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The Hollywood Reporter - December 18, 2017 part 3

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SALKE: GARBIEL OLSEN/FILMMAGIC. PENCE: SOUTH KOREAN ACTING PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER OFFICE- POOL/GETTY IMAGES. COURIC: DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/GETTY IMAGES FOR GLAMOUR. BAER:
ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE 2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. FOGELSON: MATT WINKELMEYER/GETTY IMAGES. EISNER: JEROD HARRIS/GETTY IMAGES FOR AMAZON STUDIOS.
perception surrounding most
successful industryites with a
famous last name is that nepotism was the predominant
factor in their ascent. “A lot of
people in the industry are selfconscious about their way in,”
says writer Max Landis, son of
filmmaker John Landis (Animal
House). “Everybody wants to be
Drake. Everybody wants, ‘Started
from the bottom, now we’re
here,’ when in reality, you started
from Pacific Palisades and now
you’re in Los Feliz.” In 2005, the
then-20-year old was approached
by Anonymous Content’s Adam
Goldworm to write for the series
Masters of Horror. He says the
manager simply liked his spec.
It just so happened that Landis’
father was already involved with
the show as a director. “For
the rest of my life, my first IMDb
credit will be with my dad,” he
says. “I’m self-conscious about it.”
There’s no doubt that having a Hollywood lineage helps
with getting a foot in the door.
J.J. Abrams, whose father is TV
producer Gerald Abrams, sold his
first produced screenplay, Taking
Care of Business, when he was
an undergrad at Sarah Lawrence.
Many children of top entertainment executives have landed
plum gigs while still in their
twenties. Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn’s daughter Cody
Horn nabbed the female lead
in Warner Bros.’ Magic Mike (as
the onetime Warners president,
Alan had a long-standing relationship with director Steven
Soderbergh). Sam Levinson got
the gig to co-write HBO’s The
Wizard of Lies, directed by father
Barry Levinson. And though she
had no feature directing credits
under her belt, Hallie MeyersShyer (daughter of Nancy Meyers)
From left:
Matthew
Baer, Adam
Fogelson and
Eric Eisner
was entrusted to helm the
recent Reese Witherspoon starrer
Home Again.
On the business side, UTA
chairman Jim Berkus’ son Jordan
Berkus is an agent there with
high-profile clients like Greta
Gerwig. Music industry power
player Irving Azoff’s son, Jeffrey,
joined CAA as a full agent in
his mid-20s before launching Full
Stop Management. Producer
Peter Chernin’s daughter Margaret
Chernin is a vice president at
Color Force (she earlier worked at
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s
Pearl Street Films). And last year,
Management 360 hired Sam
Grey (son of late Paramount chief
Brad Grey) to be a manager and
producer (he had worked at Lorne
Michaels’ Broadway Video, which
had a deal at Paramount).
Meanwhile, FX co-presidents
Eric Schrier and Nick Grad also
come from TV lineages. Schrier’s
dad, Dan, was an ICM agent,
and his grandfather, Morris
Schrier, was general counsel for
MCA. Grad’s uncle is director
James Burrows, and his late father,
Peter, headed MTM Television.
Unsurprisingly, creatives and
execs with such deep connections
argue that industry bloodlines
are a double-edged sword and
that a famous name alone cannot
sustain a career. They point
to outsized expectations. And
it is certainly true that for
every second-generation Eisner
or Katzenberg, there are just
as many who never parlayed their
background into a viable career,
like TV producer Aaron Spelling’s
daughter Tori, whose acting
career fizzled after Beverly Hills,
90210 — or his son, Randy, who
struggled for years before becoming a life coach (see page 121).
Some Hollywood spawn eschew
the business altogether — like
Irwin Winkler’s son Adam, who is
a constitutional law scholar and
frequent guest on CNN (though
his other sons, Charles and David,
are producers).
But for those who follow in the
family business, the assumption of unearned success hovers.
Writer-director Charlie McDowell,
son of Malcolm McDowell
and Mary Steenburgen, vividly recalls the day in 2006 when
he graduated from AFI, a grueling
Hey, Does That PA Look Familiar?
Prized internships at Bad Robot or HBO often go to
powerful progeny: ‘If I help your kid, maybe you’ll help
me or my kid down the road’ By Bryn Elise Sandberg
HOLLY WOOD FELT PRETTY SELF-SATISFIED WHEN MALIA OBAMA
famously interned on the set of HBO’s Girls in summer 2015 and then later
at The Weinstein Co. (pre-Harvey scandal, of course). But generally, when
powerful kids leverage their family name to get a foot in the door, the company tries to keep it quiet, as when Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter
was welcomed in UTA’s agent trainee program this fall (she since has been
promoted to full-time assistant).
Meanwhile, Tom Hanks’ youngest son, Truman Hanks, a student at
Stanford, has secured a coveted internship at Bad Robot the past
two summers, where he’s served as a production assistant on various
J.J. Abrams film shoots. The twin daughters of NBC Entertainment’s
Jennifer Salke and Fox 21 Television Studios’ Bert Salke
interned at WME this summer; Fox Television Group
chairman and CEO Dana Walden’s 17-year-old daughter
spent the past two summers interning for Ryan Murphy
and then 3 Arts manager Oly Obst; and former NBC
Salke
Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert’s daughter worked on
the desk of Lionsgate TV Group president Sandra Stern.
And in some cases, the road to a job can be as short as the
family breakfast table. David Kohan’s daughter and Max
Mutchnick’s niece are production assistants on the new
Pence
season of their show Will & Grace.
Still, those running Hollywood’s most coveted internship programs insist the practice of industry veterans
opening doors for powerful progeny is overstated. “Look,
I’m not going to tell you that there’s never a situation
where there’s somebody important that we do business
Couric
with where we’re not going to squint hard at the résumé
to let their kid in,” says an individual with one agency program, adding
that an estimated 20 percent of applicants come from showbiz families.
“But most of the time, these candidates are very well-qualified.”
Take Ellie Monahan, the 26-year-old daughter of Katie Couric. She
interned for HBO for four months during the summer of 2012 while
still at Yale. Sources say she worked harder than everyone else at the
cable network and is remembered as one of best interns the program
has ever had. Monahan has since lined her résumé with more film and
TV gigs: She went on to study screenwriting at AFI, then worked with
Shawn Ryan on The Get Down before landing her current job as a writers’
assistant on Amazon’s new superhero drama The Boys. She’s hardly
anyone’s idea of a favor hire.
“There’s something of a pay-it-forward expectation,” says a former
stafer at Vanity Fair, where many Hollywood kids have spent a New
York summer, including Carson Meyer (son of Ron), Jessica Springsteen
(daughter of Bruce) and Angelica Zollo (daughter of Barbara Broccoli).
“If I help your kid, maybe you’ll help me or my kid down the road. If
the person ends up being a good, smart, hard-working intern without
attitude, that’s just a total bonus.”
two-and-a-half-year program. “I
remember someone came up to
me and said, ‘You’re gonna make
it because of who your parents
are,’ ” says McDowell, whose credits include indie breakout The One
I Love and TV episodes of Silicon
Valley and Legion. “People look
at you like, ‘Oh, you were handed
the keys to the car. It’s that easy.’
In reality, all the people [who are
making the decisions] really care
about is: ‘Do you have talent?’ ”
Like many in his position,
McDowell has learned to follow
a few self-imposed rules — he
never mentions his family when
taking meetings and has made it
a priority to carve out a sensibility dissimilar to either parent.
Others say they learned early that
they needed to exceed the work
ethic of the previous generation.
Matthew Baer, who produced
Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, got his
first job in the business on the
set of 1987’s Lethal Weapon as an
assistant to helmer Richard
Donner because his father, late TV
legend Richard Baer (Leave It to
Beaver), was close friends with the
director (the elder Baer himself
benefited from the fact that he
was the nephew of RCA broadcasting pioneer David Sarnoff).
“I did the most menial work that
you could imagine that summer,”
says Baer. “And Dick Donner saw
that I would do anything because
I was so happy to be a part of Lethal
Weapon. But if you do not work as
hard as everybody else, eventually
it catches up to you. I’ve seen it.
If you’re the son or daughter of the
head of an agency or studio and
you act like your shit doesn’t stink,
then you’re in trouble. You’re
instantly viewed unfavorably.”
In fact, the flip side of nepotism is that a beneficiary often
will be judged more harshly than
a person with no familial ties, a
stigma that takes on added weight
whenever there’s a nepotismrelated misfire. Consider the
case of the Smith family and the
After Earth debacle. In 2012, when
the film entered production,
Will Smith was the biggest star
in the Sony fold, and he leveraged his standing to propel son
Jaden to above-the-title status.
The $150 million film’s marketing campaign featured both
actors with equal prominence.
The elder Smith also lined the
Perry (left) plays a character on Young Sheldon
originated by her mother, Metcalf.
producer ranks with immediate
family (wife Jada Pinkett Smith
produced alongside her brother
Caleeb Pinkett). When the film
became one of the most expensive
bombs of 2013, the failure largely
was attributed to Smith’s overreach
MAX LANDIS
‘The Name
Didn’t Hurt’
The hot screenwriter behind
Will Smith’s Bright gets
candid about his ‘complicated’
relationship with dad
John Landis and how his
upbringing helped him get ahead
(it’s less than haters think)
A LOT OF PEOPLE I KNOW WHOSE PARENTS ARE
powerful and famous go out of their way to present
themselves as an underdog. I feel bad presenting
myself as a wounded underdog because I’m never
going to seem that way to someone who’s at film
school in Wisconsin. But my story is a little bit
complicated because I had a poor relationship with
my parents. I had emotional problems and significant learning disabilities — something called
dysgraphia, where I cannot write with my hand. My
parents are big personalities, and they weren’t
ready for this nut job to fly into their lives. I ended
up at a special education school in Connecticut,
and my parents were very much the enemy in
my mind.
I always loved writing. By the time I was 20, I had
written about 24 scripts — not good scripts, but
a lot of them — and that led to me reconnecting with
my dad. His career had mostly slowed down, and he
was not really in a position to feed me the world, but
at the same time, there is never a day that I don’t feel
tremendously lucky. What is always interesting to
me is how many people who were raised in the industry with way more powerful parents than I had, like
Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams, and it’s not brought
up because their parents weren’t famous.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
118
as opposed to poor reviews or
confusing marketing.
In the wake of After Earth, Jaden
Smith has mostly been relegated
to TV (Netflix’s short-lived series
The Get Down). When it comes to
big-budget tentpoles, it is unlikely
My first “break” came from an agent, David Kopple,
who read a script of mine called Hometown Hero.
He didn’t say, “I’m your agent now.” He said, “You
should meet with some management companies,”
which someone who sent a blind submission could
have done. But I am not blind to my privileges, not
just being from a Hollywood family but also being
an upper-class white guy in Los Angeles — and the
name didn’t hurt. Yet for all the people who have
famous parents and are out there trying, it’s incredible how many are out there and not trying, who will
say they are a director, writer or an actor but never
direct anything or write or act in anything. Their
Instagrams get huge because they’re on yachts
in Italy all summer, and I’m in an ofice in Canada at
2 a.m. trying to figure out shooting schedules.
If your father is a carpenter, and he’s a well-known
carpenter and you become a carpenter, nobody’s
like, “Look at this asshole. He got his father’s tools.”
If your mother runs a restaurant and you take over,
no one’s shitting on you, because that’s what families do. But in entertainment, it really does often
feel like there’s only so many slots, so you feel like
that guy is taking a slot that maybe he didn’t earn.
— AS TOLD TO TATIANA SIEGEL
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
PERRY: ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES. LANDIS: JEROD HARRIS/GETTY IMAGES.
Why Rupert’s
Really Splitting
Up the Family
that any studio will ever acquiesce to a star that way in the
future. Similarly, at the height
of former Disney chief Michael
Eisner’s prowess, son Breck
received one chance to direct a
tentpole with 2005’s Sahara. The
Matthew McConaughey-Penelope
Cruz adventure proved to be a
box-office disappointment (costing $130 million and earning just
$119 million worldwide), and
Eisner became the poster boy for
the perils of nepotism. Never
mind that many newbie directors
sans connections, like Joachim
Ronning and Espen Sandberg
(Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men
Tell No Tales) or Colin Trevorrow
(Jurassic World), have been
entrusted with major franchises.
The post-op analysis hammered
at Breck’s powerful father. He has
yet to receive another gig with
a nine-figure budget, though he
continues to direct.
STX Entertainment chairman Adam Fogelson, the son of
former Warner Bros. marketing
honcho Andrew Fogelson, says
children of industry parents also
inherit some less obvious negatives (“You have a parent who has
made one or two enemies along
the way, and you carry that baggage,” he notes.) Regardless, he
sees Hollywood nepotism on the
wane because of the increasingly
corporate nature of the studios:
“The business of Hollywood has
become so much more of a business
than it was when I began. While it
still helps to know somebody, the
value of nepotism has gone down
in the decades since I started.”
Producer Eric Eisner, another
of Michael Eisner’s three sons,
echoes that sentiment when surveying today’s landscape. “Maybe
your name helps you get in the
door, but once you’re in the door,
you’re on your own,” says Eric,
whose Grateful Dead film Long
Strange Trip recently was shortlisted for the feature documentary
Oscar. “Once real business is
on the table and people are talking about real money, it doesn’t
matter who you are. You always
fight that nepotism label. But the
more you meet people and they
realize you are a person of substance, that goes away.”
A
When the media titan unloads the bulk of Fox to
Disney rather than letting it pass to his heirs, it proves
he has always has had a favorite Murdoch — himself
By Michael Wolf
AT LEAST SINCE HE N EA R LY W EN T BA N K RU P T IN THE EA R LY 1990S,
Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
Ru
Rupert
Murdoch has been obsessed with handing his business to
his children. He has navigated this course through vast turmoil in
hi
th
the media industry, multiple marriages, frayed family dynamics,
oc
occasional signs of shareholder rebellion at such family entitlement
i a public company, and even the resistance of his own children. He
in
seemed to have succeeded in this quest — elevating his oldest son,
se
119
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
The industry may seem like a hotbed of
favoritism, but some corporations have
implemented broad ‘no family’ rules
By Ashley Cullins
THERE’S NO LAW that prevents you (or your
boss) from hiring a favorite son or niece. That’s
true for any private entity (unlike the public sector). So it’s up to the company. “There are plenty
of companies, Donald Trump’s among them, that
do not have any sort of nepotism policies,” says
employment attorney Ann Fromholz. “And some
appear to make nepotism a practice.”
Still, aware of the optics and pitfalls, many studios engage someone like Fromholz to address
nepotism in their corporate guidelines. “I don’t
Lachlan, cajoled back from Australia, and his youngest, James, miraculously rehabilitated for his part in the phone-hacking scandal in the U.K.,
to the top of his company in 2015. But now, all of a sudden, he appears
ready to abandon his dream of a Murdoch dynasty.
In a $52.4 billion deal announced Dec. 14, Murdoch will unload the
bulk of his assets to The Walt Disney Co., a transforming event in the
media industry and, by many reports, a direct rebuke to his son James,
who had aggressively maneuvered to position himself as his father’s
heir. In fact, while Rupert, 86, has tried to game his children’s future,
he also has speculated about how they — variously at odds with him
and one another — might frustrate his plans.
The Rich and
Famous Kids
of Instagram
Kendall Jenner and
Hailey Baldwin have paved
the way for legacies
leveraging their names on
social media, where
having an industry parent
is an instant amplifier
By Natalie Jarvey
Cazzie David
The co-creator and star of web series
Eighty-Sixed has drawn comparisons
to father Larry David for her observations
on life in the social media age, which
the younger David, 23, seems to know about,
given her 102,000 Instagram followers.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
120
E.J. Johnson
A Rich Kid of Beverly Hills turned Instagram
role model (635,000 followers) and
LGBTQ activist, the 25-year-old son of Magic
and Cookie Johnson is a regular on the
public-speaking circuit and is considering
launching his own fashion collection.
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
Hannah Bronfman
Bronfman, an investor and founder of
lifestyle site HBFIT, clearly got some of her
business chops from her dad, former music
exec Edgar Bronfman Jr. The 30-year-old,
whose mom is Shaft actress Sherri Brewer,
has 407,000 followers and also is a DJ.
DAVID: @CAZZIEDAVID/INSTAGRAM. E. JOHNSON: @EJJOHNSON_/INSTAGRAM. H. BRONFMAN: @HANNAHBRONFMAN/INSTAGRAM. GIANNULLI: @OLIVIAJADE/INSTAGRAM. M. HOPE: @MIKETHERULER/INSTAGRAM. A. SPELLING: RON GALELLA, LTD./WIREIMAGE. R.
SPELLING: KRISTAL PASSY. M. JOHNSON: GABRIEL OLSEN/FILMMAGIC. E. BRONFMAN: JOE CORRIGAN/GETTY IMAGES. LOUGHLIN: JB LACROIX/ WIREIMAGE. T. HOPE: TODD WILLIAMSON/GETTY IMAGES FOR AMAZON STUDIOS.
How to Hire
(and Fire) Your Kids
in Hollywood
The facts on the ground have never been
especially hospitable to a Murdoch dynasty.
His older children — Lachlan, 46; James,
44; their sister Elisabeth, 49; and half sister
Prudence, 59 — each share an equal voting
interest in the Murdoch Family Trust, which
controls the family holdings. They divide
their economic interest with their younger half
siblings, Grace, 16, and Chloe, 14, Murdoch’s
children with Wendi Deng, who are denied
a vote under the terms of the divorce agreement with his second wife, Anna. (Originally
they were denied an economic interest, but,
with a cash payment to his older children,
Murdoch negotiated their participation.) The
trust has no tie-breaking mechanism: Three
of the often-squabbling siblings must agree.
The corporate-family dynamic that’s
developed is one in which James has become
the most tenacious and dominant member
of the family, but the sibling the others get
along with least. Indeed, his power has often
come from opposing his family — including
his father and brother, both of whom he has
often publicly contradicted and criticized.
Everybody, resentfully, gets out of James’ way.
Murdoch’s children have become less like
voracious empire builders than competent vertical managers finding a niche in their father’s
horizontal company. Lachlan’s interest is in the
news business, James’ in the distribution business, Elisabeth’s in the TV content business.
Prudence has no media interest, except insofar
as her children now are beginning careers of
their own. For Murdoch senior, an inveterate
political handicapper, this has meant a wide set of possibilities beyond
his house-of-Murdoch dream scenario.
Elisabeth, the only one of his children to successfully start her own
business, is, after the sale of her independent television production
company, Shine — which, conveniently, her father bought in 2011 for
$673 million — the wealthiest of his children. Her father has speculated that she one day might buy out the interests of one or more of her
siblings. Lachlan, who in 2005 fled the family company to go out on
his own in Australia, might, his father has thought, buy the company’s
Australian operation, which owns 70 percent of Australia’s newspapers as well as a big pay TV business. James has succeeded most as CEO
necessarily recommend a total prohibition,” she
says. “Most companies are sizable enough that
you can separate the people who are related
to each other.” Fromholz says the hiring trends
in entertainment mirror other industries: Small
to midsize companies are more likely to have no
guidelines, while larger ones tend to have a formal policy. So it’s not surprising that a mini-major
like MGM doesn’t have a nepotism rule, while
Sony restricts family members from supervising
one another. “Under that policy it would likely be
prohibited to hire a relative of the CEO because
the CEO supervises everybody,” says Fromholz.
There’s at least one giant media operation
that bucks the trend: Fox, where Rupert Murdoch
hired sons Lachlan and James (though as the
bulk of assets go to Disney, James may go too).
Fox’s lax rules are likely due to the empire’s start
as a family-run newspaper chain, says Fromholz.
Disney, for its part, doesn’t prohibit employees
reporting to family, but if there are conflicts of
interest, or if other employees feel the situation is
unfair, human resources steps in.
“Certainly, there are plenty of children, cousins and siblings of powerful people who are plenty
talented,” says Fromholz. But it doesn’t always
work out. Fromholz recalls one company at which
a subpar scion sparked a rule change. “The son
of a founder turned out to be incompetent,” she
says. “Because of the dificulty firing this guy, they
created a blanket anti-nepotism policy.”
of the U.K.’s Sky Television — a business where the Murdochs control
only 39 percent — and has sought to reassert his leadership there.
Murdoch, who might like to see himself as a family sentimentalist, is,
of course, a famously coldhearted realist. In 1994, he forced his mother
and siblings out of the company — founded by his father — in an effort
to prepare it for his heirs alone. In a sense, it has never really mattered
to him who runs his company, other than that it be one of his children.
And, indeed, after several years of his sons’ co-stewardship, it might
rather seem clear to him that dynasty-by-committee, a constantly bickering one, is not a promising approach.
The outlines of the $52.4 billion deal now awaiting regulatory clearance — selling most of the cable properties, the film and TV studios,
the interest in Sky and Hulu, and retaining Fox Broadcasting, Fox News
Channel and the sports programming assets — is quite an efficient
plan for managing the family dynamic. In effect, Murdoch is selling the
James-focused assets, creating a path for James to either travel with
them to Disney or set out on his own, proving himself as the self-actualized media executive he believes himself to be. In the sale, the details
of which many believe have been leaked by James over the past several
weeks either to frustrate the deal or position himself in it, he could
become, or at least he would like to see himself become, an heir apparent
to Disney chief Bob Iger. (Iger needs an heir but likes an excuse to fire his
heirs, which an abrasive James might naturally provide.)
Keeping the news and network assets preserves a company for Lachlan
to lead — more willing than James to let their aging father plan and plot.
Indeed, Fox News has been a particularly contentious family issue,
with James hotly opposing the heavy-handed Trump tilt advocated by
his father and Lachlan willing to go along with his dad.
What’s more, selling many of the company’s choice assets creates the
financial wherewithal to buy back full control over the smaller company and, perhaps, recombine it with News Corp, the newspaper group
spun off as a Murdoch-controlled independent entity in 2013, whose
future Murdoch wants to secure. Now may be his opportunity to double
down on news, his real interest — he never was much interested in
entertainment — and even try to save the newspaper business.
The Disney deal also lets Murdoch unlock cash that, in the remaining
years of his life, will allow him to efficiently divide his estate. Murdoch
has continued to feel guilty about the political disenfranchisement of his
two younger children — now they might be freed from his adult children’s control. His daughter Elisabeth long has been at odds with James
and now might have the cash to pursue her media goals.
The Murdochs are scattered and lesser, surely, in the media future.
Or, in a final transforming act in a career of ever-altering the form
of the media business, Rupert Murdoch sees the top of the market, the
end of monoliths, a timely retreat to core talents and, with a defiant
cackle, a media business full of his competing children.
Olivia Jade Giannulli
YouTube makeup tutorials and fashion
vlogs have attracted 1 million subscribers
and brands like Marc Jacobs to the
18-year-old’s channel, which often features
appearances by mother Lori Loughlin
(Fuller House) and sister Isabella Rose.
Mike Hope
Hope’s sartorial choices, posted to
Instagram under the name “Mike the Ruler,”
have attracted 37,000 followers and
even helped land the 17-year-old son of
Amazon Studios film exec Ted Hope on the
cover of New York magazine at age 13.
From left:
Tori, Candy
Aaron and
Randy
Spelling at
a party in
Santa Monica
in 1990.
Hollywood Royalty?
‘I Should’ve Died 15 Times’
The brother of Tori and son of Aaron and Candy describes
finding his way after losing it to lack of purpose and addiction
By Randy Spelling
IT MAY SEEM HARD TO GET LOST WHEN LIFE IS MAPPED OUT FOR YOU.
There was an expectation that, because I was born into Hollywood
“royalty,” my path was paved. This made it complicated to find myself.
Since my sister was an actor from an early age, I didn’t aspire to be
one. That changed when I was 16 and we were on a family trip to Las
Vegas. Mobs of people surrounded my father and sister, but what I saw
was a connection happening between strangers and my family, people
they only knew from TV. The insecure part of me latched on to that,
kick-starting my acting career, which lasted until I was 22.
I then took a break to run an indie record label for a few
years. I remember putting my feet up in my own ofice,
thinking that this is what my father must feel like. But the
purpose I longed for never showed up. I felt empty.
Spelling
It didn’t help that from age 21 until my father passed
away in 2006, I was falling deeper into alcohol and drug addiction. I
saw my fair share of paramedics. I should’ve died 15 times. I got lucky.
The turning point came when I was filming a reality show at the same
time my father passed away. The show traded on the cast’s last names;
it felt as inauthentic to my core as it could get. I remember one scene
where we got in Lotus sports cars and drove away. My dad had just died,
and here I was, playing up how I was a wealthy kid, partying on camera.
I felt: “If this is what my life is meant to be, I don’t want to live anymore.”
After that period, everything started to change. I stopped the drinking and drugs and got a chance to do some incredible, transformational
work including meditation. Most people work and work to have more. I
was born with the more. It wasn’t enough to live a fulfilling life. I signed up
for a two-year life-coach training program in 2007, and it proved to be
my higher calling. As I helped people change, both in and out of Hollywood,
I changed. I’m proud that I started my life- and business-coaching company from scratch. I felt like a fraud with acting because some of my roles
were given to me, but this was not given to me.
I now live in Portland with my wife and two daughters. I went through
years of struggling and agonizing that I was not making enough money
to support my family in the way that I needed. But I stuck it out and kept
honing my skills, and it finally paid of. I worked my ass of to get here.
CelebrityNetWorth.com says that I’m worth $10 million. I know some
great vacations I would take if it were true!
Fulfillment is finding purpose and connection — to the people in your
life, to yourself and to something greater. Here’s a tip: Look at your life.
If this is the best your life could be, would you be happy? As fast-paced
as life is, we still tend to wait. Wait to live, wait for happiness. Don’t wait.
— AS TOLD TO CHRIS GARDNER
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ACTO R
LIVE!
T H R ’ S F I R S T- E V E R M O V I E S T A R S U M M I T B E F O R E A S T U D I O A U D I E N C E
MI X ES M A LE A N D FEM A LE PERFORMERS FOR FR A N K TA LK
O N H A R A S S M E N T, N U D E S C E N E S , C O -S TA R S T H E Y ‘D E S P I S E ’
A N D HOW ON E EN DED U P W IT H A SEV ER ED H U M A N FOOT
RO
O U N DTA B L E
BY M ATTHEW BELLON I
PHOTOGR APHED BY
MILLER MOBLEY
From left:
Diane Kruger,
Octavia Spencer,
Bryan Cranston,
Margot Robbie,
Robert Pattinson
and Armie Hammer
were photographed
Dec. 7 at Quixote
Studios in
West Hollywood.
A
fter two decades of awards-season roundtables gathering Hollywood’s top creative talents for frank, funny and
memorable conversations, THR this year decided to throw out the rule book for the final star-studded sit-down
of 2017: Instead of splitting up male and female actors (as almost all honors do, from the industry-establishment
Oscars to the indie-minded Spirit Awards), the Dec. 7 discussion at West Hollywood’s Quixote Studios was a co-ed
affair. And instead of taking place in a clinically silent, closed studio environment, it was conducted before a live
audience of Hollywood insiders who took in the proceedings with laughs (especially at 61-year-old Last Flag Flying star Bryan
Cranston’s impish one-liners), sighs (at the cautiously hopeful comments about sexual harassment in Hollywood from In the
Fade’s Diane Kruger, 41, and The Shape of Water’s Octavia Spencer, 47) and a few gasps (mostly to do with I, Tonya’s Margot
Robbie, 27, and a severed foot — read on). These stars, together with Call Me by Your Name’s Armie Hammer, 31, and Good Time’s
Robert Pattinson, 31, didn’t let the 200 people watching cramp their conversational style — they’re actors, after all — as they
animated one of the most competitive awards seasons in memory with a lively back-and-forth about the craft that unites them
and the kind of artists, leaders and mentors they want to be.
This is the first time THR has mixed
male and female actors on the same
roundtable. So what is an issue that
you have always wanted to discuss
with actors of the opposite sex?
BRYAN CRANSTON Have you worked
with someone you’ve despised?
OCTAVIA SPENCER I have. But I was
only on the set for one day so …
(Laughter.)
ARMIE HAMMER ’Cause you got fired?
SPENCER When a person looks past
you and doesn’t address you and
they close the door in your face,
it’s like, “I hate you with all of my
heart.” And, you know, that person is a miserable person. Years
later I met that person again.
DIANE KRUGER Did you tell him?
SPENCER No. They literally walked
up to me as if they had been kind,
and I’m like, “No.”
MARGOT ROBBIE I normally avoid
conflict at all costs. I haven’t
worked with an actor whom I’ve
despised, but I have worked with
someone on the production side
who — I didn’t appreciate the
way they spoke about me in front
of groups. It took me a couple of
months, but I plucked up the courage and pulled him aside and said,
“You’re discrediting what I do
when you speak to me like that.”
He was really great about it.
CRANSTON “And you’re fired.”
ROBBIE And I never worked again.
ROBERT PATTINSON It’s a weird thing
because as soon as you have to
be asserting yourself to a director,
it kind of breaks the fourth wall.
It’s not supposed to be you when
you walk on to set. So I always try
and avoid [conflict], and hopefully
they’ll just see what they’re doing
is wrong. (Pauses.) It never, ever,
ever works. (Laughter.) It just gets
worse and worse. But it completely
throws me off if I have to say,
“Hey, this is my process.” It’s like,
I don’t know what my process is,
there just needs to be some kind of
↑ “A lot of the times, the roles that I take
are things that scare me,” says Cranston, with
Robbie. “Like, ‘Uh oh, I could fail at this.’ ”
understanding that you’re trying
to do something good, you’re not
just messing around.
CRANSTON You know, it’s not
imperative that you get along with
your co-stars; it’s like your in-laws
— it just makes things easier.
And so you make an effort to get
to know them and to know how
they work, because every actor
works differently.
HAMMER The longer I do this, the
more I find that’s just as pivotal
a part of doing your job as having
your lines down, knowing your
character. Because you can have
your process, but if you can’t fit
your process into the organic
process that is the project, then it
doesn’t do you any good. You have
to figure out how to do what you
want to do while also not fucking
up somebody else’s process.
Behind the scenes photographed by Charles W. Murphy
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What kind of scenes make you
nervous?
HAMMER All of ’em. (Laughter.)
Honestly, the scenes that make
me the most nervous are the ones
where you have the least to do,
where you’re just there. Everyone
else is doing a bunch of stuff, and
you have like one line. It’s harder
to get into that rhythm; you just
end up waiting to do your thing,
and it’s kind of distracting.
In Call Me by Your Name, there are
a lot of intimate scenes, and you
really had to go there. Did those
make you nervous?
HAMMER They might have on
another project, but everything
just felt so safe on this. We had
such freedom to explore and to be
ourselves and to mess up. No matter what happened, it felt like we
were really protected by [director]
Luca [Guadagnino] and by everybody. We had some scenes sans
SET DESIGN BY WARD ROBINSON AT WOODEN LADDER. ON-SET STYLING BY JONNY LICHTENSTEIN. SPENCER HAIR BY DAVID STANWELL AT THE WALL GROUP, MAKEUP
BY VALERIE NOBLE, STYLING BY WENDI & NICOLE FERREIRA. SHAPE: KERRY HAYES/TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX. GOOD: COURTESY OF LONDON FILM FESTIVAL.
O C TAV I A S P E N C E R
The Shape of Water
clothing, and by the end of the first
day, they call cut, and someone
comes up and goes, “Do you want
a robe?” You just go, “Nah, it’s fine,
we’re going to shoot it again in a
second.” (Laughter.)
ROBBIE I get nervous any time I
have to act on my own. I need to
be with other actors, then my
focus is on what they’re doing and
all I need to do is react to it. I’m
too in my head if I’m on my own.
Your role in The Big Short was all
solo scenes — while in a bathtub.
ROBBIE While in a bathtub, you
know, drinking my champagne.
Easiest day of work I’ve done in
my life. (Laughter.) Half a day in a
mansion in Malibu with 20-yearold Dom Perignon that [director]
Adam McKay pulled out.
How do you prepare for a role
generally? For I, Tonya, obviously
you had to learn to ice skate.
ROBBIE I get excited when there’s a
skill set you get to learn, and we’re
so lucky and spoiled that they
get someone really good to teach
you. Like when I did [2015’s]
Focus, I had a real-life pickpocket
teach me how to pickpocket. I
was like, “This is exciting.”
HAMMER Have you practiced?
ROBBIE I have all your phones
in my purse. Check your pockets.
(Laughter.) That’s mechanical
preparation. You put the hours in,
and it pays off. Beyond that, I am
kind of a crazy person when I prep.
I do timelines and backstories, I
work with a dialect coach, a movement coach and an acting coach. I
do a lot before so I can throw it out
the window when I get on set. But
if I hadn’t done the work before, I’d
be too scared.
Did you watch a lot of footage of
Tonya Harding?
ROBBIE I have watched every single
piece of footage there is on her a
R O B E R T PAT T I N S O N
Good Time
thousand times over. And I had
her voice in my iPod — I would go
to sleep listening to her.
CRANSTON Were you able to talk to
her in preparing for it?
ROBBIE I purposely didn’t because
there was so much online. I
could study her at 15, she’s interviewed all throughout her 20s,
pre- and post-incident [when
Nancy Kerrigan was attacked].
And documentaries made about
her in her 40s as well. I was playing her 15 to 44, and I had all
that information at my fingertips.
So I prepped without having met
her so that I could keep her and the
character separate in my mind.
And once I decided exactly how I
was going to play the character,
a week before shooting, I went to
meet her. I didn’t want to meet
her and be second-guessing what
I had decided. She was, all things
considered, really understanding.
Is there a movie where the prep was
the reason you took the role?
ROBBIE If I could shoot in Hawaii
for a month, that would be nice.
SPENCER I did a hiking movie, and
we never hiked. (Laughter.) It was
like, “Oh, my God, I’m going to
lose so much weight!” And we just
literally walked across a trail. So
there was no hiking.
KRUGER I’ve turned down a movie
because it required riding a horse,
and I’m super scared of horses.
SPENCER I hear ya, honey.
ROBBIE I’ve turned down roles
because — amongst other things,
Hear which film credits Armie Hammer and Bryan Cranston would erase from their IMDb page at THR.COM/VIDEO
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DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
but it did factor in my decision —
of wearing a corset for six months.
I just can’t do that.
CRANSTON Or a full-on prosthetic.
It can be very claustrophobic.
DIANE KRUGER
In the Fade
Is there a role or even a line of yours
that has stuck with you years later?
SPENCER People walk up to me
and say three little words at the
strangest times. I don’t want to
say it because it’s … “Eat my shit”
[from 2011’s The Help]. It’s really
strange when you’re at the grocery
store and you’re trying to figure
out, “How do I tell if this is ripe?”
And somebody just leans in and
says, “Eat my sh …”
PATTINSON No one has ever said
this to me, but, “My prostate
is asymmetrical.” I always really
loved that. (Laughter.) From
[2012’s] Cosmopolis. It was me and
Paul Giamatti, I say it when we’re
ARMIE HAMMER
Call Me by Your Name
M A R G OT R O B B I E
I, Tonya
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DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
KRUGER HAIR BY BRIDGET BRAGER AT THE WALL GROUP, MAKEUP BY KAYLEEN MCADAMS AT STARWORKS ARTISTS. ROBBIE HAIR BY BRYCE SCARLETT AT THE WALL GROUP, MAKEUP BY PATI DUBROFF AT FORWARD ARTISTS. HAMMER
GROOMING BY KC FEE. CRANSTON GROOMING BY JASON SCHNEIDMAN AT SOLO ARTISTS. FADE: COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES. CALL: COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS. FLAG: WILSON WEBB/LIONSGATE. TONYA: COURTESY OF NEON.
crying together. He’s like, “Mine,
too.” And we’re like, “What does it
mean?” He’s like, “It’s nothing, it’s
a harmless variation. At your age,
why worry about it?” It’s one of my
favorite scenes I’ve done. Couldn’t
tell you what it means, but it really
means something to me.
HAMMER Michael Stuhlbarg has a
speech in Call Me by Your Name,
and it’s one of the most beautiful
monologues I have ever seen in
my life, and it truly changed the
way that I’m going to parent my
children, the way I look at people,
everything. And that’s one of
the beautiful things about this
medium specifically is, it’s very
subjective. It can be “Eat my shit,”
it can be whatever. (Laughter.)
Those things change your perspective for the rest of your life.
CRANSTON I have a lot from
Breaking Bad, a lot of iconic lines.
“I am the danger,” or “I’m the one
who knocks,” or “Tread lightly.”
SPENCER Those are good, though.
CRANSTON We had good writers.
That’s the key, man.
Do you cold call or email actors with
a compliment or a question?
ROBBIE When I saw Wonder Woman,
as soon as I went home, I wrote
to Patty [Jenkins] and Gal [Gadot].
I had never met either of them
before, but I wrote to say, “You’ve
made me feel so proud to be a
woman in the DC Universe.”
CRANSTON I sent an email to a guy
I knew who did a film this year, a
beautiful film. He took great risk
and did a wonderful job in a film
called Call Me by Your Name — and
he never responded. (Laughter.) I
wrote what I thought was a very
lovely letter and …
HAMMER It was too beautiful. I
couldn’t reply. I was paralyzed.
KRUGER Bryan wrote me an email
after Cannes [Kruger won best
actress], which is really sweet.
How do you get the others’ emails?
SPENCER I need to dig into this
email thing. (Laughter.)
KRUGER It’s called Tinder.
CRANSTON I sell them. So anybody
you want, I can get them.
Do you consider yourself a mentor
when you’re on set?
CRANSTON I don’t have to be, but
I think it’s important to do it if
you’re number one on the call
127
sheet. (To Hammer) You said
something earlier about having
that one line that is really tough?
It is tough. So I make sure — when
anybody comes onto a movie or a
show that I’m doing or producing
and they have that one line and
they’re nervous as hell — to reach
out. For two reasons: It’s the right
thing to do. And when they calm
down, they do better.
SPENCER I love Ted Danson to this
day because he made a point — I
did his show, I can’t remember the
name, he was a grumpy doctor.
Becker.
SPENCER Becker. I have severe
stage fright. And we did the runthrough, and he came up to me
and he just said, “Oh, my God, you
were this, this, this and this.” And
it’s like (gasps), “Ted Danson said
that to me.” And I have loved him
forever. It helps everyone if everyone feels on equal footing.
him being so calm and so kind
to everyone, including myself,
and being the first one on set and
doing amazing work — he just
made everybody feel it was going
to be OK, even though it was chaotic at times.
CRANSTON I learned it from Tom
Hanks. I have known him for
30 years, and I’ve watched him
on set. Our wives are very good
friends, and my wife was in
their wedding. So I was able to
watch firsthand how a young
man who is a star comports
himself and treats people and
is able to create an atmosphere
on the set that is fun and welcoming of thoughts and ideas
and get the work done and then,
“See ya,” go home. You can have
it all. You don’t have to be the
tortured actor and make everyone’s life miserable.
Have any of you had mentors?
Rob, you’ve done smaller films
since Twilight. Do you see yourself
ever going back to blockbusters?
and admired their work and they
have shaped who I am as an actor
today, including this sir (indicates
Cranston) sitting there. When you
admire someone’s work, you want
to follow their lead. Bryan was an
amazing leader in the movie we
did, [2016’s] The Infiltrator. With
and everything, it all just felt so
accidental. I don’t know. I kind of
fool myself into thinking there
is some kind of macro plan to my
decision-making, but you’re just
trying to find anything which you
hopefully connect to and think
you can make a little bit better.
KRUGER I have looked up to people
PATTINSON Getting into Twilight
So much of an actor’s career is your
choices. Bryan, is there anything
on your IMDb page you’d expunge?
CRANSTON Amazon Women on the
Moon [from 1987] is one of my
favorites, so it’s not that. That’s a
real movie. Joe Dante directed it.
ROBBIE I thought you made that up.
CRANSTON I think I was paramedic
number two. I never saw it. I don’t
even know what it’s about, really.
HAMMER It’s about Amazon women
on the moon. (Laughter.)
CRANSTON Apparently one of them
needed a paramedic.
HAMMER I played Abercrombie Boy.
In [2009’s] Spring Breakdown.
CRANSTON You had to take your
shirt off, I’ll bet.
HAMMER Oh, yeah. I had a tequila
shot taken off of my body.
ROBBIE Sounds kind of fun. I don’t
have enough on my IMDb page to
be picking things off at this point.
KRUGER When I was younger, I did
a deodorant commercial, that was
a proud moment. Even as I was
doing it, I was like ... (mimics putting on deodorant).
HAMMER I’m going to fire my
agent … (Laughter.)
SPENCER Every little role paid a
bill or something. If I was terrible,
it just shows how far you’ve come.
PATTINSON Even that spasm of
embarrassment you find when
Continued on page 152
B R YA N C R A N S TO N
Last Flag Flying
‘Murder,
Mayhem
and Torture’
Off the
Sunset Strip
Before he was arrested in the brutal
scalping death of his girlfriend, Blake Leibel
was a budding Hollywood director and the
heir to a vast fortune. Then came a twisted
love triangle and ties to the celebrity poker
scene depicted in Molly’s Game. As he
prepares to stand trial, those who knew
Leibel best reveal what could have caused
the promising scion to break so bad
By Scott Johnson + Illustration by Owen Freeman
S
he had bled out — that much was
clear. But the body of the woman
on coroner Jim Ribe’s examination table told a more disturbing
story. Many of the thousands
of people murdered each year in
America die in this manner and, generally
speaking, the underlying injury lies elsewhere
— a gunshot, a stabbing, blunt force trauma.
What Ribe saw before him now was uniquely
distressing. The average human vessel contains about 5 liters of blood. She was found
with less than a teaspoon.
Her name was Iana Kasian. She was 30
and Ukrainian, with dark eyes and jet-black
hair. There were bite marks on her face
and defensive wounds on her arms and wrist.
But most of the blood loss had occurred,
Ribe saw, because Kasian had been scalped.
“I have never seen this before,” he testified.
“I doubt if any forensic pathologist in this
country or abroad has ever seen this outside
of, perhaps, wartime.”
The last reported scalping in the U.S.
occurred in 2000, when a Cincinnati man
shot his wife’s lover repeatedly in the chest
and groin with a shotgun and then removed
the victim’s scalp to drive the point home.
But Kasian’s scalping didn’t appear to be incidental or an act of impetuous, post-murder
vengeance. It was a clean incision, seemingly
made with a blade, which curved around the
Above: Director and graphic artist Blake Leibel, 36, is set
for trial in early 2018 for the grisly murder of his girlfriend
and the mother of his 3-week-old daughter. Kasian, 30,
was found to be scalped in his West Hollywood apartment.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
129
base of her skull in a sharp line and back up
around one ear. Ribe testified that the skin
and hair had been fully removed from her
skull down to the surface of the bone, and “a
portion of her face” including her right ear,
was gone.
In his deposition, Ribe noted that the
only injuries he had seen that came anywhere
close to this were two people who’d been
ripped apart by dogs because “dogs go after
the head.” Ribe declined to discuss the case
with THR except to say, “It’s about like one in
a million, very, very rare, I’m afraid.” There
was another detail to which Ribe testified:
A dead body cannot bleed out, which meant
that Kasian had likely been alive for the duration. He concluded that Kasian had likely
suffered, potentially for up to eight hours,
before she finally succumbed.
Police found her corpse on the afternoon
of May 26, 2016, inside the bedroom of a
condominium on the 8500 block of Holloway
Drive in West Hollywood, a block south of
the Sunset Strip and the Viper Room and just
down the hill from the Bird Streets, where
Dr. Dre, Megan Ellison and Leonardo DiCaprio
have all owned homes. It’s a swanky neighborhood with a dash of scandal: Robert Durst,
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
the alleged killer showcased in the HBO documentary miniseries The Jinx, maintained
an apartment across the street. There was
blood throughout the condo. Police entered a
bedroom and found Kasian on a bed, mutilated, covered with a blanket. Standing beside
her, listless and showing little concern, was
her boyfriend and the father of her 3-week-old
girl, a minor Hollywood director and graphic
novelist named Blake Leibel. He acted surprised when the police confirmed that Kasian
was dead. “Well, then,” he said to the police, “I
guess you’ll have to find out who did it.”
In the early months of 2018, Blake Leibel,
36, will be tried for the murder of Iana
Kasian. The details of the case, already taking
its place among the town’s most lurid crimes,
remain sealed under grand jury indictment, leaving only clues gleaned from those
who knew the victim and the accused. New
interviews with close friends and associates
of both Leibel and Kasian — many of whom
have never before spoken publicly — show the
knotty web that led to the crime, with threads
stretching from a humble family in Eastern
Europe to one of Canada’s wealthiest dynasties, from the corridors of Hollywood’s biggest
studios to the high-stakes poker games
featured in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game. All
these intersecting strands led to a killing that
ranks in grisly detail with the Manson and
Black Dahlia murders, but is only now starting
to be understood.
Blake’s maternal grandmother, Leona, suffered from “long bouts of severe mental
illness,” according to a report in Canada’s
National Post.
Cody stayed with Lorne; Blake lived with
Eleanor. Cody was the sportier of the two,
and Lorne doted on him. (According to family
friends, Lorne went so far as to buy Cody’s
hockey coach a house to ensure his son made
the team.) Blake felt left out, and the relationship tormented him. “He always seemed
very scared of [his father],” says a close friend
who agreed to his first interview about the
case provided his name was withheld. “He
wanted to impress him and prove that he was,
you know, not a mistake. He tried to earn
his father’s love. It was just very hard for him
to do it.”
After attending the University of Western
Ontario, Blake joined a group of college
friends who had moved to L.A., including
Jeremy Tenser, a slight, bookish law student,
older by a few years, who grew up a middleclass latchkey kid in Toronto. Cody also moved
to town, cultivating an image as a Hollywood
playboy. He started a now-defunct music
company, C-Note Records. Like his father, he
got involved in real estate. At 23, he became
the world’s youngest owner of a $1.2 million
Ferrari Enzo, one of only a few hundred in
existence, and engaged a car-racing blog called
Low Rider Network to document him as he
cruised the avenues of Beverly Hills alongside
billionaire sheikhs.
Blake’s ambitions were of a different sort.
As a geeky kid, he’d been into video games
and comics. One friend describes him as
“hyperintelligent, almost too smart for his
own good.” Now he was in Hollywood, and he
wanted a piece of it. He began networking,
pitching zany, fanciful ideas about science
fiction, psychology and murder. Some of these
were dark — his enthusiasm for hard-core
gore made an impression on more than one
close friend. He was a fan of the Faces of Death
movies, sometimes literally taking them
into pitch meetings. “He had these really big,
cool ideas,” says a friend who worked closely
T
he words “Trumpian excess” get
thrown around a lot these days, but
in the gilded upbringing of Blake
Leibel, the description fits. Blake
and his brother, Cody, older by a year, grew up
privileged in a world where vast sums of
money flowed alongside an undercurrent of
seedy entitlement. Their father, Lorne, was
a former Olympian sailboat racer turned
flamboyant billionaire real estate developer
who built tens of thousands of suburban
houses across Canada. One person who knew
Lorne described him as “the best playboy of
all playboys.” He owned a fleet of Ferraris,
and the Leibel estate spanned 300 acres in
Toronto’s exclusive Forest Hill neighborhood.
Still, scandal marred his achievements. In
1976, he became the first Canadian Olympian
to test positive for illegal drug use when his
urine sample revealed a banned stimulant.
Meanwhile, his personal life had become the
target of exposés, legal battles and allegations of drugs, prostitutes and sexually
transmitted diseases — all of which he has
vehemently denied.
Lorne and his wife, Eleanor, separated
when Blake and Cody were children, but they
remained married. Eleanor Chitel also came
from wealth; her father had built a plastics
empire from a small business. But she brought
to the family a less fortunate inheritance:
In Leibel’s graphic novel
Syndrome, he poses the
question, ‘If you loved hurting
things, what would you do?
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
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DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
with him in those years, “but he could never
really execute.” Another friend says that while
“a lot of people thought Blake was some sort
of genius, others thought he was a con artist
and a salesman.”
But he did make inroads. By 2008, after
directing a silly indie high school comedy
called Bald, he worked for Mel Brooks as a storyboard supervisor and creative consultant on
Spaceballs: The Animated Series, which featured
voice work by Joan Rivers and Brooks himself.
“Blake was very outgoing, very big,” says Rogina
Revelle, a producer who worked with him on
Bald. For one scene, Leibel called for an abrupt
change in the script that would have required
14 women to actually be bald. “He just wanted
TB
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.
CRESCEN T HEIGHTS BLVD.
HOLLOWAY: TRISTAN CASSEL.
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LA CIENEGA BLVD.
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.
people to laugh,” she says. “It was just a big
game.” Around town, Blake took to calling
people “Angel,” the way a big producer might.
He attended Comic-Con every year. “He was
all about snacks and fun times,” says Tenser,
in his first in-depth interview. Tenser worked
as an agent’s assistant at Willam Morris
and was involved in some of Blake’s projects
as his entertainment attorney, but mostly the
two hung out as friends, smoking pot in
the kitchen of Blake’s house on Schuyler Road
in Beverly Hills.
Around 2006, Blake met Amanda Braun,
a slender, dark-haired former model who
grew up in San Luis Obispo, California. Her
friends described her as a “party girl,” a
regular on the wealthy, celebrity-infested
social circuit Blake and Cody moved in.
Braun declined to participate in this story,
but friends say she genuinely cared about
Blake. “She’s a really good person with a
good heart,” says one. Before Blake, Braun
had dated Andrew Altchek, a hedge-fund
manager who was convicted of running a
Ponzi scheme and sent to prison, where he
was killed in 2010. Braun thought Blake, who
appeared stable, even shy, would be a good
antidote to her former boyfriend. Blake
and Braun hung out at Soho House in West
Hollywood, where Blake was a member, and
for several months lived together at Chateau
Marmont, where they went largely unnoticed.
She often attended parties without Blake,
who preferred to stay at home. “People would
laugh because she’s so bada-boom and he’s so
nerdy,” says a close friend of Braun’s. By the
time they married in 2011, she was already
pregnant with a boy.
By 2011, Blake’s mother, Eleanor, was dying
of brain cancer. One close friend recalls
seeing Blake after he called his mother via
Skype. She had lost her hair. “He bawled his
eyes out.” Blake began acting out. “He lost it,”
says a friend, recalling an incident in which
Blake exploded with rage when someone
touched his head. He threw tantrums if he
didn’t get his way. “There was just a lot of
verbal abuse,” says another friend. “It didn’t
get violent, but there was a lot of yelling.” He
berated people, then apologized. He disliked
being alone.
Eleanor died that year. Media reports
from Canada suggest that her personal estate,
including stocks and properties, was worth
some $12 million. Blake skipped the funeral.
“He couldn’t handle it, frankly,” says Tenser.
“His mother was the only real person in his
life.” According to friends of Braun’s and
Blake’s, Eleanor’s intention had been to leave
the bulk of her wealth to Blake, but some
significant portion of the money went to Lorne
instead. Blake’s friends say he believed Lorne
managed to change Eleanor’s will at the last
minute. Blake contested the will in court, but
lost. “Blake felt betrayed by his brother and
his dad over the will,” says a family friend.
Around this time, Blake’s closest friends from
Toronto began to drift away.
All but Tenser. Blake had a nickname for
him: Hollace, a name that Blake thought
Left: Leibel’s graphic novels depict horrific violence
that seemed eerily similar to the crime scene in an apartment
(above) on Holloway Drive in West Hollywood.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
131
sounded cool. He grunted it. “Hollace —
so that you sound like a Southern gentleman
attorney,” he said. Tenser was glad for the
friendship. “We came here together,” he says,
“for the American Dream.” Other friends say
Blake never had any respect for Tenser. “Fire
this guy, get rid of him,” Blake told one of his
producers, who replied, “Isn’t he your friend?”
“Yeah,” Blake said, “But you know, fire him.
Get him out of here.”
But Tenser stayed. He brokered a deal
Blake had with the actor Wilmer Valderrama,
who published some of Blake’s graphic
novels, including Operation Redux, about
Nazis in New York City’s Twin Towers. “He’s
been depicted as a trust-fund kid, but he
was smart and successful in Hollywood,”
Tenser insists. When Lionsgate approached
in 2014 with an offer to turn Blake’s graphic
novel Syndrome into a TV show, Tenser negotiated the contract.
Syndrome became Blake’s calling card.
The cover depicted a wide-eyed baby whose
scalp has been peeled half-off, exposing the
viscous brown tubing of a brain, followed
by a question: “If you loved hurting things,
what would you do?” The opening sequence
featured a grisly torture scene, including a
body dripping with blood. Another scene portrayed a beheaded woman lying on a bed in
a pool of blood. A character named Dr. Wolfe
Chitel — the maiden name of Blake’s mother
— hires an actress to “role play” with him,
then nearly kills her. With Syndrome, Blake
seems most interested in exploring whether
sociopathy could be isolated in the brain
and removed, but the book’s conclusion isn’t
rosy. “In the end,” a narrator warns, “we all
become monsters.”
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
L
ong before Sorkin penned the script
for Molly’s Game, there were the
games themselves. Former real estate
assistant Molly Bloom had fashioned
an underground high-stakes poker empire.
Her roving games, held in different mansions
or hotels in Beverly Hills or Hollywood, gained
notoriety for their famous players: DiCaprio,
Tobey Maguire, director Nick Cassavetes and
moguls like Israeli entrepreneur Alec Gores
and inventor Andy Beal, estimated to be worth
more than $9 billion. One attendee says that
at a game in Beverly Hills, a private guard with
an assault rifle watched over “at least $2 million in cash stacked on the table.” High-end
prostitutes milled about, he says, “and off to
the side there was a smaller table with a huge
apartment one floor beneath the current U.S.
president. Another player, Alimzhan
Tokhtakhounov, was a “vor,” a member of
an elite class of Russian mafia. According to
Tenser, Cody’s proximity to these shadowy
figures increasingly worried Blake. “He and
I would sit and smoke a joint and talk about
his concerns about his brother’s gambling
debt,” Tenser says. On one occasion, Blake told
Tenser that other players “took Cody for a million bucks in one game.” (Cody Leibel didn’t
respond to requests for comment.)
In April 2013, federal prosecutors announced
charges against more than two dozen
Clockwise from left: Luxury homebuilder Daniel
Greenglass, Peter Fonda, Anna Dorosh and Lorne Leibel
attended a tribute to the Easy Rider star at the Toronto Film
Festival in 2010; Braun and Blake Leibel at a 2008 bash at
Chateau Marmont; from left: Cody Leibel with then-wife
Alisia Leibel and actress Elisha Cuthbert at the opening of
the Area nightclub in Hollywood in 2006.
pile of cocaine. I thought one of the women
was going to overdose, they were getting so
fucked up.”
Blake attended a few of these games. But a
much more frequent player — and occasional
host — was his brother, Cody. In fact, his
house in Beverly Hills had been rigged with
cameras, chandeliers and felt tables like a
high-roller room. “Cody was a whale,” says
one of his friends, who requested his name
be withheld. In the poker context, a whale is
a wealthy, not very skilled player whom other
players target for money.
Eventually the poker games expanded to
the East Coast, where organized crime figures
from Russia and Eastern Europe drifted in.
Some games were held in apartments inside
Trump Tower. Among the new attendees
was Vadim Trincher, a Russian with ties to
organized crime who lived in a $5 million
people involved with Bloom’s games; the
“Taiwanchik-Trincher” organized crime
network was indicted for racketeering, money
laundering and extortion and found to have
laundered upward of $100 million. (Bloom
herself pleaded guilty to gambling charges as
part of a deal.) Blake began to see news stories
about these arrests that detailed the type of
people playing poker with his brother, like
Trincher, who had once threatened a troublesome customer with “torture.” The press
linked another defendant, Anatoly Golubchik,
to a 2012 murder-suicide near JFK Airport.
Around the same time, another gambling
case involving dangerous criminals was
taking shape in Los Angeles, one that would
also touch Blake’s world. In June 2013, prosecutors indicted Jan Harald Portocarrero
and 18 other people on charges of operating
a “violent” sports betting business. Just days
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
132
after Portocarrero was indicted, Cody placed
a lien on his house for $2.5 million to ensure
that Portocarrero could stay out of jail. “Cody
Leibel posted bond,” says Eric Beste, a U.S.
Attorney who helped prosecute the case. “If
Portocarrero didn’t come back, or committed
another crime, then the government could
have basically foreclosed on Cody Leibel’s
house.” Portocarrero was convicted and sentenced to prison and has since moved to Peru.
“When I checked the lien in 2014, Blake
was concerned Cody was in to the mob for at
least $2.5 million,” Tenser claims. There
is nothing to suggest that the lien, or Cody
Leibel, was tied to organized crime. But Blake,
insists Tenser, was desperately worried.
Over the course of a few days in the spring
of 2015, he sent Tenser several texts, which
THR reviewed, laying out his concern that his
brother’s gambling debts were placing his
family in danger. On April 25, Blake wrote:
“Hollace — my son’s safety is a concern
— these people Cody owes money to are dangerous.” The next day, Blake wrote again to
say that someone was in his backyard with a
flashlight. He wanted to call the cops. Tenser
calmed him down, telling him, “They are not
hiding up there to shoot you.” Then Blake
sent Tenser a link to a health website page
filled with random words and phrases thrown
together, like gibberish. Blake had scoured it
and found that it contained the words “Cody
Leibel,” “Gambler,” “15 million losses” and
“Las Vegas,” among other terms. Tenser told
Blake, “It looks like someone is using this as
code to communicate the debts.”
Back and forth they went, with Blake sending links to random websites that worried
him and Tenser reciprocating with his own
concerns that “Cody and Lorne are overleveraged,” as he later explained. “They’re
like the Trumps, these people, they borrow
money to buy houses.”
In this manner, the friends did little to
calm each other’s fears. Blake wanted Tenser
to look into whether Lorne was “trying
to commit fraud using my name.” Blake’s
missives grew increasingly frantic. “Jeremy
— if the baby and I were to pass — Cody
would have extra money to pay these people
[the crime syndicates]. He could tell them
that. And they could come after us for the big
take.” Tenser agreed to look into it.
“I want you to explore all options pertaining to my families [sic] security,” Blake wrote
on April 27. “I am legitimately nervous for my
son’s well-being — and I need your help — the
help of Hollace.”
B
lake’s fears about his brother’s
gambling, paranoid or not, coincided with problems at home. A
few weeks after the flurry of text
messages with Tenser, during the early summer of 2015, Blake began to dismantle the
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
‘
T
a
a
s
h
s
—
FONDA: ARTHUR MOLA/GETTY IMAGES. CUTHBERT: JOHN SHEARER/WIREIMAGE FOR BRAGMAN NYMAN CAFARELLI. BRAUN: BILLY FARRELL/PATRICK MCMULLAN VIA GETTY IMAGES. TOWERS: FG/BAUER-GRIFFIN/GC IMAGES.
It got freaky.
They just had
a kid together,
and suddenly
she’s bailing
him out for
sexual assault
— with his wife.’
Hollywood life he had spent the past several
years building. Within a few weeks, he filed
for divorce, left Braun and leased the apartment on Holloway, where he now installed
his new girlfriend, a 29-year-old recent
arrival from Ukraine named Iana Kasian.
“We couldn’t figure it out,” says a close friend
of Braun’s. “Blake loved Amanda, and then
all of a sudden he was gone. It was the start of
his erratic behavior.”
Kasian was born in Estonia, where her
father labored in a navy yard. Her mother,
Olga, was in health care. They moved to
Ukraine soon after. Sometime around 2014,
Iana Kasian arrived in L.A. It’s unclear what,
exactly, she did here. Several people close to
Braun have hinted that Kasian was working
as an escort, pointing to racy and sometimes nude pictures they found of her online.
But Jake Finkel, an attorney representing
Kasian’s family, disputes this. He claims she
“graduated from a law school in Kiev and was
studying to be a translator.”
By August 2015, Kasian was pregnant.
According to one source, she didn’t wait long
to advertise it. One day, shortly after he had
walked out on Braun, she spotted Blake and
Iana driving around Beverly Hills. She followed
the couple to a restaurant and confronted
them. Kasian rubbed her belly gently. “I’m
pregnant,” she said, according to a close friend
of Braun’s.
Braun did not know that, in addition to
Kasian, Blake had begun seeing a third
woman, Constance Buccafurri, a storyboard artist whom he had met several years
earlier and whose IMDb page shows several
credits on major projects including Frozen
and the upcoming Aladdin, starring Will
Smith. Records also show that she has been
arrested for offenses ranging from drunk
Braun replied that Kasian was “the nastiest person” and that she wanted Blake to
get help. “Blake hates everyone from his
past,” Braun wrote, “his family and most of
all his friends. He only sees them if he needs
something. He speaks horribly of everyone
and cuts people off at the drop of a hat. He is
very ill.”
When, in the early spring of 2016, Blake
and Kasian vacationed in Hawaii, Buccafurri
hired a private investigator to track their
whereabouts. When the reports from the P.I.
came in via text messages, she forwarded
them to Braun. “I told her everything,” says
Buccafurri. “I want that whore deported,”
Braun wrote back. “What does it take??”
The Twin Towers Correctional
Facility in downtown L.A.,
the nation’s largest mental
health facility, where Leibel was
placed on suicide watch.
and disorderly conduct to resisting arrest.
During a recent interview at the Hollywood
Roosevelt hotel, Buccafurri, who wore a
gray sweater with a picture of Mickey Mouse
and a pair of large, studious glasses, showed
herself to be a complicated, volatile personality. She unleashed in a torrent, saying her
relationship with Blake had always been
professional, even as she acknowledged it
developed into something sexual. Following
the interview, Buccafurri sent THR a series
of unsolicited emails that included screengrabs of texts, photos and documents.
In these, she claims that Blake had been
“obsessed” with her for years and had stalked
her. While this is unproved, he did take a
keen interest in her, helping Buccafurri hire a
lawyer for a run-in with police at the Viceroy
Hotel in early November 2015, according to
one person who knew them both. Three weeks
later, Blake purchased another house on
North Gardner Street in West Hollywood and
Buccafurri moved in. “Blake would refer to her
as his fiancee and sometimes his wife,” says
the source. Buccafurri confirmed his ardor in
an email: “Blake was obsessed with me — he
loved me very much.” But after only six weeks,
they had split up. Buccafurri continued to live
in the Gardner Street house.
Oddly, about a month later, Buccafurri
reached out to Braun. The two began corresponding about Blake and Kasian. They became
united in their hatred of her, agreeing that she
was the real interloper. They texted each other
regularly, as if they were friends, rather than
romantic rivals. According to Buccafurri, she
and Braun exchanged dozens of texts. In one,
shared by Buccafurri, she wrote Braun that
she would “call INS” on Kasian “so she can get
deported.” In another: “I swear to god Amanda
I want you to have justice … I am team you!”
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
133
I
ana’s mother, Olga Kasian, arrived in
L.A. from Ukraine in mid-April 2016 —
her daughter’s pregnancy had reached
full term, and she wanted to help with
the baby. For the previous year, Olga had been
getting regular updates from her daughter
about her life in the U.S., according to family
attorney Finkel. Iana told her mother she
was comfortably installed in a luxurious
Hollywood apartment owned by a movie
director. She also told Olga that her life wasn’t
perfect — that Blake smoked huge amounts
of marijuana, ate hallucinogenic mushrooms and dabbled with synthetic marijuana
(though the latter two cannot be independently confirmed). For Iana, it was better
than Kiev. Blake had bought her a Mercedes
M-class SUV and taken her on luxurious
vacations. He’d told her they would get married. He would give her a ring. A house. A
future. When Olga arrived, Blake set her
up in a nearby apartment. On May 3, Olga’s
60th birthday, her granddaughter, Diana,
was born.
“I know that [Iana] wanted the baby very
much,” says Kristina Kuts, a friend from
Ukraine who believes Kasian was truly in love
with Blake. Friends of Braun say they believe
it was mutual, that Blake was in love with
Kasian. “They were both very happy when they
found out she was having a baby,” says Kuts.
Almost immediately after the birth,
though, Blake’s behavior went from erratic to
inexplicably disruptive, according to Finkel
— all in a matter of days. “Things started to
get a little bit strange,” says Finkel. “Blake
flipped out.” At home, he kept the windows
closed and the curtains drawn, though
Olga, when she visited, would throw them
wide open. He blasted the air conditioner
at all times, even in the baby’s room. When
Iana complained, Blake told her to go to her
mother’s place. She would stay there for a
night or two, then return, and the fighting
would resume. He continued to smoke pot,
filling the apartment with the fumes. “He got
really dark,” Finkel says.
Continued on page 150
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
1
MAKING OF
Downsizing
How director Alexander Payne shrank Matt Damon down
to size (and got him to drop out of Manchester by the Sea)
to play a 5-inch-tall salesman in a $70 million satire
2
By Pamela McClintock
M
att Damon had been
waiting 15 years for
a phone call from
Alexander Payne.
The 47-year-old actor had wanted
to work with the acclaimed
56-year-old director since the two
first met at a party hosted by
Sherry Lansing back when she was
running Paramount. But Payne’s
timing when he finally did call
Damon, in late 2014, couldn’t have
been worse.
At that time, Damon was preparing to star in a different film,
a dark drama he’d spent years
nurturing. To take the part Payne
was now offering — the lead in
the indie auteur’s first big-budget,
effects-heavy sci-fi spectacle —
Damon would have to give that role
away to another actor, something
he definitely didn’t want to do.
But Payne must have been persuasive, because Casey Affleck ended
3
up playing the lead in Manchester
by the Sea — and winning an Oscar
for it — while Damon left to
do Downsizing.
“But then the money for
Downsizing fell through,” Damon
adds with a wince, “so we had
to wait another year to make it.”
That Downsizing got made
at all is something of a minor
Hollywood miracle. Payne, after
all, is best known for putting big
stars in small-budgeted character studies (like George Clooney
in The Descendants or Jack
Nicholson in About Schmidt) and
for even smaller quirky satires
(like Election and Sideways). As
renowned as he is, there’s nothing on his résumé that would
encourage a studio to write a
$100 million check, the budget
Payne envisioned. Still, Payne
was getting tired of painting on
small canvases. “I was itching to
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
134
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
try something with a little more
ambition to it, a bigger scope, a
bigger budget and see what that
feels like,” he tells THR.
To go big, Payne decided to go
small, with a script he and longtime writing partner Jim Taylor
had been noodling around with
since the mid-2000s. It was
about a future where the world’s
ecological problems get solved
by shrinking people to 5 inches
and transplanting them to
Leisureland, where (almost)
everyone gets to live like kings
and queens — only with a fraction of the carbon footprint.
Damon plays Paul Safranek, an
occupational therapist who is
so underwater financially that
he volunteers for shrinking, but
awakens from the procedure to
discover that his wife, played by
4
Kristen Wiig, has backed out at
the last minute. In Leisureland,
he finds a job as a sales rep and
befriends a Vietnamese dissident
(Vietnamese-born actress Hong
Chau, nominated for a Golden
Globe and SAG Award for her
breakout performance) who was
forcibly miniaturized and lives in
a tenement on the outskirts of
town, where Paul is horrified to
learn about the dark underbelly
of Leisureland’s economy.
“We’re not political filmmakers per se,” says Payne. “We
weren’t setting out to make a
movie about overpopulation and
climate change. But I thought
it would only be decent of me to
do something with some kind of
political consciousness to it, a
little bit more like our early work
with Citizen Ruth [in 1996,
which tackled abortion rights].”
Finding a studio willing
to spend $100 million on an
Alexander Payne movie, though,
turned out to be something
of a challenge. Even the studio where Payne had made The
Descendants and Sideways — Fox
Searchlight — passed on the
idea. Finally Megan Ellison’s
Annapurna Pictures stepped up
to finance the film at $70 million, later bringing Paramount
along as a partner. But even
before it landed at Paramount,
Payne knew a movie with that big
a price tag would benefit from a
big star (although, at one point,
he considered Sideways actor
Paul Giamatti for the lead), so he
5
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
BOAT: ERIK AAVATSMARK/PARAMOUNT PICTURES. CHAU, WALTZ: GEORGE KRAYCHYK/
PARAMOUNT PICTURES. DOWNSIZING: COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2).
1 Payne (center) with his cast on a yacht in Norway,
where they shot for five days before the 70-day
shoot wrapped. 2 For this scene, Damon had to talk
to a tiny action figure that was later superimposed
with Jason Sudeikis’ character. 3 Anything from
the real world had to be exactly 14 times bigger
than normal, including this yellow rose. “We put
velvet on the top to give it depth,” says production
designer Stefania Cella. 4 Chau — born in a
Vietnamese refugee camp in Thailand before
emigrating to the U.S. with her parents — asked
her manager for a script of Downsizing after
learning of the project in news reports. She had no
idea until she read it that there was a Vietnamese
character in the film. 5 Witherspoon was initially
set to play Wiig’s character. Likewise, Giamatti,
who starred in Payne’s breakout hit Sideways, was
attached at one point to play Damon’s character.
The cast, however, changed as a result of
Downsizing taking years to come to fruition.
135
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
did some reconnaissance. “You
don’t want a nightmare on your
hands — then you just want to
kill yourself,” he explains of how
he picked his leading man. “But
filmmakers talk to each other
about what it’s like to work with
so-and-so, and everyone says it’s
great to work with Matt.”
Once Damon had been poached
from Manchester (although he
stayed on that film as a producer),
Payne began casting the other
parts. For a time, it looked like his
Election star Reese Witherspoon
might play Damon’s wife, but
scheduling conflicts got in the
way. Chau, who had appeared in
Treme and Big Little Lies, was an
unknown to Payne, but he cast
her after being knocked out by her
audition tape. Christoph Waltz
signed on as a Eurotrash playboy
who lives upstairs from Damon’s
character, while Jason Sudeikis
came on to play a gung-ho downsizer who loves being small.
Payne brought veteran producer Mark Johnson (Rain Man,
The Chronicles of Narnia) to help
squeeze the $100 million movie
he’d envisioned into the $70 million Ellison and Paramount were
willing to spend. “The budget
was crazy high,” says Johnson.
“Nobody was going to make it for
$100 million. So I thought, ‘OK,
how do we give Alexander what he
wants and still find a price that
makes sense?’ We got a different
production designer [Stefania
Cella]. The original designer was
2
3
1 Damon’s character looks at first-class accommodations for little people on a bus. It
was the brother of Downsizing co-writer Jim Taylor who hatched the idea for Payne’s
seventh film. 2 Downsizing marks the first time Payne has worked with both Damon and
Waltz. 3 In the film, Chau’s character has lost her left leg below the knee. Footage of an
amputee leg double was used in postproduction for her scenes.
somebody who does really big
movies and is used to spending a
lot of money.”
But even as the budget was
being miniaturized, Ellison
started getting cold feet. Although
she never officially backed out
of the production, she stopped
returning phone calls from Brad
Grey, who was running
Paramount at the time (he died
this year). Grey decided to go
ahead and greenlight the movie
in early fall 2015 without Ellison,
footing the entire budget.
In April 2016, production on
the 70-day shoot commenced
in Toronto, at Pinewood Studios’
11-acre campus. “It was like
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
making any other film, only there
was more of it,” says Payne. “I had
a visual effects tsar who [broke it
down] into little bite-size morsels for me so I didn’t freak out.
My charge to them was two-fold:
Number one, trick me into thinking I’m making a real film, one
without visual effects, so that the
acting doesn’t suffer. And number
two, I wanted the visual effects to
be so real and believable as to be
spectacularly banal.”
That special effects tsar, James
Price, says Payne’s mandates
made it much more difficult to
cheat shots with digital tricks.
For instance, in one particularly
involved scene, a normal-sized
136
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
human is carrying a box with two
tiny people in it. “That required us
to first shoot a background plate
of the actor carrying a box that
had 5-inch-high figurines in it,”
explains Price. “Then we tracked
the motion of that box in the
computer, and we built a [humansized] box on a motion control
base, we shot the actors [in the
large box] against a greenscreen,
and then they were composited
into the small box that the other
actor had originally carried.”
Once the shoot was over, Payne
and his longtime editor, Kevin
Tent, spent a full year in an
editing bay near the Paramount
lot slicing the film together.
“Every director is different,” says
Tent. “I’ve worked with Barry
Sonnenfeld, who doesn’t like
to be in the editing room at all.
But Alexander, he likes being in
there.” The first cut of Downsizing
came in at three hours, but like
everything else with this film, it
too got shrunk — to a still-notso-tiny two hours and 15 minutes.
It was well-received when it
opened the Venice Film Festival
last August and in November was
named one of the top 10 films of
the year by the National Board of
Review. But however it does when
it opens wide on Dec. 22, Damon
has no regrets about quitting his
part in Manchester by the Sea to
instead play a 5-inch-tall sales rep
in Downsizing. Says the actor of his
decision, “I just wanted to be in an
Alexander Payne movie.”
PAYNE, CHAU: GEORGE KRAYCHYK/PARAMOUNT PICTURES. DOWNSIZING: COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES.
1
“.....”
“A WORK OF CINEMATIC ART.
IT’S A WORK OF JOURNALISM AND OF IMAGINATION.”
“DIRECTOR ERROL MORRIS’
MOST AUDACIOUS WORK YET.”
“AMBITIOUS AND ENGROSSING.”
“A SINGULAR EXPERIENCE—
PART DOCUMENTARY, PART DRAMA AND
PART FEVERED PARANOID DREAM...”
FOR YOUR
CONSIDERATION
G O L D E N G LO B E S A N D SAG AWA R D S
Keep Up
With the
Nominees
SURPRISE!
SURPRISE!
SNUB!
SNUB!
Finalists for the Golden Globes and SAG Awards
have been revealed as THR breaks down the data,
surprises and snubs, and the newly minted contenders
dish on their plans for the big nights By Rebecca Ford
I
f the road to the Oscars red carpet is considered a marathon,
then the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations can be
thought of as hydration stations for some projects and troubling
hurdles for others.
The Dec. 11 Globe noms helped to increase the momentum on a
few films, including Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which
topped with seven noms, followed by Steven Spielberg’s The Post and
Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with six.
And while veterans Meryl Streep and Judi Dench earned nominations
(of course they did), a slew of newer actors — including Get Out’s Daniel
Kaluuya and Call Me by Your Name’s Timothee Chalamet — found themselves earning Globe and SAG Award noms. Speaking of newbies, fresh
↑ From left:
shows including GLOW, SMILF and The Marvelous Mrs.
Veep, SMILF,
Maisel received Globe comedy noms (while the veteran
Wonder Woman,
All the Money
Veep didn’t get even one mention). And Emmy heavyin the World, Get
weights Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale continued Out and GLOW.
their trophy-bearing runs with more nominations.
As for the SAG Award noms, announced Dec. 13 on the heels of the
Globes, late-to-the-party releases The Post and the Daniel Day-Lewis
starrer Phantom Thread found themselves in the cold. It’s been 22 years
since a film won the best picture Oscar without being nominated for
the guild’s top honor, so the five that nabbed a best ensemble nom —
The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, Mudbound and Three Billboards — are on
a promising path.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — 10
Fox Searchlight — 22
Big Little Lies — 10
4
7
4
6
15
6
The Shape of Water — 9
Fox — 14
Stranger Things — 6
2
2
4
7
Lady Bird — 7
3
12
4
5
2
Feud — 6
A24 — 12
7
2
4
The Post — 6
Focus — 6
GLOW — 5
6
2
4
I, Tonya — 5
Neon — 5
The Handmaid’s Tale — 5
2
2
2
3
4
3
1
3
Get Out — 4
Netflix — 5
This Is Us — 5
2
2
2
2
3
Mudbound — 4
Warner Bros. — 5
2
2
2
Call Me by Your Name — 4
1
3
Dunkirk — 4
1
3
All the Money in the World — 3
3
Film
Shape of Water
rose to the top at
the Globes as
Three Billboards
ruled the
SAG Awards
2
The Shape
of Water
3
Universal — 4
2
Amazon — 2
2
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
3
Game of Thrones — 4
Distributors
Buoyed by Three
Billboards and
Shape of Water,
Searchlight topped
both groups’
nominations
138
3
1
Black-ish — 4
2
2
The Crown — 4
2
2
Ozark — 3
2
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
1
Television
Emmy favorite
Big Little Lies felt
the Globes love
while it was a
three-way tie for
SAG Awards nods
SURPRISE!
SNUB!
Female Director
Shutout
A Snub Within a
Nomination
In a year ripe with strong
films helmed by women
(Dee Rees’ Mudbound,
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird
and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder
Woman), it came as a surRees
prise that the Globe
nominees for best director were all male.
“I’m so sad she didn’t get the recognition,” says Mary J. Blige of her Mudbound
director. “There were so many women on
set, and it was the most calm and confident
environment I’ve worked in.” Even Martin
McDonagh, who got a best director nom,
weighed in: “That is a shame. Hopefully it’ll
be diferent for the Oscars.”
While Get Out received an ensemble
SAG Award nomination, a number
of actors who had breakout moments in
Jordan Peele’s horror satire were noticeably left out.
Lil Rel Howery, who plays a key role as
Chris’ (Daniel Kaluuya) TSA agent best
friend, was not nominated with the cast. Nor
was Marcus Henderson or Betty Gabriel
(the Armitage family’s groundskeeper and
housekeeper). Why? SAG-AFTRA nominating rules state that an actor is eligible
for the ensemble nomination only if
billed on his or her own title card. In Get Out,
Henderson and Gabriel shared one card,
and Howery and Alexander shared another.
VEEP, LIES: COURTESY OF HBO. SMILF: CLAIRE FOLGER/SHOWTIME. GLOW: ERICA PARISE/NETFLIX. REES: ROY ROCHLIN/FILMMAGIC. STREEP: STEFANIE KEENAN/GETTY IMAGES FOR TURNER. MIRREN, JANNY: STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE. KIDMAN: ROY
ROCHLIN/FILMMAGIC. DENCH: MIKE MARSLAND/WIREIMAGE. CARELL: TIBRINA HOBSON/GETTY IMAGES. PLUMMER: VERA ANDERSON/WIREIMAGE. WONDER: CLAY ENOS/WARNER BROS (2). MONEY: FABIO LOVINO/SONY PICTURES. OUT: JUSTIN LUBIN/
UNIVERSAL PICTURES. SICK: NICOLE RIVELLI/AMAZON. POST: NIKO TAVERNISE/20TH CENTURY FOX. TRIP: MICHELE K. SHORT/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. BILLBOARD, WATER: COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT. CROWN: ROBERT VIGLASKY/NETFLIX.
Four Unexpected Snubs
Frequent
Nomination
Fliers
Meryl is the queen of nominations,
but quite of a few of this
year’s crop are return visitors
MERYL STREEP (The Post)
31 Globe & 17 SAG Award noms
JUDI DENCH (Victoria & Abdul)
12 Globe & 14 SAG Award noms
STEVE CARELL (Battle of the Sexes)
9 Globe & 16 SAG Award noms
NICOLE KIDMAN (Big Little Lies)
12 Globe & 10 SAG Award noms
ALLISON JANNEY (I, Tonya)
6 Globe & 16 SAG Award noms
THE BIG SICK The Amazon film
starring Kumail Nanjiani walked
away empty-handed from the
Globes when it seemed a solid fit
in the comedy categories.
WONDER WOMAN A box-ofice
winner and crowd-pleaser? Not
enough to get this superhero pic
any love from the Globes or SAG
Awards (outside of a stunt nom).
THE POST Steven Spielberg’s
newsroom drama starring
Meryl Streep was late to reach
voters, which may have resulted
in its dearth of SAG noms.
TIFFANY HADDISH The breakout star of Girls Trip seemed
primed for a comedy actress
Globe nom, but it somehow eluded the newcomer.
HELEN MIRREN (The Leisure Seeker)
r
15 Globe & 3 SAG Award noms
PLUMMER’S WHIRLWIND NOMINATION
N
ot only did Christopher Plummer, 88,
replace Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s
All the Money in the World (shooting his
scenes in just nine days), he also nabbed
a surprise Globe nom less than two weeks
after portraying J. Paul Getty for the
Sony film (in theaters Dec. 25).
Netflix — 28
19
9
HBO — 24
12
12
FX — 10
2
8
NBC — 8
3
5
Showtime — 7
2 5
ABC — 5
Netflix’s
The Crown
2 3
Hulu — 5
Network
2 3
The Crown and
Stranger Things helped
Netflix chill the SAG Awards
competition while HBO
topped the Globe noms
AMC — 3
2 1
KEY
TOTAL
SAG Awards
How did Ridley approach you?
I was about to go to Florida
for a vacation when all of this
happened. I met Ridley in New
York; he flew all the way from
London. I’ve always been a fan of
Ridley and wanted to work with him.
We talked for a few minutes. He obviously
has an extraordinary sense of humor, and
that endeared him to me immediately. I told
him, “Listen, I have to go home and read
the script,” which I did. I kind of knew I was
going to do it even if I hated the script. I
had a feeling.
Globes
Did you feel pressure given the very
public and unprecedented situation?
I only felt the natural pressure of doing it
all in that short a time. I am still ambitious
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
139
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
at my age, and I take risks. And so does
Ridley, which is why I admire him so much.
How challenging was this compared
with other work you’ve done?
It sort of reminds me a bit of the
theater, where you do the
whole evening on memory.
It was a scary and fun
experience — both.
You chose not to view
Spacey’s work. Why?
It doesn’t do an actor any good
to watch someone else. When you
take over a part in the theater, it’s better
if the role comes from you. I saw some of
the kidnapping stuf, which I thought was
very well done, but that’s all I saw.
How does it feel to get the Globe nom?
I was very surprised because I haven’t even
seen the movie yet! I’ll see it at the [Dec. 18]
premiere. Then I’ll have to try to take a vacation again. Then someone will call me and
say, “Somebody fell of a building, you better
replace him!” — ASHLEY LEE
First-Time
Nominees
Strike Twice!
These five newbies earned both
SAG and Globe acting noms
ALISON BRIE | GLOW
A Marvelous First
Nomination
Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, the married brains behind the beloved
Gilmore Girls, on how they wooed Streisand for their ’50s-set Amazon series
By Michael O’Connell
You have a reputation for your rapid-fire
dialogue. How much of a challenge does that
make casting?
AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO It can be a big one.
Some actors will say the line, and then they’ll
give you the acting. The thing about our dialogue is that if you don’t act while you’re doing
the lines, then you don’t get to act. We don’t
do the “people speak and then there’s four cuts
of people looking at them” thing. Dan calls me
the queen of writing un-castable parts.
The first season uses two complete Barbra
Streisand tracks, starting with “Come to the
HONG CHAU | Downsizing
SALLY HAWKINS | Shape of Water
DANIEL KALUUYA | Get Out
MARGOT ROBBIE | I, Tonya
Supermarket (in Old Peking)” in the pilot. How
did you get the rights?
DAN PALLADINO Barbra was the one who gave
permission. She needed to literally sit down
and watch the sequence. She did it the day
after the [2016] presidential election. Either
she was looking for a distraction or decided
the end of times was coming and she needed
to get her last business done. We didn’t hear
anything from her other than the OK to do it.
AMY I basically wrote Barbra a soliloquy, a love
letter. That piece of music had been in my
brain from before the scene was completed. To
me, there was no second choice. Eventually, I
just cut the sequence together with her music
and sent it to her. It made it easier to get
the second song. She’d already seen that we
worship at the altar.
What has been the biggest adjustment in doing
a period story, other than making New York look
like it’s 1958?
AMY It takes a lot more time to get the chicks
ready in the morning. Going to get dressed
on this show takes longer than anything else,
with the layers and corsets and buttons and
snaps. There’s no slopping it together.
As an hourlong, you’ll have to petition the
TV Academy for comedy consideration. Is the
industry getting more relaxed about labels?
DAN A lot of the legacy networks and studios see comedy as half-hour. It’s probably
why Lauren Graham never got nominated
for Gilmore Girls. That’s why we’re happy the
universe is expanding. There are no legacy
blinders that things have to fit a certain
stamp. But this is a comedy.
← The showrunners have been married 20 years.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
140
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
GLOBES NIGHT
BOOZE PLANS
↑“I generally like the concept of just
consuming alcohol whenever it’s there,
so I don’t know, we’ll cross that bridge
when we get there. TBD ... To Be Drunk.”
ARMIE HAMMER , Call Me by Your Name
“The Golden Globes last year was my
first awards show. I was so anxious, so I
accidentally got really drunk right away.
It could have been trainwreck television
if we had somehow won. But now I’m
an old seasoned pro, so I’ll probably take it
easier.” DAN FOGELMAN , This Is Us creator
“I’ll maybe have a margarita and a half
and see how that works. Then, afterward,
all out, just crazy.” MARTIN MCDONAGH ,
director of Three Billboards
“I don’t think I’m gonna be drinking at all!
I’m just sober right now. I’m focusing right
now.” MARY J. BLIGE , Mudbound
PALLADINO: JASON LAVERIS/FILMMAGIC. BEER: ISTOCK. GLOBE: COURTESY OF HFPA. SAG: COURTESY OF SAG. MAISEL: NICOLE RIVELLI/AMAZON. HAMMER, BIEL: JB LACROIX/
WIREIMAGE. ORANGE: CARA HOWE/NETFLIX. BLACK-ISH: ABC/ERIC MCCANDLESS. CROWN: ROBERT VIGLASKY/NETFLIX. GAME: COURTESY OF HBO. BILLBOARDS: MERRICK MORTON/
FOR SEARCHLIGHT. BRIE: NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES. BROSNAHAN: RICH FURY/GETTY IMAGES. FRANCO: NOAM GALAI/GETTY IMAGES. RONAN: STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE.
A
my Sherman-Palladino and
Dan Palladino’s TV collaborations,
Gilmore Girls and the cult hit
Bunheads among them, have always
skirted awards attention on account of their
hard-to-pin-down blends of comedy and drama.
Not anymore. The 2018 Golden Globe nominations handed out best comedy and best lead
actress mentions to Amazon for their newcomer, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and its star,
Rachel Brosnahan — who plays the titular
1950s housewife who turns to stand-up when
her husband leaves her.
MARY J. BLIGE | Mudbound
What 2017 Role
Would You Have
Loved to Play?
45
“Wonder Woman. When I
watched that, I wanted to be
one of the women
on horseback swinging
a sword.”
30
JESSICA BIEL
18
↑ From left: Orange Is the New Black,
17
Black-ish and The Crown.
15
13
5
The SAG Awards’ nominated TV casts range from The Crown’s petite group
of five to the lively crowd of inmates that populates Orange Is the New Black
RACHEL BROSNAHAN
Call Me by Your Name.
I would have for sure
done that. It’s such a
beautiful film.
Double the Dinklage
JAMES FRANCO
SAOIRSE RONAN
↑ Dinklage in Game of Thrones (left) and Three Billboards.
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OVER $25 MILLION IN HARASSMENT
AND DISCRIMINATION AWARDS*
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Frankie Shaw in
SMILF, though clearly
nobody but her
could play that part.
It’s her.
The
Crown
Curb Your
Enthusiasm
6
45 ENSEMBLE MEMBERS?!
Peter Dinklage, known for playing Tyrion
Lannister on HBO’s Games of Thrones,
is the only actor this year to receive a SAG
nom for both a TV series and a film.
Along with an acting and ensemble
nom for Game of Thrones, he grabbed
an ensemble nomination for Martin
McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri, in which he plays a friend
(and possible love interest) to Frances
McDormand’s character.
Dinklage has been nominated for the
individual acting award and the ensemble
award for Games of Thrones every year
since 2013. This year’s trio of acting noms
brings his SAG tally to a total of 14.
ALISON BRIE
10
The Handmaid’s Tale
Black-ish
This Is Us
Veep
Stranger Things
GLOW
Game of Thrones
Orange Is the New Black
11
Maybe Nancy Kerrigan in
I, Tonya. I have brown hair, so that
could have worked. And I’m a
great victim. I could just roll over
from GLOW in my outfit, and
it would have worked fine.
Sally Hawkins’ role
in Shape of Water. It is my
dream to be in a film
where I don’t have to talk and
tell a story through every
other means than your voice
and language.
OSCAR’S DIVERSE
DOC SHORTLIST
Starting with a record 170 submissions, the Academy has narrowed
the field to 15 feature contenders offering close-up views of everything
from Russian doping to the Syrian civil war to Jane Goodall’s chimps
By Gregg Kilday
suggests the Chinese activist Ai Weiwei —
whose own Human Flow hauntingly depicts
the worldwide refugee crisis — are on the
forefront of social change. “These things,”
he says, “like weather, gradually change
the temperature and will build some kind
of movement.”
Fueled by streaming services like Netflix
and Amazon, cable networks from HBO and
Showtime to CNN and National Geographic,
and various grant-making organizations,
nonfiction films of every stripe are pouring
forth. But that only makes the Academy’s
annual task of choosing the year’s best exponentially more difficult.
1. Alone (New York Times)
A look at the toll of mass
incarceration through
the story of Alone Watts,
whose partner has been
imprisoned since 2015.
10 DOC SHORT
FINALISTS
By Mia Galuppo
2. Edith+Eddie (Heart Is
Red, Kartemquin Films)
The doc, which Cher exec
produced, investigates
elder rights through
“America’s oldest interracial newlyweds.”
3. Heaven Is a Trafic Jam
on the 405 (Stiefel & Co.)
Artist Mindy Alper’s work
is profiled through the lens
of her lifelong battle with
depression and OCD.
← 4. Heroin(e) (Netflix)
Journalist Elaine McMillion
Sheldon looks at the country’s opioid crisis through
the lives of three West
Virginia women on the
front lines of the epidemic.
5. Kayayo (Integral Film)
An 8-year-old Ghanaian
girl, who works as a human
shopping cart, journeys
home to reconnect with
her family.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
142
A record 170 films were submitted in 2017
for Oscar consideration. Now members of
the documentary branch have culled that to
15 features competing for the five noms that
will be announced Jan. 24. There were plenty of
legitimate contenders that failed to make the
cut, but there’s no denying the claims of the
films that did. They come with impeccable credentials, starting with Frederick Wiseman’s
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library and Agnes
Varda’s Faces Places.
Ex Libris, which takes viewers on a threehour, 17-minute visit inside New York’s public
library system, is the 42nd documentary
from Wiseman, 87, who has spent a lifetime
6. Knife Skills
(TFL Films)
Edwins in Cleveland
aims to be the nation’s
best French restaurant
while mostly employing
people recently released
from prison.
7. 116 Cameras
(Birdling Films)
In a project for the
USC Shoah Foundation,
Auschwitz survivor Eva
Schloss, 88, transforms
into a 3D digital projection
that will allow her to interact
with future generations.
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
8. Ram Dass, Going Home
(Netflix)
Spiritual teacher Ram Dass
is profiled as he nears the
end of his life.
9. Ten Meter Tower
(Plattform Produktion)
People on a 10-meter diving platform weigh the fear
of jumping against the
humiliation of retreating.
10. Trafic Stop
(Q-Ball Productions)
Director Kat Davis looks at
the brutal arrest of a black
schoolteacher.
HEROINE, ICARUS, ONE: COURTESY OF NETFLIX. FACES: COURTESY OF CINÉ TAMARIS. LA: RIOTS: TED SOQUI/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES/COURTESY OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
C
onsider just a few of this year’s feature documentary Oscar contenders:
They range from Jane, a film that
meticulously documents primatologist Jane Goodall’s first encounters with her
beloved apes, to Long Strange Trip, a marathon
rockumentary chronicling 30 years on the
road with the Grateful Dead, and include films
such as Last Men in Aleppo and City of Ghosts,
which both secreted out footage from the wartorn streets of Syria.
Whether judged by the urgent subjects they
tackle or simply by the sheer number of films,
this moment may represent a golden age
of documentaries. And the era’s filmmakers,
1
2
3
4
chronicling the workings of American institutions. Somewhat shockingly, he’s never
been nominated for an Oscar, though he was
recognized with a honorary one in 2016. Varda,
89 and now recognized as the mother of the
French New Wave, has never been nominated
either, though she too received an honorary
Oscar, at the Governors Awards in November.
She also could be invited to the big party on
March 4 for Faces Places, in which she joins
French artist J.R. for an idiosyncratic tour
through the South of France.
Steve James, another celebrated doc filmmaker who has never scored a producing nom
— his Hoop Dreams from 1994 was nominated
1 LA 92 revisited the
Los Angeles riots.
2 Viewing Manhattan
from afar, One
of Us explored life
within Brooklyn’s
Hasidic community.
3 Icarus filmmaker
Fogel became a
human guinea pig
as he tested antidoping strategies.
4 French artist
J.R. (top) and the
irrepressible Varda
teamed up
in Faces Places.
for film editing — is vying for a place among
the final five with Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,
which zeroes in on the only U.S. bank prosecuted for mortgage fraud in the wake of the
2008 financial crisis.
Because some problems — particularly environmental ones — are not solved overnight,
there are also a couple of sequels on the shortlist. Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Coral, which looks
at the vanishing coral reefs, is a follow-up to
2012’s Chasing Ice, which examined melting
glaciers. And former vp Al Gore is once again
in front of the cameras in Bonni Cohen and Jon
Shenk’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,
a follow-up to the 2007 Oscar-winning An
Inconvenient Truth. Brett Morgen’s Jane, with
its shots of endangered African wildlife, adds
another voice in calling for the protection of
the natural world.
Striking a much more discordant note, the
ravages of war rage through the two shortlisted films about the crisis in Syria: Firas
Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo follows volunteer
rescue workers known as the White Helmets
as they go about their grim tasks, while
Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts pays testament to the courage of the citizen journalists
who risked their lives to tell of conditions
in Raqaa while it was under the control of
the Islamic State. The film was only possible,
says Heineman, “after weeks and months of
rapport and trust-building.”
Equally compelling in how it speaks to world
events is Bryan Fogel’s Icarus, which begins
as an experiment when the filmmaker, an
amateur cyclist, decides to see if he can beat
doping rules. He consults with Dr. Grigory
Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s antidoping lab, who, it turns out, is at the center
of the Russian doping scandal, and the film
turns into a real-life international thriller as
Rodchenkov flees to the U.S.
Other films offer a look back at equally
tempestuous times. Amir Bar-Lev’s Long
Strange Trip — as a four-hour, six-part series
from Amazon, it’s the longest entry — celebrates the generation-defining Grateful Dead,
while National Geographic’s LA 92, directed
by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, re-examines
the L.A. riots 25 years after they roiled the city.
And, as if to underscore the flexibility of
doc filmmaking, several other works zero in
on private lives.
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s One of Us
follows three individuals trying to break free
of New York’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. Jennifer Brea’s Unrest tells of the
filmmaker’s own struggle with a mysterious
illness. And, arguably the most personal of the
15 films, Yance Ford’s Strong Island recounts
his brother’s murder, the failure of the justice
system to prosecute the killer and the devastating impact it had on his family.
“Strong Island is a personal story, that’s
true,” Ford says, but at the same time it asks
why killers can use self-defense claims to go
free. Says the filmmaker, “We have a serious
problem in our criminal justice system.”
K A S S M A N AG E M E N T & N K P R
Congratulate their client,
2017 ACTRA Award of Excellence
& Canadian Screen Awards
Fan’s Choice Award recipient
YANNICK
BISSON
on the completion of his
11th season and landmark
150th episode as
‘Detective William Murdoch’
in the most-watched
Canadian scripted drama,
CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries
Photo: Katherine Holland
Reviews
Film
DOWNSIZING: COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES (3). CALL: COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS (2). LADY, FLORIDA: COURTESY OF A24. FACES: COURTESY OF COHEN MEDIA GROUP.
Todd McCarthy’s Top 10
Among the THR chief film critic’s favorites of the year were a wildly ambitious — and
undersung — comic epic, three very different love stories, two French documentaries,
an instant coming-of-age classic and a boundary-pushing World War II film
1 DOWNSIZING
2 CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Alexander Payne’s film addresses
one of the weightiest subjects there
is, that of humanity’s long-term
viability on the planet, and does
so as a humane comedy without
an ounce of pretension. A sort
of everyman tale like Hollywood
used to make, this one zeroes in
on Matt Damon’s average Joe as he
joins the ranks of the miniaturized
and embarks on an odyssey that is
picaresque, packed with unusual
characters and impossible to predict. I’m perplexed by the coolness
with which it’s been received; I
suspect that it’s partly because the
movie’s fair-mindedness and gentle nature are out of sync with the
hate-filled tenor of the moment.
To its credit, this is not a film that
strains to fit the zeitgeist.
In an era mostly bereft of deepdish love stories, there are three
in my top 10, and they could
hardly be more different from one
another. The best of them, this
piercing account of a summer
ardor between two young men
in Italy, is a film in which every
element had to be just right — and
they absolutely are, from James
Ivory’s knowing script and Luca
Guadagnino’s searching direction
to the lovely settings and, above
all, the chemistry, grace and physical force of Timothee Chalamet
and Armie Hammer.
3 LADY BIRD
What a welcome arrival of a new
auteur! Like Joan Didion having
escaped her native Sacramento
for New York, Greta Gerwig
returned home and conquered
with a captivating autobiographical film possessed of a
fleet-footed style as well as a
knack for flitting between comedy
and drama. Saoirse Ronan and
Laurie Metcalf respectively shine
as the teen protagonist and her
overbearing mom.
5 THE FLORIDA PROJECT
Once again finding amazing
faces and stories for cinema
where no one else would look,
Sean Baker expands his horizons
with this walk on the wild side
of Orlando. Set amid the scruffy
denizens of a low-end motel
within spitting distance of Disney
World, the film forces you to come
to grips with down-and-outers
most people would avoid in real
life. While Baker doesn’t glamorize or excuse their behavior, nor
does he discount their humanity.
4 MY JOURNEY THROUGH
FRENCH CINEMA
6 PHANTOM THREAD
There have been many documentary histories of film, but
nothing on par with French
director Bertrand Tavernier’s
highly personal look at the history of one of the world’s great
national cinemas. Zigzagging
through the decades, Tavernier
offers incomparable insights
Paul Thomas Anderson ventures out of the American West
and into English chamber drama
with this romantic yarn hinging upon who will get the upper
hand in an intimate triangle. As
eccentric as its characters, the
film is claustrophobic and controlled as well as wild and rangy,
Illustration by Matt Herring
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
into acting, film, music and
overlooked talents as well as the
official classics.
145
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
Reviews
and the excellence of his leads
(Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps
and Lesley Manville) along with
the score by Jonny Greenwood
ultimately makes something rich
out of the director’s risky roll of
the dice.
7 GRADUATION
Romanian master Cristian
Mungiu is within a couple of
turns of the screw of top form in
this corrosive look at how oldstyle communist-era cynicism
and depression are alive and
well in post-Ceausescu times.
Bureaucratic rot still permeates
personal and professional life
as any sense of hope is systematically cut down to size in the
course of a doctor’s initially
sincere efforts to get his bright
daughter into a British university. The director’s ability to grow
his story from the specifically
human to the pervasively societal
remains awe-inspiring.
INDUSTRY PICKS
which Varda and co-director JR
decorate parts of the countryside
with huge posters of the latter’s
photographic portraits of ordinary people, the film becomes an
amiable but unsettling portrait
of the nation’s bypassed and
disenfranchised.
The creatives behind some of THR critics’ top films of 2017
single out the work that inspired them most this year
SEAN BAKER
Director,
The Florida Project
Baker
9 THE SHAPE OF WATER
A traditional fairy tale mated
with a Cold War monster movie,
Guillermo del Toro’s beautiful
film also features a mute heroine
(played by Sally Hawkins) whose
resilience and resoluteness were
approached this year only by
that of Frances McDormand in
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,
Missouri. This is at last another
film in which del Toro’s delightfully unlimited film geekiness
is matched by the finesse with
which he channels his obsessions.
Broadbent
GRAHAM BROADBENT
Producer, Three Billboards
Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Gerwig
Guadagnino
10 DUNKIRK
There was never much doubt that
Christopher Nolan would deliver
an exceptionally vivid depiction of
the event that first suggested
Hitler might not roll unimpeded
to victory in World War II. But
the way Nolan told his story
was the surprise, in fragmented
vignettes — on land, sea and
in the air — with no artificial
buildup of prepackaged heroism
or emotion. It’s the rare film in
which the dialogue could be discarded with no loss of meaning
or power.
8 FACES PLACES
French New Wave pioneer
Agnes Varda may be 89, but she’s
still got her ear to the ground
and her eye is as sharp as ever
in this covert report from a
France seldom seen. Starting as
a sort-of larkish road movie in
SECOND OPINIONS
“Nahuel Perez
Biscayart’s performance in BPM
(Beats Per Minute).
He’s honest, fearless and human; it’s
a tour de force.”
Lowery
“Timothee Chalamet
in Call Me by Your
Name. He plays a mass
of adolescent contradictions and perfectly
expresses what it’s
like to love someone
at that age. The
movie is wonderful
— one that everyone
should see.”
GRETA GERWIG
Writer-director, Lady Bird
Smith
“Get Out is so great.
It was such a genrebender and such
an important movie.
It’s also the type
of movie you want to
go back and watch
again to see how it
was all put together.”
LUCA GUADAGNINO
Director, Call Me
by Your Name
“The Big Sick. It’s
a hugely heartening
movie that makes
you laugh and cry at
the same time. The
film’s makers and
cast show depths
of compassion and
an understanding
of cinema as an
emotional machine.”
DAVID LOWERY
Writer-director,
A Ghost Story
“Rebecca Spence
is magnificent in
Princess Cyd. She
lends wit and confidence to one of the
best written writers in
recent film; you feel
you’ve read her character’s books via her
performance.”
LOIS SMITH
Actress, Marjorie Prime
and Lady Bird
“I loved Holly Hunter
in The Big Sick. As
always, I find her so
original and compelling
and such fun to watch!”
The most popular pick among THR film critics polled was Call Me by Your Name, followed by
Lady Bird; Get Out; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and The Shape of Water
Jon Frosch
David Rooney
1 Call Me by Your Name
2 Lady Bird
3 BPM (Beats Per Minute) ↑
4 The Shape of Water
5 A Fantastic Woman
6 Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri
7 God’s Own Country
8 Raw
9 Get Out
10 Dunkirk
1 Call Me by Your Name
2 The Shape of Water ↑
3 Lady Bird
4 A Fantastic Woman
5 Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri
6 God’s Own Country
7 Get Out
8 The Big Sick
9 The Other Side of Hope
10 Good Time
Stephen Farber
Sheri Linden
1 Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri ↑
2 Lady Bird
3 Call Me by Your Name
4 The Post
5 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
6 The Insult
7 California Typewriter
8 Brad’s Status
9 Film Stars Don’t Die
in Liverpool
10 Downsizing
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
1 Call Me by Your Name
2 A Ghost Story ↑
3 The Shape of Water
4 Personal Shopper
5 Marjorie Prime
6 Graduation
7 Get Out
8 A Quiet Passion
9 Rat Film
10 My Friend Dahmer
146
Michael Rechtshafen
Frank Scheck
1 Call Me by Your Name
2 Get Out ↑
3 Dunkirk
4 The Shape of Water
5 Lady Bird
6 Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri
7 Jane
8 Coco
9 Detroit
10 The Disaster Artist
1 Dunkirk ↑
2 Call Me by Your Name
3 Get Out
4 Lady Bird
5 Three Billboards Outside
Ebbing, Missouri
6 Wind River
7 Last Flag Flying
8 Wonder
9 Detroit
10 The Big Sick
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
BAKER: JOHN PHILLIPS/GETTY IMAGES. BROADBENT: DAVE J. HOGAN/GETTY IMAGES. GERWIG: RAY ROCHLIN/FILMMAGIC. GUADAGNINO: BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR FIJI WATER. LOWERY: MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES FOR SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. SMITH: JAMIE MCCARTHY/
WIREIMAGE. BPM: COURTESY OF LES FILMS DE PIERRE. SHAPE: KERRY HAYES/TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX. THREE: COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT. GHOST: COURTESY OF A24. GET: COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES. DUNKIRK: COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT.
Film
Reviews
industry — and when you get to this fourth
and final one, luxuriate in all the remarkable
writing and acting.
Television
6 PATRIOT
No new series this year improved as strikingly
as this largely ignored Amazon show created by
Steven Conrad and starring Michael Dorman
as an American spy with mental health issues.
The writing and direction were superb, the
sorrowful tone underlying the dark humor
note-perfect.
7 BETTER THINGS
The final season of an HBO masterwork, the latest from America’s top
documentarian and an Epix surprise are among faves of THR’s chief TV critic
1 THE LEFTOVERS
3 THE VIETNAM WAR
A profound meditation on loss, spirituality,
broken humans and survival, the HBO series
— starring Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux
and other excellent, under-awarded actors
— was such a wild, weirdly enjoyable and
creative trip over three ingenious seasons
that putting it in my top slot of the year
for its final season was a no-brainer. If you
didn’t watch it — and not many did — go
find out why for yourself.
As he did with World War II in 2007’s The
War, the incomparable Ken Burns, along with
Lynn Novick, tackled a subject that has been
done and redone — and came up with a deeply
resonant, eye-opening, absolutely essential
PBS documentary.
2 THE A WORD
The SundanceTV gem returned for a
second season that was even better and
more ambitious than its first. Centering
on an English family with an autistic
child, it was one of the great small-screen
storytelling achievements of 2017 and
featured a fantastic turn by Christopher
Eccleston as the boy’s grandfather.
4 BACK
From Simon Blackwell (Veep) came this
Sundance Now beauty about estranged British
brothers reuniting in the aftermath of their
father’s death — the year’s most fully realized
combination of concept, acting talent (leads
David Mitchell and Robert Webb are superb)
and comic payoff.
5 HALT AND CATCH FIRE
There’s not much to say here other than: Watch
all four seasons of this AMC series about the
early development of the personal-computer
A SECOND OPINION:
DANIEL J. FIENBERG
1 BETTER THINGS (FX)
No show better encapsulated 2017 than Pamela
Adlon’s searing, sweet, formally ambitious tribute
to strong women in a world
of weak men.
2 HALT AND CATCH FIRE (AMC)
Four seasons of technology, friendship and betrayal
paid of in eight crushing
episodes showcasing the
great Lee Pace, Scoot
McNairy, Mackenzie Davis
and Kerry Bishe.
3 THE LEFTOVERS (HBO)
Damon Lindelof stuck one
of TV’s most challenging
landings with an eightepisode search for answers
that included Wu-Tang
Clan and a lion sex cult.
I could write a whole essay on taking for
granted the shows that flat-out entertain us
the most, which we critics often end up
downgrading when it comes time to make
end-of-year lists; I myself am feeling guilty
about doing just that with Veep this year.
But I’m not going to do it with this HBO
juggernaut. No series made me look forward
to the next episode like Game of Thrones.
9 GET SHORTY
It might be shiny and new (or slightly grimy
and new), but this inspired Epix adaptation
of the Elmore Leonard novel was the least
expected burst of greatness since season one
of Fargo landed on FX. Series creator and
writer Davey Holmes and stars Ray Romano
and Chris O’Dowd deserve major kudos.
10 PLANET EARTH II
Following up the acclaimed and groundbreaking original from a decade ago, this
magnificent nature documentary from the
BBC is arguably, along with The Vietnam
War, the most urgent must-watch thing on
my list. Simply put, television at its finest.
5 BASKETS (FX)
7 LADY DYNAMITE (NETFLIX)
9 THE GOOD PLACE (NBC)
The comedy expanded
to become both more
humane in its focus
on Louie Anderson’s
Christine and zanier
in its treatment
of Zach Galifianakis’
bickering brothers.
Maria Bamford’s impossibly strange examination
of her battles with bipolar
disorder became even
more delightfully weird in
its second season.
After wrapping its
first season in the
spring, broadcast’s best
series delivered a fall
of fun, format-bending
meditations on morality
and ethics.
4 BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC) ↑
The Breaking Bad spinof
used comedy-tinged tragedy to show how sadness
and loss, rather than greed,
will drive Bob Odenkirk’s
Jimmy toward his destiny.
8 GAME OF THRONES
6 THE VIETNAM WAR (PBS)
Ken Burns and Lynn
Novick’s brutal, cautionary
and compassionate
18-hour exploration was
epic on every level.
8 FARGO (FX)
Noah Hawley’s anthology started slow before
unfolding a rich tapestry
populated by a doubledipping Ewan McGregor, a
soulful Carrie Coon and
a delirious David Thewlis.
Illustration by Matt Herring
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
148
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
10 THE RUNDOWN WITH
ROBIN THEDE (BET)
This show has cut
through the late-night
echo chamber to become
the weekly sermon I
most eagerly anticipate.
BACK: MARK JONHSON/CH4/SUNDANCETV. ALLIGOOD: BETH DUBBER/FX. ALDON: LIANE HENTSCHER/FX. SHORTY: URSULA COYOTE/EPIX. WORD: SUNDANCE TV/PHOTOFEST (2). LEFTOVERS: COURTESY OF HBO. WAR: COURTESY OF PBS (2). SAUL: MICHELE K. SHORT/AMC/SONY PICTURES TELEVISION.
Tim Goodman’s Top 10
Pamela Adlon’s confident and emotionally
evocative look at mothers and daughters,
parenting and dating, love and survival was
a tour de force. In the realm of the half-hour
dramedy format that’s so popular now, this FX
series was the standout.
WINNER
BEST DOCUMENTARY
LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOC.
OFFICIAL SELECTION
NEW
YORK
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FILM FESTIVAL
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BEST DOCUMENTARY
NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE
WINNER
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SAN FRANCISCO FILM CRITICS CIRCLE
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WINNER
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TORONTO
FILM FESTIVAL
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FILM FESTIVAL
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VALLEY
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GOLDEN EYE PRIZE
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MIAMI
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LONDON
FILM FESTIVAL
“THE BEST DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR.”
NEW YORK MAGAZINE
“ONE OF THE BEST
FILMS OF THE YEAR.
“LOVELY, SURPRISING
AND DEEPLY MOVING.
“★★★★
“★★★★
A POWERFUL, COMPLEX
AND RADICAL WORK.”
AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT
A CELEBRATION OF LIVES THAT
GO UNNOTICED BY TOO MANY.”
COHEN MEDIA GROUP PRESENTS
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A
FILM QUITE LIKE THIS ONE.”
A FILM OF SHEER JOY,
ITS EXUBERANCE SURPASSED
ONLY BY ITS TENDERNESS.”
A FILM BY AGNÈS VARDA AND JR
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION - BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
LEIBEL
Continued from page 133
About two weeks after Diana’s birth,
Buccafurri filed a rape allegation against Blake,
according to court documents. Buccafurri says
the assault actually occurred months earlier,
when she and Blake first started dating, and
that Blake had assaulted her multiple times
and infected her with an STD for which she had
to seek treatment. Despite these attacks, she
says she “forgave” him. But Blake had asked
Tenser for his help in evicting Buccafurri from
the Gardner Street house they once shared;
now, about a month later, she was pressing
charges. Police arrested Blake, and according to
Tenser and several others, tased him. Friends
left. Olga then filed a missing person’s report.
The police returned to the condo the next
day. This time, they broke through the front
door and moved slowly down a central hallway, clearing rooms, searching for Kasian.
When they arrived at the bedroom on the
building’s far northwest corner, they found the
door shut and locked. They announced themselves, then tried kicking in the door, but it
wouldn’t budge. Someone had braced furniture against it. A man inside shouted at them.
Eventually, he moved the furniture and allowed
them in. Kasian was in the bed, covered from
the neck down by a Mickey Mouse blanket. Her
head was visible; her left forearm rested on
her stomach. Blake Leibel stood off to the side,
watching in silence.
Leibel ‘was turning
into his father
in a way. It was so
weird, because
the person he hated
the most, he
was becoming.’
of Braun’s say she told them the tasering threw
him into a “psychotically angry state of mind.”
Iana called Braun to post Blake’s $100,000
bail. “It got freaky and bizarre,” says Finkel.
“Blake and Kasian just had a kid together and
suddenly she’s bailing him out for sexual
assault — with his wife.”
I
t was around 1:30 a.m. on May 26 when
a 27-year-old hairdresser stepped out of
her apartment to walk her Pomeranian,
Ruka, near the intersection of Alta Loma
and Holloway. She spotted a couple nearby,
fighting. A young, dark-haired woman with an
Eastern European accent seemed distraught,
and her partner, a sloppily dressed man with
a hat and curly hair, was yelling as she walked
away. The man took out his phone. “Baby,”
he said, trailing behind her, “Baby, come back
here.” She didn’t. “She wanted to get away
from him,” the woman tells THR.
This was, quite possibly, the last public
sighting of Kasian alive. Her mother, Olga, who
hadn’t heard from her, was already concerned. The day before, she had convinced an
L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy to accompany
her to the Holloway condo that her daughter
shared with Blake, but they couldn’t get in and
Glancing around at the bloody scene, the
police thought it looked as though Blake had
been wiping walls and moving furniture to
destroy evidence. In his deposition, Det. Robert
Martindale said he had never seen a crime scene
quite like this one. But the look on Leibel’s face
was familiar. “He didn’t care that she was dead,”
he said. “It’s kind of that sociopath type of look
on his face, like, ‘I don’t care if she’s dead. I
didn’t do it.’ He had no feelings whatsoever.”
The police searched the rest of the apartment
and found blood evidence throughout, including “quite a bit within two bedrooms and other
locations,” according to one deputy. There was
one place they didn’t find any: in the victim.
Kasian’s body had been thoroughly and deliberately emptied, or as the prosecutor would later
describe it, “drained.”
T
he Twin Towers Correctional Facility,
an imposing block of octagonal buildings in downtown L.A., is the nation’s
largest mental health facility. A
day after Blake was arrested and charged with
“murder, mayhem, aggravated mayhem and
torture,” Tenser took an elevator to see him on
an upper floor reserved for the most dangerous inmates. Blake was on suicide watch.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
150
“Hollace,” Blake greeted his old friend.
Tenser told him he was hiring him a good
criminal attorney. “He was not aware of the
gravity of the situation,” Tenser says. “He
thought he was going to get out that first day.”
Tenser reached out to lawyers and arranged
for Howard Bragman, the celebrity crisis
manager, to manage the unfolding spectacle.
Eventually, Blake fired them all. An L.A.
County public defender, Haydeh Takasugi, was
brought in. “The family isn’t giving him any
money,” Tenser says. “They don’t give a shit.”
Braun also visited. She reported to a friend
afterward that Blake had scratches on his face
and bruises all over his body; she surmised
that he had been attacked before his arrest.
Buccafurri tried to visit, but was arrested for
violating the terms of a previous offense.
Since the murder, Braun had come to see
Buccafurri as dangerous and threatening,
eventually cutting off contact. According
to a legal filing obtained by THR, Braun took
out a temporary restraining order against
Buccafurri, in which she claims Buccafurri
“admitted that she had fabricated the rape
allegation and had been plotting it from
the moment Blake dumped her.” Buccafurri
responded by threatening to kill herself if
Braun didn’t talk to her.
Braun also states that Buccafurri had
become “obsessed” with her and her children. “I truly believe that she would either
kidnap, hurt, or even kill them,” says the
document. When Braun discovered that
Buccafurri had enlarged pictures of her two
sons, written their names in journals and
on whiteboards and followed them to their
home, where she left threatening messages,
she says she grew “petrified.” She writes that
Buccafurri’s behavior was akin to the women
in Single White Female and Fatal Attraction.
Buccafurri maintains that she’s “also a victim in all of this.”
Meanwhile, everyone in Blake’s world was
blindsided by the horror of the crime. Many
had viewed him as eccentric, even slightly
bipolar, like his grandmother. Though he liked
the horror genre, there had been no indication that he himself was capable of violence.
“He was always charming and manipulative,”
says an old friend from Canada, adding he
no longer knows what to think. “We’d get in
fights, but then he would come in and apologize — he had empathy. But sometimes I think
to myself, ‘Was that him just wanting to keep
me around because I did so much for him? Did
he really care?’ Because when I go look back
on it, I think, ‘Oh, shit, this guy really checks
off every box of what a crazy person does.’ ” It
felt, he said, as if Blake were haunted. “It ties
back to the father in a way,” says the friend.
“The father was a womanizer, was a player …
[Blake] was turning into his father in a way. It
was so weird, because the person he hated the
most, he was becoming.”
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
T
enser became fixated on Blake’s
earlier concerns about Cody’s gambling debts; he was overwhelmed
with suspicions. He believed Blake
had been set up, framed by the Russian mafia.
“I had a reasonable doubt,” he says. “He told me
a year before that he was afraid of being leveraged by the mob.” In early June, Tenser visited
the FBI’s L.A. field office and told agents that he
and Blake had been “life hacked.”
One night in mid-June 2016, police surrounded Tenser’s home, a semi-detached
townhouse in the Fairfax district. Someone,
Tenser isn’t sure who, had called his father
in Canada, who then called the LAPD to
report that his son was behaving erratically.
It was early evening, and about a dozen cop
cars came screeching to a halt outside the
house. As a helicopter hovered overhead, shining a spotlight into Tenser’s house, a SWAT
team arrived and threatened to break down
the door. Inside, Tenser was cowering in the
bathtub, a white towel draped over him. “I
thought if I did that they wouldn’t be able to
see me,” he now says. One of Tenser’s celebrity
clients, Jack Osbourne (Ozzy’s son), arrived
to help. After seven hours of a tense standoff,
Tenser surrendered to police, who quickly
released him.
Tenser returned to the FBI the next morning to see if the agency had done anything
about his “life hacking” claim. They had not
and recommended that he check himself
into a mental hospital. Tenser admitted
himself to UCLA, then was transferred to
Glendale Memorial Hospital. “The doctor
tried to have me committed,” he says. “I had
to request a hearing in front of a judge to
secure my freedom.” When he was released,
he went to Canada, where he was again sent
for a mental health evaluation. “There was
nothing really wrong with me,” he says. “It
was just anxiety, which is normal if you feel
that justice is being obstructed in a murder
investigation.”
The ordeal took its toll on Tenser, who
lost three quarters of his clients, including
Osbourne. “I’m not sure what I experienced
was psychosis — I definitely had PTSD,” he
says. “I thought that someone was gaslighting the both of us.” Greg Rose, a cryptologist
whom THR engaged to examine the web
pages Blake had texted Tenser about, says it’s
unlikely there was anything nefarious about
them — they are almost certainly “Markhov
chains,” software tools that spammers use to
increase a site’s traffic with nonsensical
phrases and words.
Looking back on the events surrounding his
friend’s arrest, Tenser is no longer gripped
by the sense of doom and paranoia he felt at
the time. His anxiety has subsided. And while
he remains convinced that the police have
overlooked something in Blake’s case, he is
realistic about his friend’s situation.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
O
ne day toward the end of
November at a courthouse near
LAX, just past 9 a.m., a doorway
beside the clerk’s desk opened and
Blake Leibel shuffled in — a large, imposing man with a mane of curly brown hair and
a pallid complexion. He wore a yellow prison
shirt over a set of blue long underwear and
appeared considerably heavier than he does in
pictures that have circulated online. His eyes
were dull and vacant; he had a large bald spot
on the back of his head. The judge asked Blake
if he would agree to delay the trial for some
unresolved procedural matters. “No,” Blake
said. “I don’t want to wait any more time.” The
judge delayed the case anyway.
For a time right after the arrest, there was
some discussion about whether Blake could
face the death penalty if convicted. He will not.
While the public defender, Takasugi, declined
to discuss any details of the case, she says
her client will plead “not guilty.” Otherwise,
little is certain about the case, other than that
the crime in question is distinguished by its
brutal specificity — it is hard to imagine that,
if Blake is guilty, his family history of mental illness or the fascination with gore and
evil that surfaced in his art do not hold some
deeper meaning.
After the hearing, Tenser bounded
through security just minutes after the judge
ruled. “Did I miss it?” he asked. After some
coffee, Tenser decided to try to see Blake.
As his entertainment attorney, he says he
still has that privilege. But he was back a few
minutes later. “He didn’t want to see me,”
Tenser said. “I don’t blame him, he’s dealing
with a lot.”
T
ied up with the logistical repercussions of the murder, Olga Kasian
was forced to miss her daughter’s
funeral in Ukraine. It was a subdued
affair. But Iana Kasian’s childhood friend
Kristina Kuts attended. Kuts had grown up
with Iana, and the two were neighbors and
school friends. At the funeral, Kuts listened
as another friend of Iana’s spoke about how
Blake had always seemed “gentle” with Iana.
“No one can think that such terrible things
can happen,” said Kuts, who now wonders if
Iana knew something was wrong and kept it
to herself. “I think maybe it could be something she didn’t tell anyone in his behavior.”
Diana, a toddler now, is being raised by her
aunt and grandmother in Ukraine. “The baby,
she’s never going to have a normal day in her
life,” says Finkel. “She’s a girl whose father
brutally murdered her mother. The course
of her life has totally changed. One day she’s
going to learn the truth of her past, and it’s
grotesque and disturbing.” Finkel says that
Olga has told him one thing over and over
again: “Blake didn’t just kill her, he killed all
of us.”
151
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
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these funds if you qualify and comply with this notice.
What Are My Rights and Options?
You have the following rights and options as a Class Member.
You have to take action on or before March 2, 2018 in order to
exercise your legal rights and options under the settlement.
PARTICIPATE AS A RECOUPED CLASS MEMBER
(BY MARCH 2, 2018)
• If you are a Recouped Class Member who also received
notice in the mail, you do not have to take any action to
remain part of the Settlement Class and be eligible to receive the
benefts and payments ofered.
• If you are a Recouped Class Member who did not receive
notice in the mail, you can apply to receive payment from
the Settlement by visiting www.FoxHomeVideoSettlement.com
or calling 1-844-611-5265. If you do not take any action you will
not receive any benefts and you will be subject to the release
under the Settlement Agreement.
PARTICIPATE AS AN UNRECOUPED CLASS MEMBER
(BY MARCH 2, 2018)
• If you are an Unrecouped Class Member, you need to fle
a claim to be eligible to receive the benefts and payments
and ofered. If you do not take any action you will not receive
any benefts and you will be subject to the release under the
Settlement Agreement. Visit www.FoxHomeVideoSettlement.com
or call 1-844-611-5265.
EXCLUDE YOURSELF (BY MARCH 2, 2018)
• Excluding yourself means you get no payment from this
Settlement. This is the only option that allows you to keep any
rights you currently have to negotiate with or sue Fox about the
claims in this case.
OBJECT TO THIS SETTLEMENT (BY MARCH 2, 2018)
• If you do not exclude yourself, you may write to the Court about
why you do not like this Settlement.
GO TO THE HEARING (ON APRIL 9, 2018 AT 11:00 A.M.)
• You may ask to speak in Court about your opinion of this
Settlement at the Fairness Hearing. The Fairness Hearing
is currently scheduled for 11:00 a.m., on April 9, 2018 at the
California Superior Court, 600 South Commonwealth Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA, 90005. The date and location of the Fairness
Hearing can change without further notice, please check the
settlement website.
How Can I Obtain More Information?
This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. You can view the
complete Settlement Agreement, Long Form Notice and certain
court documents at www.FoxHomeVideoSettlement.com;
or email FoxHVS@AdministratorClassAction.com or call
1-844-611-5265 to obtain more information. Those documents
govern in the event of any confusion between them and this notice.
Continued from page 127
you first watch it, you just wait
five, six years, and you’re like, “Aw,
I actually really like that. I’ve gotten away with it.”
Has social media made your lives
better or worse? Armie, you quit
Twitter recently. Why?
HAMMER Well, I have very little
impulse control, and I couldn’t
stop myself from saying something to somebody, and you’re
just adding oxygen to a fire and
then all of a sudden you’ve got a
conflagration. And all of a sudden something that doesn’t exist
in the real world at all is something that you’re thinking about
and that is taking up broadband
in your brain [when] you could so
easily be focused on something
else so much more productive.
Social media also lets you speak
up on issues you care about. What
is your take on people speaking
up about sexual harassment or
choosing not to?
ROBBIE Coming forward is far
more complicated than anyone
can imagine unless they are in
that position. So I would bear no
judgment on anyone who didn’t
want to come forward. I would
hope that anyone who did knows
that they can and be supported
100 percent. And I have never
spoken to so many actresses
whom I’ve never met than I have
in the past couple of months.
Actresses — who if I met them, I’d
be starstruck — are reaching out
to be like, “Hey, there’s a group of
us having a conversation about
this, do you want to be involved?”
There is a sense of community,
and it’s sad that that had to come
out of a horrible situation, but
there is a support network there.
Do you think there will be real,
lasting change in the industry?
And you can’t say, “I hope so.”
SPENCER Every industry needs
to change. It’s not just the film
industry. The big revelation for
me is human resource departments have not been protecting
workers; they’ve been protecting
companies. That has to change,
first and foremost. We don’t have
human resource departments
Asked by Belloni whose career they admire, Kruger cited Meryl Streep,
Robbie said Cate Blanchett and Spencer said “a combination” of Whoopi Goldberg
and Morgan Freeman. Quipped Cranston, “Whoopi Freeman.”
’cause we work for different
studios and what have you, but
like Margot said, there are a lot of
conversations happening and a
lot of people using their power to
make sure change happens.
KRUGER We’re seeing the change
as it’s happening. All these men
are gone. I’m amazed how many
companies have severed ties with
those men immediately; they
don’t get just a slap on the back
and then come back.
ROBBIE There’s a lot of gray area in
our job and a lot of very intimate
situations that you need to make
yourself vulnerable to — and it
changes job by job. Some jobs are
done in six weeks, some go for six
months, and if there’s an issue,
you need to solve it at the time.
There are just so many variables,
and it’s difficult to find structure
in that sort of environment.
When you were a kid, what did you
get in trouble for?
CRANSTON In high school, I had two
ID cards. One was Bryan Cranston,
and one was Bill Johnson. Bill
Johnson was the one I would whip
out whenever I got into trouble.
And Bill Johnson got into a lot of
trouble. (Laughter.)
PATTINSON What did I get in trouble for? Lying, lots of lying, lots of
stealing. (Laughter.) I love lying.
Well, you are an actor now so …
PATTINSON Yeah. It’s weird, one of
the only detriments to getting any
kind of fame is you can’t really
lie anymore ’cause everyone finds
everything out and it’s awful.
If you could sit down and really
talk to somebody one-on-one for
an hour, who would it be?
SPENCER Barack Obama. “Why
did you go, Barack?” (Laughter.) I
would like to talk to Barack and
Joe Biden, and gain some perspective from people who have been in
the job, perhaps say, “What can we
as citizens do when the country is
so separated and polarized?”
CRANSTON Well, I have already sat
and chatted with Barack.
SPENCER Ooooohhhh, well! Do tell!
CRANSTON Sorry, sorry, that’s a
nasty habit. That was my joy —
that I was able to sit down with
him in the Oval Office for an hour
and a half, and there was a moderator from The New York Times.
ALL Wow.
CRANSTON There were times when
I forgot who I was talking to, and
he was just a guy. He is a little
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
younger than me, but he has
daughters as I do. He is a dad; he
was very athletic. Didn’t have a
father growing up, neither did
I. There were a lot of things that
we had in common. And then all
of a sudden I’m going (under his
breath), “I’m in the Oval Office!”
You meet interesting people in your
job. Obama aside, who stands out?
HAMMER We were shooting [2013’s]
Lone Ranger, and Tom Wilkinson
had to do a thing where he pulls
out a pocket watch and flips it,
and it opens on his hand. It was a
cool little trick. So because they
had a borderline unlimited budget, they’re like, “Let’s bring in the
yo-yo world champion.” He was
like, “That’s not a yo-yo.” And they
go, “Yeah, but can you help him do
it?” And he goes, “Yeah, you pull
it out of your pocket and you do
that.” Tom goes, “Like this?” Click.
And he’s like, “Yeah, just like
that.” And then he was with us for
the rest of the movie. (Laughter.)
SPENCER [I met] John Douglas,
152
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
who was the bureau chief for the
behavior sciences unit for the FBI.
And I’m like a total serial killer
nerd. So I read his book, Mind
Hunter, that was like 15 years ago.
And I got bumped up to first class,
and the flight attendant, they
said his first and last name and,
“Would you like chicken or fish?”
And I’m like, “Oh, my God, I love
you!” And I talked to him all the
way from Los Angeles to Atlanta.
KRUGER This year I decided to get
my motorcycle license in deep
Georgia at a Harley dealership.
This is how crazy Americans
are, because in Europe, it’s three
months to get your license. I never
left the parking lot, and in four
days they handed me my license.
HAMMER You should try buying a
gun; it’s even easier. (Laughter.)
KRUGER We never went into real
traffic! But it was me and 20
Harley-Davidson guys. I was completely fascinated. I had never met
anyone like this. They thought I
was nuts: “What is this girl doing?
You’re going to drop the bike.” And
I kind of did, but they picked me
up. It was awesome. And I’m still
in touch with them.
ROBBIE I recently did a film, and
the director asked if everyone
could write down the craziest
thing that has happened to them
in their lives. I had spent two
months with this group of people,
probably about 60 people, and
everyone seems super normal.
And then everyone had to write
down the craziest thing that
happened to them, and it was
released on the last day, and you
had to guess whose story matched
up with who. It just reminded
me that fascinating people are
everywhere. Everywhere. Someone
had been engaged to the princess
of Zanzibar. Someone else had
been in a plane crash where only
10 people survived. It just reminds
you there are fascinating stories
everywhere. Everyone has a story.
What was your story?
ROBBIE I once found — and no one
guessed that this was me — I
found a human foot on the beach
in Nicaragua.
SPENCER Oh, wow, death!
KRUGER Just the bones?
CRANSTON And she uses it as a door
stop. (Laughter.)
ROBBIE Just a little souvenir.
CHARLES W. MURPHY
LIVE ROUNDTABLE
PA L M S P RI NG S I N T E R NAT I O N A L F I L M S OC I E T Y
presents the twenty-ninth annual
Film Awards
GAL A
Hosted by
Mary
Hart &
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Entertainment
Tonight
PALM SPRINGS CONVENTION CENTER
Cocktails 5pm Dinner 6pm
Black Tie
2018 Honorees MORE TO COME
HOLLY HUNTER
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
(THE BIG SICK / AMAZON STUDIOS)
ALLISON JANNEY
SPOTLIGHT AWARD, ACTRESS
(I, TONYA / NEON/30WEST)
GAL GADOT
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET
RISING STAR AWARD, ACTRESS
(WONDER WOMAN / WARNER BROS.)
RISING STAR AWARD, ACTOR
(CALL ME BY YOUR NAME / SONY PICTURES CLASSICS)
SAM ROCKWELL
SPOTLIGHT AWARD, ACTOR
(THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI / FOX SEARCHLIGHT)
GARY OLDMAN
DESERT PALM ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, ACTOR
(DARKEST HOUR / FOCUS FEATURES)
JESSICA CHASTAIN
CHAIRMAN’S AWARD
(MOLLY’S GAME / STXFILMS/THE MARK GORDON COMPANY)
SAOIRSE RONAN
DESERT PALM ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, ACTRESS
(LADY BIRD / A24)
THE SHAPE OF WATER
VANGUARD AWARD
(FOX SEARCHLIGHT)
SALLY HAWKINS, OCTAVIA SPENCER, DOUG JONES, DIRECTOR, WRITER, AND PRODUCER GUILLERMO DEL TORO AND PRODUCER J. MILES DALE
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Backlot
Innovators, Events, Honors
The Mother of Reinvention
Holly Hunter reflects on her
performances, from The Piano
to The Big Sick By Mia Galuppo
rom Raising Arizona to her
rolling. She just went, “I am going to
Oscar-winning turn in
help this girl.” She was a real advoThe Piano to the animated
cate, especially for a 21-year-old just
film The Incredibles to her latest,
starting out.
the Amazon romantic dramedy The
Big Sick, Holly Hunter has offered
If you could, would you revisit any of
audiences interpretations of compliyour films for a sequel?
cated, independent and all-around
The movies I have made, I’ve always
memorable mothers. The 59-yearfelt they should be ended. If they do go
old Georgia-born actress (herself a
on, I want it to only be in my mind. I
mother of two) will be honored Jan. 2
don’t want it to be expressed on film.
with the career achievement
In a way, I think that is what
Palm Springs
award at the Palm Springs
television is for.
Film Festival
International Film Festival’s
Jan. 2-15
annual star-studded awards
Is there a genre you haven’t
Palm Springs
gala, which kicks off the
tackled yet that would
Convention Center
14-day desert oasis event.
interest you?
Ahead of the honor, Hunter, who just
I want to play something in a more
nabbed a SAG Award nom for her role
classical vein, something not contemin Big Sick, talked to THR about her
porary. To do a period piece and move
decades-spanning career, what she
into another era would be really fun.
still hopes to tackle and what a baby
blanket can do for a performance.
After actresses hit a certain age,
F
My big break, probably, obviously, was
Raising Arizona. Meeting Joel and
Ethan [Coen] in the early ’80s was big.
But before that, I met a casting director named Joy Todd at the beginning
of my career, and she let me meet
people I would not have met otherwise. She aggressively set the ball
I have always played mothers, like
in Raising Arizona and Thirteen and
The Positively True Adventures of the
Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering
Mom. This is nothing new for me.
Because women can bear children,
that is going to be an incredibly potent
How is Beth, your character in Big Sick,
diferent from your other mom roles?
One of the things I loved expressing
in The Big Sick — which is the exact
opposite of what I just said I loved
reveling in in Saving Grace — was that
sense of stability. I got to express emotional stability with a partner, with
Ray Romano. It was also a wonderful
opportunity to express a partnership
with a daughter that was based on
real, mutual affection.
How did you establish your motherdaughter relationship with Zoe Kazan?
I wanted that relationship to be something you could see. I brought in a
baby blanket from my own children to
put on her hospital bed. I wanted us to
wear the same necklaces. I wanted to
wear her sweater when I was in her
apartment, and I wanted to be mending a sweater of hers when we meet
me in the hospital. Even though [the
audience] might not fully notice these
things, I hoped they would have a
cumulative, subconscious effect.
Hunter (right)
plays the
mother of
Kazan’s
character, who
is put into
a coma in
The Big Sick.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
156
FEST
HONORS
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
ALLISON JANNEY
Spotlight Award,
Actress
SAM ROCKWELL
Spotlight Award,
Actor
GAL GADOT
Rising Star Award,
Actress
TIMOTHEE
CHALAMET
Rising Star Award,
Actor
↑ SAOIRSE RONAN
Desert Palm
Achievement Award,
Actress
GARY OLDMAN
Desert Palm
Achievement Award,
Actor
JESSICA CHASTAIN
Chairman’s Award
THE SHAPE OF WATER
Vanguard Award
HUNTER: MAARTEN DE BOER/CONTOUR/GETTY IMAGES. RONAN: BRAD BARKET/GETTY IMAGES. BIG: NICOLE RIVELLI/AMAZON STUDIOS.
What do you consider to be your
“big break”?
they are often relegated to mothertype roles. Do you see this changing
as female-fronted stories are
championed more?
fictional runway. It’s one of the things
that makes us different from men,
and the power of that is galvanizing
and should not be diminished. Having
said that, it was a fabulous thing to
play a role for four seasons on [TNT
series] Saving Grace, where motherhood was not even mentioned. Having
children was not a part of the landscape of the character at all, and that
was liberating.
the 4th annual
RED CARPET
OSCAR PARTY
to
support
variety – the children’s charity
of the desert
Sunday, March 4th, 2018
4pm Red Carpet Arrivals & Cocktails
5pm Dinner & Oscar Viewing Party
Glamorous Attire
Vicky’s of Santa Fe
Greater Palm Springs
45100 Club Drive | Indian Wells, CA 92210
For Ticket Purchase, please call 760-345-9770
Individual Tickets $100 -includes dinner, complimentary cocktails,
tax & tip. Pre-Paid Reservations only.
100% of the net proceeds are donated to benefit
Variety -the Children’s Charity of the Desert | Tent 66
42600 Cook Street, Suite 131 | Palm Desert, CA 92211
for more information please visit vickysofsantafe.com
P R O M OT I O N
TODAY IN
E N T E RTA IN M E N T
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Each weekday, delivered to your inbox, executive editor Matthew Belloni and assignment editor
Erik Hayden will highlight what’s news and what’s worth reading from The Hollywood Reporter and other
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88 Years of THR
Memorable moments from a storied history
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Lily Tomlin’s Shrinking Woman Almost Disappeared
Hollywood has always had an
appetite for shrinking actors
down to size. The latest to get the
treatment is Matt Damon with
the Dec. 22 release of Downsizing.
But films as varied as 1966’s
Fantastic Voyage (the only submarine crew ever to feature Raquel
Welch is shrunk and injected into
a scientist’s bloodstream), 1987’s
Innerspace (more inner-body miniaturization involving scientists)
and 1989’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
(which merited two sequels, a 3D
attraction at Disneyland and an
ABC TV show) have used extreme
diminishment as a plot point.
Two classic tiny-human films
were related to each other: 1957’s
The Incredible Shrinking Man,
which The Hollywood Reporter said
was “exceptionally well done for
a production of its budget class”
(at the time, Universal cranked
out loads of sci-fi B-movies that
ranged from Abbott and Costello
Go to Mars to Creature From
the Black Lagoon), and 1981’s The
Incredible Shrinking Woman, starring Lily Tomlin. While Shrinking
Man is dead serious, Shrinking
Woman’s “strength is in Tomlin’s
unique comedic abilities,”
said THR. (In the film, written
by her partner, Jane Wagner,
Tomlin plays a housewife who’s
poisoned by household products
and turned into a miniature.)
However, Shrinking Woman almost
got shrunk out of existence. The
original film was to be directed by
John Landis, fresh off a megasuccess with Animal House. But
a month before shooting was to
begin in March 1979, the project
was put on hold. THR’s frontpage story attributed the stop to
“budgetary complications” and
quoted Universal’s then-president
Ned Tanen, who said the original budget of $7.5 million had
risen to $13 million and wondered if there was “another way
of doing this without destroying it completely?” There was.
Landis, who had said he viewed
the film as an “epic” that was
“a cross between Star Wars and
I Love Lucy,” was replaced by
Joel Schumacher, who went on
to helm St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost
Boys and two Batman movies.
(Landis moved on to Universal’s
The Blues Brothers.) “Let’s just say
John’s budget was extravagant,
so I got my first chance to direct,”
says Schumacher. “It was mostly
because they thought I’d be cheap.
I was in way over my head, but we
got through it. When you have Lily
Tomlin, you just have to turn the
camera on her.” — BILL HIGGINS
The Hollywood Reporter, Vol. CDXXIII, No. 39 (ISSN 0018-3660; USPS 247-580) is published weekly; 39 issues — two issues in April, July, October and December; three issues in January and June; four issues in February, March, May, August and September; and five issues in November — with 15 special issues:
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T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
160
DE C E M BE R 18, 2017
UNIVERSAL PICTURES/PHOTOFEST
↑ Tomlin played Pat Kramer, who becomes a media sensation after a mix of chemicals in household products causes her to shrink.
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