David O. Russell

David O. Russell‘s got a knack for attracting great actors, but his next project could come with prominent A-listers already attached. Russell will reportedly write and direct the JFK assassination pic Legacy of Secrecy, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook star Robert De Niro. The conspiracy drama posits that mafioso Carlos Marcello was behind the murder. Hit the jump for more details.

DiCaprio has been set to produce and star in the pic since 2010, while De Niro is a more recent addition. Based on the book of the same title by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann, Legacy of Secrets hinges on mob kingpin Marcello’s confession to FBI informant Jack van Laningham that he was the one to order the killing.

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Maybe it was David Mamet‘s script. Maybe it was Jason Reitman‘s casting. Most likely it was a combination of both, but the latest live read at Los Angeles County Museum of Art was the stuff of legend. Six women – Mae Whitman, Carla Gugino, Robin Wright, Catherine O’Hara, Melanie Lynskey and Maria Belloreading the screenplay for Glengarry Glen Ross was the perfect mix of material, personality, chemistry, and energy. Add a certain je ne sais quoi, and the great script and event concept became something truly special.

Presented as part of the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, the Glengarry Glen Ross live read was, unfortunately, a one-time-only event. But below, I’ll do my best to explain how each actress expertly inhabited their character, simply sitting on a stage with a script and a music stand. Read More »

If you guessed the moment David Mamet cast Al Pacino as the lead of HBO Films’ Phil Spector that the movie would essentially be Pacino at his nuttiest under an increasingly bizarre series of wigs, well, you were right on the mark. The first trailer shows just that, along with his Helen Mirren as his competent but uneasy defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden. Watch it after the jump.

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Five years after Into the Wild, Sean Penn is finally getting ready to get back into the director’s chair. As of last fall, he was set to direct The Comedian with stars Robert De Niro and Kristen Wiig, but it looks now like his next project could instead be another inspired-by-true-events survival drama.

Penn has entered talks to help Crazy for the Storm, based on Norman Ollestad‘s memoir about his complicated relationship with his daredevil father. When Ollestad was 11, he was involved in a plane crash that killed the elder Ollestad and left the younger Ollestad stranded alone on a mountain during a blizzard. Ollestad credits his father’s teachings for helping him survive the incident.

Penn is only looking to direct the picture, not star in it. Nor will he pen the screenplay, as he has for some of his previous projects; Will Fetters, who last scripted the Zac Efron weepie The Lucky One, is already on board to adapt the story. Variety reports that Penn was always Warner Bros.’ first choice for the pic, though the studio considered a handful of other filmmakers including Alfonso Cuarón.

After the jump, Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink eyes the remake of About Last Night…

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David Mamet‘s efforts were dashed last year when his follow-up to Redbelt, a reframed look at the life of Anne Frank, was put into turnaround at Disney for being “too dark”. Fans of Mamet were surely less than thrilled by this development, but now he has a new project in the works that could be just as interesting.

In conjunction with HBO Films, Mamet will write and direct a film about Phil Spector, the celebrated record producer turned murderer. Starring in the film is none other than Al Pacino, who’s not only the same age as Spector, but also shares his wild-eyed glare. Will he also be sporting Spector’s infamous gaudy wigs? We can only hope. Read More »

A Letter from David Mamet to the Writers of The Unit

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I was having a pretty uneventful day at the office until I saw this post about a memo written by writer/director David Mamet crop up on my Twitter feed. It’s a note that Mamet addressed to the writing staff of the now-canceled CBS show The Unit, in which he lays out some guiding principles for compelling television. According to Movieline, the memo first surfaced recently at Ink Canada.

When I saw that the memo contained nuggets of wisdom such as “ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT,” and “IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT *WILL* BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE,” I knew the whole thing would be a must-read. Mamet also takes time to lay into TV executives, which he refers to as “penguins.” Overall, it offers some amusing and piercing insights into what makes good writing and storytelling. I’m left wondering though: Does Mamet’s work always live up to his high standards?  Hit the jump for the full memo, and savor the intensity (capital letters are from the original).
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Disney Puts Mamet’s Anne Frank Movie Into Turnaround

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It was just this August when we heard that David Mamet would be writing and directing a new film about Anne Frank for Disney. Whoa — Mamet, Frank and Disney? Quite a combo; such a weird combo, in fact, that it seemed really unlikely to work. If current reports are correct, it didn’t. Read More »

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One of the most famous stories of the Holocaust is that of Anne Frank, a young girl who kept a diary of her family’s attempts to evade the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands. Her father survived and after the war had her diary published wherefore it quickly became one of the most well known records of the suffering and atrocities of the time.

Disney have announced that they will be producing an adaptation of her story to be written and directed by David Mamet. This movie will be the next in a long line of Anne Frank stories for the big screen. The first adaptations came in 1959 with a Hollywood version, The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by George Stevens from the Pulitzer Winning play of 1955, and a Yugoslavian TV version. Since then, the play has had many revivals and several further film and TV iterations have been issued, including a very recent BBC serial.

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