The 2014 Sundance Film Festival lineup for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competition and the out-of-competition NEXT section is officially here, and damn are we excited.
As the festival has evolved and grown, so has the long list of actors and directors who have eagerly jumped on board to be a part of the indie film scene, which means that the lineup of actors for the upcoming event is looking pretty solid. In 2014 we can look forward to seeing the works of those like Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, John Slattery, Aaron Paul, Kristen Stewart, and Mark Ruffalo, and comedians such as Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Lena Dunham, Jenny Slate, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Sedaris, and more.
The festival will run from Jan. 16 to 26 in Park City, Utah and will include 118 features. Still to come are the lineups for Slates for Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, Premieres and Documentary Premieres, and the new Sundance Kids category.
Check out the lineup so far (via Vulture):
Camp X-Ray / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Peter Sattler) — A young woman is stationed as a guard in Guantanamo Bay, where she forms an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi, Lane Garrison, J.J. Soria, John Carroll Lynch.Cold in July / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Mickle, Screenwriters: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici) — After killing a home intruder, a small town Texas man's life unravels into a dark underworld of corruption and violence. Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell.Dear White People / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien) — Four black students attend an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an “African American” themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in postracial America while weaving a story about forging one's unique path in the world. Cast: Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell.Fishing Without Nets / U.S.A., Somalia, Kenya (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey, David Burkman) — A story of pirates in Somalia told from the perspective of a struggling, young Somali fisherman. Cast: Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abduwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim.God's Pocket / U.S.A. (Director: John Slattery, Screenwriters: John Slattery, Alex Metcalf) — When Mickey's stepson Leon is killed in a construction "accident," Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when the boy's mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please, and a debt he can’t pay. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro.Happy Christmas / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Joe Swanberg) — After a breakup with her boyfriend, a young woman moves in with her older brother, his wife, and their 2-year-old son. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg.Hellion / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kat Candler) — When motocross and heavy metal obsessed, 13-year-old Jacob's delinquent behavior forces CPS to place his little brother Wes with his aunt, Jacob and his emotionally absent father must finally take responsibility for their actions and each other in order to bring Wes home. Cast: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Jonny Mars, Walt Roberts.Infinitely Polar Bear / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Maya Forbes) — A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don't make the overwhelming task any easier. Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide.Jamie Marks is Dead / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Carter Smith) — No one seemed to care about Jamie Marks until after his death. Hoping to find the love and friendship he never had in life, Jamie’s ghost visits former classmate Adam McCormick, drawing him into the bleak world between the living and the dead. Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Judy Greer, Madisen Beaty, Liv Tyler.Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter / U.S.A. (Director: David Zellner, Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner) — A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried in a fictional film is, in fact, real. Abandoning her structured life in Tokyo for the frozen Minnesota wilderness, she embarks on an impulsive quest to search for her lost mythical fortune. Cast: Rinko Kikuchi.Life After Beth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Baena) — Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. When she mysteriously returns, he gets a second chance at love. Soon his whole world turns upside down... Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser.Low Down / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Preiss, Screenwriters: Amy Albany, Topper Lilien) — Based on Amy Jo Albany's memoir, Low Down explores her heart-wrenching journey to adulthood while being raised by her father, bebop pianist Joe Albany, as he teeters between incarceration and addiction in the urban decay and waning bohemia of Hollywood in the 1970s. Cast: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Flea.The Skeleton Twins / U.S.A. (Director: Craig Johnson, Screenwriters: Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman) — Estranged twins Maggie and Milo coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront the reasons their lives went so wrong. As the twins' reunion reinvigorates them, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship. Cast: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Joanna Gleason.The Sleepwalker / U.S.A., Norway (Director: Mona Fastvold, Screenwriters: Mona Fastvold, Brady Corbet) — A young couple, Kaia and Andrew, are renovating Kaia´s secluded family estate. Their lives are violently interrupted when unexpected guests arrive. The Sleepwalker chronicles the unraveling of the lives of four disparate characters as it transcends genre conventions and narrative contrivance to reveal something much more disturbing. Cast: Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Stephanie Ellis.Song One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kate Barker-Froyland) — Estranged from her family, Franny returns home when an accident leaves her brother comatose. Retracing his life as an aspiring musician, she tracks down his favorite musician, James Forester. Against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s music scene, Franny and James develop an unexpected relationship and face the realities of their lives. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield.Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity. Cast: Miles Teller, JK Simmons.
Appropriate Behavior / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Desiree Akhavan) — Shirin is struggling to become an ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual, and a hip, young Brooklynite, but fails miserably in her attempt at all identities. Being without a cliché to hold on to can be a lonely experience. Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer, Scott Adsit, Anh Duong, Arian Moayed. World Premiere.Drunktown's Finest / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sydney Freeland) — Three young Native Americans—a rebellious father-to-be, a devout Christian woman, and a promiscuous transsexual—come of age on an Indian reservation. Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis. World Premiere.The Foxy Merkins / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Olnek, Screenwriters: Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan, Madeleine Olnek) — Two lesbian hookers work the streets of New York. One is a down-on-her-luck newbie; the other is a beautiful—and straight—grifter who's an expert on picking up women. Together they face bargain-hunting housewives, double-dealing conservative women, and each other in this prostitute buddy comedy. Cast: Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan, Alex Karpovsky, Susan Ziegler, Sally Sockwell, Deb Margolin.A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ana Lily Amirpour) — In the Iranian ghost town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, depraved denizens are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnó, Milad Eghbali. World Premiere.Imperial Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Malik Vitthal, Screenwriters: Malik Vitthal, Ismet Prcic) — A 21-year-old, reformed gangster's devotion to his family and his future are put to the test when he is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles. Cast: John Boyega, Rotimi Akinosho, Glenn Plummer, Keke Palmer, De'aundre Bonds. World Premiere.Land Ho! / U.S.A., Iceland (Directors and screenwriters: Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz) — A pair of ex-brothers-in-law set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavik nightclubs, trendy spas, and rugged campsites. This bawdy adventure is a throwback to 1980s road comedies, as well as a candid exploration of aging, loneliness, and friendship. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Nelson, Alice Olivia Clarke, Karrie Krouse, Elizabeth McKee, Emmsjé Gauti. World Premiere.Listen Up Philip / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Ross Perry) — A story about changing seasons and changing attitudes, a newly accomplished writer faces mistakes and miseries affecting those around him, including his girlfriend, her sister, his idol, his idol's daughter, and all the ex-girlfriends and enemies that lie in wait on the open streets of New York. Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume. World Premiere.Memphis / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tim Sutton) — A strange singer drifts through the mythic city of Memphis, surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolf pack of kids. Under a canopy of ancient oak trees and burning spirituality, his doomed journey breaks from conformity and reaches out for glory. Cast: Willis Earl Beal, Lopaka Thomas, Constance Brantley, Devonte Hull, John Gary Williams, Larry Dodson. World Premiere.Obvious Child / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gillian Robespierre) — An honest comedy about what happens when Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern gets dumped, fired, and pregnant, just in time for the worst/best Valentine's Day of her life. Cast: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, Gabe Liedman, Richard Kind. World Premiere.Ping Pong Summer / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Tully) — 1985. Ocean City, Maryland. Summer vacation. Rap music. Parachute pants. Ping pong. First crushes. Best friends. Mean bullies. Weird mentors. That awkward, momentous time in your life when you're treated like an alien by everyone around you, even though you know deep down you're as funky fresh as it gets. Cast: Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris, Robert Longstreet, Marcello Conte. World Premiere.War Story / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Jackson, Screenwriters: Kristin Gore, Mark Jackson) — A war photographer retreats to a small town in Sicily after being held captive during the conflict in Libya. Cast: Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi, Vincenzo Amato, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ben Kingsley. World Premiere.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITIONAlive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett) — Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia—many of them alone in nursing homes. A man with a simple idea discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease pain and awaken these fading minds. Joy and life are resuscitated, and our cultural fears over aging are confronted. All the Beautiful Things / U.S.A. (Director: John Harkrider) — John and Barron are lifelong friends whose friendship is tested when Barron's girlfriend says Barron put a knife to her throat and raped her. Not knowing she has lied, John tells her to go to the police. Years later, John and Barron meet in a bar to resolve the betrayal.CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jeremiah Zagar) — In an extraordinary and tragic American story, a small town murder becomes one of the highest profile cases of all time. From its historic role as the first televised trial to the many books and movies made about it, the film looks at the media’s enduring impact on the case. The Case Against 8 / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White) — A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.Cesar's Last Fast / U.S.A. (Directors: Richard Ray Perez, Lorena Parlee) — Inspired by Catholic social teaching, Cesar Chavez risked his life fighting for America’s poorest workers. The film illuminates the intensity of one man’s devotion and personal sacrifice, the birth of an economic justice movement, and tells an untold chapter in the story of civil rights in America. Dinosaur 13 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Miller) — The true tale behind one of the greatest discoveries in history. Day One film.E-TEAM / U.S.A. (Directors: Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman) — E-TEAM is driven by the high-stakes investigative work of four intrepid human rights workers, offering a rare look at their lives at home and their dramatic work in the field. Fed Up / U.S.A. (Director: Stephanie Soechtig) — Fed Up blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Knappenberger) — Programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz achieved groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing. His passion for open access ensnared him in a legal nightmare that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Ivory Tower / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Rossi) — As tuition spirals upward and student debt passes a trillion dollars, students and parents ask, "Is college worth it?" From the halls of Harvard to public and private colleges in financial crisis to education startups in Silicon Valley, an urgent portrait emerges of a great American institution at the breaking point. Marmato / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Grieco) — Colombia is the center of a new global gold rush, and Marmato, a historic mining town, is the new frontier. Filmed over the course of nearly six years, Marmato chronicles how townspeople confront a Canadian mining company that wants the $20 billion in gold beneath their homes. No No: A Dockumentary / U.S.A. (Director: Jeffrey Radice) — Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter on LSD, then worked for decades counseling drug abusers. Dock's soulful style defined 1970s baseball as he kept hitters honest and embarrassed the establishment. An ensemble cast of teammates, friends, and family investigate his life on the field, in the media, and out of the spotlight. The Overnighters / U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Moss) — Desperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor's decision to help them has extraordinary and unexpected consequences.Private Violence / U.S.A. (Director: Cynthia Hill) — One in four women experience violence in their homes. Have you ever asked, “Why doesn't she just leave?” Private Violence shatters the brutality of our logic and intimately reveals the stories of two women: Deanna Walters, who transforms from victim to survivor, and Kit Gruelle, who advocates for justice. Rich Hill / U.S.A. (Directors: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos) — In a rural, American town, kids face heartbreaking choices, find comfort in the most fragile of family bonds, and dream of a future of possibility. Watchers of the Sky / U.S.A. (Director: Edet Belzberg) — Five interwoven stories of remarkable courage from Nuremberg to Rwanda, from Darfur to Syria, and from apathy to action. WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
52 Tuesdays / Australia (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenplay and story by: Matthew Cormack, Story by: Sophie Hyde) — Sixteen-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender transition, and their time together becomes limited to Tuesdays. This emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility, and transformation was filmed over the course of a year—once a week, every week, only on Tuesdays. Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane, Imogen Archer, Mario Späte, Beau Williams, Sam Althuizen. International Premiere.Blind / Norway, Netherlands (Director and screenwriter: Eskil Vogt) — Having recently lost her sight, Ingrid retreats to the safety of her home—a place she can feel in control, alone with her husband and her thoughts. But Ingrid's real problems lie within, not beyond the walls of her apartment, and her deepest fears and repressed fantasies soon take over. Cast: Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Vera Vitali, Marius Kolbenstvedt. World Premiere.Difret / Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari) — Meaza Ashenafi is a young lawyer who operates under the government's radar helping women and children until one young girl's legal case exposes everything, threatening not only her career but her survival. Cast: Meron Getnet, Tizita Hagere. World Premiere.The Disobedient / Serbia (Director and screenwriter: Mina Djukic) — Leni anxiously waits for her childhood friend Lazar, who is coming back to their hometown after years of studying abroad. After they reunite, they embark on a random bicycle trip around their childhood haunts, which will either exhaust or reinvent their relationship. Cast: Hana Selimovic, Mladen Sovilj, Minja Subota, Danijel Sike, Ivan Djordjevic. World Premiere.God Help the Girl / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stuart Murdoch) — This musical from Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian is about some messed up boys and girls and the music they made. Cast: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Cora Bissett, Pierre Boulanger. World Premiere.Liar's Dice / India (Director and screenwriter: Geetu Mohandas) — Kamala, a young woman from the village of Chitkul, leaves her native land with her daughter to search for her missing husband. Along the journey, they encounter Nawazudin, a free-spirited army deserter with his own selfish motives who helps them reach their destination. Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Geetanjali Thapa, Manya Gupta. International Premiere.Lilting / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Hong Khaou) — The world of a Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son is suddenly disrupted by the presence of a stranger who doesn't speak her language. Lilting is a touching and intimate film about finding the things that bring us together. Cast: Ben Whishaw, Pei-Pei Cheng, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles, Naomi Christie, Morven Christie. World Premiere.
Lock Charmer (El cerrajero) / Argentina (Director and screenwriter: Natalia Smirnoff) — Upon learning that his girlfriend is pregnant, 33-year-old locksmith Sebastian begins to have strange visions about his clients. With the help of an unlikely assistant, he sets out to use his newfound talent for his own good. Cast: Esteban Lamothe, Erica Rivas, Yosiria Huaripata. World Premiere.To Kill a Man / Chile, France (Director and screenwriter: Alejandro Fernandez Almendras) — When Jorge, a hardworking family man who's barely making ends meet, gets mugged by Kalule, a neighborhood delinquent, Jorge's son decides to confront the attacker, only to get himself shot. Even though Jorge's son nearly dies, Kalule's sentence is minimal, heightening the friction. Cast: Daniel Candia, Daniel Antivilo, Alejandra Yañez, Ariel Mateluna. World Premiere.Viktoria / Bulgaria, Romania (Director and screenwriter: Maya Vitkova) — Although determined not to have a child in Communist Bulgaria, Boryana gives birth to Viktoria, who despite being born with no umbilical cord, is proclaimed to be the baby of the decade. But political collapse and the hardships of the new time bind mother and daughter together. Cast: Irmena Chichikova, Daria Vitkova, Kalina Vitkova, Mariana Krumova, Dimo Dimov, Georgi Spassov. World Premiere.Wetlands / Germany (Director: David Wnendt, Screenwriters: Claus Falkenberg, David Wnendt, based on the novel by Charlotte Roche) — Meet Helen Memel. She likes to experiment with vegetables while masturbating and thinks that bodily hygiene is greatly overrated. She shocks those around her by speaking her mind in a most unladylike manner on topics that many people would not even dare consider. Cast: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Marlen Kruse, Edgar Selge. North American Premiere.White Shadow / Italy, Germany, Tanzania (Director: Noaz Deshe, Screenwriters: Noaz Deshe, James Masson) — Alias is a young albino boy on the run. His mother has sent him away to find refuge in the city after witnessing his father's murder. Over time, the city becomes no different than the bush: wherever Alias travels, the same rules of survival apply. Cast: Hamisi Bazili, James Gayo, Glory Mbayuwayu, Salum Abdallah. International Premiere.
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
20,000 Days On Earth / United Kingdom (Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard) — Drama and reality combine in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of musician and international culture icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, this film examines what makes us who we are and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit. World Premiere.Concerning Violence / Sweden, U.S.A., Denmark, Finland (Director: Göran Hugo Olsson) — Concerning Violence is based on newly discovered, powerful archival material documenting the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation in the Third World, accompanied by classic text from The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. World Premiere.The Green Prince / Germany, Israel, United Kingdom (Director: Nadav Schirman ) — This real-life thriller tells the story of one of Israel’s prized intelligence sources, recruited to spy on his own people for more than a decade. Focusing on the complex relationship with his handler, The Green Prince is a gripping account of terror, betrayal, and unthinkable choices, along with a friendship that defies all boundaries. World Premiere.
Happiness / France, Finland (Director: Thomas Balmès) — Peyangki is a dreamy and solitary eight-year-old monk living in Laya, a Bhutanese village perched high in the Himalayas. Soon the world will come to him: the village is about to be connected to electricity, and the first television will flicker on before Peyangki's eyes. North American Premiere.Love Child / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director: Valerie Veatch) — In Seoul in the Republic of Korea, a young couple stands accused of neglect when "Internet addiction" in an online fantasy game costs the life of their infant daughter. Love Child documents the 2010 trial and subsequent ruling that set a global precedent in a world where virtual is the new reality. World Premiere.Mr leos caraX / France (Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé) — Mr leos caraX plunges us into the poetic and visionary world of a mysterious, solitary filmmaker who was already a cult figure from his very first film. Punctuated by interviews and previously unseen footage, this documentary is most of all a fine-tuned exploration of the poetic and visionary world of Leos Carax, alias Mr. X. World Premiere.My Prairie Home / Canada (Director: Chelsea McMullan) — A poetic journey through landscapes both real and emotional, Chelsea McMullan’s documentary/musical offers an intimate portrait of transgender singer Rae Spoon, framed by stunning images of the Canadian prairies. McMullan’s imaginative visual interpretations of Spoon’s songs make this an unforgettable look at a unique Canadian artist. International Premiere.The Notorious Mr. Bout / U.S.A., Russia (Directors: Tony Gerber, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Viktor Bout was a war profiteer, an entrepreneur, an aviation tycoon, an arms dealer, and—strangest of all—a documentary filmmaker. The Notorious Mr. Bout is the ultimate rags-to-riches-to-prison memoir, documented by the last man you'd expect to be holding the camera. World Premiere.Return to Homs / Syria, Germany (Director: Talal Derki) — Basset Sarout, the 19-year-old national football team goalkeeper, becomes a demonstration leader and singer, and then a fighter. Ossama, a 24-year-old renowned citizen cameraman, is critical, a pacifist, and ironic until he is detained by the regime's security forces. North American Premiere.SEPIDEH – Reaching for the Stars / Denmark (Director: Berit Madsen) — Sepideh wants to become an astronaut. As a young Iranian woman, she knows it’s dangerous to challenge traditions and expectations. Still, Sepideh holds on to her dream. She knows a tough battle is ahead, a battle that only seems possible to win once she seeks help from an unexpected someone. North American Premiere.We Come as Friends / France, Austria (Director: Hubert Sauper) — We Come as Friends views colonization as a human phenomenon through both explicit and metaphoric lenses without oversimplified accusations or political theorizing. Alarmingly, It is not a historical film since colonization and the slave trade still exist. World Premiere.Web Junkie / Israel (Directors: Shosh Shlam, Hilla Medalia) — China is the first country to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder. Web Junkie investigates a Beijing rehab center where Chinese teenagers are deprogrammed. World Premiere.
Fans of The Newsroom have fallen in love with John Gallagher Jr. as the charming, occasionally bumbling Jim Harper. And Spring Awakening fans get to claim that they "loved him before it was cool," having seen his Tony Award-winning performance as Moritz Stiefel on Broadway in 2006. But in Short Term 12, an intense, emotional film by writer/director Destin Cretton, we're treated to a whole new side of Mr. Gallagher.
Gallagher plays Mason, a supervisor at a group foster care facility who is in a relationship with Grace (played by the fabulous Brie Larson), another supervisor with a dark past. While the movie primarily focuses on Grace and her demons, Mason can hardly be called a secondary player. He is a supporting character only in the most literal sense of the word — he is the film's rock, its foundation, buoying Grace and the children they care for up in their moments of despair and confusion. Mason, thanks to Gallagher's heartfelt portrayal, is a guy you feel you can relate to and who you desperately want in your life.
Hollywood.com spoke with Gallagher about his experience on the film — including how he built an on-screen relationship with Larson so believable it had me Googling whether it carried on once the cameras stopped rolling — as well as the harsh critique of his other current project, Aaron Sorkin's The Newroom.
Note: This interview contains plot spoilers for Short Term 12. Go see the movie — immediately — and then come back and read this.
Hollywood.com: How did you become involved with Short Term 12 and what appealed to you about the project?John Gallagher Jr.: I read the script and I knew within five to 10 pages that it was something really, really special and very, very rare. It's not very often that a screenplay is able to move a reader. Just by the nature of how they're written, sometimes they can be kind of scientific or clinical. A novel or a piece of music or a play even can do something different on the page, the way it evokes emotion, but I have never read a screenplay that was so concise emotionally. The passion just poured right off the page and the characters came to life in my head immediately. Halfway through the script I realized that I had been moved to tears four or five times at completely different scenes by different characters and that told me all I needed to know about [writer and director] Destin [Cretton] and his ability to walk that fine line emotionally, and be able to have these moments that were so very rich and so very real and so very effective and sad and happy but that never once teetered over the edge into becoming melodramatic or manipulative. Then I watched the short film that it was based on and, as if I didn’t have enough faith and belief in Destin, that took it to a whole other level. To see what he did — I think it’s under 20 minutes, the short film that he originally did — that was so incredible, so I absolutely, at that point, said I would jump through any hoop to get this part.
Most often I read something as an actor and I think, "I can't do that." And that's what makes me want to do it, the terror. But every now and then, you'll read something and you just think, "I think I know how to play this guy. If they give me the chance, I think I know how to do this." And this is one of those situations where I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to do it and then it just so happened that Destin and I met eye-to-eye completely on that. I Skyped with Destin for about 40 minutes and we totally hit it off, and a couple days later they asked me if I wanted to come to L.A. to do it. And I said, "Absolutely." It was a dream come true. It is probably the best script that I been sent, ever, for a screenplay in 13, 14 years of auditioning as an actor.
And that's a list that includes Sorkin!Yeah... I should say "film scripts" before I get in trouble. It was definitely the best film script I've ever read, and the fact that I got to do it and the fact that now people are seeing and responding to it so positively, I pinch myself on a regular basis about it.
Mason's relationship with Larson's Grace is so real and believable. I couldn't believe that Brie said you only barely met before filming.Yeah we met only a couple days before we started shooting. There's something really amazing about the way Destin did it. He's so smart in this way that he emailed me ... and said, "I think it would be really good if you and Brie got together before we started shooting. I know there's not a lot of time." Her schedule is kind of crazy, I was just getting [to L.A. from New York], but we managed to carve out an evening where we just went out to dinner and we met each other and talked a bit. Destin had dropped off an envelope at my apartment that was filled with these little strips of paper that he had ripped up; it was just a grab bag of assorted topics and conversation starters. And whenever our own natural conversation would start to run dry during the dinner, we would take turns digging out a little strip of paper. There were things on them such as, "Talk about your fears and hopes about being a parent one day," "How do you think Grace and Mason started dating?", "What was their first date like?", so we were just talking very casually about these things and sharing our own stories of our childhood and things that we remember about being a child. Being taken care of, family, and then throughout there, would also be little practical things about backstory and history for these characters. So by the end of the dinner, without it ever feeling like a chore or feeling like work, all of a sudden we had a life for these two characters and a life together so we took that on set with us. [Brie] is such a naturalistic, wonderful actress and Destin encouraged that kind of believability and the way we approached a lot of those scenes, we all just saw eye-to-eye on it. That's great to hear though, you always want it to feel like the realest thing possible.
The whole movie felt so real in a way that I haven't seen on film before. So, congratulations!Thank you! Someone told us the other day that if it weren't for the fact that they recognized a couple of the actors — like if it weren't for the fact that they'd seen me on TV or seen Brie in other films — they would have thought it was a documentary or ... they hired the people that actually do this. That's fantastic talk.
It was interesting talking to Keith Stanfield; he said he purposely avoided making connections with you guys during filming. How was that from your point of view?What was amazing about it was how smart that was. This was his first acting job other than the short film, and he's the only person to return from the short film to the feature, and it was so smart the way he did it. He wasn't showing off about being a method actor and he wasn't purposely being rude. He just made it very clear from day one that this was his kind of mission statement for the role, that he wanted to stay in it the whole time and create that feeling of being disconnected from us and being slightly mistrustful and slightly weary. We would be having lunch — and we shot at this location that was once a foster care facility and now it's used for other things — but they would set up tables and chairs outside in the field that you see in the film for us for lunch, and Keith would be at a table by himself over at the far end. We would go over to sit down there and he would pick up his lunch and go somewhere else. Then you would go do these scenes with him and they came to life so instantly because that was all we knew of him. At that point [in the film] when I knock on his door and ask if he wanted to share some of his rap lyrics with me, that was the first time I talked to him that day, so it felt very alive, real, and those moments with him just crackled to life in a way that they may not have had he not had the insight and the proactive nature to go for it in that sense. So much of the magic of his performance and what happens when he's on camera is because he was 100% committed. It was amazing to watch.
You mentioned the rap scene, which is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Keith is so incredible in it, and it was such a close shot.Yeah, we did several takes but they used one. The whole rap is done in that one take.
I loved Mason's line at the end of it when he says, "I don’t know what to say." I was wondering if that was in the script?That's actually a really good question. I'll have to check on that. That might be an added line.
The whole time Marcus was rapping I kept wondering what on Earth Mason was going to say at the end. I didn't know how to respond in that moment. Being moved to a loss of words is a very profound thing that happens kind of regularly, especially in a moment like that. We'll have to check with Destin [as to whether it was in the script]. I don't know where it is, but the script is online somewhere, the original screenplay for the feature. Maybe we can look it up online before you leave so we can have a proper answer for that. [Editor's Note: This didn't happen...] If it was an improv, and I can't remember if it is, I certainly wouldn't want to claim credit without knowing for sure.
I thought it was such a great response because, especially with Marcus, a big theme is, "You don't understand me. Don't pretend like you know exactly what I'm going through." So you can't really say that. It's a respect thing, too. It's like, "I'm just going to tell you that I don't know what to say now because I'm not going to play the adult and pretend like I have answer, pretend like I can tell you what to do next with all these emotions and with this dramatic past that you had." I think, in a way, that's Mason's way of giving understanding and respect: "I'm going to be upfront with you. I don't know how to respond."
Was there a scene that was particularly difficult for you to film or one that you were nervous about filming going into it?Yeah, the break-up scene in the parking lot with Brie and I where you think it might be over for us. That was a bit of a challenge. That was one that we actually had to do a couple passes at. And we actually did a reshoot of that scene because we shot it once and there was something too fraught about it. In the original draft, my response is much more verbose and I go off on many more tangents when I'm talking to her about feeling that she doesn't trust me and waiting for her to tell me what it is that happened in her life. It was too much and it caused me to go over the top and become a little too fraught and a little too angry with her, which is not something you really want to see at that point in the film, so it turned more into a fight that Grace and Mason were having, where it's not. Some very hurtful things happen obviously, and Mason, at the end of the conversation, does throw his hands in the air and say, "This is the end." It's not, obviously, as you find out, but it might be in that moment. I think when she says, "I can't be with you. I can't have your baby," I think that's the worst thing you can hear.
We took another stab at it, thankfully, and we cut some lines and we paired down what actually gets communicated because there's enough there in the final scene. He says enough, and there was some added stuff that we sat down, Brie, Destin, and I sat down on a floor after we had done it a few times and said, "Do we need to start from scratch?" And we did. We went through and both made suggestions, all three of us had suggestions, and we both basically rewrote the whole scene with pens on our scripts and most of what you see in that final cut of the feature is the stuff that we did together, so it had that really great kind of collaborative feeling, which was good because I had walked into that scene being really, really scared, feeling like I didn't know exactly how to do it. But through trial and error, I felt like all three of us collectively reached a good result by working together, which is, at the end of the day, what you hope for.
Brie was telling me that the day that you filmed the scene where she finds Marcus was the hardest day for her. Do you have a scene that really hit home or affected you?Yeah. The last day the we shot was the whole scene at the anniversary party for my foster parents, so we shot all of that on the last night of shooting, the proposal when I propose to Grace, when I toast my foster parents, and you find out a lot about my backstory, and that was a hard one because I hate good-byes and I hate endings. It was perfect in a way because that's one of the loveliest moments in the film and we ended on that note. That really was perfect and very, very smart of Destin because everybody walked away from it with absolute love and affection and positivity in our hearts. That was really tough because you go to that beautiful, vulnerable place and then to have to drive home alone at 3:00 in the morning and go to your empty apartment and sit there after feeling so connected and part of a family, to just go and sit with yourself can be like a crash landing. It can be so depressing — and it was. It had been this amazing experience and all of a sudden it's 4:00 in the morning and I'm sitting on the couch watching mindless TV and feeling so sad that you're gonna have to put this thing to bed and say good-bye to it. That can be super traumatizing sometimes. At the end of the day it was a good experience because I know I had done something that, no matter what happened next with it, I knew that I could be proud of it. And lo and behold, what happened next was so amazing, going to SXSW and realizing that I was right about this. This is going to affect people in a good way.
There were a few moments in the movie where I was worried that it would go too far into melodrama, but it never did. I expressed this to my boyfriend, who saw it with me, and he just said, "It's not that kind of movie," which is right. How do you think it walks the balance between hopefulness and the potential for really terrible stuff to happen?That's great to hear. That's what we want. You want to be able to have it feel very real and you want to resist the toppling over the edge into becoming manipulative or melodramatic. But with that said, it does end on a very hopeful note, getting the sense that maybe it's going to be okay and maybe there's hope and happiness in the future for these kids, and that life will go on, but at the same time without telling you what happens. In the kind of Hollywood blockbuster version of this drama, this might be one of these films where right before the credits roll, it says, "Sammy served the next five years," and there would be these little addendums and epilogues. So you don't actually know what happens to any of these kids. Right now you find out at the end that Marcus is in a good place. He got out and he's dating someone, but at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen a year from then. It's a lot like addicts, in a way, where someone has a vice that's a danger to them and so they give it up, but it's a day-to-day process that's going to last for the rest of their lives. And I think that anyone that's in recovery, it's a similar struggle, so there isn't a magical "Oh the veil is lifted and now I'm fine." I think that the film captures that in a way that you know that, in this moment, Jayden got help and is going to be removed from a traumatic and abusing situation. Marcus got out, and it looks like he's going to have a shot at a good, normal life, and, at the very least, you know Luis is happy because he's hanging in his room and throwing a ball against the wall which is all he really needs. And then Sammy is having this triumphant superhero with the American flag moment of running through the field and you actually see him smiling and enjoying it.
Right. It felt a bit like we were watching Sammy play the game that he described in the beginning. What at the beginning was so sad and intense —his trying to run away — is now a game.Yeah and they kind of play it with him and are able to take joy in that moment and in that ritual, so everybody does have kind of a happy moment at the end. But I think it's not definitive in a way which I think is helpful to remember that this is an ongoing thing and tomorrow is going to be a different day. Tomorrow might be a much harder day for everyone. But it's very brave, I think, to stand up and tell a story where you're not afraid to end it on a hopeful note. There's a lot of snark and irony and coldness and too-cool-for-school kind of mentality that permeates a lot of film now, especially in independent film. I was thrilled to find something with Short Term 12 that was very unapologetically emotional and hopeful, but I never felt manipulated by it while I was reading the script and that's the thing, you just said it yourself by saying "it's not that kind of movie," that really goes back to Destin. That's what he created. It all trickled down through us, the actors and everyone who worked on the film, so that's one of the highest praises that we can be told. So, thank you.
Something we've talked a lot about with the script was the subtlety of it, and how a lot of the emotion and action was in-between the words. What was it like to go back to Sorkin [on The Newsroom] where everything is written, written, written?It was a strange awakening for sure. It had been really nice to be able to be doing something where the pressure of being word perfect was not on in the way it is on a set for Aaron Sorkin material. It's such entirely different kinds of writing that they do so it's kind of like wearing different hats, so it took me a little while, I think, during Season 2 of The Newsroom to get back into that rhythm, because it's very musical, and Aaron writes in a way that every word is chosen very, very, very perfectly. Whereas Destin writes in a way where he’s like, "I don't know if this is the perfect word. If you want to try a different one try it and if it doesn’t ring true I'll tell you to go back to the other one," so there's room to go out on a limb and try other things. That room doesn't exist on an Aaron Sorkin project. He's a much more scientific kind of writer. But I find challenges and joys in performing both kinds of work.
The first season of the Newsroom had very mixed reviews. Going back for Season 2, did that criticism change the way you approached things?Not really. Not for me. I think the person that has to deal with that the most is Aaron, who writes everything. He's always been kind of a lightning rod for people's opinions, especially politically. There's a big divide in the world about what people believe politically and he taps into that a lot and so he gets very strong reactions. For me as an actor, the thing that I have to remember is to tell the truth as I best know how to do it. And, whatever that truth is, tap into it as it exists in the text and try to be honest about it and tell a real story and then see what happens after it's out in the world and let the chips fall as they may. The liberating part is now when it's actually airing, when it's out and I have several months of distance from having shot it. Now I love just having it out there in the world and knowing whether it's positive or negative, it's going to be inspiring conversations until the season ends. As long as people are talking about it, it's a great thing.
So, I'm not going to lie, I was a huge fan of Spring Awakening fan and you were great in that. And you've been able to transition gracefully from stage to film — in both movies and TV. So many stage actors are so over the top. How do you think you avoided doing that? Did you train to go into film?No I didn't, but I was a lover of film my whole life. And when I started doing theater as a child, I don't think I've ever done a play where I wasn't told to be louder and be bigger, so I think naturalistically, my impulse has always been to underplay things and downplay things, and to be a little more quiet, a little bit more intimate, and draw people in and let them do the heavy lifting in a way. Not that I'm trying to shirk a duty or a responsibility but I think it's much more effective when you feel like you can kind of come into it in a way that just happens and feels very natural in that sense. Film and television is a leap that I was happy to make and doing things on camera where it does requires you to take a little bit more subtle liberties was super refreshing and very liberating. It is something that comes very naturally to me. Being on stage is something that I grew into, in a way, and I think my time on stage was super informative in the way that I approached film and television. It took a while for it to happen, but I think it all happened at the right time. I don't know that I would have been ready for a film like Short Term 12 four years ago. I don't know if I would have been ready for a show like The Newsroom when I was 23 or 24. It really wasn't until 27, 28, the last few years, where I actually felt like the opportunities that started coming my way were finally the opportunities that I was ready for.
And are you still working on music?Yeah, I write music. I recorded some music in the fall and I want to try to get it online some time soon. But anytime I have spare time [I work on music]. I play at this place Rockwood Music Hall a lot here in the city when I can. I haven't done one yet since getting back from L.A. or the second season of The Newsroom, but I'm always playing guitar and working on songs. It's a huge outlet for me; I'd go crazy without it.
Short Term 12 is playing in limited release now and opens nationwide Aug. 30.
More:Keith Stanfield Teaches Us About Rapping and the Beauty of Life 'Short Term 12' Director Reveals Intense Story Behind the Film Brie Larson: 'Oscars Don't Happen to Normal People'
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No matter how many jobs you're working, children you're raising, relationships you're juggling, or nations to which you're feigning allegiance in a grand effort to undermine the global economy, there's always time to add a new television show to your roster. Or, say, 30. Luckily for all the workaholics, doting parents, love-seekers, and double agents out there, E! has got a brand new slate of programs and specials on the way to distract you from your doubtlessly failing life expeditions.
Among the notable entries among E!'s six upcoming series, 10 upcoming specials, and 17 projects in developmental stages are a reality show about the band members of The Wanted, an in-depth look at the life of 50 Cent, and an expedition led by multihyphenate Nick Cannon to give his grandparents a home makeover.
Check out E!'s complete list of new and developing shows and specials below:
The Wanted Life — Sunday, June 2 at 10:30 PM ET/PT (moves to regular timeslot starting Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 PM ET/PT)This new half-hour series will chronicle the personal and professional lives of the edgy pop music powerhouse, The Wanted, who has already taken the world by storm. Viewers will see an unfiltered look inside the world of the chart-topping UK pop band as they head to sunny California to record their third album, gear up for their new US & Europe tour later in 2013 and solidify their top ranking on American pop music charts, along with their surprising dynamics and interpersonal relationships. Produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions, Scooter Braun Projects and Global Talent TV.
Total Divas — Sunday, July 28 at 10:00 PM ET/PTRevealing the real women behind the WWE Divas for the first time, this new one-hour series proves that the drama is even bigger when the sexy superstars step outside the ring. “Total Divas” goes inside the personal lives of these glitzy, glamorous celebrities who entertain sold-out crowds in arenas around the world and are adored by millions of fans. “Total Divas” is produced by WWE and Bunim-Murray Productions. Jon Murray, Gil Goldshein, Jeff Jenkins and Russell Jay are Executive Producers for Bunim-Murray Productions.
Pop Innovators — July 2013This new series showcases the most influential names in pop culture in their own words. We love them for what they bring to our world, and how they have helped define pop culture and captured the collective zeitgeist. These are the people who, as leaders in their respective fields, have taken their fame and gone in new directions to become influencers across a wide range of topics, and who inspire others to do the same. The first episode of “Pop Innovators” will offer an in-depth look at the life and career of Will.i.am from his point of view and will also feature interviews with other celebrities that he’s influenced most.
Love and Other Contact Sports: Eric and Jessie — Late summer 2013From Khloé & Lamar to Kendra & Hank, E! has followed the romantic celebrity relationships of popular athletes and their gorgeous companions for years. The new Love and Other Contact Sports franchise will take viewers inside the confines of even more celebrity/athlete romances starting with country/pop singer Jessie James and her fiancé, Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker whose wedding is quickly approaching. The series will chronicle the sexy young couple’s road to the altar as they juggle careers, relationships, family and more. Currently residing in their Denver dream home, they share an ambition to succeed, a charmingly fun and unfiltered outlook on life, and most of all, a red hot attraction for each other. Produced by Shed Media U.S.
Hello Ross (working title) — Fall 2013As the ultimate pop culture fan forum, this new interactive talk show is hosted by the super fan himself, Ross Mathews. Fans will have the unique opportunity to share their opinion on all the latest in pop culture, debate the most buzzworthy topics and come face to face with their favorite celebrities. From Borderline Amazing Productions.
The Trend — Fall 2013This news series will feature a team of experts and celebrity contributors discussing all things fashion, beauty and design.
Blinging Up Baby — Thursday, May 2 at 10:00 PM ET/PTThere is nothing more buzzworthy in Hollywood these days than celeb parents and their star tots who fill the pages of weekly magazines. In this one-hour special hosted by Melissa Rycroft, E! explores how the stars are heralding stork visits, from preparing luxurious nurseries, to exotic and ultra-pricey “babymoons,” to dazzling “push presents,” outrageous celebrity baby and toddler gifts, and more. If it is hot in the world of celebrity mommyhood, you’ll find out about it here. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
Nick Cannon’s Big Surprise — Thursday, May 9 at 10:00 PM ET/PTSexy actor, singer and TV personality Nick Cannon has a big surprise. Grateful to his grandparents who helped raise him, Cannon shows his appreciation with a surprise home makeover. Through the process, the star will share childhood memories, photos and videos as the audience gets an intimate look back at his life. But will his highly opinionated grandmother, actually like what he does with her place? There’s only one way to find out. Produced by Entertainment One.
Holly Has A Baby — May 12 at 9:00 PM ET/PTHolly Madison just took on the biggest role of her life when she became a mommy to a baby girl she named Rainbow Aurora Rotella. In this one-hour Mother’s Day special, viewers will follow Holly to the hospital for the big event, and share in all she did to prepare for her new arrival with boyfriend Pasquale Rotella. Then, we’re invited home with the trio as they share with us exactly what the future holds for Holly and her new family, including the possibility of wedding bells. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
The Untold Story: Jason Derulo — Tuesday, May 14 at 10:00 PM ET/PTSimon Cowell said he would be huge, Lady Gaga said he’s “a freakin’ superstar,” and Jordin Sparks calls him, boyfriend. He was well on his way to the top when an injury sidelined his career, and could have nearly ended his life. This half-hour special is a turbulent ride with Derulo as he battles his way back from injury. With never-before-seen footage and exclusive behind-the-scenes access, we’ll uncover the real man behind the persona of music royalty’s newest member. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
Ryan Seacrest with The Wanted: An E! Special — Monday, May 27 at 10:30 PM ET/PTDays before the premiere of their highly anticipated new E! series, Seacrest is sitting down with the bad boys of pop, and no topic is off limits. Discussing their music, rock star lifestyles and their much-buzzed-about personal lives, The Wanted open up to Seacrest in this new one-hour special.
Bigger, Badder Celebrity Feuds — Tuesday, May 28 at 10:00 PMThe Hatfields and McCoys had nothing on some of Hollywood’s biggest and most explosive feuds, and this one-hour special pulls out all the stops to reveal the gritty details of what went down between Chris Brown and Frank Ocean, Halle Berry’s ex and her current squeeze, Kelsey and Camille, and many, many more. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
E! Special: Brooke Burke — June 2013Giuliana Rancic is sitting down with the sexy actress and TV personality who has helped make Dancing With the Stars one of today’s biggest television sensations. Opening up about her career, family and personal life, Burke shares her ups, downs and everything in between with Giuliana from her home in Los Angeles.
Secret Societies of Hollywood — Late Summer 2013Beyond the red carpet and behind the security gates lies a forbidden Hollywood that only the rich and famous know about …until now. Secret Societies of Hollywood is a two-hour documentary that will expose the cults, cabals and underground clubs that exist in today’s entertainment industry. From Prometheus Entertainment.
50 Hours with 50 Cent — Fall 2013What is it like to be 50 Cent? One lucky super fan gets to find out. This special captures 50 hours with 50 Cent as one of his biggest fans gets to spend exactly that amount of time with him. Viewers will experience over two full days with this iconic rapper, entrepreneur and businessman as he enters global promotional mode leading up to the release of his newest album.
Inner Circle — Fall 2013A new experiment in storytelling from Executive Producer Ashley Tisdale, these specials will feature celebrities picking a member of their inner circle (a trusted friend, family member or close confidant) to tell their real story and to ask the questions. More conversation than interview, it’s an emotionally charged journey where the celebrities let their guards down, open up and have fun with someone from their “inner circle.” From Blondie Girl Productions and Relativity Television.
NEW UNSCRIPTED PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
Young SonomaThis series chronicles the personal and professional lives of premier families at the top of their game in world renowned wine country, Sonoma Valley. Featuring Envolve Winery’s Ben Flajnik (“The Bachelor”), Mike and Kate Benziger, Danny and Collette Fay, and B.R. Cohn Winery’s Vallerie and Tasha Cohn, the series goes inside the day-to-day drama that comes from living in a small town, working with friends and family, as well as being local and national celebrities. From Mandt Bros Productions.
Queens Are WildDocu-soap that goes inside the high-stakes world of gambling and follows four of the top female poker players as they live together, travel the world and compete to win millions. From Tollin Productions, Inc.
Palazzo RiggiThrough the eyes of the outrageous family who lives there and the staff that run it, this new docusoap takes viewers inside a unique, luxurious world filled with eccentric personalities and gives viewers a glimpse into a jaw dropping, elaborate 24,000-square-foot family estate in upstate New York that boasts an authentic English pub, Balinese wellness spa and perfectly heated lawn that is designed to keep the paws of the family’s 35 dogs warm year-round. From AEP Media and Machete.
FlashThis self-contained competition elimination series pits up-and-coming photographers against one another. In each episode, the photographers are given a real world challenge with real clients from the world of pop culture, who expect an amazing photo to sell their brand, talent or idea. Each week the winning photographer will get the exposure that could help launch their career. From Super Delicious.
Sex & Real EstateSet in Miami, this new docusoap follows the personal and professional lives of a group of hot, successful real estate agents at the top of their game as they juggle a world where business always mixes with pleasure. From FremantleMedia North America and Purveyors of Pop.
The Soup InvestigatesThe Soup Investigates is a new spin-off series of E!’s popular comedy franchise The Soup that will answer all the questions that pop culture fans never thought to ask, and then some. How DOES that rose get from the grower’s field to The Bachelor‘s hand just in time for the all important rose ceremony? What is life like inside the fascinating world of the Mother Duckers, the families who make their living creating duck callers who WEREN’T cast inDuck Dynasty? Host Joel McHale and our investigative reporters will be working around the clock to get to the truth, or at least a very plausible facsimile thereof.
NEW TOPICAL / COMEDY PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
James Davis ShowSketch comedy show parodying a wide range of pop culture subjects and personalities starring actor/comic/writer, James Davis. From Funny or Die Media, Inc.
White People Can’t DanceFrom Executive Producer Jack Osbourne and Vin Di Bona, this tongue-in-cheek format show features a team of experts who analyze some of the more outrageous stereotypes perpetuated by pop culture. Each episode our team will put multiple stereotypes to the test to determine which are fact and which are fiction. From FishBowl Worldwide Media and Schweet Entertainment.
Secrets & LiesSecrets & Lies is the game show, based on the classic parlor game three truths and a lie, that tests pop culture fans’ knowledge of their favorite celebrities while revealing shocking secrets about the stars we THINK we know and love. From Shine America’s format label Ardaban.
NEW SCRIPTED PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
Laurel CanyonIn this drama from executive producers Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Chuck) and Stephanie Savage (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Carrie Diaries) and executive producer/writer Karen Croner (Admission, One True Thing), a young woman returns to her dysfunctional, extended family in Laurel Canyon with her son after hearing her rock-star legend father has passed away. Based on Croner’s experience of growing up in the Hollywood Hills, the project is from Schwartz and Savage’s Fake Empire in association with Warner Horizon Television. Fake Empire head of television Len Goldstein (The Carrie Diaries) also serves as executive producer.
The Stand-InA darkly psychological re-telling of The Prince & the Pauper set behind the scenes of one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, who, tired of the spotlight, runs away in search of a normal life. Desperate, her family secretly hires a look-a-like to step into the star’s glamorous world and high profile career — only to have the doppelganger slowly lose herself in the process of becoming someone else. From Executive Producers Ryan Seacrest, Nina Wass and Adam Sher, Ryan Seacrest Productions, Universal Cable Productions and writer Craig Chester.
SongbyrdFrom writer Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Shameless), a young, prolific songwriter of some of the best love songs struggles to find love in her personal life after her inspiration is revealed to be a lie. Featuring the songs and experiences of Grammy winner Diane Warren, who Executive Produces with Craig Zadan & Neil Meron (The 2013 Academy Awards,Chicago, Smash) and Vernoff. From Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions.
ExpectationsFrom writer Ron Bass (Oscar winning writer of Rain Man, Sleeping with the Enemy), inspired by the classic Dickens work, a soap about a morally corrupt family in the diamond business set in New York City. Executive produced by Oscar winner Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Milk). From CBS Television Studios.
The ShorelineThe golden child of a small coastal town in South Carolina returns home to see that a major Hollywood prime time soap, The Shore Line Yacht Club, is the biggest employer in town. An enormous class divide separates the cast and producers from the townspeople, yet their lives are now continuously and irrevocably intertwined — for better or for worse. From writer Carolyn Ingber and executive produced by Becky Hartman Edwards (Switched at Birth, Parenthood). From Fox Television Studios.
Dirty/PrettyFrom Keith Eisner (The Good Wife, Law & Order), Jason Markarian and John Mirabella, a dark comedy centering on a blue collar guy from south Boston who gets scouted to be a model in Miami. Life gets turned upside down when his two best friends join him and see his new life as a way to expand their criminal activities. Gale Anne Hurd/Valhalla Entertainment will act as Executive Producer. From Universal Cable Productions.
Fortunate SonFramed for a drug deal by a friend from his hard-partying days, society golden boy Michael Baron becomes a criminal informant and is at the mercy of the police. He bounces between his privileged west side of Los Angeles existence and the case he is forced to work in the slums. But his dark past gives Michael some leverage over his fate, and he makes a dangerous deal that could clear his name. Or get him killed. From writer and Co-Executive Producer Joey Falco and Executive Producers Kevin Spacey, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti. From Universal Cable Productions.
The RoyalsPart fairy tale, part cautionary tale, this contemporary family ensemble is steeped in all of the regal opulence of the British Monarchy and framed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a tale of men and women corrupted by power, wealth and desire while looking at the nature of celebrity from a Royals’ point of view. Executive produced and written by Mark Schwahn (One Tree Hill) and executive produced by Brian Robbins and Joe Davola (One Tree Hill, Smallville). From Lionsgate
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Matthew McConaughey became the first new celebrity dad of 2010 when he and Camila Alves welcomed baby Vida into the world, but they weren't the only couple celebrating births. Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell experienced the joys of fatherhood all over again, while supermodel Claudia Schiffer and actress Monica Bellucci were bursting with excitement after announcing their pregnancies.
Love was certainly in the air - actor Josh Duhamel renewed his vows with Fergie, and British model Sophie Dahl became Mrs. Jamie Cullum. Russell Brand confirmed plans to wed Katy Perry, and Michael Buble got down on bended knee to propose to model Luisana Lopilato.
The same couldn't be said for Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend - they called it quits after nine years together. A cancer-stricken Dennis Hopper filed for divorce from his wife, and sporting pair Chris Evert and Greg Norman finalised the dissolution of their 18-month marriage.
There were new troubles for embattled celebrity offspring - Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal's boy Redmond was jailed after another drugs bust, and the future was bleak for Michael Douglas' actor son Cameron, who prepared for a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.
Meanwhile, illusionist David Copperfield was cleared of rape allegations, and actor Rip Torn was arrested after he was found passed out on the floor of a Connecticut bank, clutching a gun. Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman was arrested on allegations of domestic assault and then hospitalised following a number of seizures.
Bad health also struck Dexter's Michael C. Hall, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, just as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber revealed he had overcome prostate cancer.
The music industry mourned the death of R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass when he lost his battle with colon cancer, while the literary world was hit hard with the passing of beloved author J.D. Salinger.
Awards season was in full swing and Beyonce, Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift ruled the 2010 Grammy Awards, while director James Cameron's Avatar collected top honours at the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Movie Awards.
In the TV world, Simon Cowell confirmed he was stepping down as an American Idol judge, Miley Cyrus announced she was turning her back on Hannah Montana, and Ugly Betty got the axe from network executives.
Elsewhere, George Clooney led the Hope For Haiti Now telethon to raise funds for the Haitian victims of the 12 January earthquake, enlisting pals Jack Nicholson, Ben Affleck and Mel Gibson to man the phones as Madonna, Bono and Beyonce performed for charity. Clooney, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Gisele Bundchen all led by example and donated huge sums to the relief efforts, and the telethon raised more than $57 million (£35.6 million).
Jessica Biel and Emile Hirsch fronted another big charity drive when they joined a team of stars to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, drawing attention to Africa's chronic water shortage. They reached the Tanzanian peak for the Summit on the Summit: Kilimanjaro campaign on 12 January, six days after embarking on the challenge.
February was marked by tragedy when celebrated fashion designer Alexander Mcqueen was found dead after hanging himself at his London home. Meanwhile, investigations into Michael Jackson’s death in June, 2009 loomed as coroner’s officials determined acute intoxication of powerful anaesthetic Propofol was the cause. The ruling prompted prosecutors to file involuntary manslaughter charges against his former doctor Conrad Murray. Officials also ruled Brittany Murphy’s death in December, 2009 was accidental and caused by pneumonia, aided by anaemia and drug intoxication. Andrew Koenig’s family continued to mourn after his body was found in Vancouver following an apparent suicide. Marie Osmond also grieved the apparent suicide death of her 18-year-old son.
Nancy Kerrigan’s family was rocked by controversy after her brother, Mark, became the target of an investigation of their father’s homicide. Meanwhile, Etta James’ son revealed the singer had been secretly battling Alzheimer's disease for more than a year.
But there were still celebrations in Hollywood. James Cameron’s sci-fi film Avatar became the highest grossing movie in the U.S. and the U.K. His ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, had something to boast about too when her war drama, The Hurt Locker, scored nine Oscar nods, the same amount as Cameron’s cinematic sensation. She also won top awards at the BAFTAs.
The world watched as Canada's brightest stars including Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, K.D. lang and Joni Mitchell teamed up to help launch the Winter Olympics in the country. And in London, Lady Gaga walked away with the BRIT Awards’ top honours. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr unveiled his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and The Beatles' favourite recording studio Abbey Road was awarded historic status by the British government. Celine Dion, Kanye West, and Jennifer Hudson were among singers who recorded vocals for Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie's revamped We Are The World track to raise money for earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The country's biggest celebrity activist Sean Penn was caught in controversy and charged with criminal battery and vandalism following a violent run-in with a paparazzo, while Lil Wayne celebrated winning a postponement on his prison sentence for weapons possession.
It was a romantic month for several stars who announced plans to wed, including Nicole Richie and Joel Madden, Hilary Duff and ice hockey ace Mike Comrie, and Dave Annabelle and Odette Yustman. Kristen Bell revealed boyfriend Dax Shepard had proposed back in December, 2009. Meanwhile, Sienna Miller, who called off her engagement to Jude Law in 2006, rekindled her romance with the actor. Several stars welcomed bundles of joy, including Padma Lakshmi, Boris Becker, Sarah Jane Morris and Gary Busey. February wasn’t such a loved-up month for Ryan Phillippe and Abbie Cornish, or Cheryl Cole and her soccer star husband Ashley - both couples split. John Mayer risked the wrath of ex Jessica Simpson after referring to her as “sexual napalm”.
Public scandal took over headlines when Tiger Woods finally addressed reports he cheated on ex-wife Elin Nordegren with several mistresses and announced plans to return to rehab for sex therapy. Exes waged war in court, including Dennis Hopper, who won a restraining order against his estranged wife. Charlie Sheen was charged with felony menacing, third degree assault and misdemeanour criminal mischief stemming from an alleged altercation with his now-estranged wife, Brooke Mueller. Both parties checked in to rehab.
It was a shocking way to start the spring as March saw two of Hollywood's biggest star couples announce break-ups - Kate Winslet parted ways with her second husband Sam Mendes after seven years and Sandra Bullock's Oscar win was overshadowed after she found out partner Jesse James had cheated on her.
March wasn't any better for Take That's Mark Owen, who was also accused of cheating on his longtime girlfriend Emma Ferguson with 10 women - and he later revealed he's a struggling alcoholic and checked himself into rehab.
More scandals came as the month progressed, with fiery supermodel Naomi Campbell accused of attacking her driver by striking him on the head, and Michael Jackson's mum Katherine visited by welfare officials in Los Angeles over allegations one of her grandkids had purchased a stun gun.
Rapper J-Kwon was reported as a missing person after he failed to get in contact with his loved ones for more than a month, and reclusive R&B star D'Angelo was arrested in New York for offering an undercover cop cash for oral sex.
Other stars facing a tough time included Lil Wayne, who began an eight-month stretch behind bars stemming from a 2007 weapon possession arrest, and Lindsay Lohan, who had a fashion flop on her hands after being axed as the artistic advisor of style house Emanuel Ungaro following a slated catwalk collection.
But it wasn't all doom and gloom - Kathryn Bigelow made Oscars history when she became the first female to land the top director Academy Award for her war movie The Hurt Locker, beating ex-husband James Cameron in the process. Music mogul Simon Cowell confirmed his engagement to make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy while others to put a ring on it included Friends star David Schwimmer, who proposed to his photographer girlfriend Zoe Buckman, and Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, who enjoyed a small private wedding ceremony in Paris, France.
There was also a string of spring babies - Shakespeare In Love star Joseph Fiennes became a first-time father after welcoming a daughter, while Kevin Costner announced he was set to become a dad for a seventh time. Hollywood stars Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart also became parents for the first time after the actress gave birth to a baby girl.
While March saw ups and downs for some of Tinseltown's finest, others were looking on the bright side - Ricky Martin confirmed the worst kept secret in pop by announcing he's homosexual, while Will & Grace star Sean Hayes also decided to come out of the closet and spoke for the first time about his sexuality.
Every fan of 1980s movies was left devastated after hearing Corey Haim had died from a drug overdose - the Lost Boys star was aged 38. The month also saw the passings of Little Women star Richard Stapley, veteran British actor Martin Benson and beloved U.S. TV star Fess Parker.
The eruption of a volcano in Iceland at the end of March meant the following month was dogged by stories of stranded stars as a giant ash cloud swept over northern Europe and closed airports across the continent.
California's Coachella festival was under threat as a number of acts cancelled their slots when they were unable to fly out to the U.S.
Several movie premieres were also affected in the chaos - the Iron Man 2 red carpet event in London was moved to Los Angeles when stars including Robert Downey, Jr. were unable to jet to Britain. Miley Cyrus also scrapped plans to unveil her film The Last Song in the British capital due to the cancelled flights.
TV stars Chace Crawford and Kiefer Sutherland were both stranded in London after the ash cloud hit, and the 24 actor made the most of his extended stay by taking trips to some of Britain's best-known landmarks, including a day out to visit Stonehenge.
But many celebrities refused to let a little bit of volcano ash get in the way of their work - Metallica continued their tour by swapping planes for roads and railways, while Status Quo drove back to Britain after finding themselves stuck in Russia. John Cleese was stranded in Norway, so he paid $4,950 (£3,300) for a taxi to take him to Belgium, where he caught a train back to London.
In non-volcano-related news, Sandra Bullock sent shockwaves through the showbiz world when she came out fighting after her husband Jesse James' cheating scandal in March. The Oscar winner announced she had filed for divorce and stunned the world by revealing she had also adopted a baby son, Louis. Bullock admitted the couple had taken charge of their new son back in January, but kept the news quiet and after splitting from James she resolved to raise the baby on her own.
Another high profile celebrity split hit headlines when Mel Gibson ended his year-long romance with Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his baby daughter, Lucia. The couple didn't give a reason for the break-up, but Grigorieva subsequently hinted "you will find out everything quite soon". Jim Carrey and Jenny Mccarthy also ended their five-year romance.
The music world was rocked when Brett Michaels suffered two serious health scares in April. The Poison rocker was admitted to hospital for an emergency appendectomy at the beginning of the month and just weeks later he collapsed after suffering a brain haemorrhage. The rocker was in a critical condition, but slowly began his recovery. Another shock for music fans came with the death of former Sex Pistols manager and punk icon Malcolm Mclaren, who lost his battle with cancer.
April was a sad month for Dynasty fans after two of the show's former stars died within days of each other. John Forsythe passed away from complications relating to pneumonia and his death was followed by the passing of his onscreen brother Christopher Cazenove, who lost a battle with blood poisoning just six days later.
The scandal of the month came when Desperate Housewives actress Nicollette Sheridan filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the show's creator, Marc Cherry. The actress claimed he slapped her during an argument over the script and then fired her when she complained to producers.
Sheridan's co-stars, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria Parker, Felicity Huffman and Marcia CrosS, all took Cherry's side.
There were wedding bells this month for Scissor Sisters singer Ana Matronic and her boyfriend Seth Kirby, and actors Seth Green and Clare Grant. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon sealed their love by renewing their wedding vows for the third time.
May was not such a happy month for Boyzone singer Ronan Keating, who split from his wife Yvonne, and he wasn't the only one facing heartache - former Bond girl Halle Berry split from Gabriel Aubry after more than four years together, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer star David Boreanaz's marriage was plunged into crisis when he admitted cheating on his wife.
Several stars heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet this month - Monica Bellucci gave birth to her second daughter, Leonie, supermodel Claudia Schiffer delivered her third child, daughter Cosima, and Amy Adams became a first-time mum after giving birth to daughter Aviana.
John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston had something to smile about after the death of son Jett in 2009, when they confirmed the actress was expecting another child, and it was double joy for singer Alicia Keys - she became engaged to producer Swizz Beatz and announced her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Hollywood paid tribute to legendary actor Dennis Hopper when he died at the age of 74 after a battle against prostate cancer, and Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman passed away at the age of 42 after suffering a brain haemorrhage in a fall at his home.
There was further tragedy for the Redgrave dynasty when Lynn Redgrave died aged 67 after a long battle with breast cancer, and Brittany Murphy's grieving widower Simon Monjack was found dead at his home.
The rock world was plunged into mourning when Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer at the age of 67, swiftly followed by the sudden death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray, 38, who was found dead in a hotel room in Iowa after an accidental drug overdose.
Former The Temptations star Ali-Ollie Woodson died from leukaemia, aged 58, and veteran actress/singer Lena Horne succumbed to heart failure at 92.
On the scandal front, Charlie Sheen's troubles mounted when he surrendered legal custody of his two children with ex-wife Denise Richards, and Miley Cyrus showed she's growing up fast when she was caught on camera dirty dancing with a 44-year-old movie producer in a nightclub. Lindsay Lohan was ordered by a court to wear an alcohol-monitoring ankle tag in a bid to help beat her drink and drug demons, and troubled actor Michael Madsen was hospitalised following a nine-day booze binge in Britain.
Bono was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery on his back, leading to the cancellation of U2's hotly-anticipated Glastonbury headline slot the following month.
June was a bumper wedding month with Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green marrying on a beach in Hawaii, while Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart wed after seven years together. Gemma Arterton married Stefano Catelli, and Alanis Morissette married MC Souleye. British newsman Piers Morgan wed Celia Walden and Mena Suvari married music producer Simone Sestitos. Glee star Jane Lynch married Lara Embry in a civil partnership ceremony – and love was also in the air for Orlando Bloom, who announced his engagement to longterm girlfriend Miranda Kerr.
Ugly Betty star America Ferrera became engaged to Ryan Piers Williams, while Kate Hudson hit headlines when she started dating MUSE frontman Matt Bellamy.
It was a baby boom month - Kevin Costner became a dad for the seventh time, Sheryl Crow adopted her second son, director Sofia Coppola welcomed another daughter, and R&B star Ne-Yo announced he is to be a father for the first time.
June was not such a good month love wise for actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who filed for divorce from his wife of 13 years. Meanwhile British singer Leona Lewis split from her childhood sweetheart and Twilight's Nikki Reed broke up with Paris Latsis. Brandy's romance with rapper Flo Rida came to an end, Welsh singer Charlotte Church split from fiance Gavin Henson, and former U.S. vice president Al Gore split from his wife of 40 years.
Rock stars were in mourning when former Stereophonics star Stuart Cable passed away, former The Kinks bassist Pete Quaife also died, and country music legend Jimmy Dean passed away at the age of 81. Hollywood was saddened when Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan died aged 76 after suffering a major stroke and actor/director Corey Allen passed away. Zorro star Eugenia Paul also died at the age of 75.
June also caused havoc for the music industry with numerous gigs being axed - Drake, Jay-Z, Ke$ha and Grace Jones all had to cancel shows, while illness caused cancellations for John Mayer, Cher and Wolfmother, and SUM 41 brought the curtain down on their European tour after Steve Jocz was involved in a car crash.
Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford was in the news following his arrest for pot possession, while Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil and The Sopranos star Joseph Gannascoli were arrested separately on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). Meanwhile it was also another DUI arrest for actor Chris Klein - he then checked himself into a rehabilitation facility to deal with alcohol addiction later in the month.
Incarcerated rapper Lil Wayne's troubles worsened - he was sentenced to three years probation after striking a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors in relation to a 2008 drugs charge.
Other notable events in June included the launch of the soccer World Cup tournament, which saw stars including the Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Alicia Keys and John Legend perform at the opening ceremony in South Africa. There was also a flurry of tributes on the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, and Larry King announced plans to retire from his 25-year run as the host of CNN talk show Larry King Live.
A number of awards were also handed out - The Twilight Saga: New Moon was the big winner at the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, picking up four honours, while Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson caused a stir by locking lips onstage at the ceremony. Chris Brown stole the show at the 2010 BET Awards when he performed a dance tribute to Michael Jackson, while Alicia Keys and Drake were crowned the big winners.
Is the "Road to Perdition" paved with gold?
Debuting in a modest 1,790 theaters, the elegant but violent Tom Hanks gangster epic seems doubtful to emerge as the likeliest among this weekend's four new wide releases to vanquish Men in Black II from the top of the box office. MIBII is ensconced at 3,557 theaters, while Reign of Fire burns 2,692 theaters, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course storms 2,525 theaters and Halloween: Resurrection creeps into 1,749 theaters.
Yet Road to Perdition's future remains assured. Glowing reviews already position Road to Perdition as this year's first Oscar-worthy candidate, allowing distributor DreamWorks to market Hanks' latest as a intelligent and prestigious alternative to the budget-busting adventures of superheroes, spies and law enforcement officers with unusual beats.
Also, the 1930s-era Road to Perdition represents the second film from Sam Mendes, whose American Beauty won five Academy Awards and earned a surprising $130 million. Mendes' brooding mediation on revenge and loyalty isn't quite the Irish Godfather that it seeks to be, but it does boast some truly memorable moments, including a bloody showdown in the pouring rain and gripping performances from Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law. Road to Perdition should satiate those who have waited (and waited, and waited) for Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, which ironically was scheduled to premiere this weekend before it was delayed to Christmas.
Consequently, Road to Perdition should enjoy a long and healthy run throughout the second half of the summer, albeit without the benefit of a smash opening a la Hanks' Saving Private Ryan ($30.5 million) and Cast Away ($28.8 million). Expect an opening similar to that of The Green Mile's $18 million.
Hanks certainly does not fall into the category of an action hero, but audiences accepted him taking up arms for Steven Spielberg's uncompromising World War II Saving Private Ryan. In the 1930s-set Road to Perdition, Hanks' cause is less noble. A hit man working for Irish mobster Newman, Hanks finds himself on the run following the murder of his wife Jennifer Jason Leigh and their youngest son. Hanks seeks retribution while trying to protect his oldest son, whose curiosity about Hanks' profession led to the tragic turn of events.
Hanks remains a sure thing precisely because audiences welcome and enjoy the risks he takes. But the sight of Hanks out for revenge and killing in cold blood might alienate those who prefer him to undertake infinitively more heroic endeavors. Thus Road to Perdition won't come close to matching the terrific totals of Cast Away ($233.6 million) and Saving Private Ryan ($216.3 million). Instead, Hanks' travels should reap a total somewhere between Sleepless in Seattle's $126.6 million and The Green Mile's $136.8 million.
Regardless, Hanks can sleep well knowing that he should score his 12th $100 million hit.
Slaying dragons might prove more appealing than kicking alien butt.
Reign of Fire, which imagines a future overrun by dragons with blazing tempers, poses the greatest challenge to MIBII. Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey, both beefed up and ready to rumble, join forces to wipe out the dragons that reawake to leave the world scorched and barren. Their destination is London, home to the dragon that started it all.
More Alien3 than Independence Day, Reign of Fire requires its heroes to make do with little technology and weaponry to fight their flying, fire-breathing foe. Directed by The X-Files' Rob Bowman, Reign of Fire never quite lives up to its potential despite its marvelous special effects and tense confrontations between man and the supposedly mythical beasts. Reign of Fire begs for the mayhem and destruction that turned Independence Day into a summer smash.
Without the prospect of witnessing London burning, Reign of Fire will do only marginally better than 1996's Dragonheart ($15 million opening, $51.3 million total). Reign of Fire should debut with at least $20 million, but flame out rapidly with about $60 million. Audiences also might find themselves distracted by the giant spiders of Eight Legged Freaks, which will open Wednesday.
The further exploits of Michael Myers also could keep some young men away from Reign of Fire.
Halloween: Resurrection, the eighth in the series chronicling the masked serial killer's murderous rampage, arrives three months before Oct. 31. That's not unusual. The last sequel, Halloween: H20, debuted during the dog days of summer 1998.
Those keeping score may remember that Jamie Lee Curtis decapitated Myers at the end of H20. How Myers returns to life--without so much as a headache--remains a mystery, since Dimension Films failed to screen Resurrection, once slated for a Sept. 21, 2001, release, for critics. All indications are that this film is more trick than treat.
H20 breathed new life into the series by pitting Curtis against Myers for the first time since 1982's Halloween II. With the aid of emerging stars Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams, H20 sliced up a $16.1 million opening and a $55 million total. In comparison, the preceding sequel Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers only managed a total $15 million in September 1995.
Resurrection can't duplicate the success of H20, which capitalized heartily on Curtis' presence. Curtis reportedly only makes a cameo at the beginning of Resurrection. Her absence will surely hurt when the remainder of the disparate cast includes model Tyra Banks and rapper Busta Rhymes.
With the exception of die-hard Friday the 13th fans, audiences thoroughly rejected Jason X and its change in scenery. That doesn't bode well for an aging franchise that thrives on its audience's nostalgia for a time when serial killers merely hacked their victims to pieces.
With luck, Resurrection could hack its way to a $10 million opening, but Myers will run out of warm bodies to stalk when the film hits a $25 million total. Then expect to see Resurrection in your local video stores long before you stock up on Halloween candy.
Steve Irwin, either the bravest or dumbest man on TV depending upon how you feel about interacting with reptiles of all shapes and sizes, has gone Hollywood.
Irwin and wife Terri leave the confines of cable TV's Animal Planet for The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, a family friendly adventure that seeks nothing more than exploit the boisterous Aussie's household popularity.
Unfortunately, The Crocodile Hunter is just as ill conceived as NBC's disastrous attempt to turn celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse into a TV sitcom star. The folks at MGM, who desperately need a hit after Hart's War, Rollerball and Windtalkers, should have known better. Their previous attempt to turn a minor celebrity into a film star, in that case daredevil Super Dave Osborne, resulted in the direct-to-video The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave.
The Crocodile Hunter also would rank as the year's worst film thus far were it not for its utter lack of ambition and originality. It's nothing more than an extension of TV show, with Irwin spending much of his time addressing the audience while tussling with crocodiles, snakes and spiders. The remainder of the film involves the plodding search for a missing U.S. satellite beacon. Needless to say, the beacon ends up in the stomach of one very big crocodile. Adding insult to injury, the film even features an appalling reworking of Elton John's Crocodile Rock by the Baha Men.
It remains a mystery as to who will pay to see Irwin do what he already does on cable TV. Part of the TV show's popularity lies with the vicarious thrill of watching Irwin pry open the jaws of a rather irate crocodile or wrapping a poisonous snake around his stocky frame. Staging such sequences for a film eliminates the element of danger, which will likely keep audiences home, glued to Animal Planet. Accordingly, The Crocodile Hunter might crack $5 million during its opening weekend, but then end up with a toothless $15 million total.
Parents also have elected against taking their children to see such TV-inspired films such as Hey Arnold! The Movie ($10.7 million through Sunday) and The Powerpuff Girls Movie ($7.5 million through Wednesday). Scooby-Doo, with $140.3 million through Wednesday, remains the exception. The canine sleuth looks set to bark up a total $160 million.
Despite being confronted by four new releases, MIBII should easily remain as the nation's top film for a second weekend. The Men in Black sequel set off fireworks during the July Fourth holiday with a weekend haul of $52.1 million and five-day weekend total of $87.2 million. MIBII now holds the record for the best July Fourth holiday opening. It has $103.9 million through Wednesday.
MIBII enjoyed a slightly better opening than its predecessor, which debuted during the July Fourth holiday in 1997 with $51 million in its first weekend for a five-day total of $84.1 million. That doesn't mean alienbusters Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith should expect the script to a third Men in Black in the mail just yet. MIBII opened in 300-plus more theaters. Ticket prices also are higher today than they were in 1997. Consequently, Men in Black posted a $16,910 per theater average while MIBII made do with a per theater average of $14,661.
Bad reviews and tremendous competition will cause MIBII to drop more than the 41.13 percent tumble to $30 million that Men in Black experienced in its second weekend. MIBII will likely mirror Scooby-Doo's second weekend erosion of 54.8 percent, from $54.1 million to $24.4 million. If this is the case, MIBII will likely end up with a total closer to $200 million than the original's $250.1 million.
And on the subject of lowered expectations, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones continues to creep toward $300 million. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace earned $431 million in 1999. With $291.2 million through Sunday, Attack of the Clones finally surpassed The Empire Strikes Back's $290.2 million total.
Attack of the Clones was tipped to be the year's highest-grossing film. That honor remains with Spider-Man, which on Sunday became only the fifth film to break $400 million domestically.
Lilo & Stitch and Minority Report both cracked $100 million this past week.
Disney's Lilo & Stitch, which has $108.6 million through Wednesday, is lagging behind Tarzan, which had $115.9 million after 20 days in wide release. After a third weekend of $12.6 million, Lilo & Stitch looks set for a total surpassing Dinosaur's $137.7 million.
Minority Report has $101.5 million through Wednesday. Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller dropped 42 percent in its third weekend, from $21.5 million to $12.6 million. MIBII no doubt appealed more to those looking for a less ominous sci-fi extravaganza. Minority Report has bested Tom Cruise's last effort, Vanilla Sky ($100.6 million), and will surpass Interview with the Vampire ($105.2 million) by Saturday. Minority Report will likely come to rest close to A Few Good Men's $141.3 million total.
Fighting for the same audience of young men as MIBII, Mr. Deeds saw its good fortune drop 50 percent in its second weekend, from $37.1 million to $18.4 million. Adam Sandler's remake Frank Capra's classic comedy Mr. Deeds Goes to Town has $81 million through Wednesday and has already exceeded The Wedding Singer's $80.2 million total. Mr. Deeds isn't quite keeping up with Big Daddy ($97.3 million) or The Waterboy ($83.2 million), both of which has made more money in their first 13 days. Mr. Deeds should, however, amass a wealthy $125 million.
MIBII didn't deter audiences from seeking one of July Fourth's other new attraction, Like Mike. The kids-oriented basketball fantasy, starring Lil' Bow Wow, scored a solid $12.1 million over the weekend for a July Fourth holiday five-day total of $19 million. With $23.5 million through Wednesday, Like Mike isn't destined for MVP-type numbers, but it looks like a $50 million slam-dunk for the teen rapper.
Women turned out in force for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which jumped a joyful 25 percent in its 12th weekend from $2 million to $2.5 million. The romantic comedy only played in an additional six theaters, bringing its theater count to 499. My Big Fat Greek Wedding has a blissful $23.5 million through Sunday. In contrast, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood fell 31 percent, from $4 million to $2.8 million, but has $62.6 million through Tuesday. That bests star Sandra Bullock's Hope Floats ($60.1 million).
Playing spies games is proving lucrative for pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Affleck's turn as CIA analyst Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears has $112.7 million through Wednesday. It's slowly but surely posing a challenge to Clear and Present Danger's $122 million and The Hunt for Red October's $120.7 million totals.
Then there's the curious case of Damon's amnesiac CIA operative Jason Bourne. The Bourne Identity slid by a mere 18 percent in its fourth weekend, from $11.1 to $9.1 million. The Sum of All Fears managed just $7.7 million in its fourth weekend. With $92.2 million through Wednesday, The Bourne Identity is displaying surprising endurance and could become this weekend the eighth new release to break $100 million in 2002. More impressively, Jason Bourne should have Jack Ryan watching over his shoulder in the event of a hostile takeover.