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Thompson on Hollywood

Howl Review: Doc/Drama Hybrid Misfires, Franco Soars

Howl Review: Doc/Drama Hybrid Misfires, Franco Soars
Howl is an ambitious and admirable film from documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk). The filmmakers started out trying to make a documentary, but wanted to be able to show poet Allen Ginsberg as a young man, delivering the searing, profane classic poem “Howl” in 1955. They workshopped the movie at various Sundance labs, but the transition from doc to dramatic feature is an awkward one. The documentarians fell into the trap of trying to make everything based on real life, including the “Howl” obscenity trial that made Ginsberg famous—but putting well-known actors Bob Balaban, David Straithairn and Jon Hamm, skilled as they are, into the courtroom just serves to underscore its inauthenticity.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 11:23 AM
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Kasdan Talks Return to Directing with Darling Companion, Wiest, Duplass, Shepard Join Keaton, Kline

Kasdan Talks Return to Directing with Darling Companion, Wiest, Duplass, Shepard Join Keaton, Kline
No director better represents the sorry state of the current moviemaking scene than Lawrence Kasdan. For most of his career, the studios supplied him with steady work as a screenwriter (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, The Bodyguard) and writer-director (The Big Chill, Body Heat, The Accidental Tourist, Grand Canyon). The writing has continued--he's still a well-paid fixer-for-hire--but Kasdan has had a tough time getting arrested as a director. He is now one of many senior players who are no longer in demand at the studios, which chase young whiz kids with VFX skills who can deliver them what they want without demanding final cut. And it takes a while for once top-tier directors to admit that with the studio jobs gone, the only way to get a smart non-tentpole non-genre movie made now is to raise the money independently.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 7:36 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Two Social Network Clips, NYFF Press Conference, Live MySpace Webcast

Check out these two clips from David Fincher's The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which opens the NYFF Friday night. And here's a link to the NYFF press conference. Billionaire Zuckerberg, 26, appears on Oprah Friday to announce his $100-million donation to the Newark schools, one week before The Social Network opens. "People don't care what people say about you in a movie," he told ABC's Diane Sawyer, "they care what you build." Fascinating interview. Eisenberg got the eyes right.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 4:03 AM
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  • 4 Comments

NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker to Step Down When Comcast Deal Closes

It's official. In a staff memo, NBC Universal chairman Jeff Zucker, 45, announces that he will leave his post when the Comcast takeover of NBC Universal is complete, probably by year's end, reports the NYT. The writing had been on the wall for some time. Zucker admitted that Comcast wants to bring in their own management team. NBC is the only place Zucker has ever worked, for 24 1/2 years. He tells the NYT he's a producer at heart; his happiest time was producing The Today Show. And yes, Zucker is interested in politics.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 3:23 AM
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Steve Bass, Production Designer for 83rd Academy Awards Show

Steve Bass, Production Designer for 83rd Academy Awards Show
Oscar producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announce that Steve Bass will serve as production designer for the 83rd Academy Awards show on February 27, 2011, at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2010 11:11 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Variety Loses Bill Higgins to Hollywood Reporter

Score another win for The Hollywood Reporter in its ongoing challenge to weakened Variety and Deadline, which are both seeing traffic declines as THR reaps spikes from new editorial director Janice Min's edgier, newsier content. Now after a decade covering the party scene for Variety, Bill Higgins has moved into the THR offices on Wilshire Boulevard as a staff writer covering parties and Hollywood philanthropy for the invigorated trade, which is doubling staff as it transitions in the next month to a newstand weekly glossy. Higgins now joins recent hires Kim Masters, Allison Hope Weiner and executive editor Owen Phillips (glossy WSJ) at Min's daily editorial meetings. Up next: a gossip columnist.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2010 10:01 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Beaver Director Foster is Loyal to Gibson, but Forget Oscars

Beaver Director Foster is Loyal to Gibson, but Forget Oscars
Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson have been close friends for sixteen years, since they met on the set of Maverick. Foster stands up for him each time he gets himself into terrible trouble--and worries about his drinking--and this time is no exception. She gave a long-lead interview to More Magazine, which was originally timed to come out in conjunction with the release of her new movie The Beaver, in which Gibson stars as a man who talks to a sock puppet. Word is, he's very good in the picture, which was in the mix for a Toronto berth worthy of a serious adult drama with awards potential. Foster described her star to More as the "easiest, nicest person I've ever worked with...The second I met him, I said, 'I will love this man for the rest of my life.' "
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2010 9:43 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Video: Phoenix on Letterman

David Letterman welcomed a slim and shaved Joaquin Phoenix back on The Late Show after a year and half, saying that on February 11, 2009, "he looked like he was sitting on a piece of cheese and swallowed a live mouse." Letterman wasn't in on the act, but said, "I'd be half a dumbbell not to be in on it," he said. "He was a side of beef in a suit. It's like he brought out the heavy bag and turned me loose. What else could I do?" Letterman played into Phoenix's hands, he told him: "You came out looking for a beat-down and you got one."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2010 9:25 AM
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  • 1 Comment
More: Video, TV

Men In Crisis, Risky Celeb Endorsements, Social Network's Sorkin Talks to W

- Ad Age argues that the benefits of celebrity endorsements continue to outweigh the risks in advertising. In the case of Tiger Woods, chronic philanderer, or Michael Vick, dog fighting lord, we've seen how mega-star endorsements can go terribly wrong. But for each disastrous blow-to-the-head of humans put on god-like pedestals, there are dozens more smooth-sailing, highly-paid celebs bringing in bank for their brands.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 23, 2010 6:21 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Magnolia/Magnet Add Fest Fave 13 Assassins to Asian Roster

Continuing to show their ownership of Asian action fare, Magnolia's genre label Magnet Releasing scooped up U.S. rights to Takashi Miike’s 19th century samurai action flick 13 Assassins, which recently played the Venice and Toronto fests, will screen at the London fest and closes Fantastic Fest in Austin.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2010 6:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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