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The CEO of the new 101 Studios speaks about its first major release, his start as a child actor and — in depth for the first time since the start of the #MeToo movement — his years working with Harvey Weinstein.
'It's sort of a thing that just sucks you back in,' the veteran film executive David Glasser says of the film business as we record an episode ofthe 'Awards Chatter' podcast at The Hollywood Reporter's Los Angeles offices. 'It's what I know. It's all I know.'
Back in January, the 48-year-old launched 101 Studios, a global entertainment studio which is behind the recently released director's cut of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's The Current War, a period drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla and Tom Holland as Samuel Insull. The original cut premiered to a mixed response at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, back when it was a property of The Weinstein Co., of which Glasser was then president and COO, and it was scheduled to be released that November.
Why wasn't it? Because of the explosion of the #MeToo movement, which began on Oct. 5, 2017 with a barrage of allegations against The Weinstein Co.'s co-founder and co-chief, Harvey Weinstein.
Glasser did his best to keep the company afloat after Weinstein went down. But, at the time, anything and anyone associated with the disgraced mogul — including Glasser — was being looked at with suspicion, as people mused about who had known and enabled Weinstein's misconduct. On Feb. 17, 2018, a month before The Weinstein Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its board of directors voted unanimously to terminate Glasser. Glasser, for his part, said through his attorney that he had been 'scapegoated,' and suggested that it was the board itself which had failed to stop Weinstein.
That period — which Glasser had never publicly discussed in depth prior to this podcast — was a trying one for him, and he even considered leaving the business and working in real estate. But 20 months later, he has returned with 101 Studios and, somewhat surprisingly, The Current War, a film that he felt Weinstein rushed for its Toronto premiere, but that he came to believe could be vastly improved with just a little more work. 'At first I sort of scratched my head and I said, 'No, I'm not going to have anything to do with their films,'' he remembers — but then he reconsidered. '[I said,] 'I don't now if we can ever get the patina of TWC off of it, but you know what? I want to give this a shot.''
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LISTEN: You can hear the entire interview below.
Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese...
Deon Taylor has had one heck of a year. It's hard enough to get any movie made, but the director has had The Intruder, which went on to become something of a lowkey hit, arrive earlier this year and now, he's got Black and Blue. Having two major studio releases come out in the same year is no small thing. And Taylor delivered two very different flicks. For his latest, he's stepped into the world of gritty cop thrillers, with a cast led by Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson.
Black and Blue centers on a rookie cop Naomie Harris who unwittingly captures the murder of a young drug dealer via her body cam. Upon discovering that the murder was committed by crooked cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her Tyrese Gibson. She must try and make her escape as both the criminals out for revenge and the cops who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage attempt to stop her.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Deon Taylor recently in honor of the movie's release, and he was truly fired up about it. We discussed his big year, his new movie and more.
Based on what I've seen, I kind of got some Training Day vibes.
Deon Taylor: I love it. That's exactly right. Love it. Talk to me, Ryan. Talk to me.
Great. Off to a good start. But what would you say, for you, are the touchstones for the movie? Did you have any movies that you looked to for inspiration for this?
Deon Taylor: Yes. So obviously, when making a film of this nature you have to do these types of movies, right? And Training Day, Antoine Fuqua's Training Day was absolutely at the top of my mind. I thought that was incredible. And not because of what he did, cinematically. What I loved about the movie is that it was a movie that actually dealt with the culture. And the other movie that I really leaned into was Sicario. I really love the action, the sequencing and storyline in Sicario. So we were actually into that film. Obviously, Black and Blue is a completely different animal than those two films, but they all live in the same zeitgeist.
I'll tell you, man, I'm going to say it right now. You could get mad at me, Ryan. You could be like, 'Deon, you are crazy.' This is the movie of the year, period. It's not often that we get a film that actually is entertaining, thrilling, makes you cover your eyes, makes you throw your bucket of popcorn down, and all during that time you get to get an incredible message about something that actually resonates with us as people, Black and Blue is that movie, and it's incredible. It's basically, Naomie Harris, who is just brilliant. She's coming off of an Oscar nomination for Moonlight. She's just finishing doing James Bond [No Time to Die], and I was so blessed to be here to get her to do this film. I can't even tell you, man, and she comes into this movie as she delivers something that's effortless and it's incredible, and you will be blown away.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the success of this fall’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster are set to make their feature directorial debut with their scripted adaptation of Dash Shaw’s graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button.
I hear that Bow and Arrow Entertainment, who were behind such Sundance premieres as Native Son and The Little Hours, has acquired the graphic novel for the duo.Courtesy
Bottomless Belly Button follows the dysfunctional adventures of the Loony Family. After 40-some years of marriage, Maggie and David Loony shock their children with their announcement of a planned divorce. This sparks their now adult offspring Dennis, Claire and Peter to come together for a week long Loony family reunion at Maggie and David’s creepy –and possibly haunted– beach house.
Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman of Bow and Arrow will produce the film with Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster, under their Blue Harp shingle, and Youree Henly The Lighthouse, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Blue Harp's Karolina Peysakhov will executive produce.
“We're so excited to be working with Micah and Noah as they take this important next step in their careers and to do so together on a piece that is as deeply human as Dash's Bottomless Belly Button is something we're all looking forward to” said Perniciaro and Sherman.
“We’ve loved this book for so long. Bow and Arrow is the perfect home for Bottomless Belly Button, and we are honored to be their partners,” added Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster.Sony Pictures
The duo’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood from Sony/TriStar blasted out of a cannon at TIFF and has a current 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a running domestic total by Sunday near $44M. Not only did they write the pic, but executive produced it as well. The pair were honored by PEN America and bestowed the Award For Screenplay Excellence on behalf of the film, and were also recently named as finalists for the 2020 HUMANITAS Prize on behalf of their screenplay. Disney’s Maleficent 2 was also a notable success for the duo this fall with a global gross of $481M they shared a writing credit with Linda Woolverton . They also wrote the Disney+ feature Magic Camp directed by Mark Waters.
Their previous work as writers and producers for Amazon's Transparent garnered them a Peabody Award, as well as Emmy and Writers Guild Award nominations. The...
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is one of the most visually dazzling films that Disney has put out this year, expanding on the lush fairy-tale visuals of the 2014 Maleficent to show us a rich Avatar-like underworld. It’s a world that you would expect to be completely created by the VFX team, but a new Maleficent Mistress of Evil clip that /Film is debuting ahead of the film’s digital and Blu-ray release proves that not to be the case.Maleficent Mistress of Evil Clip
/Film is debuting a new Maleficent: Mistress of Evil clip that will be available in full upon the film’s release on Digital and Blu-ray later this month. The clip digs into the VFX used in the film, overseen by VFX supervisor Gary Brozenich. The fantastical world of Maleficent seems at first to be composed entirely of CG shots, but producer Jeff Kirschenbaum describes how that is not the case.
“Not only is the Maleficent world built practically, it’s augmented by visual effects,” Kirschenbaum describe in the clip. “You really feel like you’re in the world and the visual effects are enhancing that.”
The clip goes on to show how the VFX team created the wings that Angelina Jolie‘s character uses to fly around the human kingdom of Ulstead and the fairy kingdom of the Moors — wings that are given special focus since the central conflict of the first film, 2014’s Maleficent, surrounded the damaging of Maleficent’s magnificent wings.
While it’s debatable whether Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was a successful sequel, there’s no denying it’s highly imaginative visuals. It’s amazing that a company like Disney would produce a film as visually gonzo and weird as this, and kudos must be given to the VFX team for bringing the vision of director Joachim Rønning to life.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will be available on Digital 12/31 and Blu-ray 1/14.
Maleficent travels to a grand old castle to celebrate young Aurora’s upcoming wedding to Prince Phillip. While there, she meets Aurora’s future mother-in-law - a conniving queen who hatches a devious plot to destroy the land’s fairies. Hoping to stop her, Maleficent joins forces with a seasoned warrior and a group of outcasts to battle the queen and her powerful army.