Mark Wahlberg Trains For and Helps To Cast “The Fighter”

By Scott Feinberg I just stumbled upon several YouTube clips that feature Mark Wahlberg – the Oscar-nominated actor (‘The Departed’) and TV producer (‘Entourage’ and ‘In Treatment’) – during various stages of his preparation to play boxing great ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (1965-) in David O. Russell‘s ‘The Fighter’ (Paramount, 12/10), the 2010 film that I’m most excited about.

Wahlberg, who is also a producer on the film, regarded Ward as a one of his childhood heroes, and seems born to play the part – both men came out of rough neighborhoods in Boston, overcame personal problems, and went on to achieve international fame. Wahlberg, who will appear in a much lighter role this summer opposite Will Ferrell in ‘The Other Guys’ (Columbia, 8/6), was also recently the subject of an admiring New York Times profile . I really think that this might be his year.

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Dear Hollywood: I Know What You Did Last Summer…and It was Better Than What You Did This Summer!

By Scott Feinberg For moviegoers, the summer of 2010 has felt oddly like summers of yesteryear – only worse. Why, you ask?

Because the vast majority of the season’s biggest releases have been sequels that paled in comparison to the earlier installments in their respective franchises. Many people have asked me why so many bad movies have been dumped on us lately, and what, if anything, can be done to change the trend. Here’s my take on the situation, in the format of a Q&A?

People might not even want to be reminded of some of the sequels that have come and gone from theaters this year, but, just to put this discussion into context, can you reel off some of them?
Sure. We’ve had – abbreviating some of their wordy titles and just getting down to the point – ‘Step Up 2’ (Disney, 2/14), ‘Iron Man 2’ (Paramount, 5/7), ‘Sex and the City 2’ (Warner Brothers, 5/27), ‘Twilight 3’ (Summit, 6/30), ‘Shrek 4′(Paramount, 5/21), ‘Cats and Dogs 2’ (7/30), and last but certainly not least, the only one of this lot to actually improve upon the previous installment, ‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney, 6/18).

How can we explain the high – and seemingly growing – number of sequels? Before we know it, we’re going to be on installments five, six, and seven in some of these franchises…
The major movie studios, which used to have to answer only to their studio chiefs, now are each but one relatively small part of giant media conglomerates (i.e. Fox is part of News Corp., Paramount is part of Viacom, Warner Brothers is part of Time Warner, etc.) and have to answer to their shareholders, who expect them to be as profitable as possible. Consequently, a new and original property is considered a bigger gamble than one that has already been tested ? for example, a sequel to a film that recently made money, or a remake of a film that made money long ago, or an adaptation of a hit novel, play, or comic book series, all of which come with built-in fanbases.

* Has the overall economic recession made the problem even worse?
* Is there any reason for hope?
* Talk about that for a second – ‘the awards season.’ What’s that all about?
* Why isn’t the whole year an awards season?
* Is there anything that the Academy could do to that would encourage studios to spread out their quality films throughout the year?

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Rare Performance By Marni Nixon Should Be Loverly!

By Scott Feinberg Marni Nixon has often been called one of the “unsung” talents of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but that’s probably not the most fitting of labels considering she sang more iconic songs in classic movies than just about anyone.

Nixon, a lifelong singer who turned 80 in February, dubbed the voices of many A-list actresses who were cast in movie musicals but lacked the musical chops to do their own singing. Her most prominent assignments were Deborah Kerr on “The King and I” (1956) and “An Affair to Remember” (1957), Natalie Wood on “West Side Story” (1961), and Audrey Hepburn on “My Fair Lady” (1964), each of whose singing she dubbed nearly entirely. She also tackled select notes and songs for Margaret O’Brien on “The Secret Garden” (1949), Jeanne Crain on “Cheaper by the Dozen” (1950), Marilyn Monroe on “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), and one of the geese in “Mary Poppins” (1964). Though Nixon appeared in dozens of bit parts as a child, she rarely appeared on screen as an adult. One noteworthy exception, however, was “The Sound of Music” (1965), in which she appeared as a nun. While Nixon enjoyed her film work, she spent the vast majority of her career performing live music and theater—including numerous Broadway productions—and came to be widely regarded as one of the world’s talented sopranos.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to spend several hours chatting with Nixon at her home in New York City about her remarkable life and career. At the conclusion of our visit, I was notified that movie and music lovers will soon have a rare opportunity to see her perform in-person when she appears at New York City’s Broadway Emporium, located at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, from 9:30-10:45pm on August 3, 2010. To reserve tickets to both hear and—for perhaps the first time—see Nixon deliver her definitive renditions of songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?,” visit or call 1-866-468-7619. Trust me: you won’t be sorry.

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Oscars 2 Horse Best Picture Race – The Feinberg Feed



In this week’s edition of “The Feinberg Feed,” Scott explains why he agrees with the majority of pundits that the best picture category is a two-horse race, but why he disagrees with them that the race is between “The Hurt Locker” and “Avatar.” Instead, he argues, the biggest threat to “The Hurt Locker” comes from “Inglourious Basterds.”

“Avatar,” Feinberg grants, has made a fortune at the box-office and changed the means of production and distribution forever. But the film didn’t score an acting nod or a screenplay nod, and while several films have won with only one or the other only one has ever won without either — and that was 77 years ago, predating the first era of 10 best picture nominees.

“Basterds,” meanwhile, also did well critically and commercially but is much less polarizing, which should help it (and hurt “Avatar”) on the new preferential ballot. It also carries four key nominations that the vast majority of best picture winners have always had: a directing nod, an acting nod, a screenplay nod, and an editing nod. This year, only “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Precious” (which is far too divisive a film to win with the preferential ballot) have them.

Feinberg cautions that there are firsts for everything and that one therefore cannot totally discount “Avatar” as a possible best picture winner, but considering all of the above — as well as the precursor success of “The Hurt Locker” (DGA, PGA, ACE, etc.) and “Inglourious Basterds” (SAG), not to mention the lack of precursor success for “Avatar” (it won only with the HFPA, which has no overlap with the Academy) — it seems highly unlikely that it can top the other two.

The Feinberg Feed – Review of the Oscar Nominations


BY SCOTT FEINBERG’s Scott Feinberg discusses the oscar nominations and how they might affect the outcome of the awards. In this episode we review how “The Blind Side” nomination for Best Picture could help Sandra Bullock’s chances to win Best Actress over Meryl Streep. We also compare the chances of “The Hurt Locker” winning over “Avatar” for best picture.