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Will Supreme Court Rulings Give ‘The Front Runner’ Film Momentum?

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 8:25am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Court decisions this week on same sex marriage has given gays, lesbians and transgenders the closest thing to equal rights they have ever seen in the U.S. And the decision by basketball player Jason Collins to declare that he is gay has opened the door for other jocks to do the same. All of this has given Patricia Nell Warren, author of the groundbreaking 1974 gay-themed novel The Front Runner, newfound resolve to try once more to get her book turned into a feature film. The subject matter — a handsome ex-Marine college track coach who has kept his sexuality secret until he becomes the coach of a world-class runner he falls in love with, until they declare their love right before he becomes a gold medalist, and deal with the tragic consequences of an intolerant society — has long tempted Hollywood but always fell short of the start line. The author feels it is because society wasn’t willing to accept a movie depicting two people in love, who happened to both be men. Warren, who fought to gain back the rights several years ago after decades of futility, is looking for the right fit and hopes the moves toward tolerance will reverberate in Hollywood. The book was the first in a trilogy.

“For me, as the author, this was always about two characters who wanted to be married,” she said. “In the early ’70s, that wasn’t possible. The closest they could get was a personal commitment ceremony, which was a big thing in the early ’70s. If my characters were alive today, they would be tremendously excited by what the Supreme Court did this week.”

The book, which became the first contemporary gay novel to reach the New York Times bestseller lists and has sold over 10 million copies around the world, has endured a long tortured development history. When first published, it became a sensation and it looked like it would be a sprint to movie theaters when Paul Newman optioned it and commissioned a script by Jeremy Larner. Despite the clout that came with being one of the world’s biggest movie stars, Newman couldn’t get it financed, and dropped it. “Paul really stuck his neck publicly, but in those early years, it was a very difficult subject for the film industry to embrace,” Warren told me. Read More »

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Cannes Unveils Poster For 66th Edition Featuring Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman

The Cannes Film Festival takes great pride in unveiling the official poster each year and has increasingly relied on iconic images to set the tone for the event. For 2012′s 65th edition, Marilyn Monroe blew out a candle on a birthday cake; the year before it was Faye Dunaway shot by Jerry Schatzberg in 1970 when they made Puzzle Of A Downfall Child, and in 2009 Monica Vitti was spotted from behind in a scene from Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura. This year, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman — “a couple who embody the spirit of cinema like no other” — grace the affiche officielle. The shot was taken in 1963 during the filming of Melville Shavelson’s A New Kind Of Love. “It is a chance both to pay tribute to the memory of Paul Newman, who passed away in 2008, and to mark its undying admiration for Joanne Woodward, his wife and most favored co-star,” the festival said. Both Woodward and Newman were in Cannes in 1958, the year they got married, for the official competition selection of Martin Ritt’s The Long Hot Summer, the first film in which they appeared together. Newman’s directorial efforts in which Woodward starred, The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds (1973) and The Glass Menagerie (1987), were also both in competition. Paris-based The Bronx agency is responsible for all the graphics of the 2013 festival which runs May 15-26.

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Toni Collette Filming Paul Newman’s Final Pic ‘Lucky Them’

By | Tuesday January 29, 2013 @ 10:04am PST

Toni Collette Lucky ThemOliver Platt, 90210‘s Ryan Eggold and The Help‘s Ahna O’Reilly have joined Toni Collette in Lucky Them, the film that Paul Newman was working on when he passed away in 2008. The “un-romantic comedy” about a female rock journalist on assignment to hunt down her musician ex-boyfriend began filming in Seattle last weekend on Newman’s birthday — January 26th. Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward signed on to executive produce the picture last year to help its cause. Thomas Haden Church plays the elusive ex, with Platt, Eggold and O’Reilly rounding out the supporting cast.
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‘Mud’: Did Cannes Save One Of The Best For Last? McConaughey, Witherspoon Speak Up

Pete Hammond

Judging from the bad buzz that has haunted it since a 2PM buyers screening on May 16, the first day of the 65th Cannes Film Festival, you might have thought FilmNation’s and Everest Entertainment’s  Mud was as appealing at its title. One published report a couple of days later said despite the fact it is one of the few movies with major stars still up for grabs and looking for distribution that “it didn’t take long for the theatre to start clearing out” including Harvey Weinstein who supposedly “left after 20 minutes” according to the report. (Actually that reporter got it wrong according to a well-placed source with knowledge of the situation. Weinstein stayed an hour before leaving but had told the filmmakers in advance he couldn’t stay for the entire duration of the film).

Well, those guys may have blown it. Now on the last day of official competition screenings Mud, which features big names like Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon and was directed and written by Take Shelter‘s Jeff Nichols, finally had its long-awaited press screening Saturday morning (official premiere is tonight) as the last of the 22 entries to be shown to the media and the response was clearly a lot more enthusiastic than what came out of that ill-fated first buyers screening (a second one was held a few days later). In fact it received by far the biggest applause I have yet heard at one of these 8:30AM screenings. Usually there’s just a trickle, … Read More »

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Joanne Woodward Presses On With Paul Newman’s Final Film Project ‘Lucky Them’

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 1:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Joanne Woodward has become executive producer on Lucky Them, a film that was begun by her late husband, movie immortal Paul Newman, before he passed away in 2008. Woodward has Marisa Tomei, Thomas Haden Church and Allison Janney attached to star. Scripted by Huck Botko and Emily Wachtel and to be directed by Botko (he co-wrote The Last Exorcism and co-directed The Virginity Hit), the film is about a fortysomething rock journalist who gets an assignment to find her ex-boyfriend. It’s a late bloomers coming-of-age quirky romantic comedy, and a semi-autobiographical tale about the writer’s life in NYC, dating musicians and finding herself when most of her friends have settled down. Read More »

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‘Warrior’ Co-Writer Lands Book Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Tambakis, who teamed with Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman to write the underrated film Warrior, has sold his novel Swimming With Bridgeport Girls to Simon & Schuster for spring 2013 publication. This comes at a time when Tambakis and O’Connor are teamed on a stage play adaptation of The Hustler, the Walter Tevis novel that was turned into the 1961 pool hustler film that starred Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. Tambakis and O’Connor are writing it and eyeing a Broadway bow, with Renee Zellweger aboard to play Sarah Packard, Fast Eddie Felson’s companion.

Swimming With Bridgeport Girls is a romantic comedy about a charismatic young gambler who loses everything and sets off on a quest to win back his wife, using a faulty recollection of the climax of The Great Gatsby as his inspiration. Tambakis will adapt the novel for the screen, and The Gotham Group will produce.

On the Warrior front, I am surprised that it is generating no awards-season buzz, especially for what should have been a breakout performance by Tom Hardy. Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte were also on top of their games in this tragic father-son-brother triangle.

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Warner Bros, Joel Silver Revive Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer Novel Series With ‘The Galton Case’

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 9:54am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros acquired rights to the Ross Macdonald mystery series about private detective Lew Archer. The studio will launch a franchise, starting with the 1959 novel The Galton Case, which was the eighth book in the series. Paul Newman played Archer in the  1966 Warner Bros film Harper and 1975 film The Drowning Pool.

Silver Pictures’ Joel Silver will produce and Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman will be executive producers.  Silver will partner with Random House Films on the movie, and RHF head Peter Gethers exec producing with series rights holder Stephen White. Archer is a private eye who cracked dangerous cases in Southern California in the 1950s and 60s. In The Galton Case, Archer is hired to track down the lost heir to the Galton fortune. His path leads him through a trail of murder, deception and a tangle of secrets. The studio will hire a writer soon to script what they see as an elevated noir franchise.

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‘Warrior’ Director Gavin O’Connor Takes On ‘The Samurai’ And Stage Version Of ‘The Hustler’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: In a high-six-figure deal, Warner Bros has acquired The Samurai, a spec script that will be the next film directed by Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor. The intention is to get it into production quickly, because O’Connor is also working on a stage play adaptation of The Hustler, the Walter Tevis novel that was turned into the 1961 pool hustler film that starred Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. O’Connor secured the rights from the author’s estate and Fox and is writing the stage play with his Warrior co-writer Anthony Tambackis. They are deep into it, and while they’ve not yet taken the play out for financing, O’Connor is eyeing a Broadway bow and said he’s got a commitment from Renee Zellweger to play Sarah Packard, the companion of Fast Eddie Felson who was played in the film by Piper Laurie.

As for The Samurai, O’Connor wrote the spec with Michael J. Wilson. The action adventure is about a rogue assassin named Townes Joyce, who breaks out of a Texas jail that puts him on the run from an international manhunt. Along the way, he gets involved with a woman and her child, and they go along for a ride that spans Costa Rica, Colombia, Paris and back to the U.S. O’Connor intends to make this his film follow-up to Warrior, which stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. I’m not … Read More »

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