Separating The Clooneys

Paramount has shifted the opening of Jason Reitman‘s Up In The Air back to December — 12.4, to be exact — to avoid any overlap with Overture’s The Men Who Stare At Goats. Both films star George Clooney. Air is expected to be a bigger commercial hit, but it can’t hurt to get out of the way of Goats just to be safe.

Metal Door Clanks

I should have run the news yesterday that screenwriter-director Roger Avary has been sentenced to a year in jail for causing a car crash on 1.13.08 that resulted in the death of a friend, Andreas Zini. Avary, the director of Rules of Attraction and Killing Zoe and co-author of Pulp Fiction and Beowulf, pleaded guilty last August to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other charges in the collision. He also got five years’ probation.

Avary’s attorney, Mark Werksman, told the L.A. Times that his client is heartbroken over the Zini family’s loss. “Roger Avary is a decent...

Sniper Piece

Former prosecutor David Wells is claiming that he lied to Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired director Marina Zenovich about having goaded Judge Laurence J. Rittenband into throwing out the 1978 Roman Polanski plea deal.

Why, I’m asking myself, is the 9.30 Daily Beast article in which Wells recants, and which has suspiciously been written by former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, appearing at this moment? It’s obviously a mortar shell intended to make the pro-Polanski (or forgive-Polanski) side look bad. It looks to me as if somebody friendly with the Los Angeles D.A.’s office wanted to...

Burly Man

Mel Gibson is only 53, but with that jowly, weathered face and heavily-graying hair and that thinning forward thatch and that burly, beer-gutty, don’t-work-out-much physique, he looks like a guy pushing 60 if not a bit older. I know guys who work in hardware stores or auto-parts stores who look like this. Nice dependable guys and all, but movie stars are supposed to look…I don’t know, a little trimmer and tonier. More of a Pierce Brosnan thing going on…right?

Mel Gibson in Jodie Foster’s currently-shooting The Beaver

There’s no contract that says a guy who nine years ago was regarded as moderately hunky or at least in very presentable shape for someone in his mid 40s (in films like What Women Want and Signs) has to remain that way as he gets older. But...

Voice-Print Identification

This recording of a 1966 Stanley Kubrick interview by Jeremy Bernstein has been around for several years. (It’s on a disc inside Taschen’s Stanley Kubrick Archives book.) But listen to Kubrick’s voice — it could belong to a bright Bronx cab driver or a Bronx-born English teacher in a local high school — and compare it to the voice that Peter Sellers uses in Lolita (’62).

Bad Moon

Boiled down, The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxman is reporting that Universal Studios President Ron Meyer intends to whack the studio’s two co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde and most likely replace them with marketing chief Adam Fogelson and head of production Donna Langley.

(l. to r.) Ron Meyer, Adam Fogelson, Donna Langley, David Linde, Marc Schmuger

It’s a tough game, running a big-studio film division. Hard to survive, much less “win.” I feel sorry for Schmuger-Linde if this is about to happen. And if it’s not, I still feel sorry for them.

Apart from weak or underwhelming performances of such Universal pics as Bruno, Funny People, Public Enemies,...

Mechanic Knows

Last night Nikki Finke posted Bill Mechanic’s keynote speech about the future of indies from yesterday’s Independent Film & Television Production Conference. Mechanic ran Fox from ’94 to ’00, is now an indie producer (Coraline) and owner of Pandemonium LLC. Here’s my favorite portion of the speech:

“It’s disrespectful if not downright dumb to think audiences can’t tell the difference between the original, which occasionally might even have some fresh faces, and the copy, which almost always is populated with retreads. It’s like thinking you can sell yesterday’s news under a...

Another One

Clearly the earthquake-tsunami tragedy that recently happened in Samoa (and American Samoa) has been devastating. Numerical perspective matters not to people who’ve lost homes or loved ones or both, but so far I’m hearing that about 100 have been reported dead so far vs. nearly 230,000 killed in the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami. I know this will make me sound uncaring but my first thought, to be 100% honest, was whether we’re going to see any Roland Emmerich video footage of the waves. I’m just thinking of the footage that got around in ’04. Sorry.

Obiter Dicta

The best quote in Doreen Carvajal and Michael Cieply‘s 9.30 N.Y. Times story about the Roman Polanski furor is one from Marie-Louise Fort, a French lawmaker in the Assembly who has sponsored anti-incest legislation. Fort told Carvajal that she doesn’t believe that public opinion “is spontaneously supporting Mr. Polanski at all…I believe that there is a distinction between the mediagenic class of artists and ordinary citizens that have a vision that is more simple.”

Exactly — “simple” as in bad or good, black or white, torches and pitchforks. Don’t muck things up with amoral qualifications or compassionate...

Demo Habits

A just-released report on 2010 moviegoing habits by Gordon Paddison‘s Stradella Road, a new entertainment marketing firm, said that if movie marketers want to reach younger moviegers in hawking their films, they need to advertise big-time in daily newspapers because print is where it’s at for the under-30 generation.

No, seriously, the report actually said the wisest strategy is to advertise on sites like Hollywood Elsewhere — i.e., smart, provocative, no-holds-barred news-and-discussion sites that deliver cutting-edge commentary, conversation-starters and back-and-forth rancor between the editor/webmaster and readers. Okay, it didn’t actually say that either.

Triple serious and no more put-ons: If movie marketing aces want to sell younger moviegoers on their films, the...

Sony Classics + Last Station

The Envelope‘s Pete Hammond nearly reported today that Sony Classics will be distributing Michael Hoffman‘s The Last Station. I mean, he didn’t actually report this but he did strongly, heavily hint at same. The Leo Tolstoy/Westside Pavillion drama, which costars Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James McAvoy and Paul Giamatti, will open in December in order to Oscar-qualify all around.

Harvey on Roman

“I’m not too shy to go and talk to the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and to ask him once and for all to look at [Roman Polanski‘s situation],” said Harvey Weinstein in an article posted today in the Independent.

“The problem [has] to do with the legal situation in the state. They are doing this because they want a circus, to make their toughness overt — and that is where I draw the line. This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.

“It is a shocking way to treat such a man. Polanski went...

More People To Hate

Artists who have signed one of two “Free Roman Polanski” petitions going round — one being organized in the U.S. and another in Europe by French philisopher Bernard-Henri Levy — include Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese, Monica Bellucci, Tilda Swinton, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, John Landis, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodovar, Asia Argento, Terry Gilliam, Wong Kar Wai, Darren Aronofsky, Michael Mann, Julian Schnabel, Tom Tykwer, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Pascal Bruckner, Neil Jordan, Isabelle Adjani, Arielle Dombasle, Isabelle Huppert, William Shawcross, Yamina Benguigui, Mike Nichols, Diane von Furstenberg, Claude Lanzmann and Paul Auster.

13 Words

“American lynch mobs never die; they only become more self-righteous about their savagery.” — critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in a 9.28 posting about Roman Polanski‘s situation.

Ass Bombs

If rectum bombs catch on in the terrorist world, airline passengers in the near future will have to submit to scanning devices that are more penetrating and all-seeing than ones now being used.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

I’m just riffing here, but it seems...

New Polanski Doc From Ratner?

A few hours before Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich, Ratner taped an interview for BlogTalkRadio’s “Movie Geeks United” show and announced he’ll be producing a sequel to Marina Zenovich‘s 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

On top of which Movie Geeks United will post a two-hour Roman Polanski “Director Series” discussion on Sunday, 10.4.

Hosts Jamey DuVall and Jerry Dennis will talk with Ratner, Bobbie O’Steen, the wife of Roman’s late editor, Sam O’Steen (Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, Frantic); cinematographer William A. Fraker (Rosemary’s Baby); and critic Keith Uhlich.

Also featured will be highlights from a January 2008 interview with Marina Zenovich, director of Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

Whose Limbo?

How exactly is Roman Polanski‘s The Ghost, a political thriller costarring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan MaGregor, considered to be in limbo now that Polanski is temporarily in a Swiss slammer?

Pierce Brosnan, Ewan MacGregor in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost

We’re in a down market for smallish character- or plot-driven adult films (and especially ones starring Brosnan and MacGregor), but since Saturday’s arrest this film is in great shapehello? Supermarket moms will want to see this now so they can hiss Polanski’s name when it appears on the credits. And with any luck rural retards will be out protesting it with...

Polanski Bat-Around

You have to wait until the 7:00 mark for Arianna Huffington and the Morning Joe gang to talk about the Polanski case. First they run a tape of Zurich Film Festival jury member Debra Winger protesting the arrest, Arianna then compares Polanski to Pablo Picasso (the title of her Picasso biography described him as a “creator and destroyer“) but also wonders “if this is the best use of everyone’s time and energy.”