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Syrian Cinematographer Barred from Entering U.S. to Attend Oscars

7 hours ago

A 21 year-old cinematographer from Syria has been denied entry to the U.S. for Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Khaled Khateeb, the cinematographer behind Netflix’s “The White Helmets,” which is nominated for the documentary short award, is said to have been blocked from entering the country by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. officials found “derogatory information” against the young cameraman before his Saturday flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles.

Syria was one of the seven countries that was targeted by Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim Ban that prevented refugees from entering the country. Trump is set to introduce a new travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries after the initial one was struck down by the court.

The White Helmets,” a 40-minute documentary short film about The Syrian Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets, which has has been credited with saving more than »


- Variety Staff

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Film Review: ‘2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation’

11 hours ago

This year, there’s a switcheroo afoot in Oscar’s two animation categories: Michaël Dudok de Wit’s gorgeous desert-island fable “The Red Turtle” is a rare, snowflake-singular work of art, made possible after producers at Japan’s celebrated Studio Ghibli fell in love with the director’s 2001 Oscar-winning short “Fathers and Daughter” and approached the helmer about collaborating on a feature. Meanwhile, four of the directors represented in this year’s animated short category have worked on Oscar-winning features, but are branching out in an effort to try more personal work. The results are a mixed bag, but make for entertaining viewing in ShortsHD’s annual theatrical package, which also includes three bonus toons that didn’t make Oscar’s cut.

Chances are you’ve already seen “Piper.” Directed by 20-year Pixar veteran Alan Barillaro, the 6-minute short played before the studio’s hit discombobulated-fish sequel “Finding Dory,” which »


- Peter Debruge

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Chelsea Handler Doesn’t Want to Host the Oscars (or the Spirit Awards)

11 hours ago

Some awards hosts must wait forever for the offer, like this year’s Oscars headliner Jimmy Kimmel. But other comedians have a different problem: how to just say no.

In an interview with Variety last December, Chelsea Handler revealed she was offered the gig to emcee the Film Independent Spirits Awards. The star of Netflix’s streaming talk show “Chelsea” accepted, before promptly changing her mind.

In her place, the Spirits landed Broadway’s “Oh, Hello” actors Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who will preside over the beachside festivities in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon.

Handler also told Variety she has no interest in hosting the Oscars, but there’s one awards show she might consider. Here are a few snippets from our conversation.

Variety: Would you ever go back to network TV?

Chelsea Handler: I hope not. But who knows? I would never do a late-night talk show on a network. »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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Publicist and Actress Patty Freedman Dies at 64

11 hours ago

Patty Freedman, an actress who became a publicist, died in her New York home on Feb. 17. The 64-year-old had been battling breast cancer.

Born in Detroit but raised in Southfield, Mich., Freedman started performing early at Cass Tech, Detroit’s performing arts high school, before attending Interlochen Arts Camp and University of Michigan, from which she graduated with honors and musical theater degree.

As Patty Dworkin, Freedman went onto perform on stage in Ohio with the Kenley Players before moving onto Broadway, where she worked on “See Saw,” “Shenandoah” and “Sly Fox.” After working with Jackie Gleason on “Sly Fox,” impressed ABC casting executives put her under contract and relocated her to Los Angeles. The ABC contract brought her roles on shows including “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Dynasty,” “Happy Days,” “Delta House,” “One Day at a Time,” “Eight is Enough,” and “Shirley.”

In film, Freedman was featured in “Ghostbusters, »


- Dani Levy

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‘Get Out’ Star Daniel Kaluuya Joins Viola Davis in Steve McQueen Heist Movie ‘Widows’

11 hours ago

Daniel Kaluuya, the star of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” has joined the cast of Steve McQueen’s heist movie “Widows,” opposite Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo.

McQueen is directing from a script he’s co-writing with “Gone Girl” screenwriter and novelist Gillian Flynn. Emile Sherman and Iain Canning of See-Saw Films, which produced “Lion,” are producing along with McQueen. Film4 is co-financing.

“Widows” is based on the 1983 British mini-series about a caper terribly gone wrong. The story follows four armed robbers who are killed in a failed heist attempt, leaving their widows to finish the job.

Canning and Sherman teamed with McQueen on “Shame,” and also produced the best picture Oscar winner “The King’s Speech.” The movie marks McQueen’s first feature since he won the best picture Academy Award for “12 Years a Slave” in 2014.

Get Out” has been over-performing at the box office »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

12 hours ago

When it comes to the Oscars, the Academy fiercely defends its definition of movies as a theatrical experience, disqualifying those that debut on home video or VOD from consideration in all the feature categories. For years, the short films were the exception, though in a happy twist, despite the fact that most have been seen exclusively at festivals prior to nominations, they now enjoy a healthy theatrical run after the fact thanks to the efforts of all-shorts-all-the-time network ShortsHD. This year’s live-action offerings are unusually strong across the board, with nary an English-language one among them.

An ambitious idea elegantly compressed into a tight dramatic package, Hungarian director Kristóf Deák’s “Sing” captures the moment when a young person’s faith in the inherent fairness of authority ruptures. A transfer student arrives at a public elementary school, where she is drawn to join the award-winning choir, overseen by the school’s beloved music teacher. »


- Peter Debruge

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Jodie Foster Leads Anti-Trump UTA Rally: ‘It’s Time to Resist’

12 hours ago

Updated: Jodie Foster was among the “United Voices” that spoke up against Donald Trump at UTA’s rally outside its Beverly Hills offices on Friday.

According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, more than 1,500 people people, including agents, clients, and supporters, gathered in the plaza to protest the Trump administration’s policies, including its recent travel restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries. The agency canceled its annual Academy Awards party in protest of the ban and organized this event in its place.

“This is exactly the way to celebrate our industry and our commitment to humanity on and off screen,” Foster said. “I don’t do this very often, but this year is a different year, this is a singular time — it’s one to show up, time to engage. As the very dead Frederick Douglass once said, ‘any time is a good time for illumination.'”

“It’s time to show up, »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Oscar-Nominated Foreign Filmmakers Decry Worldwide ‘Climate of Fanaticism’

13 hours ago

The filmmakers behind this year’s five Oscar-nominated foreign language film contenders released a statement Friday expressing “unanimous and emphatic disapproval” of a “climate of fanaticism and nationalism” seen in the United States and other countries.

Regardless of who ultimately wins the Oscar Sunday, the quintet preemptively dedicated the award “to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever.”

“The Salesman” director Asghar Farhadi announced last month that, due to Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries, he would not be attending the ceremony. It was revealed Friday that he will be represented at the Oscars by two prominent Iranian Americas: engineer Anousheh Ansari and former Nasa Solar Systems Exploration director Firouz Naderi

Read the filmmakers’ full statement below.

***

On behalf of all nominees, »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Trump Jokes, Lgbt Issues Take Center Stage at Oscar Wilde Awards

14 hours ago

The whiskey and Trump jabs were flowing freely at the Bad Robot offices on Thursday night.

Stars from the worlds of “Star Trek” and “Loving,” music, and comedy gathered at the sprawling headquarters of J.J. Abrams’ production company for the 12th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards. The U.S.-Ireland Alliance event, founded by Trina Vargo, was designed to honor Irish talent in entertainment.

The vast Bad Robot space was bathed in shamrock green, with a podium installed in one corner on the roof next to an open bar (perhaps appropriately for an Irish-centered event, as honoree Martin Short pointed out). Abrams served as emcee for the night, and after jokingly asking why on earth he had been asked back to host the event, he listed the honorees: Short, Glen Hansard, Caitriona Balfe, Ruth Negga, and Zachary Quinto.

As Quinto had previously told Variety, his connection with Oscar Wilde runs far deeper than shared Irish roots, »


- Will Thorne

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‘Elle’ Star Isabelle Huppert Wins Best Actress, Xavier Dolan Wins Best Director at France’s Cesar Awards

14 hours ago

Paris — Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert won best actress at the 42nd Cesar Awards, the country’s top film prize.

Out of 16th Cesar nominations, Huppert had only won once for her performance in Claude Chabrol’s “La Ceremonie.”

Huppert has been on a laureled path since “Elle” competed at Cannes: she notably won the Golden Globe award. Set in France and produced by Said Ben Said and Michel Merkt, “Elle” has been described as a powerful rape-revenge thriller laced with dark humor. The movie was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at Cannes.

The biggest surprise of the night was Xavier Dolan winning best director and editing with “It’s Only The End of the World” which also earned Gaspard Ulliel the best actor prize. Dolan is currently shooting “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” in Prague.

Dolan won over Paul Verhoeven (“Elle”), Houda Benyamina (“Divines”), François Ozon (“Frantz »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Deadpool,’ ‘This Is Us’ Win Publicist Campaign Awards

14 hours ago

Deadpool” and “This Is Us” have won the top awards from the Publicists Guild for last year’s best publicity campaigns.

Fox’s “Deadpool” topped “Sausage Party,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “The Jungle Book” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” for the Maxwell Weinberg publicist showmanship motion picture award. “Deadpool” was a massive surprise hit with more than $700 million in worldwide grosses and a campaign that stressed Ryan Reynolds’ foul-mouthed comic performance — along with lying on a bearskin rug.

Related

Deadpool,’ ‘Jungle Book,’ ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Nominated for Publicists Award

NBC’s “This Is Us” won over “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” and “Speechless” for the TV award.

The International Cinematographers Guild presented the winners Friday at the 54th Annual Icg publicists awards luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Honorees previously announced include Denzel Washington, Ryan Murphy, »


- Dave McNary

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Claire Danes, Jim Parsons to Star in Transgender Family Drama ‘A Kid Like Jake’ (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Jim Parsons and Claire Danes are attached to star as a married couple in the family drama “A Kid Like Jake,” based on a celebrated Lincoln Center play, Variety has learned.

According to a plot description, the project is about a couple trying to raise a 4-year-old-son who prefers to dress up as a princess instead of G.I. Joe. The story is especially timely given widespread concerns about the rights of transgender youth in the United States. On Wednesday, President Trump rolled back protections for transgender students to use public-school bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

“A Kid Like Jake” will be adapted by Silas Howard (known for the TV series “Transparent”), one of only a few transgender directors in Hollywood.

Daniel Pearle wrote the screenplay, based on his 2013 stage play, about the Brooklyn couple, trying to find the »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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Box Office: Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ to Bring in Sizable $28 Million on Opening Weekend

15 hours ago

Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Get Out” is dominating the box office with an opening weekend of as much as $28 million at 2,773 North American locations, early estimates indicated Friday.

Get Out,” which opened with an impressive $1.8 million at 2,240 sites on Thursday night, will finish far ahead the closest contender, Warner Bros.’ third weekend of “The Lego Batman Movie” with about $18 million.

The second weekend of the historical saga “The Great Wall,” which carries a $150 million price tag, is dropping sharply from its $21 million opening over the four-day Presidents Day weekend, and will finish with about $8 million. Matt Damon stars in “Wall,” financed by Legendary and several Chinese partners. The film grossed over $170 million in China

Lionsgate Premiere’s “Rock Dog” will open with about $5 million at 2,077 sites, while Open Road’s actioner “Collide” is likely to finish with a diminutive $2 million at 2,045 sites.

Related

Playback: Jordan Peele on ‘Get Out’ and »


- Dave McNary

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Why Emma Thompson Won’t Be in the ‘Love Actually’ Reunion Short Film

16 hours ago

Love Actually” director Richard Curtis announced in February that he reunited with the cast for a special short film, produced for the British charity Comic Relief. Although the project brought back almost the entire star-studded, Emma Thompson was not present.

Thompson explained, while doing press for “Beauty and the Beast” that it was “too soon” since the death of her counterpart in the film, Alan Rickman. For that reason, Curtis was unable to write her a part.

Rickman played Thompson’s adulterous husband, Harry, in the 2003 film. The rest of the ensemble cast includes Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth and Keira Knightley.

Related

Love Actually’ Cast, Director Reunite for Charity Short Film

Thompson told the Press Association that Curtis reached out to her while planning the 10-minute reunion film, which will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on March 24 for Red Nose Day.

“Richard wrote to me and said, »


- Sarah Ahern

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China’s Wuxi Studio Pacts With Germany’s Studio Babelsberg

16 hours ago

Chinese film studios Wuxi Studio and German production facilities house Studio Babelsberg have inked a deal to work together on a project-by-project basis.

The pact will encompass the production of German-Chinese co-productions and the exchange of technical expertise and personnel. The partners plan to set up a joint production service unit.

Carl Woebcken, president/CEO of Studio Babelsberg, said: “The modern film studios in Wuxi offer excellent conditions. Studio Babelsberg will be contributing its expertise in the areas of production services and the realization of international film productions to the cooperation.”

“The aim of the partnership is to promote the internationalization of Wuxi Studio and provide Studio Babelsberg with access to the Chinese film market,” according to a statement.

Past productions shot at Babelsberg include “The Monuments Men,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Bridge of Spies.” Recent productions housed at the studios include “A Cure for Wellness.”

Wuxi Studio, which »


- Leo Barraclough

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Film Review: ‘Punching Henry’

16 hours ago

Comic singer-songwriter Henry Phillips continues to engage as a likable loser in “Punching Henry,” a sharply observed and understatedly amusing follow-up to “Punching the Clown,” the prize-winning 2009 indie in which he played a chronically luckless character modeled, and named, after himself. Mind you, it’s not absolutely necessary to have seen that earlier film for you to appreciate this one (which, like its predecessor, Phillips co-wrote with director Gregori Viens). But if you are familiar with the 2009 opus, your enjoyment here may be laced with melancholy, since it appears that Phillips — or at least his on-screen alter ego — is still going nowhere fast while doggedly chasing his dream.

As “Punching Henry” begins, Phillips remains stuck in the lower depths of show business, telling jokes and performing tongue-in-cheek tunes before small audiences (and, sometimes, aggressive hecklers) at second- and third-tier comedy clubs in flyover country. Five years after inadvertently blowing a big break in L. »


- Joe Leydon

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Creativity Celebrated at Cadillac’s 2nd Annual Oscar Cocktail Party

17 hours ago

Current Oscar nominees and past winners descended upon the Chateau Marmont for Cadillac Celebrates Oscar Week 2017. Select talent were dropped off in prestige Cadillac CT6 sedans, and quickly made their way up the Marmont’s famous driveway and out of the cold.

Zoe Saldana chatted with reporters before heading into the cocktail party, saying that she and husband Marcus Perego were planning to stay up a little later than usual on Oscar Sunday.

“I’m going to try not to fall asleep,” Saldana half-joked. “Now with a full house of children (including twins Bowie and Cy and newborn Zen), you’re sleepy by 7 p.m. It’s an exciting night. We’ve watched amazing performances and the culmination warrants for us to stay up later.”

Inside, Saldana sat with her sister (and producing partner) Cisely and took photos with her “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” costar Pom Klementieff (who »


- Lawrence Yee

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Oscars: Lapd Plans for ‘Multiple Scenarios’ With Three Tiers of Security

17 hours ago

Updated: The greatest suspense surrounding Sunday’s Academy Awards may surround questions of not “if” but “when.” When will the traffic backups near Hollywood Boulevard begin? When will “La La Land” win its first Oscar? When will the first statuette-holder unload on President Trump?

The 89th edition of Hollywood’s most important celebration comes during a time of unusual political turmoil and stark challenges for the entertainment industry. For one, the bulk of ticket sales are going to fewer films, the blockbuster sort that almost never get awarded on Oscar night.

For the second straight year, Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Dolby Theatre will be tented. While last year’s spring-like temperatures made the covering merely cosmetic, this year’s expected sub-60-degree temperatures and and possibly drizzling conditions will make the roof a welcome addition.

Before they get to the red carpet, the 3,300 guests will have to make »


- James Rainey

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Oscars 2017 by the Numbers

17 hours ago

The 89th Academy Awards take place this Sunday, a day expected to be dominated by awards darling “La La Land,” which has earned a record-tying 14 nominations. The Oscars have a long history of upsets and shocking moments though, so this weekend could have its share of surprises.

Coming on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, perhaps the most heartening aspect of 2017’s “Oscar numbers” are that they suggest a more promising year for people of color. Black actors were shut out of the acting categories the last two years in a row.

Here are a few of the many compelling statistics about this year’s Oscars, courtesy of personal finance website WalletHub.

Related

What’s a Best Picture Nomination Really Worth? A Look at Return on Investment

First year in which black actors were nominated in every acting category. Denzel Washington is up for best actor in “Fences,” Ruth Negga for actress in “Loving, »


- Sarah Ahern

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Film Independent Spirit Awards Still a Showcase for New Talent

17 hours ago

In its earliest days, the Film Independent Spirit Awards’ choices appeared to emanate from a parallel universe to those of the Academy Awards. In its first decade, the fledgling organization’s best picture winner lined up with the Oscars only once, but the distinction went even further that that: Aside from both awards bodies naming “Platoon” best picture in 1986, there was not a single overlap between the Academy and the Indie Spirits’ nominees for the latter’s first nine editions.

Needless to say, things have changed. The American indie film movement managed to break its way into the august halls of the Academy in the 1990s, gradually took over, and the Spirit Awards have never seemed quite so radical since then. For the past three years in a row, the Spirits and the Oscars have lined up in the best pic category, and only three times in the current millennium »


- Andrew Barker

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