EXCLUSIVE: Past Oscar nominees Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III) and Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air and also a recent Emmy nominee for Bates Motel) team up in the romantic comedy At Middleton. They play two strangers who meet when they take their college-age kids on a campus tour of Middleton College. Soon the pair, married to others, ditch the kids and find themselves on their own “tour” of the campus as the funny and bittersweet film reveals more than they ever bargained for about two lives that took very different paths but now are at the crossroads. In this exclusive clip they find a piano and play an improvised duet of “Chopsticks” to somewhat embarrassing results. The film will be released by Anchor Bay on January 31.
WB‘s hot on their James Wan-directed horror pic The Conjuring, about paranormal investigators (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) on the case of a family spooked by a demonic entity. Here’s the latest peek at the July 19 release:
Christy Grosz edits Deadline’s awards publication Awardsline.
Vera Farmiga admits she was skeptical when she first heard about Bates Motel, the series that serves as a modern-day prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. But playing a character who was merely an idea in the original source material has proven to be the right role at the right time for her. The Oscar-nominated actress is almost protective in describing Norma as the parent of a mentally ill child, choosing to see the single mother as sympathetic. While the A&E series has been picked up for a second season, Farmiga also will star in July’s The Conjuring, in which she plays a paranormal investigator.
AwardsLine: When Bates Motel came to you, were you looking for a TV project specifically?
Farmiga: I think I was looking for a career tweak. I have so many other interests in life, and no role is more challenging, rewarding and inspiring than my real-life role as a mom and a wife, so I pretty much just look at the most remunerative offers these days. (Laughs.) But seriously, if I’m going to step away for 18 hours a day, there better be some sort of a paycheck or spiritual salary being offered. And Bates Motel surprised me. (The role) made me reflect so deeply on the love I feel for my children. I was craving a deeper level of, I don’t know, virtuosity. The writers presented me with this deeper level of sophistication, the creation of Norma, and I pounced on the opportunity. Also, I was craving all that cable serial television has to offer, which is the risk and the wackiness, the unorthodox. Read More »
America Video Films will screen romantic-comedy Middleton, starring Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga, at Cannes. Adam Rodgers directed from a script he co-wrote with Glenn German. Middleton centers on a once-in-a-lifetime relationship that develops between two strangers over the course of a single day. Edith (Farmiga) meets George (Garcia), while taking their children on a walking tour of a beautiful small college. Failing to connect with their children, George and Edith decide to play “tour hooky” together for the rest of the afternoon. The result is a surprising romance and the greatest half-day of their lives. America Video Films will be selling the pic at Cannes. German, Sig Libowitz and Andy Garcia produced under Garcia’s CineSon Productions banner. Ellen Wander of Film Bridge International and Sonya Lunsford (The Help) were exec producers. Anchor Bay brings the film to North America later this year.
Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.
During a Bates Motel panel discussion Friday, Carlton Cuse was blunt about borrowing from a classic. No, not Hitchcock’s Psycho; TV’s Twin Peaks. “We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks,” joked Cuse, executive producer of the A&E series with Kerry Ehrin, in response to a question about the similarities from panel moderator Shawn Ryan. “If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes,” he continued, tongue in cheek. “I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry and I thought we’d do the 70 that are missing.” Cuse appeared on the Paley Center panel “Inside Bates Motel: Reimagining A Cinema Icon” with Ehrin, Vera Farmiga (who portrays Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman), Max Thieriot (Norman’s half-brother Dylan), Nicola Peltz (popular teen Bradley Martin) and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero). English actress Olivia Cooke, who plays Norman’s friend Emma Decody, who battles cystic fibrosis, was a no-show because of “visa snafus,” Ryan said. Once it was acknowledged that both TV shows are plenty creepy and set in the foggy Northwest, Cuse, Ehrin and the cast spent more time during the freewheeling discussion citing the similarities and differences of Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 film.
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Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris and Vera Farmiga are attached to star in Neil LaBute’s crime thriller The Geography of Hope. London-based Salt Pictures is handling international sales on the movie that’s due to start shooting in early 2014 in Puerto Rico. French actress Emmanuelle Devos is also attached. LaBute wrote the script and will direct the 1970s era pic that takes place at a resort where two small time crooks meet two vacationing women and a catastrophic series of events is set in motion. Producers are Stefan Nowicki, Joey Carey, Trace Sheehan and Tim Harms. Read More »
Here is an exclusive first look at A&E‘s upcoming series Bates Motel, which serves as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho. This first trailer for the series, which is rolling out in movie theaters nationwide, introduces Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and young British actor Freddie Highmore as her son, serial killer-to-be Norman Bates. It provides first glimpses at their complex and twisted relationship as they move into the infamous Bates Motel. The trailer includes commentary from the show’s cast and producers, including former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), who co-wrote and executive produce the 10-episode series.
In her return to television, Vera Farmiga is set for the plum female lead in A&E’s upcoming series Bates Motel, which serves as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock horror classic Psycho and examines the twisted relationship between serial killer-to-be Norman Bates and his mother Norma. Farmiga will play Norma Louise Bates who is described as passionate, and compelling, a smart, multidimensional character who is always capable of surprising us. The Universal TV-produced Bates Motel has a 10-episode straight-to-series order for a 2013 premiere. Former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin (Parenthood) serve as writers-executive producers. “We are delighted to welcome Vera Farmiga to Bates Motel,” Cuse said. “She is a phenomenal talent who has demonstrated incredible range and intelligence in a number of landmark film roles, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her join our project.”
Bates Motel had been developed as a miniseries when A&E bought it in January. When Cuse and Ehrin boarded the project two months later, they reworked it as a series and wrote several scripts. That prompted A&E’s July decision to forgo a pilot and go straight to series. Farmiga co-starred on several series, including NBC’s UC: Undercover and USA’s Touching Evil, and in the HBO telefilm Iron Jawed Angels before breaking out in features. She was nominated for an Oscar for Up In The Air and also starred in the Oscar-winning The Departed.
Brian O’Shea’s newly-formed sales and finance outfit The Exchange has finalized a multi-territory distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics for Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut Higher Ground here at the EFM. SPC acquired all rights for France, the UK, Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, India, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. The film is set in a tight-knit spiritual community that’s thrown off-kilter when one of their own begins to question her faith. It’s inspired by screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir This Dark World and stars Farmiga, her sister Taissa Farmiga, John Hawkes and Donna Murphy. SPC released the film in the US last August. The Exchange is also handling Magic Magic with Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Emily Browning.
EXCLUSIVE: Though the 2012 Sundance Film Festival is starting to fade from memory, buyers and sellers continue to make unhurried deals for the films that premiered there. Image Entertainment has just acquired U.S. rights to Christopher Neil’s coming-of-age stoner film Goats for what I’m hearing was near $1 million. The film premiered January 24 at the Eccles Theater and buyers sparked to the performances by David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Ty Burrell and Graham Phillips. Christopher Neil directed and Mark Jude Poirier wrote the script. Read More »
Young actresses Mackenzie Foy (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1) and Joey King (Crazy, Stupid, Love) have been cast with Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor in the Untitled Warren Files Project. Produced by Peter Safran and Tony DeRosa-Grund and based on a true story, the thriller revolves around the Perron family that encounters spiritsin their Rhode Island farmhouse in the 1970s. Famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated the case with cooperation from the Perrons. James Wan (Insidious) is directing from a screenplay by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes. Shooting begins two weeks from Tuesday. Mackenzie and King are repped by Coast to Coast. King is managed by Industry.
EXCLUSIVE: Shirley MacLaine is set to star and Alan Arkin and Vera Farmiga are negotiating to star in the Sue Kramer-directed indie feature The Locals. The film puts a contemporary spin on the Romeo and Juliet tale by injecting a Jewish/Italian twist. Kramer wrote the script. eOne Entertainment is selling foreign territories, and production starts in the Bronx later this fall.
“These two cultures have so much in common,” Kramer said. “Love of gab, love of food, they talk with their hands, and they feed you with guilt.”
The film will be produced by Grow Pictures’ Jill Footlick, Curious Pictures’ Marina Grasic and Kramer through her Bella Films banner. Curious is co-financing with private-equity partners and UAS. John Hadity will be exec producer alongside Movie Package Company’s Shaun Redick and Ray Mansfield. Kramer is repped by WME and Brillstein, MacLaine and Arkin by ICM, and Farmiga by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: British thesp Harry Lloyd has landed the lead role in Closer to the Moon, joining Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong in the period drama. The film’s set in 1959 Bucharest, where a Jewish group of former anti-Nazi revolutionaries refocus their skills against the communists and are arrested for robbing a bank under the guise of staging a film shoot. A year later, the culprits are sentenced to death but first are forced to reenact the caper in a propaganda film. Lloyd plays a cameraman recruited to shoot that film. He falls in love with the character played by Farmiga, who has a child with one of the men (Strong) sentenced to die. Nae Caranfil is directing the film, which shoots early fall in Bucharest. Michael Fitzgerald is producing.
Lloyd’s Game of Thrones character, the wannabe king Viserys Targaryen, suffered one of the most shocking deaths on that series and so he won’t be back for Season 2. He just starred with Gemma Arterton and Rupert Friend in The Little Dog Laughed at London’s Garrick Theatre, and starred in the Cary Fukunaga-directed Jane Eyre. Lloyd just wrapped the Meryl Streep-as-Margaret Thatcher drama The Iron Lady and will also be seen in BBC’s Great Expectations, opposite Vanessa Kirby and Douglas Booth. Lloyd’s repped by ICM and UK-based Curtis Brown.
EXCLUSIVE: Up in the Air star Vera Farmiga is set to star with Mark Strong in Closer to the Moon, a period drama set in communist Romania. Nae Caranfil is directing, and production begins early fall in Bucharest. Strong plays Max Rosenthal, a former head of a criminal investigation unit for the Bucharest police force who is implicated in a bank robbery in which he and three others perpetrated the crime while assuring the crowds they were filming a movie. They are tried and sentenced to death because they are Jews, but only after the communist government forces them to re-enact their crime in a propaganda film. Farmiga plays Max’s former lover and mother of his child, who returns from studying in Moscow as the drama unfolds. Michael Fitzgerald is producing. Farmiga’s directorial debut, Higher Ground, will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in late August. She most recently starred in Source Code and Henry’s Crime, and she recently wrapped Safe House opposite Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds for Universal. She’s repped by CAA and Jon Rubinstein.
2011 Los Angeles Film Festival Winners
The closing-night film of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, was designed to scare the crap out of the audience. But who knew the real nightmares would come from the actual screening itself.
Just an hour into the world premiere of the movie Sunday night the Regal L.A. Live theater, the emergency warning system started flashing lights accompanied by a siren-like noise and an announcement that audience members should vacate the premises immediately due to an “emergency in the building.” Everyone got up and marched outside before the all-clear was quickly declared (a false alarm), the auditorium filled again and the film restarted at the crucial point it left off. And you wonder why producers get ulcers.
But THAT was nothing compared to the nightmare end of the movie that surrounded audience members from that screening (and the overflow house upstairs) who simultaneously had to retrieve their cellphones and BlackBerrys that had been seized for fear of piracy when they entered the theater. The crush as final credits rolled was mammoth as theater personnel slowly took claim tickets and acted like they were on a scavenger hunt. The guy searching for my phone finally came back and rather pathetically asked me, ‘Uh, what color is it?’ to which I replied ‘Black,’ like every single other friggin’ one there.
FilmDistrict (which is releasing the film Aug. 26) distribution honcho Bob Berney came over during the forced intermission of the showing to say that co-writer/producer Guillermo del Toro thought the unplanned interruption was the dirty work of Bob Weinstein or the MPAA (which gave his film an unwanted ‘R’ rating for “violence and terror,” particularly since it involved a minor, according to Berney). Read More »
Red Hill Entertainment, a group led by former University of Alabama football star Jay Barker and Alabama businessmen Christopher E. Norris and John Brooks Klingenbeck, have formed an alliance with Hollywood Studios International. Red Hill’s initial commitment will be to co-finance and produce four films that include Masterwork, the Jon Amiel-directed film that’s being produced by Paul Schiff, and the Jorge Olguin-directed The Elementals. HSI’s management company, Artist International, reps Olguin, and HSI’s production credits include The Kids Are All Right and Love, Scotch and Death, a film that’ll star Dexter’s Michael C. Hall and Vera Farmiga. In a statement, Barker said the alliance will enable Red Hill “to build our brand as an entertainment company focused on financing motion pictures, management of writers, directors, actors and professional athletes, and Hollywood and college sports-related radio programming. We believe our access to capital can assist HSI’s management division through acquisitions, strategic hires, and organic growth.”
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Vera Farmiga to star with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Safe House, the Daniel Espinosa-directed drama. Production is already under way, with Reynolds playing a young agent assigned to escort a dangerous criminal to safety after they are attacked at a safe house. Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick and Liam Cunningham will also star in the drama. Scott Stuber is producing and Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans are exec producers. Farmiga will play a CIA operative supervising Reynolds’ character. Farmiga stars in Source Code and made her directorial debut in Higher Ground, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. She’s repped by CAA and Authentic.
EXCLUSIVE: Dexter creator James Manos Jr and Michael C. Hall will collaborate on the big screen after Hall wraps the sixth season as the strangely likable serial killer title character hatched in the Jeff Lindsay novel series. They will team on the independent feature Love, Scotch and Death, with Hall playing a character based on Manos, during a most stressful week filled with unimaginable mishaps. Vera Farmiga will star with Hall. Manos will make his feature directing debut, with shooting to begin in November.
When Manos first wrote the script, he called it The Slow And Complete Decompensation of Jim Manos. It covers a rather bizarre week in the man’s life. After returning from a stressful vacation, he discovers his parents have died of natural causes together in bed, which forces him to navigate his way past an unsympathetic funeral director, his bewildered children and manic wife, an eccentric priest and some over-sexed neighbors. There is also an arrest for assault and the death of his wife’s beloved dog. Read More »