Steven Spielberg Drops Out of Directing ‘American Sniper’

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 1:29pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Steven Spielberg has taken American Sniper out of his crosshairs, after declaring in May that he would next helm the film about decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, with Bradley Cooper playing the marksman. DreamWorks joined Warner … Read More »

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Showbiz In India: Bollywood Shifting At Home & Abroad; Will Talent Cross Over?

This is the latest in Deadline’s series of reports on the people, projects and polemics that have folks buzzing in various overseas territories.

The International Indian Film Academy Awards just announced the event will travel to the U.S. for the first time next year, settling in Tampa, Florida in June. The move is one that’s likely to up the profile of Indian cinema Stateside where Bollywood isn’t typically top of mind among moviegoers. But heat on Indian cinema and talent is growing with movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Dawaani, actors like Ranbir Kapoor and multi-hyphenates like Anurag Kashyap making waves. A question remains, however, on how closely the twains of Hollywood and Bollywood can ever meet.

India celebrated the 100th birthday of Hindi cinema in Cannes in May, turning a spotlight on the industry. Then last month, romcom Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani broke into the U.S. top ten upon release. The film’s success at home and abroad was partly because it’s the kind of “mushy romance we hadn’t seen in a while,” a producer who works in India and the UK tells me. Star Ranbir Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s hottest actors right now, also a key factor in Yeh Jawaani‘s success. He hails from a showbiz family and studied at the Lee Strasberg school in New York. With a sort of Ryan Gosling look, Kapoor is “the next one to be considered the Shah Rukh Khan-level mega-star” in India, a studio exec says.

Fanning the flames, Kapoor just won the best actor prize for 2012′s Barfi! at the Indian Film Academy Awards which were held this weekend in Macau. The romantic comedy was India’s 2012 Oscar entry. (Its title may be unappetizing to American ears – it’s the lead character’s name and also a condensed milk-based sweet – but it was one of Bollywood’s highest-grossing films of the year.) It also won several prizes at January’s Filmfare Awards including top picture and actor; Kapoor played a deaf-mute man involved with two women.

Kapoor’s Yeh Jawaani co-star Deepika Padukone is next up in Chennai Express. Padukone is an established actress who broke out in 2007′s Om Shanti Om. Chennai Express has the distinction of going out on August 8, the eve of India’s Eid al Fitr holiday. Beginning in 2008, films toplined by Indian superstar Salman Khan staked a claim on the Eid holiday which celebrates the end of Ramadan. With Khan’s next big production, Mental, not releasing until the January Republic Day weekend, the Eid spot is ripe for another comer with big box office potential. Conventional wisdom says it will be Chennai Express. (Chennai Express, like Yeh Jawaani, hails from UTV in which Disney has a strategic stake.) The love story cum road movie is directed by Rohit Shetty (the Golmaal franchise, Bol Bachchan) and, with Padukone, stars the iconic screen giant Shah Rukh Khan, making it one to watch. If Chennai follows Yeh Jawaani‘s path, Khan should be happy. He has said that his dedication is to getting Indian films seen by the world rather than having his own career in Hollywood. Read More »

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DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg Plan To Bring Back Tom Joad With New Version Of John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’

By | Tuesday July 2, 2013 @ 6:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is in talks with the estate of author John Steinbeck to make a new version of The Grapes Of Wrath. The novel was turned into a classic 1940 film by John Ford, the director who … Read More »

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TNT Renews ‘Falling Skies’ For Fourth Season

By | Tuesday July 2, 2013 @ 1:07pm PDT

TNT has ordered a fourth season of Falling Skies, the epic drama produced by DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg and starring Noah Wyle. Currently airing Sundays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), Falling Skies is averaging 5.8 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery and ranks as basic cable’s #1 scripted series with adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 for the summer-to-date. TNT plans to launch the 10-episode fourth season in summer 2014.

Falling Skies tells the extraordinary tale of life and survival in the wake of a catastrophic alien invasion. Wyle plays Tom Mason, a college professor who becomes an unlikely resistance leader after a massive invasion by an alien force. The series also stars Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Seychelle Gabriel, Mpho Koaho, Colin Cunninghamand Sarah Carter. Among the guest stars this season on Falling Skies are Gloria Reuben, Robert Sean Leonard, Stephen Collins and Doug Jones.

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Spielberg & Lucas Predict “Meltdown” Of Movie Biz: Video

By | Thursday June 13, 2013 @ 12:17pm PDT

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas participated in a panel yesterday to open USC‘s new Interactive Media Building in LA. Alum Lucas’ foundation contributed $45M of the $50M cost of the new digs, which is part of the School Of Cinematic Arts. The pair predicted a paradigm … Read More »

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TNT’s ‘Falling Skies’ Season 3 Debut On Par With Last Year

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 11:48am PDT

On a night that saw competition from Game 2 of the NBA Finals and the Season 3 finale of Game Of Thrones over on HBO, Falling Skies returned for its third season on … Read More »

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CBS’ ‘Under The Dome’ Licensed In 200 International Markets

CBS‘ limited summer series Under The Dome bows in the U.S. on June 24. It’s also headed to 200 overseas markets, CBS Studios International said today. The 13-episode adaptation of the Stephen King novel is set … Read More »

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How Jason Hall Went From Struggling Actor To Hot Screenwriter With ‘American Sniper’ And Two More Big Deals Coming

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jason Hall was marked an A-list screenwriter the moment DreamWorks and Warner Bros joined forces after Steven Spielberg agreed to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Not surprisingly, both studios want more from Hall. Warner Bros has just closed a blind script deal with him, and I’ve learned that DreamWorks is in early talks to have Hall adapt the upcoming David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s something Spielberg likes as a potential project down the line, though that is all early days.

I sought out Hall because I find it instructive to see how a guy with one screen credit (2009′s Spread) and another coming (an adaption of the Joseph Finder novel Paranoia) gets white-hot so quickly. Every writer’s trajectory is different, but there’s a common thread: there is no such thing as an overnight success screenwriter. It’s years of struggle to find a voice, and then maybe a lucky break. Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor, and only found his way to screenwriting because things were going so badly. “I did TV parts in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other shows, playing the bad guy or the MacGuffin bad guy, with the half-baked mustache,” Hall told me. “I would read these terrible movie scripts, and I couldn’t get auditions. I thought, maybe I could write a terrible script for myself, but they wouldn’t even let me audition when I did that. My first script, I remember this funny lawyer telling me I was getting more than Ben and Matt did at the beginning. This producer says, I know you want to act in this, but what if I told you Milos Forman wanted to direct this, with someone else?” Still in full actor mode, Hall was direct: “I remember being in the lobby of The Four Seasons, and saying a little too loud, ‘Milos Forman can go fuck himself!’ So that went away, and then I wrote another script about a blind wrestler. I wrestled since I was a kid, and there are these great blind wrestlers who compete up to nationals. I’ve wrestled them, and you have to keep your hands on them at all times, and if you separate the ref blows the whistle and connects you again. Some of these guys are really good. So I’m ready to play this blind wrestler, and John Dahl is interested and says to me, this is perfect for Matt Damon. And I said, ‘Matt Damon can go fuck himself!’ And that went away.” Read More »

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Lasse Hallstrom To Helm ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’, With Helen Mirren Circling

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. … Read More »

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Hammond On Cannes: Spielberg And Jury Award France’s Sizzling, Sexy And First Gay Palme d’Or Winner; Is Oscar Next?

Pete Hammond

Blue Is The Warmest Color (La Vie D’Adele – Chapitre 1 & 2) is only the second purely French film in this most French of festivals to win the Palme d’Or in the past 46 years. The film has had the … Read More »

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Hammond On Cannes: Suspense Builds To Sunday’s Palme D’Or And Acting Winners

By | Saturday May 25, 2013 @ 1:45pm PDT
Pete Hammond

We are at the end of a long Cannes, and jury members have had the opportunity to see all 20 films in the main competition. But who wins the Palme d’Or? I have learned  that jury president Steven Spielberg has specifically instructed his colleagues to remain tight-lipped and not provide any clues. Cannes juries anyway are notoriously hard to predict and critical reaction through the festival doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But, jumping into the shark-infested waters of predictions, I would say frontrunners for the Palme d’Or are likely Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s stunning The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color (thanks to buzz), and possibly Iranian director  Asghar Farhardi’s The Past which was shot in Paris and mostly in French. I also would throw in the wonderfully heartfelt Japanese entry Like Father, Like Son, a truly moving film from director Kore-Eda Hirokazu. It’s a long-shot but human emotion goes a long way with juries. I could have picked J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost with a virtuoso performance from Robert Redford but for some reason it was shown out of competition and not eligible. Otherwise it would have been in the top tier of contenders. Watch for a possible sleeper with the  Chinese entry (their first in a few years) ,A Touch Of Sin  from director Jia Zhangke who is overdue. Reaction was mixed overall  to the overlong four-segment story that examines China today warts and all in some cases. Plus it has some pretty extreme violence. But he could win a prize as a statement supporting more honest and open China filmmaking which this seems to represent. Further down the list  are Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and James Gray’s beautifully realized period piece The Immigrant, at least in terms of Palme d’Or buzz for both very American directors. The wild card is likely Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra since he said it’s his last film for the forseeable future. But that could be hampered by the fact it premieres on HBO in the U.S. tomorrow and most think it is more likely to win for its acting, specifically Michael Douglas.

The last three days of the festival saw the sun come out on the Croisette and the quality of films particularly impressive. High profile contenders holding premieres included Nebraska, The Immigrant, and the much touted by critics 3-hour French teen lesbian drama Blue Is The Warmest Color. Followed by Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur had its official premiere Saturday night. This entertaining French language adaptation of the hit Broadway play stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner in an actress audition that turns into a sexual game of cat and mouse with her director portrayed by Mathieu Amalric (who looks uncannily like a younger Polanski – likely on purpose).

The acting categories will provide the most Solomon-like decisions for the jury. Michael Douglas may receive a prize alone or add his equally fine co-star Matt Damon. The actor race is impossibly crowded and also includes the magnificent Toni Servillo of Great Beauty, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruce Dern and Will Forte of Nebraska, and Amalric of Venus In Fur. And if the jury is watching closely there’s a truly moving performance from Masaharu Fukuyama as the flawed parent in Like Father, Like Son. I would also give a shout-out to the excellent Souleymane Deme as Grigris in a film that didn’t get a lot of traction. On the women’s side, Adele  Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux could be honored together or apart for brave and explicit work in Blue Is The Warmest Color. Read More »

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Hammond On Cannes: Opening Night ‘Gatsby’ Party Wet But Elaborate

Pete Hammond

Baz Luhrmann followed up his biggest opening day in America with his biggest opening day in France as The Great Gatsby took in $78K in partial-day results that still were bigger than his Moulin Rouge and AustraliaRead More »

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Hammond On Cannes: Jury Takes Center Stage As Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg And Ang Lee ”Worship” Each Other

Pete Hammond

Once rivals for Oscar in February and now fellow jurors in Cannes, Ang Lee called Steven Spielberg his “hero” as Spielberg praised Lee’s Life Of Pi, which won Best Director over Lincoln. This mutual lovefest took place as the jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival was introduced to the world’s press this afternoon. Spielberg, who said he hasn’t served on any festival jury since 1974 (the beginning of his feature film career) is President and has been asked many times but said the timing was finally right. “I’ve been so consistently at work, especially in the spring months directing, that every time I’ve been approached to be on the jury I’ve been working so I suddenly found myself with an open year, and so that’s why this all came together this year. I am honored I was invited,” he said. Spielberg has been to Cannes many times before with films like E.T. and most recently, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

Asked about being on the Cannes panel with Spielberg after defeating him for the Oscar almost three months ago Lee said, “Steven and I are good friends. I worship him. I don’t know how he looks at me, but I worship him. I don’t think any result would change how I feel about him or even myself. He’s my hero.” Spielberg responding seemed at a loss for words. “I don’t know how to answer that, except to say Ang and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve never ever been competitors, we’ve always been colleagues and that will just contiinue. And certainly I worship Life Of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.” Read More »

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Hammond On Cannes: Festival Kicks Off With Most Anticipated Slate In Years

Pete Hammond

After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz.  Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.

Related: Fleming: Can Sizzle Reels Make Sizzling Deals This Year?

As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims  it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).

Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.

Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars  his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director  Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite  and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.

As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.

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Steven Spielberg’s Next Film Will Be Bradley Cooper’s ‘American Sniper’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: DreamWorks and Warner Bros will team on Steven Spielberg‘s next film American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper aboard to star in the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Cooper optioned the book himself, along with … Read More »

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Dick Zanuck Documentary Premieres At TCM Fest Closing

By | Monday April 29, 2013 @ 3:42pm PDT
Pete Hammond

After four days of pristine presentations of certified vintage (mostly) classic movies, the TCM Classic Film Festival saved its only new film for the last day Sunday with the official world premiere of the documentary Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story Of Richard D. Zanuck. The 90-minute doc begins airing on TCM next month, and it’s not only a must for anyone interested in the extraordinary career of Zanuck, but as a primer on survival in the dog-eat-dog movie industry.

Even though the  Egyptian Theatre screening was a “world premiere”, the film actually was first seen in early October at Zanuck’s memorial service at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (Zanuck died July 13 of a sudden heart attack at age 77). As his widow and co-Oscar-winning producer Lili Fini Zanuck (Driving Miss Daisy, Cocoon) told me before Sunday’s screening, “When it was time to do the memorial I was so grateful to have this footage. There’s just nothing that could come close. There’s no montage I could have come up with or people speaking — you never would have wanted people speaking for some 90-odd minutes. And I felt so fortunate that night at the Academy to have this incredible documentary. It is not that it just follows Dick’s life, it’s that it is incredibly inspiring to people… After the memorial some people came up to me and said ‘Oh I wish I knew Dick this way’, and I said ‘You would never know Dick this way’. He wasn’t that kind of person. He didn’t see himself as a role model of any kind I think. He was just doing his best , and in his youth he was sort of rough and tumble. He would have gotten a big kick out of people finding him inspiring.” Read More »

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Cannes: Jury Members Include Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz

The jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival is heavy on owners of various little gold statues. Previously announced as president is Oscar winner Steven Spielberg. Joining him will be this year’s Best Director Academy … Read More »

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Battered And Broken Oscar Sells For More Than $100K At Auction

Pete Hammond

They say you can’t “buy” an Oscar, but that would be a lie. As they do every year, the studios just spent millions in pursuit of them, and Hollywood’s elite seem to covet them more than their first-born. But exactly how much is an Oscar worth? If Tuesday’s latest Nate D. Sanders auction is any indication, it’s a lot.

Screenwriter Charles MacArthur’s 1935 “Academy First Award”, won at the 8th Annual Academy Awards for Best Story for The Scoundrel, sold today for $106,231 While not anywhere near a record for an Oscar statuette, it’s pretty remarkable considering this one was tarnished and had a cracked head and base as well as visible repair done to a break at the ankles. This ‘ol Oscar clearly had weathered a few storms since being presented to MacArthur (he shared the credit with Ben Hecht) on March 5, 1936. The fact it did not come for a major classic film or wildly famous recipient makes the sale even more impressive.

In case any more recent winners are looking to make a fast buck for their Oscar, be warned that a sale like this for any Oscar post-1950 is completely illegal. That is when the Academy started making winners sign an agreement that they or their heirs could not sell their Oscar without first offering it back to the Academy for the paltry sum of $1. Of course, this hasn’t stopped the practice even for those statuettes, and it has been estimated that at least 200 Oscars have been sold in the past and I would guess that a great number of them are post-1950. With this kind of black market in Oscar statuettes, it is obvious that not everyone with the coveted gold man on their mantel actually won it — or was at least related to a winner. But while the Academy may frown, the business of buying and selling Oscars, even as damaged as MacArthur’s, is still a very big one. Read More »

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Hollywood Power Players Hosting April Fundraiser For Newark Mayor’s Undeclared Senate Race

Cory Booker hasn’t officially said he’s running to become New Jersey’s next Senator but Hollywood is planning to shovel money into his campaign treasure chest. Anointing Booker as Hollywood’s new favorite politician, invites went out this week for a “Special Evening In LA” April 25 fundraiser for the Newark Mayor at the Beverly Hills home of producer Jerry Weintraub and girlfriend, producer Susan Ekins. The event has a marquee host list that cuts across party lines and into deep wallets. It costs $5,000 a ticket to attend the fundraiser with the money going to Cory Booker For Senate. The event is one of eight the telegenic Democrat has lined up in the next two months in anticipation of a 2014 run to replace departing fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg in the heavily Blue state. The Beverly Hills fundraiser certainly shows that backing a potential winner cuts across party lines. Republicans like Bush family confidante Weintraub and Bruce Willis are listed on the invite but so are avowed Democrats like Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was one of the largest single contributors to Barack Obama’s reelection, Steven Spielberg and new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and their wives Kate Capshaw and Katie McGrath.

Related: President Obama Thanks Katzenbergs For “Tireless” Support
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