FUNNY, YOU DON’T LOOK FOREIGN: “We’re a pretty straightforward people,” says director Paul Turner, whose Welsh-language “Hedd Wyn” is on the foreign-language Oscar list. “We’re here to win.”
Turner and actor Huw Garmon have been hanging out at the American Film Market , hoping Academy consideration might translate into U.S. distribution. They understand foreign-language exhibition is both a highly competitive and small arena.
“People say, ‘What’s a Welsh film?’ because we don’t have that identifiable thing like wearing kilts,” notes Garmon. “But after they see it, they just say how much they like it. I guess the problem’s getting them into a theater.”
The period drama won’t exactly conjure up memories of singer Tom Jones or actor Richard Burton. It’s about conscience and poetry and nationalism and just got the seal of approval from reigning native son, Sir Anthony Hopkins.
“He saw it last month when he was in to do some promotion for Cardiff College and said it’s the picture he’s backing,” Turner said. While his kinsmen are happy to return the favor for his “The Remains of the Day” performance, they were a bit taken aback when Hopkins was interviewed on the local telly and said he’d be voting for Tom Hanks.
WE’LL FILM IN WELSH OR ESPERANTO: It’s titled “Last Station” and just might be the paradigm of what it takes to embrace contemporary cinema internationalism. Producer Nora Armani is on the AFM hustings with the French/Armenian co-production about an exiled stage couple touring Europe but contemplating a return home on the eve of Armenia’s independence.
The completed drama, directed by the acclaimed Haroutiun Katchatrian, was shot in France, London, Los Angeles and Armenia. Italian-born Armani is a French resident and the cast and crew is composed of a tapestry of European Community members. So, of course, it was filmed in English.
GO FOR THE GOLD: Producers Andrew Peltz and Andrew Tannenbaum are still pinching themselves about nabbing the rights to the Nancy Kerrigan saga. “After the Tonya (Harding) thing hit, we thought what a great story,” says Peltz. “We also knew everyone else in television would be after it, but what harm could there be in asking.”
What they discovered talking to the skater’s reps at ProServ was that they fell somewhere between the 100th and 300th inquiry. So they tried to come up with a method that would stand out. Tannenbaum says they found out — after a little digging — that ProServ had a fledgling TV division. They decided to work the side door, offering the new unit a producing partnership.
Quickly the duo’s reps at William Morris brought aboard Steve Tisch and Disney stated an eagerness to get involved in the contempo Cinderella story. With that combo, ABC wasn’t hard to convince. CBS may have gotten the Games, but Fox and NBC were already working Harding projects.
Titled “Nancy Kerrigan: Her Story,” it’s being written by Rebecca Soladay and , of course, time is of the essence. The related rivals are bruited to hit the airwaves some time in May. However, the two Andrews will have the sole venture in which the silver medalist does the onscreen skating.
BUSY DANCE CARD: It’s been more than a decade since Jennifer Beals made a splash in “Flashdance” and she’s just about had it with being almost exclusively identified with her screen debut role.
“When I made ‘Flashdance,’ I didn’t know enough to be nervous,” says Beals. “Now I have lots of tricks to keep me from getting the jitters.”
Beals just landed the female lead, opposite Denzel Washington, in TriStar’s “Devil in a Blue Dress,” which Carl Franklin begins directing in March. She landed in the romantic thriller after quite a circuitous route. Her husband, director Alex Rockwell, introduced her to Franklin last June and during lunch he told her about the film, the role and how she just might be right to do it.
The phone didn’t ring and she went off to play Gertrude Benchley in Alan Rudolph’s “Mrs. Parker and the Round Table.” When it was completed, she heard they were casting “Devil” and told her agent she wanted a meeting. Beals was told the studio wanted an unknown and so she had to fight to be seen.
She says she had to jump all the hurdles of meetings, readings and her first screen test since “Flashdance.” But she got the role and has decided to gain about 10 pounds because “I’m too thin for the ’50s” (set drama).
“Quentin Tarantino keeps on telling me I’m about to be rediscovered,” adds Beals. Tarantino, along with Rockwell, Allison Anders and Robert Rodriguez, is going to direct segments in “Four Rooms,” a tale set at a hotel on New Year’s Eve. Yet another opportunity to change her image.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: Everybody’s talking about Jim Carrey’s $ 7 million fee on New Line’s upcoming “Dumb and Dumber,” and more power to him. But back in Burbank, Warner Bros. and Morgan Creek folk are wondering what it’s really going to cost to lure him into “Ace Ventura 2.” Contractually, he entered into the first for $ 750,000 and studio generosity provided, in ink, that he’d be paid $ 750,000 for a sequel.