For Men In Black 3 (directed by Barry Sonnenfeld), Postproduction Supervisor Paul Levin and First Assistant Editor Jason Solberg relied on Sixteen19’s Avid Media Composers to keep the action film on track during its New York production last summer. “After kicking off the editorial process in Manhattan, we shifted to East Hampton in July,” reports Levin. Working away from Los Angeles made expert technical support and workflow oversight critical. “Everyone on MIB3 was at the top of their game, and we were committed to insuring total reliability for every piece of gear,” reports Sixteen19 Managing Director Claire Shanley.
Sixteen19 also announced that the company’s editor Anthony Cortese won three Sports Emmys for his work on the documentary A Game of Honor for Showtime/CBS Sports.
For more information, go to www.sixteen19.com.
Universal Studios Hollywood has become the most exciting tourist attraction in Los Angeles. And there was a big announcement that will bring even more excitement to the landmark studio in the New Year.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which debuted at the Universal Orlando resort two years ago, is coming to Hollywood. The attraction will be a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Parks and Resorts. "The announcement of our partnership with Universal to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood and expand what already exists in Orlando is probably the best gift we could give the legions of Harry Potter fans worldwide," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "Everyone involved with this projects is committed to continuing the enchantment of J.K. Rowling's masterful books as they were brought to life on screen in our eight films and dedicated to extending the magic of the experience for generations of fans to come."
The big news was made over a Butterbeer toast in front of the Globe Theatre at Universal. Lots of VIPs and studios executives were on hand to raise their mugs with non-alcoholic Butterbeer to drink in celebration.
On hand were California Gov. Jerry Brown, and actors James Phelps and Oliver Phelps who played Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. Kids dressed as Hogwarts students also cheered.
Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios said, "This is an incredible moment for Universal Studios and the millions of guests who visit our theme parks." Joining Meyer at the big announcement were Larry Kurzweil, president Universal Studios Hollywood, and Tom Williams, CEO-chairman of Universal Parks and Resorts.
A lady who has been a leading opponent to the military junta in power in Burma, and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts, is the subject of a powerful movie called The Lady. Bringing Aung San Suu Kyi's story to the screen was also a fight, but thanks to Michelle Yeoh (who stars as The Lady) and director Luc Besson, and produce Virginie Besson-Silla the movie is now out in a few independent theaters. Of course it's competing with the Twilight Saga and Muppet Movie. But better than boxoffice dollars, this little film may actually put pressure on Burma's leaders to bow to the call for elections in the country. That's the power of film.
I saw The Lady at a KCET Cinema Series screening and was impressed by the beauty of the storytelling, and learning about how the producers got it made. Filming took place in Thailand and England, and cameramen were risking their lives to get footage out of Burma.
"It took me just one hour to read the script," Besson-Silla reported. "I knew right away that EuropaCorp Company must produce it. If you're going to struggle for a couple of years and be totally involved in a project, you must be blown away at once."
She said that she and Luc Besson had the same vision of the film, and what mattered was focusing on the purpose of the project and dealing with the financial aspect later. Producer Andy Harris reported, "After three years of working without finacial support it was wonderful to join forces with Europacorp and have the opportunity to make this film with Luc Besson, who is a director I have always hugely admired."
The release of the film comes at a time when the democracy movement in Burma needs a lot of attention on the world stage. All involved with it can be proud that it is a story well told and puts the spotlight on the extraordinary courage of a determined lady and her followers. The filmmakers also deserve Kudos.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization had their annual Big Bash at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last month. The BBBS celebrates making a big difference and changing young lives for the better through mentoring, and there are always extraordinary honorees. Last year it was Anne Sweeny, the head of Disney ABC Media Networks, and the honor was presented by her good friend, former Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing, who is a driving force with BBBS. Both have become mentors and Big Sisters to some very lucky Little Sisters who have seen the entertainment industry from a POV that few get to experience. Both Anne and Sherry have said that they have been luck enough to have extraordinary mentors in their lives, so it is important that they now become mentors to others.
This year's worthy honoree was Kenny Ortega, the award-winning producer-director-choreographer. Most recently he was behind the Michael Jackson documentary film "This Is It," and now he is getting ready to bring the musical "In The Heights" to the big screen. He has a remake of "Dirty Dancing" on his slate, too. It's a familiar territory for Ortega since he choreographed the original.
From chatting with Kenny for more than two decades, visiting him on the sets when he was directing the TV series "Hull High" and the movie "Hocus Pocus," I personally know what a dynamo guy he is. He made the "High School Musical" franchise into an inspiring success for Disney Studios. So it was a joy to see him accept the 2011 Walt Disney Man of the Year Award.
Ortega accepted thanking the Walt Disney company for their creative association with the films and TV productions they've done together. He gave a nod to the mentors and teachers in his life saying "the men and women who took time out of their lives to nourish mine, to guide and steer and enlighten me along my way. Mentors like Gene Kelly, Raul Julia, Michael Jackson, Dawn Steele, and my father."
The honor was so perfect for the inspiring filmmaker who believes and acts on the words of Walt Disney, who said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Ortega said, "I believe that is what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about."
It was a real thrill to be around the folks who put the "wow" and the "pow" in the productions as they gathered to celebrate their exciting history. The Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures had a 50th anniversary gala and it was a great place to be to truly appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into their profession. The organization's Conrad Palmisano deserves kudos for putting the evening together. Event chair was Jonathan Arthur, who showed a clip reel of stunts dating from the silent film era to the present. "It's a proud time for all of us. We get to do some pretty amazing things," said SAMP president Mark Donaldson.
C. Thomas Howell was the emcee for the event. The son of stuntman Chris Howell, Thomas talked about getting started in the industry as a kid doing stunts for Steven Spielberg in ET.
SAMP handed out some honors at the celebration. Harrison Ford was on hand to get the first Richard Farnsworth Award, named for the stuntman who became an Oscar-nominated actor. Ford was in good humor and expressed his respect for all the stunt professionals. After watching a clip reel of his action scenes in various movies, Ford said, "That was about 90 per cent of other people pretending to be me."
Donaldson paid tribute to stuntman-pilot extraordinaire Thomas H. Friedkin, who was honored with the President's Award. Friedkin was unable to attend but sent a heartfelt message of gratitude.
The event was a benefit for the SAG Foundation which helps performers in need. Pamela Reed, first v.p. of the SAG Foundation, promised the foundation would "spend the funds wisely."
It was a great group of people to be around, fun-loving folks who love the thrills in life. Howell put it best when he expressed his respect for the stuntmen and women saying, "You look death in the eye and kick its ass on a daily basis."
It's what makes the industry fun. Every year horror film aficionados gather at the Globe Theater at Universal Studios Hollywood for the Eyegore Awards which honors the genre and its filmmakers. A highlight of the event was seeing shocker-rocker filmmaker Rob Zombie present Rainn Wilson an Eyegore Award. Wilson didn't get his trophy for his work as Dwight, the oddball employee on NBC's sitcom The Office. Instead Wilson got it for his odd role as "Fishboy" in Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses. It was a genuine thrill for Wilson, who praised the experience of working with Zombie, and said, "I never thought I'd be standing her with you freaks, getting an Eyegore Award at Universal. I mean, have you guys ever seen a movie where a cheerleader isn't getting shot in the face? I get recognized for a lot of things now, but the thing that always gets me the most excited is when someone comes up to me and yells, 'Fishboy!'" On hand to cheer for Wilson were his 1000 Corpses castmates Sherri Moon, Karen Black and past Eyegore winner Sid Haig.
Other Eyegore winners were David Arquette, for his Deputy Dewey role in Wes Craven's Scream film franchise. Also Jamie Kennedy got an award for his fanboy Randy Meeks role in a couple of the Scream movies. It was presented by director James Gunn to helmed the film Slither. Bailee Madison, 11, played the tormented little girl in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and gave a very mature Oscar-worthy acceptance speech thanking her producer Guillermo del Toro. Emma Bell (The Walking Dead) got her Eyegore presented by her Frozen director Adam Green.
Alice Cooper was honored with an Eyegore, but he was on a concert tour so his daughter Calico accepted, and also praised the maze her dad created for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. Rob Zombie also designed a 3-D maze, and Eli Roth did a maze based on his Hostel films to frighten the visitors to the studio. Universal's creative director John Murdy helped announce the winner of the short horror film contest. Brent Bokovoy of El Cajon won, showing a flair for filmmaking with his Monsters in My Swimming Pool scary story. He was encouraged and thrilled to be surrounded by his fun-loving horror film heroes at Universal.
It was interesting to read the "Mission Statement" of the Bel-Air Film Festival. It says, "The Bel-Air Film Festival promotes the appreciation and knowledge of film, and seeks to recognize the most creative films and individuals in the film industry each year. The Festival's goal is to inspire filmmakers and help provide them with the resources needed to further their knowledge." Well said! I personally think that statement should be etched in stone and put on the desk of every studio executive in town, because that's what studios should think about when they green-light a project. Of course, if those creative films and individuals can make some money, that would be nice too.
What is nice is that the fourth annual Bel-Air Film Festival, set for Oct. 12 to 17, has a great lineup of 36 films, which will include the world premiere of My Father's Will, written and directed by Fraydun Manocherian. And some very creative individuals will be honored during the festivities: writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Happy Days, Splash, A League of Their Own), producer Bob Yari (Crash, The Illusionist), and actor Victor Alfieri (Angels and Demons, Southland, Persons Unknown).
Adding some fun to the opening night of the festival is a poker fundraiser, which will benefit the Bel-Air Film and Arts non-profit organization, which helps film students attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts, among others. Opening Night Red Carpet Gala held at the Skirball Cultural Center will be hosted by Don Cheadle (Crash, Hotel Rwanda), Kathy Najimy and Mimi Rogers. Other events during the festival will be at the Luxe Sunset Hotel, and the UCLA James Bridges Theatre. For more information about screenings and tickets got to www.belairfilmfestival.com, and go and enjoy the movies!
Filmmaker and actor Eli Roth has a couple of interesting projects upcoming. One is hosting an episode of the new landmark series on the Discovery Channel called "Curiosity," which gives him the opportunity to examine the nature of fear. The other is also a scary project, judging Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights annual short film competition.
On "Curiosity," horror master Roth ("Cabin Fever") is going to probe the dark side of human nature by "testing the nature of evil." Roth told me he was passionate about doing the show because "I've always been facinated by the nature of fear. Even in my films, the 'Hostel' movies, I was always much more interested in why somebody would do such terrible things, versus the act itself. Being Jewish, we grew up learning about the Holocaust, asking the question 'How could this happen?' So I've always looked at evil, and asked 'What is evil?'
Roth's judging duties for Universal's Horror Nights short film competition started with him daring aspiring filmmakers to submit their most twisted horror short films. Along with Daily Variety's Marc Graser, and Universal Studios' creative director John Murdy, Roth has selected the top ten shorts from all the submissions. Now the top ten have been posted online at www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com, and a winner will be selected by public voting from Aug. 22 to Sept. 9. The winner will be honored at Universal's annual Eyegore Awards, Sept. 23, which is the grand opening for the Halloween Horror Nights.
Himself an Eyegore Award recipient, Roth said, "As a producer, I'm always looking for new talent, and happy to help a first time director get a big break. New blood, so to speak, is vital for the continuation and growth of our beloved genre. Programs like this can help deserving people get noticed. I am excited to see the competing films, and whoever makes me lose the most sleep will win."
At the Television Critics Association's 27th annual TCA Awards, television's best programs were honored. It was a big treat to see "Friday Night Lights" take a final bow after a five-year run, receiving this year's Program of the Year award from the TCA. The DirecTV/NBC drama, which filmed in Texas, always had a small but loyal following, and this year it is also nominated for a bunch of Emmy Awards. When producer-writer Jason Katims took the stage at the Beverly Hilton to accept, he acknowledged the Texas high school football-themed series has been a favorite of the critics since its debut, and it was their support that kept the show on the air.
Nick Offerman from NBC's "Parks and Recreation" emceed the awards, and also tied with Ty Burrell from "Modern Family" for an Individual Achievement in Comedy honor. ABC's "Modern Family" co-creator/producer Steve Levitan was on hand to accept the TCA's Comedy Series award.
Jon Hamm picke up an award for Individual Achievement in Drama for his role in "Mad Men," which was also honored as best dramatic series. "Mad Men's" creator/producer Matthew Weiner accepted and joked that it was "hard to continue as a creative person when you lose the enemy," referring to all the critical praise he has received.
The brilliantly updated "Sherlock," written by Steven Moffat for the BBC and PBS' Masterpiece Theatre won Outstanding Achievement in Movies/Miniseries. Producer Beryl Vertue said they are hard at work on the next installments of the Masterpiece films.
Oprah Winfrey taped a message to thank the critics for her Career Achievement award. The "Dick Van Dyke Show" was acknowledged with the TCA's Heritage Award, accepted by the classic comedy's creator-producer-writer and occasional star Carl Reiner. "Sesame Street" won the Youth Programming award, with Roscoe Orman accepting and paying tribute to the amazing man who started it all, Jim Henson. HBO's "Game of Thrones" won for Best New Program. And the TCA's first reality series award went to "The Amazing Race," created by Bertram van Muster and Elise Doganieri, who are always Emmy's darlings in the category.
The National Geographic Channel's "Restrepo" won for News & Information. The intense documentary about a combat unit in Afghanistan was co-directed by Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington who died while covering the rebellion in Libya. It was a reminder that TV is much more than mindless entertainment. I've been a member of the TCAs for about 25 years now, and it is always great to see excellence in programming honored.
It's always interesting to get an idea of how successful productions are developed. So I had the opportunity to ask the top guys at HBO, Richard Plepler, co-president, and Michael Lombardo, president HBO programming, who know a lot about how to get high-quality successful productions on the air, such as their "Game of Thrones." The medieval fantasy, which has been picked up for a second season already, has been nominated for 13 Emmys.
What is HBO's philosophy in developing programs, and could the broadcast networks take a cue from them? Plepler notes that HBO is doing something different than the networks, and he says, "The great benefit that we have is that when a creative voice comes in, and we feel that we have a shared vision about what they're trying to do. And they are breathing that idea, and we can see it, and we think it fits with our brand and the direction that we're going. We're betting on that talent."
Plepler says the first meeting he and Lombardo had with producers/creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss for "Game of Thrones," was encouraging for everyone. "You knew that they breathed that show. You knew they understood it. You knew that they felt it, and that made us very comfortable."
He says HBO is not determining success on the basis of numbers. "We're determining success on the basis of quality. And we believe that the numbers will follow. And if on a show like 'Treme,' which we think is of the highest quality, and a show that we're very, very proud of, does a smaller number, that's okay as part of the canvas that we're drawing on. It's just a very different business model."