NBC has bought Pariah, a drama project from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. Written by Kevin Fox (The Negotiator, Law & Order: SVU), the police procedural features characters inspired by the economic theory ‘Freakonomics’ made popular by authors/economists Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. In Pariah, the Mayor of San Diego appoints a rogue academic with no law enforcement background to run a task force using Freakonomics-inspired alternative methods of policing. This causes an uproar within the police department as the morally conflicted, conspiracy-minded academic solves crimes by conducting his controversial experiments on citizens of the city. Grammer and Grammnet’s Stella Stolper and Brian Sher will executive produce, with Levitt and Dubner attached as producers. The project extends Grammnet’s relationship with Lionsgate — the two companies also co-produce the Grammer-starring Starz drama Boss. Grammnet, whose head of development Brian Taylor has spearheaded Pariah, and Levitt & Dubner are repped by WME. Fox is with Gersh.
EXCLUSIVE: While talent agencies comb Sundance to find and sign new talent, ICM has signed Adepero Oduye, who turned in one of 2011 Sundance’s breakout performance as the star of the Dee Rees-directed Pariah. The Cornell University grad is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance as Alike, a 17-year-old lesbian struggling with her identity in Brooklyn. But that accolade might pale compared to what happened last Sunday, when Meryl Streep gave Oduye a shout-out from the stage while accepting her Golden Globes Award for The Iron Lady. After auditioning for a role as an extra in the 2007 award-winning short film Pariah, Oduye was tapped by Rees to make her debut as the star of the feature, which was recently released in theaters by Focus Features. Oduye continues to be managed by Kathy Atkinson.
New York, NY (December 20, 2011) – The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) has voted “THE HELP” Best Film of 2011, Dee Rees Best Director for “PARIAH”, Viola Davis Best Actress for “THE HELP” and Olivier Litondo Best Actor for “THE FIRST GRADER”. The announcement was made by today by Mike Sargent, co-president, BFCC. Votes were cast and tabulated in NY at the organization’s annual meeting on December 19, 2011.
Recognizing achievements in theatrical motion pictures, the BFCC awarded prizes in 13 categories including best picture, best director, original and adapted screenplay, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best animated feature, best independent film, best documentary feature, best foreign film and best ensemble. Special Signature awards are also given to industry pioneers and rising stars.
“This year was a very engaging one in cinema,” says Sargent. “Both commercial and independent fare illustrated the continued ability of Hollywood to entertain, spotlight new talent, show fresh perspectives and move audiences. Congratulations to all of the winners.”
The complete list of award winners include:
Best Picture – THE HELP
Best Director – Dee Rees for PARIAH
Best Actor – Olivier Litondo for THE FIRST GRADER
Best Actress – Viola Davis for THE HELP
Best Supporting Actor – Albert Brooks for DRIVE
Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer for THE HELP
Best Independent Film – PARIAH
Best Original Screenplay – Dee Rees for PARIAH
Best Adapted Screenplay – Tate Taylor for THE HELP
Best Documentary – BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Best Foreign Film – LIFE, ABOVE ALL
Best Animated Film – RANGO
Best Ensemble – THE HELP
Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Mike Mills’ Beginners shared the best feature award at Monday night’s 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. Other nominees for Best Feature were nominees were The Descendants, Meek’s Cutoff and Take Shelter. Girlfriend won the audience award and Dee Rees was named breakthrough director for Pariah. Mike Mills’ Beginners took best ensemble performance, and the prize for Best Film Not Seen In A Theater Near You went to Scenes of A Crime. Those filmmakers win a week’s run at Cinema Village in New York City. The win by Beginners was a big surprise as the movie bested the higher profile The Descendants, Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Best documentary was Better This World. Breakthrough Actor Award went to Felicity Jones for Like Crazy. Event took place at Cipriani on Wall Street.
Complete list of winners:
Best Feature / Tie
Directed by Mike Mills
Produced by Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen
Released by Focus Features
TREE OF LIFE
Directed by Terrence Malick
Produced by Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill
Released by Fox Searchlight
The Best Feature Jury included: Anne Carey, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Lee Percy, and Natalie Portman
BETTER THIS WORLD
Directed and produced by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega
Produced by Mike Nicholson
The Best Documentary Jury included: Jonathan Caouette, Keiko Deguchi, Rachel Grady, Chris Hegedus and Stanley Nelson
Breakthrough Director Award
Harvey Weinstein just set a new air, land and sea world record for attending movie premieres. The Weinstein Company mogul managed to show up at three, count ‘em, three different premiere events in two different countries all on Monday night. “Yeah, this was some fun wasn’t it?” he deadpanned when I asked him about his landmark photo-op achievement.
Although he has been in Toronto this week, Weinstein had to go back to New York City on Monday night to attend the premiere of his company’s romantic comedy I Don’t Know How She Does It, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker and opens nationwide Friday. Then it was right back to Canada and two more North American premieres: Madonna’s directorial outing W.E. and the Ralph Fiennes-directed Coriolanus – and he made ito to both post-parties at Soho House. On one floor he was dining with Madonna and her exclusive guest list, then he did a walk-through one floor down at the Coriolanus preem. Then it was back up to the third floor, where he huddled with Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde, the stars of yet another Weinstein Company movie, Butter, which premieres here on Tuesday (I saw it in Telluride). I am told they will open the film for a one-week Oscar-qualifying run October 28 and reopen it sometime in early 2012.
As for the Madonna film, which was critically lambasted in Venice, the spin I got from one of its international reps was that it’s really not all that bad. It’s just that it’s not all that good either. There are some nice visual touches, but the material about the romance between King Edward and Wallis Simpson (written by the Material Girl herself) just isn’t all that compelling. My overall impression is that she is to be commended for trying something different with this British period piece, but for someone normally so edgy, this film very much lacks edge. It is undoubtedly an older person’s movie and facing a daunting commercial climb.
Before the film started (a half hour late), Madonna told the hometown crowd, “As you know I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, so I almost feel Canadian. Even when I have been arrested here I had a heck of a time,” she said. At the earlier Monday morning press screening, a paltry crowd of less than 100 reportedly showed up for their first opportunity to see her directing and writing effort. By the time it was finished, less than half remained in the massive 555-seat Scotiabank Theatre. But following the evening screening at the Roy Thomson Hall, the crowd gave Madonna a brief standing ovation before heading for the exits. But it wasn’t the kind of enthusiastic standing applause heard at the Machine Gun Preacher screening just one night earlier.
The 55th BFI London Film Festival has set its slate for the 16-day festival that runs Oct. 12-27. It’s composed mostly of the high-profile films that will have made their debuts at the Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals. The festival previously announced Fernando Meirelles’ 360 as its opener, and other highlights include George Clooney’s The Ides of March as well as The Descendants, the Alexander Payne film that stars Clooney. Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, Madona’s W.E., Steve McQueen’s Shame, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Michel Hazanavicius’ celebrated silent film The Artist are all on the docket for the Gala Premiere section.
The Film on the Square program includes the Roman Polanski-directed Carnage, Gus Van Sant’s Restless, the Paolo Sorrentino-directed Sean Penn-starrer This Must Be the Place, Oren Moverman’s Rampart, Dee Rees’ Pariah and Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene.
The 2011 Toronto International Film Festival has filled out the rest of its slate, which consists of 268 features and 68 short films that will unspool next month. The fest announced that the likes of Brad Pitt (Moneyball), George Clooney (The Ides of March), and U2 (the Davis Guggenheim-directed docu From The Sky Down) will be among a long list of boldface names at the fest.
Toronto added 13 films to its Masters Lineup, including the North American premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Restless, and a Discovery Programme lineup that includes the international debut of the Dee Rees-directed Pariah, which premiered in January at Sundance. The fest also announced its complete lineup for Mavericks. It includes a discussion with Christopher Plummer, who stars in Barrymore, the Erik Canuel-directed adaptation of Plummer’s Tony-winning performance as actor John Barrymore; a conversation between Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie; a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, whose Twixt plays Toronto; Neil Young and Jonathan Demme as they premiere the documentary Neil Young Life; Tilda Swinton as she brings We Need to Talk About Kevin to the fest; and a discussion with Sony Pictures Classics founders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard as their distribution company reaches its 20th year milestone.
On the second day of Sundance, buyers were beginning to get antsy. The first screenings generated moderate interest, but buyers haven’t loved anything and only liked a few films. So far, the consensus is that the unveiled crop of films can’t be released on a high screen count. Deals will be made on these initial films, but not rich ones. The most promising reaction so far came opening day for John Michael McDonagh-directed Irish film The Guard, which stars Brendan Gleeson as a cranky village cop who’s mismatched with a visiting FBI agent (Don Cheadle) because the drug smuggling ring the fed was chasing had taken up residence in the Irish town. By Friday night, three buyers were circling the film. The director is the brother of In Bruges helmer Martin McDonagh. The Guard isn’t quite In Bruges (which also starred Gleeson) but it is a crowd-pleaser.
Several buyers said that Margin Call, the JC Chandor-directed drama about the financial meltdown of 2008, was compelling but long.
The pic Martha Marcy May Marlene has the buying crowd talking about its star, Elizabeth Olsen, who’s the younger sibling of the infamous Olsen Twins and also appears in Silent House, the thriller directed by Open Waters team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. But respect for a performance doesn’t necessarily mean a buy. Silent House is a haunted house story told in one continuous shot, which meant the cast had to perform it all the way through, like a …
(Freelancer Sharon Swart is helping Deadline’s Sundance coverage.)
Sundance officially kicked off this evening in Park City with the festival’s first screenings of films, many with various rights available. Irish cop comedy The Guard has just started screening at the Egyptian Theatre, with buyers including Harvey Weinstein in the house. Other films showing tonight are the Harry Belafonte documentary Sing Your Song, documentary Project Nim (which HBO just picked up), U.S. competition drama Pariah, and midnight screening Silent House, a horror thriller from the filmmakers behind 2003’s beyond-scary Open Water.
Earlier at the Egyptian today, Sundance founder Robert Redford, Sundance Institute exec director Keri Putnam, and festival director John Cooper held their annual opening day press conference. Redford wanted to talk about the Sundance Institute, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. “We usually focus on the festival,” Redford said in the conference’s opening remarks, but “I want to talk about why we are here… What’s our point.” He gave a quick recap of why he started the Institute and how the festival sprung from it five years later. Redford underlined its ongoing mission to support emerging artists with labs and workshops, as well as through the festival platform and several newer programs …