Veteran rocker Gregg Allman has personally appealed to director Randall Miller to shut down production on the Allman Brothers biopic for good following the tragic onset death of a camera assistant in February (14). Sarah Jones, 27, was struck and killed by an oncoming train while shooting Midnight Rider on a railroad trestle in Wayne County, Georgia, four days before cameras were officially due to start rolling on the project.
Filming was suspended immediately after the accident, but recent reports suggest Miller is considering moving the shoot to California, so he and the cast and crew can get back to work as early as June (14).
Now Gregg Allman, who was due to be portrayed by both William Hurt and rocker Tyson Ritter in the film, has made his feelings about the future of the biopic clear by penning Miller a letter begging him to reconsider his plans to move forward with the movie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Allman wrote: "I am writing to you as one human being to another, and appealing to you from my heart. I am asking you from a personal perspective not to go forward."
Allman admits he had been excited about the big screen adaptation of his autobiography My Cross to Bear, but he has since had a change of heart following Jones' death.
He continued, "When the idea of you producing the film first came about, I was genuinely excited about the possibility of sharing my story with fans around the world. Unfortunately, all of that changed for me on February 20 of this year.
"While there may have been a possibility that the production might have resumed shortly after that, the reality of Sarah Jones' tragic death, the loss suffered by the Jones family and injuries to the others involved has led me to realize that for you to continue production would be wrong."
Miller has yet to respond to Allman's note, but production has already hit another snag following Hurt's decision to pull out of the film earlier this week (begs21Apr14). The Oscar winner had expressed his concerns about safety on the Wayne County set in an email to a friend, days before Jones was killed.
The accident is still under investigation by police.
Director Randall Miller is considering moving production on his stalled Allman Brothers biopic to Los Angeles after a camera assistant was killed in a freak train accident on the set in Georgia. Sarah Jones, 27, was struck and killed by an oncoming train while shooting Midnight Rider on a railroad trestle in Wayne County in February (14), four days before cameras were officially due to start rolling on the project.
Production was suspended immediately after the tragic incident, but now Miller is making plans to get back to work and is contemplating relocating the cast and crew to California, where his production company Unclaimed Freight is based.
According to Deadline.com, filming could begin in L.A. as early as June (14).
William Hurt and Tyson Ritter signed on to portray Gregg Allman present and past in the project, and Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's son Wyatt was cast as his brother Duane.
Meanwhile, the Georgia District Attorney is expected to meet with Wayne County Sheriff John Carter on Monday (21Apr14) to decide if any criminal charges should be filed over Jones' death.
Filming on the Allman Brothers biopic Midnight Rider is still on hold two weeks after a camera assistant was killed in a freak train accident on the set in Georgia. Sarah Jones, 27, lost her life when she failed to get out of the way of an oncoming train while shooting scenes on a railroad trestle in Wayne County on 20 February (14), four days before official filming was scheduled to start.
Director Randall Miller shut down production immediately and it is not yet known if and when filming will resume.
The shoot was expected to last five weeks.
William Hurt and Tyson Ritter signed on to portray Gregg Allman present and past in the project and Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's son Wyatt was cast as his brother Duane.
Police officials are still investigating the accident that claimed Jones' life.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Movie veterans Kathy Baker and Charles Dutton have joined the cast of the upcoming Allman Brothers biopic, Midnight Rider. The Saving Mr. Banks star will portray the Allmans' mother, while Alien actor Dutton has been slated to play Gregg Allman's best friend, confidant and assistant Chank Middleton.
The duo joins a cast that includes William Hurt and Tyson Ritter as the older and younger Gregg, Wyatt Russell as his brother Duane, Eliza Dushku, Bradley Whitford, Joel David Moore and Zoey Deutch.
Director Randall Miller tells WENN, "This cast is a dream come true."
The film, based on Gregg Allman's New York Times bestselling biography My Cross To Bear, will start shooting in Savannah, Georgia later this month (Feb14).
Beautiful Creatures star Zoey Deutch has landed the female lead in the upcoming Allman Brothers biopic, Midnight Rider. The young star will play a rock groupie called Mae, who became Greg Allman's love interest as his band was starting out.
She joins Tyson Ritter, Wyatt Russell and William Hurt in the Randall Miller movie.
Ritter and Hurt will both play Greg Allman in the film, while Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell's son Wyatt will portray his brother Duane.
Director Miller tells WENN he's thrilled with the latest casting news: "Zoey's freshness and intensity blows me away. She is both young and wise. I can't wait to work with her."
Midnight Rider will be an adaptation of Gregg Allman's bestselling biography My Cross To Bear.
Oscar winner William Hurt has been aded to the cast of the upcoming Allman Brothers biopic as the older Gregg Allman. All American Rejects frontman Tyson Ritter was cast as the younger Allman at the end of last year (13), while Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn's son Wyatt will portray Duane Allman in the film.
And on Monday (06Jan14), Hollywood veteran Hurt signed on to play the current day Gregg in director Randall Miller's movie, titled Midnight Rider.
Miller tells WENN, "I am a tremendous fan of William’s work. I can’t wait to work with him."
The director's wife and screenwriter Jody Savin adds, "William Hurt actually helped start Randy’s career years ago. He made an anonymous monetary donation to Randy’s AFI thesis film. And when his identity was revealed, he even agreed to do the voice-over on the film.”
The film is based on Gregg Allman’s New York Times bestselling biography My Cross To Bear, and the blues-rocker insists the husband-and-wife filmmakers have their work cut out on the project.
He tells Rolling Stone, "The script will damn sure change, because I have veto rights over everything. Think about it, man. If you had them doing your life story on the big screen, wouldn't you want to be able to erase anything out of there that you didn’t want? I can pull the plug on it any time."
All American Rejects star Tyson Ritter and Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn's actor son Wyatt are teaming up as Gregg and Duane Allman for a big screen biopic. CBGB director Randall Miller and his screenwriting partner Jody Savin announced the casting news for their new film Midnight Rider on Friday (13Dec13).
Miller tells WENN, "The world knows Tyson as a extraordinary musician and performer; now the world will know what an amazing actor he is as well.
"After meeting many of the hottest young actors in town we understood that to tell the Allman Brothers story with the utmost authenticity we needed actor/musicians."
Savin adds, "And Wyatt has been a Duane Allman fan his whole life. He blew us away with his total embodiment of the rock icon and his uncanny slide guitar chops."
The film will be based on Gregg Allmann’s New York Times bestselling biography My Cross To Bear, which he co-wrote with Alan Light.
Savin tells WENN, "The film focuses on two major parts of Gregg’s life in music: Gregg’s early struggles through the formation of The Allman Brothers Band & the group’s ultimate explosion on the music scene and Gregg’s struggles to clean himself up from drug and alcohol abuse.
"Considering what he has endured, the dark tunnels from which he has emerged, his health and his continued sublime musicianship is nothing short of miraculous.”
Gregg Allman and his manager, Michael Lehman, will serve as executive producers on the project.
Allman says, "I’m excited to be working with Tyson and Wyatt on the music and the story of my life."
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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The 67th Annual Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, was swimming with A-List stars — and from the moment they stepped foot on the red carpet to the final curtain call, they were having a blast. We should know, we were in the thick of it.
While viewers at home were transported to Broadway with 15 musical numbers and laughed along with Neil Patrick Harris' fantastic hosting, those of us on the red carpet and in the media room were privvy to a little extra bit of fun. Here's what the TV cameras didn't catch.
Mike Tyson, who enjoyed a stint on Broadway with a one-man show last year, amazed everyone with his cameo appearance in Harris' show-stopping (or show-starting, as the case may be) opening number. But before he hit the stage, we watched Tyson hug The Sopranos' Steven Van Zandt (who would later present an award with Tom Hanks) on the red carpet. Tyson looked dapper on stage, but outside in the 90-degree New York City heat, the fighter was sweating like he had just exited the boxing ring. Inside the theater, Tyson cozied up with Now You See Me star Jesse Eisenberg.
Broadway veteran Bernadette Peters cut a stunning figure in a green Donna Karan Atelier with a basketweave texture. What you didn't see was the assistant she had on hand to scoop up and properly arrange her gown's train between poses.
Cyndi Lauper was the well-deserving belle of the ball on Sunday night. Not only did she rake in six awards (her show, Kinky Boots, was nominated for 13), but she was incredibly gracious to her fans and her energy was boundless. On the carpet before the ceremony, Lauper made sure to wave to the legions of fans lining the street (Glee and Annie star Jane Lynch did the same). Following her win, she hammed it up for photographers in the press room.
On the red carpet, Scarlett Johansson greeted Sienna Miller (whose fiancé, Tom Sturridge, was nominated for his work in Orphans) with a kiss on the cheek. Backstage, Johansson was equally chummy with fellow presenter Alan Cumming. The two played patty-cake before presenting the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
On the carpet, Cumming made peace signs and crazy faces while posing for photographers.
Four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (whom you may know from Private Practice) shared the spotlight — and a hug — with her daughter, Zoe.
Smash star Megan Hilty shared the stage with fellow Broadway actors-turned-TV-stars Laura Benanti (Go On) and Andrew Rannells (The New Normal) for a laugh-out-loud musical number that poked fun at their bad luck on screen (cliffnotes: their shows have all been canceled). Hilty's Smash co-stars Debra Messing and Will Chase — who notoriously had a real-life affair — were conspicuously cuddly.
Home audiences were lucky enough to see this tender moment between Annie star Sunny (who plays Sandy, the lovable stray canine) and host Neil Patrick Harris. But since it's just too cute for words, here it is again:
Reporting by Lauren Paylor
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