EXTRA! EXTRA! Technology and Academy Awards: Connections #69

NAB 2013.   Model of Black Magic's new 4K Camera.

NAB 2013. Model of Black Magic’s new 4K Camera.

     Last year I attended NAB — the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Black Magic announced it would deliver a Cinema Camera with 4K resolution for $3,999.  Well, it has taken them almost one year to deliver this camera to the folks who want it.  It is a great camera for a very low price.  The marketing talk was “4K for 4K (four thousand dollars) but Black Magic did themselves  one step better.  It’s now 4K for a ridiculously low price of $2,999.  And it includes their hi-end post production color timing tool Resolve.

     This Sunday night is the Academy Awards.  Who will win?  Who will lose?  But in  truth everyone nominated is a winner.



EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS Oscar Facts: Connections #49

Academy Award

2 Best Picture winners set in Los Angeles

  1. Million Dollar Baby
  2. Crash

5 Nominees whose characters saw dead people

  1. Roland Young, Topper
  2. Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  3. Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost
  4. Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense
  5.  Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

2 Nominees for Oscar and Razzie in same role

  1. Amy Irving, Yentl
  2. James Coco, Only When I Laugh

13 Actors directed by William Wyler in winning performances—more than any director

  1. Walter Brennan, Come and Get It and The Westerner
  2. Bette Davis, Jezebel
  3. Fay Bainter, Jezebel
  4. Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver
  5. Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver
  6. Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
  7. Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives
  8. Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress
  9. Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday
  10. Burl Ives, The Big Country
  11. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur
  12. Hugh Griffith, Ben-Hur
  13. Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl

3 Actors nominated for playing fictional American presidents

  1. Lee Tracy in The Best Man,
  2. Jeff Bridges in The Contender
  3. Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

6 Directors who won for their first film

  1. Delbert Mann, Marty, 1956
  2. Jerome Robbins, West Side Story, 1962
  3. Robert Redford, Ordinary People, 1980
  4. James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment, 1984
  5. Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves, 1991
  6. Sam Mendes, American Beauty, 2000

5 Actors nominated for playing multiple people

  1. Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
  2. José Ferrer, Moulin Rouge
  3. Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  4. Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou
  5. Nicolas Cage, Adaptation

2 Best Picture nominees narrated by dead characters

  1. Sunset Boulevard
  2.  American Beauty

9  Actors who won Tony and Oscar for the same role

  1. José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac (Tony: 1947; Oscar: 1951)
  2. Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba (T: 1950; O: 1953)
  3. Yul BrynnerThe King and I (T: 1952; O: 1957)
  4. Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady (T: 1957; O: 1965)
  5. Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker (T: 1960; O: 1963)
  6. Paul ScofieldA Man for All Seasons (T: 1962; O: 1967)
  7. Jack Albertson, The Subject Was Roses (T: 1965; O: 1969)
  8. Joel Grey, Cabaret (T: 1967; O: 1973)
  9. Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek (O: 1965) and Zorba (T: 1984)

62 Actors who won for playing real people*

  1. George Arliss as Benjamin Disraeli in Disraeli
  2. Charles Laughton as King Henry VIII in The Private Life of Henry VIII
  3. Paul Muni as Louis Pasteur in The Story of Louis Pasteur
  4. Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan in Boys Town
  5. Gary Cooper as Alvin C. York in Sergeant York
  6. James Cagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy
  7. José Ferrer as Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano de Bergerac
  8. Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I
  9. Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons
  10. George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in Patton
  11. Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
  12. Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Gandhi in Gandhi
  13. F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus
  14. Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown in My Left Foot
  15. Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune
  16. Geoffrey Rush as David Helfgott in Shine
  17. Adrien Brody as Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist
  18. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray
  19. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote
  20. Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland
  21. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Milk
  22. Colin Firth as King George VI in The King’s Speech
  23. Luise Rainer as Anna Held in The Great Ziegfeld
  24. Jennifer Jones as Bernadette Soubirous in The Song of Bernadette
  25. Ingrid Bergman as Anna Koreff in Anastasia
  26. Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham in I Want to Live!
  27. Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker
  28. Katharine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine in The Lion in Winter
  29. Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl
  30. Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter
  31. Susan Sarandon as Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking
  32. Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry
  33. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich
  34. Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours
  35. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster
  36. Reese Witherspoon as June Carter in Walk the Line
  37.  Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen
  38. Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose
  39.  Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side
  40. Joseph Schildkraut as Captain Alfred Dreyfus in The Life of Emile Zola
  41. Walter Brennan as Judge Roy Bean in The Westerner
  42. Anthony Quinn as Eufemio Zapata in Viva Zapata!
  43. Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin in Lust for Life
  44. Peter Ustinov as Lentulus Batiatus in Spartacus
  45. Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in All The President’s Men
  46. Jason Robards as Dashiell Hammett in Julia
  47. Haing S. Ngor as Dith Pran in The Killing Fields
  48. Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood
  49. Jim Broadbent as John Bayley in Iris
  50.  Chris Cooper as John Laroche in Adaptation
  51. Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund in The Fighter
  52. Shelley Winters as Petronella Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank
  53. Patty Duke as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker
  54. Estelle Parsons as Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde
  55. Mary Steenburgen as Lynda Dummar in Melvin and Howard
  56. Maureen Stapleton as Emma Goldman in Reds
  57. Brenda Fricker as Bridget Brown in My Left Foot
  58. Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love
  59. Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner in Pollock
  60. Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind
  61. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator
  62. Melissa Leo as Alice Ward in The Fighter

*The breakdown: 22 for Lead Actor, 17 for Lead Actress, 12 for Supporting Actor and 11 for Supporting Actress

5 Ties for the Oscar

  1. 1932, Best Actor
  2. 1950, Documentary Short Subject
  3. 1969, Lead Actress
  4. 1987, Documentary Feature
  5. 1995, Live-Action Short Film



It’s that time of the year again, and an especially exciting time for me, with the Academy Awards Show airing tomorrow night.

I’ve been busy since September working as Post Production Producer on the feature film “Atlas Shrugged.” We had our first private screenings at Sony Studios on Tuesday and Thursday.  Tuesday morning I had a technical screening for financier John Agigularo, his wife Joan Carter, and producer Harmon Kaslow. Afterwards, Joan told me she was crying (with tears of joy) as the “hero scene ” played on the big screen.  I do not want to give it away. I will only say it has to do with The John Gault Line.

Two time Academy awards winner Al Ruddy, who was once involved with “Atlas,” said the movie turned out much better than he had ever imagined.

I watched all the screenings from the projection booth at Sony Studios, as “Atlas was being digitally projected to stellar audiences.  Each screening was an overwhelming success.

Two days ago, I took AMTRAC’S Pacific Surfliner from Santa Barbara, California to Solano Beach, just north of San Diego,.  The event was The CATO Benefactor’s Conference held at the Grand Del Mar, one of the most luxurious hotels I’ve ever stayed at.  CATO is a Libertarian Think Tank and this weekend they were raising funds to build  a headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

The screening of “Atlas Shrugged” was warmly received and John Agigularo and Harmon Kaslow received a standing ovation.

I will talk more about “Atlas” as I travel across the country to show the movie to members of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Then at Tribecca in New York City.   And at a venue in Palm Beach, Florida.

"The King's Speech"

Now on to the Academy Awards.  Colin Firth is a shoe-in to win an Oscar for Best Actor.  It will be a wonderful experience for him, and a delightful experience for me.  Twenty-two years ago, I worked with Colin on the wonderfully quirky motion picture “Apartment Zero.” He played a projectionist in a small movie theatre showing “Art Films” in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He had “star” quality even back then, and now he’s a real “movie star” with his magnificent performance in “The King’s Speech.”   Colin, I can’t wait ’til tomorrow night to hear your acceptance speech.

My hat’s off to James Franco who’s nominated for an Oscar for his extraordinary performance in “127 Hours,” directed by Danny Boyle. I worked with Franco on “Camille,” a lovely motion picture that sadly underperformed at the box office.

James Franco won’t win an Academy Award — he did win the SPIRIT Award last night — but the next best thing to winning an Oscar is to co-host with Anne Hathaway the Academy Awards show tonight.

I’ll be watching Colin and James, along with millions of fans world-wide, with fond memories of our working together.

As the old Show Biz saying goes, “Break a Leg.”  In the case, since I’ll be rooting for both of you, “Break Two Legs.”




EXTRA! EXTRA! Looking Forward: Connections (#34)

Collin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

The race is on.In the weeks leading up to Oscar nomination day, David Fincher’sFacebook movie “The Social Network” had all but been anointed the winner of this year’s best picture Academy Award, racking up nearly every critic’s prize across the country, in addition to taking the top Golden Globe. But Tuesday morning the race heated up significantly with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences handing the British drama “The King’s Speech” 12 nominations — the most of any film this year.Joel and Ethan Coen’s PG-13 western “True Grit” landed 10 nominations while “Social Network” and “Inception” each walked away with eight.

“It seems like an extremely even playing field,” said Scott Rudin, who with “The Social Network” and “True Grit” became the first producer since 1974 to have two films in the best picture race. “I don’t think it’s a two-horse race, I don’t think it’s even a three-horse race. I think it’s going to be a very fun and interesting month.”

The rest of the films in the best picture category include director David O. Russell’s “The Fighter,” which earned seven nods; the James Franco – starring “127 Hours,” which landed six; and “Black Swan” with five; plus “Toy Story 3,” “The Kids Are All Right” and “Winter’s Bone.”

Leaving aside “Toy Story 3,” all of the nine other best-picture nominees are adult-oriented dramas, most of which have done exceedingly well at the box office. “Inception,” “True Grit” and “The Social Network” all passed the $100-million mark, and “Black Swan” is on track to do so. “These are all grown-up, sophisticated movies that are mostly big hits in a genre that people thought was finished,” added Rudin.

This crop of films also serves as a reinforcement for the academy’s decision to expand the best-picture category from five films to 10 last year as a way to better reflect the most popular movies (especially in comparison to the 2010 race, in which top-grossing “Avatar” was nominated but the little-seen indie “The Hurt Locker” won the top prize).

Now the teams behind the nominated films and actors will enter the final leg of their marketing campaigns, with four weeks remaining to get their movies seen and admired by all academy voters before ballots are due on Feb. 22. The awards will be handed out Feb. 27.

“The King’s Speech” took home top honors at Saturday’s Producers Guild Awards and seems to be gaining momentum. But the film’s backers aren’t taking anything for granted.

“I do not believe that of the 6,000-plus Oscar members, that everybody saw the movie,” said Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. distributed “The King’s Speech,” echoing the sentiments of most Oscar campaigners. “We have to get them all to see the movie.”

In the top acting categories, the boxing drama “The Fighter” rivaled “The King’s Speech” for the most nominations, with three each. Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Amy Adams were all selected for their portrayals of characters in the real-life Lowell, Mass., family surrounding boxing champion Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg, who was not nominated for his performance).

“We are here because of all these actors and their performances,” said Russell, who also walked away with a best director nomination along with Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”), Fincher (“The Social Network”) and the Coen brothers (“True Grit”). “It’s been very emotional for me and my family.”

The one striking omission in the directing category was Christopher Nolan, whose mind-bending thriller “Inception” landed eight other nominations.

As for “The King’s Speech,” Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter were recognized for their portrayal of British royalty, while Geoffrey Rush was rewarded for his role as speech therapist Lionel Logue in the period drama about friendship and loyalty. “It’s a simple thing,” said Weinstein. “The reason the movie got that many nominations is a tribute to this cast. Our actors are our special effects on this movie.”

In contrast, “The Social Network” only received one acting nomination — for Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg. Andrew Garfield’s role as Zuckerberg’s friend-turned-courtroom rival Eduardo Saverin was bypassed in the supporting actor category in favor of turns by Bale, Rush, John Hawkes for “Winter’s Bone,” Jeremy Renner in “The Town” and Mark Ruffalo for “The Kids Are All Right.”

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Ruffalo of his first-time recognition for his role as sperm donor in director Lisa Cholodenko’s family drama. “I think this is as close as you can be to becoming royalty in this country. It’s like being a duke. I was pretty much blown away.”

One of the other actors landing a nomination for the first time was “127 Hours” star Franco, who will also be hosting the show with Anne Hathaway on Feb. 27. Franco said he’s relieved to have double duty on Oscar night.

“It’s great,” he said. “The hosting duties will have me thinking about the show and not thinking about my category.” He will compete in the lead category against rookie Eisenberg, veterans Javier Bardem in “Biutiful,” Jeff Bridges in “True Grit” and Firth in “The King’s Speech.”

The lead actress category pits Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”) versus Nicole Kidman (“Rabbit Hole”), Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”), Michelle Williams (“Blue Valentine”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone). At 20, Lawrence is the youngest nominee in the category for her role as the determined teenager in “Winter’s Bone.”

There was a chance that Lawrence would be competing against the plucky 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld for her starring role in “True Grit,” but Paramount Pictures pushed her in the supporting category — as is somewhat traditional for someone of her age and inexperience. The academy responded, nominating Steinfeld opposite four more seasoned actresses: Adams, Leo, Bonham Carter and Australian Jacki Weaver for her role in the crime drama “Animal Kingdom.”

Steinfeld is still marveling at the luck of her first acting role turning into an Academy Award-nominated performance.

“Just a year ago, I was auditioning for the role and thinking whoever gets this is winning the lotto,” she said. “All of this coming with it is just so crazy.”

Copyright © 2011, The Los Angeles Times

Though blockbusters created through the studio system once had a lock on these awards, things have so changed that “The King’s Speech,” the most classically Hollywood film on the best picture list, was distributed not by a major studio but by the savvy Weinstein Co.

While the studios focus almost exclusively on dumbing down their product on an often-fruitless quest to increase revenue, five of the 10 best picture nominees were distributed by specialty divisions or small companies.

Aside from the Weinstein’s “King’s Speech,” Roadside Attractions handled “Winter’s Bone,” Universal Picture’s Focus Features division did “The Kids Are All Right” and Fox Searchlight put out both “Black Swan” and “127 Hours.”

One might even argue that many of the Oscar-nominated movies distributed by the majors were so free of studio control (because of the power and status of their filmmakers) that they were independent films in spirit, if not in name. No one is going to tell the auteurs behind “Toy Story 3” at Pixar how to operate, no one is going to give notes to Joel and Ethan Coen on “True Grit” and no one but Christopher Nolan could have persuaded Warner Bros. to go through with as nervy a project as “Inception.” More power to Sony, then, for taking a risk and giving the green light to David Fincher’s “The Social Network.”

Speaking of Nolan, one of the real scandals of this Oscar season is his absence from the best director list. Why that branch didn’t recognize Nolan’s vision and skill, not only with special effects but with actors as well, is a mystery. It’s similarly disheartening to see Lesley Manville’s marvelous performance in Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” slighted, and to have Mark Wahlberg’s non-showy but absolutely essential work as the heart of “The Fighter” sadly ignored.

And don’t get me started about this year’s foreign-language category, which inexplicably excluded France’s marvelous “Of Gods and Men,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and dominated the recent Cesar nominations, France’s version of the Oscars. If not for the inclusion of Susanne Bier’s richly humanistic “In a Better World,” the likely winner, it would be an unusual group indeed. No, Bier’s film didn’t premiere at Sundance, but it is playing here now.

For this wintry Utah town, it’s been that kind of a year

Times staff writer Chris Lee contributed to this report.


Copyright © 2011, The Los Angeles Times

EXTRA! EXTRA! 2010 Academy Awards: Connections (#6)

Roger and Julie Corman with Author at 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival

Roger and Julie Corman with Author at 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival

It was like old home week on tonight’s Academy Awards telecast.  Roger Corman, who I spent time with at the 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

I worked with Colin Firth, who was nominated for best Supporting Actor and was also a presenter tonight, on the feature film  “Apartment Zero.”

I worked with Lloyd Bridges on the Emmy-nominated mini-series “East of Eden,” and tonight his son, Jeff Bridges, was a presenter and also won the Oscar for Best Actor in “Crazy Heart.”

Special congratulations are also in order for Sandra Bullock and Bob Murawski who I mentioned as being nominated for Oscars in a previous Blog. Tonight Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress in “The Blind Spot,” and Bob Murawski won an Oscar for Co-Editing “The Hurt Locker.”

Congratulations Everyone!

EXTRA! EXTRA! 2010 Academy Awards Season: Connections (#3)

Sandra Bulloock 2010

Sandra Bullock

Two Degrees of Separation

At the 2010 Golden Globes, Sandra Bullock, in her acceptance speech for Best Actress for “The Blind Side,” gave special thanks to her Makeup Artist Pamela Westmore. Pamela worked for me in the Editorial Department on John Steinback’s award-winning ABC-TV Network mini-series “East of Eden.” Sandra Bullock has also been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in a Leading Role for “The  Blind Side.”

Congratulations Everyone!