Paul Rudd on Ant-Man 2, Work With Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Playing a diminutive superhero helped Paul Rudd land a role as a major-league baseball player turned spy in “The Catcher Was a Spy.”

“I think it was ‘Ant-Man’ that brought us together,” director Ben Lewin said at the Variety Studio presented by AT&T while promoting the World War II thriller on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. “I remember at the premiere of ‘Ant-Man,’ I was thinking, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great.’ … It was a pivotal event for me. Mentally, I certainly became fascinated with you as Moe Berg as a result.”

Lewin said the film helped him see the actor in a new light, thinking, “‘Boy, you can do all sorts of stuff.’”

Rudd also discussed his relationship with Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

“We’re very much partners in the film,” he teased.

He also said it was a thrill to work with “legends” Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas.

Rudd recalled seriously injuring his arm on the “Catcher Was a Spy” set while catching 80-mile-per-hour baseballs with an old-fashioned baseball mitt from the period.

“I wound up having to go to the hospital (with) tendonitis. My whole arm was in a cast for like two months,” he recalled.

The Catcher Was a Spy” also stars Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti, Mark Strong, Jeff Daniels, and Sienna Miller.



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ICM Partners Acquires Majority Stake in Royce Carlton Speakers Agency – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


ICM Partners has acquired a majority interest in Royce Carlton, the New York-based speakers agency, in an effort to broaden the scope of its activity on the lecture circuit.

Royce Carlton will remain an autonomous banner within ICM. ICM’s existing lecture booking department will be folded into Royce Carlton. The enlarged operation will be headed by Jonathan Perelman, ICM’s head of digital and lectures, along with Carlton Sedgeley, founder of Royce Carlton, and executive VP Lucy Lepage Sedgeley.

“This is a perfectly timed, strategic move for us that assures our agents and staff, as well as our clients a long-term transition plan, while giving us access to more resources and clients to grow the agency while continuing to provide the best possible service to the people we represent,” said Sedgeley and Lepage, who are married.

ICM and Royce Carlton have a long history of working together on mutual clients, such as authors Ken Auletta and Thomas Friedman and actor Alan Alda. The acquisition was a natural progression of that relationship. Royce Carlton was founded in 1968 by Sedgeley and Lepage and at present has about 16 staffers.

“This is a business we really like and Royce Carlton is the preeminent agency of its kind,” ICM Partners chief Chris Silbermann told Variety. “Culturally they are a great fit for us. This is a case where we will grow this business to make one plus one equal three.”

Larger Hollywood tlent agencies are taking more interest in the potential of the lecture circuit in the quest to diversify beyond the core film, TV and music arenas. Last month, UTA set a deal to buy speakers agency Greater Talent Network.

For ICM, Perelman was the logical choice to drive the growth of the speakers department, in part because he has experience on the other side of the table as a client on the speaking circuit thanks to his past experience as a senior executive at Google and Buzzfeed. He’s been with ICM since 2015.

“The combination gives us a far greater footprint in the speakers’ world, and will enable significant growth for ICM Partners,” Perelman said.

The deal marks ICM’s second boutique acquisition this year. In March, the percentery bought Headline Media Management, which reps local and national TV news and sports personalities.



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Robin Sykes’s ‘In The Game’ Wins Prizes at Alpe d’Huez Film Festival – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Robin Sykes’s “In The Game” (“La Finale”) won the Grand Prize and best actor award for Thierry Lhermitte at the 21st edition of Alpe d’Huez Comedy Film Festival.

“In The Game” follows a teenager (Rayanne Bensetti) who is forced by his parents to watch over his grand-father (Lhermitte) during the weekend and takes him on a road trip to Paris where he has planned on participating in a basketball finale.

Produced by 2425 Films and distributed in France by UGC Distribution, “In The Game” is being represented in international markets by Orange Studio which kicks off sales at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris.

The Jury prize was awarded to Philippe Mechelen and Julien Hervé’s “Le Doudou” which stars Kad Merad a father on a doomed mission find his daughter’s lost comforter across the Roissy airport near Paris. The film was produced by Eskwad and is being handled by Pathe which is distributing and handling international sales on the movie.

The Alpe d’Huez’s audience prize went to Eloise Lang’s “Larguees,” a comedy about two sisters who take their mother who’s just been dumped by their father for a much younger woman on a tropical vacation to help her get over her heartache. The film, which was produced by Estrella Productions, also earned Camille Cottin the best actress prize. Cottin is best-known for her role in “Call My Agent!, the popular French series.

“Larguees” was co-produced by Pathe which also distributes in France. WestEnd Films is handling international sales.

The festival’s jury was presided by Franck Dubosc and comprised Audrey Dana, Reem Kherici, Arnaud Ducret and Christophe Lambert.



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Morgane Polanski on ‘The Stroke,’ Obsession, Creating an OCD World – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


PARIS — A world premiere, Morgane Polanski’s “The Stroke,” starring fellow “Vikings” co-star Edvin Endre, bowed Friday on MyFrenchFilmFestival, the UniFrance global online showcase of French films. Polanski’s follow-up to “The Understudy,” her debut short film as a director, “The Stroke” also suggests a budding auteur.

Both films focus on obsessions. In Polanski’s debut, an unhinged understudy (Imogen Sage, a co-scribe with Polanski), who, un-admired and unseen – just as Salomé sees herself in Wilde’s play, for which she understudies – extracts a bloody revenge on the actress playing Salomé.

Co-written with business partner Serena Jennings, “The Stroke” has a way gone Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sufferer, whose life of utter order and hygiene is disturbed when the neighbors’ black cat suddenly appears and sits – completely unsymmetrically! –  outside his window.

In both, visuals are vital and bold, a blood-red curtain, costume, coat and wine presaging the (off-screen) denouement of “The Understudy,” decor embodying the protagonist’s hyper OCD in his spick-and-span and so-carefully-aligned flat in “The Stroke.” The two shorts have a strong line in black humor, “The Stroke” is, indeed, silent comedy.

“You have to be prepared to die for this, to kill, don’t be weak,” the celebrated actress tells her understudy, scornfully, in “The Understudy.” The actress really could have chosen her words with more care. In “The Stroke,” his life in apparent ruins, the OCD sufferer simply determines to go pay the neighbors’ a visit, and take the cat out. There’s no other way to it.

In contemporary shorts, “I see a strong trend of directors trying to embrace the reality of the world and their world. To achieve this, they abolish the frontier between documentary and fiction,” Emmanuel Marre, another 2018 MFFF director (“The Summer Movie”) says in a Variety profile.

Notably, however, Polanski, like Melanie Laleu, director of MFFF short “No Drowning,” tips her hat to “Raw’s’” Julia Ducournau, fast-emerging as the high priestess of women’s auteur genre in France. With fans such as Laleu and Polanski, psychological thrillers and broader women’s auteur genre may be due for a upsurge in France.

Variety corresponded with Polanski as MFFF launched around the world.

Your first two shorts as a director are both about obsessions. Is that a coincidence, or because obsession can be portrayed well in short-formats. Or may be there’s another reason… 

I don’t really believe in coincidences… especially when writing and directing something… Obsession in all its different forms is a theme that really fascinates me.

Was your background as an actress a plus when directing Edvin Endre? And how did you direct him?

Yes, 100 percent. I don’t think I would have been able to direct “The Stroke” (and my first short, “The Understudy”) the way I did if I hadn’t had the chance to shoot consistently for a year-an-a-half. Especially with the pace of TV, I had to learn so much on the job, which taught me tremendously. Edvin is a good friend of mine and it was a pure pleasure to direct him, I’d also helped him with numerous self tapes before shooting “The Stroke” which meant I knew what buttons to press in order to trigger what I wanted from him.

The soundtrack is very important in “The Stroke.” Were the pieces chosen just for their mood or do they have a further significance? 

The soundtrack was always going to be one of the most important parts of the film. As there is no dialogue or sound, it relies heavily on the music. I always knew I wanted some already existing classical pieces. They were precisely chosen to set the mood of the tensions and emotions, thanks to the incredibly talented Susana Peric who understood my vision very quickly.

As a playful portrait of OCD, the film allows you to push out the boat on its visuals. What in general, however, were your guiding principles when directing “The Stroke”? 

I wanted to create an OCD world with the visuals. His environment needed to have very clinical cold colors, in contrast with the hot messy colors of the outside world. It was important to me that everything in his world was very symmetrical and precise. A big reference for that was Wes Anderson’s style.

Being based, I believe, out of London, do you see yourself in any way as part of a new generation of French filmmakers, and, if so, what are some characteristics you see that define that group?

I live in London but I frequently travel back and forth from Paris. I would love to have a voice in the new generation of filmmakers but I don’t know if I can say that yet, I need to do more!  I want to be part of the new wave of female directors, a French director I utterly admire is Julia Ducournau who directed “Raw”.

Do you see any trends in the shorts you have watched for this, or other festivals where you have participated?

In shorts, a trend I don’t see is fantasy, imaginary, psychological thrillers or silent comedies.  A lot of the shorts I’ve seen recently are very realistic, dramatic and          often sad about real issues going on in the world. I have more of a tendency to try and created something surreal in order for the audience to escape.

What is next for you?

Since completing “The Stroke,” my business partner and writer Serena Jennings and I have set up our own production company: Stroke Productions.  We are currently working on a third short, which is a psychological thriller, also on the theme of obsession in another form. So keep your eyes peeled because we’re coming for you!




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Twist Like a Dragon (feat. Joanne Lazzaro)

Grateful to have made the 1st cut for Grammy® 1st ballot! FYC in Arrangement A Cappella #FairyinaBubble feat #ArmandHutton mixed by Bill Hare and in Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals #TwistLikeaDragon feat #JoanneLazzaro.

By Diana Dilee Maher

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An Enjoyably Candid Portrait – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


The #MeToo movement has been about pushing society forward, but it is also, inevitably, about looking back — about reconsidering all the ways a culture that thought of itself as “advanced” continued to denigrate women, sometimes in the guise of progressive action. That makes the lively, confessional, and entertaining “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” at this tectonic-shift moment, an unusually timely and resonant Hollywood portrait.

Directed by Susan Lacy, who made the terrific HBO documentary “Spielberg,” the movie presents Jane Fonda as an agent of change who was also rooted, to an extreme and sometimes tormented degree, in the things she was trying to cast off. Much of this was covered in Fonda’s 2005 autobiography, “My Life So Far,” but “Jane Fonda in Five Acts” is one of several documentaries at Sundance (including those on Robin Williams and Joan Jett) that demonstrate the potency of archival footage in ways only a movie can. To see these multiple visions of Fonda, achingly poised and beautiful, though not always ready for her close-up, is to revel in the power of images that can speak countless words.

Tellingly, the film divides Fonda’s life into “acts” built, for the most part, around the men who shaped and shared her destiny. On the face of it, that sounds shockingly retrograde, yet it goes right to the essence of Jane Fonda’s idiosyncratic identity. Offhand, it would be hard to name a woman of the 20th century who straddled the pre- and post-feminist worlds with her crusading ambivalence and mythological sweep.

Though born in 1937, she embraced — and shed — roles with the ferocity of a baby boomer, to the point that she often seemed to be living every step of her existence on the cultural cusp. She came up as an actress in the early ’60s, cast as a girl next door in the waning days of the studio system, then had a brief moment as a pin-up kitten of the sexual revolution, then matured into a great actress during the New Hollywood ’70s, then became the rare celebrity entertainer brave enough to disengage from the system to pursue her political passions (she was dissed for going to Hanoi, but the meaning of that crusade was debated all over the world — and if that’s not successful activism, I don’t know what is), then helped to invent the 1980s with her famously popular and influential workout video, then drew back and had comebacks, all the while using her personal odyssey — the marriages that thrived and then failed, her decades-long battle with bulimia — as a way of keeping herself out there, embedding her own struggles in the national conversation.

Yet even as Fonda never stopped pushing herself forward, her story remains rooted, to an unusual degree, in the DNA of the past. In “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” she speaks with captivating eloquence about the choices available to her, and why she made the ones she did. She was, of course, an heiress of Hollywood royalty, and while her rocky relationship with her father, Henry Fonda, has been amply chronicled, the film explores it in touching depth. She could never get his love, not the way that she wanted, yet she remained in thrall to this patriarchal icon daddy.

The men that Fonda was drawn to all echoed Henry Fonda’s charisma and power. She’s candid about how she was swept up in the allure of the French director Roger Vadim, though when she made “Barbarella” with him, she had to get drunk on vodka to let herself shoot the nude anti-gravity opening sequence. It was in France with Vadim, in 1968, that the activist spirit of the time invaded her, and she carried it with her for years, long past the moment when she was considered a “subversive.” The documentary opens with the voice of Richard Nixon, heard on the White House Tapes, grumbling about what could have gotten into Jane Fonda. Amusingly, though, Nixon compliments her acting.

I only wish the movie did! Fonda was a likable gamine in “Barefoot in the Park” (1967), but by the time she starred in “Klute” (1971), she was a major actress, with a persona all her own: empowered yet high-strung, her taut intelligence shot through with anxiety.

“Jane Fonda in Five Acts” acknowledges some of those films, and shares a good anecdote from Fonda about how, wanting to be rid of her “Barbarella” tresses, she wound up with the “Klute” haircut: that severe shag that made her look like Joan of Arc by Sassoon. But the movie devotes hardly a moment of its 2-hour-and-13-minute running time to analyzing the special qualities that Fonda brought to the screen. The omission is surprising given that Susan Lacy, in “Spielberg,” did such a stellar job of exploring Steven Spielberg’s aesthetics. This movie is interested in Jane Fonda as a human being, and the ways that she wielded her celebrity, but it forgets that her movies are the ultimate reason we’re talking about her.

That said, “Jane Fonda in Five Acts” provides a fascinating inside portrait of her marriage to Tom Hayden (they lived as bare-bones hippies and used the proceeds from the workout video to fund their activism), and her follow-up marriage to Ted Turner (she was so in thrall to his energy that she began to realize she was leaving herself out of the equation). The last act of the movie is called “Jane” (after “Henry,” “Ted,” etc.), indicating that only in her sixties did Fonda find the strength to stop looking for her image in the reflection of a man who was a reflection of her father. That’s the Jane we see interviewed here: forceful, generous, transcendently aware. Finally able to play the role of herself.



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China’s Wanda Suffers Financial Declines in 2017 – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Dalian Wanda, the beleaguered Chinese property to entertainment group, took a series of financial knocks in 2017. It is expected to sell further properties in the coming weeks.

The privately-held parent company said that It said that revenue dropped by 11% to RMB227 billion, and that net profit was basically flat, but did not reveal the figure. The group’s net asset value dropped by 12% in 2017 to RMB700 million.

The group has been on the receiving end of a succession of Chinese government actions to curb reckless corporate overseas expansion. These measures have included instructions to China’s banking and investment sector, and capital controls, as well as cabinet-level redrafting of rules on preferred and disfavored investment sectors. Entertainment, hotels and sports are all now frowned upon.

These measures caused Wanda to reshuffle many of its assets, to sell off hotels in China and hand off much of its theme park business. “The revenue from real estate reached RMB 83.17 billion, down 24% year-on-year, mainly due to the sharp decrease in revenue from real estate resulting from the transfer of cultural tourism projects,” the group announced on Saturday.

The group’s remaining entertainment businesses, which include Wanda Cinema Line and AMC, continued to grow, and Wanda said that cultural industry businesses represented 28% of group revenue in 2017.

“Wanda’s film group achieved revenue of RMB 53.2 billion in 2017, or 99% of its target, up 36% y/y. In 2017, Wanda opened 199 new movie theaters worldwide with a total increase of 1,585 screens. To date, Wanda operates 1,551 movie theaters worldwide with 15,932 screens,” Wanda said. It also said that its cinemas were performing strongly, with per screen box office of Wanda movie theaters some 1.9 times the Chinese average. Its cinema loyalty scheme claimed 100 million members.

In recent days Wanda’s overseas asset disposals have continued. It sold a property in London’s Nine Elms district — notching a $60 million profit in the process — and is poised to sell two Australian developments in the coming days .



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‘It’s Hard to be a Man These Days’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


William H. Macy revealed Sunday that he participated in a meeting of Hollywood men related to the Time’s Up movement.

“It’s hard to be a man these days,” Macy said backstage at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “I think a lot of us feel like we’re under attack and that we need to apologize, and perhaps we do.” He added, “We had a meeting. A bunch of guys got together under the auspices of Time’s Up. That’s good for men. Men don’t talk enough. And we talked.”

Macy won the Screen Actors Guild Award Sunday for male actor in a drama series for his role in Showtime’s “Shameless.” He said after receiving his award that he sees progress in gender equality in Hollywood.

“In what we do for a living, we’ve got to be free to speak the unspeakable and try things,” Macy said. “So I don’t want it to throw a wet blanket on things, and I don’t feel that it will, because half the business is women and they’re smart and they’re hip.”

Noting that he has two daughters, Macy added, “It’s a good time to be a girl. I’m proud of this business, because such things as safety in the workplace, that’s done. We’re not going back. It’s changed. It changed in an instant and it’s not going back. When it comes to equality in pay, it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen quickly. My hat’s off to our business.”



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