Roman Polanski Pulls Out Of César Awards After Outcry From French Women’s Groups

Following an outcry from French women’s groups over the selection of Roman Polanski as President of next month’s César Awards, the filmmaker has pulled out of the post. Polanski’s attorney told Agence France Presse on Tuesday morning that he has renounced the position, but called the polemic “unjustified.” The Académie des Arts et Techniques, which oversees France’s equivalent to the Oscars, has not yet responded to Polanski’s decision.

The movement against Polanski has been led by feminist org Osez Le Feminisme, which called him “an author of sexual violence who remains unpunished, protected by his celebrity status.” The 83-year-old filmmaker has been wanted in the United States for 40 years over a 1977 child sex conviction. At the time, he cut a plea deal and served 42 days in prison, but fled the U.S. on the eve of sentencing when it appeared the judge in the case had moved the legal goalposts. The Chinatown and Pianist director has been a fugitive from American justice ever since, continuing to live and work largely in France. Multiple attempts to extradite him to the U.S. have stalled.

Osez Le Feminisme has also yet to respond to this morning’s revelation, but had earlier called for a protest of the Césars ceremony on February 24, saying it was “nauseated” by the Académie’s decision to offer Polanski the presidency. The role is a largely honorary title with no major function other than to speak at the beginning of the telecast and officially open the event.

A social media campaign that began last week has been accompanied by an online petition which had garnered over 61K signatures by this morning. According to local reports, Polanski’s attorney told AFP that the filmmaker had been “deeply saddened” by the controversy which had “affected his family.”

Polanski has been in and out of European courts as prosecutors have sought his extradition to the U.S. He holds dual citizenship in France and Poland, residing primarily in France. While French law prohibits extradition of its citizens, Polish law does not. In December, Poland’s supreme court upheld an earlier verdict that Polanski cannot be extradited to the U.S., bringing a definitive end to the case in the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s native country.

Previously, in 2009, Polanski was placed under house arrest in Switzerland while a similar extradition request was examined. He was released after nine months.

Samantha Geimer, the victim in the 1977 case, has repeatedly said she believes Polanski’s exile has been punishment enough. But the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has insisted he is subject to arrest in the United States.

Many in the French film industry refrained from commenting, although director Alexandre Arcady told Le Parisien, “The case was settled with the girl. Roman has paid a great deal… We are creating a controversy around a father who honors our cinema.” French actor François Berléand added, “I do not condone what Polanski did 40 years ago, but he is a man I deeply respect and he has a place at the Césars.”

Actor Gilles Lellouche also came to Polanski’s defense, “In France, we create polemics over everything… I think we have to be consistent. Polanski has lived in France for 40 years. The acts he is reproached for happened before his arrival in this country. For all these years, he has been making films… I’m not trying to excuse what happened, but why today more than yesterday should there be a scandal? What’s going on here? Are we becoming Americans? I don’t agree with that, and I’ll tell you, we’ve had enough with all these people who bark with the pack.”

Last week, Aurélie Filippetti, the former French Culture Minister, had defended the filmmaker as a “great director” who “should be allowed to preside over this ceremony.” Filippetti told Franco Info radio, “It’s something that happened 40 years ago. One cannot bring up this affair every time we talk about him… It’s just an awards ceremony.”

Alain Rocca, one of the six members of the committee that selects the president, had also told Le Monde he did not understand the “torrent of indignation.”

When the Académie released its announcement that Polanski would be president, it called the multiple César winner an “insatiable aesthete” and listed him as “an artist, filmmaker, producer, screenwriter, actor, director” adding, “There are a lot of words to define Roman Polanski, but only one to express our admiration and enchantment, thank you Mr President.”

César nominations will be announced tomorrow in Paris.


Amazon Scraps ‘Highston’ Comedy Series From Bob Nelson & Sacha Baron Cohen

Amazon has opted not to proceed with the new comedy series Highston. The streaming service picked up to series the pilot — written by Oscar-nominee Bob Nelson (Nebraska), directed by Little Miss Sunshine helmers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and executive produced by Sacha Baron Cohen — in December 2015. But it was never scheduled, and tonight, after co-star Curtis Armstrong tweeted that the show was dead, the development was confirmed by Amazon.

“We love Bob, Jon and Val, both producers named Todd and the incredibly talented cast,” said Joe Lewis, Head of Comedy and Drama Development at Amazon Studios, in a statement. “Unfortunately not every series works out.”

This is the second time Amazon has scrapped a project after picking up the pilot to series. The streaming platform previously did the same with the Chris Carter drama The After, one of its first two drama series orders, along with Bosch.

Highston was in the same batch of pilot-to-series orders as comedies One Mississippi, renewed for a second season, and the upcoming Z, as well as dramas Good Girls Revolt, canceled after one season, and the upcoming Patriot.

People have been asking when #Highston will premiere.It won’t. @Amazon now says the show won’t be picked up after all. A big disappointment.

— Curtis Armstrong (@curtisisbooger) January 24, 2017

In Highston, Highston Liggetts (newcomer Lewis Pullman) is a 19-year-old with a wide circle of celebrity friends—that only he can see. His parents, Jean (Mary Lynn Rajskub, 24), and Wilbur (Chris Parnell, Saturday Night Live) force him to get psychiatric help, but his Uncle Billy (Curtis Armstrong, American Dad!) thinks he’s just fine. Highston is a comedy about what it means to be normal in a world that’s anything but. The pilot guest stars Shaquille O’Neal (Thunderstruck) and Flea (The Big Lebowski), and is written by  Bob Nelson, directed by Independent Spirit Award winners Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and executive produced by Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator), Todd Hoffman (Love Stinks), Nelson, and Todd Schulman (Bruno).


ABC Orders Drama Pilots ‘The Good Doctor’ & ‘Doomsday’ From David Shore, Daniel Dae Kim & Carol Mendesohn

I’ve learned that ABC has given pilot orders to two drama projects with big auspices and big commitments from Sony Pictures TV — medical drama The Good Doctor, from House creator David Shore and Hawaii Five-0 co-star Daniel Dae Kim, which had a put pilot commitment, and Doomsday, a thriller drama from producer Carol Mendelsohn (CSI), writers Mark Bianculli & VJ Boyd (Justified), which had a production commitment with a series penalty behind it.

Written by Shore based on a South Korean format, The Good Doctor centers on a young surgeon with Savant syndrome who is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. The question will arise: Can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives?

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Shore executive produces via his Sony TV-based Shore Z alongside Kim, Sebastian Lee & David Kim. Shore Z’s Erin Gunn co-executive produces, along with Lindsay Goffman of Daniel Dae Kim’s 3 AD.

The original series, written by Park Jae-bum, aired on Korean Broadcasting System’s KBS2 in 2013. The Shore-created House, starring Hugh Laurie as the brilliant but flawed Dr. Gregory House, was one of the biggest medical dramas of the past two decades. It ran on Fox for eight seasons.

In addition to The Good Doctor, Shore has an action drama loosely based on I Spy at Fox with McG directing, from Sony TV, 20th TV and Davis Entertainment, which also has a put pilot commitment. 3 AD also has legal drama Exhibit A in consideration at CBS.


Written by Bianculli and Boyd, Doomsday starts in the aftermath of 9/11, when the U.S. government institutes a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. Because the hypothetical ideas are deemed extremely dangerous, the list is sealed and the program shut down. But when a catastrophe occurs that’s ripped from the pages of the missing doomsday book, the team is brought back years later to prevent the disasters of their own making.


Mendelsohn andvjcropped Julie Weitz executive produce for Sony TV-based Carol Mendelsohn Productions alongside Boyd via Pernomium Pictures and Bianculli via Signal Hill Productions.

Doomsday reunites the principals behind drama The Jury: Bianculli, Boyd, Mendelsohn and Sony TV. That project also landed at ABC last year, had a significant penalty and went to pilot starring Jeremy Sisto and Archie Panjabi.

The pickups brings the number of ABC drama pilots to 6, in addition to the straight-to-series Marvel drama The Inhumans.


NBC’s ‘Days Of Our Lives’ Taps Soap Writing Vet Ron Carlivati

NBC soap Days of Our Lives – lately facing its very own existential cliff-hanger – has replaced its co-head writer Dena Higley with longtime daytime scribe Ron Carlivati. “Like Sands Through the Hourglass,” Carlivati tweeted tonight, a reference to Days‘ famous spoken-word intro.

Carlivati will be the daytime series’ head writer, with Ryan Quan, co-head writer with Higley, given the newly created Creative Consultant title. Sharing that title will be Days writer Sheri Anderson Thomas. The changes take effect immediately.

The new head writer is well known to soap fans from his stints on both One Life to Live and General Hospital. His tenure at One Life to Live included a Daytime Emmy win in 2008.

Here’s his tweet about the new gig, with a hashtag “Guess I Have To Get Back To Work”:

The staff changes come as NBC’s sole daytime drama faces an indefinite future. As Deadline recently reported, discussions are underway for a 52nd, and possibly final, season. NBC’s recent hire of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly brought speculation of a morning talk show that could shake-up the network’s daytime schedule.

At TCA recently, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt told Deadline about Days, “We haven’t made decisions, but we like that show. I think we will know more in couple of months. As they age, these shows diminish, there is a lot of delayed viewing and very little linear viewing anymore, you have to keep looking at that.”

Days is produced by Sony TV, which also is behind CBS’ veteran daytime drama The Young and the Restless.


Verizon Axes 155 Go90 Staffers; Streaming Service Targets Millennials

Confirming the layoffs of 155 Go90 employees, Verizon says the company remains “committed to rapidly enhancing our existing online video products and delivering new products.”

“Our focus with go90 and our Verizon digital media efforts are to fulfill our strategy of leveraging Verizon content investments, enhancing user experience and strengthening our advertising infrastructure,” the company said in a statement. “Fulfilling this strategy has resulted in some duplicative resources and has required organizational changes impacting 155 employees as we consolidate offices in Los Angeles, San Jose and New York. These changes are not indicative to a change in our strategy and we remain committed to rapidly enhancing our existing online video products and delivering new products.”

The streaming service aimed at millennials features original dramas, action and comedy ([email protected], Mr. Student Body President, Rush), live music and sports, and mobile-friendly content from young-skewing sources like Vice, Awesomeness TV and Buzzfeed Comedy.

Deadline’s sister publication Variety broke the story today, reporting that most of the laid-off staffers were based at Go90’s San Jose office, and that the streaming service will be rebuilt by Vessel, a company acquired by Verizon last year and headed by former Hulu CTO Richard Tom.


Star Wars 8 Cast React to The Last Jedi Title Reveal

After months of waiting and impatience, Disney and Lucasfilm have finally pulled back the veil of secrecy a bit on Star Wars 8. Today, they revealed that the official title will be Star Wars: The Last Jedi, while also debuting the first poster for the movie. The reaction to the title has been very positive and Mark Hamill has piled onto that positivity with his initial public reaction. Star Daisy Ridley also got in on the fun with her own meme.

The Associated Press caught up with Mark Hamill shortly after the The Last Jedi title was made public to get his thoughts on it. He seemed relieved to be able to actually talk a bit about the movie now, but also praised it for its similarity to samurai movies of old, while also saying that “it’s straightforward and minimalist and I like that.” Before sharing his thoughts, he talked a bit about not wanting to know the title during production because there is so much secrecy and concern over leaks these days. Here is what he had to say.

“It was just announced. I heard it on the car ride over. He (Rian Johnson) told me that when we were making the movie and I said ‘Don’t tell me these things!’ I talk in my sleep. They have us so jacked up with paranoia over leaks, but that’s the way of the world. It’s funny because back when we were making the original nobody cared.”

Getting Mark Hamill’s impression of the title for Star Wars: Episode VIII seems very appropriate, seeing as Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost definitely referring to his character and seems to imply the movie will heavily focus on Luke Skywalker. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the opening crawl features text that refers to Luke as “the last Jedi” and at one point, Supreme Leader Snoke also says “The droid will soon be delivered to the Resistance…leading them to the last Jedi.”

Director Rian Johnson has also said that this movie will be heavily focused on Luke and Rey, so the title makes a lot of sense. As Mark Hamill says, it appears to be very “straightforward.” That would also be in line with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back or even Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, which were both the second installments of their respective trilogies and were both very straightforward.

Rian Johnson also recently revealed that he has known the title of Star Wars 8 ever since he wrote the first draft of the screenplay, so he has had to remain tight-lipped on the matter for quite some time. Interestingly enough, now that Han Solo is dead in the Star Wars universe and given Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate and untimely passing, Mark Hamill is now really going to be an even more important figure in the new Star Wars trilogy moving forward. That makes Star Wars: The Last Jedi have some weight to it that couldn’t have possibly been planned, but it just worked out that way.

Until the title reveal, details on Star Wars: The Last Jedi have been very scarce, but it looks like we are going to be getting reveals periodically from now until December. Recently, it was teased that a “first look” at Star Wars 8 would be coming on Mark Hamill’s show Pop Culture Quest and now that the title has been made public, it seems like that will be coming very soon, so be on the lookout. The cast for the movie includes Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’O and Mark Hamill. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was written and directed by Rian Johnson and is set for release on December 15. You can check out the video of Mark Hamill’s reaction to the Star Wars: Episode VIII title for yourself below. As well, we have included Daisy Ridley’s post on Facebook which shows her facial expressions as the title was unveiled for the first time.

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Every Which Way But Loose Remake Is Happening

Nearly 40 years after the Clint Eastwood comedy Every Which Way But Loose hit theaters, a remake is moving forward. James Fargo, who directed the original movie, has come aboard to produce this Every Which Way But Loose reboot, bringing Anthony Cohen on board to direct. The filmmaker made his feature directorial debut with last year’s The Sex Trip, which stars Jim Hanks, Frank Stallone and Louis Mandylor, the younger brothers of Tom Hanks, Sylvester Stallone and Costas Mandylor.

Deadline reports that James Fargo has been quietly searching for a director for the past year, with production now set to begin in late spring. No cast members have been announced at this time, but James Cohen revealed in a statement to Deadline that he knew Anthony Cohen was right for Every Which Way But Loose after watching his film The Sex Trip. Here’s what he had to say below.

“I have been interviewing directors for over a year and as soon as I watched Cohen’s film The Sex Trip … I knew instantly he was the right director for this picture. I was very impressed with his film and his directing style.”

The original movie stars Clint Eastwood as Philo Beddoe, an easy-going trucker and a great fist-fighter. With two friends, Orville (Geoffrey Lewis), who promotes prize-fights for him, and Clyde, the orangutan he won on a bet, he roams the San Fernando Valley in search of cold beer, country music and the occasional punch-up. But he is floored himself by a dainty little country and western singer, who gives him the slip when she realizes he’s getting too serious. The supporting cast includes Sondra Locke, Beverly D’Angelo and Walter Barnes.

Every Which Way But Loose became quite the box office hit, earning $85.1 million during its theatrical run in 1979. When adjusted for inflation, that equates to a $314,9 million movie today. The movie spawned the 1979 sequel Any Which Way You Can, which brought back Clint Eastwood and the rest of the cast, directed by Buddy Van Horn. With production scheduled to begin this spring, we should hear more about the cast of this Every Which Way But Loose remake. Anthony Cohen has also directed the TV movie Grand Race Auto, which is currently in post-production.


Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Japanese Trailer Has Baby Groot on the Run

It’s been about a month and a half since the first full-length Guardians of the Galaxy 2 trailer was released, and Marvel still hasn’t announced when the next domestic trailer will arrive. While we wait for some new footage, a Japanese trailer has surfaced, highlighting both Baby Groot and the Abilisk creature these Guardians go up against. One scene has Gamora launching herself onto this massive squid-like creature, while Drax uses his blades to furiously stab it. While none of this footage is actually new, it is cut in a new way, and does offer a sliver or two or previously unseen goodness.

The trailer debuted on YouTube earlier today, and has plenty of Baby Groot, who is seen misunderstanding Rocket Raccoon’s instructions about a bomb detonator, while showing that he can still fight, despite his diminutive size. Baby Groot is seen using his tree limbs to trip up one of his enemies and throw him off a catwalk, while another scene features a humorous callback to the first movie. Instead of Rocket Raccoon standing on Groot’s shoulders, which is one of the most memorable moments of the first movie, Baby Groot is seen standing on Rocket’s shoulders instead, as they unleash a barrage of firepower at their enemies.

This trailer also comes a few days after a LEGO set offered a glimpse at the new villain, Ayesha, played by Elizabeth Debicki. The LEGO set is entitled “Ayesha’s Revenge,” although no story details were given with this set. Ayesha was a prominent character in the comics, who was originally known as the Paragon and went by several other aliases such as Kismet, J’Ridia Starduster and Her. She was created by the Enclave in their attempt to bring forth a supernatural being through their Citadel of Science. The organization’s first attempt was “Him,” otherwise known as Adam Warlock, and both later escaped the Enclave and fled to outer space. It isn’t known how she will be utilized in the story, or what she will be seeking revenge for.

It’s worth noting that we’ve seen photos of another new character, Mantis, along with a glimpse at Yondu (Michael Rooker) with his new, much-larger Mohawk, but we still haven’t seen any photos or footage with Ayesha quite yet. Perhaps Marvel is saving Ayesha for the final trailer, but her involvement is just one of many mysteries yet to be solved for this sequel. It still isn’t known who Sylvester Stallone is playing yet, although James Gunn has teased in the past that he is playing a small yet important role.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cast is lead by Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel as Groot. New cast members include Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet, Star-Lord’s father, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Chris Sullivan as Taserface and Tommy Flanagan as Tullk. Marvel Studios will release Guardians 2 on May 5, which kicks off the summer movie season. The film doesn’t have any direct competition, but it will face Warner Bros. KIng Arthur: Legend of the Sword, 20th Century Fox’s Snatched and High Top Releasing’s Lowriders on May 12. Take a look at this Japanese trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, below.

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Godzilla 2 Gets Krampus Director Michael Dougherty

It has already been nearly three years since director Gareth Edwards successfully brought Godzilla to American audiences with his 2014 take on the legendary monster. The movie was a bit divisive, but a success nevertheless, which has left many to wonder what is going on with the sequel. It is definitely happening and it has just taken a major step forward by officially hiring director Michael Dougherty to helm Godzilla: King of Monsters.

Variety broke the news that Michael Dougherty has nabbed the job to direct Godzilla 2, which recently got the official title of Godzilla: King of Monsters. The Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus director has been attached to the project for quite some time but now Legendary Pictures has made it official and named him as the guy to further the story of this new Godzilla and lead him to his upcoming duel with King King. Gareth Edwards announced last year that he would not be returning to do Godzilla 2 and that opened the door for Michael Dougherty to come in and take the job.

Michael Dougherty and Zack Shields were previously hired to write the script for Godzilla 2, which lead many to speculate that Legendary had also found their director. That wasn’t confirmed until now, but Michael Dougherty was also brought on by the studio to head up the writer’s room for their “MonsterVerse,” which added fuel to the fire. Apparently Legendary Pictures liked the work he did there.

Legendary has a long history with Michael Dougherty, since he wrote and directed the cult hit Trick ‘r Treat, which was one of the first movies they ever released. The movie didn’t do much at the box office but has found a very big audience in the years since. In 2015, he wrote and directed Krampus, which made $61 million on a relatively small $15 million budget, which made some money for the studio. That, coupled with the work he did in the MonsterVerse writer’s room, he seems like a very logical choice for Godzilla 2. He has never done anything on the level of 2014′s Godzilla, which had a reported budget of $160 million, but neither had Gareth Edwards. In fact, his biggest movie prior to that was Monsters, which was a much smaller movie than Krampus and that worked out just fine. Good enough to get him a job directing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, anyway.

Godzilla made a pretty impressive $529 million worldwide and was a dramatic improvement over the last American attempt to bring Godzilla to the big screen in 1998. That encouraged Legendary to assemble a cinematic universe around the monster that will continue this year with Kong: Skull Island, which is set for release on March 10. Godzilla: King of Monsters will probably be gearing up for production at some point this year, with the movie currently slated for release on March 22, 2019. That will be followed by an epic rematch in the form of Godzilla Vs. Kong, which is set to debut on May 29, 2020. It is doubtful that Michael Dougherty will direct that movie as well, since the release date is so close to Godzilla 2, but it isn’t impossible. If the studio decides to shoot them back-to-back it could work, though, that would mean they have quite a bit of confidence in Michael Dougherty. We’ll have to see how the rest of the MonsterVerse shakes out, but now we know that the next Godzilla movie is on track and in seemingly good hands.


The Predator Brings in Thomas Jane

Over the past few weeks, 20th Century Fox has been assembling a strong cast for its Predator sequel, recently adding breakout Moonlight star Trevante Rhodes and comedy superstar Keegan Michael Key. With director Shane Black planning a February production start in Vancouver, the sequel has added yet another cast member, with Thomas Jane in final talks to star. No details have been given for his character at this time, but hopefully we’ll get more details about the story and these characters when production gets under way in just a few weeks.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on the casting, with the publication still presumably standing by their earlier report that the story takes place in the suburbs. Shortly after that report surfaced in November, director Shane Black clarified that the movie won’t be set in the suburbs. Today’s report claims that this movie will feature “an array of the alien hunters” seen in the first Predator movie from 1987, but this story will be featured in a, “more domestic setting.”

Boyd Holbrook came aboard to star in The Predator in October, replacing the departing Benicio del Toro. Writer-director Shane Black revealed in a Q&A that the hero of this movie is named Quinn McKenna, and it is believed that is who Boyd Holbrook is playing. Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown have also recently come aboard to star in The Predator, but nothing about their characters have been revealed yet. It isn’t quite clear how many additional roles still need to be filled before filming starts next month in Vancouver, although an exact production date has not yet been revealed.

Shane Black is directing from a script he co-wrote with Fred Dekker, who he co-wrote The Monster Squad with 30 years ago. During a May interview, Fred Dekker compared The Predator to the 1986 hit sequel Aliens, if you think of the first Predator movie as the 1979 classic Alien. The writer teased that their story is much deeper, exploring the “bigger picture” of why these soldiers were called in, teasing there is a lot more to explore in this story than in the previous movies. 20th Century Fox has set a February 9, 2018 release date for The Predator, putting it up against Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed and an untitled Warner Animation Group project.

There have been rumors that Arnold Schwarzenegger may come back as Dutch, but we haven’t heard anything official about his involvement in The Predator. Thomas Jane most recently starred in the Syfy TV series The Expanse, and films Before I Wake and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. He also has Hot Summer Nights, alongside Maika Monroe and Emory Cohen, and 1922, alongside Neal McDonough and Molly Parker, in post-production.

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