One of my favorite films of the 1990’s is Alexander Payne‘s brilliant dark comedy Election starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, Broderick stars as a high school civics teacher named Jim McAllister who will not let the school’s annoying overachieving honor student Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) run unopposed for student body president. He convinces popular varsity football player Paul Metzler (a breakout performance from Chris Klein) to run for president as well, and anything and everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. While the film did well critically (Witherspoon’s performance was voted the 45th Greatest Movie Performances of All Time by Premiere Magazine, and the film was ranked at #9 on Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best High School Movies) and was even nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, I run into a lot of film fanatics who have never seen this film (if you’re a member of this group, I strongly encourage you to rent or buy it).

I’ve watched the film countless times, and have even seen the movie three times on the big screen. I was surprised to learn that the film’s ending was not what was originally intended/written/filmed. The DVD release of the movie contains no deleted ending, and in doing research for this post, I couldn’t even find a reference to an alternate ending for this movie anywhere on the web. But it exists — /Film reader John G sent me a link to the six-minute original ending sequence, which had been recently uploaded to YouTube. This footage was reportedly discovered on an unlabeled VHS tape containing an early work print of the film, sold at a local flea market. Watch the sequence embedded after the jump.

Note: If it isn’t already obvious, its probably not worth watching unless you’ve seen the movie (and yes, spoilers).
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If you woke up this morning hoping to see George Clooney run around Hawaii like an idiot, well, you’re in luck. The first clip of Clooney in Alexander Payne‘s long overdue follow-up to the 2004 Oscar winner Sideways, The Descendants, has just come online, teasing a website about the film called Who Is He? Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and scheduled for release December 16, The Descendants is about an attorney forced to reexamine his life and make some very difficult decisions when his wife gets into a terrible accident. Besides Clooney, the film stars Judy Greer, Matthew Lilliard, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Shailene Woodley and more. Watch the clip after the jump. Read More »

After a few years of relative inactivity (public inactivity, at least) director Alexander Payne is really getting back to work. He’s wrapped a feature adaptation of The Descendants, which we could see late this fall during the Sept festival circuit, and now has revived a script that he started considering back in 2004 when Sideways was a hot indie commodity.

Nebraska is a script by Robert Nelson that depicts a father/son roadtrip. (So, no, it isn’t an adaptation of the Bruce Springsteen album, which would perhaps also be great subject matter for Mr. Payne.) And after taking a few years off of roadtrip movies, it looks like the director is ready to get back in the car. Read More »

Sublimely talented writer/cartoonist Daniel Clowes first saw his work on screens in 2001 with Ghost World, and then again in the rather disappointing Art School Confidential. We’ve been waiting for his animated film with Michel Gondry and son to appear, but in the meantime his latest graphic novel, Wilson, may be raw material for an Alexander Payne film. Read More »

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Carter Beats the Devil is one of those novels that made a big splash, was quickly optioned and then dropped right into development hell. But now it is getting a second chance at Warner Bros., with Michael Gilio set to script. (He wrote the draft of Treasure Island for WB that Paul Greengrass is reportedly directing.) In addition, Gilio has written a script for director Alexander Payne. But is that for Payne to produce, or direct? Read More »

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Variety isn’t the only organization that can bury info in reports. Hawaii does it, too! Down at the end of the long press release trumpeting Hawaii as the filming location for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is a minor nugget about Alexander Payne. The director is currently in pre-production on The Descendants, which will indeed star George Clooney as recently rumored. Read More »

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I’m currently feeling a bit overloaded on George Clooney, what with his upcoming roles in The Men Who Stare at Goats, Up in the Air, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. After not seeing him on the big screen since Burn After Reading, it now feels like we’re facing an onslaught on Clooney projects. Now, we may be able to add yet another one to the mix. Clooney is apparently eying the lead in Alexander Payne’s upcoming Hawaii-based family dramedy, The Descendants, which is based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

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His exec-produced show Hung is doing well on HBO, but it’s been five years since Alexander Payne had a feature in theatres. (It really doesn’t seem that long since Sideways.) He was going to return with an adaptation of the novel Downsizing, an ambitious project in which a man purposely shrinks himself to be like a little person in order to have an easier life. Crazy tale, but there was a great cast attached: Paul Giamatti, Reese Witherspoon and Sacha Baron Cohen. But the movie would also have been crazy expensive, and it looks like that has killed it for now. Production Weekly said over Twitter today that Payne is now slated to go into production on another feature early next year. This one is an adaptation of the novel The Descendants. More on the project after the jump. Read More »

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