Inside Movies and Pop Culture with Gregory Ellwood

Oscar Watch: Summit ready to thrill with Cannes contender 'Fair Game'

Plus: Thoughts on Ricky Gervais returning to the globes and more

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Fair Game

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Cannes Film Festival entry "Fair Game."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Summit Entertainment has worked hard to broaden its image as just the "Twilight" studio and winning the Best Picture statue for "The Hurt Locker" this past March was a huge step.  Along with the solid performance of the thriller "The Ghost Writer" in limited release ($14 million in no more than 819 theaters), the mini-major is slowly turning into an appealing alternative to Lionsgate or The Weinstein Company for independent producers wanting to find an experienced and smart distributor for their films.  That was the case today when Summit acquired domestic and some international rights to Doug Liman's "Fair Game," a dramatic thriller based on the true story of outed CIA agent Valerie Palme.

First Look: Oscar heading to the races with 'Secretariat'

Prestige period pic getting a Kentucky Derby push

Diane Lane and John Malkovich in "Secretariat"

Diane Lane and John Malkovich in "Secretariat."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Like baseball and football, Hollywood has had an affinity with horse racing movies. From "National Velvet" to "Seabiscuit" to "The Black Stallion" there has been something about a sport that combines graceful and beautiful thoroughbreds with the ability to get rich quick that has intrigued moviegoers.  Now, Walt Disney is bringing the story of one of the most famous champions ever to the big screen in "Secretariat."

Exclusive DVD Clip: Meet Bad Blake's never-before seen son from 'Crazy Heart'

Upcoming DVD and Blu-ray features a number of deleted scenes

Jeff Bridges in his Oscar-winning role from "Crazy Heart"

Jeff Bridges in his Oscar-winning role from "Crazy Heart."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

It's no secret that Scott Cooper's "Crazy Heart" took a long and strange journey to the big screen.  Cooper had initially tried to make the film come together with Bridges, but only got him to commit after producer and songwriter T-Bone Burnett came on board.  And even with talent like Burnett and stars such as Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall (also a producer) in the fold, "Heart" had issues getting distribution.  An early cut of the drama was screened for a number of potential suitors including Paramount Pictures who passed, but the film they saw was not what eventually hit theaters.  Cooper re-edited the film trimming a lot of the fat along the way.  Which was a very good thing. Especially for Bridges -- who won his first Academy Award -- and Fox Searchlight who has grossed almost $40 million off the $7 million budgeted flick.

Weinsteins close to reclaiming 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Shakespeare in Love' and Miramax

Disney and the Bros. set an exclusive window to reclaim their baby

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction

Just like John Travola and Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction," the Weinsteins are a bit bloodied, but you can never count them out

Credit: Miramax

If there is one mantra that should be carved in stone in the Hollywood Hills it's "never say never."  In what could only be described as improbable five years ago is amazingly close to reality: Harvey and Bob Weinstein are days away from reclaiming Miramax Films.

Launched in 1979 and named after their parents Max and Miriam, the Weinstein's company went from no-name indie outfit to Oscar-winning and box office power by the late 1990s.  It was acquired by Walt Disney Studios in 1993, but both Weinstein brothers stayed on board to shepherd such hits as "Pulp Fiction," "Scary Movie," "Scream," "Trainspotting," "Flirting with Disaster," "Good Will Hunting" and "Bridget Jones Diary."  They also became premier award season players spending millions to allegedly make more millions on Best Picture winners "Shakespeare in Love" and "Chicago" along with players such as "Gangs of New York," "The Cider House Rules" and "Chocolat."  Things turned sour by late 2004 though when outgoing Disney CEO Michael Eisner had had enough of the brothers and made sure their contracts to run the company were not renewed. 

Valerie Plame, 'Wall Street' and Woody Allen make the 2010 Cannes Film Festival slate

A significant lack of intriguing American films for this edition of the fest

Naomi Watts returns to Cannes

Naomi Watts will return to Cannes in Doug Liman's Valerie Plame drama "Fair Game," the only U.S. production in competition this year.

Credit: AP Photo

Some of the world's premier press agencies boycotted covering the announcement of the official Cannes Film Fest line up this year after a row over red carpet access, but that didn't stop quick dissemination of who was in and who was out in one of the more speculated competitions of the year.  Running from May 12-23, Cannes is recognized as the world's premier international film festival and many filmmakers crave winning the fest's top prize, the Palm d'Or, ahead of putting an Academy Award statue on their mantle.

Word had been leaked for some time that Hollywood wouldn't dominate this year's edition -- it rarely does -- but there was hope Terrence Malick's long awaited "The Tree of Life" with Brad Pitt and Doug Liman's "Fair Game" with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn would make the cut. Cinefiles will have to be happy that only one of those titles will screen on the Croisette this year.  Moreover, IndieWire reports that up to 12 more films will be added to the slate, but at first glace this is a very uninteresting year.

Alba, Keys and Whoopi dominate Tribeca Film Fest celeb-filled juries

Tribeca Film Festival doesn't seem to have its footing yet

Jessica Alba at the premiere of "Valentine's Day"

Jessica Alba will spend some of her time at Tribeca promoting "The Killer Inside Me" and the rest judging the World Documentary slate.  Really.

Credit: AP Photo

These are strange times for the Tribeca Film Festival.  After starting off with a lot of publicity (perhaps too much) and potential eight years ago, the brainchild of Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff has been struggling to find itself.  Well aware they needed more help to really be considered a big time event, the trio brought in former Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore to help refocus the festival in a digital age, but it's unclear whether this year's "virtual" fest (where you can watch eight of the festival's less star-friendly selections online) or iPhone app can really expand the festival's reach.  We're huge fans of Gilmore who spent twenty years helping shaping Sundance into the industry power event it is today, but it's going to take awhile to turn this boat around. Because no matter how much razzle dazzle you try to put on a festival, it all begins with your actual film slate.

A blunt conversation with 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' director Jon Turteltaub

'National Treasure' filmmaker discusses the role the internet plays in moviemaking

Nic Cage in Jon Turtletaub's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Nic Cage in Jon Turtletaub's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

If you don't know who Jon Turteltaub is, you probably have seen one of his movies or TV shows without knowing it.  As a filmmaker he's directed movies such as "While You Were Sleeping," "Phenomenon" and those popular "National Treasure" flicks.  He's also a prolific TV producer having shepherded cult favorite "Jericho" and more recently "Harper's Island."  Besides his upcoming adventure "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," the best reason to pay attention to Turteltaub is because of how refreshingly honest he is.  To put it mildly, he just can't help but be honest when speaking to the media. 

10 things we love about the new 'Sex and the City 2' trailer

Penelope Cruz, CG in the strangest of places and a big spoiler

Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall in "Sex and the City 2"

Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall in "Sex and the City 2"

Credit: Warner Bros.

There are some things this pundit is an admitted fanatic of outside of the addictive pull of award season.  NBA basketball, Star Trek, old school house music and Ang Lee movies are just a few of them, but one franchise this writer has never been able to resist the pull of is "Sex and the City."

Ever since Carrie and Co. appeared on HBO, this writer has found himself drawn to their ever-dramatic and highly entertaining exploits.  So, flaws aside, you may not want to hear my glowing review of the first "Sex and the City" movie or seen how excited I became when the first teaser trailer for the sequel was released in December.  Now, the final trailer for "Sex and the City 2" is available and probably only the Clippers landing the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft for the second year in a row could make Awards Campaign more excited.  Some of you may think this is certifiable, but we won't judge your never ending devotion to "Lost," "Transformers," Phish or In-N-Out Burger if you don't judge our love for "SATC."

With that in mind, her are 10 reasons why we just love the new "Sex and the City 2" trailer (which you can watch embedded in this page or click here for a larger version).

Deja vu: new convention center deal may keep Comic-Con in San Diego

Can the rapidly expanding convention hold off till 2015?

Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at San Diego Comic-Con 2009

Events featuring non-traditional genre franchises such as "Twilight" have helped Comic-Con become even more well known to the general public.

Credit: AP Photo

Well that took long enough.  After years of political infighting and broken promises, the City of San Diego and the Port Commission of San Diego approved a deal for a $753 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center Thursday.  What does this mean for entertainment fans?  Besides the implications for the city's hotel and tourism industry, this is a huge boost for Comic-Con, the popular fanfest that has called the city home for 41 years and has been strung along more than anyone else by assurances of expansion that never occurred.

Los Angeles Film Festival moves downtown but will audiences follow?

After four years in Westwood, LA Live wins the city's biggest film fest

Johnny Depp at the "Public Enemies" premiere at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Johnny Depp at the "Public Enemies" premiere at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

In a nod to just how prominent the Los Angeles Film Festival has become recently, many forget the annual June event didn't set up shop in Westwood until just four years ago.  That era is quickly over, however, as Film Independent announced today that LAFF was making its long rumored move to downtown Los Angeles.

Using the L.A. Live complex across from Staples Center as a base, the 2010 edition of the festival will use the recently opened Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 (great theaters, horrible facade), REDCAT/Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (underutilized by the industry), the Downtown Independent (be afraid), the Soundstage Theatre at the GRAMMY Museum (great sound, but small), JW Marriot Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live (Sundance-esque), The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Los Angeles (ditto), Orpheum Theatre (big and classy), and California Plaza (prefect for outdoor screenings for families and the homeless).  The 7,000 seat Nokia Theater is notably absent from the lineup, but that's obviously a lot of seats to fill.

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