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.
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
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.
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 …
(Freelancer Sharon Swart is helping Deadline’s Sundance coverage.)