Northern Ireland background informs but doesn't dominate
J.J. ABRAMSJ.J. Abrams has a dizzying amount of projects going forward. Now all he needs is the time and energy to see them all to fruition. The director-producer, honored tonight at the Oscar Wilde Awards, has optioned National Book Award-winning novel “Let the Great World Spin” by Dublin-born Colum McCann, the emcee of tonight’s event. Currently exec producing Fox’s “Fringe” and ABC’s “Lost” (though not actively involved), Abrams is also heading to NBC with CIA drama “Undercovers,” which the Peacock will most likely pick up for the fall. On the bigscreen side, Abrams is producing “Mission: Impossible IV,” after having directed the third installment of the franchise in 2006. He’s also looking to adapt “Micronauts” — based on the interchangeable Japanese toys that are a worldwide phenomenon — into a film as well. Hasbro, an increasingly major player in Hollywood, just bought the Micronauts brand and looks to benefit by the having the Abrams imprimatur on its balance sheet. SEAMUS MCGARVEY Though Seamus McGarvey says he’s “overjoyed” to be honored at the Oscar Wilde Awards, the cinematographer (“Atonement,” “High Fidelity”) prefers to be known as a filmmaker — not necessarily an Irish filmmaker. “Imagination is not something that comes from a place or a country,” says the Armagh native. “But I wouldn’t deny that growing up in a war zone in the ’70s at the height of the Troubles didn’t affect me. It made me aware of the epic in the everyday.” McGarvey has worked everywhere from the savannas of Botswana to the streets of Chicago, but it’s the bleak, gray landscapes of the British Isles — like the ones he captured in director Tim Roth’s “The War Zone” — that speak to him the most. “Usually in film you’re praying for good weather, and here we actively sought stormy weather,” he says. “I love it when a landscape is brooding and when the landscape can actually mean something in terms of becoming a character in the story.” SAOIRSE RONAN Fifteen-year-old Saoirse Ronan will receive the inaugural Wilde Card Award at tonight’s Oscar Wilde Awards. The honor was created to support rising Irish film talent, says U.S.-Ireland Alliance president Trina Vargo. Ronan was nominated for an Oscar in 2008, for her supporting role in “Atonement,” and for a BAFTA Award this kudo season for her lead performance in “The Lovely Bones.” She was born in New York but raised in Ireland, where she still lives. “It’s always fantastic being nominated or winning awards,” Ronan says. “But when it’s for Irish people in Hollywood … it’s a great honor. We’ve got some extremely talented actors and actresses and filmmakers, and hopefully this will inspire more Irish people to break in.” Ronan is preparing to film “Hanna,” in Berlin, with her “Atonement” director, Joe Wright.
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