Matt Damon is committed to participating in a eight-part documentary series for Showtime from James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub, The Hollywood Reporter confirms.
Weintraub and Showtime declined to comment and Cameron did not return a call. However, sources say there is a deal with the pay TV service, but it is in the early stages, with financing and delivery date still to be determined.
The documentary, which is meant to show the human element of climate change, will be produced by David Gelber and Joel Bach, both of whom have worked at the CBS magazine show 60 Minutes. It is a timely subject in the wake of hurricane Sandy.
In addition to being a movie star and an Oscar winning screenwriter, Damon is also an active environmentalist and philanthropist. He is one of the founders of the Not On Our Watch Project, along with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, David Pressman and Weintraub. The group brings global attention and resources to prevent mass atrocities.
Damon has a range of charitable efforts. He’s a founder of what is now Water.org, a charitable group that works to provide clean water in Africa, and is a supporter of the One Campaign, aimed at fighting AIDS and poverty in the third world. He is also an ambassador for OneXOne, a non-profit that works to improve the lives of children. He’s been a spokesperson for Feeding America, a hunger relief organization. Additionally, he hosted and narrated the PBS Special Journey to Planet Earth, about the work of Lester Brown and other thoughtful environmentalists.
Damon’s upcoming movies include HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which stars Michael Douglas as Liberace; and Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, which he co-wrote with John Krasinski, Once again dealing with a controversial environmental subject, Promised Land, is about using “fracking” to produce oil. It is expected to get a limited release in late December.
Weintraub is a well-known Hollywood producer whose credits include Nashville, Diner and the Ocean’s 11 movies. He is also a philanthropist and in 2010, published a memoir written with Rich Cohen, When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man.It was also the basis of a 2011 HBO documentary, His Way.
When Avatar became a hit in 2009, Cameron came under fire from some on the right who claimed the movie was actually about the environment. The movie tells the story of an indigenous tribe whose land is taken by a big company that wants to exploit the resources. For the film’s home video release, Cameron partnered with Twentieth Century Fox, the environmental group Earth Day Network and others to promote the movie’s DVD release by planting a million trees.
Cameron has also done documentaries in the past that have explored the environmental impact of climate change in the oceans, and has lobbied governments including Canada to take the issue of climate change seriously.
Matt Damon, David O. Russell and Jeff Skoll have been chosen by the Independent Filmmaker Project to receive career tributes at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards on November 26.
“It is with pride and great pleasure that we give tribute to these three luminaries, each of whom plays an amazing role in expanding the language of film, breaking boundaries along the way,” said IFP executive director Joana Vicente. “Each has a unique voice and clearly defined vision of cinema for today’s generation, bringing perspective and relevance to the film world today.”
The honors will be presented along with seven competitive awards at the organization’s 22nd annual event, which will take place at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.
Damon, Russell and Skoll, the philanthropist and social entrepreneur who founded Participant Media, were chosen because of their independent film roots and support for independent visions. Damon has the socially conscious drama “Promised Land,” which was produced by Participant, hitting theaters in January through Focus Features, while Russell’s latest, “Silver Linings Playbook,” opens in November through the Weinstein Co.
The Candelabra was formely known as just “Liberace”, now has a new title and more actors:
Dan Aykroyd’s acting appearances have been pretty randomly spaced out lately, with his recent appearances on-camera including a couple of episodes of The Defenders, which put him opposite fellow former SNL star Jim Belushi. This latest bit of TV casting involving Aykroyd sounds like it might be a more serious role for the actor.
Variety is reporting that Aykroyd is set to join the upcoming HBO TV movie centered on musician Liberace, titled Behind the Candelabra. He joins previously cast Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Douglas is set to play Liberace, while Damon is set to play his domestic partner, Scott Thorson. And now Aykroyd has been brought on board to play the role of Seymour Heller, “Liberace’s long-time manager who disapproved of his relationship with Thorson.”
I haven’t read Thorson’s memoir, My Life with Liberace, which is the basis for this film, but it sounds like Heller might not be the most likable character. Aykroyd is great at roles that portray him as the friendly guy (see Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters or Elwood Blues in The Blues Brothers), but he’s just as good, if not better, at characters that are meant to intentionally rub you the wrong way (see Roman Craig in The Great Outdoors, Zalinski in Tommy Boy and/or the governor in Evolution). But that’s all based on his comedic work. He’s done drama before (Pearl Harbor, Chaplin), but this sounds like it could be a heavier role. So it should be interesting to see what he does with the part. He’s certainly in good company, and another reason to anticipate this project.
Production is set to begin on Behind the Candelabra this summer.
Rumor: Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Costner May Join Tom Cruise in ‘Magnificent Seven’ Remake
John Sturges‘ 1960 Western The Magnificent Seven featured an iconic cast that included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, Horst Buchholz, and Eli Wallach, so it’s only appropriate that the new remake brewing at MGM seems to be collecting some top-level talent as well.
The project’s off to a good start on that front already with Tom Cruise attached to star, and if this new report is to be believed, Cruise is about to get some other high-profile company in the form of Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Costner. However, considering the notoriously unreliable source, that’s a very big fat if.
The U.K. Sun (via Screen Crush) is reporting that Damon’s already boarded the project, while Costner and Freeman are only circling at this point. According to the paper, Damon is set for the role of Vin, the character played McQueen in the original, while Costner is up for the part of Britt, who was previously played by Coburn. Along with Cruise, who’s taking over Brynner’s character Chris, Damon and Costner will comprise part of the titular seven heroes. The group is hired to protect a poor village from a gang of bandits led by the villainous Calvera (Freeman).
The publication quotes a source who says, “MGM are throwing big money at the film and wanted some top names to fill the main parts… You can’t get much bigger than Cruise and Damon.” It’s certainly true that a studio looking for well-known stars couldn’t do better than this roster, but as the Sun‘s record is far from spotless when it comes to this kind of news, I’ll caution you again not to take it as gospel until we get more outside confirmation.
News of MGM’s remake hit last month, when Variety learned that Cruise was the driving force behind this film. While a do-over of such a beloved classic is bound to annoy some fans, it’s worth remembering that The Magnificent Seven is itself a remake, of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece The Seven Samurai.
Granted, Sturges made the story his own by moving the events from feudal Japan to the Wild West, whereas Cruise’s version will be a more straightforward adaptation that keeps the frontier setting. But if the project really is attracting such noteworthy actors, it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with the material. Though we may be waiting a while — the project doesn’t have a director or screenwriter yet, and with Cruise’s busy schedule it may be some time before he can even find a window to concentrate on this one.
We’ve got a couple updates on the latest projects from Oscar-winning screenwriting duo Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (yes, they act too). A few months ago Affleck was chosen by Warner Bros. to direct their big-budget adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Stand. While it’s been a while since we’ve heard any movement on the project, it now appears that Affleck has now set a screenwriter on the pic. After apparently wowing the studio with an adaptation of King’s It, David Kajganich (The Invasion) has been tapped to handle scripting duties. Hit the jump for much more, including news concerning the untitled drama that Damon was previously set to direct.
When we first reported on Affleck’s involvement with the project, we had no official confirmation that he was attached. With this news, courtesy of Vulture, it seems like he’s 100% onboard for the pic. A multi-film adaptation was being eyed when David Yates was flirting with the project, but here’s no word on whether or not that’s still the plan. It may be a while before Affleck moves onto The Stand full time, as he’s currently in post-production on his most recent directorial effort, Argo. In addition to directing, Affleck stars in the period/political drama alongside Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Michael Parks.
Additionally, Vulture’s report on Affleck includes an update on the untitled drama that was to serve as Matt Damon’s directorial debut. John Krasinski and Dave Eggers originated the story idea for the untitled drama, and Krasinski co-wrote the script with Damon. A few weeks ago Damon dropped out of the director’s chair, saying his packed schedule would prevent him from devoting the necessary time to direct the pic. He still plans to star, and they’ve attached Damon’s Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant to helm.
Though they’ve found their director, Warner Bros. has decided to drop the project. Vulture reports that Universal is now in negotiations with Damon to produce and distribute the flick, with Van Sant still onboard and plans to begin production on the $15 million drama by late April or early May. All seems to be well on the Damon and Affleck fronts, but I’m still itching to see the duo reunite on a project together. Plans are in motion for the two to work on a Whitey Bulger biopic, but it appears they’re going to be quite busy for the foreseeable future so I’m not sure when they’ll get to it.
Matt Damon will headline a benefit performance of dramatic readings at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., on Jan. 31. The Hollywood actor will be joined by the Steppenwolf Theatre’s Robert Breuler and Alana Arenas, various local poets and the Tribune’s Rick Kogan, among others.
The project, dubbed “The People Speak Live,” is based on the documentary “The People Speak” and involves performances of the actual words of various “rebels, dissenters and visionaries” from the American past and present. The producer is a national non-profit called Voices of a People’s History, in partnership with the Chicago-based Louder Than a Bomb, a youth-based, spoken-word program. Tickets are now on sale ($11-$24) at metrochicago.com.
Part of a new, yearlong arts and education initiative in Chicago, a benefit performance of “The People Speak, Live!” produced by Voices of a People’s History takes place at Metro, Tuesday, January 31st, 2012. Bringing to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who made the United States what it is today, the evening pairs Academy Award®-winner Matt Damon with local Chicago talent for dramatic readings and songs of the actual words of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from America’s past–and present.
“The People Speak, Live!” is based on the award-winning documentary feature The People Speak which had its broadcast premiere on HISTORY™ in December 2009. Seen by more than eight million people, The People Speak features Matt Damon reading John Steinbeck; Bob Dylan performing Woody Guthrie; Marisa Tomei describing the 1937 Flint sit-down strike; Morgan Freeman and Don Cheadle performing the words of Frederick Douglass; John Legend reading Muhammad Ali; and many others performing the work of both the acclaimed and anonymous in U.S. history.
The January 31st benefit performance of “The People Speak, Live!”–its Chicago premiere–will feature readings of a fifteenth century priest documenting Columbus’ arrival in the New World; a fugitive slave’s scathing letter to a former master; the words of pathbreaking Chicago labor organizers; testimony of civil rights activists; musical performances from the songbooks of Woodie Guthrie and one-time Chicagoan Sam Cooke; poetry from the earliest days of Hip-Hop; Studs Terkel’s interview with Mamie Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till; and more.
“It’s an honest and exciting look at where we’ve come from,” says Damon, a featured actor in and executive producer of The People Speak film. “The idea that all of the progress in America towards equality has been struggled for by everyday people, I hope will become a point of discussion for more students of all ages. With The People Speak, you’re getting the actual historical text verbatim; there’s no spin.”
Since 2003, Voices of a People’s History—the national non-profit that runs education and performing arts programs based on primary source materials has produced more than 100 performances in 17 states with casts that have included local students, parents, civic leaders, and actors alongside celebrated artists such as Black Thought of The Roots, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Sandra Oh, Steve Earle, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Patti Smith, Kerry Washington, and Alfre Woodard–on stages ranging from small classrooms to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Sundance Film Festival.
Voices of a People’s History is producing the January 31st performance in partnership with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival. Bringing together hundreds of youth across Chicago every year, Louder Than a Bomb is the city’s famous youth spoken word program, celebrating its 12th year in 2012 with the January broadcast premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network of the award-winning documentary Louder Than a Bomb, directed by local filmmakers Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel.
Together, the organizations have initiated a yearlong pilot project, bringing free educational material, teacher workshops, and public arts programming to classrooms and communities across Chicago. The Chicago pilot project, like the film, is inspired by the work of the late historian Howard Zinn, author of the bestselling A People’s History of the United States (HarperCollins 1980) and, with Anthony Arnove, the primary source companion Voices of a People’s History of the United States (Seven Stories Press 2004).
Since the Chicago Voices pilot project launched in September 2011, more than 500 Chicago educators have received the free Chicago Voices Educators Toolkit, suitable for middle and high school and introductory college classes. The toolkit includes The People Speak DVD, a preloaded USB flash drive with standards-aligned lesson plans, teaching guides, primary source material featuring Chicago history, as well as several books by Howard Zinn. A total of 1,000 educators will receive the toolkit by the project’s end this June.
In addition, the pilot project has partnered with community groups–including Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Erie Neighborhood House, Victory Gardens Theatre, and the Occupy Chicago Education Committee–to host free screenings of the film The People Speak. These screenings will continue in the first half of this year.
Tuesday, January 31st, 7:00 pm, Doors 6:00 pm | Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60613 | Tickets on sale January 9th $11 advance GA, $14 at door, $24 seated, $99 premium package for two, available at the Metro box office and at http://www.metrochicago.com
Actor to read the works of John Steinbeck at Metro benefit
An event featuring dramatic theatre readings typically doesn’t draw a standing-room-only crowd, but we’re betting things will be different for an event later this month.
A-list actor Matt Damon is headlining a benefit performance at Metro on January 31.
Damon will be joined at “The People Speak Live” by several local poets and Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble members Robert Brueler and Alena Arenas.
The event is designed to “bring to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who made the United States what it is today,” and features “readings and songs of the actual words of rebels, dissenters, prophets, and visionaries from America’s past and present.”
Tickets range from $11-$24 for the all-ages show.
Great new interview where Matt talks about We Bought a Zoo, music, crying while watching movies and Tom Cruise, by The Washington Post:
I’m a little worried about “We Bought a Zoo.”
With all the hype about mega-marketed holiday films such as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” I fear moviegoers may forget all about Cameron Crowe and Matt Damon’s dramedy, or perhaps just dismiss it outright because the title is, admittedly, a little goofy.
They shouldn’t. For starters, Damon delivers one of the most authentic and likable star turns of his career as Benjamin Mee, the widower and father of two who, uh, well, buys a zoo. (In addition to being goofy, the title is also kind of a spoiler.)
I recently chatted with Damon and Crowe about the film for this Sunday Style piece, which, because of space limitations, couldn’t possibly capture the many topics covered during a 40-minute conversation. In addition to discussing New Yorker critic David Denby’s initial dismissal of “We Bought a Zoo,” we also talked about the impact that using music on the set (a signature Crowe move) had on Damon’s performance, as well as the acting abilities of their current multiplex competitor, Tom Cruise.
Here are more extracts from that interview, in which Damon uses big words like “amygdala” and says of Cruise, “He is a much better actor than I think people understand.”
Damon, on Crowe’s use of music during takes: There’s something that happens with music, and I’d never thought of using it this way, but it’s so brilliant because it’s so emotional. It’s like it leapfrogs your neocortex and goes straight to your amygdala and suddenly you’re feeling these things. It’s not rational; it’s going right really to your heart. As a performer, it’s just pulling stuff out of you.
That Jonsi music we have in the movie. . . . The song where I’m looking at the iPhoto stuff and looking at my wife [in the movie] — the song that’s in the movie is the song Cameron played that day, and it’s completely responsible for that whole sequence. It took me places that there is no amount of directing or cajoling or persuading he could have done to get me to that place. He didn’t say anything; he put the song on and we were gone. So that was something I’ve never seen before that’s an unbelievably valuable tool for me going forward, and eventually as a director.
Crowe, on why he changed his mind and decided to play music during certain takes of “We Bought a Zoo”: It happened on the first day when we were doing the scene in the hallway of the school. It was a close-up on Matt, and he kind of turned into the shot. I had two instincts: One is, wow, Matt has really connected to this character and this is the movie happening before me. And the second: I hear Tom Petty, “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
So I put it on, on instinct, and something started to surge on Matt’s face and in the people around us, and it felt like music has always been for me, kind of an emotional partner. And suddenly we had kind of another character in the room, which was the music. As soon as the take was over, Matt and some other people came over and said, “Wow, I really felt that.” I think in that instant I pivoted and decided to keep doing it. And one of the reasons was because Matt just soaks up music. He’s a music fan, and the music was always a reminder of what movie we were in. And sometimes that’s so much more profound than anything you could say.
Damon, on whether he’ll use music when he makes his directorial debut next year: Definitely, definitely. I’m already thinking about that, when to use it and what songs. Because it really does work.
It was weird to come across a tactic — like, I thought I knew everything. Tactically speaking, without geeking out on theory, a lot of people make good movies, and I know a lot of them and we talk. And so, it was surprising to have this happen on the first day of filming. I was so excited. I had dinner with Ben Affleck that night, actually, and it’s all we talked about, was this Tom Petty thing that had happened. I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, man, you have no idea what this felt like. It was all about a feeling and being lifted by this music, and so yeah, it’s definitely something that I want to do. Because it works.
Damon, on what gets to him in Crowe’s movie “Jerry Maguire”:
There are a few parts, actually. I was watching it with my wife. It’s Tom [Cruise], is what gets to me. Tom’s performance is what gets to me, ultimately. He anchored that movie. He’s such a better actor than I think people understand, and that performance is still great 15 years later. It is worth going back and looking at again. It is one of the great leading-man performances.
When a movie gets to you, there are a bunch of things that start to work on you. The relationship between Cuba [Gooding Jr.]’s character and his wife, that starts to get to me. By the end of it I’m just so teed up for the final scene with Tom and Renee [Zellweger] in front of the women’s group. My wife looks over, and tears are running down [my face] and I’m wiping them away.
But it got to her, too. . . . I’m not ashamed to say that.
Crowe and Damon, on the possibility of Crowe making a movie that brings together Damon, Cruise and “Say Anything . . .” star John Cusack:
Damon: I love that idea.
Crowe: Oh, man. Tom Cruise came to visit the set when we were making “We Bought a Zoo,” and I kind of stood back at a certain point and watched the two of them talking, and I had the same idea. It’s like, damn. . . .
Damon: I had met [Tom Cruise] briefly a couple of times, but we really got to talk and, uh, spend a little time together. And then I talked to him on the phone after he saw some scenes. He dropped by the editing room and saw some stuff and called me. And that was amazing.