Posted by Danielle Berrin
The short film that was meant to be actress Scarlett Johansson’s directorial debut has been cut from the portmanteau film “New York I Love You.” Following the tone set by the like-minded “Paris Je T’aime,” “New York I Love You” is a series of love-themed vignettes helmed by various directors, including Natalie Portman and Brett Ratner, who each produce their own segments. Of the lot, it was Johanssons’s unconventional narrative that clashed with producer Emmanuel Benbihy’s vision of the film. Opinions as to why this might have happened to Johansson, a young actress who is otherwise on the ascending arc of her career, are mixed.
The New York Post’s Page Six reported that her segment, starring Kevin Bacon and shot in black and white, was “unwatchable” and quotes an anonymous source that said, “It was really bad, so it was cut.” E! Online, drawing from the The Post, was equally mocking. They fronted the headline, “New Career Path? ScarJo, Oh Helm No.”
Only The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw came to Johansson’s rescue and instead, attacked Benbihy for his trite sensibility: “Benbihy is already the producer of the treacly cine-short-story collection Paris Je t’Aime, from 2006, a mostly intolerable collection of coy, self-regarding doodles from people who ought to know better: a series of stories about love in or for Paris, like a chocolate boxy set of micro-Amelies.” According to Bradshaw, Johansson fortunately “escaped” Benbihy’s maudlin narrative motif, which the producer plans to franchise around the world (there is even talk of a “Jerusalem I Love You”).
As to why Benbihy nixed ScarJo’s baby, he has said: “The story did not specifically involve an interpersonal relationship, and it was conceptualised to be filmed in black-and-white – both of which were extreme departures from the other films. Scarlett presented me with an extremely compelling, albeit unconventional narrative that appeared as though it would not necessarily conform to the overall approach of the entire collective.”
As to why gossip columns are making a big deal over this, I can only presume a degree of schadenfreude: Johansson is the most glamourous starlet of her generation, so delighting in a nic on her resume makes her lips slightly less threatening.
11.27.13 at 2:54 pm | Rabbis Adam Kligfeld and Ari Lucas answer probing. . .
11.24.13 at 12:15 pm | Meet the woman who turned Suzanne Collins' young. . .
11.21.13 at 11:48 am | What I found transcendent about Handler’s. . .
11.9.13 at 12:57 pm |
10.29.13 at 6:31 pm | Zusak talks about choosing “Death” as a. . .
10.25.13 at 3:22 pm | Reflections on my FIDF gala report
11.27.13 at 2:54 pm | Rabbis Adam Kligfeld and Ari Lucas answer probing. . . (1033)
10.2.13 at 12:44 pm | The modern "Queen of Sheba" as Israeli President. . . (871)
5.18.12 at 2:38 pm | Now in it's fifth season, Jewishness on "Mad Men". . . (284)
May 4, 2009 | 3:45 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Came across this read in today’s NY Times and wanted to share. There’s something intriguing about the idea that funnymen aren’t satisfied with playing for laughs, they feel they have to do something serious to elevate themselves. Sometimes it goes well (see Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show”) and sometimes it does not (don’t see Robin Williams in “What Dreams May Come”), but either way the endeavor usually fizzles when audiences demand an actor return to their “roots.” This summer we’ll see Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler (who are longtime friends, once roommates) tackle the moribund topic of mortality in “Funny People.” Only the heavy theme is couched in a Hollywood context which sometimes means serious subjects are treated with indifference. If anything I suppose it will be fascinating to see how two of Hollywood’s hottest comic talents use comedy to underscore the sadness of a tragic hero.
From the NY Times:
Despite Mr. Apatow’s ubiquity as a producer of sloth-celebrating movies like “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express” and a recent spate of comedies about emotionally stunted males (“Role Models,” “I Love You, Man”) that share his influence if not his input, “Funny People” is only the third film that he has directed. But moviegoers expecting a breezy romp in the style of his hit movies “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” had better hold onto their bongs.
In part, the film is about an established comedian (Mr. Sandler) who takes under his wing an insecure neophyte (played by Mr. Apatow’s disciple Seth Rogen). To this extent, the story is inspired by the earliest professional breaks Mr. Apatow received from stars like Garry Shandling, Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, and how he later returned the favor to emerging talents like Mr. Rogen.
But sensing that his own Horatio Alger-style ascent wouldn’t provide a movie with much tension, Mr. Apatow said, “I thought: What if I did a movie that was like ‘Tuesdays With Morrie,’ but the main character learns nothing?” So, after that sympathetic video introduction to Mr. Sandler’s character, the next scene finds him being informed 22 years later that he has a rare blood disorder with no known treatment. In the time that he believes he has left, he resumes his stand-up career and tries to reconcile with a lost love (Leslie Mann, Mr. Apatow’s wife and a regular in his films).
Asked why, at 41, he would follow movies about sexuality and childbirth with a film about mortality, Mr. Apatow was circumspect. “I’ve unfortunately been around people who have been ill and seen people figure out how to deal with it,” he said. Some, he added, “just keep plowing on forward, and they don’t seem to change.”
May 1, 2009 | 6:13 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Move over Bocelli. Adam Lambert’s rendition of “The Prayer,” which he sang on the holiest evening of the Jewish calendar (Kol Nidre) may send Italian tenors back to training. Listen to his duet with Temple of the Arts’ cantor, Illysia Pierce here.
April 30, 2009 | 12:25 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Last month when I was home for my birthday I got scolded—by my best friend. “Haven’t you seen Adam Lambert on Idol?! I’m dying to know what you think!” If I thought I could get away without knowing about Lambert—the second Jewish contestant to be a front runner on ‘Idol’ (Elliott Yamin placed 3rd in Season 5)—I was SO wrong. Adam Lambert cannot be ignored. The buzz around him finally reached a boiling point, so I caved in and tivo’d last week’s show.
And all I could think was, Kara DioGuardi is so right: He is the modern incarnate of Clark Kent!
But before Adam Lambert became the rock star of “American Idol” season 8, he was a rising star on the Jewish stage. The actor/singer played the slave Joshua in a 2004 multi-million-dollar Kodak Theatre production of “The Ten Commandments” that publicly flopped, save for one redeeming feature. Even with movie star Val Kilmer in the lead, L.A. Times critic Mark Swed, who was sparing in his praise, wrote: “Few singers or dancers distinguish themselves with a personal sound or style. High notes are calculated to get applause. Adam Lambert, as Joshua, does the best in ‘Is Anybody Listening?‘ It is also the best song.”
Five years later, Lambert’s success on “Idol” feels well deserved if not overdue. And his newfound stardom has earned him a cult following and celebrity friends; he was recently spotted gallivanting around Hollywood with “High School Musical” stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Living under a microscope hasn’t seemed to bother him either: When provocative photographs surfaced of Lambert dressed in drag and kissing other men, he proclaimed, “I have nothing to hide. I am who I am.”
But before Lambert’s glamorous turn, in which he has become known for his angelic voice and trademark eyeliner, he humbly sang with Jewish groups to gain experience.
In 2007, he performed at the Kol Nidre service at Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre, where he sang the duet “The Prayer” with Cantor Illysia Pierce. “He was spectacular. People were just blown away by him,“ said Rabbi David Baron, spiritual leader of Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre. “He has that star talent; even among stars, he’s a standout. He’s the shoo-in to win this year’s ‘Idol’ and if you listen to the judges, Randy, Paula—and Simon, the toughest critic—they all say the same thing, ‘You’re already a star.’”
Lambert also joined Temple of the Arts to perform at a memorial concert for Yitzhak Rabin, where he sang Shir LeShalom at American Jewish University.
He’s easily a Jewish star, but will he be the next American Idol? His friends at Temple of the Arts certainly hope so.
“The whole congregation is rooting for him, calling and voting, they’re just so excited that he made it. He’s really captured everbody’s imagination,” Rabbi Baron said.
Should Lambert’s fortunes land him on stage at the Nokia Theatre for the American Idol Finale—there’s a chance you can go see him: Nashuva received 6 tickets to the “American Idol” Finale that they will auction off via email starting Friday, May 1st. For your chance to see Lambert, visit nashuvafundraiser.com for more details.
Now I gotta run. American Idol is on.
Check out Lambert’s slave swagger in “The Ten Commandments”
Listen to Adam sing “The Prayer” at Temple of the Arts at Saban Theatre here
Watch Adam sing “Shir LeShalom” at a tribute to slain Israeli Prime Minister Yizthak Rabin
(Note: This article updated and edited for print)
April 28, 2009 | 6:21 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I just posted about the William Morris Endeavor merger but I’m so shocked/disappointed/confused about agent David Lonner leaving that I need to vent. So there.
The first thing everyone should know about David Lonner is that he is AWESOME. In addition to being a superagent who reps a darn good roster: J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”) Alexander Payne (“Sideways”), Brad Silberling (“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”), Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”) and Audrey Wells (“Under the Tuscan Sun”), Lonner is also a passionate Israel advocate. For the past few years, Lonner has invited a select group of Hollywood tastemakers on a curtain-raising trip to Israel. On the trip that he co-finances with the Federation, people with little or no previous relationship to Israel get to fall in love with it. My colleague Brad Greenberg wrote about these trips in December 2007 and the L.A. Times caught up in July 2008.
But as of the merger announcement late yesterday, Lonner has hit more troubling times. He will not continue with William Morris into the new, merged climate. How this came to pass is unclear, but suffice it to say, Lonner left Endeavor for William Morris years ago because he wasn’t happy at Endeavor. The bad blood has remained, apparently on both sides. According to Variety, “[Lonner] was abruptly informed last week that he would not be part of the new agency by WMA chief Jim Wiatt and Endeavor topper Ari Emanuel.” In Hollywood fashion, their timing was impeccable because, just last week, Lonner helped J.J. Abrams secure a 5-year deal at Paramount and that commission will remain with the agency that is now ousting him.
More about the merger fallout from Variety:
WMA agent David Lonner, who with Steve Rabineau left partnership positions at Endeavor in 2003 to join WMA, has confirmed he will not be part of the new agency.
Lonner would not comment on the specifics. But it’s understood that he was abruptly informed last week that he would not be part of the new agency by WMA chief Jim Wiatt and Endeavor topper Ari Emanuel.
Lonner was informed of his fate just after his biggest client, J.J. Abrams, re-upped his feature deal at Paramount for five years—a lavish, commission-rich pact that encompasses future “Star Trek” installments. As soon as the deal was completed, Lonner was given the harsh news about his future.Lonner has repped Abrams for 20 years, signing the filmmaker right out of Sarah Lawrence. He has been co-repped by John Fogelman, who will be part of the new WME board.
The timing leaves Lonner with a tough decision: he could become a manager and co-rep Abrams with WMA, or become an agent elsewhere who tries to take Abrams, whose commissions on the Par deal will stay withWMA.
The drama has been playing out over the past week, with both parties trying to figure out an amicable resolution.
Lonner also reps Alexander Payne, Brad Silberling, Jon Turteltaub and Audrey Wells. They are expected to join him.
Lonner told Daily Variety that there is no truth to rumors that he is zeroing in on a destination at this point. “I’m not rushing into a decision,” he said. “I am making sure I give my clients what they need, and as the weeks progress I’ll analyze all the opportunities presented to me, and then I’ll figure it out.”
April 28, 2009 | 4:53 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
After months of speculation, William Morris Agency and Endeavor have announced their merger—a union that makes Hollywood history. Together, the century-old talent agency and the young, boutique upstart will become a formidable competitor with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the dominant tenpercentery in Hollywood for over 20 years. The change signifies a momentous shift in the talent representation business as two houses in Hollywood battle it out for greater power. Which in Hollywood means profits.
The agencies are perfect complements: WMA is strong in television and music; Endeavor reps a chunk of A-list actors, writers and directors.
But the merger didn’t come without a shake-up. To even out the disparity between WMA’s 300 agents and Endeavor’s 80, WMA is expected to layoff a heap of agents in coming months. And then there’s the inevitable agent/client shifting: WMA’s David Lonner, who represents J.J. Abrams (“Lost” and “Star Trek”) and organizes trips to Israel for Hollywood heavyweights, has said he will not move into the new agency. And although many expected Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel to run the show, WMA’s Jim Wiatt will take the title of Chairman with Emanuel serving as CEO along with WMA’s Dave Wirtschafter and Endeavor’s Patrick Whitesell.
Read more in Variety:
The combination of the 111-year-old WMA and 14-year-old Endeavor will create a mega-agency whose assets extend into virtually every aspect of the entertainment and media biz, with annual revenues estimated at $325 million. The tie-up, which is still subject to government approvals, also creates the largest competitor to CAA since that agency solidified its position as Hollywood’s dominant tenpercentery more than two decades ago.
Leading WME Entertainment will be WMA chief exec Jim Wiatt as chairman, while Endeavor toppers Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell and WMA prexy Dave Wirtschafter will serve as co-CEOs.
Deal is expected to close within a few weeks, though it still requires approval from labor officials in California and New York, and it may face an antitrust review by the Justice Dept.
In addition to the challenges that all tenpercenteries are confronting at a time of great change in the entertainment biz, WME’s leaders will undoubtedly face a formidable task in achieving harmony between the wildly different cultures and backgrounds of the two agencies.
WME will be governed by a nine-member board of directors that includes five from the WMA camp (Wiatt, Wirtschafter, publishing head Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, music department chief Peter Grosslight and motion picture lit department head John Fogelman) and four from Endeavor (Emanuel; Whitesell; Rick Rosen, who will run the combined agency’s TV department; and Adam Venit).
The merger, for which William Morris and Endeavor had been in on-again, off-again talks for nearly a year, was driven by the fact that each agency has assets the other coveted.
WMA has a steady cash flow base primed by its lucrative music and touring department, which by itself generates an estimated $80 million annually; the legacy profits from decades of rich TV packaging fees on shows ranging from “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to later hits like “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”; and its strong nonscripted-TV department, which rakes in fees on enduring hits including “Dancing With the Stars,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Live With Regis and Kelly.”
WMA also has the international presence that Endeavor lacks, with operations in London, Nashville, Miami and Shanghai.
Endeavor brings an aggressive team of agents and the stronger client base among film and TV actors, writers, directors and producers. As one WMA vet observed: “William Morris is cash-rich; Endeavor is client-rich. They need each other.”
April 27, 2009 | 8:27 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Movie sets have always been ripe breeding grounds for romantic relationships. Part of Hollywood’s grand allure is that its history is studded with fantastic romances—Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall—though most give way to failed relationships. Still, the intensity and chemistry that swirls on a set, when you work and eat and live and sleep so intimately with each other, is for many impossible to resist. Thus is the new fate of “Slumdog Millionaire” stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto who have finally succumbed to their senses. The couple has been seen gallivanting around Israel while Pinto films a movie there.
It’s amazing when you realize that months ago, these two talents were completely unknown—with Bollywood, the brightest star in their future. Now, with an Oscar-winning movie behind them, the full rush of the Hollywood machine is driving them forth, out into the world, bestowing them with luxuries they could have only henceforth imagined, and all they have to cling to is each other. It’s as if they are the only vestiges left from a life that has irreversibly changed. And as we’ve seen before, whether its young love or the toxins of hard reality, their lovely innocence will inevitably alter as their fame rises. Or maybe it doesn’t, and that breaks them. It’s funny how Hollywood gave us the dream in which our first love could be our last, but the reality driving the magic of the movies is far less generous.
After much speculation about the nature of the relationship involving Slumdog Millionaire stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, Patel’s mother Anita has confirmed to a British newspaper that the pair are very much a couple.
“First it was the film and now everything else seems to have slotted into place,” Mrs. Patel is quoted as saying in Monday’s Daily Mirror.
“Life can’t get any better for him. Freida is really beautiful, and I am really happy for them.”
Her comments come just days after Patel, 19, jetted to Israel to spend a whirlwind date with the Mumbai beauty, 24. “Yes, we knew he was flying to Israel to see her,” said Patel’s mother.
The pair rendezvoused in Tel Aviv as Pinto took time off from filming her latest movie in Jerusalem. The couple spent a few hours together in a hotel before emerging for a stroll around the harbor and an early champagne dinner at a seaside restaurant.
April 24, 2009 | 4:30 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Looks like the long talked about merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor is finally happening, after rumors swirled for months.
According to the L.A. Times, “Driving the merger is a punishing economic climate in which fewer jobs for actors, directors and writers and a contracting market for TV shows mean lower commissions and fees for the agencies that depend upon them for their bread and butter.”
However there are devilish details that have threatened to derail the deal all along: How many agents would be let go (WMA has 300, Endeavor 75)? What would the new agency be called (William Morris Endeavor was one option)? Who will run the show (WMA CEO Jim Wiatt or Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel)?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, William Morris’ board will have to downsize and make room for Endeavor reps: “Among the strongest contenders to be on a combined board, other than WMA CEO Jim Wiatt and president David Wirtschafter, are COO Irv Weintraub, motion picture head John Fogelman and New York-based literary co-head Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.” (I interviewed Irv Weintraub, a finance wiz and Jewish community macher about a year ago.)
Last night, I heard that William Morris has confirmed to its clients that the merger is happening and will be announced next week. With that, WMA will lay off 50% of their television department though they’ll retain their name, that century-old brand recognition. But it sounds like Jim Wiatt will have to defer to the cocksure Ari Emanuel when it comes to deal making.
Still, another dilemma remains: Apparently a client merger is problematic too. WMA brings everybody’s favorite anti-Semite Mel Gibson to the table and Endeavor reps Larry David, who has reportedly said he will not work through the same agency as Gibson. So what happens now??