Friday May 13th, 2011 · by Annie

Martin Scorsese Trying to Edit Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Margaret’ Out of Limbo

This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?

Margaret.

Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut.

The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length.

And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.

I was lucky enough to speak with the movie’s co-star Mark Ruffalo yesterday for his directorial debut, Sympathy for Delicious, and of course, I had to ask about Margaret. Ruffalo described the three-hour cut he saw as a “masterpiece” and explained that “it’s a love letter to a post-9/11 America and New York City.”

You’d think a film of that possible caliber and with a cast including Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin, Olivia Thirlby, and Ruffalo would be a sure thing for awards season, but sadly, that’s been proven incorrect over the past few years. The reality that a bold talent like Lonergan has to fight this hard to get this film released is a truly sad commentary on commerce kicking art’s ass.

Here’s part of my exchange with Ruffalo on the status of Lonergan’s long-awaited film:

When will we actually be able to see Margaret?

Ruffalo: [Sighs] Oh, it’s so… I don’t know. Marty Scorsese has come on now to do a pass on it with Kenneth. It was a movie that started at 186 pages. It was just a very, very finely interwoven piece of material and it’s so beautiful. When he tried to cut it down, he had a very hard time. The studio was saying they wanted no more than two hours, and the rough cut I saw was a little bit over three hours long. It was absolutely incredible. It was beautiful, moving, and such a fine piece of work on so many levels. It was beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and the writing is incredible. It’s a love story to a post-9/11 America and New York City.

He couldn’t get it cut down. He had a really hard time. The studio, basically, said they weren’t going to release it. That’s where it’s been. It got tied up in lawsuits with Gary Gilbert, who tried to take the movie away and have someone else edit it behind Kenny’s back. It was a surreal, big, ugly thing. Now Kenny has got it and Marty is kinda arbitrating his cut. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing it soon.

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Friday May 13th, 2011 · by Annie

Made in NY Awards

May 10, 2011 – Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine L. Oliver will host the sixth annual “Made in NY” Awards on June 6th at 7:30 PM at Gracie Mansion. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the City’s entertainment and new media industries. At this year’s event, Mayor Bloomberg will present the first-ever “Made in NY” Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement posthumously to director Sidney Lumet, which will be accepted on his behalf by his daughter, Jenny Lumet. The other 2011 “Made in NY” honorees will be Academy Award winner Matt Damon, location-based mobile platform foursquare, actor John Leguizamo who is currently starring on Broadway in Ghetto Klown, founder of the Urbanworld Film Festival & CEO of MoviePass Stacy Spikes, commercial production company Smuggler and Lauren Zalaznick, chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media.

“New York City is the entertainment capital of the world and is poised to be the digital media capital of the world. The annual ‘Made in NY’ Awards offer us a chance to honor some of those who have advanced these industries in our City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Sidney Lumet was one of the great chroniclers of our City and a consummate New Yorker. When I spoke with Sidney in March before his passing, he graciously agreed to be the first recipient of the ‘Made in NY’ Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. I will be proud to present it to his daughter on his behalf.”

“The ‘Made in NY’ Awards are a special time for us each year, and even more so this year,” said Commissioner Oliver. “This year’s awards include a few firsts for us as we bestow the first Lifetime Achievement Award to Sidney Lumet and honor a digital media company for the first time. We’re thrilled to have such esteemed honorees to accept the awards this year. It is a true celebration for the industry.”

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment consists of the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NYC Digital and NYC Media, the official TV, radio and online network of the City of New York. The agency’s mission is to streamline government communications by making information accessible, leveraging technology to aid in the transparency of government and by supporting relevant media and entertainment industries in New York City.

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Friday May 13th, 2011 · by Annie

Matt Damon to Make His Directorial Debut with Father Daughter Time?

First time you hear Father Daugher Time, it sounds like one of those titles on posts where they are shooting big projects at everyday locations (remember Rory’s First Kiss?). But alas, this title is true to its name and is already considered a huge project. Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses, written by Matthew Alrdich, is about a man who goes on the lam with his daughter on a three-state crime spree. This film is already under the watchful eye of various studios with one ahead of the four.

Deadline is reporting that Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, Relativity Media, Walter Parkes, and Matt Damon and Chris Moore have made offers to buy the script. But Warner Brothers has already made the moves to be the one studio with the exclusive rights to produce the pic, with Matt Damon likely to star in and make his directorial debut.

According to the site, Alrdich wasn’t looking for making a deal and just wanted to make a movie. With five parties vying for the rights of the film, it looks as though he got more than he bargined for. But the scribe said that “The script is not high concept, it’s a smallish, very personal, dark but playful road movie about a father and daughter.”

Intially Alrdich was worried that his script would become a big budget film and he wants to keep it in the spirit of the indie film. But with the possibility of Matt Damon being involved in both an acting and directing capacity, there is a chance that it could stay true to Alrdich’s vision.

When one of the biggest movie stars in the world, who also happens to be an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, gets on the phone with your client and offers to protect the writer’s vision and opens his hand to be a creative partner, it’s hard to say no,” Ross said. “The money becomes secondary. This script is not the obvious studio movie. There are no explosions. It will require delicate handling. Avoiding years of development hell was our goal.

Considering that Damon has starred in some of the biggest and smallest projects with some of the best directors in Hollywood, one has to wonder what we can expect from the actor should he decide to direct. It’s possible that we could see some Coen Brothers, George Clooney, and Clint Eastwood influences on this film, and I think this small indie film is perfect way for the actor to to possible kick start his directing career.

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Monday April 25th, 2011 · by Annie

Matt Damon, Colin Firth Named To TIME 100

TIME has released its 2011 list of the 100 Most Influential People – and we’re happy to see some familiar Hollywood activists making the cut.

For their efforts to help fund clean water projects throughout the developing world, Matt Damon and Gary White – co-founders of Water.org – were honored in a piece written by Ted Danson. “Their message is one of hope; their solutions for providing access to clean water are simple and cost effective,” praises the actor. “And their work gives us an opportunity to change lives forever.”

We’ve given a lot of credit to Damon in the past for his efforts to help raise awareness on the water crisis – so it’s great to see him being recognized here. “Matt and I, along with our staff, partners, donors, and long-time supporters believe we can achieve universal access to safe water in our lifetime,” said White. “We know there will never be enough charity to fully realize our vision so it requires us to continually look to new ideas and ways to reach more people more quickly – something we have been doing since our founding.”

Best Actor winner Colin Firth was also singled out for his work both on and off the camera. “The two sides of Colin, 50, inform each other,” writes Helen Mirren. “He can be the glamorous celebrity, but look closely at photos of him on the red carpet: there is a kindness in his eyes, an introspection and consideration. He actively pursues a deeper understanding of the world around him, and his humanitarianism gives a depth and wisdom to his performances.”

Besides his work with Oxfam, Firth has also lobbied for the Make Trade Fair campaign, Amnesty International, and Survival International, and has won various awards for his efforts, such as the European Voice Campaigner of the Year award, The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Philanthropist of the Year award, as well as the BAFTA Britannia Humanitarian Award.

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Monday April 25th, 2011 · by Annie

The 2011 TIME 100

Matt Damon and Gary White
Activists
Being a celebrity is like being a 5-year-old in a room with all the adults staring at you. It’s easy to spin out of control. But if you redirect the energy coming at you to a cause you care about, it can be very powerful.

In Matt Damon’s case, what he wants you to know is that every 15 minutes a child under the age of 5 dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation and it doesn’t have to be that way. Matt, 40, teamed up with Gary White, 48, a longtime expert in water-supply systems, in 2009 and created Water.org. Their message is one of hope; their solutions for providing access to clean water are simple and cost effective. And their work gives us an opportunity to change lives forever.

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Thursday March 24th, 2011 · by Annie

Damon, Douglas to lock lips in Liberace

Actor Matt Damon has revealed he is looking forward to lock lips with Michael Douglas for their new movie.

Damon will play Douglas’ lover in a movie about gay piano legend Liberace.

“It’s scripted that there’s more than one. I never thought I would get to kiss Michael Douglas,” contactmusic quoted Damon as saying.

Douglas, who revealed in January that he is in remission for stage four throat cancer, is equally enthusiastic about the project.

“I’m just going to get really comfortable so it’s not a caricature. Matt Damon’s going to be my younger lover. God bless Matt. I saw Matt and I was teasing him. I was saying, ‘Bring a lot of ChapStick, babe,” said Douglas.

The film will be helmed by Steven Soderbergh.

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Thursday March 17th, 2011 · by Annie

GQ Australia Q&A with Matt Damon

No matter how big a star he’s become (and thanks to the Bourne franchise, he’s become very big indeed) Matt Damon has always seemed refreshingly removed from the silliness of showbiz. Following the birth of his fourth daughter, the Harvard drop-out, activist and aspiring director is even more determined to play the Hollywood game on his own terms.

In a midtown hotel suite, Matt Damon looks intently at the view over Manhattan. He points out the Brooklyn Bridge, where a key scene in his latest film, The Adjustment Bureau, was filmed. In dark jeans, a white T-shirt and brown lace-up boots, with a turned-up nose and pale blue eyes, he looks, well, just like you’d expect Matt Damon to look, though at 178cm, perhaps slightly shorter.

Directed by George Nolfi (a screenwriter on The Bourne Ultimatum) and based on a Philip K Dick short story, The Adjustment Bureau is a sort of Sliding Doors love story, with Damon’s politician running around Manhattan’s streets in pursuit of a ballerina called Elise (Emily Blunt). But the forces of fate, led by Mad Men’s John Slattery, seem to keep them apart. At least, that seems to be the plot from a collection of film clips journalists were shown. The final cut wasn’t yet available.

No matter, Oscar-winner Damon has plenty more movies on his dance card. There’s the Coen brothers’ True Grit, which came out in January, plus Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, both slated for release this year.

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Thursday March 17th, 2011 · by Annie

Hereafter home video sales to benefit Japan relief efforts

The Matt Damon-starring movie “Hereafter” was pulled from theaters in Japan earlier this week, and Warner Bros. is using the film’s Tuesday release on DVD and Blu-ray as a way to raise money for relief efforts.

According to the L.A. Times, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is donating an unspecified percentage of DVD and Blu-ray sales to the Japanese Red Cross Society following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the nation last Friday. Those familiar with the matter tell the Times that the donation will be in the ballpark of $1 million.

The Clint Eastwood-directed film focuses on grief and the afterlife, but it does contain a scene depicting a tsunami wreaking havoc on a coastal town. It’s been playing in Japan since February. A Warner Bros. rep explained to CNN, “In deference to the tragic unfolding events in Japan, we have pulled ‘Hereafter’ from the theaters.”

The Warner Bros. rep added that the opening of Anthony Hopkins’ horror thriller “The Rite,” which was originally scheduled to bow this weekend in Japan, has been postponed.

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Wednesday March 9th, 2011 · by Annie

Matt Damon is a great actor, but after The Adjustment Bureau can he finally become a romantic star?

Quick, what’s the oddest thing about Matt Damon’s career? The obvious answer is that he has played a lot of oddballs. The drug-addled Gulf War veteran of Courage Under Fire (a role for which he lost 40 pounds — and he wasn’t exactly chunky beforehand). The troubled megamind of Good Will Hunting. The moody parasite-sociopath of The Talented Mr. Ripley. The amnesiac ex-government fighting-and-killing machine of the Bourne films. The lost-inside-himself CIA cipher of The Good Shepherd. The whistleblower-without-a-twinge-of-idealism in The Informant! The melancholy psychic of Hereafter. No question about it: For an actor who has long resembled a clean, upstanding, gleaming-white-toothed Boy Scout, and who now looks like a slightly older Boy Scout, Matt Damon has spent a long time going out of his way to cast himself against type.

But that’s still not the oddest thing about his career. That would be the fact that, in nearly 15 years as a major movie star (I’m dating his leap to leading man status from the explosive success of Good Will Hunting), Matt Damon has never starred in a romantic comedy. Not once. He has never tried to lighten his image, or rebound after a box-office failure, or simply play the game by agreeing to do some fluffy-sexy chick flick in which he plays a carefree executive bachelor who flirts with, gets taken down a peg by, and falls for Julia/Sandra/Jennifer/Kate/ Renée/Drew/etc.

The desire to steer clear of those kinds of movies has been an almost ideological decision on Damon’s part, and for anyone who follows him, it’s a choice with a ready explanation: Chick flicks are Hollywood at its most cheesy, formulaic, corporate, and even embarrassing — for the most part, they’re happy-face gobs of product masquerading as movies — and Matt Damon is not a cheesy guy, and not a formulaic or corporate actor either. He doesn’t make movies he doesn’t believe in. That’s why he’s virtually the only actor of his generation who was able to become an action star and hold fast to his integrity while doing it. The Bourne films aren’t quite works of art, but they’re super-smart about exciting audiences. They’re thrill rides with a vision.

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Friday March 4th, 2011 · by Annie

ReThink Review: The Adjustment Bureau — Love, Fate and Magic Hats

For millennia, mankind has wondered whether humans have free will and make our own decisions, or if Fate, God or gods are really pulling the strings and controlling our unalterable destinies. In The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays David Norris, a New York congressman who is told by shadowy, fedora-wearing supernatural agents of predestination that his promising future cannot include Elise, a dancer played by Emily Blunt, who Norris meets and falls for in a chance encounter on the eve of a big election. See the trailer below.

Perhaps the strongest parts of The Adjustment Bureau are the early scenes between Norris and Elise as their paths cross over several years. The chemistry between Damon and Blunt is undeniable, making it easy to understand why Norris remains so smitten with her despite the Bureau’s threats. And Damon, a close follower of politics who has donated generously to democrats, displays a facility with campaign mannerisms that makes you wonder if he’ll eventually run for office.

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