EXCLUSIVE: Borat and Bruno helmer Larry Charles is set to direct the film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s best-selling memoir A Walk In The Woods, with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte starring. The script was written by Little Miss Sunshine‘s Michael Arndt, and it is aiming for a March start. Wildwood Enterprises’ Redford and Bill Holderman are producing with Route One Films’ Chip Diggins. The film is a road-trip comedy about an aging travel writer who decides to hike the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, accompanied by a long-estranged high school buddy he’s been avoiding for years. Along the way, the duo face off with each other, nature and an eccentric assortment of characters only to discover that some roads are better left untraveled. READ MORE »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
HBO’s new series Luck is about horse racing, but at today’s TCA panel, the sport in question was prize-fighting — whether reported friction between the strong personalities involved in the show led to ego clashes behind the scenes. The contenders: Stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, pilot executive producer/director Michael Mann and pilot executive producer/writer David Milch. All four acknowledged their reputations for being difficult, but insisted that peace reigns on Luck. Concerning rumors of contention on the pilot set, Mann said: “It’s ridiculous.” He explained, “There’s a time when any director wants the set to himself” and said a request to have non-participants step away at one point “got contorted into something else.” After the session, Mann said testily, “We’re not four difficult people. People who are insecure don’t have strong egos. We’re good at what we do, so we don’t have insecurity.”
Although there are some young Hollywood turks trying to break through in an ‘Extremely Large and Incredibly Close’ race for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, 2011 may eventually become known as the year of the veteran. Acting legends with decades of iconic screen performances and Oscar winners dominate the field of frontrunners in one of Oscar’s most crowded and intriguing categories. With names like Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Ben Kingsley, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Albert Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hanks and Robert Forster in the mix, the pedigree of contenders for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is formidable indeed. But could a relative newcomer like Jonah Hill or Patton Oswalt swoop in and take the whole thing? Here are the major players.
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, BEGINNERS
Plummer turns 82 this month and is enjoying a major resurgence in a film acting career that goes back to 1958, when he made his debut in Stage Struck. Since then his fine screen roles have often been eclipsed by his own stage-struck ways with a number of memorable performances in the theater including a couple that won him Tony Awards. He only just received his first Oscar nomination two years ago for The Last Station, but with his touching role as a 75-year-old widower who finally decides to come out of the closet, he may grab the actual statuette this time. An effective, if small, supporting role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo only adds to his chances.
MAX von SYDOW, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
With a life spent before the cameras for over 60 years, the 82-year-old von Sydow is an acting legend whose work ranges from several landmark Ingmar Bergman films to the harrowing Exorcist. Yet like Plummer (who is just eight months his junior), he incredibly has been Oscar-nominated only once, for 1987’s Pelle the Conqueror. But his touching and completely wordless performance as a distant grandfather in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close could finally be his ticket to the Kodak stage.
KENNETH BRANAGH, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Another acting icon, Laurence Olivier, is also part of this year’s supporting race — but in this case he is being channeled by none other than Olivier fan and student Kenneth Branagh, who portrays Olivier in 1956 as he was directing and starring with Marilyn Monroe in The Prince And The Showgirl. Branagh has tackled many Olivier screen roles like Henry V and Hamlet (he even directed the remake of Olivier’s Sleuth), but taking on the actual persona of the man himself was particularly challenging and puts him — and his mentor — right back in the Oscar race.
BEN KINGSLEY, HUGO
Already an Oscar winner for 1982’s Gandhi, Kingsley effectively takes on the role of film pioneer Georges Melies in Martin Scorsese’s valentine to the early days of movies. With a total of four nominations split evenly between lead and supporting categories, Kingsley is an Academy favorite who once again creates a memorable character, one with great meaning for the filmmakers who will be voting. Will being the only serious candidate in a 3D movie also separate him from the pack?
ALBERT BROOKS, DRIVE
Until now Brooks was only known for comedy — those he wrote and directed and those he starred in. He was even previously Oscar-nominated for his hilarious supporting turn in 1987’s Broadcast News. But none of his previous work prepared critics and audiences for his nasty, villainous Bernie Rose in the noirish thriller Drive. But his brilliant interpretation and cool new screen persona should deservedly win him a second Oscar nomination.
BRAD PITT, THE TREE OF LIFE
Pitt is a double threat this year. He’s already won the New York Film Critics award given for both Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, and ever since its debut in Cannes, Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner has sparked Oscar buzz for Pitt’s effectively low-key change-of-pace and critically acclaimed work as a 1950s-era father. Could he become one of those rare thesps who score both supporting and lead actor nominations in the same year? Don’t bet against it.
JONAH HILL, MONEYBALL
Pitt’s co-star in Moneyball who was best known for his antics in movies like Superbad enjoyed his first taste of awards buzz for shedding several pounds and shrewdly underplaying the whiz-kid genius who comes up with an inexpensive formula to create a winning baseball team. Going head to head with Pitt, Hill proved he could hold his own just as he did in last year’s lesser-known Cyrus.
KEVIN SPACEY, MARGIN CALL
Although the film was well-received at its Sundance debut, Margin Call was not considered a major awards contender, even by its own distributor. That has changed with several early awards and Oscar talk for two-time winner Kevin Spacey, who has spent a lot more time in recent years running London’s Old Vic rather than on his own film career. A change-of-pace performance won raves and could put Spacey back in the front row at the Oscars.
PATTON OSWALT, YOUNG ADULT
Perhaps best known as a stand-up comedian and the voice of the lead rat in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Oswalt is quickly establishing his credentials as a serious actor, first in the critically acclaimed indie film The Big Fan and now on a larger scale as a lonely man whose life was defined by an unfortunate incident in high school. His scenes opposite Charlize Theron are awkward, funny, poignant and memorable.
EXCLUSIVE: Mimi Leder has signed on to direct All Quiet on the Western Front, an adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s WWI novel that was previously turned into the 1930 film that won a Best Picture Oscar and another for director Lewis Milestone. The novel is about the intense and terrifying action of 1918 trench warfare that traumatizes a young and idealistic German soldier on the Western front. The script is by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. They will produce through their Sliding Down Rainbows Entertainment shingle. They have also come up with part of the funding, Leder told me.
Leder, whose feature credits include Deep Impact and The Peacemaker, just completed directing the season finale of Luck, the HBO series that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, with Michael Mann and David Milch exec producing. She hadn’t read the novel or seen the original film when she was sent the WWI script by Stokell and Paterson, but was struck by how the themes of disillusion and loss of humanity during ferocious fighting hadn’t lost its relevance despite the period setting.
Lionsgate has issued a trailer for Warrior, a film written and directed by Miracle and Pride and Glory helmer Gavin O’Connor that seems to have a bit of familial spirit of The Fighter, transplanted to the world of mixed martial arts. It’s the story of battling brothers played by Tom …
In a pretty cool interview that Michael Mann gave to Financial Times’ Matthew Garrahan about his experience directing and exec producing the David Milch-created HBO series Luck, Mann dropped on Garrahan that he’s close on two features. Now, I’ve …
HBO has ordered the Dustin Hoffman-starring pilot Luck to series. Luck, from Michael Mann and David Milch, takes a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. Production is set to begin …