This morning, as ABC News announced Diane Sawyer was stepping down from her anchor gig — David Muir takes the chair during the evening news, but George Stephanopoulos gets the throne for all breaking news broadcasts and specials as ABC News’s Chief Anchor — the three tweeted out their spins on the situation. Extra points if you guessed David Muir is having an incredibly humbling day.
“You need to show more re-releases. You need to show the great old movies in your theatres,” director Christopher Nolan told exhibitors at their CinemaCon convention a couple of weeks ago, but sadly no one in that crowd applauded the sentiment. I thought of that as I attended last night’s kickoff of TCM’s 5th Annual Classic Film Festival, a nirvana for movie lovers. At least this is still a place you can see “great old movies” in theatres and in pristine condition. And people from around the U.S., and even the world travel to Hollywood for the opportunity. For that Nolan should at least be thankful.
This edition got underway Thursday night with the World Premiere of a stunning TODD AO restoration of the 1955 musical Oklahoma. Star Shirley Jonesjoined TCM host Robert Osborne (a “rock star” to the TCM crowd that comes from everywhere for this four-day smorgasboard of movies) for a pre-screening Q&A at the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. It was the first film for the Oscar-winning star who just turned 80 last week. It’s probably safe to say the movie didn’t even look this good when it originally premiered almost 60 years ago thanks to 20th Century Fox’s 8-month effort (led by restorer Schawn Belston) to bring it back to life in the same 30 frame per second TODD AO format in which it was made. Fox is releasing this film and several other Rodgers And Hammerstein musicals in a Blu-ray box set later this Spring. The TODD AO process was sort of an answer to the 3D craze of the 50′s and in this incarnation it actually feels at times like you are watching some scenes (like a runaway horse sequence) in 3D without glasses. Read More »
Erroneous reports that Nora Ephron has died are posting on the Internet now so Deadline has just been asked to set the record straight. Yes, the famed 71-year-old writer-director-author is very ill but she wanted this to remain a private matter. And Deadline agreed to keep this confidential since we don’t report on showbiz personal lives. We continue to try to respect her wishes.
The idea is starting to catch on, and is sure to be front and center next week in New York at BookExpo America, the largest book industry event in North America. The thinking is that it’s relatively easy for studios to turn publishing into a useful sideline in the e-book era. At the most basic level, they can sell scripts from films or TV shows the way Warner Bros will with its just-launched “Inside the Script” publishing initiative. It will begin by selling e-books of scripts for Casablanca, Ben-Hur, An American In Paris, and North By Northwest. But there’s no need to stop there. “Why shouldn’t every Seinfeld episode be an e-book?” asks Mike Shatzkin, CEO of The Idea Logical Company, a publishing consulting firm. The next step is to follow in the footsteps of NBC Publishing, the operation NBC News announced in January to create print and e-books based on news stories and just about anything that comes from NBCUniversal. Last year, ABC introduced a Video Bookstore that offers multimedia publications for iPads. But studios have the cash, connections, and marketing muscle to do much more. They could cut out traditional publishers and sign deals with authors that blend book and movie rights. They also could commission writers to put out novelized versions of movies or TV series. Shatzkin, for one, says he plans to hit Hollywood this month to gauge studios’ interest in developing e-book strategies … Read More »
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gathered forces in Hollywood today to announce an ambitious program celebrating the experience of seeing movies on the big screen. Academy president Tom Sherak, Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti and the Acad’s Managing Director of Programming, Education and Preservation Randy Haberkamp stood in front of a newly erected 40-foot movie screen built for its new Oscar Outdoors venture across the street from the Academy’s Pickford Center on Vine Street in Hollywood, making it clear that the Academy is in Hollywood to stay. This after abandoning plans to build a movie museum on the very same land it purchased in 2006 for an estimated $50 million; instead, the Academy moved it to mid-Wilshire in a joint venture with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“We are thrilled to be deeping our ties to Hollywood. We are hoping this outdoor theatre makes an impact on the community”, Sherak said of the new summer screening program that will bring classics and family movies to an outdoor venue that was formerly the parking lot of the now-shuttered Big Lots clothing store. The Acad did a test run Saturday night for staff, showing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.With shiny new green grass, the Acad announced it will open with an invitation-only screening of Field Of Dreams on May 19. The Oscar Outdoors program will begin for the public June 15 with Casablanca and run for 10 weeks at a cost of $5 for the public and $3 for students and Academy members. Sherak told me the first “family” film selected for Saturday night June 16, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, came about when he was in a meeting with Disney chairman Robert Iger and asked him what his favorite Disney film was. When Iger told him it was Snow White, Sherak decided then and there it would be one of the first films shown. Read More »
UPDATE: THR said its online photo editor Chris Godley was shot at by the gunman in Hollywood this morning but not seriously injured.
Local newscasts are beginning to show video of a lone undentified gunman who walked into the intersection of Vine and Sunset near movie theaters in the middle of Hollywood this morning and began shooting at people and passing cars. He eventually was shot and killed himself by LAPD officers. The rampage occurred at around 10:30 AM. Reports say as many as two bystanders were hit. Witnesses said the suspect was killed after repeatedly being told by police to drop his weapon. Streets surrounding the busy area have been shut down for the investigation.
Fire erupted at Hollywood landmark the Magic Castle at midday Monday, but flames were confined mostly to the attic and no injuries were reported. Water damage may have been significant because the fire triggered sprinklers in the building. Cause of the “stubborn” fire that started at noon or shortly afterward was unknown. Firefighters were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze by about 1:45 PM. The private club’s website now bears the message: “The Magic Castle will be closed tonight, October 31st, due to the fire that has just occurred.” No word on when it might reopen.
Asserting that harassment of photographers taking pictures in public places is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, the ACLU has filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles against the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Video shows photographer Shawn Nee’s encounter with a deputy who stopped Nee for taking photos of then-newly installed turnstiles at the Metro station in Hollywood. Photographer Greggory Moore was surrounded by eight deputies on a public sidewalk in Long Beach while photographing traffic for a story on Distracted Driving Awareness Month — across the street from a courthouse. We’ll leave to commenters any exploration of the ironies within that situation. Sheriff’s Dept. contends deputies were just doing their jobs investigating suspicious activity.
Just when you thought it was a dead duck, it’s back and quacking.
For those who have had the dream of a world class movie museum coming to fruition in L.A., film capital of the world (count me in on that), last night’s announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art have begun the process offinally making that dream come true is good news all around. And that longtime dream museum, which was turning into more of a nightmare for the Academy, is going to be right down the street from the Acad’s own Beverly Hills headquarters (at least that’s the plan).
The Academy is saying the project housed in the historic old May Co. on Wilshire Blvd now known as LACMA West will take three to five years to complete. “We are on the fast track but it will be determined by fund raising,” said the Acad’s new CEO Dawn Hudson, who spoke with me today in a conference call with Academy President Tom Sherak and LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan. Hudson wasn’t throwing out official figures but says she expects it will cost less than half the rough estimate of $480 million that the Academy had targeted for their earlier foiled plan to erect this museum in Hollywood where they spent about $50 million so far buying land (which they now own outright) near their Pickford Center on Vine Street. But the idea to house the museum instead at the already existing 300,000-square-foot space on Wilshire actually goes back decades when it was even broached by former Academy Presidents Walter Mirisch and Bob Rehme. It heated up again about a year and a half ago with a casual conversation between another Govan and another former Academy President Sid Ganis, who then introduced the museum head to Sherak and then CEO Bruce Davis.
“For about an hour and a half I did something I rarely do. I just listened to someone talk who had a vision and a dream about what this could mean to the City of Los Angeles to bring different art forms, especially our two art forms together in one place,” said Sherak, who emphasized that the Board wanted a museum in their lifetime but that the Academy didn’t know how long it would take them to raise the money and build one themselves. Govan came to the rescue. “Being in the museum world, I see film programs at museums in Paris and Frankfurt. I wanted that in Los Angeles and I knew the Academy had a dream and they had a great resource. So the question was what could we offer to help and that was the beginning of the conversation,” said Govan. Read More »
The Irish Technology Leadership Group launched its Hollywood chapter tonight with an event at Sony Pictures Studios that included a panel discussion among execs from companies such as HBO, Warner Bros and BBC Worldwide. Panelists at Innovation in Entertainment, as the evening was billed, discussed the new ways people consume entertainment, how much they’re willing to pay for it (increasingly, that amount is nothing, one said), and whether they’ve even caught up to all the technology out there. The future is in knowing how to pitch and make the right product at the right time and place, said Jay Roewe, HBO’s SVP West Coast production. “Computer programmers that understand the film biz — that’s the kind of people I want to work with because I know I’m going to adapt to the future in a very big way,” Roewe said. One example of HBO embracing technology is social media integration in its new comedy series Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. “The producers said, ‘If you have these ideas you want to do, come to us.’ The core is our programming, but it’s leading us down the road to other content,” Roewe said. The Veep team decided to work Twitter into the show so viewers can follow along at home. Roewe also detailed a cost-cutting measure on HBO’s epic Game of Thrones, which shot in Belfast using a new digital camera instead of film, a risk that technology allowed the team to take.
Robert Nashak, EVP digital entertainment at BBC Worldwide, touted a Torchwood app in conjunction with Starz that features content written by the series’ scribes and voiced by its actors. The app creates alternate story worlds and “reaches users anywhere they happen to be,” Nashak said. Another extra for BBC Worldwide is a massively multiplayer online game for sci-fi series Doctor Who, which would bring gamer data to the network, in addition to its “actionable analytics” — Twitter and Facebook activity that reveals how viewers feel about different parts of the show. “This data will be useful and relied on more and more as time goes on,” Nashak said. The shift in distribution platforms is another growing concern. Warner Bros’ SVP postproduction Bill Daly said he sees the industry eventually providing content directly to the consumer. Because of this, companies are looking to move away from the idea that you “launch it and leave it,” said Nashak. “The community and fanbase need constant nurturing.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: There has been no internal announcement at WME about this. And the feeding frenzy has already started, with manager David Lonner’s phone ringing off the hook with calls from every major agency within minutes of Deadline first scooping the news. Because we’ve learned that Super 8 director JJ Abrams is taking a sabbatical from WME and will be repped by his former William Morris agent-turned-manager David Lonner as well as his longtime Jackoway Tyerman attorney Alan Wertheimer. Also advising JJ is John Fogelman, who also was on Team Abrams at William Morris and then repped him at WME when Lonner was exited before the merger. Fogelman has since left WME to start his own venture. Abrams feels his primary reps are gone, and he wants to take a breather before deciding who’ll make his deals in the future. Abrams is telling friends that when Lonner left WMA, he still had Fogelman. But when Fogelman left the merged WME, he was without a dedicated agent. So he’s now decided to “just take a beat” to figure out where he should be agency-wise. “He may very well end up at WME. But it is irresponsible to just assume that is the way to go simply because his agent(s) once worked there,” one insider emailed us just now. “He likes those guys. But he needs to consider everything.” Meanwhile, writer-director-producer Abrams and his reps … Read More »
Just as I hit the ground at the Nice airport today I ran smack into Jude Law, one of the main competition jury members of the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (under President Robert De Niro), and he looked rarin’ to go as he arrived for all the hoopla and non-stop filmgoing over the next 11 days. We’ll see what he feels like after plowing through the 20 competition films as well as those out of competition such as Wednesday night’s opener, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, and the closer, on May 22, Christophe Honore’s 2-hour and 25-minute Les Bien-Aimes (Beloved), the longest of any film in the official competition — competing or not.
Workers were busily attaching huge billboards up on the big Croisette hotels when I cruised the tony neighborhood earlier today, but the world’s second-most-famous red carpet won’t be laid out until midday tomorrow just before Woody, Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson and the cast of the director’s first French-set film make their way up those famous Palais steps for his love letter to Paree. It was hoped that co-star Carla Bruni, aka Mrs. Nicolas Sarkozy, First Lady of France, would be coming too, but I heard she’s not making the trip after all and neither is her husband. C’est La Vie.
Up and down the Croisette you are bombarded as usual by Hollywood product being hyped on any available space. The new Transformers film from that auteur (NOT) Michael Bay got the hot spot at the Carlton entrance right next to a display for Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 on one side and Cowboys and Aliens on the other. Lording over them, though, are The Smurfs and all of those Pirates of the Caribbean, which plans to make a huge splash here Saturday as the prime-time film on one of the key nights of the fest. Star power will be in force, of course, with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz driving the paparazzi wild, which is just what Disney wants for its global launch of the film that premiered last week at Disneyland and makes another stop in Moscow before hitting the Cote d’Azur. Cannes, though a serious-minded haven for cineastes, doesn’t mind the attention either. Read More »
UK Royal Family watcher Andrew Morton has just published an exclusive that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – aka Will and Kate — are heading to Hollywood this summer. “Royal aides have penciled in a 2-day visit to Hollywood at the end of their tour of Canada which takes place in late June and early July. It will be their first overseas visit as a married couple. At this stage details are sketchy — the royal honeymoon was canceled at short notice — but early July is the date that aides are talking about.” The rest of the report is speculative. (“It looks likely that David and Victoria Beckham, who were guests at the royal wedding on Friday, would be involved.”) It was 1985 when Will’s mum, Princess Diana, made her first U.S. visit, which included an introduction to Hollywood at a White House dinner hosted by President Reagan. That’s when the Princess of Wales infamously danced with John Travolta. As for Kate, she’d probably prefer to get jiggy with Channing Tatum.
Easter Sunday seems an appropriate time to focus on Hollywood’s treatment of the subject matter of religion. When it comes to making movies from various Biblical interpretations, conventional wisdom says stick close to scripture and the faithful will flock. Mel Gibson hewed closely to the New Testament with 2004′s The Passion of the Christ and the film grossed over $600 million worldwide to become the largest independent film of its day and the top-grossing non-English language film ever. But veering from that strategy can do more than alienate that audience segment as Universal Pictures found out when Martin Scorsese filmed 1988′s controversial and in some eyes blasphemous The Last Temptation of Christ from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel and angry protesters were dragging crosses in front of the home of MCA Universal head Lew Wasserman. Have things changed since then?
Several filmmakers hope so because they are making movies that challenge faith tradions. These projects are very different from, say, big projects that include Fox’s stylized retelling of Moses leading the Israelite exodus out of Egypt, or Bedrock Films’ $30 million 3D reimagining of the story of creation as depicted in the Book of Genesis. But all of the following daring projects can take encouragement from The Book Of Mormon, the first Broadway musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker who teamed with Robert Lopez on the skewed look at the Mormon faithful. The result is a smash hit Tony Awards contender playing … Read More »
UPDATE, 3 PM: Mel Gibson just pleaded no contest to one count in Los Angeles court, meaning he legally doesn’t admit guilt. The deal calls for no jail time but 36 months of probation.
1:15 PM: In one week’s time, Mel Gibson’s comeback movie The Beaver, directed by his longtime pal Jodie Foster, is set to premiere at Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival. It is only the second major film that Gibson has starred in since 2002 because of Hollywood’s reluctance to hire him in even small roles out of fear that the public may not forgive his recent years of personal turmoil. But that may all be behind him now no matter whether showbiz thinks he’s a scumbag. Prosecutors charged the actor-director today only with misdemeanor battery, not the felony or jail time which some media outlets had predicted, after more than an 8-month investigation into a verbal and physical fight he had with his then Russian girlfriend at his Malibu home that included racist and misogynist rantings. Gibson is supposed to appear in court later today and accept a plea agreement to resolve the case. His attorney had said it was Gibson’s decision not to fight the charges he “willfully and unlawfully” used force and violence against Oksana Grigorieva and not to pursue charges against her for allegedly trying to extort him. As for his 2006 arrest for drunken driving that included his now-infamous anti-Semitic ranting, that conviction has been expunged from his record.
Once again, I was asked to compileElle Magazine’s Women In Hollywood “Power List”. Granted, I hate power lists. But this year Deadline readers helped me with out-of-the-box thinking as well as the usual suspects. Please note that 2010′s list is not as complete as I would have liked: the piece lost a page at the last minute. So publicists, scribes, and others who were left off: forgive me.
Agents tell me that Craig Susser, the maitre d’/general manager of that Hollywood canteen Dan Tana’s, is finally going out on his own after 23 years. He’s calling it “Craig’s” and it’s right now under construction at 8826 Melrose Ave with a Thanksgiving opening date. There’s a need for another Industry restaurant ever since Morton’s closed. This could be it.
Way more interesting than this Bravo video clip of Lindsay Lohan being fawned over after showing up 11 hours late to a photo session is The Young Turks’ commentary about it here. (“That’s why she thinks she’s untouchable… They’re enabling her behavior… They’re constantly giving her encouragement to be the train wreck that she is.”) But is this Hollywood’s fault — or the media’s?
EXCLUSIVE: So many Twi-hards stood in line since Monday in advance of tonight’s Eclipse premiere that Summit Entertainment had to set up a 2nd tent city on Chick Hearn Boulevard to accommodate them all outside the Nokia Theater and L.A. live plaza. Trust me, any Hollywood studio would love to have this problem. Right now Eclipse is both Fandango’s and MovieTickets.com’s top advance ticket-seller of the year. And the third movie in the Twilight saga still has another week of ticket sales before its release date. Eclipse leads the Fandango Five with over 52% of daily ticket sales, even with strong daily sales for Toy Story 3 and Karate Kid. MovieTickets.com is also reporting Eclipse online ticketing represent over 50% of daily sales. On Fandango, Eclipse was voted “The Most Anticipated Movie Of The Summer” by the majority (32%) of Fandango moviegoers in a May 2010 poll. Now it’s been among Fandango’s Top 5 ticket-sellers on a daily basis ever since tickets first went on sale five weeks ago.
The studio isn’t playing the lowering expectations game this time around; execs know this 3rd film in the Twilight Saga is going to be huge. The only question is whether it’ll surpass the sequel New Moon which was the biggest yet. ”New Moon set the bar so high as a cultural phenomenon that Eclipse can only try to reach that number,” a … Read More »