EXCLUSIVE: The Proposal co-stars and good friends Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are teaming again, this time in television. Reynolds and Bullock are expected to lead the voice cast of And Then There Was Gordon, an animated comedy from Reynolds and Allan Loeb’s recently launched TV company DarkFire, which has received a presentation order from Fox. Reynolds and Allan Loeb will co-write the script together, with Reynolds also voicing a character. Bullock is in talks to join the project as an executive producer and a lead cast member. And Then There Was Gordon centers on an ordinary child surrounded by his prodigy siblings and brilliant, but neurotic mother, a role I hear Bullock is eyed for. 20th Century Fox TV, where DarkFire has a first-look deal, is producing. Bullock would executive produce alongside DarkFire principals Reynolds, Loeb, Steven Pearl and Jonathon Komack Martin, all repped by CAA. And Then There Was Gordon seems to be the polar opposite to Fox/20th TV’s upcoming animated series Allen Gregory, which centers on a boy prodigy surrounded by average kids. This marks the writing debut for Reynolds, while Loeb’s writing credits include features Just Go With It and Wall Street 2. READ MORE »
Ryan Reynolds & Sandra Bullock Plot TV Reunion: Co-Starring In Fox Animated Comedy Written By Reynolds & Allan Loeb
Last week we looked at potential Oscar contenders released in the first eight months of 2011 (see Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, ‘The Help’ And Cast Among Early 2011 Oscar Contenders; Can They Hang On?), but as any pundit worth their prognosticator card will tell you, the game is really played out in the final four months, where the lion’s share of major eventual nominees will open and flourish on their way to the playoffs at the guilds, Globes and critics awards and the finals at the Kodak Theatre on Feb. 26.
So with the all-important official start of awards season kicking off next week in Venice and Telluride, followed closely by the Toronto International Film Festival beginning Sept. 8, here is the next installment of my early preseason primer for the likely contenders. Just keep in mind most of these films are still largely unseen, so take it all with a grain of salt. Once the movies actually are viewed, the landscape can change dramatically, and of course there is always that possibility of a real sleeper coming out of nowhere, landing a distribution deal and opening before the end of the year.
First up, a look at what the major studios have in store.
In recent years, the majors have been largely upstaged in the final vote by those upstart indies. Last year, The Weinstein Co’s The King’s Speech rode a surprise victory at the Producers Guild Awards all the way to a Best Pic Oscar win over the majors’ strong money bets The Social Network (Sony), The Fighter and True Grit (Paramount) and Toy Story 3 (Disney). In 2009, Summit’s little-war-film-that-could, The Hurt Locker, had the smallest gross of any Best Picture winner ever but still ran over the biggest entry ever from a major, 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, the most successful film of all time. Nevertheless, the rule of 10 nominees in effect for both those years certainly benefitted the majors in landing them four of the Best Pic slots in 2010 and five the previous year. Even though the Academy has now tweaked that rule to create a scenario in which anywhere from five to 10 pics can be nominated, the majors for the most part have an exceptionally strong fall slate and should remain a factor as one of them tries to reclaim the crown last given to a pure major studio release in 2006 to Warner Bros’ The Departed. And though major studios seem more obsessed in creating money-minting tentpoles these days than bathing in Oscar glory, the ego still flies on the lots and majors would like those front-row seats at the Kodak just as much as Harvey Weinstein.
Note: Independents owned by majors like Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus will be included in the next installment looking at indie contenders. This one is just for the big boys.
Kicking off Warners’ fall season Sept. 9 and before that at the Venice Film Festival is Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a serious thriller looking at the fight to stop a major virus outbreak killing millions around the world. Although Warners is just hoping it grabs the grown-up audience and makes some nice change, it could move up in the pantheon of studio Oscar hopefuls if it makes a big impact and gets editorial interest off the entertainment pages.
Warners’ two biggest bets for a fall awards splash are the Nov. 9 release J. Edgar and Dec. 25 biggie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The latter is a post-9/11 drama with serious Oscar cred in stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and director Stephen Daldry, whose first three films – Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader — each landed him a Best Director Oscar nod, a nearly unprecedented perfect track record. As for J. Edgar, it stars three-time Best Actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, was written by Milk’s Oscar-winning scripter Dustin Lance Black and directed by four-time winner Clint Eastwood, who with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby has two previous Warner Bros Best Pictures under his belt. Couple that with subject matter revolving around a biographical portrait of the controversial FBI director and you have the stuff Oscar voters usually eat up — on paper at least. After weak Academy showings with Gran Torino, Invictus and Hereafter, the prolific Clint could be due for another dance with Oscar.
The studio also hopes to be back in the animation race this year with the sequel to its 2006 winner Happy Feet Two, which bows Nov. 18.
When Horrible Bosses passed the $100 million worldwide gross mark recently, it became the eighth film in the last eight years to hit that milestone with Jennifer Aniston in a starring role. Right now, only a few actresses mean much at the box office, a list that includes Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon and Katherine Heigl. Has Aniston quietly joined that group?
While Aniston hasn’t had to carry all of those films, her worldwide gross track record compares favorably to the other actresses over the same eight-year period. Aside from Horrible Bosses, Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me, The Break-Up, Along Came Polly and Bruce Almighty all passed the $100 million mark worldwide. Over the same corresponding period, only Jolie had that many cross the $100 million WW mark. I didn’t count animated films, but for Jolie I did include Beowulf, because she gave a performance that was converted to performance capture format. Jolie’s other films that passed $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: The Tourist, Salt, Wanted, Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alexander, and the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel.
Roberts had six films cross $100 million worldwide in the last eight years: Eat Pray Love, Valentine’s Day, Charlie Wilson’s War, Ocean’s 12, Closer and Mona Lisa Smile. Earlier in her career, her films routinely became blockbusters, when she was clearly Hollywood’s top actress.
Streep, who’s in her 60s, has become as bankable as any female star this side of Jolie. She has had five films cross $100 million in worldwide grosses in the last eight years: It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Heigl had four of her films cross $100 million worldwide, all since her movie career was launched by 2007′s Knocked Up. Since that movie crossed $100 million WW, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Life As We Know It also passed the mark, and Killers barely missed.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Scott Rudin to produce Sinatra, the film Martin Scorsese will direct about the life of singer-actor Frank Sinatra. Rudin joins Mandalay’s Peter Guber and Cathy Schulman, who brought in the project to the studio almost two years ago after they secured life and music rights from Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which is a joint venture of the estate of Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Warner Music Group. Phil Alden Robinson had been the original writer, but I’m told they are looking for another scribe. Scorsese’s Sikelia is also producing as is Tina Sinatra.
Rudin, nominated twice in the Best Picture Oscar race this year for producing The Social Network and True Grit, produced the 1999 Scorsese-directed Bringing Out the Dead. Rudin’s currently producing the David Fincher-directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which Steve Zaillian adapted from the Stieg Larsson novel, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Stephen Daldry-directed adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel that stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. He is prepping at Paramount the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, and at Universal he’s got the Paul Greengrass-directed Martin Luther King Jr. assassination drama Memphis.
Beverly Hills, CA — Past winners and/or nominees Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei and Oprah Winfrey will present on the 83rd Academy Awards, telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announced today. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on February 27.
EXCLUSIVE: Cheryl Maisel will be leaving Rogers and Cowan and coming back to PMK*BNC as an EVP in talent. She will be bringing long-standing clients like Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Craig Ferguson, and others.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing scheduling problems have made Robert Downey Jr. suddenly doubtful for Gravity, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Warner Bros space film that weathered a bunch of setbacks before finding its footing when it landed Sandra Bullock for the lead female role. Now, Warner Bros is denying Downey will exit, despite what I’m hearing. The studio is saying they expect to work out the scheduling problems, and executives certainly have access to Downey at the moment because he’s junketing the Todd Phillips-directed Due Date. I’m also hearing that Bullock is among those lobbying him to stay. A Downey exit is a blow: just wait until you see what he brings to Due Date. But it’s not necessarily fatal, because he was playing a supporting part.
UPDATE: Insiders say that Warner Bros is making a full court press for Sandra Bullock to play the role of a space station team member who tries to find her way back to earth and her daughter after the space station she is working on is destroyed by a debris field from an exploded asteroid. Bullock, coming off the Oscar win for The Blind Side, certainly has the drawing power and the chops to hold the screen. Numerous actresses have wanted to make the film because it is ambitious and original, and also because for the opportunity to work with director Alfonso Cuaron, which is a major reason Robert Downey Jr. agreed to co-star. Portman’s reps confirmed that she won’t star in Gravity, citing scheduling conflicts.