April 22, 2014

Tag Archives: new york city

Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…
Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.
1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.
2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely [...]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

Hollywood: Welcome to Hard Times

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
These are strange times in Hollywood. Turbulent times.Grieving times. Warring times. Bieber times. Noah times.
To be sure, Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood without being a little off its axis. But the events of recent weeks make Tinseltown seem almostas if the tectonic plates are shifting and we’re all about to be swallowed upin a giant, sucking sinkhole along with those vintage Corvettes.
There was Fast and Furious star Paul Walker dying senselessly in a horrible car crash.
There was the shocking news that the brilliant award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. In New York. In his Greenwich Village apartment. In the bathroom. A syringe in his arm. Five empty packets and dozens more full of heroin. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.
Then, like a Dementor swooping down on the Hogwarts Express,bespectacled Woody Allen found himself dueling with his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, 28, who accused the celebrated actor/director of molesting her when she was only 7 years old. Allen flatly denied it but the accusations made everyone feel creepy and wondering who wastelling the truth? The feud even spilled over into the Oscars with Best Actressnominee Cate Blanchett, the star of Allen’s Blue Jasmine being singled out by Farrow for professionally associating with Allen. ‘What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?’she wrote, listing other celebrities who had also worked with Allen over the years.
It was left to Page Six to supply more details on the untimely death of Julia Roberts’ half-sister Nancy Motes, who is said to have tweeted ‘Just so you all know ‘America’s Sweetheart’ is a B***H’ in the weeks before Motes died of a drug overdose. In October last year Motes also spoke about a family rift, reportedly tweeting: ‘It’s a shame when you get more support from strangers than you do from your family. I can’t wait to officially belong to another family!’ It sounded all the more poignant when you read that Motes had once harbored her own Tinseltown dreams.
The grieving poured forth again this week with the deaths oftwo icons: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.
Shirley and Sid were, of course, now elderly so their deathswere not unexpected, but it tugged at the heartstrings because they stillentertain us whenever their films or TV shows are aired on television.
Shirley, arms pumping with that curly top and dimpled chin,couldn’t extend her appeal beyond youth, but in adulthood she managed to [...]

Tom Hanks gets standing ovation for Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy”

Tom Hanks got a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation last night as he made his Broadway debut with Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” The response was not just from friends and fans because they like Hanks, but because his portrayal of Mike McAlary is such a moving, funny, and lovely experience. This was my second time seeing “Lucky Guy” and I do admit to having a soft spot for it. Ephron captured life in a New York newsroom between 1985 and 1998 perfectly. A lot of the specifics of McAlary’s life have been telescoped to fit a normal running time. But even taking dramatic license, Ephron worked in enough to capture the triumphs and the hubris.

And Hanks broke down in tears at the end of the show, when a curtain pulled back on stage to reveal a large portrait of Ephron, who died last July. “Nothing like sharing a personal moment with 11,000 strangers,” Tom said to me later at the afterparty at Gotham Hall. But those were real tears. “Nora and I were always showing each other what we were writing. I ran into her in London last year, and she said, ‘You know I finished that thing.’ I read it and said, What can we do with this now?”
Hanks is not alone on the stage. And under George C. Wolfe’s heartfelt direction, the supporting cast each gets a chance to shine, from Peter Gerety to Courtney B. Vance to Peter Scolari and Christopher MacDonald.
So was there? Who wasn’t there? Loads of folks from the New York tabloids, starting with eminence, Pete Hamill. The Times was represented by current editor in chief Jill Abramson and past legend Gay Talese. The News was there in the person of Mort Zuckerman, who is referred to in “Lucky Guy” as “the owner.” He may have winced at some of the references.
To read more go to www.showbiz411.com
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Tribeca Film Festival announced the lineup for the 7th annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) today announced the lineup for the seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Founded to broaden the audience for independent film through stories about sports and competition, this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will consist of nine films, including four titles from ESPN Films’ highly anticipated “Nine for IX” series which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Title IX with nine documentary films about women in sports directed by outstanding female filmmakers.
The 2013 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 12th edition of TFF, presented by American Express, April 17 – April 28 at locations around New York City.
The Festival revealed that the world premiere of Big Shot, directed by Kevin Connolly, will serve as the gala premiere of the program on Friday, April 19. Connolly is returning to Tribeca having debuted his feature film Gardener of Eden in 2007. In Big Shot, Connolly chronicles John Spano’s fraudulent purchase of the New York Islanders. In 1997, Spano bought the New York Islanders for a staggering $165 million. The scheme behind Spano’s acquisition of the team is revealed as Big Shot takes viewers behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history.
“The sports film offerings at this year’s Festival give sports fans and movie buffs tremendous opportunities to experience the many ways that sports intersect with our culture,” said Genna Terranova, Tribeca Film Festival Director of Programming. “We are excited that Big Shot, which chronicles one of the most infamous sagas in professional sports management history, will kick-off this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, and to share the range of these personal stories seem through the lens of sports.”
“I’ve always thought the expression ‘passion project’ was kind of a cliché until I started working on Big Shot for ESPN,” said Kevin Connolly. “Working side by side and spending time with guys that I literally grew up idolizing has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. The whole experience, including having the film premiere in New York at the festival, has been a dream come true.”
“There are many vibrant, independent voices out there telling incredible sports stories and we’re honored to be involved with the Tribeca Film Festival where together we can shine a light on these documentaries and filmmakers,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We produce our films with the intention of capturing both the glory and the heartbreak of [...]

“The Place Beyond the Pines” to be released in New York and Los Angeles on March 29

The daring new movie from the director of Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines is a sweeping emotional drama powerfully exploring the unbreakable bond between fathers and sons.
Luke (Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling) is a high-wire motorcycle stunt performer who travels with the carnival from town to town. While passing through Schenectady in upstate New York, he tries to reconnect with a former lover, Romina (Eva Mendes), only to learn that she has given birth to their son Jason in his absence. Luke decides to give up life on the road to try and provide for his newfound family by taking a job as a car mechanic. Noticing Luke’s ambition and talents, his employer Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) proposes to partner with Luke in a string of spectacular bank robberies – which will place Luke on the radar of ambitious rookie cop Avery Cross (Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper).
Avery, who has to navigate a local police department ruled by the menacing and corrupt detective Deluca (Ray Liotta), is also struggling to balance his professional life with his family life, which includes his wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) and their infant son AJ. The consequences of Avery’s confrontation with Luke will reverberate into the next generation. It is then that the two sons, Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen), must face their fateful, shared legacy.
Focus Features will release The Place Beyond the Pines in New York and Los Angeles on March 29; in select cities on April 5; and in cities across the country on April 12. This film has been MPAA-rated “R.”
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“BLACK NATIVITY” will open wide in the US on November 2013

In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson).
Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Screenplay by: Kasi Lemmons
Directed by: Kasi Lemmons
Based on the play by: Langston Hughes
Produced by: Bill Horberg, Celine Rattray, Galt Niederhoffer
Executive Producers: Trudie Styler, Joy Goodwin
Executive Music Producer: Raphael Saadiq
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige, Jacob Latimore, Nasir Jones and Jennifer Hudson
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World premiere of ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ to open Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) today announced that the world premiere of Mistaken for Strangers, executive produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry and produced by Matt Berninger, Carin Besser and Craig Charland, will open the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, presented by American Express. Director Tom Berninger chronicles his experience on tour with his brother, The National’s frontman Matt Berninger, in this funny and affecting film, which will also play during the Festival’s 12th edition. The premiere, taking place on Wednesday, April 17, will be followed by a special performance by The National. The Festival will run through April 28.
Mistaken for Strangers follows The National on its biggest tour to date. Newbie roadie Tom (lead singer Matt Berninger’s younger brother) is a heavy metal and horror movie enthusiast, and can’t help but put his own spin on the experience. Inevitably, Tom’s moonlighting as an irreverent documentarian creates some drama for the band on the road. The film is a hilarious and touching look at two very different brothers and an entertaining story of artistic aspiration.
“Mistaken for Strangers exemplifies the independent spirit and vitality that Tribeca is excited to showcase every year,” said Geoff Gilmore, Chief Creative Officer. “We are thrilled to open with a film that embodies the journey of an independent filmmaker, and is at its core a highly personal and lighthearted story about brotherly love. It will be a great night of both indie film and music.”
“We’re really happy to premiere this movie at Tribeca, as New York has been home to us for these past 15 years,” Matt Berninger said. “I was happy to give my brother whatever access he needed. I just didn’t expect this movie to include shower scenes.”
“When my brother asked me along on tour as a roadie, I thought I might as well bring a camera to film the experience,” explained director Tom Berninger. “What started as a pretty modest tour documentary has, over the last two and a half years, grown into something much more personal, and hopefully more entertaining. It’s a huge thrill to be showing this movie at the Tribeca Film Festival.”
The National band members include Matt Berninger, Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner, Bryan Devendorf and Scott Devendorf. In 2010 the band released High Violet, which sold more than half a million copies worldwide. A brand new studio album from The National is slated for a May release on 4AD with [...]

Academy to celebrate Oscars in New York

The iconic landmark restaurant Daniel will be rolling out the red carpet for New York-based members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, entertainment industry executives, and several hometown luminaries to celebrate the 85th Oscars with an exclusive viewing party, the only East Coast event officially hosted by the Academy. This year’s show is of special significance to New Yorkers, as its producers are the Gotham-based motion picture, television and theater producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have executive produced such acclaimed feature films as “Chicago” and “Hairspray,” as well as the current NBC musical series “Smash.”
World-renowned chef Daniel Boulud is preparing a special menu of cocktails and canapés with a nod to this year’s nominated films, to be served along with his seasonally inspired, award-winning contemporary French cuisine. Now celebrating its 20th year, Daniel is one of the very few restaurants to have received the New York Times four-star rating as well as three Michelin stars. Chef Boulud, who hails from Lyon, France, is considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities and one of the most revered chefs in New York City, which he has called home since 1982.
“Oscar® Sunday is a day to celebrate the best in film with family and friends,” notes Patrick Harrison, the Academy’s New York program director. “We are thrilled that Daniel Boulud has opened his doors to welcome Academy members and the New York film community on the occasion of the Oscars.”
“New York has been my home for over 30 years, and to be able to host the esteemed Academy’s official East Coast event is a huge honor,” said Boulud. “I hope this fete will mark the beginning of a long-running tradition.”
Three 7.5-foot versions of the 13.5-inch, 8.5-pound Oscar statuette, one of world’s most recognized symbols, will greet the New York partygoers as they enter the restaurant on Oscar Night. These golden sentinels are identical to the larger-than-life Oscars that will greet the ceremony’s attendees on the Hollywood red carpet. Numerous large screens will ensure that guests don’t miss a moment of the show’s excitement.
Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane. The Oscar presentation will be televised live on the ABC Television Network and in more than 225 [...]

John Leguizamo’s “Fugly” nabbed by 108 Media

Further flexing the muscles of its worldwide sales and distribution operation at this year’s European Film Market, 108 Media has just sealed a deal on FUGLY!, an autobiographical comedy written by and starring John Leguizamo, it was announced by 108 CEO Abhi Rastogi. With foreign sales commencing immediately in Berlin, the film will also see a theatrical release in North America via 108 Media and it’s distribution partner, Paladin. FUGLY! Is slated to open in the third quarter of this year.
A fictionalized rendering of his acclaimed one-man show, “Ghetto Klown,” (which played on Broadway prior to an extensive international tour), FUGLY! casts Leguizamo as Jesse Sanchez, a Latino comic who has a near-death experience that forces him to revisit his personal and professional highs and lows. Told in a style that befits the envelope-pushing Jesse–and Leguizamo–the film blends past, present, fantasy, and reality to tell of one man’s hilarious quest for fame, fortune, and fulfillment. Directed by Alfredo De Villa, whose previous work includes the award-winning drama “Washington Heights,” and the Hispanic holiday hit, “Nothing Like The Holidays,” (which also toplined Leguizamo), FUGLY! boasts an ensemble cast headed by Oscar-nominee Rosie Perez, Radha Mitchell, Griffin Dunne, Yul Vasquez,Tomas Milian, and Ally Sheedy.
About the deal Leguizamo says, “I’m very honored to be working with 108 Media’s honcho Mark Urman, who I have always looked up to in the independent scene. This is my first foray into screenwriting and in trying to up-end a format by making an ‘anti~romantic comedy.’ We went very sexual, very aggressive, and exposed some of my life through the character of Jesse. ‘Fugly’ was a term we used and invented in New York when i was a kid for anything truly abhorrent. It was used on me many a time in my hood. This time I’m appropriating it. This is my revenge through art!”
Rastogi says, “we are honored that John chose to entrust this passion project to us, and we are looking forward to bringing it to audiences around the world.” 108 Media COO Nathaniel Warsh adds, “one thing that sets us apart from other companies is that, through our partnership with Mark Urman and Paladin, we aren’t merely selling FUGLY!, we are committing to it fully. By overseeing the worldwide marketing, working closely with the talent and, most importantly, funding the North American P&A ourselves, we prove we really believe in this film. Frankly, there’s no [...]

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