A high-profile auction of tapes featuring A-list Hollywood stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt auditioning for roles has been cancelled following complaints by the US’s largest acting union.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) stepped in after it emerged that video tapes made by casting directors for 2001’s Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, a 1990 TV adaptation of the 1983 brat pack drama The Outsiders and the 1991 firefighter thriller Backdraft were due to go under the hammer. The tapes included DiCaprio’s failed audition for the role of Ponyboy in Frances Ford Coppola’s little-seen small screen take on The Outsiders, Crowe’s audition for the role of maths genius John Nash in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (which eventually won him a Bafta and a nominated for an Oscar for best actor) and auditions by Pitt and Robert Downey Jr for the role of Chicago firefighter Brian McCaffrey in Backdraft (which eventually went to William Baldwin).
“SAG-AFTRA considers the right of performers to control the use of their image to be of utmost importance and we vigorously protect those rights,” the union said in a statement. “Auditions are not public performances, and under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements performers are entitled to expect them to remain private. SAG-AFTRA, on behalf of our members, has requested that Julien’s Auctions discontinue the sale of these private tapes, and they have agreed to do so immediately.”
Ray Liotta, 57, has had his share of playing bad guys — even likable ones, as in 1990’s Goodfellas about the life of mobster Henry Hill — but it was a slightly different experience playing the victim, as he does in the upcoming Killing Them Softly, written and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and also starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Sam Shepard about a heist that goes down during a mob-protected poker game.
“Usually I’m the guy running around beating people up and this time it happened to me,” Liotta said when he sat down exclusively with Uinterview to talk about Killing Them Softly. “So it’s different in that sense. I guess I’m just a guy who watches over a card game. Pretty much everyone else are murderers,” he pointed out, including costars Gandolfini and Pitt. “Brad’s a hit man, Gandolfini’s a hit man. The other two, I’m sure if they weren’t beating people up, they were killing people. So in that sense it was different.”
The names associated with Killing Them Softly had a lot to do with Liotta’s decision to sign on to the project. “I’m just working with people who I admire and happy to be in their company. But it was a chance to work with Andrew. I had met him before I’d seen a lot of his work and I dug it. I like the fact that Brad and Dede [Gardner] were the producers of it, and they’re serious about making good movies.”
Brad Pitt threw his considerable celebrity behind the documentary “The House I Live In” on Friday night at the Sundance Sunset cinemas in West Hollywood, making a surprise appearance to introduce Eugene Jarecki’s film, joke about his past drug use and tell the audience that the war on drugs is a costly failure.
“I think it’s safe to say that the drug war is nonsensical,” Pitt told TheWrap in an interview before his appearance.
“It’s a backwards, inept strategy.”
Added Jarecki, “The ‘tough on crime’ strategy failed. We created a war on drugs, which is a trillion dollars spent over 40 years, 45 million arrests, leading to nothing. Drugs are cheaper, purer, more available than ever before, and used by younger and younger people. Who can stand by that?”
A few minutes later, Pitt walked to the front of a half-filled 180-seat theater and introduced himself to a surprised audience by saying, “Hi, everybody. I’m Brad Pitt. And I’m a drug addict.”
He laughed and shook his head. “Actually, my drug days have long passed, but it’s certainly true that I could land in any city and any state and get you anything you wanted. Just give me 24 hours, and I’ll know where to find it.
“And yet we still talk about the drug war as if it’s a success.”
It is by far and away no secret that Hollywood compensation for a certain cadre of stars have been rocketing beyond the stratosphere for some time now, but one A-lister, in the form of Brad Pitt, says that the era of paychecks reaching into the tens of millions for some may be coming to a close. Both he and his partner Angelina Jolie have topped (or nearly so) the scales for their movies in the past decade, with Pitt garnering a cool $25 million per pic. Not bad, but almost a paltry sum when compared to Tom Cruise, for instance, which Forbes listed as commanding a cool $75 million in 2012. But Pitt says he thinks that the conditions for unbelievable sums (at least for the bottom 99.7 per cent) may be heading back down to the mere stratosphere. “Yeah, that thing died,” Pitt said when asked if fellow A-listers can still easily command a $10 or so million per movie, according to BBC. “That arithmetic doesn’t really work right now…that deal’s not flying these days.” Going further on the economics of Hollywood right now, Pitt added, “”It’s a really interesting time. A lot of the studios have been challenged because of the economic downturn as well, so they’ve been betting on bigger, more tent pole kinds of things. At the same time that opens up a vacuum for really interesting new filmmakers to come in.” Pitt debuted Killing Them Softly in Cannes and is a producer on the title that will head to U.S. theaters next month. But not all films will automatically bring out the masses simply because their idols are in them. Nearly two hours of staring at Robert Pattinson sans vampirism failed to bring out the legions of people who otherwise crave to hear any tidbit possible about the latest travails of their obsession’s personal life. Cosmopolis, for instance, has only cashed in at $5.3 million worldwide so far (and only just over $700K in the U.S. – ouch). “You take the roles for the roles,” said Pitt. “And you’ve just got to balance economics like everyone does.”
It’s time to say good bye to the Cannes Film Festival, eleven days of madness for me and even a few hours of sleep.
There were some highs and lows. A brief summary:
HIGH: Teaching Brad Pitt about emoticons. Who knew that the mega-star didn’t know what an emoticon was? OMG. Even though I am anti-emoticon in-person, I was happy to instruct on the matter during our interview about his film Killing Them Softly. I’m sure he’s emoticon-ing like mad right now with the kids.
On another tech note, Pitt agreed to do the movie with director Andrew Dominik with the simple text message that said “Yep.” Classic.
Eighteen of the 20 nominees in the acting categories will make an appearance at the Feb. 6 event which honors more than 150 Academy Award contenders.
More than 150 Oscar nominees will be honored at the annual Nominees Luncheon on Feb. 6, with nearly all of the nominated actors expected to make an appearance.
Eighteen of the 20 nominees in the best actor, actress and supporting categories have RSVP’ed for the event, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel this Sunday. A press release for the event notes that additional confirmations are expected to come in the next day.
Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Demian Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt should all be in attendance, filling out the complete Best Actor and Actress categories. Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill, Nick Nolte, Max von Sydow, Berenice Bejo, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer and Octavia Spencer will represent the Supporting categories.
Several months ago it seemed as though this may be Brad Pitt’s year. For some, he’s a movie star who happens to know how to act. To others he is a talented character actor who happens to be a remarkably good-looking movie star. Pitt himself will often say that he has learned his craft over the course of a 20-year career peppered with hits and misses, but he has become known for his humility as well as his willingness to take chances and go against the grain of what could have been a one- or two-note body of work.
For a time in the precursor season, it appeared as though he may be nominated for “The Tree of Life” as well as “Moneyball.” Each would offer particular PR challenges. Neither necessarily represents a no-brainer Oscar win (great historical figure, person facing life-altering trauma or, as Ricky Gervais taught us in “Extras,” a Nazi or a nun). But “Moneyball” is also a film that is notably devoid of the bells and whistles of the traditional “sports movie.” There is no great triumph, no moment of cathartic victory in a neatly wrapped package of money and accolades. What the film does offer is a look at how and why we define ourselves and others as we do, as well as an exploration of a thinking man’s way through a system that is inherently inequitable.
Other new additions to the broadcast include Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Channing Tatum and Jane Fonda.
George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will all be in attendance during Sunday’s 69th annual Golden Globe Awards.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Friday night that the trio are among the latest to join the list of presenters, as are Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Channing Tatum, Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dustin Hoffman, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Colin Firth and several others.