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Thompson on Hollywood

Gibney Talks Casino Jack and Three More Docs for 2010

When documentarian Alex Gibney (who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side) learned via his Jack Abramoff "Google Alert" that director George Hickenlooper (Factory Girl) had decided to name his fiction film starring Kevin Spacey as corrupt Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff Casino Jack, Gibney had his lawyer send a legal letter (dated November 10) asking Hickenlooper not to use the title, to which Gibney states he had prior claim, citing "violations of federal and state unfair competition laws":
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 15, 2009 9:42 AM
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  • 13 Comments

David Ansen Named Artistic Director of Los Angeles Film Festival

David Ansen Named Artistic Director of Los Angeles Film Festival
When Rebecca Yeldham came in to run the Los Angeles Film Festival this year, programming director Rachel Rosen played out her last fest and then moved back to her old stomping grounds, the San Francisco Film Festival. Now Yeldham announces that Newsweek critic David Ansen is joining the LAFF as artistic director. Since he accepted a Newsweek buyout last March, Ansen has been delivering the slimmed-down magazine a reduced number of reviews and features a year. Who better than a critic to make the final picks on the LAFF?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 9, 2009 5:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Director Taylor Wood to Marry Nowhere Boy Star Johnson

I had heard about the love affair between 42-year-old artist/filmmaker Sam Taylor Wood and her 19-year-old star Aaron Johnson, who plays teen John Lennon in her debut feature Nowhere Boy, which closed the recent London Film Festival and opens stateside in 2010. Well, the BBC is announcing that they're planning to get married.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 31, 2009 12:07 PM
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  • 2 Comments

Battsek Exits Miramax

Just weeks after Disney announced that Miramax was scaling back to three releases a year (what's the point?), the specialty unit's president, Daniel Battsek, 50, is exiting the company. This is not a surprise, except that like former Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, Battsek was a company man (18 years). He had been rewarded by Cook for years of service with the Miramax gig in the first place, replacing the Weinsteins in 2005. He had run Disney's distribution arm in the U.K. But with his protector gone, he was soon out the door.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 30, 2009 7:14 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Another Shoe Drops: Disney Replaces Cook with Ross

Disney chairman Bob Iger has finally announced that Disney Channel star Rich Ross, a 13-year Disney veteran, will replace Dick Cook as chairman of Walt Disney Studios. As studio chief he will supervise worldwide production, distribution and marketing of the Walt Disney, Touchstone, Miramax and Disney/Pixar labels. He will also take on Disney’s theater and music groups.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 5, 2009 9:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Universal Shoe Drops: Marketing Chief Fogelson New Chairman [UPDATED]

Universal Pictures has done the expected. In the corporate game of Survivor, co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde are out and new co-chairmen Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley are in.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 5, 2009 5:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Miramax Restructures, Reduces Film Output

With the departure of Disney studio chief Dick Cook, things were not looking up for Miramax Films, yet another studio specialty division trying to survive some weak boxoffice. (Current release The Boys Are Back, starring Clive Owen, is not taking off.) Disney is dealing with the issue for the moment by restructuring Miramax, consolidating marketing and distribution with the parent studio, and reducing the number of films that Miramax releases every year. (That's the exact opposite of my solution for what they should do.) Miramax will reduce its output to just three movies a year (including acquisitions), and cut its staff of 75 by some 50 positions, winding up with about 25. (At its peak under the Weinsteins in 2004, when the firm released some 30 films a year, the staff was at 500.) The company had already shrunk considerably since Battsek took over in September 2005, and now releases from six to eight films. UPDATE:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 2, 2009 8:19 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Polanski Update: Wanted and Desired

I buy the argument that L.A prosecutors woke up to the Roman Polanski case, 31 years old, after Marina Zenovich's Wanted and Desired stirred up a hornet's nest. Michael Wolff explains why the motivations of the LA prosecutors office changed.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 29, 2009 5:06 AM
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  • 6 Comments
More: Directors, News

IRS vs. Elvis Mitchell

Folks in the arts aren't always good with money. (I'm not.) But Annie Leibovitz and Elvis Mitchell belong to another class altogether: people who hobnob as a matter of course with culture mavens, beautiful people, artists, filmmakers, actors and patrons of the arts who are much much richer than they are. Since Mitchell left his job as film critic at the NYT in 2004, he has taught at Harvard, hosts a weekly interview show The Treatment on KCRW FM as well as Turner Classic Movies' "Under the Influence," and produced the Timothy Greenfield-Sanders HBO documentary, The Black List. He's a fixture on the film fest and lecture circuit. And he still gets the occasional writing assignment.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 28, 2009 12:45 PM
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  • 17 Comments

Polanski Arrested by Swiss Police at Behest of LA Prosecutors

A.P. reported Sunday morning from Zurich, Switzerland that Swiss police detained 76-year-old Paris-based filmmaker Roman Polanski. He was traveling to the country to accept a lifetime honorary award from the Zurich Film Festival, which meant the authorities knew he was coming.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 27, 2009 3:19 AM
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  • 3 Comments
More: Directors, News

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