Christopher Walken’s ‘The Power Of Few’ Lands With Steelyard; Fleming Rants On How Impatient Icons Diminish Legacies Dropping Too Many Movie Turds

Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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Neo-Nazi Drama Produced By Robert De Niro & Jane Rosenthal In The Works At Showtime

By | Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 9:29am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Robert De Niro Jane Rosenthal Neo-Nazi SeriesEXCLUSIVE: 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. Read More »

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Martin Scorsese Tests Out Script For Mob Drama ‘The Irishman’ With De Niro, Pacino, Pesci; But ‘Silence’ Is Marty’s Next Pic

By | Friday January 18, 2013 @ 11:48am PST
Mike Fleming

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 Read More »

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Hot Featurette: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE:  Silver Linings Playbook continues on its awards roll this season with a Best Picture nomination from the Producers Guild to add to its many other laurels to date including 4 SAG award nominations, 4 Golden Globe nods, 5 Independent Spirit mentions and 10 Critics Choice Movie … Read More »

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Robert De Niro’s ‘Silver Lining’: After 21 Years He Could Be Back In The Oscar Game – Interview

Pete Hammond

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 PlaybookDe 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. Read More »

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Oscars: Parties, Q&As, Campaigning More Rampant Than Ever As Voting Continues

Pete Hammond

Joaquin Phoenix and Anthony Hopkins may not approve, but Oscar season campaigning on the party circuit has been at fever pitch.

“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. Read More »

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Two Screen Legends Meet As Robert De Niro Receives SBIFF’s Kirk Douglas Award

Pete Hammond

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 … Read More »

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First Photo: CBS Films’ ‘Last Vegas’

By | Monday November 5, 2012 @ 6:24am PST

The whole gang is in Sin City. The first photo from CBS Films and Good Universe‘s Last Vegas shows Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline in some fine threads for a good … Read More »

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Stars Line Up For Hollywood Awards As Oscar Season Kicks Into Gear

By | Tuesday October 23, 2012 @ 2:40pm PDT
Pete Hammond

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?” Read More »

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Santa Barbara To Honor Robert De Niro

By | Tuesday October 16, 2012 @ 3:30pm PDT

Santa Barbara, CA – Director, producer and Academy Award-winning actor ROBERT DE NIRO has been chosen to receive The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s seventh annual KIRK DOUGLAS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM at a black-tie Gala dinner at Bacara

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Warner Bros Gives Green Light To ‘Grudge Match’ With Robert De Niro And Sly Stallone; Kevin Hart Joins Cast

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 2:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Warner Bros has set Kevin Hart to play the fight promoter who gets two retired brawlers back in the ring in Grudge Match. Robert De Read More »

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Toronto: Weinstein Finds ‘Silver Linings’ At World Premiere For Another Oscar Race

Pete Hammond

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. Read More »

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Tribeca Sets Up ‘The Good Shepherd’ Series Adaptation At Showtime With Robert De Niro Directing & Eric Roth Writing, Drama At CBS

By | Wednesday September 5, 2012 @ 2:14pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVERobert 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. Read More »

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CBS Buys Legal Drama Written By Danny Strong, Directed By David O. Russell And Produced By Robert De Niro

By | Thursday August 16, 2012 @ 10:31am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

David O. RussellDanny StrongEXCLUSIVE: Game Change writer Danny Strong, The Fighter director David O. Russell and Oscar winner Robert De Niro have teamed for a legal drama series inspired by … Read More »

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Morgan Freeman In Talks For ‘Last Vegas’

Morgan Freeman Last VegasEXCLUSIVE: Morgan Freeman is in negotiations to join the cast of Last Vegas. The film, which already has Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro on board, is about four … Read More »

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Robert De Niro Joins Michael Douglas In ‘Last Vegas;’ Joe Drake Brokering Offshore Deals At Cannes

By | Thursday May 10, 2012 @ 4:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

CBS Films has formalized its deal for Robert De Niro to join Michael Douglas in Last Vegas, the Jon Turtletaub-directed comedy about four old friends who decide to throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one among … Read More »

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Tribeca Firenze To Bring Films And Stars To The Tuscan Sun Festival In Florence

By | Monday May 7, 2012 @ 7:05am PDT

Hot on the heels of the recently-wrapped Sundance London Film and Music Festival comes another US film festival transplanted to Europe. IMG Artists and Tribeca Enterprises today unveiled Tribeca Firenze, a collaboration that will bring film premieres – and Tony Bennett – to the Tuscan Sun Festival in Florence, Italy next month. Below is a press release detailing the event:

 

New York, NY and Florence, Italy (7 May 2012) – IMG Artists (IMGA), the global leader in the performing arts and lifestyle events management, and Tribeca Enterprises (TE), the parent company of the Tribeca Film Festival founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in lower Manhattan in 2002, announced today Tribeca Firenze, which will bring world-class film premieres to the widely-anticipated Tuscan Sun Festival in Florence, Italy 11-18 June, founded by IMGA’s Barrett Wissman in 2003. Legendary performer and 17-time Grammy winner Tony Bennett is the first major celebrity to confirm participation in Tribeca Firenze.

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2012 Tribeca Festival Honors ‘War Witch’, ‘Una Noche’ Actors, Director

By | Thursday April 26, 2012 @ 5:12pm PDT
Mike Fleming

[April 26, 2012 – New York, NY] – The 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, and presented by founding sponsor American Express, announced the winners of its competition categories tonight at a ceremony hosted at the Conrad New York in New York City. The Festival runs through April 29, 2012.

Following are the winners, awards and details on the jury who selected the recipients:

World NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2012 World Narrative Competition were Patricia Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, Mike Newell, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Jim Sheridan, and Irwin Winkler.

· The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature – War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen (Canada). Winner receives $25,000 and the art award “The Wrinkles of The City, Los Angeles, Carl revealed on wood, 2011” by JR. Sponsored by AKA. The award was given by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Larry Korman, President of AKA.

Jury Comments: “This indelible character study of a girl who becomes a woman before our eyes in the midst of harrowing war gives words to the unspeakable. Riveting, heartbreaking, vivid, and eloquent, the movie balances scenes of crazy enemy hatred with moments of luminous private love.”

Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film – Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nuñez Florian as Raul and Elio in Una Noche, directed by Lucy Mulloy (UK, Cuba, USA). Winners split $2,500. The award was given by Patricia Clarkson.

Jury Comments: “We give the award for Best Actor in a Narrative Feature to Dariel Arrechada and to Javier Nuñez Florian in Una Noche, for potent individual performances that together are even greater than the sum of their parts. Playing Raul and Elio, young Cuban men who goad each other on in a dream of fleeing Havana for a fantasy of Miami, Dariel locates Raul’s danger and sexual power as precisely as Javier taps into Elio’s essential sweetness. Both young actors are nonprofessionals who took great risks to tell a daring story. Each won our hearts.”

Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film – Rachel Mwanza as Komona in War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen (Canada). Winner receives $2,500. The award was given by Jim Sheridan.

Jury Comments: “A nonprofessional actress, this remarkable young woman—barely a teenager when the movie was shot—so fully inhabits her role that there are no borders to her stunning performance, no distance at all between the actress and the unforgettable character Komona.”

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Mike Fleming Moderates Universal’s Centennial Panel With Robert De Niro And Judd Apatow At Tribeca Film Festival

By | Monday April 23, 2012 @ 9:01am PDT
Mike Fleming

Last Thursday, I drove into Lower Manhattan to moderate a panel for the Tribeca Film Festival to mark Universal’s 100th anniversary. I do not love doing these things, but who’s going to turn down the chance to interact with my panelists Robert De Niro and Judd Apatow (Meryl Streep was … Read More »

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