“Deadline” — After the dark comedy Cake set tongues wagging at Toronto about Jennifer Aniston’s performance, there has been speculation that the film’s makers would capitalize on that momentum by putting the movie out before year’s end to qualify for Oscar consideration. Cinelou Films’ producers Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon have launched a new prestige arm in Cinelou Releasing, and they have set Cake as their first film. The pic will have a one-week qualifying run in December before rolling out in January. Canton, Kristin Hahn and Ben Barnz produced with Solomon.
“When my life and producing partner Ben Barnz and I first read Cake just fourteen months ago, we knew we had to go to Jennifer Aniston. It was the most obvious un-obvious choice – she’s mega-talented, but we’ve never seen the whole range of her extraordinary comic and dramatic abilities showcased in one role,” said director/EP Daniel Barnz.
Cinelou Releasing will launch up to four films over the next year, and you can belatedly add this to all of the rising distribution companies that made statement transactions at Toronto. The label has a deal with Warner Bros. Pictures to handle international distribution for six of its films over the next three years. “We congratulate Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon on their new company,” said Warner Bros. International Distribution president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg. “We look forward to our upcoming international collaborations with them beginning next year with Cake.”
Cake was also the first Cinelou project financed and produced under its $100 million financing pact with Taiwanese-based Shenghua Entertainment. The Patrick Tobin script made the Black List and the film is directed by Daniel Barnz and also stars Anna Kendrick, Adriana Barraza, Sam Worthington, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, and Britt Robertson. Aniston plays Claire Bennett, who initiates a dubious relationship with a widower (Worthington) while confronting fantastical hallucinations of his dead wife (Kendrick). With her feisty housekeeper and caretaker (Barraza) ever at her side, Claire searches for human connection and self-forgiveness in this tale of redemption.
“Having a U.S. distribution arm was always part of our strategy to be in control of the creative, marketing and financial results of our films,” said Solomon. “We were very pleased with how Cake turned out and are excited about all the opportunities the film presents on multiple levels…Cinelou was formed to produce brave, bold and interesting films that both challenge and showcase talent.”
Said Canton: “We’re very proud and excited that our new distribution banner will allow Cake to be released with the same passion and commitment that went into making the film.”
CAA-repped Aniston is about to open in Horrible Bosses 2. Brillstein Entertainment Partners manages her.
“US Weekly” — They’ve been Hollywood royalty for over 20 years but according to Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox are as down-to-earth as you can get!
Talking about his celebrity BFFs, the British singer says meeting the former Friends actresses restored his faith in the Hollywood machine and insists Cox has carried every bit of her grounded Alabama upbringing with her into her famous existence.
“She’s really normal,” the 23-year-old singer told the Daily Mail of Cox. “She’s from Alabama, so it’s bred into her, but everyone she surrounds herself with is the same. Jennifer Aniston’s just as friendly. I’d only ever experienced the darker side of Hollywood and they give you faith in everything.”
Before Sheeren hit the big time, he had his share of being ignored by Hollywood big shots who only bother talking to people who could be of use to them.
“Everyone in L.A. introduces themselves with their first name, last name, what they do, who they work for, how many awards they’ve won, how much they earn, but only if they know who you are,” he explained. “I’ve been ignored for a whole dinner party and then someone says, ‘Oh, this is Ed, he does this’ and suddenly I’m being given all these cards.”
Not so with Cox and Aniston. “The first time I went to Courteney’s I brought my cousin Murray, who isn’t a superstar — well, he is in my eyes, but he’s not an actor or a musician. But everyone spoke to him and thought he was cool,” he said.
Fortunately Sheeran’s been able to pay Cox back for her generous friendship, by introducing her to her current fiance, Snow Patrol rocker Johnny McDaid.
“I think I did the ‘Courteney meet Johnny, Johnny meet Courteney’ thing,” Sheeran admitted. “But Sacha Baron Cohen did the matchmaking. It’s just two people who fell in love and I hope they’re really happy.”
“Deadline” — Warner Bros boss Kevin Tsujihara just told investors that it has licensed 236 episodes – all 10 seasons – of Friends to Netflix for the U.S. and Canada, with streaming beginning on January 1, 2015. Netflix has been making many such deals as it bulks up its offerings, and now it has a piece of the iconic series that launched the careers of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
It marks the first time Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution has licensed exclusive subscription-video-on-demand rights to Friends, which is still big on cable — on Nick at Nite and TBS — and in broadcast syndication.
Friends is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its premiere this year. The hugely popular series, which ran from 1994-2004 and anchored NBC’s Thursday night lineup, has been popping up of late as part of Warner Bros. TV’s initiative to celebrate the milestone. A pop-up replica of the series’ signature Central Perk coffee shop has been serving free cups of Eight O’ Clock Coffee in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood since September 17 through Saturday, and some of the cast hit Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show to reprise their roles, if only for a night.
Toronto might be inching to a close, but the second weekend of the festival saw another heated bidding war. New distributor Clarius Entertainment is nearing a $4 million deal for domestic rights to the screwball comedy “She’s Funny That Way,” Variety has learned.
The film is directed by Peter Bogdanovich, after a 13-year hiatus, and stars Owen Wilson (as a Broadway director who hires a prostitute), Imogen Poots (as the call girl) and Jennifer Aniston (as a therapist).
Clarius has so far released the animated “Legends of Oz” and Michael Douglas comedy “And So It Goes.” It hopes to make a big splash with its latest acquisition.
“She’s Funny That Way” premiered at the Venice Film Festival in late August, and although it wasn’t officially a Toronto selection, it screened in Canada this week. Several studios placed competitive bids for the project, given its commercial potential.
The deal, which is being handled by CAA and UTA, is expected to close on Sunday.
Jennifer Aniston — Oscar contender? You better believe it after the tumultuous standing ovation she received at the Elgin Theatre on Monday afternoon for her potentially career-changing film Cake after the end credits had rolled. Sans makeup but for scars and other disfigurements, Aniston proved way beyond cosmetic changes that she is the real thing. She’s heartbreakingly good, alternately bitingly dramatic and funny in this story of a woman suffering with chronic pain. It is also partially to the credit of writer Patrick Tobin and director Daniel Barnz (Phoebe In Wonderland, Won’t Back Down) that Aniston’s character Claire doesn’t strike a false note throughout.
Given the right distributor (and I hear several are in the hunt) this should be Aniston’s Monster or Monster’s Ball — or even Dallas Buyers Club, which transformed Matthew McConaughey’s career last year and brought him the Best Actor Oscar. There are really no tricks to this performance. It’s raw and real, poignant and unexpected.
In a conversation shortly after the screening the palpably excited star told me the reaction received by the film and her performance was a bit overwhelming. “It was such an emotional moment for me. I was nearly brought to tears,” she said. In fact I heard she was in tears later backstage, when the positive tweets started coming in. As for the film, she said she simply couldn’t turn it down when it came to her less than a year ago. “You have to go with the script,” she said. “When I read it I knew it was the role of a lifetime. How could I turn that down?”
At the post-screening Q&A she elaborated: “It was a no-brainer. Just reading Patrick’s script I actually saw myself doing it. I just felt like it was already happening and it was pretty easy to say ‘yes.’ It was such a beautiful, complex, layered, tortured character. I just tapped into something I was meant to do,” she said. She did extensive research and even had friends who suffered with similar pain and addiction to prescription drugs to curb it. She said she talked to a lot of people who deal with this huge problem, who could “walk me in that walk.”
Many pundits would probably dismiss Aniston as a major studio movie star who does lighter fare like We’re The Millers (a personal favorite by the way), but she has proven in the past with indie fare like The Good Girl and Management that she is no one-trick pony but rather a star with still-untapped potential. I actually thought she was great opposite Vince Vaughn in The Breakup, a wildly underrated studio dramedy.
Barnz says she was a joy to work with, jumping in feet first into the project that came together unusually quickly. He had reluctantly been judging a screenwriting competition in Southern California when it suddenly dawned on him the winner was a script he should make. “That was June, 2013; we were in pre-production in February and before the cameras in April, finishing in May,” he said of the accelerated schedule. He managed to get some more money from the producers for a faster postproduction schedule and got it ready just in time for Toronto. Aniston jokingly told me that quick pace caused windburn and whiplash, but they got it done in 25 days. One of the key producers is Mark Canton, largely known by his own admisson as the guy behind heavy testosterone flicks like 300. He says in addition to those he wants to do a program of about 10 smaller films of this kind of quality, even though he’s not quitting his day job. (He will be on the set for his latest epic, The Last Witch Hunter, today.) Canton told me at the after-party that there is no question they want to get this film out this year in time to qualify it for Oscars. They should, not only for Aniston’s bravura turn but also for past Supporting Actress nominee (for Babel) Adriana Barraza.
As for Aniston, this is the fourth time she’s been to the Toronto Film Festival. “Let’s hope the fourth time’s a charm,” she laughed, although it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were.
As for the one and only Monday of this TIFF, it was chock-full of a number of other films that could be considered contenders. And now that the hot festival real estate of the first four days has passed, there’s room for some very big names that chose instead to premiere first at Telluride or Venice. Foxcatcher, a Cannes and Telluride hit, was received here with equal praise after its premiere Monday night with the entire cast in tow. Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, a Telluride debut now coming to TIFF as a special screening, screened earlier Monday and has the advantage of coming to TIFF with strong word of mouth.
Two more Monday fest debuts: Reese Witherspoon in Wild, which world premiered in Telluride, won another enthusiastic standing ovation and further cemented Witherspoon’s Oscar potential. And 99 Homes, previously on the circuit at both Venice and Telluride, also came from a position of strength within the competition and looking to finalize a deal here that would put it squarely in the heart of this year’s awards race. The threat by TIFF to demote any film that played Telluride first didn’t seem to have an effect one way or another. On Tuesday night, another Telluride expat, The Imitation Game, gets its day in the Toronto sun. And so it goes.
Jennifer Aniston says her performance in new drama “Cake” was physically and emotionally tough, but it was “beyond a dream role.”
Aniston came to the Variety Studio Monday to chat about the film, which has its world premiere Monday at the Toronto Film Festival.
Co-starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Worthington, the indie drama finds the actress playing a character who is in massive chronic pain, who’s addicted to pills and booze and who has alienated everyone in her life.
“She basically has to decide whether she wants to live or die,” Aniston said. “The woman’s journey is so heartbreaking but so uplifting, because she’s gone through a trauma but maintains her wit, which is very endearing.”
The project, which is looking for a U.S. distributor, came together very fast. Director Daniel Barnz and his partner, producer Ben Barnz, discovered the script in a screenwriting contest 13 months ago and met with the actress in November.
Filming started April 3, the final touches were added weeks ago.
Aniston said as soon as she had finished reading the script (by first-timer Patrick Tobin), “I knew I was going to do it,” because it was a challenge but an opportunity “to express empathy” for the character and all those undergoing similar experiences.
Aniston allowed herself to be photographed without makeup and looking haggard (though, it should be noted, in person she looks pretty spectacular).
Every movement for the character is painful, “which was hard on my body for five weeks of shooting. I spent weekends seeing a chiropractor and getting massages and trying to maintain my sanity.”
Early word on her performance is very positive and Aniston is upbeat about “Cake,” which she sums up as “the little indie that could.”
“Cake,” which world premieres on Monday afternoon at the Toronto Film Festival, features a breakthrough performance from Jennifer Aniston as a 40-something woman who suffers from chronic pain.
To inhabit the character, Aniston went through an arduous rehearsal process, according to the film’s director Daniel Barnz. She interviewed patients of the condition and watched documentaries. “She also really worked the timbre of her voice and settled on something more gravelly than the Jennifer Aniston we know,” he says.
But just as the cameras started to roll, Barnz asked Aniston to take a big risk. He didn’t want her to wear any makeup onscreen. “Not a stitch,” he says (although he did allow for Chapstick). “You can see the wrinkles in her face and the pores. She’s not wearing makeup because that’s true to the character: this is a woman who doesn’t take care of herself.”
The road to make “Cake” was as unusual as a 45-year-old star leaving her glam squad at home. Barnz stumbled upon the script because of a promise he made himself after directing 2012’s “Won’t Back Down” — that, for one year, he’d agree to all requests he’d normally turn down. “One of the things I said yes to is judging a screenwriting competition, which I don’t often do because it’s a lot of work,” he explains.
Barnz was so entranced by the winning entry (from Patrick Tobin) he decided to make the film. “Cake” tells the story of Claire (Aniston), a woman dealing with chronic pain who develops a relationship with the husband (Sam Worthington) of a woman who kills herself (Anna Kendrick).
In June 2013, Barnz and his husband-producing partner, Ben, optioned the screenplay. In July, they met with Tobin to offer their notes. By September, they had a finished rewrite, which they started to shop around. “As soon as this went out, there was an incredible amount of interest,” Barnz says. But he wanted Aniston, so he wrote her a passionate letter about the project. “Because the role is hard, you want someone you’d forgive immediately,” he says.
After she had signed on, the rest of the pieces fell into place quickly. Barnz secured financing from Cinelou Films (the budget was under $10 million), shot in Los Angeles in April for 25 days and wrapped in the middle of May. “This was 13 months from inception to completion,” he says. “My first film, ‘Phoebe in Wonderland,’ was 13 years. I sort of feel like there’s a karmic retribution.”
WME and CAA are handling domestic rights and Conquistador Ent. is selling international.
When you imagine getting a present from Jennifer Aniston, you can’t help but envision receiving a fab designer bag or a must-have, organic skin cream. A basket of eggs on the other hand? Not so much. But that’s exactly what you might get, as her fiancé Justin Theroux revealed during a visit to Chelsea Lately on Monday night.
While chatting with Aniston’s longtime pal Chelsea Handler, he explained that when they visit friends’ homes they give their hosts eggs as gifts because they have about 10 chickens at the house. And “each of them lays a couple [of eggs] a day, so we have too many of them,” he said. The star of HBO’s The Leftovers joked that while people think it’s a sweet farm-to-table gesture on their part, it’s actually just because they’re “slipping on eggs at the house.”
Hey, if you’re going to get eggs as a present, it would be pretty cool to get them from Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Watch the clip here and listen to the Chelsea Lately host explain why she has never received any eggs from the famous pair. (Hint: it’s not because she and Justin are feuding, as some tabloids would lead you to believe.)
ustin Theroux took a dramatic turn with The Leftovers, but he’s still got a sense of humor.
These days, the 42-year-old TV star’s ability to laugh is especially commendable, given that the tabloids frequently write about his two-year engagement to Jennifer Aniston as if it were a real-life soap opera.
“I can’t get over how terrible the narrative is, just how poorly written it is,” he says in Elle’s August 2014 issue. “It’s worse than a telenovela. It’s so dramatic. Like, ‘They’re broken up, they’re together, they’re storming out, storming in, rushing out, rushing in.’ They make every celebrity look like a schizophrenic.”
From the moment he began dating his Wanderlust co-star, Theroux admits, “My life changed a lot. More people are like, ‘Hey, man!’ And I don’t think that’s from my role in John Adams. But it only changed as much as I engaged with it, and I learned very quickly: Don’t ever engage with it. Just JKL. It was a learning curve, but it wasn’t as traumatic as you might expect. It’s just annoying. Occasionally you’ll get a stewardess congratulating you, on, I don’t know, whatever, some three-headed baby we just had.”
Though his relationship with Aniston is under the microscope, Theroux has managed to keep an air of mystery. In fact, when the interviewer mentions she’ll ask about his fiancée, he replies, “You can try!”
Thankfully, Amy Sedaris—who met Theroux through mutual friend Philip Seymour Hoffman—lifts the veil for Elle. “Justin’s got this dark side—he’ll go there. But more than anyone I’ve ever met, he just really does blossom with sunshine,” the comedic actress says. Taking it a step further, she reveals, “Justin is like a girlfriend. He’ll do girly things with you: He’ll tan, he’ll put your makeup on for you, he gives great advice.”
Bet you won’t find those anecdotes in the tabloids!
Some men age like a fine wine, and according to Jennifer Aniston, her fiancé Justin Theroux is doing just that.
The 45-year-old star recently gushed about her hubby-to-be at a party held in his honor by Details magazine.
The Leftovers actor graces the cover of this month’s issue and looks pretty darn hot with his sultry gaze and signature slicked-back locks.
“He’s just so beautiful and handsome to me,” told said to Women’s Wear Daily at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood on Tuesday.
“I love that his eyeballs are so beautiful captured because those eyes just knock me out every day,” she added.
“He just gets better every year. He’s just like a lost gem in the sand, and he’s always been there and been brilliant, and now this is just in a different light.”
Aniston’s BFF Courteney Cox—who attended the party with her fiancé Johnny McDaid—also put her stamp of approval on Theroux’s Details shoot, saying, “There’s no better cover boy than [him]. He’s so handsome and cool.
Cox and Aniston were also spotted out on the town with Lisa Kudrow last night.
The three ladies grabbed a bite to eat at Los Angeles hot spot Craig’s early in the evening and were all seen leaving separately.
There’s no doubt they gabbed about the men in their lives!