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Roger Ebert Documentary Filmmaker on the Sequence He Was Happy to Let Get Away

ShutterstockRogerEbertThere was a fantastic interview over the weekend in Roger Ebert‘s paper of record, the Chicago Sun-Times, with the filmmaker getting ready to unveil at Sundance a feature documentary about the late critic.

Anyone who was a regular, early viewer of Siskel & Ebert likely recalls the pair championing Steve JamesHoop Dreams, long before there was a documentary renaissance and-or it was fashionable to hype non-fiction. As many have noted, it’s extra-special to now have James, a filmmaker who rose up alongside Ebert and his balcony-jousting partner, revisit the journalist’s life story posthumously.

At one point in the conversation with Sun-Times reporter Mike Thomas, James recalls the moments immediately following Ebert’s passing and how, although it would have made for an incredible sequence, he was glad in the end that one event turned out to be for his eyes and those of a few others, only:

“[His body] was in the chapel at the Rehab Institute. I said [to his wife Chaz], “Look, I brought the camera, but it’s sitting over there and we don’t have to film at all.” His body was lying in the chapel and there were a few close family [members] and friends and business associates, and I felt privileged to just be there among them. Everyone held hands and we all said the Lord’s Prayer, because that apparently was a prayer that Roger [liked] a lot.”

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Ex-SeaWorld Trainer: Director Asked Me to Wait Until After Awards Season to Criticize Blackfish

Towards the end of a very provocative micechat.com interview with Bridgette Pirtle, a former SeaWorld trainer who was intricately involved with the production of Blackfish, she is asked what she thinks the goal of the film’s director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, was.

MiceChatBlackFishHeadline

Pirtle’s harsh answer:

“To win the Academy Award®. Once it was apparent that there was no real interest in revealing the whole truth, I knew it was another person’s attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the story of Dawn [Brancheau] and Alexis [Martinez].”

“I know first-hand that any attempt of an experienced trainer looking to speak on behalf of the animals was quickly dismissed. Attempts to publish articles that presented a more fair, honest and unbiased perspective were eventually nixed at the very last minute. It was naive of me to seek to expose the truth that contradicted many of those within the film via CNN, the company which had a vested interest in the success of the film.”

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NYT Talks to Blackfish Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

GabrielaCowperthwaitePicIn case you missed it, Larry Rohter had an informative Q&A the other day in the New York Times with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

The Oscar-shortlisted Cowperthwaite spoke with Rohter via telephone. At one point, she explained that in an attempt to get SeaWorld to participate in the film, she broke a golden rule of journalism:

“For about six months, I went back and forth with them. At one point they said it was likely they would grant me an interview. They asked for my questions, which you know as a journalist you never do, but I still gave them my questions. And they asked me who I had interviewed. I did not disclose that, for obvious reasons. I did not want to put anybody at risk. But they finally said no.”

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Makers of The Cove Respond to SeaWorld Newspaper Ad

OPSLogoIt’s turning out to be a very messy Christmas for beleaguered attraction SeaWorld. In response to the theme park’s open letter published last Friday in newspapers across the country, the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) – an organization made up of individuals responsible for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove – is this week circulating a much longer rebuttal.

The Boulder, CO-based group warns that “no amount of advertising will counter the Blackfish effect.” Rather, OPS is urging SeaWorld to change its harmful, bottom-line ways:

SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales in the wild — it now has other people capture animals for them. The genetic diversity of orcas in captivity is low, often resulting in inbreeding. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act prevents SeaWorld from capturing wild animals directly without federal permits, it resorts to creative ways of introducing new animals and fresh DNA into the system.

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An Epic Film Collaboration That Began Five Decades Ago at NYU

Shutterstock_ThelmaSchoonmakerWall Street Journal film features writer Rachel Dodes has the next best thing to a new Martin Scorsese-Thelma Schoonmaker movie: an interview piece about their 46-year collaboration.

So often, great things come from modest beginnings. In other words, neither one of these artists schemed in 1967 to conquer the world, garner X amount of Twitter followers or Y Facebook likes. Instead, they just started collaborating and to the benefit of us all, continue this holiday season with The Wolf of Wall Street:

Schoonmaker, 73, met Scorsese 50 years ago while she was taking a summer-editing course at NYU. She helped him edit his first feature film, 1967′s Who’s That Knocking at My Door. They stayed in touch, working together on Woodstock, a 1970 documentary, but didn’t start collaborating regularly until Raging Bull.

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Guardian Readers React to Curtis, Nighy with ‘It’s Crap Actually’

LoveActuallyWe think we may have found one of the holiday season’s best examples of a “Bah, humbug!” reader-comments thread. The Guardian shared at the beginning of the week a pair of wonderful mini-essays from Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis and co-star Bill Nighy. Or so we thought.

Coming back to check on the 10th anniversary article a few days later, FishbowlNY was dismayed and, yes, also somewhat amused to find British readers dumping all over this pair. Let’s start with some of the reaction to Curtis’ statement that Love Actually is “his Pulp Fiction:”

TheNiceKrispie: It’s his Four Rooms.

ThomasChristopherKin: Nah, it’s The Room four times.

SolomonGrundy: It’s his f*cking Sharknado.

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Josh Gad Tapped for Book of Gilligan

Shutterstock_JoshGadIn the comments to Mike Fleming Jr.‘s Deadline item, the notion of a Warner Bros. Gilligan’s Island movie starring Josh Gad is being greeted with overwhelming dismay. We concur.

Book of Mormon – in NYC and on tour – is a sublimely hilarious concoction worthy of Wilder, Sturges and SCTV. As opposed to dredging the Skipper and Little Buddy. Should the makers of this pointless, doomed enterprise foolishly decide to proceed, they would do well to pay special attention to Deadline commenter Ross Kardon:

What did not make any sense about the 1960′s TV show Gilligan’s Island is why would the Howells pack up all their belongings if they only intended to be away for three hours?…

If they were really stranded on a tropical island, those castaways would have had to deal with serious survival problems like mosquitoes, malaria, dengue fever and other diseases and not being able to get to a doctor.

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Retired Anchorman Mort Crim Stays Classy in Midst of Barrage of Media Attention

It’s been fun to read the media coverage of 78-year-old former Philadelphia and Detroit TV news anchor Mort Crim. Thanks to a recent Rolling Stone interview with Will Ferrell, the man who helped inspire not the mustache or the “Stay classy” catchphrase but rather the smooth, authoritative delivery has been back in the limelight, culminating with Sunday’s New York City premiere of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Per Julie Miller of the Detroit Free Press, Crim had a great line ready when he finally, for the first time, met Ferrell at this weekend’s NYC premiere:

“I walked up to him at the party that went on afterward,” Crim said Monday from New York. “He recognized me. I stuck my hand out and said, ‘Will, it’s nice for you to get to meet me.’ ”

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DiCaprio Thanks ‘Drunkest Guy’ for Wolf Pointers

Forget YouTube thumbs-up and total views, although the latter number is about to skyrocket for one particular bit of footage shared by user houstondodgeball and others.

That’s because during a Sunday press conference at the NYC junket for The Wolf of Wall Street, star Leonardo DiCaprio explained that for a very memorable scene of Quaalude debauchery, he took inspiration from the above fall 2009 “Drunkest Guy” YouTube video. Per The Huffington Post’s Christopher Rosen:

“A lot of the research that I did really came from watching that one video, on loop… It’s a man trying to get a beer, but his body doesn’t quite [work]. That was a huge inspiration to me.”

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Tiffany Shlain on Creating The Webby Awards From Scratch

TiffanyShlainTiffany Shlain is an award-winning filmmaker with one of the most watched shows on AOL On Originals, The Future Starts Here. The program focuses on the fusion of culture and technology, a topic which she is especially passionate about.

Shlain also happens to be the creator of the Webby awards. She had just graduated from UC Berkeley and was working with Sting on his new album when she got the gig:

I came back to San Francisco and I was given the opportunity to create the Webby Awards from scratch. They had no budget, and I said, “I know how to do things with no budget! I’m a filmmaker!” So we created the Webby Awards in the early days of the Web, which was very exciting. We used to make a lot of films about how technology was changing our lives, and those films would kick off our show for the Webbys.

To hear more from Shlain, including her advice for aspiring filmmakers, read: So What Do You Do, Tiffany Shlain, Filmmaker And Creator Of The Webby Awards?

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