No, this isn’t a spinoff of the toon trilogy. Morgan Freeman narrates Warner Bros‘ 3D IMAX documentary Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, which follows the endangered title creatures around the remote title republic. It features scientist Patricia Wright discussing her lifelong mission to help lemurs — of which there are hundreds of species — survive in the modern world. The docu was written and produced by Drew Fellman, and David Douglas is the director/DP. Island of Lemurs hits the really big screens April 4. Here’s the first trailer:
(A version of this story first appeared Sunday.)
Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was a defining moment of the 20th century. That is even the case for someone like me, who was born after November 22, 1963, in the shadow of the president’s murder. Most of my generation can tell you where they were when they learned of the shooting of John Lennon and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, but everyone of a certain age can tell you where they were that tragic day in Dallas. With the passing of the WWII generation and memories of Pearl Harbor, only 9/11 is as seared into our souls now as much as 11/22. In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me:
Ron Meyer – Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal
I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and I was living in LA. I was working at a men’s clothing store and we heard this news. You know, I was in the Marines during the Cuban missile crisis, during the blockade, so we really felt we knew him and that you had direct involvement with him because, at least during that time, everything that happened to him affected us. We could have gone to war if he’d ordered it. So when he was killed, you felt that someone who had been an integral part of your life, my life, was gone. I was young, 20 years old, but it was the most unexpected loss. You know, my family escaped from Nazi Germany – so to us, he represented the hope of the world. It was tragic.
Jeffrey Katzenberg – CEO, DreamWorks Animation
I try to focus less on November 22nd and more on November 8th, the date in 1960 when Kennedy was elected president. I was only 9 at the time, but that election, with its down-to-the-wire finish, suddenly made me aware of the excitement and possibilities of politics. Three years later, Kennedy’s assassination was devastating beyond words. But, for me, it further heightened the impact of his 1,000 days. While I was still in middle school, I went to work for another dynamic young leader, New York Mayor John Lindsay. JFK’s example inspired me then, and it inspires me still.
Bill O’Reilly – Host, The O’Reilly Factor; Author, Killing Kennedy
Back in November of 1963, I was a 14-year-old freshman at Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York. I was sitting in Brother Carmine Diodati’s religion class when the loud speaker crackled, and the school principal announced that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. He then put the CBS radio report on the loudspeakers all over the school. The students were stunned. Few of us said anything.
When I got home that afternoon, my mother was watching CBS on television. Her mother, my grandmother’s name was Winifred Kennedy. So the O’Reilly family had a direct emotional tie to the much more famous Kennedy clan. In the weeks that followed, life got back to normal for the teenagers on Long Island. But my friends and I will never forget the first time we heard of the treacherous assassination.
Dorian Missick Cast In ‘Annie’; Morgan Freeman To Narrate IMAX Docu; Fran Kranz Joins ‘Mojave’; ‘Mortdecai’ Adds Guy Burnet
Southland‘s Dorian Missick has been cast in Columbia’s Annie remake. He and Tracie Thoms will play Annie’s “fake parents” in the pic which stars Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx. Will Smith and Jay-Z are producing the Christmas 2014 release which begins filming in NYC this Fall. Missick recently shot the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Beware the Night with Eric Bana and Joel McHale. He’s repped by Innovative Artists, MJ Management, and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder.
WB has tapped Morgan Freeman to narrate Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. The IMAX 3D docu adventure features lemur expert Patricia Wright and tracks the species indigenous to the lands of Madagascar. The pic reunites Freeman with writer/producer Drew Fellman and director David Douglas (Born to Be Wild 3D). Island of Lemurs opens in select IMAX and IMAX 3D screens April 4. Freeman is repped by CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.
Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods, Much Ado About Nothing) is joining William Monahan‘s Mojave opposite Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, and Walton Goggins. The Atlas Independent indie follows a near-suicidal artist who escapes to the desert only to encounter his doppelganger-like antagonist, a homicidal drifter.
Myriad Pictures has tapped Richard Loncraine to direct Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in Life Itself, a comedy based on the Jill Ciment novel Heroic Measures. Charlie Peters wrote the screenplay, about a long-married NY couple who find themselves swept into an emotional and comical real estate bidding war when they put their beloved downtown apartment on the market — and must come to terms with the possibility of moving from the home where they have spent most of their adult lives. Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment will produce with Latitude Productions. McCreary, Curtis Burch, Peters and Tracy Mercer are producing, and Freeman will executive produce. Myriad’s Kirk D’Amico and David Ducar negotiated international sales rights to the film and the company is introducing the project at Cannes. Its slate here includes Emanuel And The Truth About Fishes starring Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel; The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him And Her with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy; Life Partners with Leighton Meester, Adam Brody, and Gillian Jacobs; and the Derek Martini-directed The Curse Of Downers Grove with Bella Heathcote, Lucas Till and Kevin Zegers. CAA and WME Global co-rep North American rights to Life Itself.
The Dark Knight Rises star and Oscar winner has donated $1 million toward President Obama’s re-election campaign. Morgan Freeman’s donation wasn’t directly to the campaign’s Obama Victory Fund but to Priorities USA Action, a Super PAC formed by two former White House aides that targets contributions from wealthy donors. Freeman’s contribution matchs the $1 million that Bill Maher gave Priorities in February.
Freeman made his contribution in June as Priorities’ Federal Election Commission filing will show tomorrow. He joins a list of Hollywood elite giving money to Priorities, joining Maher, J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg and Chelsea Handler among donors. Jeffery Katzenberg, one of the biggest contributors to the president’s re-election campaign, has given Priorities $2 million. “President Obama has done a remarkable job in historically difficult circumstances”, Freeman said in a statement released via Priorities USA Action. “I am proud to lend my voice — and support — to those who defend him. Priorities USA Action is doing a great job of protecting the values I believe in. I am happy to help them and I hope others will join me”. In 2008, the actor donated $2,300 to Obama.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, While You Were Sleeping) from a screenplay by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Tangled), LAST VEGAS is a comedy about four old friends who decide to throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them who has remained single.
Freeman is set to play Archie Clay, an army veteran, who looks to escape the watchful eyes of his son and daughter-in-law and accompany his best friends on a trip to Vegas.
Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have released a teaser for The Dark Knight Rises, Chris Nolan’s third and possibly final installment of the Batman franchise. Pic stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard, with Nolan bringing back a lot …
He may have only received his first major big-screen break at the age of 50 in 1987′s Street Smart, but Morgan Freeman has created such a distinguished body of work in the quarter of a century since then that Thursday night he was named the 39th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for a career in film. Just after the honor was announced by the American Film Institute on October 11th, I ran into Freeman at an awards-season event and he was ebullient, telling me, “Now I am one of the big boys.” During Thursday’s warm ceremony on Sony’s Stage 15 and at the after-party nearby on the lot, Freeman still seemed just as happy about the honor.
In fact, after he accepted the award from his Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby co-star and director Clint Eastwood and made his speech, he became the first of the AFI’s 39 honorees to actually remain on stage and sing along to one of his theme songs, “Lean On Me,” from the 1989 film in which he starred as real-life school principal Joe Clark. Earlier in the evening, Garth Brooks and a large chorus sang the song — actually twice, as a snafu forced them to perform it again. The black-tie industry crowd didn’t seem to mind at all.
Among those in attendance who offered toasts or onstage tributes with personal anecdotes about Freeman were Sidney Poitier, AFI Board of Trustees chair Howard Stringer, AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale, Betty White, Samuel L. Jackson, Rita Moreno, Don Cheadle, Matthew Broderick, Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr, Matthew McConaughey, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker and Tim Robbins. Filmed tributes were also shown from Chris Rock, Dan Ackroyd, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and Ashley Judd.