Toronto: Sands Shift In ‘Queen Of The Desert;’ Nicole Kidman Eyed To Replace Naomi Watts As Gertrude Bell
Global Showbiz Briefs: UK To Charge Ex-Newspaper Staffers In Bribery Scandal; Yahoo Taps Dawn Airey For SVP Post; More
Ex-Daily Mirror, Sun Staffers Among 9 Charged In Bribery Scandal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said today that nine people would be charged in relation to allegations of illegal payments to public officials. Among them are former Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, and ex-Sun staffers Graham Dudman, John Troup and Vince Soodin. Box-Turnbull is being called up on two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with regard to alleged payments to prison officers for information. The prison officers also are being charged as co-conspirators. Dudman is alleged to have requested the authorization of payments to one or more police officers and to have authorized payments to public officials in his capacity as Sun managing editor. Troup is charged as a co-conspirator. Soodin will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. The remaining defendants are a police officer and a hospital employee. All will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 5. The new charges come a few days after the revelation that Scotland Yard is actively investigating Sun owner News International (now News UK) for possible criminal violations related to the phone-hacking scandal and allegations of illegal payments. News UK is the British press arm of News Corp.
Dawn Airey Tapped As Yahoo’s SVP Europe, Middle East And Africa
Yahoo has appointed UK television veteran Dawn Airey as SVP Europe, Middle East and Africa. Beginning November 1, Christophe Parcot, who has served as Yahoo’s interim lead of EMEA, will take on a new role focused on expanding the web giant’s business in the region. Airey joins Yahoo from RTL Group. She has also held high-level executive positions at Five, ITV, BSkyB and Channel4.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Oscar-nominated feature filmmaker Werner Herzog (whose projects have included the acclaimed documentaries Grizzly Man and Into The Abyss) has a new series of films coming to cable’s Investigation Discovery under the title On Death Row. Premiering later this year, the limited series has Herzog interviewing death row inmates in Florida and Texas to “look into the dark recesses of the human soul,” as Herzog told Deadline in an exclusive interview prior to a TCA session this afternoon. Interestingly, the series evolved from what began as a single film with Into The Abyss. On Death Row is a spare, bleak story literally devoid of bells and whistles — just Herzog’s disembodied narration with unadorned images from Herzog’s one-on-one interviews with four death row killers. And while some will find it odd that a filmmaker of Herzog’s renown could seamlessly move between film and nonfiction TV, he and producer Erik Nelson have been doing so for several years. “It’s sort of a puzzling question that I hear all the time,” he says. “People ask, ‘How can I make both feature films and documentaries? Isn’t that some sort of contradiction?’ But that makes nobody nervous if, say, I’m a writer, if I am Shakespeare writing stage plays and also poetry. That doesn’t make anyone nervous.”
Martin Scorsese long ago established himself as one of the pillars of contemporary films, an auteur steeped in the history and culture of cinema who makes movies that are usually brutal, visceral and, quite often, Oscar-nominated too. His 2006 release, The Departed, finally brought him his best director Oscar, after five previous nominations left him just short, and the film also won best picture and two more awards that night. But anyone who thinks they have Scorsese pegged will be in for a shock with his latest, Hugo. It’s a children’s story, based on the best-selling novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” and it’s the filmmaker’s first foray into 3D. Less surprising is that Hugo revolves around the early days of cinema, with pioneering French filmmaker Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) playing a prominent role. And it’s figuring regularly in Oscar buzz. So, Hugo isn’t entirely out of character for Scorsese. The director took a few minutes recently to talk to me about the influence of his young daughter on his latest film, his new-found embrace of 3-D technology, and what his Oscar wins in 2007 meant for his family.
AWARDSLINE: What were you looking for that made Hugo fit so well as your first family film?
MARTIN SCORSESE: The book by Brian Selznick is so compelling and beautifully done, particularly the illustrations. But the story, the mystery of it, really became interesting and I felt an affinity with the 12-year old boy, his isolation and ultimately his trying to find a reason for his life and its tragedies. Ultimately all of that gets resolved through the invention of cinema.
AWARDSLINE: You’d found a personal frame of reference? There are also themes of film preservation, a passion of yours, and the origins of cinema.
SCORSESE: That seemed to be like a natural. But really, it was mainly the young children that first got me involved with it. And the fact that it resolves itself with Melies and early cinema was something that kept drawing me back. Well, apparently it must have been that but I didn’t quite realize it until I was shooting and friends in my life would say ‘This is very much you.’ [Laughs] While I didn’t think of that, all my close friends felt it was totally natural.
AWARDSLINE: How long had you wanted to work in 3D?
SCORSESE: Since I saw my first 3D film back in 1953, House of Wax.
AWARDSLINE: As you watched 3D develop through the years, it’s gone from something that jumps out at you to an immersive feel. How have you felt about the evolution?
SCORSESE: I have always been fascinated by it. Even before I saw 3D films, I remember getting a packet of 10 postcards that were stereoscopic from the late 19th century and looking at them through a little device. Then there’s the wonderful View-Master which had beautiful stereo images. Not only did it immerse you in the picture, but was like a story. I was fascinated by depth and I placed such moments carefully in Hugo. There are a number of things that do pop out at you, but we tried to have our cake and eat it too. Ideally you don’t realize the effect occurred. By the time it’s over, you’re onto something else. It was about placing you inside this boy’s world; the memory of a child. If you think back at your childhood, you think about where you grew up and if you ever go back there, it’s different. It has a different feel to it from what a child sees and perceives. I thought that would be amazing in 3D plus the fact that he lives in the walls of a train station with the mechanisms of the clocks – which always fascinated me. I remember a little glass ball of a clock that my grandfather had. He gave it to me. I was always fascinated because on the back of it, you can actually see magnified; the workings of a clock and since I was a child I was fascinated by that.
AWARDSLINE: The technology certainly allowed you to see the inner workings of the clocks that are prevalent in the film.
SCORSESE: I go back to that old clock my grandfather had and I still have in the house now and I was fascinated by that. I’m not mechanically inclined but I’m fascinated by the mechanisms, and what they suggest. The stories that come out of them. The measurement of time itself. Movies being the illusion of motion, and then it is seen and it is an experience that disappears–into time. And in many cases, it has strong, profound, powerful reactions that can change your life. It certainly did mine.
AWARDSLINE: There’s a wonderful moment where an audience watching a moving picture for the first time scatters as a train rushes through the camera. In your life and career, what film innovation compares to that?
SCORSESE: Well, two things really. It was the use of 3D back in ’53. Obviously, there are two or three films better than all the others – House of Wax, Phantom of the Rue Morgue and Hitchcock’s use of it in Dial M for Murder.
AWARDSLINE: What was the other?
SCORSESE: I’m going back to theatrical experiences for this one. It was the first use of wide screen
OSCARS: Werner Herzog’s Controversial Toronto/Telluride Death Penalty Doc Being Rushed Into Release In November
EXCLUSIVE: After its controversial showings at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Werner Herzog’s dark and gripping death penalty documentary Into The Abyss, originally scheduled to be released sometime in 2012, has just been moved into the crowded November holiday corridor and will now open November 11th in New York, Los Angeles and possibly a couple of other major cities. The decision was literally forced on distributor Sundance Selects by its filmmaker, who became “obsessed” with the subject matter and demanded they release it now — particularly as the issue has turned into a hot potato due to a recent Republican presidential debate and the execution of Troy Davis. The difficulty for the distrib was Herzog’s other current doc, the 3D Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, has been a big hit and continues in theaters, and it’s likely some of those dates will now have to be pulled to make way for Abyss.
Erik Nelson, the producer on both films, explains that there was a confluence of events. “Cave is still in theaters and we had no idea it would do as well as it has done,” he said. “You’re not really supposed to put two films out at the same time by the same director (tell that to Steven Spielberg). On the other hand, what Werner wants, Werner gets. Resistance is futile. Added Nelson: “It seems now for whatever reason. everyone in the country is focused on the death penalty debate again thanks to Rick Perry and the bloodthirsty yahoos at the Republican debate, and I think Werner wants the film to be part of that discussion because timing is everything.”
This Sunday, director Werner Herzog will conduct a Q&A with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu after a screening at the Directors Guild headquarters on Sunset Blvd at 7:30 PM. Herzog rarely does such things, but was moved to take part in the DGA members-only-event after seeing the film last month. ”I respect Werner and his films so much, because he takes risks and doesn’t compromise,” Inarritu told me. “This was a surprise and an honor, and it helps in the battle to get this film noticed.” Directors are now rallying behind the prestige film and helping it build slow momentum. Biutiful is Mexico’s submission for Best Foreign Language film, and the picture opened its all-categories Oscar campaign with an event last Saturday, hosted by Guillermo del Toro for Inarritu and his below-the-line collaborators Rodrigo Prieto, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Stephen Mirrione. Julian Schnabel showed his support at a Soho House screening in New York last Tuesday, and Robert Benton quizzed the director at DGA headquarters in New York the following day. Among the upcoming events will be a big screening in December that will be followed by a Q&A with Inarritu and Bardem, who’ll be grilled by Sean Penn.
TORONTO: IFC is closing a deal for U.S. distribution rights on the Werner Herzog-directed 3D documentary Caves of Forgotten Dreams. I’m told that the deal should be finished today. It’s a 6-figure pact, good money for a documentary whose TV rights were already claimed by The History Channel. It will …