TV critics want to heap a lot of responsibility on Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes already has her fill, thank you very much, what with overseeing ABC’s entire Thursday lineup in the fall, including Grey’s Anatomy at 8 PM, followed by Scandal at 9 PM, and new How To Get Away With Murder at 10 PM. At TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 this morning, she resisted their efforts to get Money Quotes for their TV Diversity Navel-Lint Gazing pieces.
Scandal’s debut in the spring of 2012 marked the first time in 30 years American TV featured a primetime series with a black female star. Now, just three years later “We have two shows,” marveled one TV critic, who asked Rhimes to speak to the “lesson” to TV in this, also asking for her thoughts on “the impact of having two shows on network TV that star black women.”
“Do I think there are any lessons? No, I don’t. The shows speak for themselves,” Shonda responded curtly.
In re the impact of having two shows starring black women on American primetime TV, Rhimes brushed it off with, “It remains to be seen. It hasn’t happened yet.” Read More »
“One day,” young James Brown’s aunt tells him, “everybody gonna know your name.” And so it was. Universal has dropped the first trailer for its biopic on the Godfather of Soul. Chadwick Boseman segues from playing Jackie Robinson in 42 to channeling another American legend in Get On Up. Octavia Spencer plays his Aunt Honey and Viola Davis is his mother in a cast that includes Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd. Producers include Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger. The Tate Taylor-helmed pic his the stage, er, screen on August 1:
Dylan McDermott To Star In CBS’ Kevin Williamson Drama Pilot
By Nellie Andreeva – Hostages‘ Dylan McDermott is set as the male lead in another CBS/Warner Bros TV drama project, the untitled Kevin Williamson pilot. Read More »
In one of the highest-profile pilot castings this season, Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) is set as the lead of ABC‘s drama pilot How To Get Away With Murder, from ABC Studios and Shondaland. This marks the first series regular role in a decade for the two-time Oscar-nominated actress. In making her foray into pilot season, Davis joins her Help co-star Octavia Spencer, who recently signed on to star in Fox drama pilot The Red Band Society. Written by Peter Nowalk, How To Get Away is described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor (Davis) who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives. Nowalk is executive producing alongside Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
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A+E Networks‘ Lifetime Films and A+E Studios have partnered with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Prods. and Sara Risher’s ChickFlicks to produce the independent feature Lila And Eve, starring Davis and Jennifer Lopez. Directed by Charles Stone III from a script by Pat Gilfillan, Lila And Eve is now filming for a festival premiere and theatrical release in late 2014/early 2015. Lifetime network-affiliated Lifetime Films is dedicated to developing, producing and acquiring female-focused indie movies. Its first effort, The Last Of Robin Hood, featuring Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released in theaters in early Summer 2014. When A+E Networks in June 2013 launched in-house production arm A+E Studios, Lifetime Films became a division of the studio. Lifetime network’s Rob Sharenow and Tanya Lopez as well as Lisa Hamilton Daly and Molly Thompson will executive produce Lila And Eve for A+E Studios alongside Viola Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Prods. and Damian Ganczewski. Sara Risher of ChickFlicks and Darrin Reed. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Tate Taylor has set Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer to star with Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up, the James Brown biopic that Imagine’s Brian Grazer is producing with Jagged Films’ Mick Jagger. Davis will play Susie Brown, who was only 16 when she gave birth to the future R&B legend, and abandoned him to live with relatives. Spencer will play the child’s Aunt Honey, a formative figure in his upbringing. This is a re-team with Taylor from The Help, for which Davis was nominated for Best Actress Oscar and Spencer winning for Best Supporting Actress. Universal will start production November in Mississippi. The script is by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and Steven Baigelman, and Victoria Pearman and Erica Huggins are also producing. Davis is repped by CAA and Principal Entertainment, Spencer by WME.
RELATED: Tate Taylor, Mick Jagger Join Brian Grazer On James Brown Biopic
EXCLUSIVE: Viola Davis is in talks to play a starring role in the untitled Michael Mann-directed pic that will star Chris Hemsworth. Legendary Pictures is producing the pic, a thriller about cyber crime, which is set to begin shooting in China next month. Davis, repped by CAA and Principal Entertainment, just wrapped production on Prisoners and Ender’s Game, both set for fall releases. She is in talks to play an FBI agent in Mann’s film.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA, on a signing tear of late, has just inked Viola Davis. The actress recently took meetings with all the majors. This follows recent signings of Keira Knightley, Frost/Nixon writer/playwright Peter Morgan, Neil Patrick Harris and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Oscar-nominated for The Help and Doubt, Davis won Tony Awards for the revival of August Wilson’s Fences with Denzel Washington, and for King Hedley II. She had been repped by APA.
Davis will next be seen in the Denis Villenueve-directed Prisoners for Warner Brothers and the Gavin Hood-directed Ender’s Game, which Summit Entertainment releases in November.
She continues to be managed by Estelle Lasher at Principal Entertainment and her lawyer is Michael Adler of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman.
The Help accumulated more accolades tonight with the NAACP Image Awards naming it Best Motion Picture, and Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were chosen Best Actress and Supporting Actress. Ceremonies at the Shrine Auditorium were hosted by Sanaa Latham and Anthony Mackie. In addition, the Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association received the NAACP President’s Award. A list of winners in motion picture and TV categories follows:
Outstanding Motion Picture
“The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Laz Alonso – “Jumping the Broom”
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Mike Epps – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Octavia Spencer – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
“Pariah” (Focus Features)
Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” (FilmDistrict)
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Viola Davis, a two-time Tony winner, landed her first major leading film role in The Help and has already won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award and the SAG Award for best actress as well as Oscar and BAFTA nominations in a fiercely competitive year. It’s a season in which he finds herself again vying in the same category with her Doubt co-star Meryl Streep among others (the pair were also Oscar-nominated for that film at the 2009 Academy Awards). But no matter what happens, Davis is proud of her film, which is based on the best–selling book that she originally tried to option herself before learning that director Tate Taylor was already one step ahead of her. Fortunately, things worked out in the end for Davis, Taylor and especially moviegoers. She spoke with Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond about playing maids, awards season and the keepers of history.
Revolutionizing the craft in the wake of her role models
Cicely Tyson [her Help co-star] was an inspiration because before that time the only images of African Americans on screen were in sitcoms. I can name 15 sitcoms and no dramas that were on TV: What’s Happening?, Good Times, That’s My Momma, Baby I’m Back and Sanford and Son. … Then Miss Jane Pittman’s autobiography came along and I saw something different. I saw a craft and I saw magic, and transformation. For me, that’s what I wanted to do. I saw the difference between the gimmick, and the actor who was creating a human being; and I still always seek that in the work. And especially with people who look like me. You know, I found with a lot of the images that were playing out there were the Jimmy J.J. Walker, the Re-run, the George Jefferson, the George Sanford, they were always caricatures, larger-than-life entertainers. And when I set about becoming an actress I didn’t know the lonely path of the black artist. That the black artist is usually reduced, as Isabelle Sanford was, as was the role John Amos played. If you didn’t kind of reduce what you do and take a role opposite a Jimmy J.J. Walker or a Re-run, then you probably wouldn’t work. I often wondered what those actors felt like — being trapped in those sitcoms trying to make that material work for them. But I didn’t want to do that; I wanted to be an actor, not an entertainer, and Cicely Tyson was it for me. Read More »
Two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson is in final negotiations to star in supernatural love story Beautiful Creatures. Directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) from his own adaptation of the New York Times best selling novel of the same name, Thompson will join current Oscar nominee Viola Davis as well as newcomers Jack O’Connell and Alice Englert. Thompson will play the dual role of Mrs. Lincoln, a small town religious zealot, and Sarafine, who is the dark witch who possesses her. Erwin Stoff (I Am Legend) will produce along with Kosove and Johnson (The Book of Eli) and Molly Smith (P.S. I Love You). Thompson will next be seen in Sony’s MIB3, the third installment in the Men in Black franchise due out in May. Alcon, which has film rights to all three books in the series published by Little Brown Books is looking at Creatures to launch a possible franchise at Warner Bros. Filming will begin in April in and around New Orleans. Alcon recently produced Dolphin Tale, a 3-D family film starring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson. Thompson is repped by WME.
The Help’s Viola Davis certainly got a leg up in her fierce Best Actress race against The Weinstein Company’s duo Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, and Help’s Octavia Spencer continued on her supporting actress roll that started in earnest with the Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards. But the Outstanding Cast award that also went to The Help let that Dreamworks film rack up one of the biggest single film hauls in the Screen Actors Guild Awards’ 18-year history. Only two other films, American Beauty in 1999 and Chicago in 2002, match Help’s three wins out of five film categories. Interestingly, both went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. A good omen? In this case it probably doesn’t lend as much weight for the Oscar Best Picture race as pundits normally give to SAG’s cast award, which is often thought of as their version of Best Picture.
The Oscar nominations earlier this week showed no love throughout the individual branches of the Academy except the large actors group which gave it three nominations (Davis, Spencer and another supporting actress contender Jessica Chastain) to go with its Best Picture nod. With no directing, writing or editing (not to mention song, costumes, art direction where it also might have competed) the odds are very long that The Help can use its impressive showing at SAG to propel it into a dogfight with frontrunner The Artist. With Oscar ballots shipping on Wednesday … Read More »
HAMMOND: Do Critics Choice Awards Mean ‘The Artist’ Is Heading For Oscar?
The Artist won best picture and Michael Hazanavicius was named best director tonight at the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Other winners included George Clooney for best actor in The Descendants and Viola Davis who took best actress for her work in The Help. Christopher Plummer was named best supporting actor for Beginners and Octavia Spencer supporting actress for The Help. The Tree Of Life and War Horse tied for best cinematography. Hugo took the award for art direction and best editing went to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The Help also was honored with best acting ensemble. Woody Allen was awarded best original screenplay for Midnight In Paris. Thomas Horn was voted best young actor/actress for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Best animated feature went to Rango, and Bridesmaids was named best comedy. The awards are presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
The complete list of winners:
George Clooney – “The Descendants”
Viola Davis – “The Help”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer – “The Help”
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Thomas Horn – “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Moneyball” – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (TIE)
“The Tree of Life”
… Read More »
Dreamworks’ awards contender The Help got into the spirit of the season and held their first annual Help holiday cocktail party Wednesday night at Soho House in West Hollywood. Call me cynical but this is probably also The Help’s LAST annual holiday cocktail party as I doubt Dreamworks is going to gather the cast and filmmakers to do this every year.
Nevertheless this is one group that had plenty to celebrate considering the box office and awards haul it has collected so far. That includes five Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture Drama, four SAG award nominations including Outstanding Cast, eight Critics Choice Nominations including Best Picture, a spot on the AFI’s 10 Best List, and numerous acting awards from critics groups. The August release which has grossed $169 million domestically has continued to stay in the picture so successfully that it is looking likely to grab multiple Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture.
Among those at the packed party last night were stars Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain and Mary Steenburgen along with producers Chris Columbus and Brunson Green. The industry crowd included producers Larry Mark, Donald DeLine, Brian Oliver and other Academy members and press. Davis told me she is trying not to become too overwhelmed by all the awards attention. “I look at it as a big tidal wave. It is either going to completely roll over and consume me or I am going to ride it,” she said. Despite all the recognition (she won … Read More »
One of the last pieces of this year’s increasingly hot Best Actress race puzzle fell into place this week as The Weinstein Company unveiled Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady at an exclusive media screening Tuesday night at the Warner Bros Screening Room in New York and Thursday morning for a handful of journalists at the 10-seat Weinstein Co. screening room at their new offices in Beverly Hills. Deadline was represented on both coasts. If there was any question about Streep’s viability as a major Oscar contender again this year, her performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher will erase all doubts. Again she is extraordinary, absolutely capturing the essence of Thatcher in every way, but is particularly powerful in those scenes depicting her enveloping dementia. She shows a poignant side, not really known about this woman who rose to the top of an exclusive men’s club and triumphed for nearly 12 years in the top job in her country. Jim Broadbent as her husband Dennis also has his moments but the film, expertly directed by Mamma Mia’s Phyllida Lloyd, belongs to Meryl. Even in England where Thatcher is sooooo well known and dissected, both early reviews in The Guardian and Daily Telegraph are singing her praises.
Her unbelievable 17th Oscar nomination is assured and perhaps the only thing standing between her and a third Oscar is well, Streep herself. The problem is … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Not long ago, newcomer Oscar Isaac tested for Tony Gilroy and the lead role in Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and made such a strong impression that the director seriously considered giving the actor the lead role that went to Jeremy Renner. Well, Isaac has just landed the role of “Number 3,” another brainwashed assassin in the film, and it’s a major role in the movie that Gilroy will direct. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are also expected to star in The Bourne Identity spinoff. Isaac is about to wrap filming on Steel Town, the Walden Media drama that also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. He was most recently seen in Sucker Punch and stars in the Nic Refn-directed Drive opposite Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. He also stars in the Madonna-directed W.E., and stars in Ten Year with Channing Tatum, Anthony Mackie, Justin Long and Rosario Dawson. He’s repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment.
DreamWorks and Disney have moved the opening of the Kathryn Stockett bestselling novel adaptation The Help to Aug. 10. They’ll open it Wednesday instead of its original Aug. 12 Friday date to make a long weekend out of it and take advantage of word of mouth. The Tate Taylor-directed film stars Emma Stone and Viola Davis.