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Government Surveillance & Susan Sarandon? + 1st (Openly) Gay Studio Chair Resigns + 48fps Problem

10 minutes read

Susan Sarandon Under US Government Surveillance?

Susan SarandonLiberal activist and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, 1995) has been removed from a guest list for a White House event next week. Why?

“I was denied security clearance and I don’t know why,” Sarandon, 65, told the crowd attending a Q&A with herself and Michael Moore at the Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend.

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

It gets better. As reported in The Independent, Sarandon added: “We know we are under surveillance. I’ve gotten my file twice under the Freedom of Information Act. I know my phone was tapped. If they’re not surveilling you then everyone else has cameras on their phones.”

If what Susan Sarandon says is accurate, that means Americans can rest assured their tax dollars are being wisely invested in the protection of their freedoms and their persons from clear and present danger. Sarandon has always espoused dangerous liberal causes, including gay rights and the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is a Unicef representative. If that weren’t enough, she and then husband Tim Robbins were quite vocal against the Iraq War.

The U.S. government using its resources to spy on Hollywood celebrities – especially those with liberal views – is nothing new. Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Jean Seberg, and Miriam Hopkins, are among the previous victims of government surveillance of some kind or other.

Sarandon won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a nun who befriends a death row inmate (Sean Penn) in Robbins’ Dead Man Walking (1995). She was nominated for four other Oscars: Louis Malle’s Atlantic City (1981), with Burt Lancaster; Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise (1991), with Geena Davis and Brad Pitt; George Miller’s Lorenzo’s Oil (1992), with Nick Nolte; and Joel Schumacher’s The Client (1994), with Tommy Lee Jones.

Among Sarandon’s upcoming movies are Jake Schreier’s Robot and Frank, with James Marsden, Frank Langella, and Liv Tyler; Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage, with Richard Gere and Tim Roth; Sean Anders’ That’s My Boy, with Adam Sandler; Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, with Redford, Shia LaBeouf, and Julie Christie; and the omnibus drama Cloud Atlas, with Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Halle Berry, James D’Arcy, and Jim Broadbent.

First Gay Hollywood Studio Chairman Rich Ross Resigns following ‘John Carter’ debacle

Rich RossRich Ross made history of sorts when he became the first openly gay chairman at a Hollywood studio – Walt Disney Studios – nearly three years ago. Ross, 50, is making another sort of history today: he has (officially) resigned from his post, thus becoming the first major casualty of Disney’s monumental John Carter debacle.

Budgeted at a reported $250 million – plus another $100 million or whereabouts in marketing expenses – John Carter has brought in $269 million worldwide ($200 million internationally), of which Disney will keep 40-50 percent, or somewhere around $120-$135 million. The studio will reportedly post a loss this quarter, ranging from $80 to $120 million.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, John Carter stars Battleship‘s Taylor Kitsch in the title role. The film is based on a series of stories written by Tarzan‘s Edgar Rice Burroughs. Disney’s previous chairman, Dick Cook, greenlit the mammoth project, which was produced and marketed during Ross’ tenure. Cook was fired in ’09. Ross was his replacement.

Martin Freeman Bilbo The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

‘The Hobbit’ 48-Frame Problem

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and its sister (brother?) movie The Hobbit: There and Back Again were shot in 3D for a reported $500 million, which is about half the gross domestic product of African nations such as The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Liberia. Jackson’s gamble goes further when you take into account that The Hobbit movies were shot in 48 frames per second – twice the normal speed rate.

About ten minutes from The Hobbit were screened at the theater owners’ CinemaCon convention earlier this week. The results were at best mixed. Wide vistas received wide praise; indoor scenes were panned.

“Indeed, the footage shown did seem hyper-realistic,” wrote Amy Kaufman in the Los Angeles Times’ “old school” (joke…) blog 24 Frames. “An opening aerial shot of dramatic rocky mountains appeared clearer than the images in most nature documentaries. But the effect was different when applied to scenes with actors dressed in period costume, whose every move – and pore – was crystal clear. Such realism put off some trade show attendees, who complained the footage didn’t feel enough like a traditional film.”

In Variety, David S. Cohen says “the mixed reaction to the Hobbit footage was entirely predictable,” adding that 48 frames per second will eventually give way to 60 frames per second. According to Cohen, “some exhibs compared the image quality to that of ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage or soap operas.”

James Cameron rationalized that type of reaction by saying that “video is the only way they can process something that looks too real.”

In Peter Jackson’s view, shooting at a higher frame rate “gives you much more the illusion of real life.”

But “that may be the problem,” says Anthony Breznican at, adding that “the clips Jackson went on to show looked much more like visiting the set of a film than seeing the textured cinematography of a finished movie. While most films aim for a soft, natural glow, this had a more stark and fluorescent lighting style.”

Breznican ends his commentary with the following: “Perhaps Jackson and Warner Bros. should have waited until the scenes were fully completed [with special effects, etc.] before presenting the new technology.”

Starring in The Hobbit 1 are Ian McKellen, once again as Gandalf, and Martin Freeman in the title role as Bilbo Baggins. Also in The Hobbit cast are: Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Barry Humphries, Mikael Persbrandt, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens on December 14, 2012. The Hobbit: There and Back Again – a.k.a. The Hobbit 2 – comes out on December 13, 2013. (Update: The Hobbit 2 has been retitled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.)

Martin Freeman / The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey photo: James Fisher / Warner Bros.

House at the End of the Street trailer: Jennifer Lawrence
House at the End of the Street trailer with Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence stars in House at the End of the Street, Mark Tonderai’s horror/thriller to be released by Relativity Media on Sept. 21. The video below makes House at the End of the Street‘s house at the end of the street look more than a little like Psycho‘s Bates Motel. Jennifer Lawrence has the Janet Leigh role (minus the shower scene and the all that stabbing), while Max Thieriot comes across as a rebooted version of Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates. Now, does Thieriot have a sister – instead of a mother – fixation?

In addition to The Hunger Games’ Lawrence (a Best Actress Oscar nominee for Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone) and Foreverland‘s Thieriot, House at the End of the Street also features Elisabeth Shue (a Best Actress nominee for Mike Figgis’ 1995 drama Leaving Las Vegas, and recently seen fighting off 3D piranhas), Nolan Gerard Funk, and Gil Bellows.

Dream House / Borderline‘s David Loucka wrote the film’s screenplay from a story by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines / U-571 director Jonathan Mostow.

Jennifer Lawrence, House at the End of the Street photo: HATES LLC.

House at the End of the Street poster Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence, House at the End of the Street poster.

A highly stylized Jennifer Lawrence is seen above in the House at the End of the Street poster. Relativity Media will release the Mark Tonderai thriller on Sept. 21.

In addition to The Hunger Games’ Lawrence (a Best Actress Oscar nominee for Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone), House at the End of the Street also features Elisabeth Shue (a Best Actress nominee for Mike Figgis’ 1995 drama Leaving Las Vegas), Max Thieriot, Nolan Gerard Funk, and Gil Bellows.

In House at the End of the Street, mother Sarah (Shue) and daughter Elissa (Lawrence) move into a house next door to another in which a gone-missing young girl had murdered her parents. Elissa befriends the surviving neighbor, Ryan (Thieriot), and it doesn’t too long for her to realize that more horror is about to be unleashed.

David Loucka ( Dream House, Borderline) wrote the screenplay from a story by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines / U-571 director Jonathan Mostow.

Christian Bale & Bradley Cooper in ‘American Bullshit’?

American Bullshit, to be directed by The Fighter‘s David O. Russell and most likely to get a new title, may be getting its $30-$40 million funding from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, reports Christian Bale, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for The Fighter and next to be seen in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, is attached to star; as per Deadline, Bradley Cooper is “in talks.”

Written by Eric Singer, American Bullshit revolves around the FBI sting operation “Abscam,” which nailed several U.S. politicians on corruption charges in the late ’70s. (The FBI also tried to nail Penthouse‘s Bob Guccione by [illegally] entrapping him, but that didn’t work. Guccione later unsuccessfully sued the US government.)

If American Bullshit does get made, Deadline adds that Sony Pictures “is the likely distributor.”

Christian Bale / Mark Wahlberg / The Fighter photo: Paramount Pictures.

Jessica Chastain: ‘Iron Man 3’ Scientist?

Jessica Chastain (instead of Diane Kruger, Isla Fisher, Gemma Arterton) to play a scientist as capable as Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3? That’s a possibility, as per Perhaps that is why Time magazine listed Chastain among its Most Influential People of the year. Or perhaps not.

But one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood Chastain surely is. Last year, she had roles in about 200 movies, among them Tate Taylor’s The Help (which earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination); The Debt, co-starring Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington; Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life, with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn; Coriolanus, with actor-director Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler; and Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, with Michael Shannon.

Chastain is one of the cast members of Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty, and has several other potential 2012 releases in various stages of (post-) production, including John Hillcoat’s Cannes Film Festival entry Lawless, with Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy, and Mia Wasikowska; Andres Muschietti’s Mama, with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; and an untitled Terrence Malick movie with Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Michael Sheen, Javier Bardem, and Rachel Weisz.

Also in the Iron Man 3 cast are Shakespeare in Love‘s Gwyneth Paltrow, The AvengersScarlett Johansson, and Hotel Rwanda‘s Don Cheadle, and possibly Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) as a villain and Mildred Pierce‘s Guy Pearce as another scientist.

Jessica Chastain / Brad Pitt / The Tree of Life photo: Merie Wallace / 20th Century Fox.

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Anonym -

It was sad to hear I had great expectations for the hobbit, i had hoped that Peter Jackson could have been a little more creative with a stronger script and a higher budget. He could learn something from James Cameron, who has most knowledge of 3D.

epic -

yeah i’m in the “wtf is john carter” camp, for about the first 2 weeks of the ad campaign i would forget the connection and when looking at upcoming movies the name still would not stick to the premise… did they do absolutely no brand research at all for such a supposedly large film

RJ -

Maybe naming the movie “John Carter” instead of “John Carter and the Princess of Mars” had a bit to do with it. My guess is that half the people who like science fiction movies heard the name “John Carter” but had no idea what it was about.

Donald -

Rich Ross did not resign, he was fired! Not just for John Carter, but for a total lack of understanding of how to run a studio.


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