IATSE Tells California Legislators: “A Strike Would Effectively Shut Down” Film & TV Production In State

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September 24, 2021 1:29pm

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Saying that “a strike would effectively shut down California state film and television production,” IATSE has told California lawmakers that “it is both outrageous and immoral that the studios oppose basic worker rights, an opposition that may lead to a highly successful industry’s shutdown.”

In a letter to state legislators, the California IATSE Council said that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers “is refusing union proposals to provide safe working conditions, including meal and rest periods for our members. Given their position, IATSE is compelled to call for strike authorization vote.”

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“Given your longstanding support for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, for which we are deeply appreciative, and which has had such a large impact on production and jobs in our state, we believe it is important for California’s State policymakers to know the facts,” the union told legislators in a letter dated September 23.

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On that same day, IATSE president Matthew Loeb told his members: “We are at a stage where the employers have made this struggle about power, not reason. Therefore we are initiating a strike vote to authorize me to call one if necessary.”

The letter to the legislators was signed by Thom Davis, president of the California IATSE Council and business manager of IATSE Grips Local 80, and the Council’s legislative co-chairs Rebecca Rhine, national executive director of the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600; Scott Bernard, business rep of IATSE Sound Local 695; and Jim Beaumonte, business rep of San Francisco IATSE Local 16.

Here the full letter:

Dear Legislator: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union that represents 52,000 skilled crew and craftspeople living and working in California write to inform you of a collective bargaining contract impasse over dangerous work practices that have become intolerable to our members in this State and across the country. Given your longstanding support for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, for which we are deeply appreciative, and which has had such a large impact on production and jobs in our state, we believe it is important for California’s State policymakers to know the facts.

IATSE is currently in collective bargaining with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents media mega corporations collectively worth trillions of dollars. The AMPTP is refusing union proposals to provide safe working conditions, including meal and rest periods for our members. Given their position, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is compelled to call for strike authorization vote. A strike would effectively shut down California State film and television production.

The most grievous workplace conditions we are trying to improve include:
● Excessively unsafe and harmful working hours including Fridays that often last well into Saturday (aka “Fraturdays”).
● Wages for the lowest paid crafts that cannot sustain a decent living. ● Incredibly long workdays without any break for a meal, to put down equipment, to unmask and get fresh air or just to sit down.
● Consistent failure to provide reasonable rest between workdays, and on weekends.
● Substandard rates for the same work on “new media” streaming projects even on productions with budgets that rival or exceed those of traditionally released blockbusters. This “relief” is being provided to the most profitable companies on the planet including Apple and Amazon.

Despite booming business, the studios have rejected these IATSE positions that would address the most egregious health and safety provisions in contract negotiations. Management does not appear to even recognize our core issues as problems that exist in the first place. These are working conditions the studios already afford our members’ counterparts in other countries, including Canada and in Europe. The AMPTP’s refusal to budge has created a deadlock, leading to the strike vote. They keep characterizing these issues as being about “money” but really, they are primarily about equity, health, safety and planning. The unions impacted include all 13 IATSE Hollywood Locals, as well as Locals in San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County and across the State. Together they represent 52,000 working women and men who live in our State.

As representatives of these Unionized, skilled film and television workers, we again want to say that we greatly appreciate your long-term support of our industry. California’s film and television industry has prospered greatly since the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program was passed by the Legislature in 2014. The program has revitalized an almost dead film and television production community, with over 52,000 workers and billions of dollars in economic activity every year. Moreover, post pandemic, film & television production is approaching pre-pandemic levels while many other industries are still struggling. This is largely due to the fact that our members returned to work a year ago at great personal risk to ensure our industry a swift recovery. With all this success, it is both outrageous and immoral that the studios oppose basic worker rights, an opposition that may lead to a highly successful industry’s shutdown.

Former ‘Jagged Little Pill’ Broadway Cast Members Accuse Production Of “Harm To The Trans And Non-Binary” Communities

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September 24, 2021 1:00pm

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Two former cast members of Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill, including Tony-nominated featured actress Celia Rose Gooding, released statements today accusing the production of doing, as Gooding writes, “harm to the trans and non-binary community both onstage and off.”

Nora Schell, a Black non-binary actor who made their Broadway debut in the chorus and other roles as an original company member of the Alanis Morissette musical and who will not return to the show when it reopens on Oct. 21, tweeted a statement today outlining what they say were repeated instances when they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”

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Schell writes that during previews of the musical in 2019, they were told by their gynecologist that surgery for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was needed, but that the news was either ignored or downplayed by a stage manager and, later, members of the creative team. “When I relayed the possibility of these growths returning/needing surgery again in the future,” Schell writes, “I was met with exasperation and told that if I had to take off, it wouldn’t be considered paid medical leave.”

The actor writes that they postponed surgery for a month due to the production’s lack of support, ending the statement, “I’ve been vaguely referencing mistreatment for years, and this is certainly not an exhaustive account of my experiences, but it is certainly the most alarming, fundamentally wrong and DANGEROUS incident I experienced. I’m still dealing with the consequences of waiting to get this surgery.”

Read the full statements from Schell and Gooding below.

A spokesperson for the Jagged Little Pill production has not yet responded to Deadline’s request for comment.

Jagged Little Pill, which features the songs of Morissette (co-written with Glen Ballard), direction by Diane Paulus and an original story by Diablo Cody, chronicles a year in the life of a picture-perfect suburban family whose many problems slowly come to the surface. The show addresses any number of social and personal issues, including sexual identity, inclusion and acceptance.

Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten, ‘Jagged Little Pill’
Matthew Murphy

Gooding, who starred in the production as Frankie, one of the musical’s four primary characters, had already announced that she would not return to the show when it resumed production following the Covid pandemic shutdown. An announcement released earlier this week by producers mentioned only that Gooding had recently landed “the iconic role of Uhura in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

In her statement today, Gooding did not deny that the Trek role factored into her decision, but added that she “cannot ignore the harm Jagged has done to the trans and non-binary community, including cast members on stage, off stage, and behind the scenes in the production making process…I believe it will be in my best personal interest to focus more on work that I can align myself with emotionally and morally, just as Frankie would.”

Gooding confirmed that she will perform with other cast members of the show during this Sunday’s Tony Awards. Jagged Little Pill tops its competitors in the number of Tony nominations with 15, including Best Musical and six nominees in the acting categories. Gooding is nominated in the Featured Actress/Musical category, along with her co-stars Kathryn Gallagher and Lauren Patten.

In addition to Gooding and Schell, actor Iris Menas, also a non-cisgender ensemble member, will not return to the show in October.

Patten made news herself last weekend when she posted an Instagram video in which she addressed a growing controversy around her onstage Pill character Jo. In the show’s pre-Broadway run in Boston, the character had been written and played as non-binary, but those references were excised with the production’s arrival in New York when the character was presented as a gay cis female.

“It is my deepest hope,” Patten wrote on Instagram, “for Jo to be a character that can be claimed and owned by folks of many queer identities — butch and masc women, nonbinary and genderqueer folks, trans men, and many more. Theatre has the power and the potential to be expansive, and I hope that Jo can be a representation of that moving forward.”

Jagged Little Pill‘s lead producers Vivek J. Tiwary, Arvind Ethan David and Eva Price also weighed in last weekend, apologizing for Jo’s Boston-to-Broadway transformation. “Compounding our mistake,” they wrote, “we then stated publicly and categorically that Jo was never written or conceived as non-binary. That discounted and dismissed what people saw and felt in this character’s journey. We should not have done that.”

The producers added, “We should have protected and celebrated the fact that the non-binary audience members saw in Jo a bold, defiant, complex, and vibrant representation of their community. For all of this we are deeply sorry.” Their actions, they said, put “our cast and our fans in a difficult position.”

The producers also pledged to take a series of actions, including future recastings, to rectify the situation. Patten will return to the show when it resumes performances next month.

💙 pic.twitter.com/e7I9E12V58

— celia r. gooding (@celiargooding) September 24, 2021

During previews for the Broadway run of JAGGED LITTLE PILL I was intimidated, coerced and forced by multiple higher ups to put off CRITICAL AND NECESSARY surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic. Surgery my doctor told me was urgent. READ BELOW: pic.twitter.com/bqM4OOzHa3

— Nora Schell (@noritachiquita) September 24, 2021

 

Watch Patten’s Instagram video here:

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Michael K. Williams Died From Accidental Overdose, New York Medical Examiner Says

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September 24, 2021 12:43pm

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Michael K. Williams died earlier this month from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine,” the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner said Friday. The CME has ruled the death accidental.

The determination comes after Williams, the five-time Emmy-nominated star of The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, 12 Years a Slave and most recently Lovecraft Country, was found dead in his Brooklyn, NY, home on Monday, September 6. He was 54 years old.

A New York Police Department detective told Deadline at the time that Williams “was discovered deceased in an apartment located at 440 Kent Avenue today around 1400 hours. It’s an ongoing investigation and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.”

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The medical examiner’s office said today it would not comment further on the case.

Williams’ death sent shockwaves through the film and TV industry that he rose to fame in after playing Omar, a robber of drug dealers, on HBO’s The Wire. He followed with HBO’s Boardwalk Empire playing Chalky White, a bootlegger ally of Steve Buscemi’s crooked New Jersey politician Nucky Thompson.

Most recently, he was Emmy nominated this year for another HBO series, Lovecraft Country, on which he starred opposite Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett and Wunmi Mosaku. Several presenters and winners at Sunday’s ceremony tributed Williams during the ceremony, including Kerry Washington and The Crown‘s Tobias Menzies. Williams, despite being a frontrunner in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category, lost out to Menzies, who dedicated the award to him.

Before the Emmys, Smollett posted the following: “He was supposed to be here with us this week in LA for the Emmys. He was supposed to see how big [my son] Hunter is, we were gonna dance, celebrate, cry,” she wrote. “Instead our brother was laid to rest today.”

Jamie Foxx, a friend of Williams, remembered a night they spent together in New York, where Williams appeared in a fashion show. “We cheered because we knew you were special…fearlessness…Mystique,” Foxx Wrote. “And pure raw talent was before us.” The Oscar-winning Ray actor said he was always “in awe” of his friend.

Williams was also Emmy-nominated for HBO’s Bessie and The Night Of as well as for producing Raised in the System, a docuseries he also starred in about the American mass incarceration of juveniles. His film credits include The Road, Snitch, The Gambler, The Land, Assassin’s Creed, The Public and Motherless Brooklyn.

The actor was laid to rest in Pennsylvania on September 15.

Gallery: Showbiz & Media Figures We’ve Lost In 2021

DGA, SAG-AFTRA, WGA East & Teamsters “Stand In Solidarity” With IATSE

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September 24, 2021 12:35pm

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Hollywood’s unions have issued a statement of support for IATSE in its efforts to reach a new film and TV contract with management’s AMPTP, saying that they “stand in solidarity” with IATSE as it prepares to conduct a strike authorization among its members.

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The statement was signed by leaders of the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, the WGA East and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters: “On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of members working across film and television, we stand in solidarity with our IATSE brothers, sisters and kin,” the unions said. “The basic quality of life and living wage rights they’re fighting for in their negotiations are the issues that impact all of us who work on sets and productions. We stand with the IATSE.”

The joint statement was signed by DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter and national executive director Russell Hollander; SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher and national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland; WGA East president Michael Winship and executive director Lowell Peterson, and Teamsters president James P. Hoffa.

Fran Drescher & Other SAG-AFTRA Leaders Join Chorus Of Actors Supporting IATSE’s Demands For Fair Contract

DGA Announces Temporary Eligibility Exception to Exclusive Theatrical First-Run Rule For 2022 Awards

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September 24, 2021 12:16pm

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At a recent meeting, the Directors Guild of America National Board decided to temporarily alter the 2022 DGA Awards eligibility criteria for its Theatrical Film Award. The news was announced today.

In an unparalleled year of pandemic disruptions, distribution plans for many theatrical releases have changed.

The decision will allow films that receive a simultaneous day and date release in theaters and on streaming to be eligible for the Theatrical award if they have a qualifying theatrical run and are marketed as a theatrical film. The National Board made this decision due to the unique and unusual circumstances facing the industry this year.

According to the announcement, the exception is being made only for the upcoming 74th Annual DGA Awards, which are scheduled for March 22, 2022. The Guild’s rule requiring “an exclusive qualifying theatrical run” will remain in effect thereafter.

The organization indicated that the exact eligibility rules will be released soon.

See Deadline’s full 2021-2022 Awards Season Calendar here.

‘The Other Two’ Renewed For Season 3 At HBO Max

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September 24, 2021 12:00pm

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The Other Two, the comedy series from former SNL co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, has scored a third-season pickup from HBO Max.

The series, which originally launched on Comedy Central before moving the WarnerMedia streamer for its second season, debuted its sophomore season on HBO Max in August. The streamer, which didn’t release viewing data, said that the show has been its most popular series since the release of Season 2 and has seen “steady growth each week” as new episodes dropped.

The comedy, which might be the only show on television that has a storyline based on Justin Bieber getting ill as a result of eating too many eggs, stars Drew Tarver, Heléne Yorke, Case Walker, Ken Marino and Molly Shannon.

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With their pop star brother, ChaseDreams (Case Walker), officially entering retirement at the ripe old age of 14, Brooke (Yorke) and Cary (Tarver) now must contend with a new famous family member: their 53-year-old mother Pat (Shannon), and her eponymous daytime talk show. Humiliated at being the Other Two yet again, they double down and make it their mission not to be.

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The Season 2 recurring cast included Brandon Scott Jones, Gideon Glick, Josh Segarra, and Wanda Sykes. Guest stars included Ali Ahn, James Anderson, Justin Bartha, Jordana Brewster, Alessia Cara, Marcia DeBonis, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Ryan Farrell, Jimmy Fowlie, Noah Galvin, Zosia Mamet, Debi Mazar, Derek Peth, Alison Rich, Tuc Watkins, Bowen Yang and Ian Ziering.

“We are deeply sickened to see HBO Max throw their support behind a show with so many foot jokes, and absolutely thrilled that it’s ours,” Kelly and Schneider said in a statement. “To everyone who watched, texted, posted, told their friends to watch — thank you. It has been overwhelming in the best way to see our show resonate with so many people, and we are incredibly grateful to HBO Max for giving us the opportunity to spend another season with this amazing cast and crew.”

Suzanna Makkos, EVP, Original Comedy and Adult Animation at HBO Max: “Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider have created a sharp and poignant family story that is willing to show its characters’ imperfections while making us laugh hysterically. It has been a true joy to welcome them and the cast to HBO Max, and I look forward to keeping them on hold with Brooke for the many conference calls to come next season.”

The Other Two is created, written and executive produced by Kelly and Schneider with exec producers also including Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer, Tony Hernandez for Jax Media, and Ari Pearce and Samantha Schles for MTV Entertainment Studio. Hilary Marx is co-exec producer and Eddie Michaels, Toye Adegboro and Kaylani Esparza are producers for Broadway Video.

Sarah Jessica Parker Opens Up About “Unbearable” Loss Of ‘Sex And The City’ Co-Star Willie Garson With Moving Instagram Post

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September 24, 2021 11:55am

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Sarah Jessica Parker paid tribute to her late Sex And The City co-star Willie Garson with a moving Instagram post on Friday.

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“It’s been unbearable,” she wrote on the social media platform. “Sometimes silence is a statement. Of the gravity. The anguish. The magnitude of the loss of a 30+ year friendship.”

Garson died on September 21 at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57 years old.

The And Just Like That… actress posted a photo compilation of she and Garson together on-screen and off-screen. The photos saw Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw hanging out with Garson’s Standford Blatch, and even saw the two actors enjoying their time in a pool together. Garson was set to appear alongside Parker, along with other Sex and the City OG’s, for the upcoming HBO Max revival series.

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Parker recalled the intimate moments she shared with her co-star, adding that their friendship “allowed for secrets, adventure, a shared professional family, truth, concerts, road trips” and much, much more.

“Willie. I will miss everything about you. And replay our last moments together. I will re-read every text from your final days and put to pen our last calls,” she continued. “Your absence a crater that I will fill with blessing of these memories and all the ones that are still recesses yet to surface.”

She closed off her social media tribute sharing Garson’s last words to her: “Great bangles all around.”

See her post below.

‘White Collar’ Stars & Creator Remember Willie Garson: “You Were the Best Of Us”

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Netflix VP Of Communications Richard Siklos Leaves The Company

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September 24, 2021 11:41am

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EXCLUSIVE: Netflix VP of communications Richard Siklos, a key public-facing figure for the streaming giant since 2017, has just announced his departure, Deadline has learned.

It isn’t clear what Siklos’s next step will be, but after serving in a senior role at Netflix, on top of a seven-year stint as a communications exec at Time Warner, he has more than a few options. Before crossing the Rubicon, Siklos was a well-established journalist known for his coverage of the media business at top-shelf publications like Fortune, The New York Times and Business Week.

Rachel Whetstone, who became chief communications officer at Netflix in 2018, described Siklos as a “skilled communicator” in a statement provided to Deadline. He “strengthened our reputation during a tremendous time of growth, and built a world-class team,” she continued. “He has been a valued and trusted advisor to many across Netflix and we wish him the best.”

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The exit follows several in the exec ranks at Netflix of late, especially in the TV group, which has been reshaped since the departure of Cindy Holland in 2020 after an 18-year run. The changes are partly a result of Netflix’s steady growth, in terms of its workforce, subscriber levels and market value, as well as its uniquely transparent culture. In his 2020 book, No Rules Rules, founder and Co-CEO Reed Hastings outlined the company’s approach to personnel and its willingness to make staffing changes at all levels without letting emotion prevail (but with a generous severance package, in most cases).

After an unprecedented wave of direct competitors hit the market in 2019 and 2020 — among them Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max — Netflix saw its subscriber growth moderate and its stock take a hit. But shares have rebounded strongly in recent months, reaching an all-time high of $615.60 in early September. Rivals have sunk billions of dollars into the effort to unseat Netflix, but the company remains the leader in streaming with 209 million subscribers and a new armload of Emmys. Last Sunday, the company equaled a nearly 50-year-old record set by CBS with 44 total wins, including its first two for series — drama for The Crown and limited series for The Queen’s Gambit.

In his role at communications VP, Siklos has focused on the U.S. and Canada, but his efforts are implemented across the nearly 200 global territories where Netflix operates. Among his duties have been serving as chief spokesperson; steering global media for Co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos; and overseeing communications teams across TV and film, corporate functions, and product and technology.

At Time Warner, a company Siklos knew well from the editorial side as a Fortune staffer and a media correspondent, he was VP of Strategic Communications. He handled corporate messaging, branding and communications before decamping once the company’s merger with AT&T was announced.

As a journalist, Siklos made frequent appearances as a TV commentator and wrote two books about Conrad Black, a fallen publishing baron originally from Siklos’s native Canada. From 2001 to 2017, he was an adjunct professor in New York University’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication. He also sits on the board of directors of the CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Foundation.

Mike Ireland & Daria Cercek Named Co-Heads Of Paramount Motion Picture Group

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September 24, 2021 11:32am

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Following Emma Wattsdeparture as President of the Motion Picture Film Group, her Co-Presidents of Production Mike Ireland and Daria Cercek are being elevated to run the film group now as co-heads.

Ireland and Cercek will report directly to Brian Robbins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures, effective pronto.

Cercek and Ireland will continue to oversee the studio’s motion picture slate from development through release for Paramount Pictures, as well as leading casting, physical production and post-production.

Jeremy Kramer will lead Paramount Players, also reporting to Robbins.

Watts
Fox

“Daria and Michael each have built tremendous track records in their careers, and their collective experience has already brought so much benefit to Paramount since joining the organization,” said Robbins in a statement. “Paramount also benefited greatly from the deep talents of Emma Watts who, among so many accomplishments, helped build a terrific team at the studio, facilitated overall deals with top-tier talent including John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds, and shepherded a number of exciting upcoming projects including the latest film in the Star Trek franchise, the newest Transformers film, and a star-studded Dungeons & Dragons adaptation. We wish her nothing but success in her future.”

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Since joining Paramount, Cercek and Ireland have been steering production on the next Transformers movie, Sandra Bullock’s The Lost CityBabylon, and Sonic The Hedgehog 2.

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Cercek joined Paramount in January as co-president of production. Prior to that, she served as EVP Production and Development at New Line Cinema overseeing such movies as the studio’s big get: Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling. Prior to New Line, Cercek was SVP of production and development at 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios), where she oversaw The Heat, The Other WomanSpy, and the last three X-Men movies.

Ireland joined Paramount in November 2020 as co-president of production. He began his career as a network executive at MTV in 2003. He joined Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, in 2007, where he helped develop The Wolf of Wall Street, among other films. Following Appian Way, he joined 20th Century Fox in 2012 as SVP of production and oversaw a slate of films including the recently-released Ryan Reynolds action-comedy Free Guy which recently cross $300M at the WW box office; a definite hit during the pandemic as moviegoing claws its way back. Ireland graduated with a degree in screenwriting from University of Southern California.

Universal Reserves Several Dates On 2024 Theatrical Release Calendar

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September 23, 2021 2:20pm

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Universal joins Disney and 20th Century Studios in planning a theatrical release schedule for 2024, however, the studio didn’t name any titles.

The only hardcore titles that has been dated in 2024 is Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s Mad Max spinoff Furiosa on May 24, Memorial Day weekend, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and 20th Century Studios’ Avatar 3 on Dec. 24.

Universal has RSVP’ed the following dates for 2024: Jan. 12, Feb. 9 (for an animated film), Wednesday, Feb. 14; March 22 (animated film), May 10, June 21, an Illumination title on Wednesday, July 3; Blumhouse film on Sept. 13, animated film on Sept. 27, Blumhouse title on Oct. 18 and a feature film on Dec. 25, which falls on a Wednesday.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s New Comedy Gets Title; Oscar Winner’s First Project In His Native Mexico Since ‘Amores Perros’

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September 23, 2021 2:00pm

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Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s next film will be titled Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths), Deadline has learned. The news comes as the five-time Oscar winner wraps production in Mexico City.

The feature penned by Iñárritu and his longtime collaborator Nicolás Giacobone is billed as a nostalgic comedy set against an epic journey. A chronicle of uncertainties where the main character, a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker, returns to his native country to face his identity, familial relationships, and the folly of his memories, as well as the past and new reality of his country.

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Daniel Jimenez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani star in the film, which marks Iñárritu’s return to his native country, 20 years after Amores Perros. Bardo comes on the heels of his Oscar winners The Revenant and Birdman, as well as his virtual installation Carne y Arena.

Oscar nominee Darius Khondji (Uncut Gems, Okja) photographed the indie produced by Iñárritu, with Oscar winner Eugenio Caballero (Roma, Pan’s Labyrinth) serving as production designer and Anna Terrazas (Roma, The Deuce) as costume designer.

Check out a new behind-the-scenes image from the film, released today by the filmmaker, above.

‘Mayans M.C.’:Frankie Loyal, Joseph Lucero, & Vincent Vargas Upped To Series Regulars

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September 23, 2021 1:57pm

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(L-R) Frankie Loyal, Joseph Lucero and Vincent Vargas
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EXCLUSIVE: FX’s Mayans M.C. is patching in Frankie Loyal, Joseph Lucero, and Vincent Vargas as series regulars for season 4 of the biker drama slated to return in early 2022.

The trio took on larger roles in season 3 which saw their characters Hank Loza, Neron “Creeper” Vargas, and Gilly Lopez, respectively, flourish and develop into fully rounded characters with storylines fans embraced fully. Loyal, Lucero, and Vargas have been a part of the series throughout its three-season run.

Mayans M.C., a spin-off series of the network’s hit Sons of Anarchy, follows a motley crew of Latino men who found a family in the motorcycle club charter Santo Padre on the California and Mexico border. While the story is about the M.C., it also features powerful female characters that are bold and powerful in their own right.

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The character of E.Z. Reyes (JD Pardo) is at the center of the story as he finds his place in the gray area of a world that is mostly black and white.

It’s helmed by co-creator and executive producer Elgin James; and co-stars Clayton Cardenas, Danny Pino, Richard Cabral, Michael Irby, Carla Baratta, Sarah Bolger, Emilio Rivera, Edward James Olmos, Raoul Trujillo, Emily Tosta, and Sulem Calderon.

Loyal, whose character Hank serves as Sergeant-of-Arms to the M.C., guest-starred on FX’s Better Things opposite Pamela Adlon. On the big screen, he starred in The Deep End alongside Tilda Swinton and Goran Visnjic. He will next be seen in the drama feature Die Like A Man.

Loyal is repped by Amsel, Eisenstadt, Frazier & Hinojosa, Inc., and managed by Spellbound Entertainment.

Lucero made his debut in the 2006 drama Gridiron Gang alongside Dwayne Johnson, Xzibit, Moe McCrae, and Jurnee Smollett. He was also featured in Father G and the Homeboys, an award-winning documentary chronicling Father Greg Boyle’s work with Los Angeles’ toughest gang members. Lucero’s television credits include Dirt, ER, The Shield, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, The Closer, Shameless, S.W.A.T., and FBI.

He is repped by Greene Talent and attorney Mark Temple.

Vargas is a veteran of the U.S. Army that served three combat deployments who continues to serve his country today for the Army Reserve. In 2009, he became a Federal Agent with the Department of Homeland Security and was a Medic with the Special Operations Group.

He has starred and produced several films including Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace (co-executive producer), Not a War Story (executive producer), and Dads in Parks (writer). Vargas pulled double duty since season 2 on Mayans M.C. as recurring star and technical advisor.

He is repped by Stewart Talent.

Frances McDormand & Joel Coen Answer All Questions On Eve Of New York Film Festival Opener ‘The Tragedy Of Macbeth’

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September 23, 2021 1:36pm

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“The Tragedy Of Macbeth”
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EXCLUSIVE: Tomorrow, the New York Film Festival opens with the World Premiere of The Tragedy of Macbeth, the Shakespearean thriller adapted and directed by Joel Coen, and starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, alongside an accomplished cast. Coen, Washington and McDormand have 10 Oscars between them, and the film from Apple and A24 lands smack in the middle of another awards season and I expect it to quickly establish itself in the race. Sticking with the chilling dialogue from Shakespeare, the film about a man who with his loyal wife plots the murder of the popular Scottish king for his crown takes on a style all his own. Coen’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are older than in most productions, and Coen’s decision to shoot in black and white creates shadows and textures that ratchet up the elements of the supernatural and horror. Right down to a haunting portrayal as each of the three witches by stage veteran Kathryn Hunter (whose vocal and physical manifestations Andy Serkis might marvel over). Here McDormand and Coen discuss the film, the controversy over producer Scott Rudin taking his name off the credits after a bullying scandal, Coen working without his brother Ethan for the first time in decades, to what surprisingly will be a short but illustrious producing career for McDormand. And how they have done great work together and stayed in their lanes in ways that have fortified their long marriage.

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New York Film Festival To Open With Joel Coen's 'The Tragedy Of Macbeth' In Return To In-Person Lincoln Center Mode

DEADLINE: Fran, you went to Yale Drama, and you came up on the stage. How many times have you gotten to play Lady Macbeth?

Joel Coen, Frances McDormand
Mega

FRANCES MCDORMAND: When I was first reading Shakespeare in English in seventh grade English class, I had a teacher who, the first thing we read was Macbeth. A lot of English teachers start with Macbeth because it’s a good one for 14-year-olds. It’s really good. It’s scary, it’s spooky, it’s got murder, mayhem, and witches, and so we put together some scenes. She said, let’s memorize them and we’ll do them after school for your parents. I did the sleepwalking scene and a couple of the witches’ scenes. Literally, now I know that was when the hook went in and it’s never gone out, in terms of wanting to be an actor. And I just kind of pursued that my entire life.

I’ve auditioned a couple of times for productions of Macbeth, but I never really pursued it until I did it at Berkeley Rep, probably six years ago, when I was 56, 57. I’m really glad I didn’t do it until then. You know what? It’s a small supporting role, Lady Macbeth, and I didn’t want to be in a bad production of it. So I waited until I could work with Dan Sullivan and Conleth Hill, who played Macbeth in Berkeley, at a theater that I really respect, and then with Joel and Denzel. I’m so glad I didn’t do it when I was younger, I’m really glad I waited because it also led us to this interpretation that I think is really fascinating. That is one of an older couple who is at the end of their ambition rather than at the beginning.

DEADLINE: I’m no Shakespearean scholar, but I looked this up on Wikipedia and saw that Lord Macbeth was 52 when he died. Denzel Washington is 66. 

JOEL COEN: Interesting.

DEADLINE: In a lot of the productions of Macbeth we’ve seen, the main character and his wife were played by actors of a younger age. How did putting years on those main characters change the dynamic of this drama compared to what we were used to seeing?

COEN: When Fran and I first talked about doing this, it was interesting to me that at that point in both of our lives and careers we were older, and therefore it would have to reflect an older couple. I’m also not a Shakespearean scholar in any respect, but the more I got into the play, I started to think that the age was giving it a dimension which was interesting to me because Fran and I were older at that point, and the way to think about it was in terms of your own life and your own experience. Actually there were two things about that. One is, of all the heterosexual relationships in Shakespeare there are a lot of good ones, but there’s only really one good marriage. And that’s the marriage of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. They happen to be plotting to kill someone, but the marriage is good. That was an aspect I wanted to explore in this adaptation, but I also thought it’s even more interesting to explore it if the marriage is a substantial marriage and they’re an older couple.

It’s interesting that you say the age of the historical Macbeth. Traditionally, this is usually a play done by younger people. There is a very interesting interview with Roman Polanski where he says the opposite. He is saying, you know, usually Macbeth is an older couple and I wanted to do a young couple. I was like, really? That’s not my experience with Macbeth. Usually it’s cast younger, but it was very much part of the conception of this from the beginning.

DEADLINE: It did feel like the narrative went from coveting the crown and Macbeth’s own ambition enough to kill a most popular king to something more like, this is our last chance to seize it. How challenging was that to get across when the actors are still reciting Shakespeare dialogue time tested since the early 1600s.

MCDORMAND: We changed the tense in one line, from present to past tense, because there’s really only one line in the play that jumped out for us in terms of them being post-menopausal. The fact that they cannot produce children and that they hadn’t successfully kept a child alive seemed to be a real part of the depth of their sorrow. My idea was that Lady Macbeth’s job was to produce an heir. That’s her political job, that would be her job, as queen. And because she can’t get him that, she can help get him the crown. She can at least give him the crown. Also, it’s going to keep her alive. In that society at that time, women were expendable, and if she doesn’t perform her job then…so, I always found that to be really interesting politics. The line that we changed was, ‘bring forth men children only, your undaunted mettle should have composed nothing but males.’ Rather than ‘should’ compose. But we didn’t mess with it that much, did we, Joel?

COEN: No. Just to follow through on that, this does dovetail with the fact that they’re an older couple. The play is very much is concerned with issues of time; the word time appears maybe 30 or 40 times in the play. Time is all over this play, the obsession with the passage of time, Macbeth’s obsession with the fact that he may be king but his heirs won’t be kings. The obsession with the future is very much a part of the play, and when you start to think about all those things which Shakespeare weaves into the play about time, and then you add the dimension of the fact that the couple is not a young couple but an older couple, it takes on different colors. If you’re going to grab the brass ring, it had better happen now.

DEADLINE: How did you get Denzel to say yes?

Art Garcia/Sipa USA/AP

COEN: Oh, it was so easy. Maybe five or six years ago, Denzel and I had lunch together and we talked very generally about, it would be cool to work together at some point, if the right thing came along for him and for us. So, when we were casting this movie, it was very much…Denzel? And it was [like you heard a] click. I got together with him at, again for lunch in LA, and I said, what about doing Macbeth? And he was like, yeah, cool.

MCDORMAND: It couldn’t have been more perfect, actually. There aren’t many actors, contemporaries of my age, that could handle the character but also who consistently does theater the way Denzel does. Even though he and I, the majority of the time we’re working on film, we have also been really committed to doing theaters our entire careers. And he had recently done The Iceman Cometh, which is a huge monster of a memory job. We were like, oh, he can probably pull this off, just technically.

COEN: He also has a long history of doing Shakespeare, and everything felt right about it and it wasn’t like he needed to think a long time about it at that lunch. It was like, yeah, okay, so know, what do we do?

DEADLINE: That is a good lunch. Who paid the check?

COEN: That’s a really good question. You know what? It was in a place that Denzel goes to a lot, so I think I let him. I think he had a tab there.

DEADLINE: Fran, this is a departure for Joel, who directed the first time without his brother Ethan, and has done his first Shakespeare adaptation. How much did your stage turn as Lady Macbeth lead to this?

MCDORMAND: Joel saw that production and we also talked a lot about my performance, and it had a lot to do with the reason we wanted to collaborate on Joel’s adaptation. Over the years I had often said to Joel, what about Macbeth? Let’s do Macbeth on stage, and he always responded with, ‘no, I’m not interested, nor would I be good at a stage production. I don’t like rehearsal, I like the design and the shooting of a film.’

COEN: Now, that’s not true. I don’t think I said I don’t like rehearsal. I said, thinking about it from the point of view of the stage is thinking about it from one visual perspective, which is the audience looking at it. The issue is, the way my brain works. My brain works in terms of breaking things down for a camera, and so that’s why I said to Fran…

MCDORMAND: So anyway, I never got anywhere talking you into doing it on stage, but when we started talking about what we’d like to do together in the future, it was on the list, and it swiftly moved to the top of the list. We and then Joel…we also have a really, really dear friend who was a professor of Shakespeare in Montreal for years, and he and Joel and Hanford [Woods] met often.

COEN: I thought it would be interesting to read the play a number of times with this old friend and question him about things like the history of the production of the play, and just interrogate the text with him because I’m not a Shakespeare scholar and this is out of my wheelhouse. It was a deep dive into something that was new to me, and I wanted to examine it with someone who knew it very well to see which ways to go and what was going to be interesting.

DEADLINE: The cast is very diverse.

MCDORMAND: As always happens, you must adapt to the company that you’re in, and one of the most exciting things about our company in Joel’s adaptation is that we’re a very mixed company. Some of us are American English speakers, some of us are British English speakers, some of us are Irish English speakers, some of us are trained Shakespearean actors, others like Denzel and I have done some but not a lot as opposed to Kathryn Hunter and Alex Hassell. There was a lot of variation in our expertise, but when it came to our company, we created a style and a language for working together for almost a month of rehearsal together, so that time we had in a kind of classic rehearsal space really set the tone, I think. Don’t you, Joel? So, we really got to sit around the table with the language and then Joel taped out the kind of topography of what the set is going to be, so we were actually able to get up on our feet and work in a space that was going to be similar to what we eventually shot on.

COEN: It was nice to have that. It is rare you get to rehearse that length of time. This was not a lengthy shoot, 35-36-days which is the shortest, I think, that I’ve ever made a movie.

DEADLINE: People who have followed the films you’ve made with your brother Ethan might recognize some of the themes here that you’ve been drawn to in your films. There is a crime, and there’s going to be a price to be paid, and then it’s the journey of seeing how it plays out. There are elements of that in everything from Blood Simple to No Country For Old Men to Fargo. Even though you adhere to 400-year old Shakespeare dialogue, was that a personal connection to the material that helped?

COEN: Oh, absolutely. I think that’s what drew me to this particular play, and why this was more interesting to me than adaptations of other works of Shakespeare. Even as a kid, seeing productions of Macbeth was stimulating for me for all the reasons that you’re saying. There are a number of things here. It’s a very short play, the shortest tragedy that Shakespeare wrote. And in addition to being one of the greatest writers in the English language, Shakespeare was a writer of popular entertainment. That’s what these plays were about, and this particular play prefigures so many tropes of American popular entertainment, dramatic and literary entertainment and pulp entertainment. It’s a couple, plotting a murder. That essentially is American pulp noir fiction. That’s James M Cain, another writer we’ve always been fascinated with, both myself and my brother. And then, there are witches in this. There are elements of a horror movie in this.

All of these things which are very sort of close to my heart and my history in terms of things that I’ve been making over the last 35-40 years with my brother can be found in this play. So, it absolutely was at the top of our thinking about it.

DEADLINE: You say Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, but I read in the press notes you made it even shorter…

COEN: Yeah.

DEADLINE: What was not there and why did you do that?

COEN: Okay, so there are two ways in which the text, if you look at the sort of complete text of the play and then you look at it next to what you’re seeing on screen, are different. The first is that there’s a certain amount that is edited out. It’s not a lot, actually, because it was very important to me, that we do the verse and that we do the play and we’re not condensing it or abridging it too radically.

The places where it is abridged, it’s abridged not just for concision but mostly for pace. In reading the play, what I found was that — and this is tied up with another issue which is how people listen to the verse and how familiar they are with understanding the verse — when you read the play, what Shakespeare does a lot is he constructs a scene that has a dramatic point, it’s got a narrative point, it’s beautiful poetry, you get the point of the scene, and then he often elaborates, he embroiders with even sometimes more beautiful poetry, and makes another sort of subsidiary point but less important to the drama.

All those things are beautiful to see in the theater, but if you’re making a thriller, you want it to march along at a really terrific pace. To me that was a way of involving more and more people in the story who don’t normally go and see Shakespeare, and it was a way of bringing it more into a kind of idiom that would be accessible to people who don’t necessarily see or read a lot of Shakespeare. So, that was number one.

Number two is that often in that embroidery, the metaphors, the language, the poetry involves language which is more obscure to a modern ear, and I didn’t want the audience to get too hung up with the fact that, I don’t quite understand what that word means? And so was a delicate dance between doing that and not dumbing it down. I wanted it to be the real play, I wanted it to be the whole experience of the play. That was also a lot of the discussion I had with Hanford as we were going through it. I was going, supposing this gets cut and this gets cut and this gets cut? I want to say that most of the time that people do Shakespeare either on stage, in movies or on stage, there is usually some editing going on, you know? Some plays more than others, but there is usually a certain amount of editing going on.

The other part, the way in which the text was modified or rearranged is that often in Shakespeare, and Macbeth is no exception, there are soliloquies that are not addressed to anyone. They’re essentially internal thoughts, and traditionally in movie adaptations what happens is you have the actor sort of sitting there thinking, and you’re hearing him voice over the soliloquy. That’s the Polanski version, I mean, most versions of movie edits. I always thought, you know, you’re hearing a voiceover but it looks like the actor, he’s not actually speaking it as he would on stage, and I don’t know, he could be thinking about his lunch or where he’s going to go after the show is over. I just didn’t like it, so I wanted everything, even the soliloquies, to be spoken. But I didn’t want the soliloquies to be spoken to a fourth wall, to the audience out there. I wanted to combine them, I wanted to adapt it into the context of the scene, and it occurred to me a certain way through the play that most of Macbeth’s soliloquies, not all of them, are actually about information that actually one other character in the play knows about, and it doesn’t matter if it’s shared with that person, and that’s Lady Macbeth. So, some of those soliloquies got wrapped into scenes with Lady Macbeth where he’s actually speaking those things to her.

DEADLINE: Another innovation here is the black and white, and the shadows and spare nature of the castle. It reinforces the horror and witches part Joel spoke about. What were you going for here, and how did you make that happen?

COEN: That’s a really good question and really hard to answer because tone is really what it’s all about. When you get right down to it, that’s kind of like the whole ballgame. But it’s a hard question to answer in terms of, like, real intentionality. You tend to reverse engineer what your own thinking was. I think it started, to a certain extent, with the idea that the whole thing is a bit of an abstraction. First of all, it’s a play, right, and that in and of itself is make believe, not real. And then it’s, okay, what’s the context of this play that you’re trying to make into a movie? Well, let’s go with the make-believe part of it. Let’s make the sets also a little bit abstract. Let’s not make the play specifically…let’s say the play is really not about Scotland, it’s about other things. Let’s say all of those things and then you say, well, okay, what’s the context for that? And I think we started looking at things like German expressionism, those sort of movies, drier movies, movies from Germany, UFA from the twenties and thirties and those kind of things and what they were up to and that kind of stage design.

Beyond that, you go tonally, what do we want it to be? We want it to be…it’s a thriller, so let’s make it…there’s a darkness to it. There’s a bit of a horror movie, a darkness to it. So how do we incorporate that into it and make it a little bit spookier? All of those things contributed to an idea of tone that you have roughly in the back of your mind, and then trying, you just go, well, that fits or that doesn’t fit.

This predates this movie in a strange sort of a way. If I could make every movie in black and white and in a kind of flat aspect ratio, which is what we were using here, I think I would, just because personally it’s very vibey for me. It’s something I really like.

But if I think about why that is, one of the reasons why, and it’s especially relevant to this movie probably more so than anything I’ve ever done before, is that when you make something in black and white you are instantly abstracting the image. By taking color away, already you’ve tipped the image over towards abstraction, but it’s a kind of abstraction that everyone goes with. People, they understand what a black and white image is in relation to reality or to a color image. That kind of abstraction is something that I think was important to this movie because it’s not about reality. We weren’t going for, let’s do 12th century Scotland and shooting a castle and all that kind of thing, and then ride horses over the moors, you know? It was, let’s do it more like a theater piece where there’s a certain amount of abstraction in the whole idea, the design, the time period, and all the rest of it. So, black and white just puts you one step down that path already.

DEADLINE: So you didn’t have to shoot in some old castle…

COEN: It was all on a soundstage. Everything was built. I don’t think there’s a single exterior shot…a shot in the movie that was shot outside except an element of the last shot in the movie.

DEADLINE: This film was originally hatched with producer Scott Rudin, with whom you collaborated on in the Best Picture Oscar winner No Country for Old Men and other things. His name is not in the credits; he put himself on sabbatical after his bullying behavior toward subordinates was exposed by THR. His bullying was widely known in industry circles, but presented and reframed by THR in this #MeToo moment, it created an outcry for him to be gone, despite him being an undeniable champion of taste making subject matter like The Tragedy of Macbeth, which has always been hardest to get made. There was a report there that both of you witnessed an outburst by him toward an underling, and not reacting. It has nothing to do with what I just saw onscreen, but it is out there. What can you say about all this?

COEN: To work backwards from your question. I’ve made a number of movies with Scott over the years. I’ve known him since I started making movies, probably when he was head of production at Fox on our second movie, but if you look at all of the producers out there in the world, there aren’t that many who you would say, well, making an adaptation of Macbeth is a natural fit for the two of us. I mean, there’s Scott and then there’s nobody else that you would say that about. So, knowing him and having made movies with him, he seemed absolutely natural to go to with this, and in fact, he was. So, that’s that part of it.

As far as the allegations and Scott’s behavior, yes, I think there isn’t anyone who works in the business who hasn’t heard those stories over the last however many decades that Scott has been working. Yeah. I hear stories about all kinds of people, I myself have witnessed all kinds of behavior. I never witnessed any of it with Scott, absolutely never. But on the other hand, I heard the stories and to a certain extent, I didn’t doubt the stories. I knew there was…you hear a lot of it and you figure a lot of it is probably true. But like I say, I hear stories about lots of people and I’ve seen questionable behavior from lots of people, but I never, ever saw anything like that from Scott. I don’t condone it, of course, but I never saw it.

As far as people saying that we did, I just want to say this. I’ve been making movies for almost 40 years, Fran has been making movies that long, I think both Fran and I have reputations, and you can ask anybody we’ve worked with, for being aboveboard and honest, and the honest truth is I never saw it. So, I know I’m being honest about that. You can ask anybody who knows us whether they believe we’re honest about that.

So from my point of view, whoever is saying we did see it is not being honest. So, that makes me skeptical of anything else that particular person might be saying.

MCDORMAND: Joel, since you’re speaking for both of us, I would like to interject, since you’re speaking for both of us, that I think the most important thing that Joel has said is that we have worked with Scott for many years, we have not witnessed his disrespectful bully behavior to his employees, and what Joel has just said, anyone that questions our reputation should speak to us about that. Because I think anybody in that industry would not question our reputation when it comes…we do not handle ourselves that way professionally or personally. So, I think that’s enough.

And so I’m really interested, this article in Deadline, is it about the film? It is.

DEADLINE: Totally.

MCDORMAND: And so, this question, I think, is not what the article is about, so I think we probably addressed it enough. Is there anything else you wanted to ask us?

DEADLINE: About this?

MCDORMAND: No, about anything else?

DEADLINE: Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah.

MCDORMAND: [She smiles brightly]. Oh, great. What is it?

DEADLINE: Fran, producing is something that you’ve added to your repertoire, and the results are undeniable. After starting with Every Secret Thing, you championed and produced Olive Kitteridge and it won eight Emmys. And then came Nomadland, which won the Best Picture Oscar, one for Chloé Zhao as only the second female Best Director winners, and one for you as an actress. What’s the most rewarding and challenging things about being the producer of vehicles? I can remember some of those scenes in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was an Oscar tape I watched with my son, and we would have to stop, look at each other gobsmacked, and we had to rewind to watch again because the dialogue and emotion was so good. That’s got to require a lot of concentration. And yet you’re off to an enviable start producing these things also.

MCDORMAND: Well, thankfully I didn’t produce Three Billboards.

DEADLINE: Why?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Searchlight

MCDORMAND: That was really exciting, because it was in between all these other things I was producing. It was so relaxing just to be hired again as an actor, especially because Martin [McDonagh] wrote the role for me. So, that was really gratifying to know that I didn’t have to go back to work. Because one of the things that happened with Olive Kitteridge was for years I played supporting roles to male protagonists in film, and the more interesting roles that I got to play where in the theater. That’s why I often went back to the theater, because theater has space for female protagonists. It was also aligned at the same time when our son, Pedro, was graduating from high school, going on to his next move. I knew I was going to be bereft as a parent, I needed to fill my time, and so I started producing.

And for many reasons, and a lot of them being the fact that I had Joel and Ethan as mentors, and not as some people think, co-producers — because they had not been my co-producers until The Tragedy — a lot of people think Joel is going to show up, and lo and behold he doesn’t. It’s just me, but I had a kind of late in life career change that was really successful.

And frankly, I’m done. I just produced Sarah Polley’s new film with Dede Gardner, Plan B, and Emily Foley, my producing partner in my production company, they’re filming now. And what I realize is, I need a break, man.

DEADLINE: Really?

MCDORMAND: It’s been a full-on ten years, and I’m really glad you mentioned Every Secret Thing, actually, because that was the first thing I produced. It was a really successful attempt, not a very successful film, but a very successful attempt. There’s been a lot more than the ones that have been acknowledged by the industry, but what else can I do? I think I’ll go back working for hire again now. It’s easier. Absolutely. I just want Joel to call me and tell me that I’m acting in something in a couple of months, and I’ll show up.

DEADLINE: Was there a part of producing that led you to this change of heart? I can see the appeal of being able to shape something from the ground up. What did you find that were less fulfilling than breathing fire in a movie like Three Billboards?

MCDORMAND: Well, it’s not that it’s not satisfying. It’s just so completely…consuming. It’s a full-time job for at least three years, from the development. From optioning a novel, finding a writer, working with a writer, working with a director, casting, preproduction, production, post-production, marketing, and then the fucking awards seasons. I mean, it never ends, and I say fucking because that’s not the part that any of us do it for, but then it ends up being a full-time job. It’s just never ending. I think that if I had attempted it in my twenties or thirties, I wouldn’t have been good at it, for one thing. I didn’t know anything, but I would have maybe wanted to pursue it farther. But now I kind of…I’ll know when I’m ready to do it again, but it’s not for a long time.

DEADLINE: Joel, as I watch the films you and Ethan made with Fran, it does occur to me because you are also married. What can you possibly tell her about how to make her performance any better?

COEN: Well, it’s always…it’s never about making the performance better, it’s always…I think with the stuff that we’ve done together, and with anybody, really, it’s more about specific things. You go, what if it was like this, or what if you did this when you said that. It gets really specific, so it’s more like…and then…

MCDORMAND: Oh my God.

COEN:…it’s a discussion, you know? Like, a good example is, I’m trying to think. Well, okay, a good example is when we were doing the ‘come you spirits…

MCDORMAND: ‘…that tend on mortal thoughts.’

COEN: Yes. Early in the movie when we’re with Lady Macbeth, and I said, what if you sat down on the bed and then you laid down on the bed and said this. Which was not the way Fran had done it, obviously, on stage, and implies a kind of different delivery and tone and all of those kinds of things, very different from what she had done before, and so that was a discussion, right?

MCDORMAND: Right, but you have to understand, and of course you know, everybody knows, it’s how we met. We met on Blood Simple, we met working together, we’ve always had a really, really successful working relationship, and I think that one of the things I believe both of us are the most proud of us, that not only have we collaborated as an actor and director for 38 years, we’ve collaborated as life partners for 38 years, we raised our son and have created an extraordinary kind of performance piece of a life together, right?

So, one of the things that is the foundation of it is that when we go back to work…like, come on, we don’t always work that well at home putting together a window treatment. That can be a real pain in the ass, but on the set, we know exactly…we do…it’s not unlike the way Joel…like, people are always asking about Joel and Ethan, they always ask me, well, you know, what’s it like when they work together? Do they argue? No, they don’t, because when you’ve got a good working relationship you fill in the gaps. Everybody knows what their job is, I know what my job is, I don’t try to do his job.

I think that what was interesting for me on The Tragedy, we call it The Tragedy, that we worked with so many people on The Tragedy that we’ve worked with for the last 35 years, and I think sometimes they would look over at me and they would look at me and they’d look at Joel and say, are we supposed to be listening to her? What is she doing here? Because they weren’t used to me being in a different capacity, there in a different capacity.

Blood Simple
Circle Films

COEN: Sure, but there’s one other aspect of what you’re asking about which is interesting too, it just occurred to me, actually. Which is that, when we started on the very first movie that we did together, neither of us had Oscars at that point, but my assumption about Fran at that point was she knows much more about acting than I do. Even though she had just gotten out of drama school, and had only one or two other jobs. Still, I thought, well, she’s a trained actor, she’s gone to drama school. I don’t know what actors do. I mean, that was my first movie. I was, like, you’re the expert in terms of the acting, I assumed. And I think Fran, even though I’d never made a movie before, kind of assumed, well, you’re the expert in terms of what’s happening with the camera and how you make this thing. We didn’t really have a lot of evidence or right to make those assumptions, necessarily, about one another, but we did for some reason.

MCDORMAND: Yeah. Yeah, and then we…and Joel, we just stuck to that for the last 38 years.

DEADLINE: At the risk of prying a little bit, Joel, you cast Fran in Blood Simple, and when does it become more of a personal relationship? Was there something specific that happened?

MCDORMAND: Well, see, this is also interesting because…we had never worked professionally. Joel had made student films and I had done theater, but we both also had this other assumption, that it was very unprofessional to get involved with people you were working with.

COEN: Yeah.

MCDORMAND: You know, I’d never been directed in a film and he’d never directed an actor, but we thought it was very unseemly to…have an affair with the director or with an actress, so we were actually very discreet and really didn’t create a relationship until we finished shooting. And then it became much more apparent that we, I daresay, couldn’t live without each other, and so we made it happen. Right, Joel?

COEN: Yeah. I think that’s accurate. There was a sense of propriety, I guess, in a certain way, and also even like, really, is this…yeah. I don’t know, but I think in that respect we were respectful of each other’s agency in the project we were doing, and it was an issue, but yeah, I mean…it is very interesting. I think it’s an interesting question, because there were assumptions there about whether either of us knew what we were doing without any evidence.

MCDORMAND: Right. I mean, it’s also…I was just joking with somebody yesterday, they were talking about how, especially with people our age, often you meet people who’ve had professional career changes. We were talking with somebody the other day who used to be an anesthesiologist and now cleans people’s pools. And we were going, whoa, that’s a really different career, but the idea that you bring to…I don’t even know why I brought that up. Why did I even bring that up, Joel?

COEN: I have no idea. See it through.

MCDORMAND: This is how you free associate at 64. I don’t know why I brought it up.

DEADLINE: Sometimes you get lucky and find what you’re meant to do early, as you guys did personally and professionally. For me, I don’t do anything else that competently and I met my wife in college, and that was that. I was on a cruise ship once and this comedian was asking this guy who had like a fiftieth anniversary, and they were like, you know, what’s your secret, and he just kind of looked like confused, but said, I didn’t die. If you love what you’re doing, and realize what you have, sometimes longevity results. As for me, Marge Gunderson makes it all worthwhile.

Fargo
Everett

MCDORMAND: Well, I’m glad, because yeah, we’ve always thought of Fargo as our family movie. We made it a couple of months before we met our son, Pedro. He’s adopted from Paraguay, so we were kind of keeping ourselves busy before we met him and getting in sync. By the time we met him, we could change diapers and figure out the sleeping patterns a little easier because we’d been up all night shooting Fargo. Right, Joel?

COEN: Pretty much.

DEADLINE: Well, for what it’s worth, we still quote Marge Gunderson dialogue in my house. So Joel, you and your brother Ethan have always worked together. I wouldn’t say it was two halves of a brain, but you could see in interviews that you seemed to share a sensibility. What was it like on this film, looking over and not seeing him standing next to you?

COEN: Well, it was weird. And unquestionably there were…you know, I missed him, right? There were moments when I missed him. You don’t do something for 35 years with someone and then all of a sudden go off and do it by yourself, especially since it was without exception a productive and wonderful collaboration that I’ve had with him on all of those movies. So, yeah, there were plenty of times when I missed Ethan.

But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. I think there were a couple of things about this particular project. You know, when you say that people assume it’s sort of two halves of one brain or we share identical sensibilities or interests, that part of it is actually not true. I mean, what our careers are and our collaboration together is reflective of those points of intersection where we share interests in the same thing. You know, if you say, I’m interested in this and he’s interested in this, but what we do are only the places, the movies are the places where those cross, where we actually share them, right?

Not like we don’t have different interests and different ideas and predilections and all the rest of it. After 35, almost 40 years of working with my brother, we both were like, you know, we’re getting on. There are things that we want to do that we kind of take a break from each other and we pursue other things, and I think that this play in particular, doing Shakespeare is probably something that Ethan wouldn’t have been as interested in doing. And he’s doing things now that I’m not that interested in doing, and we’ve always done that when we aren’t making movies.

I mean, to a certain extent people go, why aren’t you…what’s going on? Why aren’t you working with your brother? And I go, give me a break. We’ve worked for 40 years together, for Christ’s sake. I’m 67 years old. Are you serious? It seems more natural than unnatural that there would be a point where you kind of go, I’ll do this and you’ll do that. It doesn’t mean we’ll never work together again, it just means that here we’re not.

DEADLINE: Fran, what did you miss most about Ethan?

MCDORMAND: Well, I didn’t miss him in the way that Joel missed him on The Tragedy because I don’t have that relationship with him. I had a relationship with Ethan…I also have a familial relationship with Ethan that he and Joel experienced on a daily basis when they worked together, but for me it would be at holidays and film festivals when our families all got together. So I don’t really miss Ethan because I still get to see Ethan, and in fact, because they’re not working together, we see Ethan…I get to see him more because we have dinner with them. Joel, when they worked together, they were tired of each other. They didn’t want to have dinner with each other. Now we actually seek out more time with them that I get to experience. So, for me I didn’t miss him.

And I think that also, we’ve been celebrating…Ethan has had a whole career in the theater in the last ten to fifteen years. He started writing plays and having them produced, and we’ve been celebrating that with him for a long time. So this was, for me, watching Joel kind of…Joel has other pursuits that aren’t necessarily as public as Ethan’s in the theater, but this is the first time that Joel has gone from soup to nuts with an idea of his own. So that was really exciting for me, and I think it was exciting for Ethan too.

He came to visit and it was great because he came to visit and he really enjoyed being there because he didn’t have to work. He sat by the monitor and he hung out with Joel, and he saw everybody that he has worked with. And then he texted me the next day and he said, that was so great, I loved being there, and I’m right, I don’t want to do it for a while. That’s a lot of work. I’m tired.

So, I think that’s also something. You know, we’re going to work, Joel and I and Ethan, we’re all going to work until we drop. That’s just what we do, that’s our ethic. We have a work ethic that means we’re not going to stop what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years, we’re going to continue to do it. But like Joel says, we’ve always taken risk, we’ve always shaken it up, we’re going to continue to do it.

DEADLINE: When I watched Tragedy, I thought to myself, I can see and hear that they want a younger audience to give Shakespeare a chance, and not be turned off by the language. How much did you see this as an opportunity to bring Shakespeare to the younger audience, and what can you do to see that happens?

COEN: You know…

MCDORMAND: Oh, Joel, can I just…I want to say something right off the bat, because don’t underestimate the younger audience, man. If anything, we should worry about our own generation, but the younger audience, their exposure to maybe not the language, necessarily, but their exposure to a wider range of entertainment, I think is so much broader than we might imagine. Go ahead, Joel. Sorry. I just wanted to get that in there. I don’t think we have to worry about them. I think they’ll come.

COEN: The short answer from my point of view is that it was primary, and if you want to sort of say both a younger audience and also, as I said before, an audience that, whether young, middle-aged, or old, isn’t necessarily the usual audience for Shakespeare, or has preconceptions about Shakespeare or difficulties with what they’ve seen of Shakespeare in the past, that was the audience that I wanted to address. The Shakespeare audience, the people who see every Shakespeare play or know the play inside out, weirdly I’m much less concerned about and not less, maybe even less interested in, a little bit. It was the audience that doesn’t. I thought that would be really exciting to address and stimulate.

And so all of those decisions that we were talking about before, you know, what was edited, how it was cast, what the tone was, what the pace was, what was the parts of the play that we wanted to bring out more, all of those things I think were really primary to that question, which was yes, that was the interest in doing this this way, and that it’s a movie and they can feel like a movie-movie, as opposed to an exercise or an “adaptation of Shakespeare”.

MCDORMAND: Right. It wasn’t an intellectual exercise. It was actually an exercise in entertainment. What I mean by what I was saying is, I watched every season of Game of Thrones. I love Marvel movies. Because we have a 27-year-old son, who loves mythological stories, Vikings, and Game of Thrones, I’ve seen all of them. And they make up their own language where they have these linguists who come in and make up a language for all the different people that populate those stories. So, I feel like there is something…it’s this prejudice that people have kind of laid on film audiences saying, oh, they’re not capable of letting their imagination expand into this world.

And I think, to Joel’s credit, he has made enough movies to be able to take this and know…I mean, you never know exactly if it’s going to work, but if you’re saying you want to offer it to a wider audience, you can figure out a way to do it. It’s not the language. The language is very easy because Shakespeare was doing it too. He had a peanut gallery. There were some people that didn’t understand every joke about the kings and the politicians he was making, right, Joel? I mean, he had all different types of audience members.

COEN: Yeah. I think the fundamental thing was that he wasn’t…

MCDORMAND: He was a populist.

COEN: He wasn’t an elite dramatist. He was a dramatist who was writing for the masses and that this was, in its day, popular entertainment. Even though it also happens to be great literature, even though he was aware of the fact he was writing for King James or whoever was in power at that point, that there were all these other sort of considerations, and aspects to his plays. Still he was a popular entertainer, and that was something that we wanted to bring into this.

You know, the Game of Thrones thing, that’s a somewhat different argument from what I was making, because I think that kids are always into science fiction and sorcery, and that’s not the thing that’s stopping kids from watching Shakespeare. I don’t agree with that. They’re there already with those things. Shakespeare is a particular thing and it’s the stigma of Shakespeare in a way, in a lot of people’s minds. It’s that that I was trying to overcome. It’s that that I was trying to get past. So, it’s a little bit different, my point of view on that, is a little bit different from what she is saying. I didn’t want people to hear Shakespeare and go, oh, shit, no, that’s not for me.

DEADLINE: I can see that as being a challenge. You know…

MCDORMAND: Well, do you think we were successful?

DEADLINE: Yeah. I do because it played like a thriller down to that last scene, which shook me a bit. The climactic battle scene, breathtaking, and it said everything about how tragic a figure Macbeth and his wife had become, in their last chance power grab.

MCDORMAND: Yay. Me, too. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to split because I’ve got some plants coming in.

DEADLINE: Just one more, please.

MCDORMAND: Yes. Yes.

DEADLINE: When you gave your Oscar speech a few years ago and mentioned ‘inclusion rider,’ it felt like a stepping stone for inclusion, and Nomadland felt like another. Since you made that speech, what do you think of the changes in this business? Are we moving fast enough?

Nomadland
Searchlight Pictures

MCDORMAND: I really believe that it is going in the right direction. It shouldn’t go too fast because then the good work gets cancelled by the speed of change, but I have to say that what I learned working with Chloé Zhao on Nomadland is that we are the ones that need to think hard about diversity. Because filmmakers of her generation are already working with diverse crews because, that’s who they’re coming up with. Their generation is already more diverse. They’re already more interracially mixed than our generations were. We’re the ones that need to step out of the fucking way and let them come forward because they’re doing it. It’s just supporting them and mentoring them and not competing with them, and Joel and I talk about it all the time.

Joel has always had a diverse crew. They have championed women and people of color their entire career. I feel one of the things I’m the most proud of is that I have mentored…every movie I have done has been helmed by a female. So, I feel like we’re doing what we were meant to do, which is make opportunities for the people who are coming up, make sure it’s as broad and as wide as possible, and don’t try to make it so prescriptive.

So, by me saying inclusion rider, I think I gave people a bumper sticker. I literally made bumper stickers. I literally made them and passed them out because that’s what it is. I didn’t do the policymaking. I didn’t do the research. That was done by the Annenberg Center, they did the years of research. I just heard about it the night before and opened my big fat mouth and said something, but I think that the more important thing is that it just becomes a day-to-day, you just don’t…

So, but it’s not unlike…when Joel and I first met Denzel and Denzel said, Joel, so what about the black and the white in the thing. And Joel said, yeah, we’re going to shoot in black in white. And I said, ‘Denzel, I know that’s not what you meant, but that’s what Joel meant, and that’s all you’re going to get out of him.’ So, if we start thinking that way, it’s not about colorblindness, it’s not about colorblind casting or color-conscious casting, it’s just going to start reflecting the world, and film has always been late to the party. The film industry is like one of the slowest moving culturally perceptive industries. It’s always catching up, but I think it’s going well. I think it’s going well. I think, yeah, we old white people just have to, you know, have a little vacation, have other people take over.

‘The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain’ Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy & A World Of Cats

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September 23, 2021 1:32pm

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Studiocanal, Film4, Shoebox, SunnyMarch and Amazon Studios have released the full trailer for The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain, the period film that traces the story of the titular English painter who specialized in exaggerated cartoons of wide-eyed felines. Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy star for director Will Sharpe. Check out a look at the Wain world in the video above.

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain world premiered at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month, and then headed to the Toronto fest. Amazon will release theatrically in the U.S. on October 22, and via Prime Video on November 5. Studiocanal will release theatrically in its territories — the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand — early in 2022.

The film spans from the late 1800s to the 1930s and centers on forgotten British artist Wain, a brilliant but troubled soul, whose fascination with the mysteries of the world is complicated and deepened when he meets the love of his life Emily (Foy).

In Deadline’s review, Anna Smith called the film “witty” and “poignant.” She wrote that both leads “put in sweet, funny performances that will win over audiences before a tragedy looms.”

Also starring are Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Sharon Rooney, Aimee Lou Wood, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin, Phoebe Nicholls, Adeel Akhtar, Asim Chaudhry, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt and Sophia di Martino. Taika Waititi, Nick Cave and Olivia Colman also appear in the film, with Colman providing narration. 
 
The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain’s story is by Simon Stephenson (Luca, Paddington 2) with screenplay by Stephenson and Sharpe. Shoebox Films and SunnyMarch produce with Studiocanal and Film4 financing. Studiocanal has sold the title worldwide.

Here’s a new poster:

Studiocanal

 

A24 Sets Q4 Release Dates For Joaquin Phoenix Pic ‘C’mon C’mon’ & Sean Baker’s ‘Red Rocket’

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September 23, 2021 12:56pm

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EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has just heard that A24 had set theatrical release dates for their fall film festival critically acclaimed titles, C’mon C’mon from Mike Mills on Nov. 19, and Sean Baker’s Red Rocket on Dec. 3.

C’mon C’mon, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a radio journalist who embarks on a cross-country trip with his young nephew (Woody Norman), made its world premiere at Telluride, garnering an immediate 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and will continue on to the New York Film Festival. The pic reteams A24 with Mills, the distributor having released his 20th Century Women which saw Mills nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 2017 Oscars. Gaby Hoffman also stars.

Baker is another filmmaker to release his latest via A24, the studio have distributed his The Florida Project which earned an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe in the Best Supporting Actor category. Red Rocket follows Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown — not that anyone really wants him back. The pic made its world premiere at Cannes and won the Critics Award at Deauville. It’s currently 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

A24’s fall lineup includes Lamb on Oct. 8, Souvenir 2 on Oct. 29, The Humans in theaters and on Showtime on Nov. 24 and Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth in theaters on Dec. 25 and on Apple TV on Jan. 14.