Ellen Page Defects, Fox's Archive Withers and the Moguls Hit Ketchum, Idaho
Tarantino Unveils Inglorious Bastards
My latest scoop is that Quentin Tarantino went out with his long-anticipated script about World War II to four Hollywood studios on July 7 and 8. As usual, there’s a lot of secrecy and controversy surrounding this Q.T. project. It’s being shopped to Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount and Sony. And Brad Pitt may star.
Here’s the weird thing: Not only is Laurence Bender attached to produce Inglorious Bastards, but Harvey Weinstein will also be producing — yet not financing it. This certainly adds fuel to those rumors that the Weinstein Co. is having movie-money woes. After all, one of the ways that the Weinstein Co. attracted investors was by hyping its creative connection to the Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 writer-director. Let’s not forget that the Weinstein Co. produced and financed Tarantino’s last pic, Grindhouse/Death Proof, which tanked at the box office because Weinstein admittedly erred in releasing it in the U.S. as half of a too-long three-hour, 12-minute double feature. Lest anyone think there’s a rift, Q.T. and Harvey Weinstein lunched very visibly at Ago on Melrose on June 8.
This latest Tarantino epic, originally for Miramax and originally set for 2001, has been so long in the works that some people thought it might never see the light of day. Tarantino himself has described it as a spaghetti-Western-meets–World War II film that’s an homage to 1967’s The Dirty Dozen and its derivatives.
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It’s a story about a group of soldiers on their way to be executed who get the chance of a reprieve. In a BBC documentary done around the time of Pulp Fiction’s release, Tarantino said that he always wanted to do a “guys on a mission” film, and thought Where Eagles Dare was the best of the genre. Q.T.’s latest seems more inspired by the 1978 Italian movie Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato, which he has gushed over in interviews and which is a more extreme version of The Dirty Dozen. Tarantino’s script comes out just as that Enzo G. Castellari pic heads to DVD.
Ellen Page “Never Made a Connection”
Yet another Hollywood talent-agency defection sent big-star-in-the-making Ellen Page from William Morris to Endeavor. That’s a key loss for WMA, especially after her Oscar nomination for Juno. Even more so because the ten-percentery decided at a retreat a few years ago to focus on building the careers of talent because it’s just too damn tough to steal stars from other agencies.
Hollywood is whispering that Kelly Bush, Page’s publicist turned manager of the past few months, moved her to Endeavor. So now, a half-dozen talent agencies around town are whining about why they didn’t get a meeting. But my insiders tell me there were no meetings.
I hear Bush tried hard to keep Page at WMA, where the publicist has clients including Josh Brolin. But this was Page’s decision. “She just never made a connection, even though Morris has represented her since Hard Candy at Sundance,” a source explained. But Page felt an instant connection with Endeavor’s Patrick Whitesell. “Very much so. It was just organic and not premeditated. She didn’t take meetings around town.”
20th Century Fox Under Fire
There’s been an angry uproar from Hollywood ever since I broke the news that 20th Century Fox is very quietly shutting its film research library after 85 years. It’s the second-to-last such facility at a Hollywood studio that makes available books, drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, samples and other one-of-a-kind materials. (Most of the other studio libraries have been closed or sold off, except for the Samuel Goldwyn Research Library, owned and managed by Lillian Michelson and housed on the DreamWorks Animation lot, and Warner’s studio library.) “This is film history used and recycled every day, and also Los Angeles history,” an insider told me for my July 1 report. “Once this goes, it’s gone.”
I’m especially surprised by this decision because Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman considers himself a film historian (he’s known for those wooden historical monologues on the show Fox Legacy, which airs on the Fox Movie Channel). The result is a lot of angry library users calling the studio bigwigs “soul-less cretins” and “faithless slime” on my DHD comments page.
So Fox issued this whiney statement to me on July 2: “Contrary to implications, we are passionate about film history, and about our Fox history in particular. That’s why we maintain one of the best and most costly photo archive departments in the business and keep comprehensive prop, art and film-item archives from our films. That, however, is not what the research library is.
“Rather, it contains a number of general-reference, broad-interest books and periodicals, like a public library. That collection will be donated to a proper, curated library at a university or a guild, etc., where the public will have even greater access than they do now. The material will be taken care of in a first-class manner. As to the nostalgia that people feel for the days when studios were in many such non-movie-specific businesses, we share it, too, and wish the world were still that way, but it’s a muddling of points to lump this change into laments about lost film history, as it’s not what it is.”
Meanwhile, I’ve heard it costs between $750,000 and $1 million a year to keep the library open. But what the film community loses is priceless access to archive material by art directors, costume designers and others.
“I cannot tell you how serious this is to the below-the-line people and creatives around town,” said a source on the Fox lot who uses the library. “I guess Fox has to tighten its belt — or is it a noose?” So let’s get creative. Rothman’s show Fox Legacy could embrace the library, and maybe even shoot the show there to help underwrite it. That’s a win-win situation.
Camp Allen Kept IDs of Presenters Secret
Speaking of Big Media bosses, the 26th annual Allen & Co. investor conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, hosted by Herbert Allen Jr. really kept an unprecedented lid on the identities of the speakers and panelists this year. No doubt, that was because of security reasons since Jordan’s King Abdullah II will speak to the confab.
As for Hollywood, Jeff Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation and Intel’s Paul Otellini will make a joint presentation inside the Opera House (so expect a sophisticated dog-and-pony show about the much-heralded 4-D technology). Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos round out the list of presenters. There also are several panels which have less to do with Hollywood than ever before.
Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild placed a full-page ad to run July 9 in the Ketchum-based Idaho Mountain Express newspaper because the actors can’t seem to get the Big Media moguls to even acknowledge their existence during the stalled contract talks, with the AMPTP representing the movie and TV CEOs.
According to SAG prez Alan Rosenberg, “This media conference is the place where significant deals get made. We wanted to remind the entertainment-media leaders in attendance that there is another important deal to be made.” Like the moguls are really going to pick up the local newspaper when they barely read the Los Angeles Times.
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