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Documentary

Showtime to Produce Dick Cheney Documentary

Showtime announced today that it has hired the Emmy-winning filmmaker of The War Room R.J. Cutler to make a documentary about George W. Bush‘s former puppeteer…er…vice president Dick Cheney.

“Like it or not, we live in a world defined by the domestic and international vision of Dick Cheney — perhaps the single-most influential non-Presidential figure in American political history,” says Cutler in the release. “But for all the debate that his re-emergence in the public eye has caused, the fact is that Cheney the man remains an enigma, and the manner in which he utilized his power and experience to become such a dominating political figure, have been left largely unexplored. This documentary will shine a balanced and multi-dimensional light on this truly polarizing figure.”

The film is set to be called The World According to Dick Cheney. No word yet on whether Cheney will participate in the film. Or whether he will allow filmmakers to capture his morning puppy, unicorn testicle and angel-wing juicing regimen that sustains his existence.

Documentary Series on OccupyLA Launches Online

Longtime LA Weekly journalist Sam Slovick partnered with TakePart and Slake to put out a five-part documentary series on OccupyLA called Scenes from the New Revolution. Part 1 is posted above.

Slovick covered the LA City Hall occupation for the two months before it was famously squashed by the LAPD last month. More info on Slovick’s project here.

Documentaries Now Need Newspaper Reviews for Oscar Eligibility

All you indie documentarians out there with Oscar dreams may want to start sending flowers to Kenneth Turan. Because new rules put forth by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will require documentaries to be reviewed by either the New York or LA Times to be eligible for Oscar consideration. The move is undoubtedly an effort to deal with the growing volume of documentaries that are coming out these days. This Fishie has a friend who screens films for a festival-that-shall-not-be-named who tells us the number of docs is out of control. And most are TERRIBLE.

The Academy would never likely have to sift though rubbish like our friend. But docs can be produced so cheaply these days, the number of good films screening each year is growing too. The Academy is obviously hoping for a little help with quality control. However, notes the NY Times, there are a few kinks to be worked out.

A draft of the proposed rule did not specify whether the review had to be included in a print edition, or might run only online. It also did not specify length, or distinguish between the sort of capsule review, which sometimes introduces festival films, and a more elaborate piece of criticism. Reviews by television critics were specifically ruled out.

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Joan Rivers Revisits Her Biggest Career Mistake

What more can be said about Johnny Carson that hasn’t already been said? According to Peter Jones, the PBS documentary producer who pursued the late night host for ten years before being curtly turned down, Carson himself certainly believed all had been aired.

Still, for Tonight Show connoisseurs, the upcoming May 14 “American Masters” series documentary on PBS promises a few new tidbits, most notably Joan Rivers revisiting her disastrous decision to not keep Carson properly in the loop about her discussions with FOX. Ray Richmond, the former Hollywood Reporter staffer now helping with Deadline.com’s TCA coverage, has the details from this morning’s Winter Session panel:

“Joan really speaks about that for the first time with us,” Jones said. “She admits that she probably shouldn’t have let Johnny find out about it second-hand. … Johnny never spoke with Joan again. She called him to discuss it with him and he hung up on her. The whole thing with Joan broke Johnny’s heart, it really did.”

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Doc Maker Got Directing Tips from Jerry Lewis

Seven years after profiling Phyllis Diller in Goodnight, We Love You, Gregg Barson is set to unveil his documentary look at another comedy legend. It was in fact while making that previous project that Barson first met Jerry Lewis.

Probably the biggest difference when it came to making Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, which premieres tomorrow night on Encore, was how involved his latest subject was in the filmmalking aspects of the assignment. Barson tells THR reporter Lesley Goldberg that the king of comedy was extremely “hands on:”

“There were points where I’d be shooting him and he’d say to get a shot from a different location,” Barson recalls. “”I thought, ‘Jerry Lewis is helping me direct and giving me pointers.” During the process, Lewis screened cuts of Method and offered notes on the craft, cutting, timing and pacing.

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LA Weekly Does a 2011 Retrospective… In Legos

Sometimes the traditional journalistic methods of reporting and photojournalism aren’t the right tools for the job. That’s where Legos come in.

Below, Lt. Pike pepper-spraying peaceful Occupy protestors at UC Davis.

Other local highlights of the Lego retrospective include Carmageddon, the death of Steve Jobs, and the Conrad Murray trial.

View the full slideshow on the LA Weekly website. All photos by L.J. Williamson.

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat at the Laemmle Sunset

Under Fire: Journalists in Combat is a new documentary by Santa Monica filmmaker Martyn Burke about journalists in the war zone. The film features interviews with war correspondents from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, BBC and Reuters among many others. We haven’t seen it yet, but it opens tomorrow, Veteran’s Day, at the Laemmle Sunset 5. Sounds like a great way to say goodbye to the Sunset 5 before Sundance takes over.

More on the film and its director Burke in a nice profile in The Atlantic.

AFI Fest Has a Massive Weekend

FishbowlLA was all over AFI Fest this weekend. And we’re happy to report it was one of the best cinematic experiences we’ve ever had. Although it didn’t start off that way. Unlike the LA Film Festival, which had armies of volunteers guiding your every movement, AFI Fest can get a bit confusing. Friday was a zoo, with some sidewalks shut off for the red carpet and virtually no staff presence to help guide confused festival-goers to their destinations. But by Saturday we had it figured out–and we’re certainly glad we gave it a chance. If any of you had a similar experience, don’t be discouraged. It all makes sense after your third or fourth film.

The big news of the weekend was undoubtedly the surprise premiere of Steven Soderbergh‘s new film Haywire. We were unable to attend, as it was a friggin’ mad house. But we admired the clever way the film was rolled out. AFI Fest had been promising a “special screening” for weeks. But it wasn’t until Saturday night that the announcement came it would be Haywire.

Yesterday also saw the festival premiere of Werner Herzog‘s new film Into the Abyss–about the execution of Texas convicted murderer Michael Perry and the lives of those involved in his crime–which we were able to see. Herzog was in attendance at the Egyptian Theater and was sure to explain prior to the screening that his personal position was firmly anti-death penalty. His film, however, is far more complicated than an advocacy piece. Herzog speaks with a woman whose mother and brother were killed by Perry–over a car. When she tells Herzog that Perry’s death brought her the first true peace she’d had since the murders, it’s a difficult thing to argue with.

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International Documentary Association Award Nominees Announced

The International Documentary Association released the shortlist today for its annual awards. Better This World, How to Die in Oregon, Nostalgia for the Light, The Redemption of General Butt Naked and The Tiniest Place (El Lugar Más Pequeño) are all in the running for “Best Feature.”

Not sure what we were doing all year, but we haven’t seen any of them. We suck, we know. We’ll get on it.

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EXCLUSIVE: Cathy Ladman Prepares for Naked Palm Springs Audience

On Monday, stand-up comic Cathy Ladman (pictured) ventured from LA to the Terra Cotta Clothing Optional Resort & Spa in Palm Springs to scout out the small room where she will be performing in front of a nude audience on Saturday October 22. The one-of-a-kind engagement is the starting point of a new documentary project tentatively titled The Naked Truth.

“The movie is about me continuing to deal with anorexia, which I’ve struggled with basically since I was 19,” Ladman tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “Even though I have a lot of physical and psychological recovery, an eating disorder is something you live with your whole life.”

Asked if she plans to also get naked for the cameras in Palm Springs, Ladman jokes that this would make it virtually impossible to clip on a Lavalier microphone. Joining her at the Terra Cotta will be a four-person crew as well as her creative partners on the film project–manager Glenn Schwartz and director Jonathan Nowak.

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