Having proved himself to be a capable craftsman of several compelling political thrillers, director Roger Donaldson hit a downward spiral in his career after emerging from his native New Zealand as it...
The political drama Thirteen Days has become a symbol of peace.
The film will bring together old enemies when it premieres this week in Cuba and Russia, two of the three major players during the tense 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. .
Monday night's screening in Havana will include a discussion panel with executive producers Kevin Costner, Peter Almond and Beacon Pictures chairman Armyan Bernstein.
Organized by the Cuban film society, Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos, the screening will be attended by Cuban government officials who were involved in the Missile Crisis, known as the Crisis of October in Cuba, and members of the public. It is unclear whether President Fidel Castro will attend.
Almond will then travel to Moscow for a screening Wednesday hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A group of about 300 will attend, including some of the key figures who were involved in the crisis: former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Theodore Sorensen, the former special counsel to President Kennedy, and Anatoly Dobrynin, the former Soviet Ambassador to the United States. The discussion panel will explore the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S.-Russian relations, and nuclear risk issues that currently exist.
The film will open wide in Russia in May.
The event marks the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's first film screening in the nonprofit organization's 90-year history, a spokeswoman for the think tank told the Hollywood Reporter.
Released nationwide earlier this year in the United States, Thirteen Days focuses on how the missile crisis pushed the Kennedy administration to the brink of war with Cuba and Russia. It is based on the The Kennedy Tapes - Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Directed by Roger Donaldson, the film stars Costner as Kenny O'Donnell, a White House aide and confidant to President Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and his brother Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp). Dylan Baker portrays McNamara; Tim Kelleher portrays Sorensen.
The film has attracted worldwide political attention because of its importance and historical accuracy, said Gary Shapiro, Beacon Pictures' vice president of worldwide marketing.
In the first few days of the President Bush administration, Bush requested a screening of the film and invited several members of the Kennedy family to watch it with him, including Sen. Ted Kennedy.
"If the White House pays attention, then so does the rest of the world." Shapiro said Monday.
Shapiro confirmed that Castro personally requested the Cuba screening.
"We are proud to have made a film that has not only entertained audiences around the world but has also made people think and talk about the issues of power and leadership in the nuclear age," Beacon chairman Bernstein told the Hollywood Reporter.
Bernstein and Almond conceived the idea of a film on the crisis five years ago.
"Both of these screenings culminate a broad public recognition of the film and this remarkable crossover to recognition from the highest levels of political leaders and public policy," Almond said.
Just when you thought the "Batman" franchise had left superhero movies creatively bankrupt, caped crusaders and masked villains are invading Hollywood once again.
This summer's release of "X-Men" promises to be the first in a long list of big-budget comic book adaptations. Many of these were on the back burner for several years but have been making headlines in recent weeks, ever since it was announced that Sam Raimi will likely be the director of Sony's long-awaited "Spider-Man" movie.
"The Greatest American Hero" The latest, and perhaps most bizarre, project announced is a big-screen version of "The Greatest American Hero," the early 1980s TV show that starred William Katt as bumbling superguy Ralph Hinkley (the character's surname was changed to "Hanley" after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of President Reagan). Space aliens give Hinkley a superhero suit and an instruction manual, but he loses the manual and must learn how to harness the powers of the suit on his own, with zany, madcap results. The show, which also starred Connie Sellecca as Katt's girlfriend and Robert Culp as his boss, is probably best remembered for its scenes of Katt learning how to fly and for its zippy theme song. According to Daily Variety, Touchstone Pictures has bought the rights to make a film about the knight-errant man in red tights and has hired two screenwriters to put the project in motion. No word yet on whether the "hero" will turn in those tights for 1990s-style body armor a la Batman.
While the "Greatest American Hero" news came from out of the blue, other super-duper movies have been eagerly awaited by comic geeks, studio licensing executives and toy manufacturers for most of the 1990s. Finally, just last week, Variety reported that the "Fantastic Four" movie, with its long and tangled history, might finally get off the ground with director Roger Donaldson ("Dante's Peak") at the controls. It's a merchandiser's dream -- four superheroes, plus the villains! -- and it's been in the works since 1994, when Marvel Comics made legal maneuvers to prevent director Oley Sassone from releasing his $2 million feature film version of the classic comic.
It's not that Sassone's version wasn't licensed by Marvel, but the comics publisher had received a bigger, better offer from producer-director Chris Columbus ( "Bicentennial Man") to do a first-class job; thus, the cheap quickie was never released and has been relegated to grainy bootleg videotapes sold on the underground. Now Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, the Invisible Girl and Human Torch, not to mention their nemesis Dr. Doom will probably command a $100 million budget if they ever make it to the screen.
The "Fantastic Four" news comes after word that several other Marvel properties are also moving from the back burner to the front. Last week, the trades reported that Columbia Pictures is close to hiring director Mark Steven Johnson ( "Simon Birch") to write and direct "Daredevil," the story of a blind criminal defense attorney by day who dresses up like a demon by night and stalks the city for criminals using his radar-like, radioactivity-enhanced senses to detect danger and evil-doers. Then there's "Dr. Strange," which writer-director Chuck Russell ( "Eraser") has recently been hired (also by Columbia) to develop. There's no speculation yet as to who'll play the young, crime-fighting psychiatrist Stephen Strange, who was known to utter strange incantations such as "By the hoary host of Hoggoth."
While Marvel Comics has the lion's share of superhero movies in the works (studios are also working on adaptations of "The Silver Surfer" and "The Incredible Hulk," although those two projects have been stuck in development hell for some time), rival publisher DC Comics isn't out of the picture, not by a long shot.
Apparently not even George Clooney and Joel Schumacher could succeed in killing Warner Bros.' "Batman" franchise. The studio is reportedly talking to "Pi" director Darren Aronofsky about making "Batman 5," and the studio's highly anticipated "Superman Reborn," once known as "Superman Forever," is said to be gearing up again now after being shelved two years ago when Tim Burton walked away (or was fired, depending on what you believe).
Warners is said to be pleased with the new "Superman" screenplay by Bill Wisher, and the candidate for Most Unlikely to Direct is ... Oliver Stone. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stone is the No. 1 candidate for the job, and the studio wants to take a nontraditional approach to America's most traditional superhero, "sans the tights and more 'Matrix' like." Did Lex Luthor kill President Kennedy? Stay tuned.
American film debut, "Marie: A True Story" starring Sissy Spacek
Had box-office success with the Tom Cruise vehicle "Cocktail"
Immigrated to New Zealand aged 19
Born and raised in Australia
Began career as stills photographer and then began making documentary films
Directed Al Pacino and Colin Farrell in the CIA spy thriller "The Recruit"
His "Smash Palace" was shown at New Directors/New Films Festival at New York's Museum of Modern Art
Co-produced (with Charles Roven) and directed the comedy "Cadillac Man" featuring Robin Williams and Tim Robbins
Directed (also wrote) Anthony Hopkins in "The World's Fastest Indian"
Returned to form with the sci-fi thriller "Species" starring Natasha Henstridge
Reteamed with Kevin Costner on the taut and well-made "Thirteen Days" about the 1961 Cuban missile crisis
Enjoyed a critical hit with "No Way Out" starring Kevin Costner; a remake of "The Big Clock" (1946)
Directed Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger in an ill-advised and unnecessary remake of "The Getaway"
Directed the formulaic "Dante's Peak" starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton
Directed a series of seven short dramas for New Zealand TV entitled "Winners and Losers"
Helmed the murky murder mystery "White Sands"
Helmed "The Bank Job" based on a 1971 true life robbery of a bank in Baker Street, London
First non-Australian film as director, "The Bounty" starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson
Feature directing and producing debut, "Sleeping Dogs"; first film produced in New Zealand in 15 years
Having proved himself to be a capable craftsman of several compelling political thrillers, director Roger Donaldson hit a downward spiral in his career after emerging from his native New Zealand as its cinematic savior, only to reestablish himself in the new millennium. With "Sleeping Dogs" (1977), Donaldson singlehandedly put New Zealand on the map as the next filmmaking capital of the world, while also getting himself noticed in Hollywood. He failed to disappoint with his political thriller "No Way Out" (1987), which effectively tapped into the paranoia surrounding the rejuvenated Cold War. But Donaldson's goodwill was in jeopardy after directing the much-maligned "Cocktail" (1988), even though it proved to be one of the most financially successful movies of his career, thanks in large part to star Tom Cruise. After a rough patch that included the likes of "White Sands" (1992), "The Getaway" (1994) and "Dante's Peak" (1997), Donaldson pulled himself out of his career morass with "Thirteen Days" (2000), a taut and suspenseful look at the behind-the-scenes action inside the Kennedy White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By the time he helmed the excellent heist thriller "The Bank Job" (2008), Donaldson had reestablished himself as one of cinema's most compelling filmmakers.