Dustin Hoffman has long been established as one of the most significant actors of his generation, but he has never directed a film until now*. His directorial debut, Quartet, is based on an acclaimed play by Ronald Harwood (who also scripted Hoffman’s film) and it stars some real luminaries: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon.They play residents at a retirement home for retired opera singers. Seriously.

Given that plot you might expect something fairly arid and stodgy, but the first trailer for Quartet suggests that it is a pretty broad comedy with crowd-pleasing aims. The trailer promises a gentle, slightly cheeky good time, and it’s a nice breath of comedy to kick off this light holiday week. Check it out below.

Edit: Apologies, but we’ve had to pull the embed.

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There’s plenty of good stuff in today’s TV Bits, including new trailers for HBO’s Luck and Showtime’s House of Lies, which I’m hoping will help the one bit of really bad news go down a bit easier: NBC’s benching its highly praised but under-watched Community. After the jump:

  • NBC puts Community on hiatus and picks up new show Legends
  • HBO’s Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, gets a trailer
  • Showrunner Matthew Weiner reveals how he wants AMC’s Mad Men to end
  • Showtime renews Weeds and drops a teaser for House of Lies

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Though the small screen retains an unfair reputation as a lesser medium — think of all the snobby types who’ll brag about not owning a television, but would never be so dismissive about books or movies — the truth is that the medium varies as much as any other. Today’s TV Bits runs the gamut from highbrow (a literary adaptation on HBO) to lowbrow (a modeling industry reality show on The CW), with plenty of stuff in between. After the jump:

  • Noah Baumbach’s Jonathan Franzen adaptation The Corrections is a go at HBO
  • HBO will offer an early look at its highly anticipated Luck next month
  • Fox puts new eps of Alcatraz on hold while it goes back for reshoots
  • Burt Reynolds signs on to guest star on FX’s Archer
  • Summer Glau joins Tricia Helfer on TNT’s Scent of the Missing
  • The CW announces start dates for its midseason shows

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Michael Mann (Heat) and David Milch (Deadwood) have collaborated on Luck, a new HBO series that takes place in the world of horse racing. Dustin Hoffman plays what looks like this series’ rough equivalent to Al Swearingen, and Nick Nolte, Richard Kind, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Joan Allen, Ian Hart, Kevin Dunn, Kerry Condon, Tom Payne and Patrick J. Adams all have roles.

We saw a brief bit of footage back in April thanks to an in-production featurette. Now we’ve got the real, if all-too-brief teaser trailer for the series. As you’d hope for a show created by Mann and Milch and featuring that cast, Luck looks pretty fantastic. Check it out below. Read More »

Whitney Houston is set to return to the big screen for the first time in 15 years for Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 drama based on the real-life tale of Diana Ross and The Supremes (yes, kind of like Dreamgirls, only Sparkle came first). The story follows the rise and fall of fictional girl group Sister & the Sisters, the members of which find their personal lives falling apart even as their act reaches ever higher levels of fame and success.

Houston, who’s also set to executive produce, will play the “not-so-encouraging” mother of the girls in the band. Houston has actually been attached to the project since back when it was supposed to star Aaliyah, who passed away in 2001. Also in the cast are Jordin Sparks making her cinematic debut in the title role, and Mike Epps in the part of destructive comedian Satin. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) is set to direct the feature from a script by his wife Mara Brock Akil. [Movieline]

After the jump: Dustin Hoffman snags some fine British talent (including two notable Harry Potter actors) for his directorial debut, and Twilight star Ashley Greene signs on for a weird, “ultra-modern” version of a Charles Dickens classic.

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I never thought I’d be this jazzed to see a horse-racing drama, but ‘jazzed’ only begins to capture how I feel after watching the first behind the scenes look at Luck, the HBO show from Michael Mann and David Milch that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. This video is a relatively brief featurette on the making of the show, but it has enough tiny clips of the actors in action that I think you’ll walk away from it wanting to see a lot more. Read More »

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Movie Trailer: ‘Barney’s Version’

Sony Pictures Classics have released the movie trailer for Barney’s Version,an independent drama which premiered at the Venice/Toronto film festivals in September to mostly positive reviews.

Based on Mordecai Richler’s prize-winning comic novel, the film stars Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky, a “hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, foulmouthed 65-year old hockey fanatic and television producer” who “reflects on his life’s successes and (numerous) gaffes and failures as the final chapters of his own existence come sharply into focus.” Directed by Television vetren Richard J Lewis (CSI, Due South, North of 60, Family Law), the film co-stars Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Bruce Greenwood, Rachelle Lefevre, Scott Speedman, Saul Rubinek and Mark Addy.

Watch the trailer now embedded after the jump. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Movie Trailer #2: ‘Little Fockers’

We’ve seen a teaser and an international trailer for Little Fockers, the second sequel to Meet the Parents, and now there is a full theatrical trailer. What’s the difference? In addition to showing more plot and (depending on your point of view) jokes, this trailer has a few shots of Dustin Hoffman, whose mart was shot after the teaser debuted. Read More »


The Toronto Film Festival is just getting underway, and already one film has been picked up for Us distribution. Sarah’s Key, starring Kristen Scott Thomas, was picked up by The Weinstein Commpany today as the first official buy of the fest. More info on the film after the break, along with good breaks for Barney’s Version with Paul Giamatti and Casino Jack with Kevin Spacey. Read More »