by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
With the indie community buzzing about the big changes at October Films,
Miramax made some headlines of its own today (Thursday), with the news that
it is essentially dropping Kevin Smith's much-anticipated new film, "Dogma."
In a New York Times article, Bernard Weinraub reported that Disney
(Miramax's corporate parent) has deemed the film "inappropriate," calling
the company's decision "an embarrassment." According to the piece, Miramax
co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein will acquire the rights to the movie
with the intention of instead selling them to another film distributor.
While Weinstein told Weinraub that the decision was not at the direction of
Disney, the Times reported that a Disney executive who spoke on the
condition of anonymity -- and has seen the film -- felt that some of
"Dogma" might be seen as an attack on the Roman Catholic church's "dogma."
Weinraub reported that the executive was "dismayed" by the movie and
indicated that it is "inappropriate for all of our labels." The
Weinstein's move is clearly an attempt to delicately extricate the
IndieWood company from a difficult situation with its parent company -- in
the wake of the messy media flap that erupted when Seagram forced October
Films to drop Todd Solondz's "Happiness" last year.
Brad Plevyak & Chris Alley's newsaskew.com website, which has been tracking
the building controversy for awhile, published comments from Smith. The
filmmaker cautioned fans, "What Harvey and Bob are doing is a good thing,"
adding that, "Nothing's ever been done to or with the film without the
consultation and approval of me and Scott."
For some time now, "Dogma" has been on the short list of movies expected to
screen at Cannes, where last year's "Happiness" flap basically began. Smith
indicated that the Cannes announcement would be made in two weeks and he
reinforced to site visitors that "everything's fine." Smith explained, "When
shit's bad or going south, rest assured - I'll let you know. At that point,
you can rattle your sabres all you like."
* * * * *
The other big IndieWood story of the week, namely the official word on the
Diller deal for October and Gramercy, was on the mouths of many last
night (Wednesday). A large crowd gathered to "Get Slossed" (as the
invitation read) during one of the firm's occassional after-work gatherings
at Eureka Joe's, downstairs from the company's office in the Flatiron
District. John Sloss, Joy Newhouse, Micah Green, David Ling, and Paul
Brennan were among the Sloss-ers who greeted attendees and mingled with the
"Why is Stephen Rea here?," asked one attendee bluntly, inside the jammed
event. No word on that, but also in attendance for the fiesta were a
mixture of executives & acquisitions folks (DGA's Terry Caseletta,
October's Peter Kalmbach, Sony Classics' Dylan Leiner, Artistic License's
Suzanne Fedak, IFC's Jonathan Sehring and Caroline Kaplan, New Line's
Joe Revitte and Leisure Times' Bruce Pavlow), as well as filmmakers and
producers ("Trans" director Julian Goldberger and producer Michael
Robinson, Larry Fessenden and Susan Stover, "Judy Berlin's" Eric Mendelsohn, Brad Anderson with Nantucket Film Fest's Lauren Mansfield, c-hundred's Jim McKay and Michael Stipe, Rene Bastian, and George Plamondon).
Among the others in the house were Grainy Pictures' John and Janet Pierson,
Kerry Barden of Hopkins/Smith/Barden Casting, publicist Susan Norget, and
The Reel School's Jonathan Judge, whose new project, "Real Jokes," will
screen on the upcoming IFP tour -- he also recently made a deal with HBO
for the project.
Reportedly departing October Co-President Bingham Ray dropped in on the
festivities, briefly chatting with a few guests and making light of his
current situation, joking that he would soon be in line at the unemployment
"Can you believe it," one indie community stalwart asked me, "Bingham is
leaving October and Karol is leaving FILMMAKER! What's going on?"
Also weighing her options is esteemed biz scribe Monica Roman who indicated
that she has "ankled" her post at Variety, saying that she is considering a
bit of travel before diving into a new position. Old competition Thom
Geier from The Hollywood Reporter also stopped by to chat, but was held for
awhile at the sidewalk where an aggressive agent pitched him on piece about
a "hot new client."