Before we get to today’s news, an update on the negotiations between IATSE and AMPTP, which seem to be going a little too slowly for some union members and leaders. And yet, as I was writing this column, IATSE President Matthew Loeb announced that if an agreement isn’t reached by Monday, October 18 by 12:01 AM Pacific Time, the union’s members will indeed strike.
On Tuesday, Cathy Repola, the National Executive Director of the Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700 — who our strike/union columnist Mark London Williams spoke to last week — released a statement to members about how long the negotiations have been taking, saying,
“Despite our best efforts at the table, the pace of negotiations does not reflect the urgency of the situation. In the wake of the overwhelming strike authorization vote, the employers repeatedly refuse to do what it will take to achieve a fair deal. Either they don’t recognize what has changed in our industry and among our members or they don’t care. Or both.”
The labor union and studio producers have been back at the bargaining table for a week now, following the members overwhelmingly voting to give IATSE president Matthew Loeb strike authorization, and he’s stated that an accord will be reached in “a matter of days, not weeks.”
Repola’s statement continues, “This fight is being waged across the country as other unions also focus on decent wages, health and safety and humane working conditions. Dignity for workers is at the core of what we are all fighting for. On Friday night we told you ‘Days not weeks’ and that is still the case. It is more important than ever to stay in touch and stay connected with each other … as the pace quickens and we move forward.”
(And you can see this is true if you’ve read Williams’ most recent column.)
Over the weekend, IATSE’s 13 Hollywood locals that are part of these negotiations released a statement to its members, saying,
“We continue to stand firm on the priority issues that you supported with your strike authorization vote. Those priorities are living wages, sustainable benefits, our fair share of streaming success, reasonable rest and breaks during the workday. It is in the best interest of all IATSE members across the country that we continue to bargain until it becomes apparent that we cannot reach an agreement. That is what we intend to do while we simultaneously prepare for a work stoppage that we hope does not have to happen.”
The parties will return to the virtual bargaining table today for the eighth day of negotiations since the vote for strike authorization.
Over the weekend, union members were making picket signs with slogans in preparation for a possible strike, with IATSE sharing a photograph of them on its Twitter account.
IATSE kin are hoping for a deal, preparing for a strike. Locals 600, 700, 800, 80, 44, 489, 161, and many others gathered to make strike signs over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/inSesP1Wv8
— IATSE // #IASolidarity (@IATSE) October 12, 2021
We’ve been reporting on the situation with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the group that gives out the Golden Globes, over the past few months, and there have been some developments on the group’s necessary overhaul after being accused of corruption and lack of diversity earlier this year. First of all, the group has stated that it will still give out awards for 2021 even if NBC isn’t involved in airing the ceremony. Also, the group has forged a five-year partnership with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, joining forces “in an effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the global entertainment industry.” A little over a week ago, the group lead by new President Helen Hoehne announced that it had added 21 new members with the breakdown that 48% identify as women; 29% identify as Black; 24% identify as Asian; 29% identify as Latinx; and 19% identify as Middle Eastern/North African. We’ll have to see if the last two items lead to the change in the group that people have been demanding, although it may be some time before we learn where and when the Golden Globes return as an Oscar precursor.
Speaking of awards, you may have noticed that a lot of films coming out this fall awards season are black and white movies, and Will Mavity at the excellent site, Next Best Picture, not only put together a list of the movies but also spoke to their cinematographers. His feature has quotes from Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Eduard Grau (Passing), Paul Guilhaume (Paris, 13th District), Robbie Ryan (C’mon C’mon), and Haris Zambarloukos (Belfast). There will probably be other acclaimed cinematographers vying for the Oscar in that category this year, but if you want to get a head start on that and next year’s ASC Award competitors, you can definitely start by reading Will’s article.
More changing of the guard news comes in the form of Walt Disney Studio‘s Chief Creative Officer of Disney Studios Content, Alan Horn, retiring at the end of this year. The 78-year-old exec has been at Disney since 2012, although he had already lessened his role in creative affairs last December when Alan Bergman took over as the company’s chairman after being co-chair with Horn. Horn arrived at Disney on the tail of the company purchasing first Marvel and then Lucasfilm, two studios that have provided the corporation with some of the biggest blockbuster hits in its history. Horn arrived at Disney after a 12-year run at Warner Bros. as President and Chief Operating Officer, a run that helped bring franchises like the Harry Potter movies to the studio.
It was also reported this week that Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, who had been instrumental in pushing the company into entertainment ventures, such as the blockbuster Transformers movies, and the recent Snake-Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. Goldner had been on medical leave since 2014 fighting cancer, although the cause of his death was undisclosed.
Some Marvel Studios casting news as actor Will Poulter (We’re the Miller, The Maze Runner, Midsommar) has been announced to play Adam Warlock in the conclusion of James Gunn‘s trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. III. Warlock is an important character in the cosmic aspect of Marvel Comics, having been created by Jim Starlin back in the ’70s and been a mainstay for much of Starlin’s work at Marvel, including the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War series that were a huge influence on the first three phases of the MCU, culminating in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Poulter may seem like an odd choice but the 28-year-old actor has been taking on many interesting roles since his debut in the Sundance favorite, Son of Rambow.
In a surprising move, Netflix announced that it will release an NC-17 Director’s Cut of Andrew (Killing Me Softly) Dominik‘s Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde, starring Ana de Armas, who has been receiving rave notices for her 15-minute appearance in No Time to Die. It’s been a while since there’s been an NC-17 rated release of any kind, since most filmmakers tend to go unrated rather than releasing a movie under that limiting rating, but Netflix is clearly doing things differently from the average studio, and NC-17 material is probably fine for the streamer.
Sony Pictures is getting into the Jennifer Lawrence business, having acquired her R-rated comedy, No Hard Feelings, which will be directed by Gene Stupnitsky (Good Boys, Bad Teacher) from a script he co-wrote with John Phillips. Producers on the project are Alex Saks, Marc Provissiero, Naomi Odenkirk, Lawrence and Justine Polsky with Phillips serving as exec producer. There’s no word when this might shoot in Lawrence’s fairly busy schedule.
Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez, fresh off his well-regarded appearance in Sian Heder‘s Coda will be starring with Eva Longoria in an adaptation of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, written and directed by Aitch Alberto (Little America), making her directorial debut. Based on the 2014 YA book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the cast also includes Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales (who will play the two leads), Veronica Falcón, Isabella Gomez, Luna Blaise, and Kevin Alejandro. Pelayo and Gonzalez play Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana, respectively, two Mexican American boys on the cusp of manhood who form a life-changing bond after a chance meeting at an El Paso pool in the summer of 1987. Limelight is financing and producing along with 3Pas Studios and Big Swing Productions, in association with Boies Schiller Entertainment with Derbez, Kyra Sedgwick, and Lin-Manuel Miranda producing, along with Valerie Stadler, Ben Odell, 5000 Broadway Productions, and Limelight’s Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker. David Boies and Zack Schiller are executive producing with CJ Barbato co-producing.
Alberto released a statement on the project, saying, “At its core, Ari and Dante tells a story of self-discovery and acceptance. My own journey helped me realize there is nothing more important than standing up and fully embracing who we are and being seen for it. I’m motivated to place a lens on male vulnerability that includes a more empathic and compassionate gaze that helps redefine masculinity specifically for the Latino/a/e/x community. To say this is a dream come true is an understatement.”
Florian Zeller‘s feature directorial debut, The Father, was one of the big surprises of the 2020 Oscars earlier this year, winning two for screenplay and actor Anthony Hopkins playing the title role. Hopkins will be reuniting with Zeller for his next movie, the already-filming follow-up, The Son.
Hopkins is also joining Anne Hathaway in James Gray‘s Armageddon Time for Focus Features, along with Jeremy Strong (Succession).
Anna Paquin and Ray Winstone are leading the cast of Stephen Moyer‘s sophomore film as a director, A Bit of Light, and Deadline revealed a first image from the set, which you can see above. Also starring in the film, which is now shooting in the UK, are Gangs of London‘s Pippa Bennett-Warner and BAFTA nominee Youssef Kerkour (Home).
Moyer and Paquin starred together on HBO‘s vampire series True Blood, and they’ve been married since 2010 with two children. The Oscar-winning Paquin also starred in Moyer’s directorial debut, The Parting Light, and Moyer directed a few episodes of True Blood as well as Amazon‘s Flack. Rebecca Callard wrote the screenplay for A Bit of Light, based on her own stage play, and it follows Paquin’s Ella, newly sober and living with her father Alan (Winstone) after giving up custody of her young daughters to her ex-husband Joseph (Kerkour) and his new partner Bethan (Bennett-Warner). According to the tagline, “she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a mysterious teenage boy (newcomer Luca Hogan) whose belief in her as a mother helps her rediscover her self-worth.”
Producers on the project are Phin Glynn and Axel Kuschevatzky via their company, Infinity Hill, along with Moyer and Paquin with Isabelle Georgeaux producing through her production company, Pont Neuf Productions. It’s produced in association with Shorelight Pictures and Great Point Media, Shorelight’s Anja Murmann and Sabine Schenk acting as exec. producers, as well as Egor Noskov, Victor Glynn, and Geoff Iles of GCB Films, Callard, and Jim Reeve and Robert Halmi of Great Point, as well as Cindy Teperman of Infinity Hill. Janne Barklis and Jay Cohen of Gersh and ICM Partners packaged and financed the film and will co-rep its sales.
On the project, Moyer said in a statement, “From the moment I started reading A Bit of Light I knew I wanted it to be my second film. It is a stunning piece of writing by my old friend Rebecca Callard whom I first met 25 years ago playing opposite each other as actors. We’ve assembled a quite extraordinary cast led by Anna and Ray who are wonderful together. I can’t wait to get into the edit.”
WandaVision star Paul Bettany co-wrote and is starring in Miramax‘s Harvest Moon opposite Carmen Ejogo, Candice Bergen, and Cary Elwes. Mark Waters is directing the film co-written by Dana Brown, which also has Riley Looc, Malia Baker, Staz Nair, Rodney Richardson, and Connor Falk in the cast. According to Deadline, the film revolves around a young boy who sees an opportunity to reunite his separated parents while the pandemic shuts down the world. Bettany, Brown and Waters will produce along with Bill Block and Jessica Tuschinsky. Bettany released a statement saying, “I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Bill Block and Miramax again to make Harvest Moon. The fact that it has come together so quickly is enormously gratifying and also hilarious. Dana and I wrote it to keep ourselves sane during lockdown and now we’re off to shoot with an incredible creative team led by Mark Waters. It’s all a bit of a dream. I’m very excited.”
Director Matt Smukler has lined up an impressive cast for his Limelight and eOne-produced and financed film, Wildflower, including recent Emmy winner Jean Smart (HBO’s Hacks), Kiernan Shipka, Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus), Dash Mihok, Charlie Plummer, and Samantha Hyde. Based on a screenplay by Jana Savage, the film is produced by Limelight’s Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker; along with Jamie Patricof and Katie McNeill of Hunting Lane Films; and Ethan Lazar, Kyle Owens, Austen Rydell, and Billie Lourd of Morning Moon Productions, who first optioned Savage’s script.
The Orion Pictures‘ biopic, Till, written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, has added quite a roster of actors to its already impressive cast with the movie currently filming in Atlanta. Joining Danielle Deadwyler (playing Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of the murdered 14-year-old Emmett Till), Whoopi Goldberg (playing Till’s grandmother Alma Spearman), and Jalyn Hall (who will play Till) are Frankie Faison (The Wire), Jayme Lawson (The Batman), Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Kevin Carroll (The Leftovers), Sean Patrick Thomas (Barbershop), John Douglas Thompson (Mare of Easttown), and Roger Guenveur Smith (Self Made: Inspired by the Life Of Madam C.J Walker).
A quick lightning round of movie casting…
Tessa Thompson will headline Steve Buscemi‘s next directorial effort, The Listener.
Tony Goldwyn and Paul Ben-Victor have joined Gerard Butler‘s action-thriler, The Plane.
Jensen Ackles from Supernatural is joining Alec Baldwin in the Western, Rust,
Lastly, it’s always nice to see a friend’s name in the news, and I’m especially thrilled to see that Sonja O’Hara (Doomsday) has directed her second project, and the film has been announced by another friend, Ms. Valerie Complex over at Deadline. O’Hara’s new social commentary horror-thriller Mid-Century has just wrapped, and it stars Bruce Dern, Stephen Lang, and Shane West, as well as Sarah Hay (Flesh & Bone), Chelsea Gilligan (Star-Crossed), Mike Stern (Jack Reacher), Vanessa Williams (Candyman), Annapurna Sriram (Billions), and Jon “Dumbfoundead” Park (Raya and the Last Dragon). In the indie film, Lang plays an “occult-obsessed architect of mid-century modern homes who haunts his masterpieces long after a grisly death. Dern appears as Lang’s mentor in the supernatural, and Hay is the housewife forever trapped in her home after perishing at the hands of her husband. West and Gilligan star as a couple vacationing in the glass home who find the ghosts of the past are very much present – and have a sinister plan for them.”
Mid-Century is an Astral Plane production in association with Moo Studios with co-producers DJ Dodd, Anthony & James Gaudioso, and Chinyere Nwodim. Lang and West are executive producers along with Preston Bebas, Jay Burnley, David Lyons, Ian Michaels, Jen Russo, and Jeremy Walton.
Lang, who recently starred in Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2, released a statement to the filmmakers on completion, “Congratulations to director Sonja O’Hara, writer-producer Mike Stern and the entire cast and crew of Mid-Century on wrapping this gem of a movie. Thanks for welcoming me in the front door.”
Some of the above and below projects haven’t gone into production yet, so if you want to stay on top of developments (like employment opportunities), you should subscribe to Production Listings, now at an all-time low price.
In the world of television, CBS has given full season orders to NCIS: Hawai’i and FBI: International, as both shows are proving as popular as the ones from which they’ve been spun off from. Speaking of NCIS, actor Mark Harmon has left that long-running procedural series after 18 seasons.
AMC has greenlit the anthology spin-off series, Tales of the Walking Dead, which will further the franchise for the cable network and its streamer, AMC+. The original The Walking Dead series will end after its current season, and production will start on the first six episodes of the spin-off early next year with The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead Writer-Producer Channing Powell as showrunner of the new one-hour series, working with Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer of the “Walking Dead Universe.”
Dan McDermott, the president of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios, said, “The Walking Dead is a show that made television history and attracted an army of passionate and highly engaged fans. We see so much potential for a wide range of rich and compelling storytelling in this world, and the episodic anthology format of Tales of the Walking Dead will give us the flexibility to entertain existing fans and also offer an entry point for new viewers, especially on streaming platforms. We have seen the appeal of this format in television classics like The Twilight Zone and, more recently, Black Mirror, and are excited to engage with fans in this new way, against the backdrop of this very unique and engrossing world.”
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank will star and exec. produce eOne‘s series adaptation of Before She Disappeared, based on Lisa Gardner‘s novel of the same name. eOne bought the rights to the novel, which Swank will EP along with Phillip Schneider through her Film Bandits company. The book was published by Penguin Randomhouse this past January, and it follows Frankie Elkin, a recovering alcoholic who travels light and is obsessed with locating missing people whose cases have been dismissed, overlooked, or marginalized. Guymon Casady and Justin Grey Stone of Entertainment 360 are also producing, along with Rene Rigal and Nuno Bettencourt of Atlantis Entertainment, and David Thwaites of Ember20.
Emma Corrin, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star of Netflix’s The Crown, will top the FX limited series, Retreat, playing Darby Hart, the amateur sleuth at the center of a murder mystery set at a secluded retreat. The series is written, directed and EP’ed by The OA creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (along with EP Andrew Sperling), and it’s said to be a “radical conceptualization of the whodunit with a new kind of detective at the helm — a gen Z amateur sleuth named Darby Hart.” Darby and 11 other guests are “invited by a reclusive billionaire to participate in a Retreat at a remote and dazzling location. When one of the other guests is found dead, Darby must fight to prove it was murder against a tide of competing interests and before the killer takes another life.”
FX has also given the half-hour comedy pilot, The Bear, a series order to air in early 2022 with Shameless star Jeremy Allen White as a young chef returning to Chicago to run his family’s restaurant. He’ll be joined in the cast by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Lionel Boyce, Abby Elliott, and Liza Colón-Zayas with Edwin Gibson and Matty Matheson as recurring players.
Indie sweetheart Melanie Lynskey is joining Jessica Biel in the Hulu true-crime limited series, Candy.
In exec. news, Tom Fussell is now the CEO of BBC Studios, having replaced Tim Davie. Also, Albert Cheng has become the full-time COO of Amazon Studios, while Vernon Sanders is now the solo Head of Television.
(Apologies, but we had to cut our TV coverage a bit short this week due to the breaking news re: IATSE. Anything important, we’ll run in Friday’s End of Week Production Notes.)
Yesterday, Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for its Jan. 14, 2022 horror release, Scream, which will reboot the Wes Craven franchise, while also bringing back iconic characters played by Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The cast also includes Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Sonia Ammar. You can watch that trailer below. The movie comes from filmmaking collective, Radio Silence, whose last film was the horror film, Ready or Not.
One upcoming horror movie trailer deserves another, and this morning, Universal Pictures released the first trailer for Blumhouse‘s The Black Phone, directed by Scott Derickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister). Derickson reteams with his Sinister star, Ethan Hawke, for the horror movie hitting theatres on Feb. 4.