Well, it’s another Friday, and while I hate to start this “End of Week Production Notes” on a down note, it was announced last night that legendary rock photographer Mick Rock had died at the age of 72.
Rock was best known as being the photographer who first took pictures of ’70s rock icons like David Bowie, Queen, and before that, he took the pictures for Syd Barrett‘s solo albums after he left Pink Floyd. Rock also survived three heart attacks and a quadruple bypass that saved his life, all brought upon by his flagrant drug use during the ’70s and ’80s.
There’s a great doc about Rock called Shot!: The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, directed by Barnaby Clay, released a few years ago, and I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Rock to talk about it. He was a fascinating man who created many iconic images from the rock world in the ’70s, and you can see the announcement of his death on his Twitter account from yesterday.
Photo: Nathalie Rock pic.twitter.com/I50ofDuO0r
— Mick Rock (@TheRealMickRock) November 19, 2021
Also jazz musician Dave Frishberg, possibly best known for writing the Schoolhouse Rock tune, “I’m Just a Bill” — if you’re of a certain age, you might know that song’s chorus by heart — died at 88 years old.
This week’s lead-off news is that Crystal Hopkins has resigned as the President of IATSE Script Supervisors Local 871 for “personal reasons” but also due to dissatisfaction with the union’s new three-year contract. Current 871 Vice Pres. Marisa Shipley, who was unopposed in her run for President, will take over the role slightly earlier than planned, as she was already elected to take over from Hopkins.
Hopkins released a statement to Deadline about her resignation, which you can read below:
“My resignation from Local 871 was driven primarily by my personal and family needs. Ancillary to that, I also was not the proper person to lead 871 through a ratification of the new contract. When we began negotiating in May, the priorities were clear, and we were united in them. The solidarity and unity never wavered. However, by the time October rolled around and we still did not have a deal, the overwhelming and historic response of the membership for the strike authorization made clear to me that the priorities we were addressing were no longer adequate for the membership.
“In the continued negotiations, which make no mistake, took giant steps forward when compared to the history of our contracts, the leadership, myself included, kept our eyes on the targets we had been aiming for in May. But the membership had erected and created new targets – targets that I agree with. And on a very basic level of what a union stands for, should have been given more time and consideration. I could not in good conscience lead the membership of 871 through a ratification of this agreement.
“Although 871 arguably stood to gain the most through the lens of immediately better conditions, and therefore also the most to lose, my personal principles of what unionism and solidarity mean, would not allow me to claim this agreement as a victory when the voices of so many union members were crying out that they needed more, and this agreement wasn’t fixing the problems they were willing to strike to fix.
“Similarly, the membership of Local 871 did not deserve to receive any negative impacts from the consideration of my personal opinions and beliefs. When faced with the combination of these things, and knowing that 871 would be led by our current Vice President in a few short weeks anyway, I felt it was best for my health, and the health of the Local and its members, that I step away from the seat. I will never stop fighting for the membership of IATSE and what they need. This is a temporary measure for me to re-assess the most healthy and productive way to move forward.”
It was an exciting week for Dame Helen Mirren, who is going to be honored by her peers in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) at the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, as she’ll be honored with the group’s top honor as the 57th recipient of SAG’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony, which will take place on Feb. 27, 2022, at the Barker Hanger and simulcast live on TNT and TBS. The honor is given out every year to an actor who “fosters the finest ideals of the acting profession,” and it will be added to her roster of previous SAG Awards (5 wins out of 13 nominations) for her television and film work, an Oscar for The Queen, three Emmys, a Tony Award, and multiple BAFTA Awards, as well as Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2003, and she will be the most decorated SAG Lifetime Achievement recipient.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said, “Dame Helen Mirren is quite simply a brilliant and luminous talent. Her work runs the gamut of characters from a not-so-retired CIA super-killer and a ruthless Russian spy handler to a Hungarian cleaning lady and the most exquisite Elizabeth II. She has set the bar very high for all actors and, in role after role, she exceeds even her own extraordinary performances. I’ve always felt a kinship with Helen. She’s the Queen of England and I’m the Queen of Queens. She won an Oscar and I’m left-hander of the year. It’s uncanny. And, it is my deep, personal honor to be the first to congratulate Helen as the 57th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Bravo, my dear!”
“I am honoured to have been chosen to receive the SAG Life Achievement Award,” said Mirren. “Since I was a young actor starting out, I have always been inspired by and learned from American screen acting, so this award is particularly meaningful for me.”
Mirren might be in line for yet another SAG Award for her portrayal of Israeli leader Golda Meir, as she plays the title role in the biopic, Golda, which began principal photography in London this week with Director Guy Nattiv at the helm. A first picture of the unrecognizable star in make-up and wardrobe was also released.
Recently, Bleecker Street and ShivHans picked up the U.S. rights to the film, which is written by Nicholas Martin (Florence Foster Jenkins). The film is set during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt, Syria and Jordan launched a surprise attack on Israel to reclaim territory lost during the Six-Day War in 1967. The thriller charts “the high-stakes responsibilities Meir faced and the controversial decision she took amid infighting from her hostile all-male cabinet.”
Also in the cast are Camille Cottin (Stillwater, House of Gucci) as Lou Kaddar, Meir’s personal assistant, Rami Heuberger (Schindler’s List) as Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, Lior Ashkenazi (Foxtrot, 7 Days in Entebbe) as Chief of Staff David Elazar, as well as Ellie Piercy, Ed Stoppard, Rotem Keinan, Dvir Benedek, Dominic Mafham, Ben Caplan, Kit Rakusen, and Emma Davies.
Mirren released a statement on the film and role, “Golda Meir was a formidable, intransigent and powerful leader. It is a great challenge to portray her at the most difficult moment of her extraordinary life. I only hope I do her justice!”
“I have long been an admirer of the great Helen Mirren,” added her director. “She has melted so brilliantly into Golda Meir’s character with incredible talent, intelligence, depth and emotion, doing justice to the richness and complexity of this incredible woman.”
While we’re in a biopic head, it was announced by Deadline this week that two-time Oscar nominee Jonah Hill would be portraying the Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia in an untitled biopic Martin Scorsese will direct and produce for Apple Studios.
This will be the second movie in a row for Scorsese and Apple after the streamer came on board to produce and finance Scorsese’s upcoming true-crime thriller, Killers of the Flower Moon. Hill will also produce the film through his Strong Baby production banner along with his partner, Matt Dine. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson) are writing the script and Rick Yorn of LBI Entertainment is also producing. Fans of the Dead should be thrilled that the group’s still-living members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann are exec. producing along with Jerry’s daughter, Trixie Garcia, Eric Eisner, and Bernie Cahill. With the band and their management involved, Apple should be able to get the rights to use the group’s musical catalog, although it’s unknown what part of the group’s vast history might be covered in the film. Garcia died in 1995, although the surviving members have continued in various incarnations including the recently-touring Dead and Friends.
This news came shortly after it was announced that The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes was making his own biopic about an iconic ’70s rock group, the Allman Brothers Band, with Sunset Blvd Films. His Untitled Allman Brothers biopic will revisit the tale of Gregg and Duane Allman, the two brothers whose popular mix of blues and R&B led to sold-out stadium shows, platinum records with hits like Ramblin’ Man, as well as relationships with superstars like Cher (to whom Greg Allman was married) and U.S. Presidents like Jimmy Carter. The film will cover the brothers’ difficult childhood being raised by a single mother and more.
“I grew up a huge fan of The Allman Brothers,” Cassavetes told Deadline. “They had a profound influence on the music culture in America and I’m honored to be able to have an opportunity to tell their story.”
A little over a week ago, we reported that filmmaker Jonas Akerlund had stepped away from Midas Man, yet another music biopic, this one about Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, but Deadline reports that after a brief hiatus, the show has hired Sara Sugarman (Vinyl, House of Versace) to take over the directing reins. But there’s no ill will from the departing Akerlund who gave Deadline the statement, “I regret that things haven’t turned out as we had planned on Midas Man. I wish Jacob [Fortune-Lloyd] and the team the best with the film.”
We’ll stay in the musical biopic world, although this also isn’t great news, since it involves a lawsuit. Bohemian Rhapsody screenwriter and four-time Oscar nominee, Anthony McCarten, has sued Graham King and his GK Films over the profits of the Queen biopic, saying that the blockbuster was profitable for far more than what the distributor has reported. Produced for a budget of $55 million, the movie grossed $911 million worldwide, but accounting from distributor Twentieth Century Fox (this is from before the Disney acquisition) says that the movie was actually in the RED for $51 million. Neither Fox nor Disney are named in the suit against the Oscar-winning film that was also nominated for Best Picture. McCarten’s suit says that the writer was to get 5% of GK’s take in a deal made with the production house, but he hasn’t been “paid a cent” in that deal with King being unresponsive to requests for payment. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more about this case.
We’ll continue with a few smaller movie tidbits, including the news that Amber Sealey (No Man of God) will direct the thriller, Nod If You Understand, about the famed airplane hijacker DB Cooper. The McFarland Entertainment film will go into production next year to tell the true story of the relationship between heroic NWA stewardess Tina Mucklow, the mysterious hijacker of NWA Flight 305 known as DB Cooper, and the only unsolved case of air piracy in the history of commercial aviation. Next week will be the 50th anniversary of the hijacking, and it comes from a script by Joey McFarland (Emancipation) and Dawn Bierschwal after McFarland acquired the life rights of both Mucklow and Bill Rataczak, who co-piloted NWA Flight 305. Each is involved with the project as a consultant.
Oh, here’s an odd one. True horror fans know the work of Italian giallo master Mario Bava, who has influenced so many American filmmakers and horror classics like Friday the 13th. His 1974 cult crime movie, Rabid Dogs, is getting an English-language remake. It comes from hot Hollywood writers Samuel Franco and Evan Kilgore with the film’s original producer, Alfredo Leone, acting as exec. producer on the remake. The original movie, for which Franco and Kilgore bought the remake rights, involves a failed robbery by three violent criminals and the hostages they take – including a young woman, a middle-aged man, and his child – as they attempt to make a clean getaway from the police, which is adapted from the short story, Man and Boy by Michael J. Carroll. It was a very different movie for Bava from his gory horror fare, although it would take nearly two decades for any version of the movie to be released, including under the title, Kidnapped, which was overseen by Bava’s son Lamberto. Franco will produce and write with Kilgore, who both are EPs on the film with plans to film in 2022 for a 2023 release.
Peter Facinelli‘s California Wildfire action movie, On Fire, is three weeks into production in Austin, Texas, and Deadline got its hands on a First Look picture you can see above. Facinelli is also joined by Fiona Dourif (Tenet), Asher Angel (Shazam!), and Lance Henriksen, in the film directed by Nick Lyon and co-written by Lyon and Ron Peer. Producers on the film are Beth Bruce, Rob Witte, Joe Fernandez, Matthew Joynes, and Suzanne Weinert with SC Films handling world sales with talks to begin at the European Film Market (EFM) next year.
Sebastian Maniscalco‘s Lionsgate comedy, About My Family, which the comedian wrote based on his own life and relationship with his father (played by Robert De Niro in the movie) has wrapped, but more cast announced includes Brett Dier (Jane the Virgin), Anders Holm (Workaholics), and David Rasche (Succession). They join a cast that includes Leslie Bibb and Kim Cattrall. The film is directed by Laura Terruso (Work It).
Undaunted by being booted from The Mandalorian, Gina Carano continues her acting career by being cast in a biopic about the current U.S. President’s son, Hunter Biden, in My Son Hunter, which was announced on YouTube by the film’s producer, Phelim McAleer. In the film directed by Robert Davi, Carano will play “a world-weary secret service agent” in the film currently shooting in Serbia with Laurence Fox (Lewis, Victoria) playing Hunter Biden and John James (Dynasty) as President Joe Biden. Since the movie will focus on the first son’s “party lifestyle as he acquired tens of millions of dollars from foreign entities owned by Chinese, Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs,” the movie probably will take a conservative political spin.
Even so, Carano said about the project in the video, “The story, the cast, the crew, the people, this is what makes art great and this is what we’re doing. I feel excited to be working with incredible actors, a visionary director and some new found friends as producers. The script was instantly intriguing and side achingly hilarious to me, especially after being newly exposed to the political realm in 2020. Robert Davi is someone who reached out to me as soon as I was ‘cancelled’ in Feb. 2021. I signed on in support of him and one of my favorite humans Laurence Fox. They both have always been actors I adore watching and now they both have become my friends and mentors. The icing on the cake was getting to meet John James, a wildly funny charismatic and lovable human. It is such a pleasure to be on the forefront of groundbreaking storytelling.”
The Irish-born McAleer, who is producing with his journalist partner, Ann McElhinney, said about Carano’s character, “She is a world-weary secret service agent present at most of the Biden family’s dodgy dealings. She provides a voice of truth and Sardonic comedy over the absurd dealings of the Biden family and various Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainian oligarchs. She is present throughout the film – commenting and sometimes narrating the absurd life and party lifestyle of Hunter Biden and the dodgy dealings of his father.”
Davi added, “When we think of the modern female, we look to women that are intelligent, feminine, strong, nurturing and vulnerable and have a sense of humor. I have been blessed by knowing women who have served our nation … I wanted an actress who the audience would believe is capable of protecting such an iconic figure as Joe Biden.”
We’re now shifting to television, but in this case, we have three stories about Oscar-winning and nominated actors who are shifting to the smaller screen by signing onto television and streaming projects.
Two-time Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz, will star in the Amazon dark workplace comedy series, The Consultant, from Tony Basgallop (Servant), Matt Shakman (WandaVision), and MGM. Fresh from his appearances in the latest Bond, No Time to Die, and Wes Anderson‘s The French Dispatch, Waltz will star and exec. produce the series about “the sinister relationship between boss and employee, asking how far we will go to get ahead, and to survive.” It’s inspired by Bentley Little’s 2015 novel, a satire centered around Mr. Patoff, a bow-tie wearing consultant who comes to the rescue of CompWare after a prominent merger falls through and soon seemingly starts running the company. Basgallop and Shakman will exec produce along with Waltz, Steve Stark, and Andrew Mittman, with Kai Dolbashian as co-producer.
The Social Network’s Oscar-nominated lead, Jesse Eisenberg, will be the title star in the nine-episode FX on Hulu limited series, Fleischman is in Trouble, based on Taffy Brodesser-Akner‘s New York Times bestseller, playing “recently separated forty-something hepatologist Toby Fleishman, who dives into the brave new world of app-based dating with the kind of success he never had dating in his youth.” When Toby’s ex-wife Rachel disappears, he’s left with the kids and no idea where she is or when she’ll return. We previously reported on Wednesday that Lizzy Caplan would play the series’ narrator and the title character’s friend with whom he had lost touch but they reconnect after Rachel’s disappearance.
Also, another Oscar nominee, Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), is joining Emmy winner Billy Crudup in the upcoming Apple series, Hello Tomorrow! from MRC Television, which is created, written and executive produced by Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen, who will also serve as showrunners.
Those who have enjoyed ABC’s Live in Front of A Studio Audience series, which recreates classic sitcom episodes from the original scripts but with newer and modern-day stars, should be thrilled by the announcement of the next two shows: Facts of Life and Diff’rent Strokes. The 90-minute live event featuring the two shows will take place on Tuesday, December 7 between 8 and 9:30 PM. The cast for the Diff’rent Strokes performance will include John Lithgow as Mr. Drummond, Kevin Hart as Arnold, Damon Wayans as Willis, and Ann Dowd playing the family’s housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett, originally played by the late Charlotte Rae, who went on to lead The Facts of Life. The cast for the Facts of Life performance hasn’t been announced, but the live special comes from EPs Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux, and Jim Burrows, all returning from previous installments of Live in Front of a Studio Audience. (What’s a little odd about the Diff’rent Stroke casting is the decision to have adults Hart and Wayans played previously by Todd Bridges and the late Gary Coleman when they were kids.) The multiple Emmy-winning producer Lear said, “Other than with my family, there’s no place I’d rather be in my 100th year than on a soundstage at Sony with these glorious actors reliving what our company had produced all those years ago and sharing it with the millions of viewers who could use a little laughter.”
Taylor Sheridan‘s Yellowstone is one of the biggest hits on cable right now with CBSViacom and Sheridan’s new series, Mayor of Kingstown also doing well on Paramount+. The Oscar-nominated Sheridan also has a new Yellowstone prequel series called 1883, which premieres on the streamer on December 19, and the full cast was just announced. It includes Audie Rick (Kenobi: A Star Wars Story), Marc Rissmann (Game of Thrones), Eric Nelsen and James Landry Hébert (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) are the series regulars along with the previously announced Sam Elliott, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Billy Bob Thornton, Isabel May, and LaMonica Garrett. Also in the cast are Dawn Olivieri (Bright), Emma Malouff (American Crime Story), Alex Fine, Gratiela Brancusi, Anna Fiamora (A Shining Moment), Nichole Galicia (Django Unchained), Stephanie Nur (Four Women and a Funeral), Amanda Jaros (Women of the Movement), Noah Le Gros (A Score to Settle), and Martin Sensmeier (Yellowstone). That’s quite a cast, and it should be a nice feather in the cap for Sheridan and Paramount+.
Double Oscar winner for Nomadland and Eternals director Chloé Zhao has come on board to exec. produce Participant‘s limited scripted series about the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin and the civil rights case that followed. The series is in development in an agreement with the Chin estate and its executor Helen Zia, so that it will be the only authorized telling of the watershed civil rights case after Chin’s murder.
Lastly, Disney has given a series order to Hailey’s On It, a new animated comedy adventure, featuring Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) voicing the title role.
We’re just a few weeks away from Nightmare Alley, the new noir thriller from Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro, being screened and released into theaters on Dec. 17, and Searchlight Studios has released a second full-length trailer from the film, starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, and David Strathairn. Oscar enthusiasts might notice that almost all of del Toro’s cast for this one have received at least one Oscar nomination (or won an Oscar ala Blanchett), but long-time del Toro fans will be happy to see that Ron Perlman is back, having starred in the Mexican filmmaker’s very first film, played the title character of his Hellboy and its sequel, and has also starred in many of the filmmaker’s genre films.
Also, the first trailer for Channing Tatum‘s drama, Dog, was released by MGM Studios ahead of its February release into theaters. Probably not a lot to say about this one, because it’s Channing Tatum and a dog, so what’s not to love? It actually is Tatum’s directorial debut, as he’s directing with long-time production partner, Reid Carolin, and it co-stars Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Luke Forbes, and Ronnie Gene Blevins. Also, the first trailer for Channing Tatum‘s drama, Dog, was released by MGM Studios ahead of its February release into theaters. Probably not a lot to say about this one, because it’s Channing Tatum and a dog, so what’s not to love? It actually is Tatum’s directorial debut, as he’s directing with long-time production partner, Reid Carolin, and it co-stars Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Luke Forbes, and Ronnie Gene Blevins.
Universal Pictures also released the first trailer for Jennifer Lopez‘s latest romantic comedy, Marry Me, which features her new single from the movie, also called “Marry Me.” The movie co-stars Owen Wilson, Chloe Coleman (My Spy), and Sarah Silverman, and it stars Lopez as musical superstar Kat Valdez and Wilson as Charlie Gilbert, a math teacher, who agree to marry each other in… well, you’ll just have to watch the trailer to learn more.
We’ll be back on Monday with another “Over the Weekend,” which will include a report on how this weekend’s movies — Jason Reitman‘s Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Will Smith‘s King Richard — fared at the box office. An early reminder that we will not have an “End of Week Production Notes” next Friday since it’s the day after Thanksgiving.