×

Art imitates life, sort of

GOOD MORNING: Is life imitating art or art imitating life? On the bigscreen, Universal’s “Spy Game” dramatizes CIActivities prior to 1991 — in Lebanon, Germany, Vietnam — via the fraternity of senior (about-to-retire) agent Robert Redford and his “student” Brad Pitt. And on the small screen, CBS’ “The Agency” (the CIA) tries to stay ahead of the headlines and not follow ’em with plausible stories. Amazingly, Michael Frost Beckner, who wrote “Spy Game” (with David Arata) and is an exec producer of “Agency,” tells me that in May he had written a seg in which Bin Laden had three U.S. planes hijacked. Needless to say, the script was never completed. And in an early version of “Spy Game,” a Marine barracks in the Middle East was destroyed by a terrorist. That, too never made it to final shooting script. However, there is much in the pic that carbons things that happened — and possibly indicating things to come … Doug Wick, who produced “Spy Game” with Marc Abraham, says “Universal was extremely brave” to OK the release of the Tony Scott-directed pic at this time. Coincidentally, “Black Hawk Down” is also getting a release at year’s end from Columbia. And it is directed by Ridley Scott. The brothers were shooting enormous, explosive scenes within miles of each other in Morocco! The Scotts were on hand for the preem in Westwood Monday night and talking about their experiences later at the party at the Napa Valley Grill along with the pic’s execs, and stars Brad Pitt and Catherine McCormack. Redford, not known for preem participations, did however host a benefit screening at Sundance for the North Fork Preservation Alliance, Nov. 16.

HE NEVER SLEEPS; he works around the clock,” Doug Wick said of director Tony Scott. “And his warm kindness sets the tone for the entire company.” It is an amazing accomplishment when you see (and hear) the non-stop action of the pic. Wick also admits that Redford “agonized for six months prior to the start of the film, on every line of the film. It’s no wonder he has remained on top for 40 years.” Meanwhile, Brad Pitt, at the Westwood preem with wife Jennifer Aniston and his parents, didn’t disappoint the enormous crowd of young fans: When the back rows couldn’t get a glimpse of the star, he repeatedly jumped up in the air to wave to ’em and when the Pitts spotted one young girl crying because she couldn’t get an autograph on the pix she’d brought, she was pulled out of the crowd to pose for pix with them. Pitt’s invitees included Edward Norton (“Red Dragon”) and Salma Hayek, Dermot Mulroney and Catherine Keener. The film includes a (screen) dedication to Elizabeth Scott, the late mother of the very devoted Tony and Ridley … Both the film and TV creators claim the CIA is happy with their products. As for the future on “Agency,” Breckner promises, “We will not do a show based on last year’s headlines. But I do admit the campaign in Afghanistan went a little more quickly than we expected! We do hope the public will say of future episodes, ‘This show is on the ball.’ ” The Nov. 29 seg is about a terrorist threat at the Yemni embassy. CBS apparently thinks the show’s on the ball: The web has picked it up for the full season. And has been very supportive, he emphasizes. As for the CIA, he says “They’re comfortable with the fact I get the people right. It’s not about the CIA per se, but about the people working there. I have the access (to the CIA) because at the end of the day my goal is to portray the human element honestly.” But when he started talking with them, he notes, “I think I was being looked at — when I thought I wasn’t being looked at.” Sounds like an early scene between Redford and Pitt in “Spy Game.” Wick next segues to “Peter Pan.” Breckner stays in the spy game with “Official Assassins” set in 1946 Berlin’s cold war capture of Nazi scientists.

GOOD MORNING, WORLD: Rupert Murdoch and wife Wendi Deng welcomed daughter Grace, Monday in N.Y. … Also on Monday in Gotham, Daily Variety‘s N.Y. editor Jill Goldsmith and husband Marco Valsania welcomed twins Nathaniel Goldsmith Valsania and Francesca Sarah V. at Mt. Sinai hospital … Barbara and Don Rickles are grandparents a second time as daughter Mindy and husband Ed Mann welcomed son Harrison Matthew Mann at Cedars-Sinai, Monday afternoon … Madelein and Tom Sherak’s daughter Melissa Sherak Resnick is chosen by the State of California to be one of those carrying the torch in the L.A. seg to the Salt Lake City Olympics, Jan. 15. She was chosen for her spirit in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis … Jack Carter, who has undergone five surgeries in the past two weeks, is due to go home Friday from Cedars-Sinai. He sounded feisty as ever on the phone! … The one-night (Nov. 19) performance at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center of Ernest Hemingway’s “Nick Adams,” as dramatized by A.E. Hotchner, raised over one million-$ for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camps. Among those performing: Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, Danny Aiello, Kevin Kline, Brian Dennehy, Morgan Freeman, James Naughton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Joanne Woodward and Paul … Sally Kellerman is the celeb spokesperson for Angel Harvest, bringing overages of food from a myriad of events and suppliers to the hungry … And a Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

More Film

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Apollo 11' Re-Release Set for Moon Landing Anniversary

    In today’s film news roundup, Neon is re-releasing “Apollo 11”; “Sesame Street” gets moved; “Supersize Me 2” is set for Sept. 13; Will Ropp gets a “Silk Road” deal; and Apple makes a movie deal. RE-LAUNCH Neon will re-release Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary “Apollo 11” in theaters on July 20, the 50th anniversary of the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Michael B. Jordan's 'Just Mercy' Moves to Awards Season Slot

    Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming legal drama “Just Mercy” has been shifted forward three weeks from Jan. 17 to Dec. 25 for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release. “Just Mercy” is based on the case of Walter McMillan, an African-American death-row prisoner who was exonerated in 1993 after being convicted five years earlier for a 1986 murder in [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content