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'Bullitt' director Peter Yates dies

British filmmaker Peter Yates died in London on Sunday. He was 81. Yates was nominated for four Academy Awards during his four-decade career, two for his 1979 coming-of-age film, Breaking Away. The Dresser, his 1983 adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s play, starring Albert Finney, was rewarded with five Oscar nominations. He also made such memorable films as Krull, The Deep, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and Suspect, but he may be best remembered for directing Steve McQueen in 1968’s stylish cop movie, Bullitt. Yates is survived by his wife, Virginia, a son and a daughter.

'The Social Network' clicks with the National Society of Film Critics

The National Society of Film Critics has friended The Social Network. Adding to its already impressive awards-season haul today, the Facebook movie walked away with Best Picture, Best Director for David Fincher, Best Actor for Mark Zuckerberg portrayer Jesse Eisenberg, and Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin.

Other winners with the National Society of Film Critics today include Vincere‘s Giovanna Mezzogiorno for Best Actress, The King’s Speech‘s Geoffrey Rush for Best Supporting Actor, The Ghost Writer‘s Olivia Williams for Best Supporting Actress, Inside Job for Best Non-Fiction Film, and Carlos for Best Foreign Film.

Ivan Reitman says 'Ghostbusters 3' script is ready

GhostbustersImage Credit: Everett CollectionPaging Dr. Venkman. You’re wanted on the set of Ghostbusters 3. Ivan Reitman, the man who directed and produced 1984’s box-office smash Ghostbusters and its 1989 sequel, says a “very good script” for a third film in the knee-slapping ghost-hunting franchise has been sent to Bill Murray. According to the Associated Press, Reitman added, “nothing you’ve read on the internet is accurate” and that Murray has not yet read a script for Ghostbusters 3. Reitman also says he believes that the new screenplay is strong enough to be filmed — “it’s good enough to do, to take the risk of doing again.” Reitman did not say who had written the long-awaited screenplay or whether the other two stars of the franchise, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, had also been sent the script. Stay tuned.

MGM out of bankruptcy

MGM has officially emerged from bankruptcy. A press release today from the debt-hobbled studio confirms that after seven weeks the company has been restructured, with $500 million in financing. Spyglass Entertainment heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum will serve as co-chairman and CEOs. No word yet on when the next James Bond movie will restart pre-production, but the restructuring should help clear the way for 007’s return.



Iranian director sentenced to 6 years: report

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making films for 20 years, according to Reuters, citing the Iranian Student News Agency. Panahi, who made such award-winning films as The White Balloon (1995) and The Circle (2000), had supported the political opposition and was arrested in March for making a film without government permission and inciting political protests. He engaged in a hunger strike during his recent imprisonment. In his statement to the court, Panahi, 50, dismissed the official charges, saying that his house was raided by the authorities and his film collection was seized and deemed “obscene.”

Read more:
Iran releases filmmaker Jafar Panahi from prison
Jafar Panahi: A terrific filmmaker is in prison, not at Cannes where he belongs

Suicide gun doesn't match Ronni Chasen murder weapon

Police authorities ruled that the suicide weapon used by Harold Smith, the “person of interest” in the Ronni Chasen murder investigation who shot himself when police approached him for questioning, did not match the ballistics of the gun used to kill Chasen on Nov. 16, according to KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Read more:
‘Person of interest’ in Chasen murder kills self
Ronni Chasen, longtime Hollywood publicist, shot to death in Beverly Hills

Ronni Chasen: Remembering a beloved Hollywood institution

Ronni Chasen laid to rest

Ronni Chasen laid to rest

Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, who was shot and killed last Tuesday while driving home from a film premiere, was laid to rest on Sunday at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles. As police authorities continued to work on solving the murder, nearly 1,000 mourners turned out to honor Chasen at Sunday’s memorial service, according to the Los Angeles Times. She was buried afterward in a private ceremony.

Amazon offering $2.7 million for film and script submissions via Amazon Studios

Launching itself into the movie business in a big way, announced Amazon Studios today, a new online venture offering $2.7 million in award money for feature film and screenplay submissions to the site. According to an introductory video on the site’s home page, the awards will go to the films “that tell the best story, not to the films with the most visual polish.” Starting in January, each month, $100,000 will be awarded to the top film, and $20,000 to the top two scripts; at the end of the year, $1 million will go to the best film, and $100,000 to the best script, submitted in the 2011 calendar year.

While anyone is invited to comment and critique the submissions, the films and scripts will be judged by industry insiders — in January, Mark Gill (a former Miramax exec who produced Law Abiding Citizen and currently heads up his own production company, The Film Department), and Michael Taylor (chair of University of Southern California’s film and TV production program), will judge the “test” film submissions.

Through a first-look deal with Warner Bros., Amazon hopes at least some of the winning “test” films will be produced as commercial feature films, with another $200,000 going to any filmmakers who get their films a greenlight. If the film grosses over $60 million, the filmmakers will win a $400,000 bonus.

The site is accepting submissions today.

Larry Charles to join Sacha Baron Cohen for 'The Dictator'

Larry Charles and Sacha Baron Cohen might be back in business. The director/actor duo behind Borat and Bruno are now leaning towards making The Dictator, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the script, Cohen will play both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who takes refuge in the United States.

Sen. Bernie Sanders aims to block Comcast-NBCU merger

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is urging the Federal Communication Commission to block the imminent corporate merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. The New York Times reports that Sanders has written a letter to each of the five F.C.C. commissioners, saying, “The sale of NBCU to Comcast would create an enormously powerful, vertically integrated media conglomerate, causing irreparable damage to the American media landscape and ultimately to society as a whole.” Sanders believes the merger, which does not have to be approved by Congress, will lead to higher prices for consumers and a decrease in competition and on-air diversity.

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