects the lack of good roles for women in Hollywood. But the gods were smiling in 2011, providing killer parts for a nice mix of veterans, past nominees and winners and young stars looking for their first major recognition from Oscar. But as usual, Meryl Streep leads the pack. Here’s the rundown.

You know you are in a different league when people start saying it is high time you had another Oscar when you already have two at home. But Streep is indeed in another league and in fact only keeps breaking her own records. With 16 nominations — far more than any actor in film history — it has still been 29 years since she last won (for 1982′s Sophie’s Choice), and many feel that with her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher her time has come again. The New York Critics agreed, but she’s been in this position before and there’s stiff competition.

The stiffest competition for Streep  may well be coming from two-time nominee Williams whose multi-layered portrayal of screen icon Marilyn Monroe as she attemps to make … Read More »

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SAG Awards Movies: Full of Surprises And Omissions; Will Oscar Follow Suit?

Pete Hammond

SAG Awards TV: Rookies Join The Fray
SAG Awards Nominations

Leave it to SAG to throw a few surprises into the season. Although countless critics awards groups have been weighing in with their 2011 movie picks for the past two weeks, this morning’s list of nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are most significant because they are the first indication of what the Industry itself is thinking. Hollywood Guild voters overlap with Academy voters and often are the most accurate barometer of where Oscar might be headed. Last year the race was turned on its head when the Producers Guild announced The King’s Speech as their choice over presumed favorite The Social Network which had swept the critics awards and Golden Globes. We all know what happened after that.

If the SAG nominations are any indicator, and I think they are, The Weinstein Company’s The Artist just may have broken out of the pack and into a clear frontrunner position with its three nominations for Outstanding Cast, Lead Actor for Jean Dujardin and Supporting Actress for Berenice Bejo. The  black and white silent sensation has been trending that way with numerous critics group citations and SAG’s affirmation confirms it. And following its impressive 8 nominations from the Critics Choice Movie Awards yesterday, Dreamworks’ The Help with its leading four noms from SAG (Ensemble Cast, Lead Actress Viola Davis, Supporting Actresses Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain) is also … Read More »

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Boston Critics: ‘The Artist,’ Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt, Michelle Williams

By | Sunday December 11, 2011 @ 1:16pm PST

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 for Drive. Complete list follows:

Best Picture
“The Artist”
(Runners-up: “Hugo” and “Margaret”)

Best Director
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
(Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”)

Best Actor
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”
(Runners-up: George Clooney, “The Decendants” and Michael Fassbender, “Shame”)

Best Actress
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”
(Runner-up: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”)

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks, “Drive”
(Runner-up: Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close”)
Best Supporting Actress
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
(Runner-up: Jeannie Berlin, “Margaret”)

Best Screenplay
(Runner-up: “Margaret”)

Best Foreign Film
(Runners-up: “A Separation” and “Poetry”)

Best Cinematography
“The Tree of Life”
(Runner-up: “Hugo”)

Best Documentary
“Project Nim”
(Runner-up: “Bill Cunningham, New York)

Best Film Editing (awarded in memory of Karen Schmeer)
“The Clock”
(Runner-up: “Hugo”)

Best New Filmmaker (awarded in memory of David Brudnoy)
Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene
(Runner-up: JC Chandor, Margin Call)

Best Ensemble Cast
(Runner-up: “Margaret”)

Best Use of Music in a Film
“The Artist” and “Drive”
(Runner-up: “The Descendants”)

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HAMMOND: Red Hot Best Actress Oscar Race Heats Up Even More As Meryl Streep’s ‘Iron Lady’ Screened

Pete Hammond

One of the last pieces of this year’s increasingly hot Best Actress race puzzle fell into place this week as The Weinstein Company unveiled Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady at an exclusive media screening Tuesday night at the Warner Bros Screening Room in New York and Thursday morning for a handful of journalists at the 10-seat Weinstein Co. screening room at their new offices in Beverly Hills. Deadline was represented on both coasts. If there was any question about Streep’s viability as a major Oscar contender again this year, her performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will erase all doubts. Again she is extraordinary, absolutely capturing the essence of Thatcher in every way, but is particularly powerful in those scenes depicting her enveloping dementia. She shows a poignant side, not really known about this woman who rose to the top of an exclusive men’s club and triumphed for nearly 12 years in the top job in her country. Jim Broadbent as her husband Dennis also has his moments but the film, expertly directed by Mamma Mia’s Phyllida Lloyd, belongs to Meryl. Even in England where Thatcher is sooooo well known and dissected, both early reviews in The Guardian and Daily Telegraph are singing her praises.

Her unbelievable 17th Oscar nomination is assured and perhaps the only thing standing between her and a third Oscar is well, Streep herself. The problem is … Read More »

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‘Grace Of Monaco’ Finds Funding; Who Will Play Actress-Turned-Princess Grace Kelly?

Mike Fleming

20th Century figures seem to be the rage, from Colin Firth’s King George VI in The King’s Speech to Michelle Williams’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn to Meryl Streep’s upcoming turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The next figure to watch out for: actress-turned-Monaco princess Grace Kelly. Shortly after his agents began circulating the Arash Amel script Grace of Monaco, producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam has agreed to fully fund a $15 million project that is now out to directors and will soon look for an actress to play Princess Grace. The film covers a half year period in 1962, when French leader Charles De Gaulle and Monaco’s Prince Rainier III were at odds over Monaco’s standing as a tax haven. France gave Monaco six months to reform its tax laws, and the situation escalated. By that time, Kelly (33 at the time) had given up her acting career to become a full time princess, and the film details her political manuevering behind the scenes to save Monaco. The CAA-repped Amel scripted the Aaron Eckhart-starrer The Expatriate. Who should play Princess Grace?

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HAMMOND: Oscar Hopefuls Swarm Hollywood Awards Gala

Pete Hammond

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.

Read More »

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Toronto: Magnolia Acquires Sarah Polley’s ‘Take This Waltz’

Mike Fleming

Magnolia Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Take This Waltz, the film written and directed by Sarah Polley that stars Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman. The film made its debut as an acquisitions title at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Williams plays a young woman struggling to choose between her husband and another man she has fallen in love with. The deal was made with TF1 International. Magnolia plans an early summer 2012 theatrical release, and the film will be part of its Ultra VOD program.

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‘My Week With Marilyn’ Moving To Thanksgiving Weekend

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Emboldened by the critical reaction that the Simon Curtis-directed My Week With Marilyn received in its New York Film Festival debut, The Weinstein Company has moved the film from November 4 to November 23, placing it smack into the Thanksgiving holiday fray. The film received strong reviews, particularly for Michelle Williams’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh’s turn as Sir Laurence Olivier, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, and Eddie Redmayne’s performance as the production assistant who gets Monroe to drop her suffocating star persona as he shows her a good time in Britain. TWC’s hope is that the film will be commercial enough to play through the year’s end and build momentum into Golden Globes and beyond. Just as Fox Searchlight is expected to have two contributions to the Best Actor category with Shame‘s Michael Fassbender and The Descendants’ George Clooney, Harvey Weinstein seems poised to have dual aspirants for Best Actress with Williams and Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, a film we’ve yet to see.

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More Festival Intrigue: ‘My Week With Marilyn’ Added To Hamptons Film Festival

Mike Fleming

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 Sunday, October 16 at Guild Hall and they are about to put tickets on sale. TWC already has The Artist on the festival roster. The NYFF screening started Oscar buzz, particularly for the performance by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh’s performance as Sir Laurence Olivier. The film takes place in England during the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl, which Monroe show while on honeymoon with playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). She gets a reprieve from her suffocating Hollywood persona when Miller takes a detour to Paris, and Monroe is shown the pleasures of British life by a young assistant (Eddie Redmayne).

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HAMMOND: Will Marilyn Monroe Finally Win An Oscar If Michelle Williams Does?

Pete Hammond

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 ParisThe 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. Read More »

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