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Posts Tagged ‘Barry Levinson’

Banned Fatty Arbuckle Film Returns to Bay Area

It’s been a big week of news for someone who rarely makes headlines anymore, silent era film star Fatty Arbuckle.

On Tuesday, Vulture reported that Modern Family cast member Eric Stonestreet has made a deal to star in a biopic of the disgraced big man for HBO, with Barry Levinson directing. Now comes word via the San Francisco Chronicle that Leap Year, the 1921 silent that was banned in the wake of Arbuckle’s trumped up underage sex scandal, will enjoy a very rare screening in the Bay Area on August 27. Not too far in fact from the St. Francis Hotel, where Arbuckle’s career came undone:

Arbuckle was tried three times, with the first two trials ending in a hung jury. At the third trial, Arbuckle was acquitted. Along the way, there was speculation of false testimony, jury tampering and backroom deals. After the third trial, the jury even took the unusual step of issuing an apology to the accused comedian.

But it didn’t matter. Arbuckle had been convicted in the courtroom of public opinion.

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Blake Lively, Charlie Rose And An Ex-Caped Crusader

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— DIANE CLEHANE

I just love it when the random celebrity turns up at Michael’s for lunch. It’s always entertaining to watch the usual suspects try to simultaneously network and star gaze. Today’s out-of-left-field appearances represented both new and old Hollywood (just like this year’s Oscars but without James Franco‘s near comatose involvement). For fans of eighties screen gems like the original Batman and Beetlejuice, there was Michael Keaton. The younger demographic was represented by Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who, it should be said, is even more beautiful (and taller) in person.

There was plenty of Tinseltown talk at my table, too. I was lunching today with producer Joan Gelman and marketing consultant and political commentator Robert Zimmerman, who is keeping busy with appearances on CNN and Fox News. Joan, who has more than paid her dues in television, had this to say about the Oscars: “You need a heavyweight to carry that show. You need a comedian who can make the audience laugh. It was a horribly produced show.”

Maybe so, but we all agreed that Bravo’s Andy Cohen was way out of line to trash the performance of the school kids from Staten Island who closed out the show by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Appearing on Morning Joe, Cohen told the incredulous hosts that the kids’ performance (which got a standing ovation from the audience) “ruined everything” and that he was so pained by the sight of kids in t-shirts (evidently, he thought they should have dressed up) that he was “looking for a knife to stick in his eyes.”

To that, Robert asked, “The man who is responsible for such high-brow television as The Real Housewives franchise is suddenly the arbiter of good taste and glamour in Hollywood?” Don’t expect an apology anytime soon, either. In the current media climate, said Robert, it’s more than likely Cohen is relishing the attention he’s getting for taking aim at the elementary schoolers. “Creating buzz is more relevant than making sense.” Apparently so.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Hollywood heavyweight Freddie Gershon (Loved the sweater!) with Linda Janklow

2. Spotted: Blake Lively and Vivi Nevo. When this unlikely duo showed up without a reservation, things got a lot more interesting. (One pesky paparazzo seemingly transfixed by the sight of the actress stationed himself outside of the window overlooking the dining room for the entire lunch and refused to move no matter how many times he was asked to leave) We’re more intrigued by Vivi, who, we hear is an Israeli-born venture capitalist and was once engaged to the Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi. Could this be the start of another Hollywood romance? Maybe he’s just interested in fashionable folk. After all, the last time we spotted him at Michael’s he was sitting at this very table with Anna Wintour.

3. A trio of social swans: Margo McNabb Nederlander and producers Terry Allen Kramer and Francine LeFrak.

4.  Charlie Rose (who we overheard introducing himself to Michael Keaton) and Universal Pictures CEO Stacey Snider

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Spot.Us Funded Garbage Patch Story Published|Self‘s January Issue Shows Ad Promise|Letterman Extorter Appears In Court|Layoffs At A&E, Lifetime|Director Speaks Out Against Times Critic

BayNewser: The first Spot.Us funded article published in The New York Times — about the Pacific garbage patch — ran this week.

WWD: It has been a tough year for Conde Nast health magazine Self, but things are looking up for 2010: the January issue will carry more than 70 ad pages, the most for a January issue in 20 years.

New York Times: In court today, alleged David Letterman extorter Robert Joel Halderman claims he was only trying to sell Letterman the rights to his story before he sold a book or screenplay proposal to the highest bidder.

Variety: Over 100 people have been laid off at A&E and Lifetime, stemming from the nets’ consolidation.

Huffington Post: Director Barry Levinson blasts New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley.

‘What Just Happened’ Just Happened

An improbable studio film from director Barry Levinson is leaving audiences perplexed in its limited releaserwhatjusthappened_02.jpg.

The film, based on producer Art Linson’s tell-all book about the ins and outs of producing, is really more of a producer’s mea culpa. (Click here to see a trailer for the film.)

That Linson was able to convince a studio (much less 2929 Prods. chieftain Mark Cuban) to take on his semi-biographical tome is testament to his power as a producer. That he was able to script the version that Levinson actually shot is perhaps a greater accomplishment.

Hollywood is not ripe material for the film business, going back Preston Sturges’s classic “Sullivan’s Travels” all the way through to Levinson’s earlier film, “Wag the Dog” (ironically starring Robert De Niro as well) and even Robert Altman’s “The Player.”

It might have something to do with the age-old industry adage: Don’t ask how the sausage is made, just eat it.

Linson is not much of a screenwriter, but he does get off some good riffs. Bruce Willis, as a coddled star, screams at De Niro that he doesn’t have any films, he’s a producer:

“That’s like the mayonaisse on a bad sandwich.”

Maybe we should leave it at that.

Barry Levinson on WGA Strike ’07: “Genuine Arrogance on the Part of the Corporations”

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Barry Levinson, writer-director- producer-industry immortal, drops in on Nikki Finke’s comment section with some words of wisdom:

From: Barry Levinson

It used to make more sense when the writers and all the guilds negotiated with studio and TV people; Paley owned CBS, Sarnoff owned NBC, and you had studio heads like Jack Warner and Zanuck. Now you’ve got writers who are negotiating with giant corporations, and there’s a whole other sensibility. NBC is part of General Electric, and General Electric has enough contempt for its entertainment division even without a strike. Writers are like little gnats to them. So this is a whole other game, a bit like a small little guy against these behemoths. Not anything close to what it used to be in the past. GE looks at all its people and all its assets and asks, If we’re struck for seven months, what does it mean in terms of the bottom line? It’s probably like a minor dent in their portfolio.

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