German and Global Parties; Ewan McGregor Hits the Road; Woodstock Moves & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Killer Films producer Brad Simpson has been tapped to head Leonardo DiCaprio's Los Angeles production company, Appian Way. He will move West and start there in January.
Film and Music Entertainment, Inc. president John Daly will now also serve as the company's chairman, after Michael Meyer stepped down from the post. In other news, Film and Music has announced a planned acquisition of Miracle Productions, Inc. (a unit of Miracle Entertainment) and a new multiple-picture production deal with Commodities Management Exchange. In addition to five films in pre-production, CMX and Miracle will distribute the Sinatra story "The Night We Called It a Day," starring Dennis Hopper and Melanie Griffith.
GERMANIA: It wasn't quite the lederhosen, bratwurst, and Spaten festival we had hoped for, but the party for MoMA's Kino 2003: New German Films and 25 Years of German Cinema was a lovely affair. The setting, at the old-school Players Club on Gramercy Park South, was quite classy -- fitting for the crowd drawn by the Export-Union of German Cinema, the Goethe-Institute New York, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and MoMA. A well-heeled group mingled and noshed on pasta and oriental dumplings (whither the wienerschnitzel?) and met director Margarethe von Trotta, actress Maria Schrader, and co-screenwriter Pamela Katz representing the opening night film, "Rosenstrasse." The moving film, coming to theaters this spring from Goldwyn, is an epic about Aryan women rallying against the Nazis during World War II, and their descendants decades later. While introducing the film to a packed house at MoMA Gramercy last Thursday, von Trotta was reminded by MoMA's Larry Kardish that another of her films had opened the museum's first Kino series 25 years ago. "I'm still alive after 25 years, that's amazing!" von Trotta joked with the crowd. The Kino series' new films continue through Sunday, with the retrospective running through January 19.
ON THE ROAD: He has stripped down for "Young Adam," and employed a Southern accent for Tim Burton's "Big Fish," now Ewan McGregor has signed on to mostly just be himself -- for a new TV series called "Long Way 'Round." The series will follow McGregor and his best friend, actor Charley Boorman, as they traverse the globe (at least 20,000 miles of it) on motorcycles. (Uh oh, didn't they see "The Brown Bunny"?) Filming will start in London in January and end in New York in August, with the goal of producing 10 one-hour programs or 13 half-hour shows. The show, from Image Wizard TV and Elixir Films, will be ready for the fall 2004 TV season.
GOING GLOBAL: There was another MoMA-related party on Wednesday, as the Global Film Initiative celebrated its 10-film Global Lens series running at MoMA Gramercy. After a screening of Renato Falcao's "Margarette's Feast," crowds gathered at Patria on Park Avenue South for empanadas, South American meats and treats, and cool Brazilian drinks (watch out for those caipirinhas!). BUZZ arrived a bit late -- still in time for the ample dessert spread -- strawberry tarts, lemon curd and chocolate bonbons, not to mention a few varieties of cake. Latin jazz band Helio Serodio performed for the crowd, which was mostly attired in black and white garb (BUZZ went whole-hog and wore her B&W shoes no less). Among the partygoers were of course the honchos at Global Film Initiative, several folks from New Yorker Films and the Film Forum, and, well, our usual crowd -- producer Diana Williams, Tribeca programmer David Kwok, publicist Susan Norget, Wellspring's Marie-Therese Guirgis, and Palm's Ryan Werner. After its run at MoMa (through November 30), the Global Lens series will travel to 12 U.S. cities.
HELPING THE HEEB: As indieWIRE recently reported, Strand Releasing has stepped in to handle theatrical distribution of "The Hebrew Hammer" following the recent demise of Cowboy Pictures. Strand plans a December 19 opening at the Angelika Film Center in New York. The film stars Adam Goldberg as a Jewish superhero -- "the baddest Heeb this side of Tel Aviv" -- who tries to save Hanukkah.
INTO THE WOODS: Principal photography starts Monday in Vancouver for "The Woodcutter," a drama starring Danny Glover, Linda Hamilton, David Strathairn, and Ron Perlman. Gabrielle Savage Dockterman is making her feature film directorial debut with "The Woodcutter," the story of a reclusive Vietnam veteran (Glover) who reunites with a former member of his platoon (Strathairn). Angel Devil Productions and Intrinsic Value are co-producing.
WOODSTOCKED: Planning ahead for next year's fifth anniversary event, the Woodstock Film Festival announced that it will move from September to October next year because of Jewish holidays. The festival will be held from October 13-17, 2004, and will return to its September dates in 2005.
SUITED UP: Myriad Pictures has acquired international rights in all media for Trillion Entertainment's "New Suit," a comedy about an aspiring screenwriter who works as a producer's assistant. Francois Valle ("Kings for a Day") directs a cast including Jordan Bridges ("Mona Lisa Smile"), Marisa Coughlan ("Pumpkin"), and Dan Hedaya ("Swimfan"), working from a script by Craig Sherman. In other Myriad news, Myriad's co-production (with Mission Pictures) of "Picadilly Jim" has added some new cast members. Brenda Blethyn and Hugh Bonneville are joining the P.G. Wodehouse comedy, which stars Sam Rockwell and Tom Wilkinson.
CHECKING INTO "HOTEL": Lions Gate International has picked up all international rights for "Hotel Rwanda." Terry George (screenwriter for "In the Name of the Father") is attached to direct the project, which will film in South Africa and Rwanda early in 2004. Don Cheadle will star as Paul Rusesabagina, a brave hotel owner who saved thousands of people during the Rwandan genocide of the '90s. Nick Nolte co-stars. Alex Ho ("Ali," "The Doors") is producing.
SUNDANCE/NHK FINALISTS: The twelve finalists for the Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award have been announced. Competing this year for the $10,000 award, that also includes a Japanese television broadcast are: Christopher Boe ("Allegro") from Denmark, Alice Nellis ("Loving Hell") from the Czech Republic, Gyorgy Palfi ("Taxidermia") from Hungary, Eliane Caff ("Chasing Voices") from Brazil, Santiago Loza ("Empty Rooms") from Argentina, Andrucha Waddington ("The House of Sand") from Brazil, Caran Hartsfield ("Bury Me Standing"), Miranda July ("Me and You and Everyone We Know") and Elisabeth Subrin ("Up") from the USA, and from Japan, Kosuke Hosakai ("Tepid Love"), Yoichi Kurokawa ("Thirty Seconds: Three Victims"), and Tatsumori Natsui ("Kuhone Village in the Kuhone District in the Kuhone Province").