July 2, 2009

Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe’s armed forces have taken over diamond fields in the east and killed more than 200 people, forcing children to search for the precious gems and beating villagers who get in the way.

The New York-based organization said its call for a ban on diamonds from the region had received an endorsement from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. A statement from the couple’s foundation was expected later Friday.

“Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have issued a call for a ban on any sale or purchase of Marange diamonds … until … the mining is not based on the violent abuse of residents in that region,” said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director.

Zimbabwe’s deputy mining minister, Murisi Zwizwai, has denied the allegations and said the presence of the military is to secure the area.

More than 100 witnesses, miners, police officers, soldiers and children were interviewed for the report entitled “Diamonds in the Rough,” which details allegations of human rights abuses by Zimbabwean armed forces in an attempt to control access to the precious gems.

The human rights group said esearchers had gathered evidence of mass graves and accounts of an incident last year when military helicopters fired at miners, while armed soldiers on the ground chased villagers from the area. Read more.

June 23, 2009
by admin / moneyball News Projects

At a time when expensive adult dramas keep striking out at the box office, it appears not even Brad Pitt and director Steven Soderbergh can entice a Hollywood studio to spend about $57 million on a baseball movie.

Pitt and Soderbergh, who were given a short window to set up their adaptation of the 2003 bestselling book “Moneyball” at a rival studio after Sony Pictures unexpectedly killed the project just three days before production was to begin today, have been turned down by Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, which shared concerns about the film’s high budget and limited commercial appeal.

Sony movie chief Amy Pascal had given them the weekend to try and set the movie up at the two studios where they have the closest ties. Pitt’s production company is based at Paramount, and the actor and Soderbergh have made the “Ocean’s 11” movies at Warner.

On Friday, as first reported by industry trade paper Daily Variety, Sony’s Pascal pulled the plug on the production after Soderbergh turned in a rewrite of the script by Steve Zaillian that she found unacceptable, according to people close to the situation. A person informed about the matter said that Pascal had liked Zaillian’s adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, but when Soderbergh’s rewrite came in last Wednesday, she was surprised that there were “substantial changes.”

Pascal met with Soderbergh in her Culver City office to see if he was willing to revise his take, but the two couldn’t agree on a vision for the film. They also disagreed over Soderbergh’s plan to shoot the film in a more improvisational documentary style, the person said.

She then made a last-minute decision to scrap the production, shocking those who were about to start shooting, said one individual involved in the project.

By Monday, Paramount and Warner Bros. had already decided to pass. Read more. Thanks Gabriella.

June 21, 2009
by admin / moneyball News

Columbia Pictures has dropped the ball on “Moneyball,” the Steven Soderbergh-directed Brad Pitt-starrer that was supposed to begin production Monday in Phoenix. On Friday, Columbia Pictures topper Amy Pascal placed the picture into “limited turnaround,” giving the filmmaker the chance to set it up at another studio, with Warner Bros. and Paramount the prime targets.

The move came after Pascal read the final draft delivered last week by Steve Zaillian and Steven Soderbergh and found it very different from the earlier scripts she championed. Pascal was uncomfortable enough with how Steven Soderbergh’s vision had changed that she applied the brakes.

Soderbergh and Pitt’s CAA reps spent the weekend attempting to get another studio to play ball in a game that will play out until Monday. If a new financier doesn’t emerge by tomorrow, Columbia will re-examine options that include replacing Soderbergh (and hoping that Pitt doesn’t ankle), delaying the film until she and the filmmaker find themselves in synch on the script, or pulling the plug. Read more. Thanks Intothegrinder and Gabriella.

June 21, 2009
by admin / Alerts News

The votes are in; now watch your favorite celebrity win Spike TV’s coveted Mantlers at the 2009 Guy’s Choice Awards on June 21st at 10:00 pm. The Guy’s Choice Awards is the only awards show where guys pick the winners; it’s “all that’s important to guys everywhere”. Some of today’s hottest celebrities will be there including Jason Stratham, Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson, Clint Eastwood, Mickey Rourke, Brad Pitt, Katy Perry, Quentin Tarantino, and Ben Stiller. This is a night you don’t want to miss.

In the meantime check out Guy’s Choice, for exclusive backstage coverage, photos, and video footage of the awards. Thanks Clare.

June 19, 2009
by admin / moneyball News Projects

Brad Pitt’s new baseball movie is hitting Phoenix in the next day or two for a couple of days of filming.

Pitt plays a baseball executive in the film “Moneyball,” an adaptation of a best-selling book.

So will Pitt be here for the filming? Probably, says the film’s publicist, Spooky Stevens.

“Yes, but it’s not written in stone,” she said.

Stevens wasn’t willing to say much about what’s happening here. She said the production doesn’t disclose locations and wants to slip in and out of town quietly to keep down crowds that might slow their work. She said most of the shooting will take place in Los Angeles but the first two days are in Phoenix.

“Moneyball” is an adaptation of the book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.” It chronicles Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s major league baseball team. The book portrays him as obsessed with unusual statistics that help find overlooked players who produce contending teams with a cheap payroll. Read more.

June 18, 2009

They’re between film shoots, but Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have kept busy.

First, it was the creation of the Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center, named after Brad’s mother, in his hometown of Springfield, Mo. And Wednesday, in support of Jolie’s eight-year relationship with the UN Refugee Agency, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation gave $1 million to help displaced people in Pakistan, a country she has visited three times.

The head of the agency, António Guterres, thanked the foundation for its assistance, calling Pakistan’s plight “the most challenging humanitarian crisis of the past decade,” as more than 2 million people are currently displaced in the country. Read more.