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Cannes Conflicted Over ‘The Paperboy’ As All-Star Cast Hits Town For Premiere

By | Thursday May 24, 2012 @ 8:49am PDT
Pete Hammond

Some press and critics at the Cannes Film Festival are already having a field day hurling invectives (a favorite pastime here) against The Paperboy, director Lee Daniels’ first filmMatthew McConaughey Nicole Kidman Zac Efron since his Oscar-nominated work on Precious. This one is based on a well-regarded book by Pete Dexter, who wrote the screenplay with Daniels. It’s about a man (Zac Efron) who tries to help his journalist brother (Matthew McConaughey) investigate the possible wrongful conviction of a man on death row (John Cusack). Nicole Kidman co-stars as a Southern tart who likes her men behind bars and singer Macy Gray is the maid in this 1960′s civil rights era-set wallow that takes place mostly in Florida swamp country (but shot in Louisiana).

At Tuesday morning’s buyers screening and today after the first press screening, reactions seem to be vivid. One critic said “it could be so bad it’s good”. Another compared it to the kind of exploitation pictures Roger Corman regularly turned out. For me, it’s one of those movies that is just dripping with Southern sweat and sleaze — you can smell the place. If it’s an over-the-top wallow into the Deep Deep South of the period, it’s a fun one. You either go with it or you don’t. Tennessee Williams this is not, but it’s fascinating material on many levels and all these actors took a kind of risk and just jumped in without a life preserver; they didn’t do this indie for the money. Avi Lerner’s Millennium and Nu Image produced and the film is up for distribution, as Deadline previously reported, although Lerner could decide to distribute it himself if the deal isn’t right. One top distrib who was at Tuesday’s screening told me they didn’t care for Paperboy, while at least two others said the complete opposite. With a starry cast, exploitable subject matter and scenes already being tweeted all over the place — Kidman peeing on Efron to relieve his jellyfish stings is getting lots of action on the net and the Croisette —  in the end it may not matter what any of the auteur-mad critics here have to say. Unlike Precious this is not really a critics kind of movie. It is in fact the commercially oriented Millennium’s first competition entry ever. Read More »

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Cannes Film Festival: Actors To Watch

Last year, silence truly was golden as the cast of The Artist established themselves as the hit of the festival without having to say, or bark, anything. Below is a rundown of the actors folks are buzzing about this year, out loud:

Matthias SchoenaertsMatthias Schoenaerts: The star of Belgian hit Bullhead leads Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone opposite Marion Cotillard in competition. Schoenaerts has been known at home for a while but Michael R. Roskam’s revenge drama Bullhead, which scored an Oscar nomination, also brought Schoenaerts the FIPRESCI prize for Best Actor in Palm Springs in January. Audiard is a star-maker, having helped Tahar Rahim hit with A Prophet and boosting the international career of Romain Duris with 2005’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Execs unrelated to the film call Schoenaerts’ performance in Rust & Bone “incredible.”

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward: The kids at the center of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom are something to be seen. At Wednesday’s press conference, Jared Gilman confirmed that since making the film “life has taken a turn for the better.” Moonrise is the sole credit on both Gilman and Hayward’s resumes, for now. In the film, the duo fall in love and run away together setting off a search during a storm that turns the community upside down. Focus Features’ Alison Thompson tells me Anderson found them after an extensive search … Read More »

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Super Bowl Spot: ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’

By | Sunday February 5, 2012 @ 4:08pm PST

Danny DeVito voices the title character and Zac Efron, Taylor Swift voice the kids in Universal’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. It opens March 2.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Lucky One’

By | Thursday December 8, 2011 @ 11:25pm PST

Australian director Scott Hicks (Snow Falling On Cedars, Shine) tackles this romantic drama based a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Lucky One, about an Iraq war veteran who travels to North Carolina in search of the woman in a photo he thinks is a lucky charm that saved his life. Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Jay R. Ferguson and Blythe Danner star. Script was adapted by Will Fetters. From Warner Bros. Slated to open April 20.

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Hot Trailer: ‘New Year’s Eve’

Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy New Year’s Eve from New Line has a new trailer showing its ensemble cast preparing for the big night. Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry are seriously ready to get this party started on Dec. 9.

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Warner Bros Sets Date For Zac Efron-Starrer ‘The Lucky One’

By | Friday August 26, 2011 @ 12:50pm PDT

Warner Bros said today that it has found a place for its Zac Efron movie The Lucky One, which will be released Aug. 24, 2012. The romantic drama based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel stars Efron as a Marine who survives three tours of Iraq, attributing his good luck to a photo he carried of a woman he doesn’t even know. When he returns to the U.S., he sets out to find her. Scott Hicks is directing; Taylor Schilling also stars. Denise DiNovi and Kevin McCormick are producing.

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Adam Scott Stars In Indie Comedy ‘A.C.O.D.’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Adam Scott has been set to star in A.C.O.D., with Stuart Zicherman making his directorial debut on a script he wrote with Ben Karlin. The project is being financed and produced by Black Bear Pictures, which is currently in production with an untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid.

The title, A.C.O.D., is an acronym for Adult Children of Divorce, and Scott plays a thirty-ish man who was forced at an early age to be the adult of his family when his parents split bitterly. Fed up dealing with his parents’ long running feud, he must get his folks together once more time and keep from blowing a gasket after his younger brother unexpectedly decides to get married. Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman is producing with Karlin (who co-created The Colbert Report) and Tim Perell. The film will shoot in March, and Scott will work it into his schedule starring in the NBC sitcom Parks and Rec. Read More »

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Russell Brand Names New Warner Bros Company And The Kind Of Movies He’ll Make

Mike Fleming

Deadline broke the news in April that Russell Brand was making a first-look producing deal at Warner Bros, a studio that has stocked the lot with star-based companies featuring the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Ben Affleck/Matt Damon, Zac Efron, Steve Carell and Leonardo DiCaprio. Now that Brand has completed work in the summer 2012 New Line/Warner Bros musical Rock of Ages for director Adam Shankman, he is ready to get busy on the Warner Bros lot. He has named his company Branded Films, and he and his partner Nik Linnen have hired Beau Bauman to run it. Brand wrote a statement for Deadline that reveals the kind of movies he wants to make for the studio. Here goes:

“We at the newly founded Branded Films are very excited to announce our new company and the opportunity for puns that it affords us. Russell Brand and Nik Linnen have coerced Beau Bauman into running our company. Our offices will be on the lot, our sincere hope is that we’ll be in that water tower in which some of the Looney Tunes also live. For this we will expect a reduced rent. If you have any film ideas, send them to: Beau Bauman, the water tower, Warner Bros, Hollywood, America (care of E Fudd). We particularly welcome ideas that could feature a long-haired actor with an unintelligible accent (Rasputin/Tarzan/British Jesus). That’s all folks.”

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Universal Lands 7-Figure Pitch Deal For R-Rated Seth Rogen-Zac Efron Comedy

By | Friday July 22, 2011 @ 4:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After a feverish day-long bidding battle, I’m hearing that Universal Pictures is closing a 7-figure deal for an untitled comedy that will have Seth Rogen and Zac Efron attached to star. Rogen and Evan Goldberg will produce through their Point Grey Pictures banner. I’m told that this was an incredible deal that capitalized on the R-rated successes of the summer, and that beyond the 7-figures for writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, Rogen will be paid $8 million with a separate low seven-figure producing fee.

Several studios bid on the pitch that will be written by Cohen and O’Brien, who, like Rogen and Goldberg, are Judd Apatow proteges. Cohen and O’Brien will be executive producers. The pitch will be an R-rated comedy that has the tone of Old School. Rogen plays a regular guy who lives near an alpha male fraternity house. Efron is a member of the fraternity, whose raucous behavior wreaks havoc on the other guy’s family life. The scribes hatched the idea and brought it to Goldberg and it was packaged with Efron and Rogen. The bidding came down to Universal and New Line. Uni made Bridesmaids and New Line made Horrible Bosses, both of which were big R-rated hits. CAA and Alchemy Entertainment repped Efron, and CAA repped the writers. UTA and Principal repped Rogen and UTA repped Goldberg.

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‘Treme’s Kim Dickens Moving To ‘Heartland’

By | Wednesday July 13, 2011 @ 5:27pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Kim Dickens has been cast in a lead role alongside Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron in Killer Films’ Heartland, which revolves around a traditional father (Quaid) who wishes for his race-car driver son (Efron) to take over the family-run seed business in Iowa, a tale that includes racing and illegal goings-on. Dickens will play the mother, Irene. Pam Koffler and Christine Vachon are producing for Killer Films. Dickens, who is a series regular on HBO’s drama series Treme and next appears on the big screen in Paramount’s Footloose, is repped by Gersh.

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Sofia Vergara Cancels ‘The Paperboy’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sofia Vergara, who was announced to be part of the cast in the Lee Daniels-directed drama The Paperboy, has just dropped out of the film. These independent films take forever to come together, and when the start date of the movie got pushed back a week, the schedule conflicted with her day job on Modern Family, whose third season will be getting underway by then. “Modern Family is her first priority, so once she was made aware of the change in schedule, she had no choice but to pull,” said an insider in her camp. Vergara did have time on her hiatus to star for Peter and Bobby Farrelly in The Three Stooges, and she has wrapped that role. Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and Tobey Maguire star in The Paperboy, which is based on the Pete Dexter novel about a newspaper reporter who returns home to Florida to investigate the possible unlawful imprisonment of a death-row inmate. Millennium/Nu Image picked up the Pedro Almodovar-produced film during Cannes last month.

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Cannes: Millennium/Nu Image To Deliver ‘The Paperboy’

Millennium Films has picked up rights to The Paperboy, a sexual thriller based on the 1995 Peter Dexter novel that Dexter and Pedro Almodovar developed over 10 years. Matthew McConaughey, Tobey Maguire, Sofia Vergara and Zac Efron star, and Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels directs and produces with Hilary Shor (Children Of Men). Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Danny Dimbort and Cassian Elwes executive produce. The plot centers on an idealistic Miami reporter who returns to his Florida hometown to investigate the possibly unlawful imprisonment of a death-row inmate. The deal was put together by CAA, and Nu Image is handling foreign sales.

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Zac Efron’s ‘Die In A Gunfight’ Gets Helmer

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mandler has been set to direct Die In A Gunfight for Media Rights Capital, the Gabriel Ferrari/Andrew Barrer-scripted film that has Zac Efron attached to star. Mark Gordon is producing with Jennifer Todd. Mandler, a photographer, music video and commercial director, is separately attached to direct Vlad at Summit Entertainment, with Plan B producing. UTA and Management 360 reps the director. The scribes wrote Die In A Gunfight right out of NYU, and it made the 2010 Black List. Efron is attached to play a fight-prone and death-obsessed young society man who pursues a romance with the daughter of his father’s enemy.

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Warner Bros Stakes ‘Arthur’ Star Russell Brand To First-Look Producing Pact

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While Arthur was a box office flop, Russell Brand has been staked to a first-look producing deal by Warner Bros. That studio has cut back as hard in recent years as any with its number of producer overhead deals, and slashed the ones that remain. But Brand becomes the latest case where the studio gives pacts to actors it primarily wants populating Warner Bros films. Warner Bros got aggressive on that front last year when it added deals with Robert Downey Jr., Ben Affleck/Matt Damon and Zac Efron, to go along with  pacts previously given to Steve Carell, Leonardo DiCaprio and a few others. It has become reminiscent of those days when the studio had a star stable with the likes of Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood (who, amazingly, is still there).

Brand will have a modest deal, but Warner Bros apparently hasn’t lost faith in him despite the disappointing returns on Arthur. The studio is bullish on two other comic vehicles that were acquired as star vehicles for Brand while the studio was making Arthur. One is an untitled laffer being scripted by William and Scott Bindley that would cast Brand as a David Beckham-like soccer player/playboy who gets arrested in Texas and draws the community-service gig of coaching the awful local high school team. The other is a remake of the British comedy show Rentaghost, in which Brand would play a spirit who starts a temp agency for the dead. One thing the studio has learned is that an entirely likable version of Brand isn’t necessarily the one audiences respond to. In the original Arthur, Dudley Moore was drunk the whole movie and picked up hookers. Brand played that kind of rascal in Get Him To The Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but his Arthur was sanitized by comparison. Better off turning him loose next time and perhaps pairing him with another star. Read More »

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Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito Lead Voice Cast For Animated ‘The Lorax’

Mike Fleming

Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Rob Riggle and Betty White will provide the principal voices for The Lorax, the Illumination Entertainment 3D CGI animated film. The pic is based on the Dr. Seuss tale that follows the tale of a forest creature who shared the enduring power of hope.

DeVito is the Lorax, and Helms will provide the voice of the Once’ler. Efron will voice Ted, the young boy who searched for the Lorax, and Swift will play Audrey, the girl of his dreams. Riggle plays King O’Hare, and White plays Ted’s Grammy Norma. Universal Pictures is distributing. Illumination’s next release is Hop, which opens April 1.

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Films Casting Roundup

Mike Fleming

Michael Ealy has been set to play the male lead alongside Kate Beckinsale in the fourth installment of the Underworld franchise for Screen Gems and Lakeshore. He will play a police detective who hunts the vampiress and ultimately teams up with her. Ealy, repped by Gersh and Epidemic Management, most recently played a soldier who returned from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder in  the Tyler Perry-directed For Colored Girls, and he worked for Screen Gems in Takers. Underworld 3D just got under way in Vancouver, directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein from a script by J. Michael Straczynski and John Hlavin, a co-production between Lakeshore and Screen Gems. …

Robin McLeavy has been set to play the role of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for 20th Century Fox. The role is brief but sets the tone for the action. It’s her death at the hands of a bloodsucker that hardens young Abe Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) into going to war against the growing scourge of vampires in the 1800s. The Australian actress, who just signed with UTA, is also repped by Wishlab and Shanahans in Australia. She played Stella opposite Cate Blanchett’s Blanche in the Liv Ullmann-directed revival of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. … Read More »

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Katherine Heigl Will Celebrate ‘New Year’s Eve’ With Bon Jovi Instead Of Halle Berry

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Katherine Heigl, not Halle Berry,  will be the one smooching Jon Bon Jovi in New Line’s ensemble romantic comedy New Year’s Eve. I’m told Berry has dropped out of the picture, which is just getting underway. Heigl was available because she recently withdrew from Adaline, a film that was supposed to shoot in March from Lakeshore and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. Her reps said Heigl, who recently adopted her first child, didn’t want to go back to work right away. New Year’s Eve is the perfect job then, because it’s a true ensemble that won’t require a long production commitment from the actress.  Heigl had been in early talks for the original film, the Marshall-directed Valentine’s Day, but a deal was never consummated. Losing Berry is a blow, but Heigl’s certainly a draw in the romantic comedy genre. The Garry Marshall-directed film stars Robert De Niro, Sofia Vergara, Russell Peters, Hilary Swank, Ice Cube, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Josh Duhamel, Sarah Jessica Parker, Abigail Breslin, Seth Meyers, Jessica Biel and Til Schweiger. Mike Karz and Wayne Rice are producing.

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Zac Efron Drama ‘Die In A Gunfight’ To MRC

By | Wednesday December 8, 2010 @ 11:54am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital is negotiating to acquire Die in a Gunfight, a script by fresh-from-NYU scribes Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari that has Zac Efron attached to play a fight-prone and death-obsessed young society man who pursues a romance with the daughter of his father’s enemy. The film will be produced by Mark Gordon Co’s Mark Gordon and Jennifer Todd, with Efron and Jason Barrett executive producers through Efron’s Ninjas Runnin’ Wild banner. Allyson Seeger and Jason Young will be co-producers. The writers are repped by WME and Prolific while Efron’s CAA and Alchemy.

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Disney Channel Casts Its Next Big Musical

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Disney Channel’s new Zac Efron and Demi Lovato hopefuls. The cable channel has assembled the cast of what is being groomed to be its next original movie/musical franchise, Lemonade Mouth, by mixing young Disney series stars and unknowns with TV veterans Tisha Campbell-Martin and Christopher McDonald. The story follows five disparate high school students who meet in detention and form a band. Starring are Bridgit Mendler (Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie) as lead vocalist Olivia White, Adam Hicks (Disney XD’s Zeke and Luther) as keyboardist Wen Giford, Hayley Kiyoko (Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place) as electric guitarist Stella Yamada, Naomi Scott (Disney Channel UK’s Life Bites) as bass guitarist Mohini and Blake Michael (discovered during an open casting call) as percussionist Charlie Delgado. Nick Roux as Scott Pickett, Chris Brochu as Ray Beach will play rival band Mudslide Crush, while Campbell-Martin will play music teacher Miss Reznick and McDonald Principal Brenigan. The movie, slated for a 2011 premiere, was written by April Blair based on the book Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes. It is being directed by Patricia Riggen, executive produced by Debra Martin Chase and choreographed by Chris Scott.

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