Posted May 12th, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: 12 Years A Slave helmer Steve McQueen will direct a full length feature documentary on the life of iconic hip hop star Tupac Shakur. A deal has come together between Estate trustee Tom Whalley and Amaru Entertainment, the company created by Afeni Shakur to release her son’s posthumous projects. They are teaming with Nigel Sinclair’s White Horse Pictures and Jayson Jackson to produce a fully authorized documentary with Amaru on the life of late hip-hop artist, writer and poet. McQueen, who won the Oscar for the Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave will direct and Jayson Jackson (What Happened, Miss Simone?) will produce with Sinclair, the man behind a slew of musical documentaries including the most recent, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week–The Touring Years, along with Nicholas Ferrall and Whalley. Gloria Cox, Tupac Shakur’s aunt and Afeni Shakur’s only sister, will executive produce along with White Horse’s Jeanne Elfant Festa. White Horse Pictures will be the worldwide sales agent on the film.

Though his recording career only lasted five years, Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide and he recently became the first solo hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the April 7 ceremony where he was posthumously inducted with a musical tribute from Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and T.I. He also starred in such films as Juice, Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, Gridlock’d and Gang Related. He was murdered in a drive by shooting in 1996.

Said McQueen: “I am extremely moved and excited to be exploring the life and times of this legendary artist. I attended NYU film school in 1993 and can remember the unfolding hip-hop world and mine overlapping with Tupac’s through a mutual friend in a small way. Few, if any shined brighter than Tupac Shakur. I look forward to working closely with his family to tell the unvarnished story of this talented man.”

Beyond the support of Shakur’s estate, the film will also have the support of Interscope Records, which release most of Shakur’s catalog, and Universal Music Publishing Group. Which means access to songs that have not lost their resonance over time.

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Posted February 17th, 2017

Maturity Reigns at AARP’s

Movies for Grownups Awards

by Geoff Berkshire

 

Maturity seems to be in short supply in many areas of the world today, but there’s one awards show that celebrates that virtue above all others: the AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards.

Now in its 16th year, the annual kudos, held Feb. 6 at the Beverly Wilshire this year, recognizes achievements of those in the entertainment industry age 50 and over, and the films that speak to that vast audience.

AARP The Magazine presents the awards and West Coast editor and celebrity liaison Meg Grant says this year’s honorees share a common interest in the “interconnections between human beings,” beginning with best picture winner “Loving.” It’s the moving true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple who became unwitting civil-rights heroes at the center of a landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriages nationwide.

“So many of our members remember that time and may have even experienced it,” Grant says of the film’s ’60s setting. “We love how restrained Jeff [Nichols, the writer-director] was in his filmmaking. And we believe that there’s a right time for certain movies.”

Indeed, while “Loving” bowed to strong reviews at May’s Cannes Film Festival, its release during the height of a contentious and divisive American election season was a reminder how much progress has been made on issues of equality in recent years, and how much work there still is to do.

“Of course the movie was made before we knew where we’d be at this moment in time,” Grant says. “But the timing was perfect for this movie and the message it sends.”

And “Loving” also proves the AARP is happy to reward films no matter the age of those behind and in front of the camera. Nichols and stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are all under 50.

“It goes to show grownup movies are a state of mind rather than a matter of chronology,” says Bill Newcott, film critic for AARP The Magazine.

In the performance categories, however, actors are required to be 50-plus, and the four acclaimed honorees this year make the most of their richly layered grownup roles. “Fences” duo Denzel Washington and Viola Davis claim lead actor and supporting actress, respectively, while “20th Century Women” star Annette Bening is lead actress, and “Hell or High Water” scene-stealer Jeff Bridges is supporting actor winner.

For the first time ever the org is giving directing and screenplay honors to the same individual: “Manchester by the Sea” auteur Kenneth Lonergan.

“This is such a personal project, you can’t separate the script from the direction — it’s one piece,” says Newcott. “It’s about a younger guy, but who in their life, the older you get, has not had terrible things happen to them that they have to get over, and maybe they can’t get over? It’s maybe one of the most grownup lessons life can ever teach us — sometimes things happen that are not going to pass and yet life goes on.”

Fellow awards season darling “La La Land” was named top comedy/musical. The film, with its focus on young dreamers in Los Angeles and wunderkind creator Damien Chazelle, is emblematic of the season’s generational skew.

“There’s a lot of young people in the awards mix this year,” Grant notes. “For films that are quite young in terms of talent, I’m appreciative they still speak to a grownup audience, but I wish filmmakers would find more of a balance [of younger and older characters]. I would wish for films that don’t just go one way or the other.”

Looking beyond Hollywood and the indie scene, the org will also honor Paul Verhoeven’s French sensation “Elle,” with its tour de force performance from Isabelle Huppert, for foreign film, and Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” for documentary.

When it comes to the show itself, all eyes will be on the first-time host: Emmy-winning character actress Margo Martindale.

Also an honoree in one of the awards’ quirkier categories, best grownup love story for her work opposite Richard Jenkins in “The Hollars,” the gig marks Martindale’s kudos hosting debut.

“That’s part of the reason she’s taken on the challenge,” Grant says. “One of the reasons we love her is when she won her first Emmy [for ‘Justified’] her speech was about how it took a long time but sometimes that’s what it takes, and experience matters. It’s never too late. She’s taken on this challenge, she’s delighted to do it, and I think her message is going to be perfect for us.”

Grant notes Martindale has attended the ceremony in the past, and makes an ideal fit with the collegial vibe.

“I think she’ll be funny but not poking fun, if you know what I mean. We’re an easy target [for jokes], and I think she’ll poke gentle fun, but she’s one of us.”

The Movies for Grownups Awards also benefit a good cause: the AARP Foundation. All the proceeds support the org dedicated to help ease the struggles of people aged 50 and older nationwide.

Foundation president Lisa Marsh Ryerson says, “We’re especially excited about our collaboration with the Motion Picture & Television Fund to fight social isolation among older members of the entertainment industry, many of whom can no longer get around easily or have lost loved ones and friends who once formed their social support.”

While this year’s kudos promise to be as star-studded as ever, the ultimate goal is to honor the AARP’s mission statement that life only gets better with age, and that results in one of the most laid-back and welcoming events of the awards season.

“I think [the honorees] feel like they’re with their people. They let their hair down and really have a good time,” Grant says. “It’s a very relaxed setting and we try to get a mix of generations within the presenters and honorees themselves. The younger talent are awed by these legends.”

 

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Posted February 13th, 2017

By: Steve Marinucci | AXS Contributor | Feb 13, 2017

 

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, the Ron Howard-directed film about The Beatles and their tours mainly during the years of Beatlemania, won the Grammy Award for Best Music Film Feb. 12 at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The honor was announced in the afternoon before the televised ceremony. The Beatles’ film, which was co-produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Scott Pascucci and Nigel Sinclair, beat out three other contenders in the category: “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” “Lemonade” and “The Music of Strangers.” The win gave Howard his first Grammy Award.

The Beatles’ Ringo Starr put out a Twitter post shortly after the award was announced. “Wow well done Ron Howard and all the production team and of course the fabs we actually got a Grammy for eight days a week peace and love.” He followed that up with a second post filled with emoticons.” George Harrison’s official Twitter account posted, “Congrats to @RealRonHoward for winning the best music film @Grammys for ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — the Touring Years’. @thebeatles.”

The Beatles’ official Twitter account later noted the win, saying, “Fantastic news-The Beatles:Eight Days A Week wins Best Music Film Grammy. Congrats @RealRonHoward & everyone who worked so hard on the film.”

Co-producer Sinclair told AXS.com Sunday night, “On behalf of all the producers, we are so incredibly honored to be recognized by The Recording Academy and so blessed to have Ron Howard’s leadership guiding us through this journey. This award will mean so much to the huge number of people that worked on the film. Thank you to Jeff Jones and the team at Apple Corps for all their support and of course The Beatles for trusting us with their amazing story.”

Barry Hood, who contributed some of the vintage footage of the Beatles performing at Candlestick Park in 1966 in the film, told AXS.com, “This is truly a historic occasion. Well deserved award. So many lovingly worked their butts off on this. I’m happy to have had a minor role in it. BEATLES-4-EVER !!!!!,” he said. He later added, “Matt (co-producer Matthew White) was the driving force here. For him a ten-year dream come true.”

It was the only statue among the all Beatles-related nominations at this year’s Grammy Awards. Paul McCartney’s deluxe Tug of War reissue, nominated for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package, lost to Edith Piaf 1915-2015. A Timo Maas and James Teej remix of Paul McCartney’s “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” lost to a remix of Bob Moses “Tearing Me Up.”

John Daversa’s Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Music of the Beatles, up for three awards, also came up empty. The album itself, nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, lost to Ted Nash’s Big Band’s Presidential Suite: Eight Variations On Freedom. Two songs were also nominated. Jacob Collier’s “You and I” beat out “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella category. Daversa’s version of the early Beatles song “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” up for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals, lost to another Collier track, “Flintstones.”

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years was released in 2016. It premiered in the U.S. in mainly independent theaters, then became available on the Hulu streaming service. It did well enough to stay in independent theaters for several weeks. It was later released on home video.

 

 

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