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It’s a shame only 600 people got to see Jason Reitman‘s Live Read of American Beauty on Thursday. If more people saw it, they’d be lining up to see Men, Women and Children this weekend. The cast proved they are wonderful together.

As the kickoff to the 4th season of Live Reads at LACMA, Reitman presented Alan Ball‘s Oscar-winning 1999 script. For all the roles, he chose actors from his latest film. (Which happens to open wide this weekend.) In the role of Lester Burnham, for which Kevin Spacey won an Oscar, Reitman cast Adam Sandler. The wife Carolyn, originally played by Annette Benning, was played by Rosemarie DeWitt. Their daughter Jane, originated by Thora Birch, was played by Kaitlyn Dever. Her best friend Angela, originated by Mena Suvari, was played by Olivia Crocicchia. Buddy the real estate king, first played by Peter Gallagher, was read by Phil LaMarr. Next door, the Colonel, played by Chris Cooper, was read by Dean Norris. DeWitt doubled as his wife (Allison Janney) and their son, the pot-dealer Ricky was Travis Tope. Wes Bentley originated the role.

With a script as good as Ball’s, an infant could read it and it would sound like poetry. What Reitman showcased with his latest cast is prove that good words are one thing, but chemistry and talent are something entirely different and wonderful. Below, read more about the American Beauty Live Read presented by Film Independent at LACMA. Read More »

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The Graduate Live Read

Early on in The Graduate, there’s that iconic moment. Ben Braddock, a recent college grad, is talking with the beautiful older family friend Mrs. Robinson. Ben says, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” It’s iconic thanks to director Mike Nichols’ choice of angle, the delivery of the line by Dustin Hoffman, and the way that one sentence sets the entire story into motion.

At Jason Reitman‘s final live read of the season, actor Jay Baruchel played the role of Ben Braddock. When he got to that line, delivered next to his Mrs. Robinson, Sharon Stone, the 32-year-old actor broke character, cocked his right arm on his side and whispered, “Yes!” He was excited, not just because he nailed the legendary line, but maybe he got the feeling what was to follow was going to go very well. Reitman’s casting of Baruchel as the nervous, unsure, yet charming and likable Ben couldn’t have been more perfect. The same could also be said for Sharon Stone, whose Mrs. Robinson was sexy, confident and cool.

Though both actors were merely sitting in chairs, reading lines of dialogue, their body language created an electric chemistry that turned the combination of a great cast and a flawless script into a memorable event. Below, read more details about the Film Independent at LACMA Live Read of The Graduate. Read More »

Groundhog Day Live Read

10,000 years. That’s how long Phil Connors was stuck in Groundhog Day. At least, that’s what writers Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin said in an early draft of the now classic 1993 film. That revelation was later cut out, along with a lot of other things, to make the film we know and love.

But on March 20, Jason Reitman presented that early draft as part of his Film Independent at LACMA Live Read series. On a night dedicated to Ramis, the Groundhog Day co-writer and director, Reitman brought together a small but perfect cast to read through the script. That cast included Jason Bateman as Phil, Elizabeth Reeser as Rita, Jeffery Ross as Larry, Mae Whitman as Nancy, and Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, the role he originated.

That balance of familiarity from Tobolowsky, coupled with a fresh but perfectly poignant take from Bateman, made Groundhog Day one of the best live reads to come out of the series to date. Read More »

Pulp Fiction Live Read

There’s absolutely no need to touch Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction. Built around an Academy Award winning screenplay, the film is pretty much perfect from beginning to end. It teems with exquisite detail as performances and dialogue tell interweaving stories of crime and craziness. A reinforcement of that absolute brilliance was the main thing I took out of the latest Film Independent at LACMA Live Read, which took place February 20 in Los Angeles. Director Evan Goldberg (This is the End) subbed for Jason Reitman and assembled an eclectic, star-studded cast to read Tarantino’s masterwork. It was a two and a half hour celebration of Pulp Fiction‘s perfection.

While no one could ever replace the iconic cast of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and so many others, stars like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Lizzie Caplan laughed, imitated and sometimes stumbled through the script with excitement and reverence. Along the way, a few Easter Eggs were uncovered, alternate interpretations attempted and much fun was had. Read about the live read below. Read More »

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