Posted by Danielle Berrin
In a much anticipated move, the cast of “Seinfeld” will appear on the seventh season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with ‘Seinfeld’ co-creator Larry David.
David decided it was high time to reunite the cast in a plot line that involves him getting his wife Cheryl back, but he’s keeping mum on the rest. What he will say is that the theme will take up five of the season’s 10 episodes as he recruits the cast for what Julia Louis Dreyfus is calling “the anti reunion.”
Even though the beloved Jerry Seinfeld had an itch or two about toying with the legacy of his 9-season show, he caved in to creative impulse. “The idea of working with Larry was just too overwhelmingly appealing to me, and [Curb] is such a great show,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “There was a little part of me that said, ‘Do we really want to tamper?’…But to hell with it. How much damage can you really do?”
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August 25, 2009 | 3:14 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
It might be considered a disservice to her people that instead of playing a sweet girl studying for her Bat Mitzvah, Evan Rachel Wood entered Hollywood as a self-mutilating, drug addicted teenager in the movie “Thirteen.” For what it’s worth, Wood has never been interested in playing “sweet girls” but she’s not exactly a mean girl either. Instead, she’s chosen to portray psychologically conflicted young women who are wise beyond their years in intellect but act like immature adults (might that explain her romance with rocker Marilyn Manson?). This past year, you’ve seen her as Mickey Rourke’s estranged daughter in the Oscar nominated “The Wrestler” and as Larry David’s young muse in the Woody Allen film, “Whatever Works” (now in theaters). Next up, the North Carolina native will appear on HBO’s “True Blood” vampire series as the vampire Queen of Louisiana. According to Entertainment Weekly, this vampire is French, “charming, wily, ruthless and wise.” Wood has been tapped to appear in two episodes and if the show is renewed for a third season, well, let’s put it this way—Marilyn Manson wouldn’t be disappointed.
In a recent interview with EOnline, Wood discussed her thoughts on the show’s notorious, graphic sex. “I don’t know if I am having sex with anyone yet,” she tells E, “but I certainly have a steamy scene with someone that I don’t think you’d really expect.” Wood has already hinted that it might be another woman because a vampire “goes both ways.” Based on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels, “True Blood” often has intense, violent sex with characters completely nude. The soft porn qualities don’t bother Wood; she’s open to anything, she says. “They are bringing me back next season, so [nudity is] always a possibility.”
August 24, 2009 | 3:18 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
There were more than a few critics shaking the death rattle of “Inglourious Basterds” before its impressive opening weekend silenced them.
Riffing on a two-page spread in Newsweek called “When Jews Attack” by Daniel Mendelsohn, former Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that he found the film “deeply offensive” and “profoundly stupid.”
“[Inglourious Basterds] didn’t even entertain me past its opening sequence, and profoundly bored me during the endlessly protracted build-up to a cellar shoot-out,” Rosenbaum wrote on his website. And as if that weren’t rotten tomato-y enough, he added, “it also gave me the sort of malaise that made me wonder periodically what it was (and is) about the film that seems morally akin to Holocaust denial, even though it proudly claims to be the opposite of that.”
We should remember, however, that Rosenbaum is a film critic and the triumph of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is not necessary one of content but one of marketing. Praise Harvey Weinstein, whose gloomy recent interview with the New York Times had many believing he is on his way out. But this weekend’s $37.6 million domestically and $27.1 million more overseas cemented his legacy as the master of movie marketing.
Sharon Waxman breaks down his brilliance on her blog, Waxword:
The trailer was all about Aldo Raine (Pitt) indoctrinating his band of Jewish soldiers in the cult of brutality (scalping! cool!) they intend to impose on the Nazis.
But in reality, that’s a minor piece of the film.
Instead, Tarantino has made an extremely sophisticated World War II fantasy, layered with rich characters, taut dialogue and (in my book) at least two scenes that will be written about in cinema study classes (the opening scene, and the one in the bar; if you haven’t seen the movie I’m not going to ruin it for you).
Brad Pitt is in neither of those scenes. Dirty little secret: Pitt is in barely one third of the film.
But the Weinsteins needed young males to open this movie. And so they pulled a brilliant bait and switch, selling the movie on Pitt’s stardom and Tarantino’s slice-and-dice reputation from severed ears in “Reservoir Dogs” to piles of samurai-ed corpses in “Kill Bill.” (Not to mention “Grindhouse.”)
It’s too early to tell if ‘Basterds’ can save The Weinstein Company from imminent doom—there’s still a slate of unreleased films that could make or break the mini-major. But, at least for now, the Weinstein brothers are out of the ‘Grindhouse,’ I mean—the dog house.
August 20, 2009 | 2:07 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Meadow Soprano—known in real life as Jamie Lynn Sigler—appeared on the “Chelsea Lately” show to discuss her new recurring role on “Entourage.” Chelsea got her to gab about the usual late night talking points, who she’s dating (Jerry Ferrara who plays “Turtle” on Entourage), whether or not we can look forward to a Sopranos movie (maybe) and then in an unlikely twist, Birthright Israel.
Sigler said she attended birthright last summer and signed up as “Jamie Sigler” so she could attend like a “normal person.” But then she admits she upgraded to first class.
Jacob Berkman writing for JTA’s The Fundermentalist Blog praised Sigler for the birthright shout-out but noted she had one or two really important facts wrong:
According to Sigler, Madoff was handling a lot of Birthright’s money and the organization is therefore in dire financial straits, so people should donate to Birthright. Well, actually …. there was a rumor going around back in January that Birthright had been directly hurt in the scam, but the organization worked hard to try to debunk the rumor. While some of Birthright’s donors were surely hurt by Madoff, until very recently the program has been a cash-in, cash-out organization that spent all of the money it took in in any given year on trips that year. So there is no way it had any money invested with Madoff.
She also states that one has to have had a bar or bat mitzvah to be eligible for Birthright. That’s false as well. In fact, Birthright often offers group bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies on the trips for those who have not already had them.
Berkman also suggests that birthright funder Michael Steinhardt, who makes no secret of his desire for Jews to marry Jews, may have been weeping somewhere whilst Sigler discussed his beloved birthright and her non-Jewish boyfriend in the same segment. But Steinhardt really ought to give her a break—she’s getting birthright prime time PR and on national television, she made Israel sound good.
August 17, 2009 | 3:22 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Harvey and Bob Weinstein are trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. The legendary Hollywood producers, who were the first to build an independent studio that rivaled the majors with Miramax, are struggling to sustain The Weinstein Company, their mini movie studio, part deux. TWC was created four years ago after the sale of Miramax to Disney, but in that time it’s failed to live up to its predecessor’s former glory. For months, rumors have abounded about The Weinstein Company’s financial troubles, but Harvey Weinstein, who has long been the company’s public face, refused to talk. Until now.
Last June, The New York Times reported a story about the company’s decline, stating: “The Weinstein Company has been a relatively minor factor in the film industry since it was founded. None of its movies have reached $100 million at the domestic box office, and “The Reader,” though nominated for a best picture Oscar, had only about $34 million in domestic ticket sales…Not since 2006 has Weinstein ranked among the top 12 companies in box-office market share, according to figures compiled by BoxOfficeMojo.com. That year, “Scary Movie 4,” its best performer, with $90.7 million in sales, lifted the company to ninth place, with 2.5 percent of total sales.”
Those figures are a far cry from the mega-success of Miramax, which not only put the Weinsteins on the map but crowned them permanent Hollywood royalty, and still, they fail to give an accurate picture of how bad it really is. In a lengthy profile published in yesterday’s Sunday Times, the actual figures weren’t just missing the $100 million mark, they were missing the $1 million mark. According to the story, “Since opening its doors in 2005, the Weinstein Company has released about 70 films, and more than one quarter of them failed to break the $1 million box-office mark in the United States. Thirteen of these took in less than $100,000.”
So while Disney gets to keep the beloved Miramax name—and its extensive, Oscar-heavy library, the Weinsteins may soon find themselves out of a job.
In his first on-the-record, all access interview since rumors of the company’s demise have circulated, Harvey Weinstein told David Segal that he got distracted by investing in other businesses. The Weinstein Company ventured into fashion, online social networking and even network cable. “I figured, ‘Making movies, I can do that in my sleep,’ ” Weinstein told Segal. “[W]as I 100 percent concentrating? Absolutely not. I thought I could build the company and delegate authority, and that’s where it went wrong.”
The Weinsteins have a lot riding on the performance of “Inglourious Basterds,” the new Quentin Tarantino film starring Brad Pitt, which releases next Friday. Though they have high hopes, “Basterds” is a tricky film to sell. For one thing, it’s incredibly gory, full of beating, burning and scalping, and on the other hand, it’s a rewriting of history and because it has to do with Nazis and the Holocaust, is sure to earn the ire of certain Jews. The Weinsteins, who grew up Jewish in New York City, reportedly appreciate the film’s Jewish vengeance theme.
“In the end, I realized that I’m not a good C.E.O., I’m not a good manager,” Weinstein said to the Times. This means, either somebody else has to run the business or the business is doomed.
More Harvey Weinstein on Hollywood Jew:
Winslet’s Oscar: Was it the Holocaust or Harvey Weinstein?
August 13, 2009 | 5:54 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
One of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes powerbrokers is Andrew Cohen, an international financier who is gaining renown as one his industry’s top talents.
A Managing Director at JP Morgan, Cohen oversees the firm’s private banking for the Southern California region. It’s a job that, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, is much tougher than Hollywood: “If Los Angeles powerbrokers think Hollywood is cutthroat they should try becoming a heavyweight at a wealth management firm. The job involves reeling in clients with assets of between $2 million to $100 million or more, and generally catering to their whims,” explained a 2006 article that directly referenced Cohen’s position and later quoted him.
The financial guru developed his expertise abroad while working at banking institutions in London, Geneva, Berlin and Israel. He spent a chunk of his time in wealth management, working for clients in Turkey and Israel. Cohen is an Australian native, who graduated with a degree in economics from Monash University in Melbourne before he beginning his professional career in Europe.
An avid Israel supporter, Cohen regularly organizes social gatherings and fundraisers centered on Mid-East politics, such as a recent event for Hollywood’s elite at the home of Chaim Saban. In 2007, Cohen’s leadership abilities were recognized with an appointment to the Forum of Young Global Leaders, a community of extraordinary achievers under the age of 40, established by the World Economic Forum and headed by Queen Rania of Jordan.
August 13, 2009 | 2:53 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Introducing Nicky Weinstock, a lesser known Hollywood executive with an impressive resume and proven writing talent.
The Harvard-graduate turned Hollywood exec has an unusually diverse background: According to the Huffington Post, he was a book editor at Random House, a teacher in South Africa, a firefighter in New York state, an essayist, journalist and novelist before ascending the ranks at News Corp. His first job there landed him News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch’s office, where he served as Murdoch’s speechwriter. Murdoch appreciated Weinstock’s talent and sent him off to Hollywood where he became VP of comedy development for 20th Century Fox TV.
Weinstock’s success as an executive can be attributed to the fact that he has a rare edge—he is a creative executive who is actually creative. The published novelist reportedly wakes at 4 a.m. each morning, before his three kids get up in order to write.
Most recently, Weinstock served as head of development for Judd Apatow’s flourishing production company before yesterday’s headlines announced he was leaving Apatow to join Peter Chernin at an as yet unnamed, Fox-financed production company.
A short profile from Harvardwood.org by Kim Bendheim:
The last time I saw Nicky Weinstock, he’d left Manhattan for Garrison, NY with his wife (writer Amanda Beesley) and their Yorkshire terrier, Emerson. The couple quit their jobs to move to the country and write books. He’d been a book editor at Random House; she’d been an agent at ICM. “The Golden Hour,” based on Weinstock’s experience in the Garrison Fire Dept, comes out in paperback this month. It’s his third book. Catching up with Weinstock ten years later, I learned that he’d moved his family to LA in 2004, and in 2006 he was promoted to Vice President of Comedy Development for Twentieth Century Fox Television, developing some 60 or 70 new shows a year. He has three children, Lincoln (2), Derek (5), and Savannah (7). Unlike Nicky, who grew up on the east coast, his children ride bicycles in the sunny streets of Westwood.
Weinstock admits his “trajectory’s been bizarro.” First, his wife became pregnant. “We had the talk, as two writers, about how one of us needed to go out and get health insurance. I pulled the short straw, and it was me,” says Weinstock. That started Weinstock on the circuitous path leading him from the wilds of upstate NY into the wilds of Hollywood. Looking for a job, he called long-time friend Gary Ginsberg, head of communications for News Corporation. “Funny you should call,” Ginsberg told Weinstock, because News Corp had just created a position for a writer who would oversee communications. Weinstock interviewed to be the speechwriter for company Chairman Rupert Murdoch on a trial basis, and he got the job. He started writing all of the speeches for Murdoch and for Peter Chernin, President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corp and CEO of the Fox Group. Laughing, Weinstock confesses to turning the job into a big creative writing assignment: “Write in the voice of a 78-year-old visionary Australian businessman. Good. Now write in the voice of the 50-year-old firebrand president of News Corp. Great. Now try to explain a multinational media business to conservative investors. Excellent.”
Nicky spent a lot of time working in Murdoch’s office – four years, to be exact. During that time, he continued to write his own fiction and published a couple of novels with Harper Collins. He attributes his subsequent switch in positions at News Corp – and coasts of the United States – to Peter Chernin. “We came back from a speech that he’d given, and that I’d written, and he asked me into his office and said, ‘you shouldn’t be in the corporate headquarters, you should be on the creative side. You should go to Los Angeles and be a creative executive.’” Weinstock was given time to think about it. He talked to Amanda. He met with the head of Fox Searchlight and executives at other of the company’s film studios, and he ultimately decided to work at the television studio. “Coming from the book world, I loved the relatively breakneck pace of TV, and I loved the diversity of the slate of projects you work on. The fact that in the space of a year, you can take something from a pitched idea to the finished project – a casted, directed, produced and edited comedy pilot – is thrilling. For me, it was a radically new world.” He compared editing books to editing TV shows and said the one was good preparation for the other. “Basically I’m an editor for the shows I take on. That’s the part I feel I’ve done forever.”
At Harvard, Weinstock’s own background was as eclectic as the shows he produces. He majored in English and Social Anthropology and took a small creative writing course with Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetze (DISGRACE) which, along with his anthropology courses, inspired him to go to Africa. He worked first as a volunteer on the construction of a health clinic in Ghana out of mud bricks. Then he traveled to Tanzania and Kenya for his anthropology fieldwork, living with the Nandi tribe for a month. On his third trip, he returned on a Rotary Scholarship and went to Botswana and South Africa, where once again he studied under the supervision of J.M. Coetze. It was an exciting time to be in South Africa. Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison. To Weinstock, “it was a great adventure,” comparable to working in Hollywood. “I probably use as much social science in my Hollywood life as I did in the African bush. Having four Hollywood agents angrily calling on a conference call, each pursuing their own agenda, is not that different from watching an incited baboon troop.”
To Weinstock, what links his trips and his radical move to California is the conviction that “life is most fun – and makes a better story – when lived in chapters…it’s the sense that you can keep yourself more awake, more alive and more excitingly aware of the whole world by turning the page, even if it’s a good page, and trying something new.” The fact that he’s been able to “hoodwink a wife and family into subscribing to this theory, and conjure a living in the process, is just plain luck.”
How does Weinstock manage to write while working full-time as an executive in television? He wakes at 4 AM to write his novels, before the kids get up. He has a backlog of ideas that he’s been playing with. The inspiration for his novels is his own life, turned sideways.
His advice for anyone wanting to get into TV is: “Find a way to get into the writers’ room.” In keeping with his own philosophy, Weinstock encourages those who are interested in the industry to realize, “you don’t have to have grown up in the ranks out here to get into the industry and succeed in it. You can bring other skills and other lives to the table.” Weinstock certainly has.
Read Nicky Weinstock’s writing on the Huffington Post
August 12, 2009 | 6:40 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Disney has acquired the rights to film a new version of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The film will be written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet.
Mamet will use the famed diary, and the original play by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, to tell the story of the young jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazis in the an attic in Amsterdam. Mamet brings his own original take on the material that could re-frame the story as a young girl’s rite of passage.