A Racy Rating for "Young Adam," Damon Dash Teams with Lions Gate; Honoring Coppola and Caine
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Steven Friedlander has joined Warner Independent Pictures as executive VP of distribution. Friedlander most recently served as executive VP of Fine Line Features, where he had been in charge of theatrical distribution since 1996. He is also a veteran of New Line Cinema and 20th Century Fox.
Nerve.com has hired Elizabeth Wurtzel (freelance writer and the author of "Prozac Nation" as Nerve's exclusive film reviewer for 2004. Wurtzel will review five films per month; her first column covers "The Passion of the Christ."
Larry Angrisani has joined Miramax Films as VP of international publicity, based in the company's New York offices. Angrisani most recently was a senior publicist in the international publicity department at Universal Pictures.
Dawn Altyn, formerly the VP of distribution for Lot 47 Films, is now VP of distribution for Alliance International Pictures. She is the associate producer of Alliance International's documentary "Union Square," which will open in theaters in May 2004.
"YOUNG ADAM" GOES NC-17: Sony Pictures Classics and producer Jeremy Thomas have lost their appeal to the MPAA for an 'R' rating for David McKenzie's "Young Adam," which stars Tilda Swinton and Ewan MacGregor. The company said Thursday that it will release the movie with an NC-17 rating rather than cut it to achieve an 'R'. Sony Classics' co-president Tom Bernard told indieWIRE yesterday that he is worried that the film's rating will give viewers the wrong impression. "One of the issues that we have is that the 'NC-17' rating puts us right next to whatever porn movies are out there, how does an audience discern between (the two)." Bernard is advocating for a new rating.
"The MPAA should put a 'Hard R' rating out there so that the audience will know that this is not pornography." Bernard said that the the recent release of "The Dreamers" had no impact on his decision to release the movie as an 'NC-17'." Concluding Sony's Tom Bernard said, "There will be theaters that won't play it and there will be people in the public in the land of right wing Jesus movies who will shun this picture and refrain from from letting it be advertised in the media that they control -- we do have a Luke Skywalker in the movie with his Light Saber exposed, the talent in the film would allows us to take it wider, were it not for the 'NC-17'."
HONORING COPPOLA AND CAINE: The official awards season is over, but there's still plenty of honoring going on in New York. On March 30, the Department of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art will honor Sofia Coppola at its third-annual "A Work in Progress" benefit. (David O. Russell and Alexander Payne were past honorees). Recent Oscar winner Coppola will be at MoMA Gramercy for a conversation with guest moderators, as well as a program of film clips (with a fabulous party at Metronome to follow of course... time to get your Marc Jacobs attire dry-cleaned). Her films "Lost in Translation," "The Virgin Suicides," and the short "Lick the Star" will also show at MoMA April 6-7. [Not for nothing, her star Bill Murray will be honored across the river at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in early April.] At another benefit, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will honor Michael Caine at its 2004 Gala Tribute. The event, to be held April 26, has honored greats like Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and others since the Society launched it in 1972. Caine's film clips will be shown and actors and directors he has worked with will appear on stage.
MILESTONE FOR SUNDANCE: The Sundance Film Series, which launched in 2003 with releases of "The Other Side of the Bed," "In This World," "Dopamine," and "Die Mommie Die!," has selected Milestone Films as its exclusive non-theatrical distributor. Milestone will bring the films to film societies, media centers, museums and film series across the United States.
DAME DASH'S NEXT PROPERTY: Lions Gate Films is working with Damon Dash for the sequel to 2002 sleeper hit "State Property." Production has started with Dash Films/ROC Films on Dash's "State Property II," with Dash directing from a screenplay by Adam Moreno, who he also worked with on the 2003 film "Death of a Dynasty." The film is about three gangsters (played by Dash, Beanie Sigel, and Victor Santiago, a.k.a. Nore) in Philadelphia. A number of cameos by supermodels, athletes, musicians, and actors are in the works. Lions Gate is planning a 2005 release.
GREAT, WONDERFUL: Serenade Films has attracted a star-studded ensemble cast for its first project, "The Great New Wonderful." Olympia Dukakis, Jim Gaffigan, Thomas McCarthy, and Naseeruddin Shah have signed-on to join the previously announced cast of Eddie Falco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Tony Shalhoub. Working from Sam Catlin's script, director Danny Leiner started shooting the film earilier this week in New York. Sly Dog Films developed the project, which is produced by Leiner, Matt Tauber, and Serenade Films' Leslie Urdang, Michael Nozik, Amy Robinson, and Michael Hoffman. The film weaves five stories in post-9/11 New York city. Serenade plans to make five films in the next year, each with budgets around the low six figures.
PUB PROJECTIONS: If there's anything BUZZ likes more than movies, it's beer. So we have to applaud indie production company Bouncing Light Entertainment, for its decision to pursue non-traditional distribution in English pubs. The Portland, Ore., company is launching its first feature film, "The Good Lot," with screenings in various pubs across the country (for a full list, check www.thegoodlot.com). "Given the film's focus on friendship, sport, and its admittedly British feel, we felt that our target audience was probably enjoying a pint or two at the local pub," says Bouncing Light's Brian Thomas Wright.