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Cannes: Saban Saddles Up North American Rights To Tommy Lee Jones’ ‘The Homesman’

the homesmanFreshly-minted distributor Saban Films has acquired North American rights to Cannes Competition entry, The Homesman. The sophomore directing effort from Tommy Lee Jones is Saban’s first acquisition after launching just last week, and Deadline hears they put down what was about a $3.5M MG. Jones also stars with Hilary Swank, Cannes2014_badge__140417160328-150x150 (1)and a supporting cast that includes Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Hailee Steinfeld, James Spader and Meryl Streep. Saban is headed up by Bill Bromiley who came to Cannes with an aggressive acquisitions strategy and quickly targeted the film after its official debut on Sunday in what is understood to have been a competitive situation. The film received generally upbeat reviews and Deadline’s Pete Hammond has said it has awards potential. The deal was made with majority owner of the North American rights, Brian Kennedy. EuropaCorp is selling internationally.

The Homesman is produced by Peter Brant, Kennedy and Luc Besson and is based on the 1988 novel by Glendon Swarthout with a screenplay by Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver, It’s set in mid-19th century on the edges of the American frontier. When three women are driven insane, the task of delivering them back east falls to a pious spinster (Swank) who employs a drifter (Jones) to aide in the effort. They cross the untamed Nebraska Territories … Read More »

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Hot Cannes Clip: Tommy Lee Jones’ ‘The Homesman’

Hilary Swank will not sit still for profanity in her house in this clip from Tommy Lee JonesCannes Competition title The Homesman. Jones helms the western drama that marks his return to the lineup as a director — his feature helming debut, The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada, won prizes in Competition in 2005. Jones, Swank, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep and James Spader form part of the large cast of The Homesman, an adaptation of Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel. When three women are driven insane on the edges of the mid-19th century American frontier, the task of delivering them back east falls to a pious spinster (Swank) who employs a drifter (Jones) to aide in the effort. They cross the untamed Nebraska Territories in a journey marked by stark beauty, constant threat, and psychological peril. Their destination is a church in Iowa where a minister’s wife (Streep) waits to relieve them of the lost souls in their care. Luc Besson is a producer and his EuropaCorp is releasing in France. The Homesman has its official screening on Sunday May 18.

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Cannes Film Festival: Could This Year’s Croisette Lineup Of Big Names And Academy Favorites Lead All The Way To Oscar?

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:50pm PDT
Pete Hammond

So what does today’s announcement of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival lineup mean for Oscar?

Who knows except that out of competition entry How To Train Your Dragon 2 will almost certainly be nominated Cannes2014_badgefor Best Animated Feature. Other than that we will have to wait and see until we actually view the films in Cannes next month. But there are good omens in this lineup (which could still see one or two more titles added) if you look at the impressive group of actors represented in these films:  Oscar winners Tommy Lee Jones (who directs the competition entry The Homesman), Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, and director Michel Hazanivicius are among the prominent names and past nominees like Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, Hailee Steinfeld, Berenice Bejo, Ryan Gosling (who is making his directorial debut) are also represented.

31f3755aebf03843615001f677fab8b5My colleague Nancy Tartaglione did a great job predicting who would make — or not make — the cut and wrote an exhaustive overview earlier. Now it’s time to look at the awards implications outside of those that will be handed out May 24th at the Palais. I look at Cannes as a soft start to Hollywood’s awards season. There’s no question of its importance as the granddaddy of all film fests and as a key worldwide launch for a movie that has got the goods, but in the end the May date scares off some distributors who, by launching their fall Oscar hopefuls on the Croisette may feel it ultimately hurts their chances — and more importantly their momentum.

Cannes Lineup 2014 Oscar SeasonThat’s no doubt a key reason Warner Bros chose to hold back past Cannes competitor and favorite Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and Fox Searchlight did the same with Alexander Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman even apart from the usual reasons that they may not “be ready.” Last year Paramount decided at the last minute to take Alexander Payne’s Nebraska to Cannes even though he initially favored more postproduction time. Payne had competed once before with About Schmidt, headed the Un Certain Regard jury, and served on the main competition jury so he was a favorite of Cannes’ chief programmer Thierry Fremaux. The film ended up winning Best Actor for Bruce Dern but after Cannes the director “tinkered” with it and made it tighter before hitting the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day with his final cut. It went on to win six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Director and Actor after finally opening November 15 (it didn’t win any Oscars, though). It’s not the first time a filmmaker has made changes after their film was shown to the world’s press and reviewed in Cannes. The growing feeling among distributors is it is best to wait until the movie is really locked before risking exposure at this most visible of all festivals. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Tommy Lee Jones’ Western ‘The Homesman’ And Its Haunting Score

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 5:45pm PDT

There have been whispers that Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman is heading to Cannes. That’s not a bad projection to make, considering that his previous directorial oater The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada — which, like Homesmen was produced by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp — debuted on the Croisette in 2005. Adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s novel, The Homesman follows pioneer woman Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), who with the help of a claim jumper (Jones), escorts three insane women across Nebraska territory. I had the privilege in February of attending a scoring session for the film by Oscar-nominated composer Marco Beltrami with Jones in attendance. It’s the third time Jones has tapped Beltrami for his films, and with good reason: He savors the composer’s talent for designing and using eclectic instruments in his scores. In musically personifying the film’s crazed women against a windy landscape, Beltrami built what is akin to an Aeolian wind harp at his mountaintop Malibu studio. Beltrami’s homemade instrument consists of several feet of piano wire, connected between an old saloon piano atop a metal freighter, and a water tank atop a hill. As Beltrami plunked at the piano, his fellow musician took a huge bow to the piano wire. The result: a haunting, tinny, bellowing theme that rivals Ennio Morricone’s whistle tune from 1966′s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Beltrami’s music isn’t featured in the first trailer, however, it’s going to be a toss-up in terms of what is more sublime: His score or … Read More »

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Tommy Lee Jones To Write And Direct ‘The Cowboys’ Remake For Warners

By | Thursday September 5, 2013 @ 6:43pm PDT

The Oscar winner is updating the 1972 western that starred John Wayne, Bruce Dern and a pack of young’uns who are tasked with handling a long cattle drive. Tommy Lee Jones will write and direct The Cowboys, with Donald De Line producing and Lynn Harris overseeing for Warner Bros. The remake will be Jones’ next project after The Homesman, a frontier drama he co-wrote, directed, produced and stars in. No word on whether he’ll appear in the Cowboys redo. Variety first reported the news.

Related: Hailee Steinfeld Joins Frontier Pic ‘The Homesman’

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Family’

By | Tuesday June 4, 2013 @ 5:20pm PDT

Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron and John D’Leo star in the dark action comedy The Family (formerly Malavita). Directed by Luc Besson, The Family follows a mafia boss (De Niro) and his family as they are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. The Family opens wide on September 20. Check out the trailer that Relativity dropped today:

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Hailee Steinfeld Joins Tommy Lee Jones Frontier Pic ‘The Homesman’

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 4:14pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Hailee Steinfeld held her own among a cast of grizzled veterans in True Grit and earned an Oscar nod for it. Now she’s set to return to the frontier in The Homesman, opposite Tommy Lee Jones who is director, co-writer, producer and star on the period project. Steinfeld joins Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, James Spader, John Lithgow, and Tim Blake Nelson in the pic, about a man (Jones) who teams up with a pioneer woman (Swank) to escort three insane women across the prairie back to civilization. The 16-year-old will play a poor, simple, and barefooted teenager named Tabitha Hutchinson. Read More »

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Paramount Wins Legal Round In ‘No Country For Old Men’ Bonus Dispute

By | Tuesday March 5, 2013 @ 10:32am PST

Paramount scored another win this week in the latest court battle stemming from the 2006 contracting mistake that nabbed Tommy Lee Jones a $17.5 million bonus for No Country For Old Men. Marathon Funding, a 25% investor and shareholder in Paramount’s Best Picture winner, was forced to pay out $2 million toward Jones’s bonus when a court ruled that the actor was entitled to the sum. Miffed at having to pay for Paramount’s mistake, Marathan sued Paramount for breach of fiduciary duty but lost in L.A. Superior Court in December of 2011. On Monday the fund was denied its appeal against Paramount in a ruling by the Second Appellate Court (read it here). The original slip-up occurred seven years ago when a Paramount lawyer included an erroneous box office bonus clause in contracts for Jones, Joel and Ethan Coen, and producer Scott Rudin. The Coens and Rudin renegotiated their contracts to fix the error but Jones held his ground and won, receiving $10 million more in bonuses than he would otherwise have received.

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SAG Awards Film: ‘Argo’ On A Roll; Is It Unstoppable?

Pete Hammond

Though the media often refer to Outstanding Cast In A Motion Picture award as the Screen Actors  Guild’s version of Best Picture, SAG balks at the comparison. The actors say their winners don’t always match up and in fact are strictly an honor for a cast. But Argo‘s big win in SAG’s marquee film category tonight is a Best Picture award. And there can be no question now that Argo is on a roll. Voters just seem to like this picture, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Right now its key rivals are probably beginning to feel like Argo is holding their Best Picture hopes hostage.

Related: SAG Awards To ‘Argo’ Cast, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence

With the PGA win last night, and recent Critics Choice and Golden Globe wins for Picture and Director, Ben Affleck‘s 3rd outing as helmer is so far proving that three’s the charm. Those first two all-important  Guild contests have very good predictive track records when it comes to Oscar. As someone connected with Argo‘s campaign emailed me tonight, “We’re making progress.” That’s an understatement. This morning one Academy voter who was angry after the directors branch snubbed Ben Affleck emailed this to me: “I voted for Argo for a SAG award. And if it wins tonight the world will see the all-powerful wizard: the Academy is not so smart.” Not surprisingly that same voter plans to give a first-place Best Picture vote to Argo – and … Read More »

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WME Ends $1.95M Tommy Lee Jones Legal Face-Off

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 3:33pm PST

Maybe the movie should have been called ‘No Courtroom For Old Men’. WME has pulled the plug on its legal efforts to get Tommy Lee Jones to pay up nearly $2 million in owed commissions. The California State Labor Commissioner ruled last October that Jones owes the agency $1.95 million from his role in No Country For Old Men. Money that WME was actively pursing through the courts. However, earlier this month, WME filed a request for dismissal with prejudice (read it here) of its October 31 petition to get the money from the Oscar winner. Though this kind of legal maneuver indicates a deal was struck, no details of a settlement between the parties were made available. The LA Superior Court approved WME’s request on Tuesday, effectively ending the matter.

This case actually started out several years ago as a battle against Paramount over Jones’ back-end compensation for No Country. The actor was eventually awarded $15 million in that action. The $1.95 million is WME’s 10% commission on that award plus interest. Part of the October 1 ruling by the Labor Commissioner was to deny the actor’s request to bar the agency’s recovery of those commissions as well to affirm that WME did support Jones in his multi-million-dollar battle with Paramount. Jones appealed the Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Emperor’

By | Thursday January 17, 2013 @ 4:28pm PST

Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox star in Emperor, directed by Peter Webber. Jones plays General Douglas MacArthur in the film that’s set amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. It’s based on a screenplay by David Klass and Vera Blasi. Yoko Narahashi, Gary Foster, Eugene Nomura and Russ Krasnoff are producing. The movie opens March 8th via Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions.

WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE: Emperor – Official Trailer #1

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OSCARS Q&A: Tommy Lee Jones

By | Wednesday December 12, 2012 @ 9:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

This year’s most anticipated Tommy Lee Jones performance was expected to be in his long-awaited return to the Men In Black franchise, but that actually turned out to be his least interesting part. The reliable veteran star, who won his one and only Oscar nearly two decades ago for chasing Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, has enjoyed a year full of unexpected acting pleasures. After MIB3, he starred in a rare summer adult comedy opposite Meryl Streep and won praise in Hope Springs as a long-married man whose wife wants to add sexual sparks to their relationship. He could earn a Golden Globe nom for best actor in a comedy or musical for that film, plus a second supporting actor nom for his sensationally entertaining turn as Senator Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. That one has also brought him back as a frontrunner in the Oscar race, too. These are good times for Jones, who as usual is focused on the work and rather blasé about all the awards buzz.

Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actor Race

AwardsLine: What appealed to you about playing Thaddeus Stevens?
Tommy Lee Jones: Steven (Spielberg) sent me the screenplay, asked if I would read it and consider the part of Thaddeus Stevens. I read the screenplay, loved it, and was fascinated with Stevens. I called him back and said, “This is a very fine undertaking, and it would be my good luck if I had a chance to work on it.”

Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actress Race Read More »

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Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ Closes AFI Fest, Marches Into Oscar Season

Pete Hammond

“It has all been leading up to this night,”  AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt pre-screening reception for the AFI Fest closing film, the official World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. It was actually first presented in “unfinished” form at the New York Film Festival, a fact that didn’t bother Gazzale. “We ask the studios ‘how can we help you with your movie? We were thrilled to get it as our closing’,”  he said and felt this was a very big deal. It made nice bookends for the festival that opened with Hitchcock and now was closing with Lincoln.

It was indeed a big deal with virtually the entire principal cast turning out. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner and most of the key crew were there. DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, Participant’s Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll and Disney’s Bob Iger also attended, along with many others.

Spielberg was excited to see the long gestating project finally premiere at the Chinese Theatre. The film, which details Lincoln’s battle with Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is ironically relevant to today’s fractured Congressional fights and the director thinks the post-election timing is perfect, especially with looming debates about several hot button issues. “I didn’t want to see this released in front of the election or see it politicized”, Spielberg told me. “I think now it can almost be a kind of cleansing for the country”. Read More »

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WME Petitions Court For $1.95M From Tommy Lee Jones

By | Wednesday October 31, 2012 @ 6:19pm PDT

William Morris Endeavor today filed a petition to get Tommy Lee Jones to pay the $1.95 million in commissions the state Labor Commissioner recently ruled the No Country For Old Men actor owes the agency. WME’s filing today (read it here) with the California Superior Court arises out of the appeal the Oscar winner filed on October 10, with an amendment on October 19, against the Labor Commissioner’s October 1 ruling. WME says it can still push for its money now because Jones did not follow procedure. “A prevailing party in a Labor Commission proceeding may enforce an award where the opposing party has appealed the award but has failed to post the requisite bond,” WME’s action today noted. “To date, Jones has not posted a bond…Absent a satisfactory bond, an award issued by the Labor Commissioner is not stayed and may be confirmed by the Superior Court,” it added. Today’s petition requests a hearing date from the court for a ruling on its request. Read More »

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WME Wins $1.95M From Tommy Lee Jones; Actor Appeals

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 7:42pm PDT

The No Country For Old Men actor today filed an appeal (read it here) of the state Labor Commissioner’s recent ruling in favor of his former agency William Morris Endeavor. On October 1, the California State Labor Commissioner rejected Tommy Lee Jones’ request to bar the agency’s recovery of $1.95 million in commissions from his role as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in the 2007 film. The recent ruling also said the agency did support the actor in his multi-million-dollar battle with Paramount over his NCFOM back-end compensation. Jones was awarded $15 million in that action. This case arises from WME seeking 10% of that award. The October 1 ruling also found that subsequent actions by WME did not prevent Jones from getting a role in the 2010 remake of True Grit (although the role eventually went to Jeff Bridges). “Everyone did their job here, including WME albeit with a few bumps along the way. And in the end, Jones received every dollar he was entitled to,” said the ruling from commissioner Julie A. Su. Jones first filed his petition in January 2010, with an amendment in February 2011.
Read More »

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Meryl Streep And Her Surprising Loose Lips

By | Sunday August 12, 2012 @ 10:52am PDT

These days stars will do just about anything to publicize their movies. Still it was a surprise that triple Oscar winner Meryl Streep on behalf of Hope Springs would agree to appear on Bravo embarrassment Andy Cohen‘s awful talk show Watch What Happens Live. She looked terrified the whole time. But when she was able to get a word in edgewise (which wasn’t often, Cohen being the ego-out-of-control brat he is), Streep answered a range of stupid questions during the half-hour that nevertheless gave some rare insight into what she really thinks of her various co-stars over the years.

Related: ‘Bourne Legacy’ $40.2M Weekend, ‘The Campaign’ $27.4M, ‘Hope Springs’ $15.6M

She began the show joking that her bandaged hand was injured “trying to direct Tommy Lee Jones in a sex scene”. Presented with choices of Jack Nicholson (Heartburn), Robert Redford (Out Of Africa), and Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs Kramer), then forced to marry one, shag one, and kill one, Streep replied that she’d marry Bob, shag Jack, and kill Dustin.  Asked for the first thing that came to mind when looking at the photos of more co-stars, Streep replied “Take off your sunglasses” to Nicholson, “Infallible” to Jones, “The King” to Clint Eastwood (Bridges Of Madison County), “Surprisingly good actress” to Roseanne Barr (She-Devil), “She’s right” to Shirley MacLaine. And when co-star Lindsay Lohan’s name came up for the little seen A Prairie Home Companion, Streep said softly, ”Aw, I pray for Lindsay.” Asked to name one bad film she made, … Read More »

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Sony Banks On Meryl Streep As ‘Hope’ Springs Into Theatres & 2012 Awards Race

By | Wednesday August 8, 2012 @ 10:01am PDT
Pete Hammond

Today Sony Pictures is doing the unthinkable. It is breaking, on a wide release of 2500+ screens, a dialogueHope Springs-driven adult comedy/drama about the sex life (or lack of it) of a long-married couple both in their 60′s. And in the middle of August no less!

Sure it stars Meryl Streep, a bona fide box office draw even at her age, but  it’s highly unusual and somewhat risky business to go this wide with a movie that is clearly aimed at the much older audience who is slow to show up no matter what the attraction. The studio is opening on a Wednesday in order to build some good word of mouth and reviews for its first weekend where it must face more typical summer flicks like Universal’s The Bourne Legacy  and Warner Bros. The Campaign. Currently it stands at a decent 77% fresh for reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a good sign for a movie that would seem like it would be more indie-oriented fodder than summertime major studio fare.

With the August release though Sony is also getting a jump on awards season as this cast  includes such Oscar favorites as 17- time nominee and 3- time winner Streep (most recently in February for The Iron Lady) as well as Supporting Actor winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), along with a deadpan Steve Carell as their couples therapist who counsels them at a week-long retreat on how to put the sexual spark back into their marriage. Of course Streep tends to get Oscar noms for just showing up on the set, while Jones was last nominated for Best Actor for 2007′s In The Valley Of Elah, a bit of a surprise then since his film was a boxoffice non-starter that had largely been written off at that point indicating the Academy likes him, they really like him. Both stars are getting strong reviews so far. Whether the strategy works at the boxoffice for this very Academy-friendly fare (official Los Angeles Academy member screening is Sunday night at the Goldwyn) remains to be seen but producers Todd Black and Guymon Casady told me they are just hoping the audience turns out, and happy they decided to go the studio route even though that wasn’t initially the plan. Read More »

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Tommy Lee Jones Plays Gen. Douglas MacArthur In ‘Emperor’

By | Tuesday January 17, 2012 @ 12:09pm PST
Mike Fleming

Tommy Lee Jones will join Matthew Fox in Emperor, a drama directed by Peter Webber. Jones will portray General Douglas MacArthur in the film based on a screenplay by David Klass and Vera Blasi. Yoko Narahashi, Gary Foster, Eugene Nomura and Russ Krasnoff are producing.

Inspired by true events, Emperor is set amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Gen. MacArthur is the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, and he leans on a leading Japanese expert on his staff, General Bonner Fellers (Fox), to reach a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal? Fellers’ feellings are complicated by his love affair with Aya, a Japanese exchange student he had met years previously in the U.S. Memories of Aya and his quest to find her in the ravaged post-war landscape help Fellers to discover both his wisdom and his humanity and enable him to come to the momentous decision that changed the course of history and the future of two nations.

Producer Gary Foster said: “Tommy will bring strength, intelligence, and gravitas to the portrayal of General Douglas MacArthur, a legendary American hero.” Jones is repped … Read More »

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Jackie Earle Haley To Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jackie Earle Haley is set for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, playing the role of Alexander Stephens. Stephens was vice president of the Confederate States during the Civil War and a nemesis of Lincoln’s slavery reform agenda. He is remembered for an infamous speech in which he said that slavery was the “natural condition of blacks and the cornerstone of the Confederacy.” The Spielberg-directed film shoots this fall and DreamWorks is eyeing a late 2012 release date, after the presidential elections. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field plays Mary Todd, and Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt also star. Haley, whose career was resuscitated with his Oscar-nominated performance in Little Children, is currently in London shooting the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows for Warner Bros. Haley is repped by CAA and managed by Leslie Rice.

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