New “Napoleon,” Super-Sizing Congress, Jessica Yu’s Next Film & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Linda Zaleskie and Andrea Stewart have formed a new production company called Germane Creative LLC. Zaleskie had been managing producer for The History Channel, and Stewart has been an independent producer for a decade. In addition to TV projects, the pair are shooting a doc about a struggling Brooklyn musician.
Six new governors have been elected by their branches to represent them on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Newcomers to the board are Rosemary Brandenburg, art directors; Roger Deakins, cinematographers; James N. Gianopulos, executives; Howard “Hawk” Koch, producers; and Phil Alden Robinson, writers. Marvin Levy, public relations branch, will return to the board after previously serving from 1991 until 2002.
Cythia J. Wornham has been named to the newly created post of director of external affairs for the Sundance Institute, effective this fall. Wornham is currently an executive VP at Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors.
The IFP/Minneapolis-St. Paul has named Nicole Hinrichs-Bideau its director of fellowships, responsible for the administration of the McKnight Fellowship Programs. Hinrichs-Bideau previously worked as the director of production for the Minnesota Film & TV Board.
NAPOLEON’S NUPTIALS?: They’re not even waiting for the DVD to add scenes to the quirky hit comedy “Napoleon Dynamite.” The filmmakers have created a five-minute epilogue that will be added to the film for its wider release. The scene, which — like the film — was written by Jared and Jerusha Hess and directed by Hess in Preston, Idaho, is said to offer “a peek into the future of Napoleon and his friends.” It contains a wedding, and as much as we’d like to see Tina the llama in a veil, our money is on Kip and LaFawnda. Fox Searchlight, MTV Films, and Paramount will take the film to 350 screens with the new epilogue attached.
SUPER SIZING WASHINGTON: “Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock made a trip to Capital Hill yesterday. Spurlock worked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to offer Congress members a briefing and a special screening of his hit documentary. As part of the lunch briefing (presumably not over Big Macs), Spurlock addressed the “Commonsense Consumption Act,” proposed legislation that would ban civil lawsuits against the food industry for any role they have in obesity.
LET THEM EAT CAKE: Jessica Yu, who won an Oscar for her short doc “Breathing Lessons,” has signed on to make her narrative feature film debut with Red Sky Pictures. The company will start production in North Carolina this fall on Yu’s “The Cake Eaters,” which is based on a screenplay by actor Jayce Bartek. The producers describe the film as “a contemporary, off-beat comic drama centered on two dysfunctional families who come crashing together upon the return of one families’ prodigal son.” One of Red Sky’s three founding principals, Christopher J. Scott, is executive producing. Yu also directed “In the Realms of the Unreal,” a doc about artist and writer Henry Darger, which debuted at Sundance 2004 and is nearing a distribution deal. Her fiction credits include directing episodes of NBC‘s “The West Wing” and “ER.”
FIRST “LADY”: John Cameron Mitchell of “Hedwig” and “Shortbus” fame is appearing in a benefit reading of Tony Kushner‘s new play “Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy,” to benefit MoveOn. In a delightful bit of casting, Mitchell will play the part of First Lady Laura Bush, while Patricia Clarkson plays an angel. Actress Kristen Johnston is hosting the event, and Kushner and the participants will participate in a Q&A after the reading. The event will be held August 2 at American Airlines Theatre in New York; for ticket info visit www.boxofficetickets.com or call 1-800-494-TIXS.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: The UCLA Film and Television Archive has kicked off its 12th Festival of Preservation, a biennial presentation of selections from the archive. The fest runs through August 21, including such highlights as Billy Wilder‘s “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957), a silent film sampler from 1910-1928 (with live musical accompaniment), Emile de Antonio‘s Vietnam-era doc “In the Year of the Pig,” William Wyler‘s 1934 “Counsellor at Law” starring John Barrymore, silent animated shorts, Sidney Poitier‘s feature film debut “No Way Out,” early jazz TV programs, and Renior‘s 1946 “Diary of a Chambermaid,” interviews with Bela Lugosi from 1931, and much more. For details and schedules, visit www.cinema.ucla.edu.
MORE FROM THE ARCHIVES: The National Film Preservation Archives is prepping a new three-DVD box set to hit stores in September from Image Entertainment. “More Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Films, 1894-1931,” will include 9.5 hours of films, including the earliest surviving sound film, which was produced in 1894 by Thomas Edison‘s laboratory. The set will include D.W. Griffith‘s “The Country Doctor,” Jay Leyda‘s 1931 “A Brong Morning,” a rare film showcasing the original Rin-Tin-Tin, the first surviving version of “The Wizard of Oz,” the earliest film of a Martha Graham dance, Ernst Lubistch‘s “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” novelist Zora Neale Hurston‘s footage of the rural South, and a cartoon satire about prohibition. The set, which feature commentary by 17 historians and experts, includes a 200-page catalog. The first “Treasures” collection of 50 films was released in 2000. For details, visit www.filmpreservation.org.
DOUGLAS HONORS: The 2004 Aspen Filmfest has announced that it will honor Michael Douglas with its Independent by Nature Award. The festival will open on September 29 with the tribute and benefit dinner.