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Thompson on Hollywood

DreamWorks' Katzenberg Packs Animated Pics with Celebs

James Sims reviews Nicole LaPorte's new book The Men Who Would Be King: An almost epic tale of moguls, movies, and a company called DreamWorks and agrees with me that of the founding troica, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, LaPorte gives the latter the worst appraisal of the three. While Katzenberg came off great just five years ago in James Stewart's book Disney War and in this year's hagiographic insider-documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty which covers the Katzenberg golden Disney years that yielded his career peak, the $700-million-grossing The Lion King, LaPorte and Sims are both more critical. Here's Sims:
  • By James Sims
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  • June 4, 2010 6:41 AM
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First Universal Tour of Rebuilt New York Street; Spielberg Talks

First Universal Tour of Rebuilt New York Street; Spielberg Talks
On the morning of June 1, 2008, Steven Spielberg was sound asleep when the phone rang with horrible news: "The lot is burning down again." Spielberg jumped out of bed and drove 28 minutes to Universal City, waving his ID at roadblocks until he got to scene of the fire. "It was a wall of flame," he recalls. "At the height of the fire it was like watching special effects--the only problem was that it wasn't."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 3, 2010 8:27 AM
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Must-See Winter's Bone: Granik Digs Deep with Breakout Lawrence

Must-See Winter's Bone: Granik Digs Deep with Breakout Lawrence
Indie filmmaker Debra Granik did it once with the 2004 low-budget drama Down to the Bone, which showed what Vera Farmiga could do (she won best actress from the LA Film Critics). This January at Sundance, the director did it again, showcasing Jennifer Lawrence in a star-making role as a smart young teen fighting to save her family from falling off the edge in hard-bitten Ozark country. (The film won both the screenwriting and dramatic grand jury prize.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 3, 2010 6:48 AM
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I Love You Philip Morris is Blocked, Cameron Calls BP Morons, PR Bypasses Old Media, New Indies Rise

- Phillip Morris isn't feeling loved. After three changes to its US release date, the romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as gay lovers is now facing an injunction that could stop its release. THR Esq. reports that producer EuropaCorp and distributor Consolidated are battling over a contracted $3-million advance that was never paid in full, resulting in EuropaCorp's demand for return of marketing materials and a suit against Consolidated for breach of contract and copyright infringement. Although Consolidated claims that it still plans to distribute the film, Judge Dale Fischer says that EuropaCorp is likely to win. Consolidated's lawyer is still optimistic, but, heading into IFTA arbitration, the final ruling and release of I Love You Phillip Morris are still unknowns.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 3, 2010 6:11 AM
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Cinematheque Francaise's Costa-Gavras and Toubiana Honor Hopper

The Cinematheque Francaise's Costa-Gavras and Serge Toubiana pay tribute to Dennis Hopper, who was the subject of a recent exhibition at the Cinematheque--which besides its archives and screening program, boasts a must-see cinema museum in Paris. DENNIS HOPPER, 1936-2010 News of Dennis Hopper’s death, at his home in Venice, California, reached us on Saturday, 29 May and deeply saddened us. He was 74. We had the immense good fortune to be his hosts at the Cinémathèque Française in October 2008, for the opening of an exhibition devoted entirely to him: “Dennis Hopper et le Nouvel Hollywood.” Dennis Hopper showed great courtesy to our staff and the many journalists who questioned him about his life and career, placing himself entirely at their disposal. He also took great pleasure in conversing with the Cinémathèque audience, which was delighted to be meeting an idol and icon of world cinema.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 3, 2010 5:01 AM
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More: Obit

Comics News: Xerxes Found, Iron Man Missing, Captain America's New Clothes

The Hero Complex reports that Frank Miller has completed his 300 comic book prequel, Xerxes. The graphic novel will be released in six installments and follows Xerxes' search for deification. The film presupposes the existence of gods and magic... so expect more gold-pierced escapism. 300 director Zack Snyder has expressed interest in adapting the work to the screen. After the not-so-hot Spirit, this presents the perfect opportunity for Miller to reclaim 300's blockbuster success. In all likelihood, Iran will not be pleased.
  • By Cameron Carlson
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  • June 2, 2010 12:00 PM
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RIP: Cinematographer William Fraker

One of Hollywood's great cinematographers, William Fraker, succumbed to cancer Monday at age 86. While D.P.'s can be cranky, Fraker was known for his affability and exacting standards on sets, from Rosemary's Baby, Bullitt, 1941, Close Encounters and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Tombstone and Heaven Can Wait. A Naval veteran of World War II, Fraker attended USC's School of Cinema under the G.I. Bill. He grew into one of the defining film talents to emerge in the 60s and worked productively well into his 80s: his last film was 2002's Waking Up in Reno.
  • By Cameron Carlson
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  • June 2, 2010 8:52 AM
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Cruise Reprises Tropic Thunder Grossman Role

Tom Cruise dons producer Les Grossman's hirsute fat suit once again for the MTV Movie Awards, which air on June 6. One video shows a hairy post-Scientology Cruise assaulting an older Cruise reenacting the young Risky Business Cruise. An unintentional meta-enactment of his entire career? He also dances around and yells at Twilight stars. Here are three videos:
  • By Cameron Carlson
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  • June 2, 2010 8:07 AM
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Cameron Weighs in on Oil Spill, Disney Sells Toy Story 3 Tickets on Facebook, Abrams' Secret Movie

- Nobody knows more about deep-sea robotic technology than filmmaker/tech head James Cameron, who has taken submersibles and his own robotic cameras down to the ocean floor to shoot documentaries on the Titanic and Bismarck. So it makes sense that he was part of a brainstorming session with U.S. officials, scientists and academics who are trying to come up with a solution to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since BP's efforts have failed, the Federal government is opening its ears to a wider knowledge database. The Huffington Post lists other parties involved in the session: the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Oceanographic Institute at Harbor Branch, Florida Atlantic University; University of California at Santa Barbara; Nuytco Research Limited; World Wildlife Fund; and the University of California at Berkeley. Cameron likes nothing better than hanging with scientist brainiacs.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 2, 2010 7:00 AM
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Vanity Fair's Twilight American Beauties

This August Vanity Fair photograph for a feature on the women of Twilight: Eclipse reminds me of that American Beauty overhead shot of Mena Suvari on a bed of red rose petals. With the exception of blonde Dakota Fanning in the middle, they're fairly unrecognizable with their 40s crimson gashes.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 2, 2010 6:46 AM
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