Los Angeles (May 14, 2013) – Two-time Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds) is joining two-time Academy Award®-winner Robert De Niro (the upcoming Last Vegas, Silver Linings Playbook, Raging Bull, The Godfather: Part II), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Omar Sy (The Intouchables, the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past) in Good Universe’s and Lionsgate’s THE CANDY STORE, a character-driven action thriller by Academy Award®-winning writer and director Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana).
EXCLUSIVE: If you love sports films like I do, here is one that has knockout potential. Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez have signed on to star in Hands Of Stone, a drama written and to be directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. Boxing fans will know where we are going from the title. Ramirez will play champ Roberto Duran. De Niro will play his trainer Ray Arcel in a drama that focuses on how each man changed the life of the other. It is set during boxing’s Golden Era, when Duran was among top notch fighters including Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Hector Camacho, Vinny Pazienza. Duran fought them all and won 103 of his 119 fights. The focus will be on the Panamanian boxer’s incredible brawls with Leonard, culminating in an inexplicable ending of the famous fight where Duran quit in the ring and cried “No mas,” on a night when Leonard was having his way. That was a terrible ending to a rivalry that was everything depicted by De Niro in Raging Bull, when Jake LaMotta had those classic brawls with Sugar Ray Robinson. This was back when boxing mattered, and well before it got eclipsed by mixed martial arts fighting, which is way more accessible to the public and more smartly run than is pro boxing. CAA is handling domestic rights on the film.
What Gift Do You Buy Robert De Niro? ‘Silver Linings’ Co-Star Anupam Kher Makes Short Film To Find Out
EXCLUSIVE: Anupam Kher is the Indian movie star who played Bradley Cooper’s therapist in Silver Linings Playbook (“Desean Jackson is the man!” was his killer line). Kher has used his experiences from that Oscar-nominated film to form the basis for I Went Shopping For Robert De Niro, a short film he has quietly directed about his quest to find the right gift to present to Kher’s idol after filming was completed on the Best Picture nominee.
Now, Kher has acted in over 450 movies of various languages in a long career that encompasses Bollywood, American and British productions. But he is absolutely starstruck when it comes to De Niro. He is so reverential that it almost made me feel bad that when I moderated a panel at the last Tribeca Film Festival with Judd Apatow and De Niro, Apatow pushed me to ask the iconic actor when he lost his virginity, this after I forced Apatow to recount his clumsy deflowering to stop him babbling on about The 40-Year Old Virgin. I don’t think De Niro answered — he’s too shy, classy and modest to say something like “I was 8 and both women walked away satisfied” (he is Bobby De, don’t forget), but I think had Kher been up there with us, he might have decked me and Judd. Clearly to Kher, De Niro is the Desean Jackson of actors.
“Mr. De Niro has been my icon and is a legend in global cinema and it was truly one of the greatest honors for me to share screen space with him in this film,” Kher gushed. “As a reflection and dedication to Mr. De Niro, I produced and directed this short film, which I dedicated to him.”
The effort turned into 29-minute film that Kher shot in Mumbai over four months. Kher describes it as “a journey of two girls who are at the crossroads in their lives, and are tasked by with one of life’s greatest challenges, to select a gift for Mr. Robert De Niro. This incredible endeavor impacts them beyond their expectations.” Rimal Arora and Yamini Kshirsagar play the leading roles in the film, and the latter wrote the script after they were tasked by Kher to buy a gift he actually gave to De Niro (I won’t say what it is because it will spoil the ending). But suffice to say their gifting plans go awry. De Niro doesn’t act in the short, but he is pictured with his gift at the film’s end, and he gave his permission for his name to be used in the short’s title.
Unquestionably one of the highlights of any awards season is the feel-good, everyone’s-still-a-winner Oscar Nominees Luncheon, which was held Monday at the Beverly Hilton. Academy Award nominees gather together and get to meet each other in a pressure-free zone — except for the huge press turnout to cover their arrivals (there are also press conference-style interviews and poolside one-on-one opportunities for TV cameras afterwards for some of the higher-profile nominees). Basically all they have to do is report to the risers set up in the Hilton’s International Ballroom as their name is called for the big group photo of the Oscar Class of 2012.
Related: 85th Academy Awards Nominees Photo
This year, rather than going alphabetically, the Academy summoned nominees by the table number they were sitting at. The table where I was lucky enough to be invited happened to be No. 1, smack dab in front of those risers, and so nominees Denzel Washington (Best Actor, Flight), producer Kathleen Kennedy (Lincoln), costume designer Colleen Atwood (Snow White And The Huntsman), and Makeup and Hairstyling contender Howard Berger (Hitchcock) were first to be called and had to stand the longest before the shot was taken. Actually, the roll call was bookended with longtime colleagues Kennedy — who was first up — and Lincoln director Steven Spielberg, who was dead-last (just after 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis, who got a rip-roaring reception when her name was announced).
Overall, 16 of the acting nominees (excluding Emmanuelle Riva, Alan Arkin and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and four of the directors (Michael Haneke is directing an opera in Europe) were in attendance, along with approximately 140 others who showed up and really seemed to have a good time at the annual affair, where the nominees also get their official certificate and a sweatshirt. Another acting contender, Daniel Day-Lewis came down with the flu and was very disappointed he couldn’t make it I am told. Like Day-Lewis, I also heard Quentin Tarantino was really bummed he couldn’t attend due to a bout with the flu. Seems to be rampant these days.
Christopher Walken’s ‘The Power Of Few’ Lands With Steelyard; Fleming Rants On How Impatient Icons Diminish Legacies Dropping Too Many Movie Turds
It intrigues me that Christopher Walken’s latest film — which just signed for North American release by Steelyard Pictures — is titled The Power Of Few. I’ve never heard of this distributor, and maybe the film is a cinematic treat, but I’m reasonably certain this movie will come and go with little fanfare. The title is memorable because it summarizes perfectly how I wish iconic actors like Walken would run their careers. I was thinking about this over the weekend, when I again watched Django Unchained and observed how the whole movie changed from the moment that Samuel L. Jackson first came into view as the awful plantation slave patriarch Stephen. I find it one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen in the last five years, a villain to rival any Spaghetti Western antagonist ever, and am amazed how Jackson disappeared into a fully fleshed character as completely as Daniel Day-Lewis did with Lincoln and Joaquin Phoenix did in The Master, and Denzel Washington did in Flight. All three of those guys got nominated for Oscars, and Sam did not, even though it’s his best performance since Pulp Fiction. It’s easy to say it came down to Christoph Waltz’s Best Supporting Actor nomination (Leo DiCaprio was also snubbed), but I think a factor is that Jackson works so often that Oscar voters discount his great performances because it’s just one of the seven films he did in that calender year. Contrast that to Day-Lewis. When he works, you know it’s a special event, there is high anticipation and he either wins or gets nominated almost each and every time out.
To me, Walken is in the same class as Jackson, and so is Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, and so would Sean Connery and Gene Hackman if anybody could coax those guys out of retirement. Kevin Costner is knocking on the door as well.
De Niro got an Oscar nom for Silver Linings Playbook, and it seemed to work in reverse; it seemed to help that this was the first movie in a long time where the material wasn’t beneath his vast talent, and that he proved he still had it.
As for Walken, I was at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Martin McDonagh-directed Seven Psychopaths last fall, and observed something rare. Gifted with dialogue from In Bruges‘ McDonagh, Walken had people cheering to just about every line he delivered, in his singular style. I wish guys like him would save themselves for just the really good stuff (like De Niro and Pacino in Heat and De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook), instead of leaving a trail of cinematic turds along the way.
EXCLUSIVE: Living up to its “Brace Yourself” slogan, Showtime has put in development another provocative project, neo-Nazi drama The 4th Reich. The project, executive produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, is described as American History X meets The Town. It is a high-octane crime thriller delving into race, religion, and politics through the lens of a dogmatic faction of the neo-Nazi movement in South Boston. When a former leader is sprung from jail by agreeing to become a confidential informant to the FBI, he assimilates back to his old life and finds his estranged 15-year-old son has been co-opted by his former best friend and now current leader of the Brotherhood. The trajectory of the series will track the central character caught between two worlds as he starts to gain perspective and change.
4th Reich, written on spec by Sonya Winton and Jonathan Kidd, has been a passion project for Rosenthal as it dovetailes with Tribeca’s work with Against Violent Extremism, a “social network” for former violent extremists and their victims. Backed by the Google Ideas think tank, AVE’s goal is to counter violent extremists. In that context, people close to the project stress that The 4th Reich is not just another violent show but hits on the human stories of former extremists and people affected by extremism to help influence “at risk” young people.
Martin Scorsese Tests Out Script For Mob Drama ‘The Irishman’ With De Niro, Pacino, Pesci; But ‘Silence’ Is Marty’s Next Pic
EXCLUSIVE: For my part, Martin Scorsese can’t make enough movies. But he’s trying. Scorsese, who is completing The Wolf Of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio, just held a reading of Steve Zaillian’s script at the Tribeca Film Center for …
Between 1974 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the young Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II and 1991 when he was contending for Best Actor in Cape Fear, Robert De Niro was nominated six times and won two Oscars (1980′s Raging Bull was the other one) in a span of 17 years. But remarkably it has now been 21 years since that last Academy Award shout-out in ’91, a long Oscar dry spell for the man many consider our greatest living film actor. With the release in November of David O. Russell’s critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook, De Niro is genuinely contending for his first Oscar nomination in over two decades as the obsessive compulsive, sports-betting Philadelphia Eagles fan, and father Pat Sr.
Related: OSCARS Q&A: David O. Russell
Already nominated for Critics Choice Movie Awards and SAG Best Supporting Actor honors, De Niro is favored to repeat the feat on January 10th when Oscar nominations are announced, and although he is pleased about the buzz for his performance, he isn’t getting his hopes up as he told me when we spoke over the weekend in a rare interview. “Of course I am happy about it all and the reception, but I don’t want to expect much because I don’t want to be disappointed. I have had a lot of experience over the years and then you expect and you think and it never happens. So all I try to do is be even-keeled about stuff,” he says.
“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re exhausted. We are out every night it seems and the invitations keep coming,” one Oscar-winning Academy member told me recently. He was referring to the glut of invites to parties, lunches, screenings with Q&As and everything else for which Oscar season campaigning has come to be known. He pointedly added that none of it has ever influenced his vote but he is not turning down the elaborate food spreads and the chance to mingle with contenders. “Just don’t tell anyone who invites me to these things, but it doesn’t really have much impact on the way I fill out my ballot,” he added with a smile.
That won’t stop Oscar strategists from trying and the campaign activity this season seems like it pushed into high gear much earlier than normal and hasn’t let up, even as the Christmas break quickly approaches and the town starts to shut down. Don’t tell that to the relentless Weinstein Company who will still have some of their contenders out on the stump even over this holiday weekend. Quentin Tarantino who, despite seeing his Los Angeles premiere for Django Unchained cancelled Tuesday night out of sensitivity to the Newtown tragedy, was out doing a Q&A and reception for a packed screening at the Academy last night and will be doing the same thing for BAFTA-LA Friday night.
Robert De Niro on Saturday night became the latest recipient of the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence In Film at a Black Tie gala at Bacara Resort. The award is presented annually by the legendary actor to benefit the Santa Barbara …
Despite competition from big baseball and football games and the final Presidential debate, the 16th annual Hollywood Film Awards gala last night featured a nice starry turnout — especially considering all those stars were able to go onstage and accept an award for themselves. That always helps, doesn’t it?
As the ballroom announcer intoned, this event marks “the beginning of Hollywood’s awards season”. Well, actually it marks the beginning of the awards-season chicken dinner circuit for the Beverly Hilton. But give ‘em an award this early in the game and they will come. It’s a way for awards strategists to get their hoped-for Oscar contenders in the winner’s circle right off the bat. These are negotiated honors, and Hollywood Awards co-founder (with wife Janice Pennington) and executive director Carlos de Abreu is the guy who decides who gets the “gold” (although he has a board that supposedly has input).
De Abreu, not unlike some other awards organizations, insists that in order to receive a Hollywood Film Award, recipients must be there in person to accept. He won’t even allow live satellite acceptances, the thinking being that it would open a can of worms, and strategists would try to find a way to get the award without delivering talent directly to the ceremony. It’s a formula that delivers an impressive turnout and it gets participation due to the early date, with many of the winners hailing from movies that haven’t been released. No one takes it seriously, but it serves its purpose as far as the studios are concerned. As Seth Rogen said in his hilarious intro for Comedy Award winner Judd Apatow: “Perhaps the most annoying thing is none of these movies have come out yet. I haven’t even heard of some of these movies. (Screenwriter winner) Quentin (Tarantino) is still shooting! Who voted for these things?”
As the Toronto International Film Festival maintains its intense pace, the race for Oscar is clearly heating up. And after last night’s rousing world premiere for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, you can chalk up yet another major Best Picture contender. The tweets about its inevitable awards potential began almost immediately. The response to this strikingly original and human film was ecstatic, not only during the screening and standing ovation but from everyone I cornered at the Soho House after-party - including several awards pundits who are supposed to be jaded about such things.
Harvey’s Silver Linings almost certainly puts stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro in contention for acting nominations. Lawrence and Cooper play two very broken people trying to put their lives back together by helping each other. It reminded me of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment (1960), deftly navigating the tricky terrain of a film that can change tone from comedy to drama on a dime without ever seeming forced. Both simply inhabit these characters and make a great screen team. And just like Lemmon and MacLaine did after The Apartment when they reteamed on Irma La Douce, Cooper told me they have already completed a second film together, Serena.
Lawrence leaps to the front of the pack with a revelatory performance that seemed to knock most observers out. Cooper also was terrific in a challenging role in The Place Beyond The Pines (acquired today by Focus Features). He had nothing but praise for his co-star who at just 22 years old takes on a part that would challenge much older stars. Writer-director David O. Russell told me at the after-party she was actually a last-minute casting. “We were seeing just about every major actress for the role but thought she was just too young. Then when she ‘Skyped’ in her audition from her home, there was no question. Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress for Winter’s Bone (2009) and should start preparing now to go through it all over again. So should Russell who was in the Oscar race with The Fighter two years ago for the first time and should be right back in there this year.
Tribeca Sets Up ‘The Good Shepherd’ Series Adaptation At Showtime With Robert De Niro Directing & Eric Roth Writing, Drama At CBS
EXCLUSIVE: Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Prods. continues a strong selling season with deals at Showtime for The Good Shepherd and at CBS for a family medical drama from TV writer/playwright Diana Son (Law & Order: Criminal Intent). Both projects are produced by CBS TV Studios where Tribeca is under an overall deal. Rosenthal and De Niro executive produce, with Tribeca’s Berry Welsh serving as producer.
Showtime is developing The Good Shepherd, a period drama based on the characters from the 2006 Cold War feature spy thriller directed by De Niro and co-produced by Tribeca. The film’s writer, Oscar winner Eric Roth, will write/exec produce the series adaptation, with De Niro set to direct, the first time the Oscar winner has been attached to direct a Tribeca TV project. The series will follow the family of a CIA operative.
Producers originally planned to do a Good Shepherd feature sequel but opted to pursue pay cable for an opportunity to delve deeper into the characters in a serialized format. The 2006 movie starred Matt Damon as a senior CIA officer, with Angelina Jolie, William Hurt and Alec Baldwin, De Niro co-starring.
This would mark the first series created by CAA-repped Roth in two decades, since the 1992 Fox musical drama The Heights, which he co-created. He spent the last two decades mostly in features, earning four Academy Award writing nominations and winning for Forrest Gump. He is currently an executive producer on Netflix’s House Of Cards and served as co-executive producer on HBO’s Luck.