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Thompson on Hollywood

Sundance Institute Film Music Program ComposersLab Opens to L.A. Public May 21

The Sundance Institute Film Music Program mounts its one-day ComposersLab: LA on May 21. It is open to the public at Los Angeles's Downtown Independent Theatre. The lab will feature film composers George S. Clinton, Edward Shearmur and Christopher Young. In an effort to expand their offerings, the Institute will also host ShortsLabs for aspiring filmmakers in Chicago (May 7),  New York (July 9) and Los Angeles (August 6).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 13, 2011 6:26 AM
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True Story Oranges & Sunshine Goes to Cohen Media Group; Stars Emily Watson & Hugo Weaving

Rights for Jim Loach's Oranges and Sunshine, from the producers of The King's Speech, have gone to Cohen Media Group from Icon International. The film stars Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wendham and tells the true story (from a screenplay by Rona Munro) of social worker Margaret Humphreys, who, after uncovering the organized deportation of children who were sent from the UK to Australia, fought to reunite thousands of families and bring worldwide attention to the scandal.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 11, 2011 5:31 AM
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LA County Museum of Art Launches Film Independent Series, Backed by NY Times UPDATED

LA County Museum of Art Launches Film Independent Series, Backed by NY Times UPDATED
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is partnering with L.A.'s Film Independent on a new film series, sponsored by the New York Times, starting in September. And they are starting the search for a new film curator to run that screening program. Together. "We're helping to hire that person," says Film Independent chief Dawn Hudson. "Why wouldn't we know that community? We're offering our connection to the film community and programmers and our ability to assemble a team to oversee the program at LACMA. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Under new museum director Michael Govan, LACMA's film program has been under duress and was saved from suspension in October 2008 by an outcry from the film community, including director Martin Scorsese, who wrote to Govan:“I find it profoundly disheartening to know that a vital outlet for the exhibition of what was once known as ‘repertory cinema’ has been cut off in L.A. of all places, the center of film production and the land of the movie-making itself."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 6, 2011 8:14 AM
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  • 13 Comments

Will Smith & Son Jaden Smith Join M. Night Shyamalan for Futuristic Sci-Fi

Father-son pair Will and Jaden Smith will co-star in Columbia Pictures' untitled futuristic sci-fi adventure for M. Night Shyamalan. Overbrook Entertainment (Will and Jada Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz) will produce along with Shyamalan--which is unusual for the headstrong Philadelphia filmmaker, who likes to maintain complete control of his projects. "The chance to make a scary, science-fiction film starring Jaden and Will is my dream project," he says.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 4, 2011 7:35 AM
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  • 4 Comments

HBO, Tandem & Scott Free Team for Cinemax Crime Series The Sector, about Genetically Enhanced Humans

HBO, Tandem Communications and Scott Free Productions are developing an action-crime series to run on Cinemax. The one-hour series is "in the vein of Blade Runner/District 9" and "tracks the commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically-enhanced humans." Criminal Minds's Simon Mirren will serve as exec-producer and showrunner for the project, from writer-creators Aaron Benay and Matthew Benay. Tandem is also behind Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth series, which also has a follow up series in the works with Scott Free, based on Follett's World Without End.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 1, 2011 8:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Summit Takes Icon UK to a Los Angeles Arbitration Tribunal Over Tree of Life

Summit Takes Icon UK to a Los Angeles Arbitration Tribunal Over Tree of Life
It just didn't make sense that Icon would release The Tree of Life ahead of all the other distributors before Cannes. There had to be a back story. Summit had told me that there was no way that Icon would release the film before Cannes. What I heard from London sources today is that Icon nabbed the title by paying a typically high minimum guarantee, and after seeing the film, was trying to get out of releasing it. (My queries to Icon have been ignored.) Hence the release date stand-off. The question is, how does Summit protect what is surely a delicate art-house flower that needs serious critical acclaim from starting to look like tainted goods? By bad-mouthing Icon.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 31, 2011 12:21 PM
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Ridley Scott Takes on Follett's World Without End; Cast includes Nixon, Richardson, Chaplin, Firth

UPDATE 6/29: Principal photography will begin July 11 on World Without End, with actors Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley, Megan Follows and Sarah Gadon and more. The eight-hour series has a $44 million pricetag, and exec producer Rola Bauer says; "Our strategy has always been to bring cinematic values to television. In addition to having Michael Caton-Jones’ strong and experienced directorial vision on all eight hours of this epic thriller, we have assembled an exemplary cast who will make these great characters come alive on screen and attract audiences worldwide.”
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • March 30, 2011 8:42 AM
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  • 1 Comment

CinemaCon: New MPAA Chief Chris Dodd Makes First State of the Industry Speech

Not that former Senator Chris Dodd, with his impressive shock of white hair, can be considered an expert on Hollywood after just nine days on the job as the new CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. But the chief lobbyist in Washington for the six Hollywood studios went ahead and delivered the annual speech at CinemaCon (formerly ShoWest), the exhibitor convention in Las Vegas. (MPAA members include Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios and Warner Bros.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 29, 2011 8:05 AM
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  • 3 Comments

FilmDistrict Finally Dates Rum Diary, Starring Johnny Depp

It was just a matter of time before FilmDistrict would pick a date for The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp. It's going out during the prime fall season, October 28. The film, which has long been on the shelf, marks Depp's second flirtation with the work of Hunter S. Thompson, who became close with the actor during the filming of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and showed Depp the unpublished manuscript, says producer and FilmDistrict co-founder Graham King. “I am extremely proud to bring this novel to film and to honor Hunter’s legacy.”
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 29, 2011 5:25 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Sundance Hit Steve James Doc The Interrupters Lands Distributor

U.S. rights for Sundance documentary favorite, The Interrupters, have gone to the The Cinema Guild. The film, from director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and author, producer and collaborator Alex Kotlowitz (bestseller, There Are No Children Here and author of the 2008 NYT article that inspired the film, Blocking the Transmission of Violence), follows three "Violence Interruptors" in Chicago -- former gang members who intervene in violent situations as they unfold in order to protect their community. The film will have a theatrical release this summer, followed by a PBS Frontline broadcast and a digital release by PBS Distribution in 2012. The Interrupters premiered at Sundance and won the Doc Grand Jury Prize at the Miami International Film Festival and True/False's 2011 True Life Fund.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • March 28, 2011 4:04 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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