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Thompson on Hollywood

Leatherheads: Clooney Goes Retro

George Clooney is the sort of movie star who gets to do what he wants, especially if he's willing to direct himself. In this case the period football comedy Leatherheads had been languishing on the shelf at Universal for decades, and was going to be directed by Steven Soderbergh at one time. Clooney's version is a sweetly daffy valentine to classic Hollywood screwball comedies, Coen brothers comedies and romantic comedies. Clooney stars as a handsome over-the-hill football player who's pretty smart but gets beat up on the playing field and takes plenty of pratfalls and romances a wise-cracking reporter (Renee Zellweger).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 1, 2008 4:45 AM
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Coens' Burn After Reading, Starring Pitt and Clooney, Goes Wide

While speculation runs rampant on whether or not the Coens will take their next movie, the CIA pic Burn After Reading, starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, to Cannes--obviously Thierry Fremaux will want it, but he hasn't screened it yet; UPDATE: Working Title says it probably won't be finished in time--in the meantime Focus Features has booked the Working Title movie to go wide on September 12. This suggests that after the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men (which soared 67% this weekend) the Coens have jumped out of art-film territory and boast more commercial appeal; this pic's stars are certainly big enough to warrant a wide opening.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 3, 2008 7:50 AM
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Oscar Watch: Predicts

At long last, the Oscar ballots are in and it is the week before the Oscar kudocast! It's time to make your fearless forecasts and plunk your money down in your office pool. (I can tell you one thing--it's not easy to come out on top here at Variety, where everyone is an Oscar expert.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 19, 2008 7:20 AM
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Oscar Watch: Nominations Analysis

There were some welcome surprises this nominations morning. (Here's Variety's story.) Atonement made it to best picture. While Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Joe Wright did not win noms, Saorise Ronin did. Christopher Hampton earned a screenplay nod. The Guilds don't always reflect the Academy, clearly; this means the battle for the fifth slot was fierce. But Atonement got seven noms altogether; Michael Clayton seven, Juno four, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, four, and Sweeney Todd got only three (Johnny Depp, art direction and costume); Juno's Jason Reitman, not Tim Burton, landed a director's slot. A surprise, but well-deserved. (I was talking to him here in Park City last night at the WMA party; he was nervous because he didn't get a writing nom last time for Thank You for Smoking.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 22, 2008 4:57 AM
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Golden Globe Nominations: Atonement Leads Pack with Seven

With seven nominations, Joe Wright's Atonement led the field of Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning. It was a good day for Denzel Washington, who stars in two films out of seven in the motion picture drama category: American Gangster, in which he stars as a Harlem kingpin, and The Great Debaters, a heart-tugging period drama about an upstart debate team at a black college who take on Harvard, which he also directed. He was also nominated for best actor for American Gangster.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 12, 2008 8:11 AM
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Oscar Parties: Clooney Talks Clayton, Burton Talks Todd

'Tis the time of year for industry/Oscar parties. It's about trying to remind the press of who they should be rooting for the in the Oscar race, basically.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 6, 2007 5:55 AM
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Oscar Watch: Seeking Consensus

While I admire Kris Tapley's attempt to make some sense out of the blizzard of Oscar predictions out there, I remain convinced that until the prognosticators see Charlie Wilson's War and Sweeney Todd, the two films that many of us got invited to see Monday, none of these lists make much sense. Richard Corliss in Time suggests that "audiences will have a great time watching" Charlie Wilson's War, which seemed to play for Oprah Winfrey's Chicago audience. Oprah raved about Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance, as guests Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts (who tried to get out of shooting a bikini scene while four weeks pregnant) nodded politely. My hunch is that Hoffman won't get nommed for best actor for The Savages or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but will get a supporting nom for Charlie Wilson's War.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 20, 2007 7:13 AM
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Michael Clayton's Boxoffice and George Clooney's Stardom

Reading this thread on Hollywood Elsewhere responding to Kim Masters' Slate story on George Clooney and the boxoffice fate of Michael Clayton depressed me.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 18, 2007 6:41 AM
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Michael Clayton Vs. Leatherheads; Gilroy Talks

Things are looking up for Michael Clayton, which opened to rave reviews (a terrific 88% fresh on rotten tomatoes) and boffo initial box office in limited release.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 8, 2007 7:36 AM
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TIFF: Confessions of a WireImage Photographer

Photographer Jeff Vespa (below right, with Elizabeth: The Golden Age star Abbie Cornish) is a well-known fixture in Hollywood. He lives on the red carpet. His busiest season starts in Venice in late August, followed by the Toronto and New York fests and the long awards season, through Sundance and the Golden Globes in January, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Oscars and finally, Cannes in May. In the summer, he rests. Vespa knows everyone. He meets many stars and directors at film festivals, where they first learn to trust him. Then they see him at the L.A. premieres and events he covers. Vespa and eight partners co-founded the Internet photo agency WireImage in January, 2001, which was recently acquired in a $207-million cash deal by rival agency Getty. Vespa edits and posts his photos for license online. (He makes sure everyone looks good.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 14, 2007 8:16 AM
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