Spirits Set Dates; Toronto Adds Big Flicks; A "Pizza" Report & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Kathleen Dore, president of IFC Companies, has added new duties as rainbow media combines "operating responsibility" for IFC, AMC, and WE: Women's Entertainment. Dore has been named President, Entertainment Services, and will oversee operations for AMC, IFC Companies, and WE. Also, Andrea Greenberg has been named president of distribution; in addition to continuing her efforts at Rainbow Sports Networks, she will now oversee the consolidated affiliate sales and marketing for AMC, Fuse, IFC, WE, MagRack, sportskool, Fuse On-Demand, IFC On Demand, and Uncensored on Demand.
BeBe Lerner has been promoted to VP of PR powerhouse Bumble Ward & Associates. Rochelle Winters, formerly of Smoke & Mirrors, has joined the company to run its corporate division. Also, as indieWIRE previously reported, James Lewis, formerly of Fox Searchlight, has joined Bumble Ward as a publicist.
Frank Pierson has been re-elected to his third term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Sid Ganis was elected first VP, Gil Cates and Cheryl Boone Isaacs were elected VPs, Kathy Bates was named treasurer, and Donald C. Rogers was re-elected secretary.
Producer Christian Halsey Solomon has been tapped to head Cinecitta Financial Consulting in Rome. The financial and business solutions service for international film producers is a newly formed division of Cinecitta Studios, the legendary Roman film and TV studio.
SPIRITED DATES: Mark your calendar: the IFP/Los Angeles announced that like the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards will be held earlier in 2004. The nominations for this year will be announced on December 3, with the awards ceremony following on February 28. Submissions are being accepted until September 19; for details visit http://www.ifp.org.
MORE FOR TORONTO: The Toronto International Film Festival has added several more high-profile films for its star-studded events. Having a special work-in-progress screening will be Richard Curtis' "Love Actually," starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, and Rowan Atkinson. North American premieres added are Robert Benton's "The Human Stain," starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris; Joel Schumacher's "Veronica Guerin," starring Cate Blanchett; Alejandro González Iñárritu's "21 Grams," starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro; the full-length version of Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes"; and Philip Saville's three-hour "The Gospel of John," which boasts 75 principal actors and 2,000 extras. Making its Canadian premiere will be Sofia Coppola's sophomore film "Lost in Translation," starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Giovanni Ribisi.
SPARKS JOINS "PIZZA": Newcomer Kylie Sparks has joined the cast of "Pizza"; she will co-star opposite Ethan Embry, perhaps best known for his role as Bobby Ray in "Sweet Home Alabama." Sparks will star as Cara-Ethyl, described as "a chubby, eccentric brainiac with two personalities." Embry stars as a high school hotshot turned aging pizza delivery-guy who finds himself as the only guest at Cara-Ethyl's 18th birthday party. So he invites her along for the ride as he continues to make his deliveries. The movie is the 11th digital feature from InDigEnt, the digital film initiative from IFC, Gary Winick, and John Sloss. Mark Christopher ("54," "The Dead Boys Club") is directing.
AUSTIN PREVIEW: The Austin Film Festival is offering a sneak preview of its 2003 event, to be held October 9-16. Confirmed films at this point include Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River," Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April," Alex Steyermark's "Prey for Rock & Roll," and Richard Schickel's "Chaplin: the Life and Art of Charles Chaplin." Confirmed panelists for Austin's screenwriters' conference include Chris & Paul Weitz, Brian Helgeland, Peter Hedges, and David Benioff. For updates on the festival, visit http://www.austinfilmfestival.com.
INSTANT KARMA: Someone call Richard Gere... the Buddhist Film Society is planning the first International Buddhist Film Festival, to be held November 20-24 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum is concurrently hosting an exhibition of Buddhist art, "Circle of Bliss". Organizers plan to present more than 40 films from 10 countries. After the bow in L.A., the Berkeley, Calif.-based Buddhist Film Society plans to bring the festival to New York, Denver, San Francisco, Washington, Amsterdam, and Taipei over the next two years. For updates, visit http://www.ibff.org.
CALLING IN: "First Time Caller," the indie feature that recently wrapped shooting in Melbourne, Fla., has recruited a number of high-profile actors for roles and cameos. Among the notables are Chris Elliot, who plays "Eugene the Gator Guy," Thomas Gibson of "Dharma & Greg," Patrick Warburton of "Seinfeld," the famed Fred Willard, and Mo Rocca from "The Daily Show." The film is a comedy about a late-night talk show host (David Alan Basche) who gets a phone call from aliens.
ANDERS AWARD: The Filmmakers Alliance in Hollywood will honor Allison Anders with the group's fourth-annual vision award, to be presented by Rosanna Arquette. the alliance will honor anders during its 10th anniversary gala and screening at the dga on august 13. anders is in good company; past honorees are Wim Wenders, Mike Figgis, and Terry Gilliam.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Amateur auteurs, or just birthday party chroniclers, take note: the first Home Movie Day is being planned for August 16. Across the country, home Hitchcocks are being recruited to show off their mundane to strange home films (and we do mean films; videos aren't allowed). Folks can bring their movies to regional events and have their private moments screened for the masses. In New York, the Home Movie Day HQ will be Anthology Film Archives. For details on the national event, visit http://www.homemovieday.com, or to learn more about New York specifics, visit http://www.anthologyfilmarchives.org.
GEM OF A DEAL: Indican Pictures has acquired "Emerald Cowboy - Esmeraldero," directed and produced by Andrew Molina. the film is the true story of eishy hayata, a rags-to-riches emerald czar. the film, from Burn Pictures, is the first American production to shoot in Bogota, Colombia, in more than 20 years. Indican plans a national theatrical release starting in late September.
OLDIES: HBO2 is kicking off its August and September series "Still Kicking, Still Laughing," devoted to docs about older Americans aging with "gusto," on August 12. The first film in the series is Matthew Ginsburg's "Uncle Frank," to be followed by David Zeiger's "Funny Old Guys" and Kevin Kelley's "The Checker King" (August 19); Ellen Spiro's "Atomic Ed & the Black Hole" (August 26); Amy Rubin, Stefan Knerrich, and Michael Rey's "Facing Arthur" (September 2); and one of our personal faves, Alex Halpern's "Nine Good Teeth" (September 9).
KODAK DEAL: Eastman Kodak announced a deal to buy Laser-Pacific Media Corp, a Hollywood post-production company, for around $30.5 million. Laser-Pacific, a TV, home vid, and film house formed in 1990, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak, reporting to the entertainment imaging products and services arm.
MOVE OVER, TOBEY: "Spiderman" creator Stan Lee is making his acting debut in a 6-minute 35mm short entitled "Watch Your Step," in which he plays the mayor of a ghost town. for details on the short, directed by Antoine Ohanessuan and Luke Lieberman, visit http://www.watchyourstep.net.
FLEMMING DROPS RUN FOR GOVERNOR: Filmmaker and writer Brian Flemming ("Nothing So Strange," "Bat Boy The Musical") has ended his bid for governor of California. His platform, "If elected, I will resign" had intended to encourage voters to vote for him and he would then give the post to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente. The Lt. Governor has since declared that he is a candidate. In a statement yesterday, Flemming said, "With a cast of characters out of some absurdist drama, including Angelyne and even less credible candidates such as bodybuilder and inarticulate popcorn-movie actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bustamante is the only sane backup plan for any Californian, Democrat or otherwise."
[Eugene Hernandez contributed to this report.]