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HomeColumnsEnd of Week Production NotesEnd of Week Production Notes 5/14/21: De Niro Injured in Oklahoma, Maher...

End of Week Production Notes 5/14/21: De Niro Injured in Oklahoma, Maher Tests Positive, Ellen Over, and More News


De Niro
Robert De Niro in The Irishman (Photo: Netflix)

Yesterday evening, the news broke that actor Robert De Niro had been injured while in Oklahoma to film the latest Martin Scorsese film, Killers of the Flower Moon. The severity of De Niro’s leg injury isn’t known, but the injury didn’t happen on set or during production, and the production schedule will not be affected by his injury. De Niro had already been scheduled to fly back to his New York City home from Oklahoma, so he will seek medical attention back in New York. It wasn’t reported whether De Niro had wrapped on the film or would need to return to finish.

Bill Maher
Bill Maher (Photo: HBO)

A few hours earlier, it was reported that Bill Maher, long-time host of HBO‘s Real Time with Bill Haher, would be cancelling this week’s show when he tested positive for COVID-19 during the show’s weekly mandatory PCR testing. Maher had already been vaccinated, and he was asymptomatic, so the decision was made to keep his staff, crew and guests safe. The show normally tapes on Fridays, and this week’s guests were meant to be astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, World War Z author Max Brooks and Dan Carlin, host of the Hardcore History podcast.

A spokesperson for HBO told Deadline“The Friday, May 14th taping of Real Time with Bill Maher has been cancelled. Bill tested positive during weekly staff PCR testing for COVID. He is fully vaccinated and as a result is asymptomatic and feels fine. Real Time production has taken every precaution following COVID CDC guidelines. No other staff or crew members have tested positive at this time. The show will be rescheduled at a later date.”

Ellen DeGeneres (Photo: Warner Bros. TV)

No, it wasn’t a great week for talk show hosts, as Ellen DeGeneres announced she was ending her popular daytime talk show, Ellen, after its 19th season, which is oddly, the exact season on which Maher’s show is currently. DeGeneres was hit by some controversy in the past year when she was accused of having a “toxic workplace” from a few former employees, which led to a few executives being cut from the daytime talk show. Although DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, had urged her to cut back on her grueling schedule, she was urged by Warner Bros. to keep going.

The announcement was reported by The Hollywood Reporter, who also got a statement from DeGeneres after she informed her staff of the show’s end on Tuesday, “When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore.”

Mike Darnell, President of Warner Bros’ unscripted television, who had urged her to continue, added, “Although all good things must come to an end, you still have hope that truly great things never will,” calling the show “an absolute phenomenon.”

This is Us
Cast of This Is Us (Photo: NBC)

Hours before Degeneres’ announcement, it was reported that NBC’s award-winning drama, This is Us, would also be ending its run with the 2021-22 Season 6. The top-rated drama created by Dan Fogelman had already announced that many of its key cast would be leaving after the sixth season, so NBC decided that would be a good time to end the series. This was meant to be announced today as new NBC execs Frances Berwick and Susan Rovner  were scheduled to present the fall schedule and their vision for the future of the network to press for the first time.

Let’s do a lightning round of all the casting and attachments for the week.

Kathryn Hahn
Kathryn Hahn (Photo: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Rian Johnson is working hard on casting up his sequel, currently referred to as Knives Out 2. After the casting of Dave Bautista and Edward Norton earlier this week, the movie has added actress Kathryn Hahn to the mix. Hahn is a comedy workhorse, being brought in as a ringer for many great indie and studio comedies, but her popularity really took off from her appearance on Marvel Studios‘ Disney+ series, WandaVision, where she took on an unexpected role.

Before his injury, Robert De Niro was announced to play the father of stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco in the Lionsgate comedy About My Father, which will be directed by Laura Terruso (Good Girls Get High). Maniscalco, who also wrote the script, appeared with De Niro in Scorsese’s The Irishman.

Fresh off his turn in Warner Bros’ Mortal Kombat, actor Lewis Tan will be joining Emma Roberts in the romantic comedy, About Fate, which will begin filming in Boston this June. Also starring Thomas Mann, the film is written by Tiffany Paulsen and will be directed by Marius Weisberg (Naughty Grandmas).

Having received much acclaim and attention for her feature directorial debut One Night in MiamiRegina King has closed a deal with Legendary Pictures to produce and direct Bitter Root, a feature film based on the award-winning Image Comics comic book series by Chuck Brown, David F. Walker, and Sanford Greene. King will produce with Reina King for their Royal Ties banner, along with Ryan CooglerZinzi Coogler and Sev Ohanian for Proximity Media with Walker, Greene, Brown and Drapetomedia’s Sean Owolo  executive producing. Bryan Edward Hill is currently working on rewriting the adaptation of the story set during the Harlem Renaissance of 1924, following a family of monster hunters, the Sangeryes, who are facing an evil that’s fallen upon New York City.

Proud Family
The Proud Family (Photo: Disney)

Also this week,  Disney announced some voice cast additions to its animated sitcom, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, as Billy PorterZachary Quinto and EJ Johnson have been added to the voice cast that already includes Keke Palmer voicing 14-year-old activist Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins, the adopted daughter of mixed-race parents, Randall and Barry Leibowitz-Jenkins, voiced by Porter and Quinto respectively. Johnson will voice Michael Collins, a non-conforming best friend to one of Maya’s friends. The series is currently in production at Disney Television Animation to air on Disney+ in 2022.

Time for some trailers!  Earlier this week, Lionsgate released the first trailer for the Millennium Media action-comedy The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, the sequel to the 2017 hit starring Ryan ReynoldsSamuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek as Jackson’s wife. The original movie opened in the late summer of 2017 and managed to stay #1 for three weeks in a row.  The sequel will hit theaters nationwide on June 16.

Two days later on June 18, Focus Features will release Edgar Wright‘s very first documentary, The Sparks Brothers. It’s a hilarious and insightful look at Russell and Ron Mael, collectively known as the rock group Sparks, who have been making records for 50 years while remaining in relative obscurity. Wright’s film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and followed that with South by Southwest. Focus released the first trailer this week, which you can watch below.

That’s it for this week. It’s a busy weekend in theaters with many new wide releases, including Lionsgate’s horror film Spiral, starring Chris RockAngelina Jolie  stars in the Taylor Sheridan action-thriller, Those Who Wish Me DeadTimur Bekmambetov‘s ProfileZack Snyder‘s zombie flick, Army of the Deadand the young romance, Finding You.

Check back on Monday to see how they all did at the box office. Have a good weekend!

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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